Monday, February 24, 2014

Yep. She really did talk him into having her curl his hair.
He loved it.
Lily is such a fun sister...maybe a little crazy sometimes, but seriously fun.
I'm thinking that he looks a bit like a Chinese Liberace.
All that he needs now is some bling.

lessons from the city

Thursday, February 20, 2014

After having lived in the inner city for six months, I can say without a doubt that I am no expert on poverty. Rather, I have barely begun to scratch the surface. But, despite my true ignorance, I want to share some things that I am learning on this journey...this journey which is leading me deeper into the heart of God.
Lesson #1 I am convinced, more than ever before, that the Church is the only hope for this hurting world. Individual Christians cannot change their homes, their neighborhoods and certainly not their world alone. We need one another! The church is built only through a body of believers, given over in love to one another and to the Lord, who are also willing to give themselves to the world.

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus calls us to be a "city on a hill." A city has homes, families, businesses, safety, friendliness, gardens, life and love. We cannot be a city on a hill by just going to church on Sunday. Jesus has asked for our lives; for every part of us. In return, He gives us His most Holy Spirit. It is that Spirit, living in us, who will transform our neighborhoods. He will build that city on a hill, as we give ourselves to Him and to one another.

Lesson #2 There are struggles in the inner city that I knew not of; things that I truly never considered. Of course, I expected to encounter abandoned houses, drugs, violence and prostitution. But, what I didn't expect? Sewage pipe leakage.

When we moved into our (beautiful) home, one of our children experienced a great deal of anxiety. About a month after our move-in, David discovered not one, not two, but thirteen sewer pipe leaks. Thirteen. After he fixed them, our precious child's anxiety disappeared. How many people in the inner city live like this? How many people have sewage pipe leakage and don't even know it?
So far, every single house that David has worked on in our neighborhood has had problems with sewage pipe leakage. There has not been one exception. How many children are suffering with the effects of this? How many people are struggling with their health, but have no idea why, and if they did know why, would have the means to fix the problem? Poverty brings about issues that, in my middle class life, I never considered before.
Lesson #3 The reality is that, if we had to, my family could leave the inner city. If our lives, health, etc. were in serious danger, we would not have to stay. Most people who live here, however, do not have that option. Where would they go? How can you move from a house that cost $20,000 (which is not uncommon in our neighborhood) to a house that cost $200,000 (or more) in a middle class neighborhood? And how would you find a job, or transportation in that neighborhood? For most people who live here, this is their home and it will always be their home. Oh friends, do you see the need for that city on the hill??? Please pray for our little body of believers to trust and love Jesus so much that He can use us to build His most precious church.
Lesson #4 Gratefulness abounds here. People have come to our door for the use of a phone, medical supplies and chocolate (okay, I just gave him the chocolate, he didn't ask for it!). They were all grateful.  Many in this neighborhood are so used to getting the leftovers--poor quality food, poor workmanship on their homes, and poor service--that when they get something better, they express such gratitude. David has had rave reviews for the work that he has done on people's houses in this neighborhood. They are just so glad to have the work done quickly, efficiently and correctly. They are grateful.

Lesson #5 Jesus loves the people in this neighborhood. He loves the scrappers, who walk down the street with their shopping carts, collecting metal cans to take to the recycling which is around the corner. He loves the single mom who cannot find a job to take care of her family. He loves the prostitute who lives a few doors away from us. He loves the recently immigrated Vietnamese family who does not speak any English. And He loves all of the wonderfully ordinary people, who simply happen to live in this precious little neighborhood in Kansas City.
He loves them all.
I am learning some things in the inner city. May the most important of these be to love them all, each and every one, with the love of my most beautiful Jesus.

continuing to hope...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Well, the process to adopt Sergei has certainly had its ups and downs. But, nobody ever said that adoption was easy! We just have to chuckle when we can get all six of our kid's medical forms completed in under an hour, but it has taken weeks to get David and my own medical forms done. I'm not sure how many more things could go wrong in that department, but I'm confident that it will be done this week, and then we can hand in all of our home study materials. Hooray!
On a positive note, our t-shirt fundraiser brought in exactly enough money to pay for our initial fees and home study. I love when God does that. I love it when He gives exactly what we need. I'm not sure why I'm ever surprised by this, though. Through each adoption, God has shown us how He loves to provide for these precious children. It's never, ever been in the same way, either. We've received grants, unexpected interest on money that we had in a short-term investment before we bought our last house, extra work for David, money from fundraisers, gifts from good friends, gifts from strangers, and (really this is true) money that seemed to simply appear in our bank account out of nowhere.  Our God is just so creative! 
As soon as our home study is complete, we'll be able to apply for grants and in a couple of months our house refinancing will provide for a good chunk of Sergei's adoption. In the meantime, though, we have a number of miscellaneous fees (from Ukrainian facilitator fees to I-600A fees) that will be due soon. We trust that God will once again do His creative thing to bring in the needed funds.
As a way to join in how God is providing, we are excited to let you know about our two new fundraisers.
The first one starts today!
Staci, from Jubilee's Jewels designed this beautiful necklace to benefit Sergei's adoption. I love how it turned out! Each necklace is hand-stamped and can be purchased for $28 right here. A portion of the proceeds from this necklace will be available to our family for Sergei's adoption.
Secondly, we will be holding an online adoption auction. We've been blown away by the generosity of those who have donated towards our auction, and there are some amazing items to bid on. The auction will be held from March 1st through March 9th. You can check out some of the items that will be for sale here.
I can hardly wait to share all that God is going to do as we continue to hope for this precious young man. Sergei truly does have a future (and a hope!). Jer. 29:11


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Celebrating 11 years with Jadon!
I absolutely cannot imagine my life without this handsome, intelligent, affectionate, athletic, snuggly kind of boy. What a blessing from God!

Happy Adoption Day, Jadon! You are greatly loved!!!!

the gift

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, little man!

It was so much fun to make your ice cream cake with you today. You reminded me that it was the first cake that you ever got to help make for your birthday (we bought your cake last year). The delight that you found in making that cake brought tears to my eyes.
Every day I am reminded of how special you are and I can hardly believe that I get the great pleasure of being your mama. You are a gift, my sweet son and today we celebrate you!

 We celebrate your sweet smiles.
We celebrate your gentle spirit.
We celebrate the deep love that is in your heart.
We celebrate 10 precious years of your life.

Happy 10th Birthday, my handsome boy!
You are the most amazing gift.

Happy Chinese New Year!!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year from our littlest Asian sweethearts (and the only two who still want to wear their Chinese silks!). Of course, everyone enjoyed an amazing Chinese meal and red envelopes filled with little surprises! You're never too old for some things. :) 


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