We interrupt this trip down memory lane for...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

a bear and some saints...
Yesterday, the girls and I had a girl's night out. We went and got a few things that Lily and Yana needed at the used children's clothing store (I got some great deals!!), and then went out to eat (we had some free meal coupons--since we are still doing our simple meals, this fit right in).

Then we went to The Buddy Factory to get Grace's birthday bear (compliments of Aunt Meredith--thanks Aunt Meredith!!). Grace was so excited. She picked out her bear and immediately decided on an outfit.

Grace got a little nervous when the bear was being filled with fluff.

She picked out a little star and made a wish (for gum every day!!).

And here's the finished bear!! Grace couldn't decide on a name...
But then, this morning, she decided that since she was being Queen Esther for our church's Saint's Day party, that her bear could also be Esther.

Here are all the saints: Yana is Rose of Lima, Jadon is Hudson Taylor, Adam is Paul, Lily is Gladys Aylward, and Grace (of course) is Queen Esther.
We had a great time at the party. Happy Saint's Day!

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Shepherd's Field

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We had such an incredible time at Shepherds Field ( It was like a three day retreat for our family, before meeting Grace. The guest house was beautiful, and there were many little places where we could spend time in prayer (alone, and as a family). The presence of God was very evident there, and though we went to serve, we ended up doing more receiving than giving.
Upon arriving on the first night, we heard some barking. The girls were very concerned that Stevie (the dog) was too cold! As it turned out, David ended up building a doghouse for Stevie, since she was the official Shepherd's Field mascot. What a submissive puppy! The girls carried her around everywhere (except inside the children's houses).

These next four pictures are of four little ones who completely stole my heart. The nannies called the first little guy "ArDou" (a nickname, I think). What a special boy! He was all smiles (except, I guess, in this picture!).

Tiffany has a serious inoperable heart issue. She was so gentle and so bright. She liked to repeat everything that we said to her.

I know that Jacob-Jai is still at Shepherd's Field. What a smile! And sweet, sweet, sweet.

Kyle was another little sweetie. Such a gentle boy. I'm pretty sure that he is also still at Shepherd's Field (if any of you know anything more, I'd love to hear about any of these little ones).

We were so blessed by our time at Shepherd's Field. What a privilege to see more of the Father's heart for these precious children.
Coming up soon: Gotcha!

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Tienamen Square, winter hats, lost glasses and rickshaws...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On our first day in Beijing, we were off and running (gotta beat that jet lag!). We weren't quite prepared (although we were warned) for the cold weather in Beijing. We bought Lily and Adam (who did not have hoods on their sweatshirts) winter hats. Our guide was horrified that we spent $10 on these hats. We were just happy that our kids had warm heads!

We had a great time at Tienamen Square. The history and architecture were fascinating.

Look at these two cuties! Lily was so excited. She could hardly believe that we were finally in her China!

Notice how in this picture, I am now wearing David's jacket! Awww...what a guy!

Adam had lost his glasses on the airplane, so he had a bit of a headache. He and I headed back to the hotel, and the rest of the crew went for a rickshaw ride. They had a great time!
In the evening, David, the kids and I made our way out to LangFang to visit PHF (Shepherd's Field). Oma and Opa stayed in Beijing to do some touring.
Up next (tomorrow): some cute pictures of a bunch of adorable kiddos. If I could have taken a few of them home in my suitcase, I definitely would have done that!

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One year ago today...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

we were getting on a plane to travel across the world to meet our precious little girl. The night before, David and I had stayed up finishing the last packing details. We woke the kids up in the wee hours of the morning, and headed for David's parent's house. There was a lot of traffic and we were running late, but we had planned in extra time so we weren't too nervous. We left our van at David's parent's house and a friend of theirs drove us to the airport. First, we flew to Portland and then on to Japan. Whew! That was a long flight. We're not big movie watchers, but there were no T.V.'s on that flight and with four kids on board, I had been planning on a couple of hours (of the 13 hour flight) to be taken up with an on-board movie. Ah, well...we made it to Japan and had a half-an-hour to get through customs and board our flight to Beijing. We made it on time and were so very, very grateful! The airplane to Beijing was beautiful, and we arrived in the evening and went straight to bed. Here are pictures of my sweet girls, enjoying their backpacks, which were filled with in-flight activities.

Stay tuned...for more Journey to Grace adventures.

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you shall live in booths...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"You shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days...You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God." Lev. 23

Okay, so we didn't actually live in it (we were seriously hindered by a couple of sick babies), but Grace was finally well enough yesterday(plus, our guests have already had the yucky old flu bug this year) to have our Sukkoth gathering and Simhat Torah party.

David was the master builder (I am SO grateful that he can do this kind of stuff!)
But he also had a lot of help.

The booth turned out great, and we enjoyed learning about and celebrating this Biblical feast. We started out with a Simhat Torah party. This is a time of celebration and thanksgiving for the Word of God. Here we all are, parading around the backyard, singing and thanking God for His Word.

After the parade, we read Revelations 22 and Genesis 1, as a reminder to continually be soaking in God's Word. David said a blessing over the children and then they all got treats to remind them that "The commandments of the Lord...are sweeter than honey." Ps. 19:8-10

The kids had spent a lot of time making decorations for the sukkah. Paper chains were in abundance!
The sukkah is not supposed to have a roof. Tree branches are placed on top so that the rain, sun, etc. can come through. This is to remind us that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. We had to cover our glasses to avoid leaves and branches getting into them! lol!

We had just enough room for everyone to fit inside!
Sukkoth is a time to celebrate, or remeber, three things:
1) that the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, after the Lord led them out of Egypt, pitching tents or building temporary huts.
2) the booth is a reminder of the temporary endurance of material buildings as opposed to the permanent and abiding strength of our Lord and the heavenly shelter that He promises.
3) It is also a celebration of the ingathering of the crops, and a precursor to our celebration of Thanksgiving.

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(almost) wordless wednesday

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We have been so blessed to be able to maintain contact with Grace's friend, Quin, from China. They are able to talk on the phone regularly and are always inviting one another to each other's house to play (someday that will happen, but we live across the country from one another). Quin sent Grace the sweetest birthday gift--ar xiao gao (two little puppies). Grace named them Quin and Grace. Thank you so much, Quin and family!! As you can see, Grace loves them!

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laying aside the garment...taking up the towel

A couple of nights ago, I woke up from my sleep. I was praying and asked the Father a question regarding ministry and service. He responded, "John 13:4". Wow! I was so excited. Here was a specific verse that would answer my question. I couldn't look up the verse at that time, because Grace (who has been sick) was sleeping in our room and I didn't want to wake her. The next morning, however, I quickly got out my Bible and looked up the verse: (Jesus) "rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about."

I slowly let out my breath. Could this be right? This wasn't really an answer to my question, was it? I admit, I was disappointed. If He had said "John 13:5" that would have made more sense. Washing the disciples feet--now that's something. I must have heard Him wrong...or so I thought.

Today, the Lord took me back to John 13:4. He told me that He truly had given me this verse. "Oh Lord," I repented...I would look at it again: (Jesus) "rose from supper, and laid aside His garments: and taking a towel, He girded Himself about."

It still didn't make sense to me. I needed some help. Here's what I found:

  • Riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself. John narrates in detail each of these acts. To him they seem as so many successive steps leading down to the depth of humility. The whole formed a striking but wholesome contrast to the self-seeking and ambitious spirit which the disciples had just manifested (Luke 22:24).
  • Laid aside his garments. His outer garment. This was his mantle or robe, which is said to have been without seam. It was customary to lay this aside when they worked in rain, or in the heat of summer. Took a towel and girded himself. This was the manner of a servant or slave.
  • He ‘rose from the table,’ as He rose from His place in ‘the bosom of the Father.’ He disturbed the meal as He broke the festivities of the heavens. He divested Himself of His garments, as ‘He thought not equality with God a thing to be worn eagerly’; and ‘He girded Himself with the towel,’ as He put on the weakness of flesh.

Oh, my sweet Jesus, will I ever learn? My own pride kept me from searching further for the truth of this verse. And the truth is, He put on humility. Our beautiful Lord put on humility and when I asked Him the question about ministry and service, His answer to me was to become humble, as He is humble. Where I was concerned about doing something for Him, He was concerned about what kind of person I am. He could have given me another verse about humility that would have been more obvious. But, my own level of mistrust and questioning made me very aware of my pride even in this. Clearly, I do need this humility. Thank you, Jesus, for your patient and pursuing love. Thank you for your humility. May I learn from You and trust You in this--laying aside my garment and taking up the towel.

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hair talk

Monday, October 19, 2009

I was brushing my hair this morning when Grace exclaimed, "I like it...striped hair!"

hmmm....was she talking about my hair? I guess that I never thought of my hair as striped! "You mean my hair, Grace?"

"Yes. I like it your stripes. I want stripes."

Oh, I started to worry...were we going to have one of these 'I wish that my hair was like your hair conversations'? (I've had many of these with Lily, which completely baffles me since she has such beautiful hair.)

"Grace you have beautiful, black, shiny hair!" I exclaimed. "Mommy always wanted black hair when she was little." (Oh, how I longed for thick, black, shiny hair when I was a child!)

"I want pink stripes."

So, there you have it. I needn't have worried. Grace doesn't want hair like her momma's. She wants pink stripes. hmmm...I gues that it would look cute on her!

Our sweet birthday girl, in pictures

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We had such a great time celebrating Grace's birthday. She was so sweet and excited. She kept saying, "I five. I five." What a little cutie-pie. She is truly a gift from God--His grace, abundantly poured out upon us!!
Here's our little sweetie, stirring up the batter for her cupcakes.
On the morning of her birthday, Daddy went out to buy doughnuts. Grace sure liked the pink frosting. The actual doughnut...well, no. She had a couple of bites anyway!

Sweet brother Adam, bought Grace some gum. This was the ONLY thing that she requested for her birthday.

Jadon thought that Grace needed a sword for all of that serious combat that she's been engaged in!

Grandma and Grandpa sent Grace a beautiful princess dress. She loves it! Opa, Oma and Grammy came up for the day. Here is Grace and Opa.

We invited a few friends over to decorate their own cupcakes. Fun, fun, fun!

Grace loves the park, so we all walked over for a little swinging time.

Fun on the teeter-totter.

Dad and Jade have to get in on the fun!
On the day after Grace's birthday, we met three friends and their moms for a sweet time of playing and fellowship at a local "tot gym." Here are Grace and Rachel, about to take the plunge!

Sweet Sophia. Don't you just LOVE those cheeks!

Grace had a fabulous time!

Addie, Grace and Rachel going out for a drive. This was, by far, their favorite activity of the day.

These three girls had a blast together.

Addie, and her momma. Just beautiful.

We were so blessed to spend this special day with our precious little girl. I'm thinking today of all of the little ones who have never had anyone celebrate their birthdays. So many special little gifts, waiting to be discovered! Jesus has not forgotten them. May He hold them tightly in His arms, and may many more find their forever families this year, so that next year they can spend their birthdays within the families who love them.

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