Friday, March 26, 2010


The civil affairs building was crowded and warm inside. Mommies and daddies nervously paced, rubbed their hands together, craned their necks, straining to see that first glimpse of their newest family member.

And there she was. Jim was on the phone with me. I could hear the muffled sounds of voices, voices speaking quickly. Mandarin. Translators. Jim was speaking in short choppy sentences, "Ooh, they are coming over. Oh, wait, well I see her. She is beautiful. She looks okay, content." Like balm to a wound, Jim's words helped soothe my mommy's heart. I was not there. My husband graciously, bravely awaited our daughter being handed to him. He was nervous, very nervous. Yet, he rose to the occasion. Big time.

Friends kindly yelled into the phone describing the scene...I certainly felt like I was there. Hannah's nanny had trouble letting go...I would have too. I mean, she's Hannah. Our Hannah.

Fever-stricken and frightened, Hannah rallied, daring to trust the two American men.

And those men rocked the house, caring for a sick baby girl. Loving on her, feeding her, cleaning her, getting those first smiles, giggles, belly laughs. They'd bounce Cheerios on her tray, praying she would learn to put them in her mouth. They stood her up and played peek a boo. And Hannah began to trust.

Fast forward. Yes, fast is the operative has gone so quickly. Three years have passed and Hannah daily surprises us, amazes us, reels us in. She is wise and wild, shy and sure of what she wants, funny and fun to be around, bold and louder than the loudest sound in the room. She has learned how to love and be loved.

Something happens when a child enters our world. A heart that once was worn on the inside takes a new home and plants itself firmly on the outside, revealing the transparency that transcends all other things, the love of parenthood.

Happy Gotcha Day Hannah Leigh, we are so very thankful God chose us to be your family forever and ever.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Black and White Wednesday

Taken last summer when we joined friends for a day of fruit and vegetable picking at a local orchard, it is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Hannah. The day was rather windy and I turned to catch her running across the field. Oh how I am looking forward to days like these after the long, cold winter!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Black and White Wednesday

Before I begin today's post, a huge shout out to my friend, Sharon! Sharon is celebrating a birthday on this most greenest of days :) I love her heart for the Lord, her amazing sense of humor, her wildly compassionate spirit, her abundant joy in giving, her sense of discipleship among people and her true gift for hospitality. Sharon, may you have many more blessed birthdays. I am so thankful for your friendship.

I have not yet participated in Lisa's Black and White Wednesday, but as the sun was shining and spring felt on the verge of emerging, I felt inspired. Last year around this time, we went on our annual Adoption Reunion. Our family LOVES this weekend. We will be travelling soon to reunite with our adoption family yet again.

As our group left each other, fulfilled from time well-spent, our family decided we wanted to make a little side trip on the way home. We stopped in Hershey, PA for an unexpected day of plain old family fun. This picture is in front of our tour bus. The old fashioned buses have that vintage appeal and though the picture has no true glorious properties to it, I just liked it. The "conductor" placed his hat on Em's head just as I was about to snap the picture and both girls were blissfully happy that day with the surprise of going somewhere to frolic, rather than just returning straight home.

You can go here to see the many Black and White Wednesday masterpieces others have to share! Lisa posted today on when she and Pat were engaged. If you haven't met Lisa, she is a real lady. Talented beyond belief and a testimony to touch the hardest of hearts, she is a friend and a mentor.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cleaning up the Messes

"...for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Years ago, I listened on Christmas Eve as our beloved pastor spoke quietly in a darkened sanctuary. He began his message, "It was a mess. It was not a clean and tidy evening. It was a mess." He went on to describe what a barn birth must have been like.

Animals. Manger. Baby. Precious Baby.

I vividly remember that message, the way he began, "It was a mess." So often I feel like a mess. I rush and scurry, moving place to place and juggling the schedule of an active seven year old with the constant motion of an active three year old. Definitely do-able, but sometimes a mess.

I looked in my purse today to find a mess, receipts from grocery shopping, several penned notes needing to be mailed, stamps, my calendar and address book, dried out from a drop in a puddle as the snow melted, delicately scribbled with the artistry of the seven year old and the three year old. I thought briefly about tossing the address/date book in the garbage, the pages were stuck together, ink had run down the pages, nothing legible. It is worth keeping, but it is a mess.

I salvaged a coupon or two. I gathered up pens and batteries and savings cards. I replaced all the contents of my wallet, where they belong. I was busily cleaning up the mess.

And then I found it. A small notebook. In it were several pages filled with notes. One had pictures of Jesus turning water into wine, one had notes on love and forgiveness. One had the name Hannah written six or seven times and a heart with the words "for mommy". I did not recognize the little notebook. My mother must have handed it to the girls during church one Sunday. And amongst the mess, I discovered a precious treasure. Inside that messy purse was a golden nugget, a gift that I will keep to give our daughters. Definitely worth keeping!

My mother often says that there should be order in your sanctuary, where you spend your quiet time, there needs to be order. I have quiet time in our bedroom. But I glanced around the bedroom this evening to see the wall that was torn down over two years ago, still a mess. There was a laundry basket with some whites that needed to be folded, my laptop, a dog toy or two, a basket of bills...a mess. I could not do anything with the wall, so I accepted the thing I could not change and began to change the things I could. And as good as that felt, the reality is I still have the mess of my heart to clean up. SO many things worth keeping, but most certainly a mess. Like what God does with our hearts; we are worth keeping, but we come to Him a mess.

It is ongoing...that mess. Our hearts. We need to clean them daily. Searching them for broken pieces and proud moments, kneading them like clay and allowing God to work in them. Drywall and trashcans won't heal the messes of our hearts but the Word of the Lord will.

Come quiet time at night, I will be more committed to cleaning not just the physical space, but the cobwebs and muddy places in my heart.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Are there places in your heart God is just waiting to spring clean?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Last Thursday, I came home from work to find a rather large plain brown box on our porch. I knew I had not ordered anything through the mail, so I assumed that it was a package for Rob's business.

It wasn't.

It was for me. Tee hee.

Because I had no idea what it was or where it had come from, there was an added sense of jubilation as I pulled a knife through the packing tape and exposed a white box emblazoned with the Vera Bradley logo. My sense of excitement rose and I opened the interior box to reveal this:

Springlike and perfectly me, I was completely surprised by this amazing act of kindness. There was a level of sheer exhilaration NOT knowing who had bestowed this precious gift on me.

Thankful for the bag? Yes.

Thankful for the energy, effort and obedience of the person who blessed me? OH YES!

I am beyond grateful for this super sweet bag of generosity. I have since discovered where the bag came from and it is no surprise to me at all who was responsible for this serendipitous surprise. I love her dearly and will never forget how God used her generous spirit to encourage and bless my heart. Her shining example, I pray, will be paid forward as all of us seek to serve others in the purest ways.

The story doesn't end there.


I went to the mailbox several days later only to find a plain manilla envelope. Ripping the newest treasure open I discovered notecards, post-its, shopping lists, a plethora of writing paraphenelia. Yippee! Just two weeks earlier, I had purchased similar writing supplies for each of the girls' teachers. As I gazed at the gifts I had chosen for the teachers, I acknowledged, in my head, that I would love to have those initial notecards and accessories also. It was a silent prayer and I knew God was ushering me away from that aisle, as not to tempt me to spend unnecessary funds. I am so thankful my heart was poised for obedience. The same benefactor had again surprised me, responding to the gentle whisper on her heart. This makes me more than thankful.

This is Sienna. Isn't she beautiful??? Sienna stirs in my soul the same feelings that brought our family to adoption the first time. I used to say our family was complete. And it very well may be. But, if another door were to be opened, I have begun to accept that our family would openly pray about it. Sienna's family, who brought their youngest daughter, Ruby, home just after Hannah returned today on an expedited visa with their newest family member! They are HOME! It is most definitely reason to be thankful!

Several dear friends have had intense medical issues to contend with this week. One of which, her son had an unfortunate encounter with a baseball bat to his orbital cavity. God's perfect provision is apparent as his injuries were minimal and he is doing great! This makes me thankful.

Another friend, the benefactor friend, I continue to stand at her side (from many many miles away) as she hopes for the best with her daddy who experienced a major medical trauma Wednesday. I am so hopeful for his complete recovery and know how desperately she wishes she was there to help her parents. It makes me thankful I can pray.

Yet another friend is embarking on her first cancer fundraiser to support breast cancer and honor her mother, who is currently undergoing treatment. I am thankful for her focus, drive and tenacity in remaining true to a dream she and her sisters have to bring glory to God, while helping their sweet mom.

Finally, I am thankful for grace. Our pastor spoke beautifully on mercy and grace this week.

If I am being honest, sometimes I don't get it.

And many times, I live it all wrong.

There is no license to sin, but there is the promise of grace and for all the times that our heavenly Father, a friend or a loved one has extended this unwarranted gift to me, I am grateful.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


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