Christmas Photos

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This first photo was taken on Christmas Eve. We always have a Christmas Eve service with our church, and then all of us (everyone in the church) eat a meal together at a local hotel. Our pastor reminded us of the incredible revelation of God that night. I'll have to do a separate post about his sermon.I love these next two pictures of the boys! In the first one, they are wearing their tiger hats that were in their stockings. In the second one, Jadon is enthusiastically thanking his brother for his new light saber. Adam was so excited to give this to Jadon. Adam spent every cent that he had earned (that didn't go to his tithe or savings) on buying Christmas gifts this year. He loves to give! Our sweet gang.
Our first Christmas with this amazing and incredible little girl!!! She is quite a gift!!

Thank you, Aunt Angela!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I am going to take a two-post hiatus from "keeping it sane" so that I can put up some Christmas pictures, and also post this "thank you" to my very thoughtful sister. She sent a monetary gift to us this Christmas and we decided to use it for a fun night out for the whole family. So, here is our night, in pictures.

Our first stop was "Pump it up!" The kids had a great time jumping on all of the inflatible jumping thingies. Grace has been saying "jumpy, jumpy, jumpy" ever since that night.

Our next stop was a local middle eastern restaurant. The food is great! It has absolutely the best hummus that you'll ever taste. The kids enjoyed sitting on the floor for the meal and ate everything that we ordered. They all had their favorites (including flafels for Grace, baba ganouch for Yana and tabouli for Lily).

We ended the night by driving around and looking at Christmas lights.
Everyone enjoyed this house which had it's lights set to music.

Thank you so much, Angela!!! We had a great time!!!

"Keeping Sane" Part 2 (Keeping a Sense of Humor)

Monday, December 29, 2008

So, Trish (who will soon be traveling to China to adopt precious little Taylor!) got the author of The Love that Keeps us Sane correct. I thought that I was going to be able to trick someone since the book is about St. Therese of Liseaux, but is written by Marc Foley. But Trish was definitely too smart for any trickery! She knew the author and is now on her way to fame and fortune!!!

So, back to the main topic of this post...Yesterday, I spent a serious amount of time in the morning making sure that my children's clothes matched, their teeth were brushed and their hair was combed. I even curled Grace's two inches of hair (can you believe that?!), because she asked me to do it after seeing me curl Lily's hair. They were all looking oh, so sweet when we headed out the door to church.

We were running a little late, and slipped into the church a few minutes after the service started. We were visting a different church because our church has "vacation Sundays" where everyone tries to take vacation time on the same weekend (more about that in a different post).

The lady that I sat next to was very sweet and offered to move down a seat, so that Grace could have her own seat. I noticed, however, when she looked at us, that she couldn't help but staring at Grace's feet. Well, I looked down, and realized that my perfectly dressed daughter was still wearing her slippers! So much for keeping everyone matched and well-groomed!! LOL!

I admit, that keeping a sense of humor is not a strong point for me. I just happen to be a very serious person. I studied philosophy, for goodness sake, and grew up in a very orderly Scandinavian (think stoic here) home. But, I am learning that a sense of humor and "not sweating the small stuff" is essential to "keeping things sane."

This is an area where I definitely know there is a great amount of room for growth! A couple of days ago, Lily told me (after a long afternoon of errands and my telling her that I was really tired) that she preferred when I was "perky" (her word). I can always count on Lily to tell it like it is. And really, if the truth be told, wouldn't we all prefer "perky" to ultra-serious and tired?

So, here's to a little humor in the home! Anyone know any good jokes?!

The Love that Keeps Us Sane

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Okay, so I am stealing this title : ) Whoever can tell me the author of this book, will win a really big prize (fame and fortune and your name mentioned on this blog!).

I am writing this post as an answer to a question from a fellow-blogger. My blogger friend asked what were some of the things that "keep our days sane" with 5 kids and a cute dog (okay, she didn't really ask about the dog). I thought that I might do a series of posts on this topic, and I'd love to hear from all of you. What are your tips for keeping things sane in your home?

Please know that I am going to share some specifics about the things that work for our family. I hope that they are a help and encouragement to some, but please take only the things that are of help. Love is the goal, and my goal in writing this is to give some food for thought to those of you who would enjoy it. I pray that some of these things will be an encouragement to have love reign even more in your homes.

So, absolutely the most important thing in our family that keeps our days sane is making sure that we all have time with the Lord. A friend once told me that if God is our source, we need to be sure to spend a lot of time with Him. She definitely did not mean this in a "have to" sort of way, but in a relational way. We cannot receive all that God has for us, if we do not know Him and do not spend significant time with him.

So, what this all means for our family is that no matter what is going on in our home, we make prayer our top priority. For David, Adam, Yana and myself that means time (on our own) studying our Bibles and other spiritual books in the morning, family prayer/praise with everyone right before school, David leading Bible study first thing for school, individual praise/prayer time for me and all of the kids (and David if he is home) in the afternoon, and time for prayer/study in the evening for David.

The time that I want to focus on in this post, is our afternoon prayer/praise time. This time serves three purposes. First of all, it is a time to connect with Jesus, who is our dearest friend and first love. Secondly, it is a time for each of the children to have a break from one another and recharge, so to speak. And finally, it is a break for me from the responsibilities of our home and children. I do not ever do work during this time (that was a temptation for me in the past).

So, how does that work if you have young children? Well, when my children were still napping, we would have our time of prayer/praise at that point in the day. As soon as they stop taking naps, I begin to teach them how to spend time alone with the Lord. At first, they simply spend the time looking at books with beautiful pictures of Jesus and His life, and listening to praise music. When they begin to read, they may spend the time reading their children's Bible and listening to music. As they get older, we teach them more about how to praise God when they are on their own (not in a group) and how to thank and worship Him for all that He has done. Of course, this is a process that they are still in (and so am I!).

So, practically speaking, Adam and Yana generally spend the time reading their Bibles (we encourage them to pray the psalms aloud) for some of the time, singing praise songs (sometimes Adam also plays the drums along with praise songs), and also spending some quiet time talking to and listening to God. Lily loves to listen to praise/worship music and write psalms of praise for most of the time, and Jadon reads his Bible and listens to praise music.

At this point, Grace stays with me. She loves to follow along with whatever I am doing, so she will raise her hands and play the tambourine and dance around the room while praise music is playing.

Then, she will sit in her rocking chair and look at a book if I am reading my Bible or quietly praying (God Calling is her current favorite! She will actually get a bit irritated with me if I want to read this book! LOL)

I haven't actually "taught" her these things. She has simply learned by watching. She does, often, have a snack during that time, as well, so that I can have more focused time while she is occupied. I expect that in a month or two, she will be able to have timem with the Lord while sitting on her own little bed.

So, this is without a doubt, the foremost thing that "keeps us sane". What are some things that keep your life with children and other responsibilities sane?

Grace and Rosie

Friday, December 19, 2008

So, I have many, many thoughts running through my mind that I'd like to post about. But, the problem is that my thoughts are not very well-developed. I've been reading another book by Bill Johnson, and am constantly being challenged to think outside of my current frame of reference. The one thing that I can say, is that if you have any last-minute Christmas shopping that you need to do, consider giving one of Bill Johnson's books. I'd definitely recommend Strengthen Yourself in the Lord to almost anyone. In fact, there are a few people that I am giving it to, or have already given it to this year.

So, in lieu of anything really substantial to say, I'll post this picture of Grace and Rosemary instead. It is hard for me to believe that just a month ago, Grace threw up upon her first meeting with Rosie. Now, as you can see, they are the best of friends!! Here are just a few of Grace's Rosie phrases.
  • "It's okay, Rosie. It's okay." This little girl is definitely a nurturer.
  • "Hi Roser!"
  • "That's a good girl, Rosie!" Said in a very high-pitched voice. I wonder where she got that from?! LOL
  • "Rosie outside." Grace wants to make sure that I know that Rosie is waiting by the door to go out.
  • "Rosie, no food." She's letting me know that Rosemary needs some food in her bowl.
  • "No, Rosie!!" Said in a very stern voice. I wonder where she got that from?!
Grace's language skills are really coming along. In addition to all of the verbal attention that Rosemary gets throughout the day, Grace can also say the typical "bye, bye", "potty", etc., she is counting to 10 in English (most of the time), she can sing "head, shoulders, knees and toes...", she says all of her siblings names, as well as the other three children that come to our house for tutoring, and each day she is picking up more and more. It is amazing how fast children learn!

"The very best moment of my life..."

Monday, December 15, 2008

A few days ago, Lily asked me, "Mom, do you know what was the very best moment of my life, so far?"

"No, Lily, what was it?"

"When we got Grace. That was the very best moment of my life."

Big Brother Love

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I just love to see the affection of a big brother for a little sister! And this big brother adores his little sister. He is absolutely smitten with her.

Sweet Yana

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One thing that I enjoy about our children, is their varying personalities. Tonight, I was thinking about our precious daughter, Yana. It is absolutely amazing to me that a child who had such a rough first seven years of life, can be so sweet and loving. She is truly a servant. Whenever we have company, Yana makes surethat she checks if anyone would like a glass of water (she loves to do this little service for anyone who is visiting). She cheerfully cleans and does whatever tasks that I ask her to do. Oftentimes, I have to ask her not to do other people's jobs, so that they can do the jobs themselves (I know, I know, what a problem to have!).

Yana is also very creative. From the first day that we met Yana, she has been drawing amazing pictures. God has given her an incredible ability to see things in her mind and be able to reproduce them on paper or in some other art medium.

Yana is a thoughtful sister. She and Lily love to play together. They are truly best friends. Yana and Adam also genuinely enjoy one another's company. They also like to be silly together sometimes. Yana has a servant's heart towards both Jadon and Grace. She enjoys reading to them, playing with them and helping them with things that they need.

I am so very grateful for each of my precious children. And tonight, I wanted to share with all of you some of the wonderful things that make my precious daughter, Yana, so special.

13 Years!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I am absolutely blessed to say that David and I have been married for 13 years, today. Happy Anniversary to the love of my life! This is a picture of David and I, on our anniversary last year. We had a wonderful time spending the weekend in the mountains. This year we'll be going out for the evening, and Grace will be joining us. I cannot imagine anything better!

Baba (Daddy) Moments

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do you remember when our sweet girl had difficulty interacting with her new daddy? Well, that is a thing of the past. Grace has definitely discovered that Baba is fun, fun, fun, and very snuggly too! Grace loves the thrill of being swung in the air by Baba. David says that she is going to be our harley riding girl!

Christmas Preparations

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Last week all of the cousins (on David's side) came to our house and had a photo shoot for Oma and Opa's Christmas card. Don't they look cute?

We also decorated the house last week. The kids had so much fun putting all of the ornaments on the tree. My bigger kids are getting so tall that David and I only had to help with some of the tallest branches.

I've been wanting an advent wreath for years, and this year I finally went out and purchased one. While I was at the Christian bookstore, I also bought the book Jotham's Journey. It is a story that has a reading each day (along with old testament prophecies) that takes you all the way through Christmas. The kids have absolutely loved it. They always want me to read more! Thankfully, no one has gotten really frightened by the story. It is quite suspenseful. Our kids are pretty sensitive, which in many ways is good. But, I am glad to see that they can enjoy a good story, without getting too scared.

Yesterday, we went to our adoption agency Christmas party (AAC). The kids had a fun time having their faces painted and visiting Santa. We've always told our children that Santa is "just for fun" (i.e. not real), but that his character is based on a real person who loved God and loved people. They really enjoy hearing about Saint Nicholas, and had a fun time visiting with the modern-day Santa as well. Here they are (in the same outfits from Oma!) at the AAC Christmas party.

While we were at the Christmas party we discovered that the family who helped start AAC has 30 kids!!! I knew that they had a lot of kids, but I thought that it was somewhere in the teens. We talked to the dad and he said that there are only 9 at home now (almost an empty nest, according to him!).

We really love our adoption agency. If anyone is thinking of adopting from China or Korea, check out their website: We have definitely been blessed by them many fold!

Today, our pastor was continuing a series of talks on purity of heart (we missed many of the talks while we were in China, but are trying to catch up by listening to them now). This, of course, is the most important preparation for Christmas. Oh, that my heart would be pure before God...that I would love Him with complete abandon, and that I would continually seek His face! What a gift that God would come to earth to live among us. I pray that I would always be grateful for this extraordinary gift and that my heart would be prepared to celebrate Emmanuel, who is God with us!

"We could pray, Mom."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Yesterday, after we were done with school for the day, I got the kids all bundled up (it snowed here!), to go to the library. As we were heading out to the car, I realized that my keys were not in my purse. Since I remembered that Yana had used them to get the mail the night before, I called David (Yana was working with him), to see if she remembered where she put them. She did not remember and while I was talking to David about where to find the hidden key, Rosemary ran out of the house and Grace started crying because she thought that I was leaving without her.

I said goodbye to David, asked Adam to get Rosemary, picked up Grace and hunted for the hidden key. When I couldn't find that either, I began looking for the lost key again. I have to say that it wasn't one of my best moments, as I was frustrated and slightly irritated. So, when my sweet daughter suggested, "We could pray, Mom", I mustered up my best smile and said, "Yes. We definitely could do that, Lily." But, to tell you the truth, I didn't pray. I just fussed (in my mind, it's true, but it was still fussing, never-the-less).

I called David again and he offered to come home to give me his key. We really needed to get to the library, so I said that he should do that. I still felt irritated, though. I hung up the phone and Jadon came in and announced, "I found the key, Mom! I was praying."

Precious Jadon had found the key while shoveling the snow in our driveway. There was a good 10 inches of snow and the pile was at least two feet high. God simply chose to show His sweet mercy and kindness in this very little thing. Humbling, to say the least. First of all, God ignored my bad attitude and blessed me despite my fussing. Secondly, my two little ones were more prepared to pray as their first response, than I was.

A similar thing occured in China when Lily was sick. I wanted to give her advil, but she said, "No medicine, Mom. Just prayers." And guess who was completely well the next day?!

And actually, if the humbling truth be told, when Adam was 7 he broke his arm. It was a really bad break and his arm was completely bent out of shape. My first response was, "We have to get him to the doctor!" But, his first response was, "Jesus, please help me!"

Ah, it looks like I am a very slow learner. Thank you, Jesus, that you keep reminding me of your complete and utter trustworthiness in the examples that I have right here in my own home!

adoption, finances and the faithfulness of God

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wheedling down which books to take to China was a difficult task. I like to read and often reference a variety of books while praying or just while thinking about something in particular. I knew that Matthew Henry's complete commentary of the Bible was out of the running, as were a number of other hardcover books that I had been reading. I finally narrowed things down to just a couple of paperback books, my journal and a Bible.

During a prayer time a few days after arriving home, therefore, I decided to read the entry for November 2nd (Grace's Gotcha Day!) in God Calling (which is a book that did not make the packing cut). This was what it said:

"Give, give, give. Keep ever an empty vessel for Me to fill. In future use all for Me, and give all you cannot use. How poor die those who leave wealth! Wealth is to use, to spend, for Me. Use as you go. Delight to use."

Now, this may not sound like the sort of prophetic message that would give most people goose bumps in regards to their daughter's adoption, but for me it was extremely significant.

Three years ago, on David and my 10th anniversary, we spent the weekend together while his parents watched the kids. When we dropped the children off at his parent's house, David noticed a book that his father had been given by a friend. It was called, "A Brief Account of the Life and Labors of George Muller" and "George Muller on Money and Possessions". David took the book and was highly interested in reading it. I, on the other hand, could think of nothing that interested me less than reading about finances on our anniversary weekend.

But, the next morning, as David was reading and praying, he stopped and read a passage from the section of the book on money and possessions. It was incredible. We ended up spending much of the weekend reading and discussing this book. Any of you who are familiar with George Muller will know that he started many orphanages in England during the 1800's. He cared for homeless children in a way that was extraordinary for the time.

I already knew this, but what I didn't really understand before was that George Muller had a philosophy of money which made him fully dependent on God as his supply. And when I say fully dependent that is exactly what I mean. It wasn't unusual for George Muller to have nothing for the orphans to eat for breakfast, then to pray and have a milk truck break down in front of the orphanage, or a baker deliver 20 loaves of bread for free. George Muller depended on God for every single thing that he needed, and God never let him down.

The amazing thing is that George Muller loved living in this way and also believed that this was normal Christianity. David and I were blown away. We read, studied and prayed, and came to the conclusion that we believed that George Muller was correct in his assessment of normal Christianity. But if this was normal Christianity, we certainly weren't living it! We were living the normal American financial life, except that we didn't have any substantial debt and we already believed in living a simple lifestyle (both of which made us feel as if we were very godly indeed!!).

So, what were we to do? Well, first of all, we had to do an about-face in our understanding of money, savings, stewardship, etc. To be honest, we are still in this process and are just beginning to understand what God wants for us in this area. We are beginners when it comes to trusting God completely for our finances (or any other area). But, we are committed to the path, because we know that God truly is worthy of our complete and utter trust.

Grace's adoption has convinced us even more of the truth of this, because we did not have one single penny to finance her adoption just a year and a half ago. But, down to the very amount that we needed, God has been faithful to supply for her (and our) needs.

A large chunk of the money came through two very significant grants and the rest of it came through the interest on some money that was given to us. Last week, David was figuring out the exact expense and amount that we had used for Grace's adoption and realized that these three things covered exactly what we needed for her adoption. This is no coincidence!! At one point (very early on in our thinking of adopting again) I wrote out a list of ideas of ways to raise money. Now, I do not think that this is a bad way of financing an adoption at all, but I was praying while writing out the ideas and I realized that with the work that it would involve it was impossible for me to do this and still remain faithful to other needs of our family/church. God would simply have to give us the money if we were to adopt again. And guess what?! He did!! We basically did nothing. He did it all.

I'll close this post with a beautiful quote from George Muller:

"Observe here particularly that we, the children of God, should be different from the nations of the earth, from those who have no Father in heaven, and who therefore make it their great business, their first anxious concern, what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed. We, the children of God, should, as in every other respect, so in this particular also, be different from the world, and prove to the world that we believe that we have a Father in heaven who knoweth that we have need of all these things. The fact that our Almighty Father, who is full of infinite love to us His children, and who proved to us His love in the gift of His only-begotten Son, and His almighty power in raising Him from the dead, knows that we have need of these things, should remove all anxiety from our minds."

God's Gracious Care

Monday, December 1, 2008

Whew! Now that it's over, I can say that last week was really rough. Jadon did finally recover from his illness, but was, well...recovering (i.e. cranky). Also, my throat was really sore and we were still trying to get over our jet lag. On Tuesday, I went to the doctor and she was sure that we had strep, but the test came back negative. So, she gave me some meds that did help quite a bit. Unfortunately, David was now feeling sick and Yana was sick on Tuesday, as well.

I mention all of this, because as I was praying today, I realized how much God has cared for us, even during this rough week. First of all, I am amazed at how well our sweet little girl has slept. From the first night, she has gone to sleep willingly and has slept all night. What a gift this has been! A gracious mercy, straight from the hand of God!

Secondly, my dear friend, Linda, and her family brought dinner to our house shortly after our return, and Laurel sent over some incredible soup for us to eat. We ended up going out to eat for Thanksgiving dinner, because we weren't up for driving to David's parent's house (an hour away), and we have actually eaten out quite a bit these past two weeks. But, that, in itself, is an amazing example of God's care for us. After our other adoptions, our finances were very tight. There is no way that we could have gone out to eat that much. But, God has been providing so kindly for our every need, as we learn to entrust our finances to Him. David's schedule has been very flexible (he actually hasn't worked since we returned from China), and today I was able to spend the afternoon in prayer due to the generous provision of our Father. I am going to write a post about finances, etc. sometime in the next couple of days. I am so amazed at our generous God!

Finally, our God has cared for us in how He has cared for our sweet girl. Grace's orphanage was very dark, but our precious daughter is full of life and light. There is no doubt that God was with her and this has made her transition so very easy. She has a joy and lightness that is incredible. Thank you, our dear Father, for the gracious care that you give to us every day! You are good!

Hoola kids!

Monday, November 24, 2008

All of the kids enjoy the hoola hoop (although Adam prefers an unconventional method!). Check out Lily's hoola hooping style! Looks like she should be wearing a lea with that hip action. We were all laughing so hard while they were doing this!

By the way, I cannot believe how well this little Gracie girl is doing! What a gift she is!

One week home!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Despite a few bumps in the road (a sore throat for Jadon and for me, trouble falling asleep for Lily and a visit to the doctor for Adam), we have had a great week! Grace is doing so well.

She is settling into the school routine and we have learned that she can count, sort, do puzzles etc. This is all very encouraging because she seems fairly on track for her age in all of these things. She loves the sorting math bears. She and Jadon played with them all evening on Tuesday.

She also loves to give kisses and tonight she said, "I love you," when she got into bed.

Her fear of Rosemary seems to be over. She is always trying to get Rosemary to sit on her lap. Also, a number of her first words have been in association with Rosemary. For example, she said "It's okay," when Rosemary gave a low growl in her sleep. She also let me know that "gao gao" (chinese for dog) "outside" when Rosemary was at the door waiting to go out. She likes to greet Rosemary with an enthusiastic "Hi Roser!" whenever she walks in the room.

The last series of four pictures is a little vignette of our daughter's acting skills. Her pouting has decreased significantly and when she does pout, we're pretty sure that about 90% of the time, it's an act. She usually can't hang on to the pout for very long and breaks out laughing!!

Sweet Boy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Three weeks ago, these three incredible girls were living in an orphanage. Now, each one has a family who loves them dearly.

At this same orphanage, there are three little boys who are waiting for a family. Two of them have families who are also waiting for them. But, one little boy waits, without a family who is also waiting for him. And he is a beautiful little boy. If you are considering adopting, please check out

Click on "adoption" and then "waiting kids". "Liam" may just be your son! And what a gift he would be!

We're home!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We are home and are doing great! Grace was incredible on all 3 flights, with only a bit of fussing over not being able to have more gum when she was supposed to be going to sleep. Of course, flying with a four year old takes a little bit more entertaining than flying with 7-11 year olds. Here's Lily playing peek-a-boo from the seat in front of us.

Reading to DiDi (little brother) is fun too.
Of course, lots of barrettes provide endless hours of enjoyment.

But, she did eventually sleep, and kept sleeping all the way to Portland. Here she is in the customs line, completely zonked.

She cried pretty hard in her car seat on the way home. I knew that this would be an issue, because she did not like wearing a seat belt while we were in China. We wanted her to get used to it from the start, however, and are pretty strict about car seats. It was hard for the other kids to hear her cry/scream like that, but she did eventually fall asleep.

When we got home, Grace began exploring everything with her brothers and sisters. She LOVED her little rocking chair and her bed. She was absolutely thrilled with all of the stuffed animals, as well.

We ate dinner and everyone went to be at around 7:30. David woke up at 12:30 and gave everyone benadryl. This woke Grace and Lily up, but they went back to sleep within an hour and everyone slept until we woke them up at 8:30!!! Grace had joined us in our bed at about 1:00, but when I woke up she was back in her little bed. She just loves it! We were so grateful for this great night of sleep.

Today was wonderful. Grace had such a fun time checking everything out. Lily gave her a doll to play with and she has carried it around lovingly for the whole day. All of the other kids are absolutely in love with Grace and are enjoying her immensely. It was the first time that Grace has ventured away from me (in China she would cry if she couldn't see me), so I think that she really knows that this is home.

We did bring Rosemary home today, and that was the only difficult part of our day. Grace was terrified. One bonus to that though, was that she let Daddy carry her around A LOT, because she didn't want to be on the ground with Rosemary. Grace did calm down enough around Rosemary so that when Rosemary was in my lap, Grace would pet her. And Rosemary seemed to know that Grace was scared and was totally still when Grace would come over to her. So, I think that within a few days they will be good friends.

Please keep praying for sweet Vivi Jo. She is doing much better, and her new family (understandably!) adores her. If you want to see how she is doing, Kim's blog address is:

I know that I have said this before, but I want to thank you again for all of your prayers, comments and emails. I so appreciate the love that you have shown to our precious daughter and to our family. We were sitting at dinner tonight, simply praising God, for all that He has done in this little girl's life and in our lives. We are so blessed!

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