This girl...

Friday, August 31, 2012

has had my heart for the past 11 years.

From the moment that Lily was placed in my arms, 11 years ago, I knew that my life had changed forever. I am deeply in love with my precious daughter and am so grateful for the young woman that she is becoming.

Happy Adoption Day, Lily-girl.

I love you with all of my heart.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Everyone at our house has a partner (a buddy, a comrade, a friend) their own age.
David and I are just one month apart in age. We're going to be 42 soon!
(Can you guess which one of us is older?!)

Jadon and Lily have been buddies for years. They are the same age for 6 months of the year. One of their favorite things to do is to have same age sleepovers in each other's rooms, as many times as they can within those 6 months. And to think...this amazing partnership started with the unrolling of multiple rolls of toilet paper just days after we came home with Jadon. The fun never stops around here!

Sweet little Grace and KaiKai cutie guy will be the same age for four months of the year. Grace is gonna love that, no doubt!

And these two...
Well, they are 12 months and three weeks apart in age.

They are seriously bummed about this.

So....this year they decided to switch birthdays.
That way, they can both be 14 for 3 weeks this year.
How cute is that?!

So tomorrow, we will celebrate Adam's birthday, one of the 42 year old's birthday and Lily's adoption day. Whoohoo! We love August 30th around here!

 And after the party is over, Adam and Yana are going to relish in their three weeks of glorious 14 year old, special partner fun!

Does salsa count as a vegetable?

I sure hope so, 'cuz that's all they're gettin', as far as vegies are concerned, tonight.
(And it sure ain't the homemade variety either!)

I've got a lot of great posts in my mind, but ever since school started, I haven't had much time for blogging (ummmm...I guess both sleeping and conversing with my sweet hubby have been on the decline, as well). I hope to write something about two birthdays, an adoption day, and a birthday switch soon...we'll see if that happens!

I do have to mention that we are officially on day 16 of our wait for LOA. The average wait time is two months, but I'm thinking that ours will come sooner than that. : )
Can't wait to get that little boy home!!!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.
Teresa of Avila

a little TLC

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It was our first day back at school today.

The kids were super-excited.
(And everyone was up super-early!)

 And even though it's a cute play on initials...TLC actually stands for Trinity Learning Center. :)

We had some great group instruction and vision-building.

The girls in my class played a wonderful listening game.

They also did a smidgen of work.
(We couldn't do too much on the first day!)

The day ended with a unity-building game.

Can you all move as one?!!

All in all, it was a great start to a year full of TLC!

every detail

Monday, August 20, 2012

It is amazing to me how our caring Father looks after every little detail of our lives. Before we met any of our children, He was weaving together people and events that would affect their lives for eternity. He didn't leave any detail to chance, but He cared (and continues to care) lovingly for each part of their lives.

Before we even met Yana, she had two special friends here in the U.S. Slava, who is Ukrainian like Yana, met Yana and fell in love with our curly-headed little 7 year old. She spent time with Yana and loved her like a sister. Slava was going to school in the U.S. She lived with a wonderful family. Paisley is the mom of that family. Paisley also loved on sweet little Yana.

Yana has such precious memories of time that she spent with Slava and Paisley. This weekend, we had the opportunity to see them again! What a gift! 

(Slava and Yana...I think that they look a little bit alike, don't you?!)

Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of Paisley, but we did get to talk and talk. She had some fun stories to tell about Yana, and hopefully she will get a chance to email some pictures that she took of Yana when she visited their home seven years ago.

Our God is so good. He was caring for every detail of Yana's life, before we even knew her. What a loving Father we have.

Nothing says summer to me...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

like going to MN!

It's our once-a-year vacation, and we LOVE it.

With Grace's illness this summer, we didn't know if we'd be able to make it to MN, but by God's great grace, our littlest treasure got over her sickness and we were able to make the 16 hour trek to my beloved home state.

There was lots of playing with Dad.

Grandma has a stash of magazines that the older girls love to browse.

The boys have fun with ladder ball.

And we all love going to this special park.

Grandpa gave us lots of smiles.

And Grandma is wonderful to be with.

I'm so grateful that my kiddos have this special place to visit each summer.

 And now, it's almost time to say "goodbye" to summer, and hello to fall. Fortunately, my sweet babies get one more getaway with the other grandparents! They'll be spending the next couple of days with David's parents, and even though I know that I will miss them TONS, it will be a great opportunity to get ready for the new school year.

Au Revoir sweet summer. See you again next year.

clarification, grace, and something pretty exciting

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I realized, after my last post, that some of you may be wondering how Stephen (Kaikai) fits into all of this. Well, let me tell you, that little boy has been grace upon grace upon grace upon grace in our lives. What a precious gift from God he already is to our family!

When we were told that we couldn't adopt R. (which was two months before we made the final decision to withdraw from India's adoption program), we began to consider what we should do. Just one day prior to our second denial, Lily and I had almost identical dreams on the same night. At that point, I already understood the dreams to mean that we would switch to China and adopt a little boy. But, with all that God had done leading up to R.'s adoption, we needed much more confirmation that China was where He was leading us. Our faithful Father did indeed give the confirmation that we had been seeking, and we had peace that we should switch to China and try to adopt Kaikai.

Let me just stop here to say that our God has not abandoned R. There are beautiful, beautiful things happening in R.'s life. I wish that I could share all of these things, but at this point you can know that our amazing Father is taking good care of His precious daughter.

But, back to Kaikai:
He is our son. No doubt about it, he is our son. Though God has me in a place of waiting when it comes to ministry (and many other things), we are at absolute peace with our adoption of Kaikai. I know that it is the Lord who has given us this peace, because after all that happened with R., it would be natural to have some anxiety or worry. I have none. I love that boy with all that is in me. He is amazing, precious, beautiful grace to us.

And just because our God likes to show off a bit, a few hours after writing this post, I got an email saying that we received our LID (log-in-date) for China!!! Our agency said that it could take up to 3 weeks to get our LID, but China logged in our dossier on the same day that they received it, just one business day after it was sent from the U.S.!! Thank You, thank You, thank You Jesus! Now that's exciting!!!

a tsunami

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A number of months ago, I had a dream. In the dream, we (my family, brothers and sisters from our church, etc.) were on an island. A tsunami was coming.

I could see it in the distance. It was massive and fire ran across the top of it. Interestingly, we were not afraid. We began climbing up a crumbling staircase towards the waiting boat. We knew that the tsunami would arrive in a couple of hours and we also knew that we would be safe in the boat.

As we neared the place where the boat was located, I had a vision (still in the dream) of a house. I was looking down on the house. It was mostly glass and it was completely cleaned out by the water. Nothing that wasn't on a solid foundation remained. The sun shone down on the house, the birds sang and the dew covered the ground around the house. It was utterly bright and beautiful and I knew that this was what the island would look like when we returned.

This post is about a tsunami that has torn through my heart. It is going to be a long post (I won't feel at all offended if you stop reading now!) It will also be as honest as I know how to be. What I write next is the culmination of many years of struggle and it is only at this point in my life that I feel the Lord has given me the freedom to share some of it. It may not make complete sense to everyone, but I do hope that as I share my story, it will minister to some of you (or maybe even just one).

Let me start by saying this: I have had two overwhelming passions that stem from my love for Jesus. First of all, I love the Church. I love the Bride of Christ. I long with all of my heart to see His Church established in its fullness on the earth. I long to see a people who love as He loves, who walk as He walked on the earth and who glorify Him through their lives given in love. I know that it is the desire of God's heart that His Son be given a Radiant Bride when He comes again, and I am so grateful to the many people who have helped instill this vision in me.

Secondly, my heart was given (long ago) to those who are suffering. There was a specific evening, when I was about 10 years old, in which God placed something in my heart that I can only describe now as a deep call on my life. I am often physically overwhelmed with love for the needy, and children, in particular. I see His image in them, and when that image is carelessly discarded, I am overcome with grief. I love orphans because I love our Father. I believe that the suffering of these little ones grieves our Father's heart in a deep way.

My life, over the past 12 years, has been spent in the desire to see these two areas converge. I have so longed to see the Church rise up in defense of the weak. There are many amazing para-church organizations that minister to suffering people, but very few churches are giving themselves in a real way to orphans, widows, etc. The Lord gave me a prayer a number of years ago:

Mercy for the Church.
Mercy within the Church.
Mercy from the Church, for the world.

I believe that He wants His Radiant Bride to be filled with mercy and compassion. Over the past decade, I have been overjoyed to give myself to this end. When there were obstacles along the way (things that I am not able to share), the Lord encouraged me with the story of Mother Theresa's persistence. She was given an amazing vision from the Lord, but it was years before she would see that vision fulfilled. She, however, did not give up! And the Lord, as we all know, did amazing things through this fiery little woman (even though she often drove her superiors a little bit crazy!).

When the Lord told David and I to move ahead in adopting R., I thought that this was part of His plan for mercy to grow in His Church. Adopting R. was never just about adding another child to our family. It involved so much more--dreams, visions, words spoken from the Lord. I truly believed that I could stand in faith to see the fulfillment of those dreams through this beautiful girl.

And then those dreams came crashing down when we were told that we couldn't adopt R. This was quite a blow. I was shaken to the core. I cried out to God and didn't know what to do with this thing that I called "faith". I had believed for R.'s adoption. I had believed for mercy to be established in a significant way through her life. I had believed that we would be her family. And now, I didn't know what to believe.

A tsunami was tearing through my heart.

Months went by.
I knew that the tsunami was washing away all that was not on a firm foundation. I could also tell that the tsunami was not finished yet. There were still so many things left in my heart.

Then last Sunday, at church, a sister invited those present to ask for a supernatural faith from the Lord.

I went numb.

What did she mean, faith? I had no clue what that word meant anymore. I did know that I had absolutely nothing in me that could make any real faith grow. I knew that what I understood as "faith" had been swept away by a tsunami that had crashed through my heart, and perhaps, was crashing still.

So, I told the Lord, "I have nothing left to give. I have no more faith. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Start over in me. Teach me all over again. But You must do it. I cannot do it. You must give me the desire, as well, because I can't even do that for myself. I am afraid to hurt again. I am afraid to be misunderstood. I am afraid that you are going to ask me to put my heart out on the line once again, and I don't know if I can do that anymore. But Lord, if You can put the desire in me, then I ask You to do it, because I want my life to be all about You. Not me. All You."

And now.

Now, the boat has brought me back to the island. I am standing in the middle of that house. It is empty, but it is also clean and bright and beautiful. I have nothing left. I have no thing left, but I do have Jesus.

I believe that He will show me a completely new way. I believe that He will give me a new that will look so much different than the "faith" that I have held onto for so long.

Will He continue to lead me in the two areas that have been my heart's cry over the past so many years?
I just don't know.
I really don't know.

Please understand, I still believe with all that is in me that our Father deeply, deeply loves His Bride. And I still believe that He absolutely adores the precious children who are created in His image. He knows their value, even if the world does not see. Our Father's heart does not change. He remains the same yesterday, today and forever.

What I don't know is where He will lead me in these two areas. He has me empty for a reason, and I don't want to fill my heart with anything that He hasn't placed there. I do not want to move ahead of Him, filling the house with trinkets and old furniture (my way of doing things, my way of understanding things), when He wants to fill it with HIMSELF.

So, for now, I sit in this empty house with Jesus.

And it is good.
It is very good.

I am learning that sometimes a tsunami is exactly what we need.

Oh yes, it is!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our dossier is really on it's way to China!!!

Now, here's to hoping for a quick log in date!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Feeling inspired by my parent's 51 years of love for one another...


Monday, August 6, 2012

Critical review of our dossier...check!

In just one short week, our dossier should be on it's way to China. Woohoo!!!! We are so excited. We cannot wait to get this little guy HOME!

We're really hoping for a December travel date, although we know that it could be early 2013. Please pray with us that it will be SOON!

The last time we went to China we visited the Philip Hayden Foundation (Shepherd's Field). It was wonderful to see all of the amazing things that they were doing with the children there. We'd really love to visit another Christian Children's Home while in China this time. I think that we'll fly into Beijing (although it could be Shanghai). Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks so much!

a broken heart

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Do you see the little darling who is wearing the red jacket in the middle of this photo?
Her (American) name is Finley,
and sweet Finley has a broken heart.

This beautiful child lives at the same CWI as our precious Kaikai (he is standing right next to Finley, wearing the brown jacket). Recently, a doctor looked at Finley's heart and said that there is nothing that can be done to fix it. But, I know too many miraculous stories to believe that!

Would you pray for sweet Finley...pray that God would heal her little heart. Finley is not yet registered for international adoption, but while you're praying for her heart, you could also pray that God would give her a family.

A healthy heart.
A new family.
A beautiful life.

Nothing is too hard for our God.

growing up with beauty

Friday, August 3, 2012

Every time I return to my parent's house in Minnesota, I am struck by the fact that I grew up in the midst of beauty.

My mom, an artist, doesn't leave any detail to chance.

There are refreshing spots for birds to bathe,

and calming retreats for visitors to rest.

The rustic garden is always lush and fruitful,

and little surprises peak out, where you might not expect them.

Vibrant colors are eveywhere.

 Even out-of-the-way corners are accounted for.

Thank you, Mom, for making my childhood beautiful.

 And thank you for welcoming our family back to this refreshing lovliness every year.

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