a decade of love

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh my Lily, 10 years ago, you climbed right into our hearts and we've never been the same!

Lily's Referral Photos

The day that they placed you in our arms was like a dream. We had waited so long to hold you and now we were all together...the day was absolutely were perfect.

If I had known then, what I know now, I would have been even more amazed.
You are a treasure beyond compare, my Lily!
Your strong love, your sense of justice in love, and your incredible confidence leave me in awe some days. I just can't wait to see all that the Lord will do in your life...I'm amazed by what He's already done!!

The day Lily joined the family

ZhaoQing SWI Care

We love you so much, Lily, and we are so very grateful to be your parents. I often think of your birth parents and imagine what they must be like. I know that if they could see you today, they would be proud of the young woman that you are becoming. You are graceful, strong, smart, affectionate and full of love.

Happy Adoption Day, Lily!
Thanks for a decade of your wonderful, fervent love.
We adore you, our precious girl!

And here it is:
Our traditional Adoption Day family song.
(not high quality, but definitely heart-felt)

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You all are so incredibly sweet!! Thank you for the birthday wishes. I had a wonderful day.

Thank you, especially, David and both mean the world to me! What would I ever do without you?!!

(Stay tuned for a very special adoption day post.)

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dear Blog Friends of Sarah,

David and I hi-jacked Sarah’s blog, because today is her birthday!!!!  J 

So, since she is at school all day today, and won’t see this blog until late afternoon, it would be so wonderful if you could all leave her birthday wishes in the comments, so she has a “virtual” birthday card to open when she sits down at the computer.  I know that Sarah means so much to all of you….and it will be so enjoyable to be able to bless her all together.

From David:

Here is my wife: thought and action in love.  Either she is thinking about some act of love or she is performing an act of love.  I have enrolled in her school of love.  I watch what she does, I listen to how she thinks about situations, and I learn what it means to love.  I think she is the most loving person I know.  When we were dating I asked her, “What she wanted to be when she grew up.”  She said she wanted to be a “virtuous person.”  She has achieved a large degree of this.  So much so that I can say that when I grow up I want to be like her.  She is a bright shining light in my horizon.  I am such a blessed man.  I was blessed beyond any knowing when I got married.  And now I am blessed in my knowing for I am so grateful for the jewel that I have been given.  Happy Birthday!  I love you.

From M:


You know you mean the world to me.  I think we’ve known each other for 20 years now…and how I so look forward to the next 20 with you!  You are truly the most compassionate, kind, merciful and loving person I know. 

I have never met anyone who comes even close to you in the way you parent.  You have been my ideal for 13 years now in the parenting realm….  I would nominate you for Mother of the Year every single year…  You do not just mother your own children with such love and tenderness, you do it with ALL children.  So many people have learned so much from you…in your daily example…and in the way you go OUT of your way to teach others what just comes so naturally for you.

Yoda of parenting, you are.  J

Your love for the Lord is always spurring me on to love Him more.  You have been a zealous lover of God from the first day I met you until now.  So much has changed since your days at Talbot until now…(like the fact that you eat meat now)…but your love for the Lord…that is constant….constantly increasing!

I love you, Sarah.  I love our history together, and I love that our future will always be intertwined with one another.   (especially if some of our children marry…..please, Lord!!!!)  I love the way you love me….and make me more of who the Lord intended me to be.  You will forever be one of the greatest gifts I have ever received from His hand. 

You don’t believe me that I have been thinking about your birthday NON-STOP for at least TWO MONTHS NOW….but trust me, I have…because, Sarah…I love you more than you can ever realize….

Happy Birthday, dear friend.  I CANNOT wait to celebrate you!


Could it be possible?

Monday, August 29, 2011

 That our precious daughter is now 14 years old?!!
sniff sniff

In the course of 28 days, we have five birthdays and one adoption day at our house. And since we have two of those birthdays plus one adoption day on August 30th, we have to start our celebrating early!

So, on Saturday, David and I took Yana out for breakfast. She chose LeMars doughnuts, so we had quite the sweet time that morning!

When we got home, Yana started baking her cake. Later in the day Aunt Tonja and Teresa came over to help decorate the cake (with a horse theme, of course!).

On Sunday, we had a party for our precious girl. Adam, Lily, Jadon and Grace could not wait for Yana to open their presents, so she obliged them and opened their gifts before any of the other guests arrived.

We went to one of our favorite parks (one that is going to be just perfect for R., by the way!). It's specially designed for children with special needs and also has some great things for older children (like our 14 year old daughter!).

Back at home, we ate dinner and had cake.

Yana and sweet Alyssa (sorry for the blurriness of this photo)

Yana and Aunt Meredith.

Our beautiful Yana, we love you so very, very much!
Happy 14th birthday.
We pray that this year is one of great joy and great love. May you experience the amazing love of God more and more every single day.

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the mystery of faith

Friday, August 26, 2011

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Hebrews 11:1-3

Our precious Jesus is completely faithful....
absolutely, perfectly, one hundred percent of the time

He never, ever, ever leaves me on my own.
He never leaves you on your own, either.
We can always trust in His love.
His character is totally pure and amazingly good.
He's completely faithful.

This is faith...
standing on His truth,
believing that He is altogether good,
and worthy of our complete trust.
This is the faith of every believer.

But there's also another kind of faith.
It's the faith that God gives to believe for something specific.
Revelation of this sort never goes against His character
and often leads to a greater insight into who He is
(because the thing that He's really after is our hearts).

When it comes to the adoption of our precious little R., I believe that God has given a special word. It is completely obvious that He is the One who has orchestrated every miraculous event, thus far, and because of that, I have faith that He will carry it out to completion.

I have faith in what He has already revealed.
I have faith in His character.
It has been decided.
R. is our daughter.

Could I be wrong?
Could I be decieved?

Of course. I am human. I am fallible.

But, there is one thing that I know that I am not wrong about.
In fact, I would stake my life on it.
The God of the Universe loves that little girl.
And I can completely trust in His goodness and grace in her life.
For He is utterly, unendingly, and altogether faithful.

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scenes from our school day...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lord, please make our school (and our church)
a place where deep connections are formed...

a place where love heals...

a place of safety...

a place that fosters love for You as the first priority...

a place where wisdom and learning abound...

a place where bodies are healed and needs are met...

and a place of joy and true friendship.

Lord, may the light of your love shine in this little school.
May You be glorified here each and every day.

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lessons in insomnia...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

For the past two weeks I've been fighting a nasty virus and have also had some serious insomnia.
My schedule has been pretty routine...
go to sleep around 10 or 11...
wake up at 2...
stay up until at least 5
go to sleep until about 6....
Yep...this is how I've looked.

But, it really wasn't all that bad becuase I've got an incredible hubby who was doing everything that he could to make things easier for me,


wonderful hubby got sick on Sunday.

mmmmhmmm...wonderful hubby got sick.

On Monday things weren't pretty.

Sure, I did fine at school.

But when I got home, I had a bad attitude.

So when I woke up that night at 2am, I was whining and complaining to God (I would have whined and complained to my hubby, as well, but he was sleeping).

After a few minutes of whining, however, even I got tired of hearing it!
So I asked the Lord to help me.

And you know what?!
He did!!
He did help!

He helpd by telling me that I was being pretty self-centered and that there were people in the world who have endured a lot more and were still able to love and serve.

Of course, being the kind and generous and all-loving God that He is, He said it in a lot nicer way than that.

I got the point, though, and I realized that despite lack of sleep, I could still choose to love, I could still choose to serve, I could still have a good attitude.

So, I hauled myself out of bed, and went up to sweet Yana's room to pray for her and bless her. Then, I got back in bed and thanked Him for the abundant, abundant, abundant blessings that He has poured out upon me.

I still didn't fall asleep.
But, I didn't really care.
He was with me, and loves me, and helps me to love, as well.
And that's all that really matters.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me lessons every single day (I need them so badly). Thank you, Jesus, for giving me lessons in insomnia.

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and then He spoke...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

After realizing that the little girl in my dream (that I wrote about here) was actually sweet little R., you might think that it was completely obvious that we should adopt her. But, we weren't sure if she this child was symbolic of something that the Lord was asking of us, or if she was actually supposed to become our daughter. So, we prayed....

And for what seemed a very long time, we heard nothing...

We didn't give up, but we did put our thoughts of R. in check and simply waited. We believed that we had to have confirmation from the Lord that we were to adopt R., and we did not feel that we could move ahead without it. You see, she would be our third child who was ten years old. We needed to know that the Lord was in this, and that we would be able to meet the needs of all of our children if we adopted R.

Also, we knew that the Lord was asking me to teach at our Church's school the following year. This would require a lot of time and energy. We had to know that it was the Lord who was asking us to adopt R., because if it was Him, we could trust that despite these obstacles, all would work out for His glory...and we so desperately wanted His glory.

Then, there came a week where I felt an intense burden to pray for sweet R. Unbeknownst to me, there was a wonderful woman (one who loves R. deeply), who also had a burden to pray during that time. I didn't know this woman at the time, but have since "met" her through the internet and will forever be grateful for her prayers for precious R.

One evening during that week, I was at The Prayer House in our city. I was praying for R. and for the people where she lives. I thought that I heard the Lord ask me, "What are you waiting for? Why wait? Why so long?" And then, strangely, I fell asleep.

I probably slept for about ten minutes. Upon waking, the Lord gave me a vision. In the vision, I saw Grace, falling into a rushing river...

And then He spoke (this time I knew that it was Him). He said:  "Love would not ask, 'Should I jump in?'...Love would jump in! The Church is Love. R. is drowning. Jump in!"

He spoke! And this was the confirmation that I was looking for. I knew without a doubt, that sweet R. really was supposed to be our daughter. Now, I just needed to wait for David to have the same sort of confirmation for himself...

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first day...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The first day of our new school year went really well.  Even though Grace had a bit of a cold, she was a trooper and made it through her first full school day (last year she went half days for kindergarten).
Oh my!  She was so excited to be in first grade. And even though there was a bit of nervousness for some of my kiddos regarding the new school year, they were pretty excited, as well.

We always start the school day, with an opening time that emphasizes our school goals:  Honor, Service and Vision. Uncle Brett used to be a youth pastor and does a fabulous job conveying these goals.  This photo was taken after the K-3 students left for their classroom.

Games to build unity...

John Mark is one of our awesome volunteers. We are so incredibly blessed to have some of the young men and women (and parents and grandparents) from our church volunteer at the school.

Okay, so this photo of my class doing a little bit of computer work is probably not the most exciting one that I could have taken, but doesn't the young lady in the front of the photo look particularly studious (love you, Yana!)?!
My class of nine girls, 4th grade and up, is going to be so much fun!

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I was one day late, but God is always faithful...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rest. It is wrong to force work. Rest until Life, Eternal Life, flowing through your veins and hearts and minds, bids you bestir yourselves, and work, glad work, will follow.
Tired work never tells.
Rest. Remember I am your Physician, Healer of mind and body.
Look to me for cure, for rest, for Peace.
God Calling

I needed this word yesterday. But I was too busy doing tired work. I didn't listen.
I needed this word today, and He remained faithful. He graciously gave me a day of rest...come Life, Eternal life, flow through my veins and heart and mind...

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waiting for R...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adam finally got his bottom braces on.
So now he has orange on the top and green on the bottom...
for the Ind*an flag
and his new little sister.

Oh, how I love this boy!
(R.'s going to love you too, Adam!!)

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