Thursday, May 31, 2012

Praying Handprints

With pinterest around these days I have come across numerous ideas that I just love.  I recently came across this idea below and to be honest I have no idea if it came from pinterest or somewhere else but regardless of where it came from it was an idea I loved.   I am going to call it Praying Handprints.
I did not take photos of each step in the process because it is rather simple - but I took a finished product photo - my little laminator didn't work so well so excuse the imperfections but you will get the idea.

1. Trace each of your children's hands onto some cardstock.  (I chose a different color for each child - actually I let them pick their color.  I also cut the shape of a heart for DP)
2. Pick out a verse or passage of scripture that you would like to pray for each child and your husband. (I made mine specific to each member of my family)
3.  Write the verse and or passage onto each handprint and heart. Also be sure to write down the child's name and date somewhere on the print.
4. Laminate and stick in your Bible or carry them around with you in your purse!
5.  Repeat next year!! 

The whole point of this project for me was so I could pray specifically all year for each member of my family.  I chose verses that were applicable to what is going on in each of their lives right now.  I don't just want to be in the habit of just praying for them - but I wanted to pray specifically straight from God's word - and His word never returns void.  Not only is this beneficial eternally - but also for memory keepsake.  If I continue to do this each year - I will have a handprint for each year they have grown and I will also be able to look back at how I prayed for them and by the verses I chose I will hopefully remember what season of life they were in.  I could have picked several different verses for everybody - so I just prayed that the Lord would help me to see how I could better pray for them and of course I found the perfect verse for each one of them at these stages in their lives.  I am not sure why I expected any less - ALL scripture is perfect!!

Whatever site I found this on there wasn't any mention of praying for your spouse so I added that part myself as I want to be daily praying for DP as well.  I can't take credit for this idea but I wanted to pass it along because I thought it was a keeper.

I love this sweet girl and our cuddle times.

Sweet Miko

This is me and Miko.  Remember Miko??  She was our fabulous guide while we were in China.  Not only was she our guide and made everything run smoothly for us - she became my dear friend.  I miss her so much.  Thankfully we have been able to email one another back and forth.  I sent some things to China for her with Nat so we have been corresponding a bit more frequently this week.  She is on my heart and mind often.  I am so thankful for this sweet soul and pray that she will not only be my friend but one day become my sister.  If you think about it - please pray for her.  Pray that all the families she comes in contact with from Lifeline and Small World Agency (both Christian agencies) will be a light.   I think of Ephesians 1 ... I know Paul was speaking to the saints in this passage but I can't help to think of these words "having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you....."  I deeply want the eyes of her heart to be enlightened.  Thank you Father for hope!!!

And the winner is .......

Thank you all so much for participating in my first giveaway!!  I wish I had a copy to give everyone - but I don't.  I took pictures of the drawing process.  Having a two year old who already doesn't understand everything we say was interesting to say the least - but she got the job done.

each entry

ready to go in the bucket

what do you want me to do??

here you go ...

she hands me a good number of the entries

mommy just needs one

yep just one!!

yea!!! she did it

and the winner is....

Congratulations Ashley!!! You left  me your email address so I will email you and get your address!!!  I highly recommend this book and another one called Motherbridge of Love (that one) and Sweet Moon Baby are hands down my favorite children's adoption books!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday Luke!!!

Happy Happy Birthday to our sweet cuddle bug Luke!!!  I can't believe how fast he is growing.  Luke is usually the first to rise and has such a cheerful disposition even at 6 am!!  He loves school and is very ready to go back!! He still loves golf and enjoys playing legos with his big brother.  He recently taught himself how to retrieve dive sticks in 9 feet of water.  He is very proud of this accomplishment!!  He adores his little sister and she is sometimes fascinated with him ;-).  He is so good with all his siblings and really gets along great with anybody!! His best buddy is Samuel and when he is with him the two are inseparable.  We are thankful he has such a good friend.  Luke is so thoughtful - he gets this trait from his daddy!!  One thing I love about Luke is our prayer time before bed.  It is so personal with him - he wants to snuggle and pray together and I love to always hear all the different things he is thankful for.  We are so thankful God chose us to be his parents and we pray that he will grow up to do great things for the Kingdom.  Happy Birthday sweet boy!  We love you!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012 book

Any of you going to Italy sometime soon? I have two free books I am offering. Amazon sent me an extra set of the Rick Steves Italy book and Italy Eyewitness Travel. They do not want them back (I guess it costs them too much time/effort which is surprising since these books aren't cheap). They are brand new and still in the packaging. Anyway, if any of you are interested, message me on the blog, facebook, or text.

Looking back

Ever look back at an old schedule to see what you were doing on certain dates? My wife was looking back at our family calendar the other day to the date of June 2009. This is the time that Linnea was abandoned and taken to the orphanage. She asked me, "Do you remember what we were doing that month and year?" I responded that I could not remember (typical) and she reminded me that June of 2009 was when we began our adoption process. It was during this time that we felt HIS calling for our family to adopt and we began pursuing domestic adoption at that time. I couldn't believe that this was the same month and year but just thought that was cool. What most may not know is that we pursued two domestic adoptions first but the Lord closed those doors. HE had other plans and we are thankful now to see those plans unfold. I cannot imagine life without my little daughter! I love her so much! So thankful HIS plans are greater than ours.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I think I left my heart in China - well at least part of it....

Some of my best thinking time is done while I am rocking one of my children and right now Linnea is the one who needs the rocking most of the time.  I wish I could journal and rock at the same time because that is when my thoughts are most clear.  It is a great time of reflection for me and also just quiet time alone with the Lord.  So as I was rocking her this late morning for her nap my mind opened up - and so did the floodgates.  I should note here that China was never even on my radar until my senior year in college when I was interning at a church in south GA and weekend living with a family whose son was living there. Then of course I was given the opportunity to go and well God opened my heart in way I could have never imagined - even at this very moment I cannot really explain it.  Some people have a heart for places in South America like Brazil,  the Dominican Republic,  or Cost Rica.  Others invest in places like Ethiopia, Uganda, and the Congo. I don't know what it is about these certain places that stir up something in our souls except that God has uniquely wired our hearts to have a passion for all these places and more.  He is using His people to bring glory for His name and for His gospel to be made known and my heart he wired for China.  A place where 1.3 billion people live. The official religion is atheism. The social injustices are to numerous to count and there are more than 90 million orphans who need a home.  Yes my heart aches for this place.  Sometimes I wish you could just see inside my heart and know the longing the Lord has placed in my heart for this communist nation, I wish you could see the absolute joy it brings me when I think about the times I was there and the people I met. All His creation!!!  I had a friend tell me they could see it on my face - yes sometimes I wish I could transport myself and my family there.

My heart aches is full of joy for the people.  Some of these people were just random people we met at the Great Wall and the Botanical Gardens no lasting relationships formed -  but none the less souls that I am not sure have ever heard of the Savior - remember evangelism isn't exactly legal.  Then there are people we forged relationships with - people you come to love. They ALL need to hear.

And of course my heart aches for the orphans...especially the second one I thought we would bring home and didn't....

I know God is sovereign and has a plan far better than the ones I ever craft. And I know now that one of the reasons it worked out this way is Linnea.  She simply needs our one on one attention and having two special needs children at once would have made that harder than it already is.  Some of you may call me crazy but I do think about another little girl out there and her name is Kaylah.  I would go adopt again next week if it was what the Lord wanted us to do.  Yes even with all the sleepless nights and lack of communication and all the other hard stuff that can come with adoption even the naysayers and yes there were those who didn't agree with our pursuit of adoption - I would still do it all over again if it was the Lords will.  The joy is indescribable!!!!  My heart longs to become a mother again to another Chinese little girl with special needs.  Of course I will just have to wait and see what the Lords plans are as His ways are higher than my ways. I just want to be obedient to whatever His will be.

These pictures above are just a few kids from the Maoming Social Welfare Institute. The day we were there the orphanage had 200 plus children in their care.  Children with out a mommy or a daddy for whatever reason.  Mothers and Fathers who felt they had no choice but to give up their child.  Heartbreaking.  I would have brought them all home if I could.

I don't understand why the Lord didn't allow me to go live in China when I clearly felt called and filled out all the necessary paperwork and even began making plans to live overseas.  What I do know is that I am right where the Lord wants me to be and I am doing exactly what he wants me to be doing.  I have  fields ripe for harvest right in front of me - four in particular and a neighborhood full.  So for now I will continue to pray for that country I love so much and the other half of my heart lives in and I will pray that God will direct our hearts to do His will for His glory.

My first Giveaway!!

My very first giveaway!! How exciting!!  Thanks to author Karen Henry Clark I am going to be giving away a copy of her childrens book Sweet Moon Baby An Adoption Tale.  

I was first made aware of this book from a dear friend of mine Andrea (who I know through Lifeline and also a fellow adoptive mom) and then I came across it again on a blog (another adoptive mom) I read.  I like to be really careful about books that I read to my kids sometimes even when I really like a book I may adlib a few words to make it work for what I want to teach my children.  In other words I really like to do my research on a book before I buy it.  So I looked up this book on amazon and read the inside cover which goes like this : Our Moon Journey : We traveled far, far away beyond the star-lighted Pacific over the nine dragon mountains of Hong Kong across the rice paddies of Guangdong down the wide Pearl River.  And we drank tea in Maoming ......" SOLD!!! No real research done!! My eyes stopped on the words Maoming and that was it for me.  Linnea is from Maoming!!!  Needless to say I bought the book for Linnea and I am so glad I did! A few days later we got the book in the mail and I read it to her at bedtime. So here is the gist of the story and then my thoughts....

Sweet Moon Baby tells the tale of a Chinese man and woman who release their baby girl because they are unable to care for her like they would like to be able to. This man and woman place their baby in a basket and set her down in the river hoping the moon will guide her way.  This story is about a baby girls journey down the Pearl River to find her forever family.  As she floats in her basket along the way she is helped by a several animals including a turtle, a peacock, a monkey, a panda and some fish until she makes it home into the arms of her forever family who have been waiting and preparing for her on the other side of the world.

Is this story real life? No. Will this story be a great way for opening up future conversations? Yes. Do we (personally) trust in the moon for help or to guide us? No.  Do some Chinese people place their trust in other things besides our Sovereign Father? Yes.  Do animals really help a baby down the river? Probably not. Does God use things to accomplish His plans and purpose and is He sovereign over all?  YES! Are there families waiting on the other side of the world to become mommies and daddies? YES!!

I LOVE this story because of what it shares and how it can be used.  I have read reviews of others who didn't care for this book because its too much fantasy, its not really real or factual,  or it's too confusing because who really sends their baby in a basket down a river??  First of all it wasn't written to be real -  there will never be any books that tell any of our children's "real" stories.  The only factual story that will ever be is the one God wrote for her life and continues to write. There are many adoption kid related books on the market and none of them tell her story.  They are simply there to help.  Second someone really did send their baby in a basket down the river.  Remember the story of Moses?  Look how God used him!!  Did Linnea float in a basket to get to us?  Well of course she didn't but you can believe I will use this book to share about one adopted boy who did float down the river and how God worked in his life.    Right now when I read the book with her I  read to her about God using the moon and the animals to help bring that sweet baby to safety and to her forever family.  When she is old enough to see the exact words on the page then I will read them exactly as they are and I will still explain the story using a Biblical worldview.  And even now I pray that if God chooses to use this book as a conversation opener about her story that he will be preparing both of our hearts.  This book is delightful and the pictures are beautiful and capture each detail in the story.  I recommend it - whether you have adopted or know someone that has or will be, this is a great read and it would make a great gift.  I give it a two thumbs up and the great thing is it can be yours for free!!!

To enter the giveaway just leave me a comment on this post telling me why you would like to win or what interests you about the book.

If you want a second entry in the giveaway just share this link on Facebook and then leave me a second comment on this post so I know you did it.

And for your eager beavers who want a third entry tweet a link to the giveaway on twitter and again leave me another comment on this post so I know you did.

Enter before Wednesday, May 30 at 11:00 pm EST.  (We will have been home exactly 2 months on this day!!)  Just so you know for each entry I will put your name in a jar or basket and then I will let Linnea pull a name from there.  I will announce the winner on the blog the following morning!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

and they're off....

me and Nat on Mother's Day wearing our pendants with our girls Chinese names
That's me and Natalie - this girl is like my sister and she is in Christ - but you get what I am saying - we are so close we could be sisters except we look nothing alike!!  She and her husband Wade right now are on a plane bound for China.  DP dropped them off at the airport tonight and now they are in the air. I don't know who's more excited us or them!! Probably them but we are excited with them!!   This is my friend who I asked you to pray that we would get to travel together.  Well God had other plans and we know He is sovereign over all things and His timing is perfect.  So we decided we all will just have to go back again - but together next time!! We have been through so much together these last few years but in particular this last year as we have walked the adoption journey together.  I am clearly so excited for them that I can't sleep!!  You want to know the funny thing - Nat is traveling with the "Target Lady!!" Lois and her family are already in China and you can read about their adoption journey here.  This is such an exciting time for both of these families.  The memories from our trip are so fresh and recent I feel like I am reliving all these details with Nat all over again.  I go through our pictures and watch our gotcha day video often.  I still can't watch them without getting emotional.  I vividly remember every moment and feeling I was experiencing.  It is such a vivid portrait of what Christ has done for me.  I can't wait to see Ruthie with her mama and daddy and hear all about their journey. Linnea and Ruthie are from the same orphanage and I can't wait for them to play together.  They will share a bond like no other.

when we met Ruthie on our trip to Maoming

I pray that the Lord would make them close friends like their mamas and they would follow hard after Him - seeking to build up one another in Christ.  God is so kind to give us these gifts - He is so detailed - not only did He make us friends - He gave us the common bond of adopting daughters from China and then He got even more specific and made them come from the same place.  I just grin when I think about how special and rare this is.  Nat and I say all the time - it is so unbelievable!!  I await updates from their journey with great excitement!! Wade and Nat - we love you both so much, praying much for you and your children all three of them  - Godspeed!!

Picture Post...

Well I promised some pictures and this post is picture happy!!  The kids are really into taking pictures of themselves with our cameras on our phones - I had to include a few of those.   Here's what we've been up to. Enjoy!!

playing "war" outside with some neighborhood kids

playing with a bus we brought home from China - it makes sounds and all!! 
I love this photo!!  

caught a couple of frogs..

iand the picture taking by the kids begins.. they think that Luke crossing his eyes is hilarious...

self photo by Nathan

enjoying some Yo Tops with our favorite friends the Burgess's after  our End of the Year Preschool Program

products of DIY craft night with Kellie 

my sweet girl...

I love when I find them sleeping together!!

End of the year water party!!

playing cars at the pool

I had sent them all to the hall so I could vacuum -once the vacuum came on they all got in tornado drill position - it was hilarious!!

is she not a diva or what??

check out these baby birds - they have a nest at our neighbors the MeAllisters.  I have really been fascinated with birds lately and thinking a lot about how God cares for them and even references it in scripture.  I love how kind God was to put these right under our noses!!  We have enjoyed watching them!!

she loves looking at any Bible!! Can I say I LOVE this!!

swimming buddies in the pool! Yes Ethan finally got in!!

his new buzz hair cut - complete with his Chinese pajamas he insisted on wearing in 80 plus degree weather!!

the kids brought these into me- I just love their thoughtfulness - just like their daddy!!

our sweet girl after she woke up from her tests - so thankful to be with her!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

amazed at people's thoughtfulness...

*this post was started a week and a half ago... just now getting time to finish it!!*

When David walked in from work today he had a package with him and inside the brown box I could see tissue paper which indicates to me there was a gift inside.  So of course I asked who's that from?  So he shows me the box with the return address label and I immediately said yes!!  That's from the girl we met in the Chicago airport when our flight was delayed to Beijing!!  She and her family were on the same flight.  We had been sitting next to one another in the terminal. With our flight being somewhat delayed we had time to strike up conversation.  So we got to know one another as well as one can on a flight delay in an airport.  We shared an equal liking for Vera Bradley products - in fact she works at a store that sells Vera - so we played a little "Vera Bradley pattern" trivia which of course she was the master of.  This girl knew her Vera products!! I told her my neighbor loved Vera and I had a couple of bags myself and I had always been a fan of their products.  I even had a Vera bag with me that I used as a purse.  We gave them some CFA coupons because CFA is starting to make a name for itself in the Chicago area and surrounding.  And we shared a little bit about our families and why were heading to China.  I love how the Lord often gives up opportunity to share our adoption story not just our journey to Linnea but our own adoption journey as well.  Long story short this sweet girl sent my daughter a package - her very own little "vera bradley" purse.  I am just amazed at how thoughtful others can be.  Thank you so much my new sweet friend for thinking of our family and our daughter.  Blessings!! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

a conglomeration of thoughts....

I know I am so behind in blogging - but life is busy and so you will get a long post full of updates and thoughts and you know me they maybe in random order!!!  I am so thankful for this cloudy almost rainy day so I can catch up on a few things.  We have had such beautiful weather we have been outside non-stop!  I am so thankful to my sweet neighbors for allowing us to use their pool.  It has been a nice treat on some of these hotter days.  So here goes the catching up!!

* Photo a day in May = uncheck!!  Yeah I kind of fell off the bandwagon with that one.  It's not that I haven't taken pictures oh I have and I will eventually getting around to posting them - I just didn't happen to take pictures of the specified items on the list for May.  Oh well - maybe some other time.

* Mothers Day - do you think I got a photo with all 4 of my kiddos on mothers day - nope another unchecked box!! I know there is always next year!!  I had a wonderful day spending time with my sweet family.  DP always does such a great job of honoring me. Since before time began God knew the biggest desire of my heart was to be a mother.  He also knew it would be my greatest challenge.  I always say motherhood = sanctification, but that's another post for another time.  It was a day of reflection for me.  I of course had lots of thoughts about Linnea's birth mom and her foster mother.  In the years to come I will have to figure out a way to help Linnea honor the other moms she has had in her life.  I had a wonderful surprise as I woke up that morning and found in my email a note from her foster family.  We had sent an update to them and it was the best present hearing back from them!! Maybe I will get a post up about that soon.

*Update on the fam -
Nathan - we are technically in the last week of homeschooling.  We have already finished our 180 required days but we have some work left to do.  Actually we will be working all summer on our math facts and reading.  There are some really great websites with incentives for summer reading and since Nathan is not an avid fan of reading those sites have been very useful for us.  I have loved having Nathan home this year and I am going to miss it.  I am not sure he would say the same as he is my social butterfly.  He is my child that I see so much of myself in.  He has got some of his daddies qualities too but DP will tell you he is just like his mama.  Lord willing he will go back to Crossroads next year and be in 3rd grade!!  I would loved to have kept everybody home - but I just don't think its my season for that right now.   I can't believe how much this boy has grown - he is almost as tall as I am and well you all know how mature he can be.  He will be going to his first Winshape camp this summer and he is more than excited.  I am not sure how excited I am - but I know he will LOVE it!!

Luke - sweet Luke is now ready for Kindergarten and he too will join Nathan at Crossroads next year!!  He finished preschool up last week and wants to know when he can go back to school!! This boy is totally different from his big brother because he LOVES school and not just for the social aspect - he loves to learn!!  During his year at preschool he had been working on getting all 12 of his ice cream scoops.  Each scoop represents something he mastered - like his numbers, letters, shapes, etc.  He was having a hard time getting his last scoop - but with much practice at home he finally earned it and his excitement over his accomplishment was so precious!!  We treated him to some frozen yogurt in honor of his ice cream scoops!! This sweet cuddler of mine will be 6 in just a few short days.  He loves life to the fullest and gets along with everybody!! He plays well with Nathan and with Ethan and Linnea.  He is so easy going!!

Ethan - our sweet Ebear!! Ethan is still adjusting to not being the baby anymore.  He and Linnea are getting along much better.  They have their moments but I can tell over all they will be great friends.  Ethan just got his first buzz cut for the summer!! I promise to post pics soon!! I love it - he really looks a lot like my dads pictures from when he was a kid.  It makes his face have more of a baby look to it - I really love it!!  He is also getting to be such a big boy!!  He will stay home next year and he doesn't mind this at all - he will be the first to tell you he does not want to go to school.  

Linnea - our prissy little girl!! Linnea is doing well.  We have been busy with all kinds of appointments and have another one tomorrow.  We have to be at Scottish Rite rather early where she will undergo a few tests where she will have to be sedated.  If you think about it please pray for.  She is having trouble again sleeping and there really is no rhyme or reason to these seasons of fitful nights.  She has her days where she visibly grieves or at least thats what we think she is doing.  Some days are harder than others but even in the hard days I wouldn't change it for anything.  I love rocking her and drying her tears and I am thankful that the Lord picked me to be the mom who gets to do that.  In more exciting news she absolutely loves the water!! She loves the pool and is just a little fish in water.  Yes I do have pics - maybe I should just do an all picture post of pics I have taken in the last few weeks!!

Well I hope you feel updated!!  Stay tuned for the pictures and I have a giveaway coming!! I told someone recently its not that I don't have things to post - I just need a stenographer!!  Stay tuned!!

Friday, May 11, 2012


The boys have been attempting to catch lizards for some time now - today they finally got one!!