Saturday, December 1, 2012

Domestic Goddess

I am sitting in a small waiting room, chairs lining the walls, children's books on a shelf, and the smell of winter hot drinks coming from coffee bar in the corner. I am filling out the four page questionnaire before me. I look down and quickly answer the questions, until I see one that stops me in my tracks, "Occupation?" Why does the dentist need to know my occupation anyway? This is the first time that I have had to admit to myself that it really happened. Until recently, I would have said, "Certified Child Life Specialist, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, and Safe Kids Coordinator." I would tell you that I work in a community hospital with our new mamas and pediatric patients. Without skipping a beat, I would also say that I love my patients! But today, with mixed emotions, I half smile & write, "Domestic Goddess". It's easier to joke about tough decisions. Glad they thought it was funny.

When I was a little girl, I remember people asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew that I wanted to be a mom to both biological and adopted children, that I loved helping people, and that I had a passion for those most in need. These were all seeds that God planted in my young heart. As time drew near for me to go to college and pick a field, these thoughts still radiated in my mind. But what major would I choose? For me, the next best thing to God's desires for my heart, was Child Development. I had such a great education and had wonderful jobs to give me experience in this field. I worked with children of all ages and all spectrums of development. After college, I was then chosen to do my Child Life Internship at a great Children's Hospital and again, gained a wealth of knowledge in many specialties regarding hospitalized children. Then afterward, I earned a great job in a surgery center working with pediatric patients and their families. I really enjoyed it. I worked there for 4 years before given the opportunity to start a Child Life program in a rural hospital. I had been there for almost 4 more years. God has shown favor and I was doing everything that I could have dreamed in a career. I loved working and I loved what I did. But God kept pulling me back to the seeds that He has started. He has given me amazing opportunities, challenged me, matured me and has grown the seeds to take strong roots to show me His will.

I tell you all of this, because the picture now seems clearer. He has been slowly preparing me for the life that He so desires. He had given me so many awesome opportunities to work with special needs children, to know what is involved with surgeries, to understand healthy development, and the list goes on. I am not yet the woman that God has designed me to eventually be. He has His work cut out - trust me. But I'm everything that he has designed me to be right now. In this very moment, He knew where I would be and He meets me here. He meets me in the moments when it's hard to trust and in the moments when life has revealed the best it has to offer. And yet, He says, "I have more".

While we were in China, I had a God moment. You know, one of those moments that He speaks so clearly into your life. It was shortly after we had picked up K and I was on Shamian Island, in Guangzhou China with her. She was strapped close to me in a carrier and I could feel her warmth next to my heart. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining through the trees on my face as I walked toward the unique shops that lined the island. The warm spring air filled my lungs and the pleasant scent of blossoming flowers could be taken in for miles. New foliage was taking growth and I was thinking about God's growth for me in my own life. Suddenly time stood still. It was in this moment that God had so clearly delivered these sweet words, "This, my daughter, is My purpose for you. I want you to love, nourish, support, and compassionately lead the children that I have given you and am going to give you." I know with every part of who I am that God was there and set the stage for guidance in my life.

I agreed in my very soul that I could do the above with His help. I didn't, at the time, imagine that God would also ask me to walk away from my current position at work to fulfill this purpose at this time. I felt the tugging on my heart, especially since China. In moments when I should have listened closer, I kept praying, "God are you sure? Please make your plans obvious." Looking back, He was, I was just distracted with my own career driven desires. And one day, not too long ago, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The answer was quite clear. I did what I knew in my heart was best choice for our family, for this season of my life. I chose to resign from my current position and am choosing to trust God's ultimate desire for my life. He who promises is faithful.

This post has taken me several months to write. It wasn't easy. I knew that after meeting K, that our lives were forever changed. But I wanted both. I wanted my career and I wanted to be a mom. And for some moms, they can/should have both. This is not a post to start mommy wars over whether or not women should work outside of the home. This is my personal account of making a big decision for our family. I believe that we are all called to do something different (at different times) and for many women you are changing lives every day right where you are whether you realize it or not. You are a blessing to many. God has put you right where He wants you to be. I'm forever grateful for the women who continually impact our lives each day through a career. But there are others that feel like God is calling you to do or be something different (whatever that may be), listen to the desires of your heart.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4

God put them there for a reason. Please do not go through life hoping or wishing for something different. Be assertive. Take action. Press into His will. Trust Him. How do you know? For me, going to work was getting harder and the grace that was once there had been lifted. I was going through the motions and was often stressed. I wasn't filled with joy and I felt the desire now, more than ever, to be with my children learning, loving, and exploring life. I could no longer find the peace and balance that I once had. God desires for his children to be happy. He wants us to live life for him and fervently enjoy it. When He opens a new window of opportunity, He will continually be asking us to reassess. I love that about God. That He wants us to grow. Asks us to change. Draws us closer to Him.

I want to be obedient to God and passionately live out 2 Cor 9:6 at home with my children and husband:

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. - 2 Corinthians 9:6

I want to pour my time and love into their lives. I want to be flexible for them and spend more quality time showing them about God. We often have goals, but are not on track to obtaining the desired result.  More often than not, we have to shift our priorities and make sacrifices. We have to be open to change. To reap the benefits of a deep relationship with God, we need to poor our attention into his word and build a foundation of love. If we want to be all that He asks, we must be willing to dwell in His word and listen to His still, steady voice. If we want to have a stronger relationship with our children and spouse, we must also invest in it. I want to give them my all, even if that means temporary career sacrifices on my end. I want to sow generously into their lives. More of Him, less of me.

The transition has taken time and there are days that I miss working in the hospital. But I think that it's ok to miss something that you loved - I don't for a minute regret the decision. Walking in God's plan in this season of life is amazing and so much better than I could have planned. I'm happy and am enjoying every day with our children. This experience has taught me so much about myself and what God desires so deeply for me. Looking back, I can see times when I got off course and God has allowed difficult times only to bring me back to Him, to His original plan for this time. He always has our best interest in mind, even if that means closing doors of opportunity that we thought that we wanted at a specific time. As spring, summer, fall, and winter occur, so do the seasons of God's growth. It's truly a gift that I am forever thankful to experience in life. God's journey for our lives is found in His protection and great love.

God, thank you for your continued lessons. Thank you for your grace and patients as we navigate this life that you have given us. Thank you for speaking wisdom into our lives and for giving us moments in time to clearly hear Your desires. Thank you for my past opportunities and for every beautiful experience that you hold in store. Thank you for rescuing me. For changing me. You walk with me Lord while holding this world in your hand. You put the stars in the sky and showed the ocean where to stop. Nothing is impossible. I know that you will continue to open doors for me and our family. Thank you for reminding me that I have the free will to follow your plans. And that it is an honor to choose you. I'm so excited that you have allowed me to be a mama to such amazing children and that you trust us enough to be expecting again through the gift of adoption. We are grateful to be parents and pray that you continue to shape us into everything that you long for us to be. Amen.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart; and lean not upon your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path. - Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

USCIS Fingerprinting

We received our appointment times and dates for fingerprinting! Next week we will go to the Department of Homeland Security, get fingerprinted (again), and then wait for our approval. When we adopted K, this took approximately 4 weeks. That would put us on track for around the New Year!

Lord, thank you for another step in the process! We are all getting so excited!! Please continue to bless this journey to Ethiopia. We pray for the child that you will soon call our son. Please prepare his heart for our family. Please open doors as we move forward and grant us favor in the details. Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Home Study Complete

Our home study is complete! Now that it is finished, we are able to send the documents to USCIS, where our other paper work is waiting to be processed. Our officers will be looking over our information and approving us for a visa for a child. Once we are matched, we will file for our specific child's visa. We expect that in the next couple of weeks we will receive a letter that will give us specifics of getting finger printed at the USCIS office. Then we wait an additional four weeks or so to be cleared. Once this happens, we can send off our dossier to Africa! We are hoping that  this will happen in January.

At the same time, we are in the process of readopting K in the US. Though she is officially adopted, this allows us to get a US birth certificate, passport, and social security card. Yay! When her birth certificate arrives, it will be included in our dossier to Ethiopia with the boys'. We pray for God's perfect timing and hope that the process goes smooth on both accounts!

Lord, thank you for so many blessings each and every day. Thank you for giving us the courage and strength to step out into the adoption world again. Thank you that K's transition has gone remarkably well and that we continue to grow together as a family. Just one more big step to have her paper work complete! Thank you that our children have open minds and big hearts and are willing to accept another child into our home. We know that you will grant us favor and will have a hand in each step of the way. To you we give the glory. Amen

Our Dancer - 8 months

Her dance shoes just arrived and she loves them! K is doing amazing - to say the least! While at dance this last week, a new friend asked me about her story, and every time I have to fight back tears. Not tears of where she has been, but tears of great joy for how far she has come in just 8 months. I'm just in awe of the every day miracles that God performs.

I remember so clearly seeing her picture for the first time and just feeling overwhelming love for this little girl that God would soon call our daughter. Looking over her medical information was overwhelming, but at the same moment I felt God placing a feeling of intense peace in my heart. It seems like yesterday that we were having the "what if" conversation regarding her development and health, but just knowing without a doubt that we were to say "Yes" to her. I remember a wonderful doctor and friend saying, "It really just depends on the type of people that you are. There are no guarantees in international adoption. You have to make the call...will you come to the edge and jump or will you play it safe? I'm so glad that we chose to jump!

Lord, thank you for showing us that you are in control. Thank you for showing us the every day miracles that you place in our paths each day. I have come to appreciate so many little moments with our family. Thank you for opening our hearts to adoption and for continually sculpting us into the parents that you want us to be. We appreciate the dance of life and know that through You, nothing is impossible.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Q's 6th Birthday

Happy Birthday our precious son! We look at you and can't help but smile. You are so much like your daddy - sweet, compassionate, sensitive, caring, loving, generous, curious, and unique. You are in kindergarten and loving it. You are learning to make new friends and are gifted in school, especially reading. You love to explore and learn random facts that never seem to escape your mind (you can thank daddy for that also - he is the king of random knowledge :) ) In fact we even have a gesture that includes you lifting your pointer finger and saying, "Did you know...". You love music, education, and center time (structured play) at school.  You enjoy playing the role of "protector" and want to be a police officer when you grow up. Your favorite thing to do with your family is go to the zoo, movies, Children's museum, gym, and Air and Space Museum. You love to travel and learn about new cultures, but are not always a fan of trying new foods, unless it involves treats. You enjoy a structured environment, but are slowly becoming more flexible with routines. You love spending time with your family cuddling up on the couch watching an educational show, mastering the Ipads, or playing super heroes with you brothers.

On a recent vacation we stood at a wishing well ready to throw our coins in the water to make a wish. I asked you what you were going to wish for and your response was, "I don't need to wish for anything. I have all that I need right here in our family"! We love the peace, joy and happiness in your life! We are so happy that you choose love and try to look for the good in most situations. You keep us on our toes and remind us when we are not meeting the standards of parenting that God would like.You are learning that family means working together and that we can do anything as a team. We love that you have a heart for knowing Jesus and that you try very hard to do what is right. We appreciate your unique personality and know that God has blessed us beyond our expectations when He gave us you!

Six years ago, we held you in our arms and knew that our lives were forever changed as we admired your dark black hair and big beautiful eyes. As you wrapped your hand around my finger, we felt in our hearts that God had very special plans for you. We still believe that about you buddy, that God loves you more than words and that He has a very special plan for your life. We are so proud of you and love you so much!

Lord, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this little boy that we get to love everyday. He is the little leader of the pack and a sure joy to parent. We look forward to learning so much more about his journey in life as the years pass. We enjoy each day with him and are pleased of the little boy that he is becoming. God, please continue to protect Q, keep him healthy and bless him abundantly. We are forever thankful! Amen

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! We bought the kids traditional Chinese outfits while we were in China. The kids love to dress up and wear them around the house. When deciding Halloween costumes, the big boys asked if we could all dress up in our Chinese "ninja" outfits. Mike and I quickly ordered ours and here we are together before we left to trick or treat. We made it to three houses before we decided it was time to come home and hand out candy. While out, we stopped by the kids' second favorite home in town, John and Julie's. We owe them a special thank you for the extra yummy treats! They go above and beyond to love on our kids and make them feel special! Thank you John and Juju!!

Lord, thank you for our super silly moments together as a family! Thank you for the people that you place in our lives to bring such joy to our family. We had such a wonderful time together! Thank you for these four crazy kids. They bring greater joy than we could have imagined. We love them to the heavens and back! Amen

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's a BOY!

We are expecting again! And it's a boy....from Ethiopia!

Since I was a little girl, God planted the seed of adoption in my heart. I specifically have always known that God has called me to help those most in need. He was asking me to adopt orphans in China and Africa. On our first date, I knew that there was something so special about M, that I shared with him my dreams to adopt in the future. M, himself, has been called to go on mission trips and serve in some of the poorest communities. His heart is big and I knew that he would say "Yes". And there we were, over 8 years ago, planning our future family. Little did we know the impact that it would later have on our lives. Adoption is an incredible experience!

So why Ethiopia? Here are 20 reason:

Every day 5,760 more children become orphans in Ethiopia
* There are 153 million orphans (approx) today in this world, 4.6 in ETH
* Every year 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone)
* 1 in 10 children die before their 1st birthday, one in six die before their 5th 
* Life expectancy is approx. 40 years old with the median age being 17.8
* Woman have an average of 7 children and the maternal mortality rate is 1 in 14
* 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
* Malnutrition levels are among the highest in the world with 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
* 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
* 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone
* Every 15 seconds another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa
* Orphans today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home
*Every year 14,050,000 children who grow up as orphans will age out of the system
* Every day that is 38,493 children who are left to fend for them selves, begging for food, living in trash dumps, and selling their bodies to sex slavery
* That is a child every 2.2 seconds with no family or place to call home
* Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school
* 88% will never attend secondary school, that means only 12% will
* Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000
*Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over half of the population lives on less than $1 a day, with the average annual income being $100.  
* Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa

Why not the US?

The answer is simply because this is where we feel that God is calling us to adopt. We love kids and love adoption no matter where the children are born. Some families are led to adopt domestically, while others follow their hearts to adopt internationally. We advocate and support adoption all over the world, including right here in the US.

A boy?

This question has been asked so many times recently. Again, simple answer. We feel like it is what God is asking us to do at this time. That may change. Adoption is full of unexpected. We love girls too. C'mon, do you really believe that we would complete our family without a sister for K?!? I think not :)

What age?

We have been approved and are asking to adopt a little boy under the age of 15 months at the time of match. He may or may not be older than that when he comes home, depending on several factors.

Where are we in the process?

We have completed our part of the home study and are just waiting for the finalized copy. Once it is complete, we will send it along with our I-600a to USCIS. Since we do not have a specific child matched yet, this basically just clears us to adopt a child and apply for a visa when the referral is accepted. We will then be invited to get fingerprinted again at the Homeland Security and Immigration office. Once approved, we will submit our dossier to Ethiopia. We are hoping that this all happens before the New Year. 

What is our time frame?

We are praying and hoping to be matched in the spring, with travel in the late summer. It's in God's hands and we know that this is only our best guess. We will continue to pray for His perfect timing.

God, we are ecstatic to be adopting again! Thank you for making your plans so evident and for opening  doors to make our paths clear. We pray for our child in Ethiopia. We ask that you bless him and pour your love into his little heart. Please hold him in your hands and keep him safe and healthy. I love that our children are so excited to have another brother. Q & C ask about him nightly at prayer time and we dream together about what he might be like. Q thinks that he will love to read, while C believes that he will like to race outside with him. We love learning about Africa together and look forward to learning more about his culture. Thank you for the blessing of having friends with adopted children. It is so amazing to be able to learn from other families and have support from parents who understand the adoption journey. Thank you for so many of our awesome friends who have love on all of our children no matter what their birth country happens to be. Thank you for our dear friends who pray for us often and encourage us along the way. Words cannot fully express our gratitude for making adoption such an important part of our lives. Adoption Rocks!! Amen

"I will bring your children from the East and gather you from the West" Isaiah 43:5

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tata...Looks Like Rain

We couldn't resist sharing this photo. We had so much fun dancing in the rain and enjoying each other on a stormy afternoon. Thank you, Lord, for so many precious moments with our children!

Frame of Faith

We recently walked through a couple of beautiful houses in the Street of Dreams. These homes were immaculate inside and out. The lines were clean, the decor was stunning, the lighting was incredible and "the price was steep" according to my husband. As you walked into the homes, you were met in awe of its beauty. I couldn't help but think about all of the plans that were orchestrated in a way to make this house a home. It took numerous people and countless hours of hard work to transform wood, nails, drywall, and paint into this amazing piece of art. 

I wondered if this isn't just like our life. If God is waiting for people to transform. To change. To build. To make beautiful inside and out. I wonder how many times people wish away dreams or chalk our lives up to luck. Our moments in life are not coincidental moments, but what we see (and don't see) are God ordained deliveries. If we ask, God will give us an explosion of blessings. He will make His master plan ours. And even if we don't have all of the pieces yet, He will bring each piece in a time when it will all make sense. God will build a strong foundation. He will knock down walls and open our hearts. He will strengthen the frame of our faith and place a fire in our souls that will light up the world.

I remember praying one night asking our Lord, "God please make clear the path that you have for my life. Please break our heart for what breaks Yours. Help us to be sensitive to the needs of those around us. Fill our hearts with abundant love and help us to be a blessing to others. Give us grace as we move forward and lean into You. Help us to stay focused and carry us when we don't understand. Please speak Your word into our lives and help us to listen when the distractions of life seem to drown out Your voice. We know that you are faithful and always good. I am expecting great things from You Lord for our family. We are believing big that You will bless our lives abundantly. Please help us to be patient as we know that your timing is perfect. Our faith is in You Lord as You transform us into everything that you have created us to be. Amen."

I needed time to be still. Time to soak it all in. To dwell on Him. To seek God and his plans for my life and our family. And in the silent moments He has taught me lessons. He honored my prayers and responded in faith. God has work to do in me. Lots of it. As soon as the prayers left my lips, He said, "go".  He didn't wait for me to say "when". Trust me when I say, "Be careful what you ask." He will take you on the best ride of your life if you are willing to say, "Yes".

This is what I learned.

Listen to His voice and respond in obedience. God will take your life and move mountains to get you on the right track. He will give you obstacles and trials only to bring glory. He will place people in your life that encourage growth, even if at the time, it is someone who makes you uneasy. He will begin to stir in your heart a desire for change. He will ask you to step out in faith. To let go of everything that you had thought that your life would be. Our God will ask you to come to the edge. To jump. To trust. To surrender. He will ask you to walk away from everything that does not lead to His plan or encourage growth.You will feel uncomfortable as change begins to take place, but a peace will remain as you step into His will. "I never asked you to do this alone. I am here." He will whisper, as you scream inside with selfish sadness of having to let go of your plans. You may feel like a 2 year old throwing your best tantrum ever. He will take you to a place where life seems dark, only to remind you that He is your light. And in those moments, as you give up control, He will take it all. He will say, "It is done."

Hold strong when you pray. Do not limit yourself on your circumstances or your past. Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of all of our sins. Not just some of our sins, but all of them. God has already forgotten, so it is time that we do too. The depths of our past will determine the height of our future. God will bless us beyond measures and turn our weaknesses into passionate strengths. Do not rely on others opinions to measure your self worth as God measures life differently than we do. He will prepare a table in the presence of your enemies. He will anoint you. His cup will over flow with great love. As God slowly takes away people in your life for a season, embrace the gift of good bye. He is waiting for you to blossom where you are now. To take victory of your life and claim the blessings that He has stored up for you.

You will know that there is a new season of growth around the corner. New seeds that need to be planted in order to reap the benefits of their fruit. God will ask you to keep pressing into His plans, though in the realm of this world, what He is asking seems impossible. It may seem inconvenient or even chaotic at times. But then we remember the power of His love. He will take the impossible and make it possible. You know that He isn't in this world, but that He created it. He will bring balance back to your life and give you more hope than you knew existed. He who promises is faithful.

A wonderful transition will take place and God will gently guide you in a direction better than we could have planned ourselves. The blessings will continue to be abundant and His love consuming. You will have come to understand the gift of every day life and the blessings that He provides in each moment. You will appreciate the little miracles and the small favors that accompany each day. You will choose to spend each day in amazement of His purpose. God will show love in places that haven't seen the light in years. He'll bring restoration and strength in areas that you didn't know existed for change. I love that about God. There is grace, forgiveness, mercy, and healing that will meet us wherever we are.

Just as the homes that we visited took months to create, God is stead fast in His timing to bring us the desires of our hearts. After all, He placed them there. The more time that we spend in His word, the more our plan starts to line up with His. We must believe that He has the master plans. We need to anchor our lives in His love. He knows where we are at this very moment in life. He already designed the blue prints before we were born. God didn't make any mistakes in His plan. He knew every hair on our heads. He cares about the details. He created us each beautifully. He is in awe of His children. We are His master piece. His work of art.

Lord, thank you for reminding me the beauty of Your plans. Thank you for creating a love in our hearts for our family and for others. Thank you for reminding me just how far we have come, but how much work there is left to do. I love that you love me even though I am a work in progress. Thank you for dying on the cross to make us new as if we have never sinned. I believe Father that you want us to enjoy the journey of life. That You want to be involved in every aspect. You didn't promise that our journeys would be easy, or wouldn't come with a steep price, but you did promise that it would all be worth it. I know that sometimes life doesn't make since, but if I press into Your will, that You will give me exactly what I need when I need it. Help me to keep my eyes focused on You instead of the world. Guard our hearts and help us dismiss others' opinions when they do not line up with You. I want to be audacious in our journey. To enjoy our everyday moments together. To seek you fervently. I ask you to stir the fire in my soul that burns for you. Please use us Lord to do Your will. We want to be Your hands and feet. To be hopeful, loving, compassionate, joyful, giving, and thankful for each and every day that you choose to breathe life into our lives. Please help us Lord to be your light for all to see. We ask this in your name, Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pajama Party

C, Q, S & K

It's a Pajama Party! They are so super cute that I can barely take it! (Okay, I'm their mama, so I may be a bit biased) Here we are at our favorite little get away that holds so many fun memories for our family. We love our little mini vacations and the kids love their sleep overs. I mean, what kid doesn't love to sleep in a transformer bed! Breakfast is the time that they look forward to most. Nothing gets them moving int he morning like chocolate chip pancakes! So much fun!

Lord, thank you for our time together. I love seeing the excitement on their faces when we drive up to their favorite spot. The memories that we make together are priceless whether at home or on the go. It's such a blessing to share our lives together! Amen

                                                              My Cuddle Bug "Hulk"

                                                               My Q Diggity "Spiderman"

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sixth Month Anniversary

It's been 6 months since we were standing in a small room anxiously awaiting the arrival of our daughter. We'll never forget the moment that she was placed in our arms and we held her for the first time. Just like with our boys, God brought a love that was so deep, and flooded our hearts with overwhelming emotions. I remember taking in a deep breath as her soft skin gave way to the smell of a sweet baby. I couldn't believe that I was holding her. That the seeds that God allowed to take root so many years ago had finally come to fruition.

Time has flown by and we are enjoying each day. K is absolutely amazing. In every way we are blown away by her. She has attached well and is secure in our relationship as parents/daughter. Each day brings new opportunities for growth and we are thankful for her strong will to overcome any obstacle. K is on target for language development and talks constantly. He favorite phrase currently is, "I do self". She is very independent and loves to be helpful. Her and S can be found doing most everything together. They play well (most of the time), love to help in the kitchen, and especially enjoy time together outside.

She is running through the house and walking up and down the stairs unassisted (though we are always ahead of her and close by). There are times, that her little legs give out still, but this can be normal for a little girl with Spina Bifida. She is still doing awesome on the potty and only has occasional accidents when sleeping. We know that God will continue to strengthen her legs and bring healing in every area of her life. We put our trust in Him and ask that He continue to bless her beyond our imagination.

K is so incredibly sweet, that it would be hard not to fall in love with her. I day dream of her bio mom and wonder if she was just as incredible. The answer always comes in an instant and I know the conclusion has to be "Yes". This woman, whom I do not know, carried this child, our child, in her womb. She fed her and held her. She formed attachments with her and loved her so deeply to only want to give her the very best. I think about the dreams that she had for her little girl and knowing that it would be close to impossible to provide for her given the lack of medical access and money in the poorer, rural areas. I can't even fathom the pressure to have a "normal" child or one of a specific gender knowing that you can only have one under the "One Child Policy" without facing penalty or jail time. This woman could have aborted our daughter, especially given the medical special needs - the most severe form of Spina Bifida.. But she didn't. She gave her LIFE. I can only imagine the thoughts that went through her mind as she lay her 6 month old child on the door steps of the community health center 2 years and 3 days ago. She placed her in a safe spot where she would be found. God had a hand in knowing every detail. He knew the man that had found her, the police that would be contacted, and the events that would unfold. He knows her still and allowed her to become all that she is today. He gave her a new home, a new name, and a new love for life. He, our father, makes all things new!

Today, Lord, as we celebrate our child's 6 month homecoming, I think about the mother who gave her life. This woman will always have a special place in our hearts and she is a key reason that we continue to receive little bubbly K laughs, cuddles, and love each day.  Words cannot express our sincere gratitude to this woman, God, who we may never meet. We are so thankful for your plans, Lord, and that they are always better than we know. Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

One Year Ago Today

One year and one week ago today, these are the beautiful eyes that jumped straight through the computer screen and stole our hearts. One year ago, we were anxiously awaiting the phone call to hear that we had been chosen to be her parents. On this day, our lives were forever changed. This picture, this child, has changed every aspect of how we view this world. Saying "Yes" to this sweet face was one of the best decisions that we have ever made as a family. When I look at K's eyes in this photo now, I see more than ever before, a baby orphan full of life and potential. She was alone and had no family to call her own. No warm home, no princess pj's to prance around in, no warm bed to snuggle, no parents to comfort her when she was scared. This is a picture of a little girl that longed for a mommy to gently kiss her, read her stories, and sing her songs to bed. This is the face of a child, a child of God, that needed so much to have a daddy hold her tight and tell her that she was safe and secure. This child, our daughter, is a miracle and every day we feel blessed to get to be a part of her story.

Thank you, our tenacious daughter, for showing us God's definition of love. Thank you for sharing your strong will, big personality, and courageous heart with our family. Thank you for allowing us to be part of who you are and for dynamically altering the course of our lives. We are so proud of the progress that you have made since we saw your beautiful face in this picture. We knew from the moment that we saw you that God was going to give us the privilege of being your parents. We remember having so many questions about your medical needs but feeling such deep peace from God that He was going to heal you to His liking. You weren't walking or speaking in this photo. We didn't know if you could hear or if you would ever be potty trained. But it didn't matter. We knew that you were ours and that in God's hands, He would continue to mold you into the beautiful child that you are today - perfect to His plan. He has healed your legs and you run and dance. He has given you the gift of hearing and you talk a mile a minute - like most other girls your age. You learned how to use the potty in less than a week. Your hair has grown and you now have cute chubby cheeks. You have been made new from the inside out. When I look at you now, your eyes sparkle and all of the potential that you held inside is blossoming more each day!

Lord, we praise your great name! You have expanded our hearts and whispered truth into our lives. You have shown us that you create miracles every day if we are willing to sync our heart with yours. Thank you for this little girl and for the joy that you continually pour into her life. Thank you that you love us and want to restore all scars from our past. Thank you that it's not always physical, but in you Lord, you bring restoration in every single part of our soul. You seek out the broken and make us new. You tear the shackles of our worn hearts and call us redeemed. You know our sins and say forgiven. You seek out the lost and give them hope. You understand our pain and you, heavenly father, take it away. It can sometimes be hard to surrender to what we can't see, but through faith, you bring healing and joy. Beauty out of ashes. Art out of chaos. Life out of death. Freedom to grow, change and to know your will for our lives. In your name Jesus. Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

County Fair

God, thank you for these sweet boys that we get the honor of raising. We know how important it is to have individual time with each one and appreciate the opportunity to have special "date nights" with them. Tonight, we were able to enjoy the county fair - a first for our family. The boys loved looking at the farm animals, trying snow cone treats, and riding the train. But their favorite part of the evening was spending time with daddy winning Green Lantern super heroes! Thank you Lord for all of our many blessings, especially the quality time that we get to spend together!

C & Q trying a snow cone

C enjoying the train ride

Q blowing the train whistle

Doctor Day

C and M had a special day together learning about doctors at the hospital. Words cannot express how excited he was to hang out with his daddy {notice the gloves, pin, and stethoscope}. He was able to attend a meeting, go to the office, and even got a special treat - chocolate pudding with whipped cream - in the cafeteria. Thanks to everyone who made him feel so special! Several people stopped to say hi and even invited him to join in surgeries, procedures, and deliveries. Thankfully, none of this worked out with his busy schedule. Maybe next time!

Lord, thank you for the gift of C. He is so much fun and full of love. We are grateful for each memory that we get to make together. Thank you for M and his desire to be a strong role model. Thank you that he takes extra time out of his day to make our each one of our children feel special. What a wonderful blessing to have a strong leader for a daddy and a husband. Kisses and hugs boys!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Break Through

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3

Adoption is wonderful, it's unique...and sometimes difficult. There is often an adjustment phase, just like having a newborn. Our sensitive little C has probably had the hardest time. Overall, he has done amazing, but there have been days that he has asked the tough questions.  Questions such as, "Why is her skin darker than mine"or "Why doesn't she speak the same language" or "Is she really staying forever"? These questions are normal and in fact, I welcome them. I want him to be able to verbalize to us his thoughts and feelings. I remember when S was born and he stood in the corner of the room crying, "NO baby." He didn't talk to me for days. But then the adjustment came and C loves S whole heartedly. Here is a break through moment for them both. We are on a walk and this is what I turn around to find. The two of them holding hands.

This isn't an issue about skin color or language. This is about adjustment and learning to love. It's about gently guiding our children to show them that we can pray about concerns and get through transitions together. It's about educating them that God made us each perfect according to His plan, no matter our skin color, language, disability, religion, gender, or place of birth. Learning to accept someone new doesn't always come quickly. It can be scary. It often takes time, patience, and practice.  It takes an open mind and lots of love. But through God's grace, we can learn to see each other through His lens, not that of our world.

Thank you Lord for giving us the gift of trials in our lives. In these moments, we remember that it's not how we start, but how we finish. There are lessons of love to be learned along the way. You didn't say if, but when we face trials of many kinds. And then You promise the gift of perseverance. Even for our children, you Lord, want to strengthen their faith and show unconditional love. I consider it a joy to get to experience Your life lessons and almighty love. Amen

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Little Star

Our sweet little S man in the back yard enjoying a beautiful day! He loves to swing and act silly together! Ahhh, I just love these moments! Thank you Lord, for your beautiful days and our fun memories together!

Off to Kindergaten

Q is off to kindergarten! Look at this sweet face. He is so excited to go to school! How clearly we can remember holding this handsome little guy with big blue eyes and dark hair in my arms while he looked up so intently into my eyes. It's been almost 6 years since our first born arrived into our world and he is off to his first big year of school. We are thrilled that he is reaching this milestone and we know that he is going to do awesome! So while he is off to discuss with his friends the fact that orion is a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator, or that dinosaurs first appeared during the triassic period millions of years ago, and why the uvula is a hanging ball located under your soft palate, we are going to smile proudly and wish him the best of luck. We love you sooooo much Bubba! Yes this much! {arms stretched as wide as possible with lots of hugs and kisses to follow}

Lord, thank you for Q. He is so special and fun to be around. Thank you that he loves to read and learn. Please bless over his first day at school and help him to make new friends easily. We are proud of all that he has become and look forward to many more years of great memories together! Amen

Friday, August 10, 2012

C's 4th Birthday

We love, love, love this little boy! We just fall head over heals with you all over each day. Several times during the day I will look at you and think that you remind me so much of myself. Your mannerisms and personality favor me, though you also have many of daddy's traits too. You are loving, compassionate, trust worthy, genuine, active, and funny. You love to laugh (the cutest laugh ever) and it's contagious with those around you. C, you have a heart of gold that radiates through every part of who you are. Making friends comes easy to you and you enjoy being hospitable. You are well balanced and smart. You are enjoying preschool and love your teachers. You dream of being a super hero and love to use your imagination. You like to play "tricks" on us and enjoy hiding only to be easily found so that you can be showered with extra hugs, kisses, and tickles. Being active and involved is just part of who you are. We can often find you climbing, jumping, wrestling, or daring to try something new. You are going to be a great athlete and love going for runs with your mama. Your favorite times are on-the-go at the zoo, Children's museum, or right in the backyard playing sports. With all of your extra energy out, you will still wrestle your siblings for a spot next to us in order to cuddle on the couch. You love close contact and any extra love that you can give is a great joy.

Our sweet, Mr. C (AKA: sweet potato pumpkin pie cuddle bug or cuddle bug for short), we are so proud of you! You love God and are our little evangelist. You are the first to request prayers and help us to always remember how important it is that we trust God's will. During play last week, I heard you shout with enthusiasm, "He did it mom! God healed my owie"! You are proud that God gave you "red & orange" hair and know that it fits your personality well. You are one of a kind, buddy, and we love that you are so comfortable and confident in all that God has created you to be.

Four years ago, shortly before your birth, I was resting in bed as I watched your strong legs push your feet against the wall of my belly. You were constantly active, training for the Olympics we thought, while you were growing inside my tummy. You rolled up on your side at 2 weeks and were rolling over before 1 month. God has blessed you with great strength, inside and out. When we held you for the first time, we knew that God had created you to stand out, to be a courageous leader in life. He has great opportunities in store for you and we are ecstatic to watch your story unfold. He loves your zest for life and your enthusiasm planted in faith. You are simply an amazing child of God and we are proud to get to direct you through your journey in life.

God, thank you for this incredible little boy that you have given us the opportunity to parent. We are just in awe of his love. He is a blessing to us and to others around him. We pray that you continue to overflow his cup with joy and laughter. Please send your bountiful blessings to him and keep him safe and healthy. Please help guide us to be the parents that he deserves. Thank you for your generous support and for always being the best example of what being a Father, a leader, really involves. Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Two Peas In A Pod

Seriously, look at these two! M sent these pics to me earlier and my heart skipped a beat with joy! They are so sweet and are loving each others company! Lord thank you, thank you, thank you! We are so blessed!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

S's 2nd Birthday

Happy 2nd birthday, our delightful son! My heart melts when I see your sweet face. You are such a little love bird and we are so proud of the little boy that you have become in your first 2 years. You are a wonderful combination of your mama and daddy. You are fun, interactive, sweet, cuddly, caring, sensitive and compassionate. You are flexible in your routine and open to change. When K came home, you welcomed her with open arms and you have been best friends since. You are an observer like daddy and Q. You take in each moment and are a constant learner. In your mama's arms, you will go anywhere or do anything. You enjoy being held and cuddled whenever possible. You are starting to become interested in trains, reading more, watching baby Einsteins, and listening to music. You love animals and singing songs that make their funny noises. 

Our little baby, you are growing fast! We are so thankful for you and the joy that you bring to our family! You are trying so hard to keep up with the big boys and love any attention that they will give you. You love to play outside and especially love bubbles! Below, we attached photos of your 2nd birthday present - a bubble lawnmower. You loved it!

Just two years ago, I held you in my arms and new that you were a miracle. From the very beginning of conception, pregnancy was a big challenge and the first two years haven't been the easiest for you. You have struggled with food intolerances and tummy aches. But God is healing your sweet little tummy and we have confidence that He will use these first two years to bring glory to His name. Mommy has learned so much from you and has been able to help other mommy's. You, our son, are already changing lives. We have no doubt that God will continue to use you to make an impact in this world. You are strong and courageous. Lovable and friendly. Playful and kind. We look forward to the toddler that you are becoming and the little boy that you will soon be. We have been blessed to the heavens and back to get to get to be your parents! We love you buddy, lots and lots!!

Lord, thank you for this little boy that we get to call our son. Thank you for loving S and for walking beside him each and every day. You hold him in your hands and call him Yours. You have brought him blessings and allowed him to be a blessing to others. Thank you God, that we get to have the privilege to be his parents. Please help guide us to be all that S needs in a mama and daddy. We are far from perfect parents, but trusting you God, our weaknesses are made into strengths. Please continue to bless our son and keep him healthy and safe. We find our faith in you and are grateful for filling our lives with incredible love. Amen.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making Lunch

After a super busy day of "reorganizing" the playroom {check out the background}, S and K decided to bake me a pizza for lunch. Look at the two of them together! I can't help but smile every time I see such joy in their precious little faces. It's such a blessing that the transition for both of them has really been smooth overall. Yes, there are ups and downs in the first few months of any adoption, but what I've learned is that it is also how we as parents respond when those not-so-great days come...and they will come. But so do those same days with biological children. At the end of the day, as your children are lying peacefully, safely in their bed you will smile with overwhelming love. When you think about the transitions that they have made, you are blown away by God's great miracles and you will say I would do it 100 times over again.

Thank you Lord, for our two "babies". We have more fun together than I could have imagined. They are such a joy to be around (even when they pretend to be tornadoes and dump toys throughout the entire house). I appreciate all of the fun, silly, crazy moments that we get to spend together. We are incredibly grateful for each one of our children and are honored to be their parents. To have the privilege to show them your grace and love. Amen.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us!

As we look back, we are amazed at all of the wonderful friends and family who have shared our lives with us! Thank you to everyone who inspired us, encouraged us, and helped us to grow closer together as husband and wife. So much has changed since these pictures, but we can honestly say that each day only gets better! We look forward to many more years of special moments as a couple and a family! 

Prayers, blessings and many thanks



Our pastor and friend 

Our adorable ring bear and flower girl - Love their kisses

It's official

Us shortly after the wedding

God, please continue to bless our marriage so that we can grow deeper in love for each other and our children. Seven years ago, we had no idea the plans that you would have for us. We are so grateful as your plans are far better than we could have imagined or dreamed. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to spend the rest of our lives embracing all that the future holds together! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Bat Mobile

Its official! Everything in life that I once said, "I would never do" has now come to fruition. I don't even say the phrase anymore, because at that moment, I know that it is bound to come true. Just 2 years ago I said that I would never buy a minivan. And a year later, it happened. I gave in. M's minivan turned into my minivan because it is so much more practical, convenient, and the kids prefer it. When we signed the papers for the our first van, I said, "Okay, but I'm drawing the line at a 15 passenger van." And I was serious. I meant it. "Ha! You have no idea" God must have been chuckling, as He knew months later this big, black vehicle would be in our driveway! He continues to show me that He has other plans.  Big ones. And I'm glad, because I like His plans better than mine. 

Our new vehicle is the size of a 15 passenger, only it is customized to seat 10. When I asked M if he ever thought about having a van this size, he simply stated with a laugh, "That is like asking if I ever thought about flying to Mars". I'll take that as a "no"! But none the less, today he drives it and we both love it. Oh, how both of our lives have changed. We now have 2 vans in the garage - this one the big boys call the "Bat Mobile"!

Lord, thank you for our new vehicle. Though we never imagined having a van this size, we are now able to comfortably fit our entire family with room to grow. Thank you for breaking our hearts for what breaks yours. For allowing us to see first hand the difference a family can make to a child. We feel blessed to follow your plan for our lives and expand our family as you direct us to do so. We know that you have many fun memories for us to share together as we travel, laugh, share, and explore life as a family!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Good, Not So Good, and In Between

This last month has been a whirlwind as we met with specialist to try to piece together K's medical history and future plans of care. We have so much to be thankful for everyday! Each day together as a family we adjust more to having a daughter and the boys to having a sister.  Each morning as our eyes meet, she brings a smile to our face as she greets us with a, "Well Hi!" that sounds like it was drawn straight from the South. Each evening, all 6 of us cuddle up on our bed watching a show together as a family. Each night, she is sleeping better knowing that we are still there when she wakes up to look for us through the dark. Each day our little girl allows us in more to be a part of who she is - to love her more.

The good: The awesome news is that she isn't just walking, but running! She is is now navigating around objects, balancing on uneven surfaces, and even walking on an incline. K can walk up and down the stairs with assistance and loves to practice. She is a very strong willed little girl that is determined to succeed. We present her with opportunities to grow through play, but it is her that is taking those challenges with all that she has to do well.

We had her assessed by the state to determine if she would qualify for services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, early development, or speech pathology. We feel confident that she is now close to being developmentally on target, but also wanted to get her assessed in case we were missing something. With having Spina Bifida and English as a second language, we knew that she automatically qualified, but also know that she is making incredible advances in both departments.

The assessments were made and scored by a team of specialists. The results are in. Physical therapy said that she is only one standard deviation below normal in her physical growth on her legs - she wouldn't even qualify for services if it wasn't for her SB! Developmentally, she is also very close and again will not qualify. Each week she adds more English words to her vocabulary. We could choose to still have services because of her birth defect, but have opted out at this time because she is just making phenomenal  progress. The team was blown away by her! The team told us that we are fostering an environment that is encouraging such great achievements, but we know it is K's determination that is responsible. It is God that is continuing to heal her. It is Him who brings restoration. It is His love that allows us to love.

The not so good: Just 2 days ago, we went back to Children's to have an MRI to look at her entire spine and a CT to see if her subdural hematoma had resolved. Yesterday, we heard the results, maybe not the answer that we were hoping to hear. But again, through this entire process, we have prayed faithfully for the very best and educated ourselves for the worst. God is so good.

I find myself sitting across from a doctor that I know is well trained in pediatric neurosurgery. He is average height for a man with salt and pepper hair. He is kind and chooses his words carefully. He has his hand on his head, propped up against the exam bed in the room, rubbing his forehead in disbelief that our daughter is walking. As he sits in his chair, he is intently studying our daughter with great concentration as she strolls across the room. As he watches her, he occasionally glances up to give me the results that I have been waiting to hear for almost a year. His voice confident, he says, "sometimes with adopted children from China, we see that they have had an operation that isn't even close to the operation that we would perform in the states or an operation that I would perform shortly after birth. Some children get an operation by doctors that are not neurosurgeons, to simply close the skin over the spinal cord. The spinal cord is never placed in its accurate spot. In other children, we see that they had a surgery that was done by a highly qualified surgeon. These children often do fantastic, but are still at risk for a tethered cord." He takes a deep breathe and I lean forward to hear the news that the latter was K's case. I was wrong.

"Your daughter's surgery was done most likely by an untrained doctor in neurosurgery. Her spinal cord is tethered and is longer than most other children because there is scaring that is pulling the cord down. There is most likely a lot of scar tissue around where her previous surgery was done.  Her spinal cord is just underneath her skin and is not actually being protected by her spine at the bottom of her back. She most likely does have a myelomeningocele - the most serious type of spina bifida. She has hydrocephalus and enlarged ventricles in her brain, which is common with children that have SB. Kai also has a condition called Arnold Chiari malformation." I take a moment and digest the information that was just handed to me. I look at our amazing little girl playing as if this conversation isn't taking place. She has no idea of so many unknowns that surround her regarding her development.

As I pick her up and place her on my lap, I find myself smoothing down her thick black growing hair and I kiss her forehead. I touch her little hands and she cups them around mine. I look down and notice the contrast in our skin. My skin white, hers brown, and I love her as if she has been mine forever. Though we look nothing alike on the outside, there are times that I have to actually try to remember that it was only 2 months ago that we met her half way around the world. We have all fallen so in love with her. She giggles up at me and I know that no matter the outcome, it doesn't matter. God has given us this amazing gift and we are so thankful! Together, we will conquer whatever it is that our journey holds. Together.

I look back toward our doctor and ask the obvious question, "Will she need surgery?" He looks directly into my eyes, his voice very serious and says, "I want you to know up front that this is a big surgery. This isn't a procedure that we jump into or base information only off of an MRI. We need to continue to piece together information, including all clinical history, to determine the risks verses the benefits. The risks are great and I don't want to do an operation that could possibly make anything worse. We should wait and see. Treat her like a normal kid. Look at her now."

The in between: We have learned that each day is truly a blessing. It was good to hear about Kai's current medical status, but I believe that God has a plan bigger than what the doctors can see on MRI. There is a reason that her surgery was done the way that it was and we believe that God was with her every step of the way. Sometimes when we pray we want an answer, one to our liking, and we want it when we ask. But God doesn't always deliver information in the way that we want. Sometimes there are lessons along the way to be learned. Lessons that we couldn't learn otherwise. Learning takes time. More often than not, we experience life obstacles to help others. To be an encouragement to those who are where we have been. Overall, great news, but a mix of emotions. Love. Joy. Fear. Encouragement.

There are days that the thought of wrapping K in a bubble sneaks in to my mind (okay, so not literally - maybe a helmet for her head :)). I wonder what will happen if K is playing outside and falls on her back with no protection on her head or spine. What if future surgery is required? What if paralysis occurs at some point? Fear sets in. But how gently God reminds me that relying on my knowledge and worrying about the things that I can't control are not in my best interest. There is so much more than we know, than we understand. So we are rerouted to seek God and to continue to put our trust in Him. What peace there is in knowing that His love is so great, that He delights in us, and calls us to draw near to Him. How wonderful it is to have His word and encouragement in times of fear.

While we rejoice that K is developing beyond our expectations, we will continue to seek out information. Thankfully her subdural hematoma is almost gone and expected to continue to just resolve on it's own. Her hydrocephalus is just a part of who she is and no further action will most likely be needed unless it gets worse. Our next appointment will be to visit the pediatric urologist in June, because issues are common in kids with her condition, although we don't believe that she has any at this point. We won't need to follow up with neurosurgery until a year, unless she appears in pain, her strength decreases, or major issues arise.

Lord, we choose to move ahead bold and confident, while we wait for the answers. We want to focus on the "right now" knowing that You are faithful and will continue to shape K into his image. You have the power to decide wether she will continue to walk or if at some point, not. She was made with such care, perfect to the way that You wanted her to be. This new information doesn't change all that she has accomplished. Right now K is walking, talking, and growing leaps and bounds.  She can jump, race cars around the house, and continues to gain strength each day. We love her unconditionally and want what is best for her. In this moment, she has a chance to learn who You are and that You are in control. We place any of our fears in your hands, as we believe that you want to take our burdens. We seek out your desire for our family as we continue to believe that you have big, incredible plans for us. Thank you for your continued blessings of abundant love and encouragement. We are humbly grateful!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Back Yard Fun

Kai at home swinging for the first time! We can't help but smile every time we see such joy in her sweet little face!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Sneak Peak At Recent Family Pics

                                                                            M & J

                                                              Q - Our Bubba Bumblebee

C - Our Cuddle Bug 

S - Our love Bird

    K - Our Beautiful Butterfly

Q (5) and C (3) Preschool Graduation

We are so excited that Q and C were able to attend an awesome preschool! We love their teacher and the program has been great for both of the boys. Q will graduate this year and go to kindergarten in the fall while C will attend school for 2 more years. The socialization has been great for both of the boys since they don't attend daycare outside of the home. We are so proud of both of our amazing big boys! We love you both bunches!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Full hands

"Are they all yours? Wow you have your hands full!" We hear this at least once a week and at first I didn't know how to respond. Often times it takes me a minute to fully understand the reason someone may be asking as I juggle between requests for apple juice, snacks, or potty breaks while we are shopping. People are very much interested in our family dynamics and especially our adoption. But we don't mind as this gives us an opportunity to share a piece of God's heart. I smile and then respond to more questions. Are we busy? Yes! Does it often take a lot of multitasking and patients? Yes! For us, does it take a healthy marriage and good teamwork? Yes! But is this the journey that God has called us to travel? Absolutely! So yes, they are all joyfully ours! And yes, our hands (and hearts) are full. They are full of love, kisses, hugs, and cuddles from our children.

God, thank you for our family! We love that our children are close in age and play so well together. We love that each one is as different on the inside as they are on the outside. We are so proud that we see you in each one of their hearts. Every day, God, you shower your plans of love and hope into our home. Your love is unconditional and never ending. We know God that we just said "Yes" to your plan, but it is you who guides our way. Thank you for drawing us close to you and showing us daily the parents that you want us to be. Through our faith and your grace, your love is abundant. Some may call us crazy, Lord, you call us blessed.

K's Room

 After spending several months working on K's room, we finally finished it! We used the same crib that we used for the boys. And just like them, she doesn't like sleeping in it. She'd much rather be in our room. So we will take it at her pace, and let her sleep where she wants, until we can transition her into a big girl bed.  

Standing in the doorway, I was able to capture most of her room. We tried incorporating Asian items such as the paper lanterns, a Chinese fan, and the cherry blossoms canvas. You can't see it well in this photo, but in the left hand corner of her room, is a super cool shadow box. Our friend Ash, used a map to cut out "people" representing M, K, and I's place of birth. It's perfect for her room!

We were also able to bring back souvenirs from China to add to K's room. Some day we will take her back to China to fully experience the culture, traditions, and heritage. But for now, we will do our best to help her remember our journey. Above, I framed and matted four crocheted designs found at a small shop on Shamian Island. At the same place, I also found K an adorable blanket (that never leaves her sight) and clothes for her many dolls. Items in this shop were made by women in poorer areas. The proceeds from sales then went to help support orphan children. How cool is that?!? We also found pink tea cups in a mom and pop shop owned by a Chinese Christian family. When this man found out that we were adopting K he was so happy that he made her a special gift. He used thick black paint to beautifully place her name on rice paper.  K will love it when she gets older. In the red and gold box on the top shelf is a hand carved jade stamp set. The jade is carved into her animal year of birth and stamps her name in both Chinese and English.  On the top far right is a doll that represents K's birth province - Hebei - that was also given to us in token of appreciation of K's adoption from a Chinese family. In a another shop close to our hotel, we came across this gorgeous comb and mirror set as well as the three Chinese dolls. Below the mirror set are 3 Asian hair combs, made with pretty jewels, that K can enjoy once her hair get longer. The traditional pink and gold Chinese shoes were a great find at a nearby boutique. We were excited to get to capture a little piece of China for K to treasure.   

Lord, thank you again for our experience together as a family in China. Thank you for all of the memories and stories that we get to share with K for years to come. Thank you for the items that we were able to purchase with K to help remind her of the wonderful culture that she was a part of for the first 2 years of her life. We are forever grateful for this time to experience our daughters place of birth and the many amazing people that helped us enjoy each day there. Amen.