SLIDER year later (the first day, in pictures)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sweet boy has been with us for a year today.
Can you believe how brave Kaikai was, walking into the hotel, on his way to his new family?!

Oh my gracious! My heart melted the moment that I saw his incredible smile.
We were amazed that he willingly gave David a hug.

Kaikai recently told us that he was afraid of Baba's beard and blue eyes.
You wouldn't have known it then.
Can I say it again?
He was so incredibly brave.

After our meeting, we made our way to the passport office to get Kaikai's picture taken

And then had dinner at the closest noodle restaurant. Kaikai loved it and so did we!

Kaikai needed new shoes, because the shoes that he was wearing were far too big for him. This is how Grace, Kaikai and Lily walked through the whole sweet!

After shopping, we went back to the hotel.

Kaikai wanted to me to make a bed for him on the floor. He fell asleep right away after this big day, and as we gazed at our sleeping son we knew that we had been tremendously blessed to be able to adopt Kaikai.

And today, one year later, we pretty much think that we are the most fortunate parents on the planet. This sweet boy has rocked our world with his amazing smile, his gentle personality and his love for others. Happy adoption day, Kaikai! We love you to the moon...and back.

Christmas blessed!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

So blessed to witness the wonder of a first Christmas celebration with our beloved son.

And equally blessed by the rest of our sweet darlin's.
Thank you, Jesus, for all of your amazing gifts in our lives...for Your presence and for Your love, and for the beautiful gift of these precious children.

merry, merry

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to all!!!

And to all a good night!


On this day last year, we were getting ready to leave for China to meet our new son.
And today...
Today this precious boy fell asleep in my arms, his warm body snuggled up close to mine. I couldn't help myself from kissing his cute little nose, and staring at his smooth cheeks and perfect fluttering eyelashes. Oh, my friends, I could never have imagined a year ago how very wonderful this child could be!
So today, if you hear the Lord whispering your voice: if you hear the Lord inviting you to consider adoption, take that first step. You will be so very blessed!

the whole world

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in." -Mother Teresa

My heart has been burning with this prayer over the past few weeks, but it is not a prayer that I utter lightly. In fact, I find myself trembling at the very thought.

How can I ask for the whole world when I am only at the very beginning of truly learning to love those around me?
When I was younger, I would have said that the whole world was easy to love, because the whole world (for me) was made up of those who were innocent and who quickly elicited my sympathy. The whole world looked something like the perfect little 11 month old baby girl, who came into our lives and showered us with her many blessing.

The whole world started, for me, with those who are innocent and easy to love.
Later, the whole world became more complicated as the evidences of trauma hit our hearts. We realized that sometimes the whole world looked like anger as the result of abuse. This was not 'easy-to-love innocence in the face of difficulty' and I often chaffed against this world. It was hard to let this world fall into my heart. But our Jesus...He has been so faithful to show me that this world is encompassed in His huge, compassionate heart, and He wants it to be fully embedded in mine. It is an immense privilege to learn to love the truly broken with Him.

I am beginning to see that the whole world includes those who have been deeply harmed and have not yet found healing in Him.

 But there is more that is coming.

Off in the distance, I can see another part of the whole world and it scares me.

I see that the whole world includes the two tattooed men who are yelling obscenities and punching each other right outside our window. The whole world is also the mother in Ind*a who breaks the neck of her newborn baby, because that baby is a girl. The whole world is the orphanage director in eastern Europe who sells the young girls in her care to a pimp when they are close to aging-out. The whole world is the couple in the US who sues a doctor for the "wrongful birth" of their beautiful baby, because he is born with down syndrome. The whole world even includes the father who sexually abuses his daughter for years.

The whole world is not only the oppressed, it is the oppressor.

And though our Father's heart can encompass the abuser, I do not even begin to understand how I can let the enemy into my heart.

How can I ask for the whole world?

I can ask because more than anything, I want to have the heart of our Father. I can ask because even though I cannot, in my own power, let these people into my heart, God can give me a new heart...a heart of flesh and not a heart of stone.

It may take time, but I know that as I pray Mother Teresa's beautiful/terrible prayer, He will answer.
He will grant me the impossible:

My heart will break,
and even the enemy, will come in.
May God break my heart so completely, that the whole world falls in.

sweet moments with my mom...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My mom came for a visit and the time was so very sweet.

Reading, drawing, Christmas search books and Sudoku were some of the activities of choice.

Of course, Rosemary and Maple wanted to get in on the snuggles.

It was the first time that we've seen my mom since my dad's funeral in August. For six days, we cried, hugged, smiled and even laughed.
The time was sweet, but far too short. Mom/Grandma, we miss you already!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Celebrating 18 years with my favorite guy.
I am truly blessed!!!!

A medical update on Mr. Wonderful...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kaikai went to see Dr. Dobbs (who is famous in the club foot world) in St. Louis a few weeks back. Dr. Dobbs suprised us with his recommendation: no surgery!! He told us that Kaikai would do well with a different type of braces, instead of surgery. These braces are shorter, more form-fitting and they bend at the ankle. Kaikai got the braces yesterday and is already doing things that he couldn't do before (like walking down the stairs without holding onto the railing).

As you can see, Kaikai is pretty happy about this positive change in his mobility.

Oh my! How I love this boy!!! 

All about the boys...

Monday, December 2, 2013

We had a good trip to Colorado over Thanksgiving. Three of our kiddos saw our amazing orthodontist, we had our one-year visit with our social worker for Kaikai and David tiled the Crosland's bathroom floor. In the midst of all of the necessities of our trip, we were able to visit some special people.
Our first stop was at Oma and Opa's house.
Games, games and more games was the theme of our time there. From Monopoly to ping pong, we had us some fun!

Next, we headed to Fort Collins and the Crosland's house.

We were blessed to celebrate Elijah's birthday a few days early.
I think that these guys like each other a little bit!

Elijah, I'd have to say that you're the cutest ten-year-old I know!

Kaikai fell in love with Ruthie over the course of the time that we were in Fort Collins. 

These two had a nice nap together.

I think that it might be a toss-up for adorableness, between Elijah in his mustache and Kaikai and Ruthie's feet. Oh my! I can hardly stand the cuteness!

You might be wondering where the girls were during our trip to Colorado. When I saw the photos, I was wondering that myself. But, I assure you, they came along on this trip. I guess that this time the photos were just all about the boys. :)

not alone

Dear ones, we are so very blessed.
We are not alone in our fight to bring hope to Sergei. 
We have a host of precious and amazing people who are fighting this battle with us, and it is so beautiful to see.
Colleen, from P143, has been amazing! She loved Sergei from the moment that she met him, and she will not give up on him. It is because of her tenacity and love that we are on this path to adopt Sergei. We are so grateful to you, Colleen!

We are not alone.
 Two weeks ago, on a Sunday, our precious friend and pastor, Brett, skipped his sermon so that the whole congregation could intercede and pray for Sergei. We were over-the-top blessed and I know that the prayers of these beautiful people are making a difference, even now, in Sergei's life.
Thank you, dear praying friends.

We know that we are not alone.
This past Friday, I happened to be looking at my email when our t-shirt fundraiser hit the "50 shirts sold" mark. At that point, I started receiving individual emails that represented each person who had purchased a t-shirt.
Y'all, it was overwhelming.
41 people purchased a shirt for Sergei.
Some of those 41 people are good friends.
Some are acquaintances.
And some of those people are precious souls whom I have never met.
41 people
who chose to pour love out on a boy who lives a world away. 
We are not alone.

We could never express the depth of our gratitude to each one of you who has prayed, bought a tee, or regularly checked in with us regarding Sergei. We are blessed to know that you are with us, that you care for this amazing young man and also for our family. Thank you for making it clear that you are for us, that you are for Sergei and that we are absolutely

not alone.

hope endlessly

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
Psalm 39:7
Dear ones, I am learning that our only sure hope is in the Lord. When we look to governments, circumstances, or even friends for our hope, we will be disappointed. But, our God will never disappoint us. He is always faithful, always trustworthy, always true. 
Last Tuesday, we learned that, apart from a miracle, Sergei will not be able to come for winter hosting. Our hearts, of course, are saddened and concerned, but we are not without hope! In fact, we hope endlessly, because our God has an unlimited supply of goodness, mercy and love.
And, like our faithful Father, we will not give up on this young man!
Though we're still open and ready for plan A (should God provide a miracle for Sergei to come this winter), we're also preparing our hearts for plan B. Plan B isn't necessarily simple and it isn't perfectly clear, but we're more than willing to seek out another route that will lead us to Sergei. Please pray with us during this time, and ask our Father to shower Sergei with His peace and His love. Ask our Lord to work mightily on Sergei's behalf and to be his strong deliverer!
On a simply practical note, we are continuing with our t-shirt fundraiser! Please know that all of the money raised will be used towards the pursuit of Sergei's adoption. We are aware that, despite our desire and efforts, it is possible that we will not be able to adopt Sergei. If you've bought a shirt or donated, and feel uncomfortable with this, we absolutely and completely understand. Please just let us know and we'll make sure that you get your money back.
But, for those of you who would like to continue on this journey of hope with us, we'd love to reach our goal of selling at least 50 shirts by November 30th. Please click here if you'd like to buy a shirt. We're over half-way to our goal. We'd greatly appreciate your support as we... 
Hope (Endlessly) for Sergei!!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

walking in the ways of heaven

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Fridays, our four oldest children have a discipleship time with Uncle Brett, Alyssa and David P. As a part of this time, they have started taking prayer walks around the neighborhood. A couple of days ago, Uncle Brett asked the four of them to write down some of their thoughts on the power of prayer walks. I found their words so encouraging that I decided to share them with you here. There are so many ways that children can enter into the glory and the work of Heaven! I'd love to hear about some of the ways that you have found to include your children in a life of ministry and love, as well!
Yana:  I really like doing the Prayer Walks. It helps me to stay aware with what is going on in the real world and the world that we can’t see. My favorite part is placing my hands on the buildings and claiming them for God and His works.  
My second favorite part is walking down the street with everyone and holding hands… I think that it conveys a sense of family to people we don’t know. I mean, no one usually sees people of different ethnic backgrounds walking together and enjoying each other’s company. It’s not typical.  
In our most recent Prayer Walk, before Jadon told us about the people he “saw “around us, I kept picturing people dancing, leaping, shouting, running, skipping and celebrating on the streets. Kind of the picture you get when in the Bible when King David was dancing and celebrating with his people when the Ark of the Covenant came into his city. Anyway, I think it’s a lot of fun doing these walks...they’re awesome!  
Adam:  Prayer walking is great because it gives us a chance to practice listening to and obeying God. That is a very essential part of the Christian life so it is good to have opportunities to do that. One thing that I enjoy about the prayer walks is that it gives us a way to pray for others and for God’s Kingdom to come to earth in the neighborhood. Also, walking around the neighborhood gives us more of a chance to minister to other people than just staying indoors. Doing prayer walks gives us an opportunity to do God’s work, to listen, hear, obey, pray, and minister to others. 
Jadon:  Prayer walking is good cause you thank God for what he is doing for people and houses around. Once we were walking around and saw somebody outside. Then we stated talking with them. Prayer walking sometimes is helpful to people. I think its pretty good many times. 
Lily:  Prayer walking is a really great way to listen to the Lord, speak out what’s on his heart, and it’s also a great way to get to know your area. Praying for the houses, for the properties, and for the lots is a way of scoping out God’s desires. You get to meet awesome people, and it can really help you realize the power of prayer. Prophecy over the houses in the neighborhood gives you a glimpse of something brighter and more powerful behind the boarded up windows and caving-in roofs. You’re able to see heaven in the kids you see playing on the street, the homeless guys with their shopping carts, and the dirty front yards littered with trash. Prayer walking also can bring you to people at just the right moments. So many interesting people live around here, and you can’t really meet them unless you’re the one to start the conversation. Prayer walking is a way that heaven can come down to earth. 

not a salesperson

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In May of 1995, I finished graduate school in California and spent the summer with my parents. I was in need of a temporary job, so I went to a vacuum cleaner sales training seminar. While at the seminar, the presenter explained that in order to sell vacuums, we would have to "create a need" for our customers. We would have to convince our customers that they couldn't live without this vacuum cleaner! 

At which point, I raised my hand and explained (with all of my newly acquired philosophy of religion and ethics degree seriousness), "I'm sorry, but I don't think that it's ethical to create a need. People have real needs that really matter (like the need for food, shelter and love). When we pretend that our created needs are real needs, real people get hurt."

And that my friends
was the end of my very short career as a vacuum cleaner salesperson.

The blaringly obvious reality is that I'm not a salesperson. I seriously stink at selling things. I'm also no good at fundraising. I absolutely cannot pretend that you need a new t-shirt. In fact, I imagine that you have a few cute ones hanging in your closet already.

But friends, I do know that Sergei has a need. And it's not a fabricated need. It's real.
If Sergei isn't adopted soon, he will age out of the orphanage and will be vulnerable to any number of dangerous attacks on his life and character. Sergei needs a family to protect him. Sergei needs a family to love him.

So, if you'd like to help meet the real need of a young man who is about to age-out of his orphanage, we'd be so grateful. The t-shirts truly are beautiful, and you can buy one right here. Thanks so much, friends. You bless us more than you could ever know!

Hope for Sergei

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name.
Psalm 105:1-3a
I love to talk about our adoptions. I love to give glory to God for the beautiful and amazing children that He has brought into our family. I love to talk about how each child was hand-picked by God Himself, and brought into our family for a specific purpose.
I also love to talk about how God has provided abundantly for each and every one of our adoptions. From selling a classic car given to David when he was 16, to generous grants and seemingly miraculous multiplication of funds, God has truly been generous to us as we have stepped out and adopted these precious children.
Sergei's adoption has been no exception.
After David's accident, and his not being able to work for two months, as well as our moving from CO to Kansas City, we thought that we would have to wait at least six months to a year to begin another adoption.
But God had different plans.
He brought an amazing young man into our hearts.
And as much as we questioned how it could even be a possibility, God made it clear that we were to pursue his adoption.
So, we did!!
Immediately, our generous Father confirmed our decision when he provided the entire amount for the hosting fees in one day, by an anonymous donor. The only thing that we have to pay for is the domestic plane flights! I can't share all of the details of this miracle, because the donor wants to remain anonymous, but believe me when I say that it was completely the result of a generous and loving God, responding to the prayers of at least three people, unaware of the other's prayers, at the very same time!
Sergei will be here for the hosting program from December 19th until mid-January. We would love to begin the homestudy and dossier process before he gets here. So with that in mind, I am excited to share with you our first fundraiser:
We are working with Bonfire Funds to raise money for Sergei's adoption. Bonfire Funds designed this t-shirt and I LOVE how it turned out!
Here's how it works:
The fund will be in effect until November 30. You can buy shirts until that date, but you will not be charged until November 30, and you will only be charged if a total of 50 (or more) tees are sold. The t-shirts will only be printed if at least 50 shirts are sold. If the shirts are printed, you should receive your shirt(s) in the mail just two weeks plenty of time for Christmas!
And here's a fun little bonus:
If you sign up as a fundraiser for Hope for Sergei, you can earn free tees (one free shirt for every ten that are sold). You can help raise money for this precious boy, and earn a free shirt in the process!
Please do not feel any pressure to purchase a tee! Even though we are fundraising, we know that it is up to God to bring in the money for Sergei's adoption, and we trust that He will do just that! 
But, if you'd enjoy participating in Sergei's adoption, we're happy to give you this fun opportunity. Just click here if you'd love to buy one of these great tees!

five years of grace

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Shortly after we saw a picture of our precious third daughter, we felt like the Lord told us her name. It was to be "Grace." I knew that her name would hold a special significance for her and for us, but it wasn't until we actually held her in our arms that we began to realize the fulness of her name.


God began to pour out a beautiful work of grace in our lives.

 This is the first moment that we saw our daughter, in person, from across the room.
Five years ago, today...

God used Grace's adoption to begin an amazing and quite tangible time of grace in our lives. We were lavished in His love and could sense His gentle nearness and fathering heart.

It was a special season that we experience the effects of, even now.

 I praise the Lord that five years ago today, He brought us two "graces."

Happy Adoption Day, our precious daughter.
You are a blessing in more ways than you will ever know!
We love you with all of our hearts and are so grateful that you are ours and we are yours.
You are most certainly God's special gift of grace to us.

not a statistic

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You have probably heard them before...
the statistics of children who age-out of orphanages.
They are staggering,
and they bear repeating.
Each year 14,505,000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen.
Each day 38,493 orphans age out.
10-15% of these children commit suicide before turning 18.
60% of the girls become prostitutes.
70% of the boys become hardened criminals.
Of the 15,000 orphans aging out in one study, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years.
It is truly heart-breaking.
David and I have prayed about this situation over the years, but recently the reality of  what it means to "age-out" of an orphanage has gripped our hearts in a new way.
It has gripped our hearts, because there is now a face to connect with those horrible statistics.
It is this face...
This is the face of a 15-year-old boy who is aging out of his orphanage soon.
This is the face of a boy who lost his parents 5 years ago, and is a true orphan.
This is the face of a boy who loves Jesus and wants to go to seminary when he is older.
This is the face of a boy who is an excellent student, who likes to write poetry and who wants to work with struggling families and children when he is older.
A kind face,
and a gentle heart.
So, even though the timing is crazy (and I mean crazy, crazy, crazy!!).
And even though we never imagined that we would consider adopting a boy his age.
And even though we thought that our next child might be a little one with down syndrome.
We believe that God has called us.
And it is our great pleasure to be obedient to Him!
We will be hosting Sergei this winter (which is a miracle-story in itself that I'm going to share more about soon!). Then, after he goes back to his home country, we are trusting that the Lord will grant us the ability to jump into high-gear to pursue his adoption.
This one will not be a statistic.
Praise God!
He will be a son.

KC Lions

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Jadon started football season pretty late, but he had an awesome experience with the Kansas City Lions. The Lions are a homeschool team who really exemplify what it means to work hard, do their best and encourage one another in the process. We've been so proud of how Jadon jumped right in and gave it his all...on the field and in getting to know the coaches and other players.

Today was the Lion's last game of the season and Jadon was able to get right into the action.

Do you see our awesome number forty-nine???


Jadon had a big cheering section at the game today.

We even brought along our own mascot!

The Lions played a great game and experienced victory after all of their hard work.

But, far more important than who won the game, ALL of these boys are making strides in sportsmanship, perseverance, character and life. Way to go, guys! We're looking forward to a great season next year.

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