Friday, December 8, 2017

Birthday Week!

It's their birthday week! You will find these two almost always together. They are just about inseparable! Happy 11th Birthday to Cherish, and Happy 3rd Birthday to Samuel!
 🎉🎂🎈


Caught today while playing on the floor:


And tonight:

Big sister noticed all the children in the room (sleeping together by choice) were too excited from the day to sleep...she sangs them to sleep ❤️❤️💙💙💙. God bless sweet Cherish!ght

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Travel Approval


Yesterday we received Travel Approval from China--meaning we now have permission to enter the country and finalize Matthew's adoption. We would be receiving Matthew on Christmas Day! What a blessing!

However, as we continued looking at airline ticket prices and routes to get to China--as we had been doing for about two months--the conclusion was that with the prices skyrocketing thousands of dollars per ticket, we would need to travel in January. So, instead of receiving Matthew on Christmas Day, we will be receiving him on January 8th.

I'll be honest. I was struggling last night with sadness. However, with each wave of sadness I refused to allow myself to stay there. I constantly battled my mind with the Truths of Scripture:

God is sovereign.
He is in control.
He knows all things.
He has a plan beyond what I can see or understand.

I have wondered if Mary may have questioned in her heart why she had to travel to Bethlehem when she was so far along in her pregnancy. Why did the God Who had complete control over all the world allow a census to take place? Why did the census have to uproot her from her family and home? Why would God want her to give birth without her mother there by her side? Why did she need to travel far away to give birth in a place she was unfamiliar and with people she did not know? Why did the census have to be now? Why not a month after she had given birth? Certainly God had the power!

God was moving the virgin Mary to the little town of Bethlehem to bring forth the promised Messiah, as the prophets Micah and Isaiah had already foretold.

The census WAS God's plan! The timing WAS God's plan! The move WAS His plan!

My God knows everything. Things don't need to make sense for me to be joyful in the hope of His sovereignty. I can trust the Good God Who has called us into this adoption with Matthew.

He is indeed GOOD and His ways are PERFECT. Always!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest

I was challenged by my sweet mentor mom to go all out for our Mom2Mom Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest. I took the challenge. My Christmas sweater threw up all over me! 😉



In the midst of so much stress, it felt so amazingly good to laugh and have fun with sweet ladies.

God bless Mrs. Judy for taking me under her wings!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

We have Article 5 Pick-Up

We received our 2nd acceptance letter on our adoption paperwork. Now all our paperwork is on its way to Beijing for one final review and for the CCCWA to issue our Travel Approval. The time for travel is still undetermined, but we think it will be mid-December.

We will be taking donations for the orphange, if anyone would also like to be a part of orphan care. The orphanage's greatest need at this time is for long-sleeve onesies, sizes newborn - 6 month. These onesies can be new or very slightly used. Thanks in advance!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Daniel

"Daniel, please come to the table for lunch."
Gone within seconds.

This boy can literally sleep anywhere, and he prefers hard surfaces!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy Birthday, Daniel!

Happy 4th Birthday to the shy boy who HATES all kinds of attention--including the camera. Thus, I could not get a clear picture of him all day, and he wouldn't eat pizza for dinner since we started saying, "Happy Birthday, Daniel!" (He actually ran from the table and hid for quite a while!)

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy!! 



Gotcha!


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Animal Kingdom


Our family would like to give a special shout-out to the family (who wants to remain anonymous) who sent us to Animal Kingdom this past Saturday. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

Animal Kingdom was packed, but we didn't mind at all. It felt so good not to run from place to place and watch the clock constantly. Being mostly still and playing occasionally felt so good. It was as if the stress was seeping out of our pours. How nice it was to be together as a family in a different environment!

It seems our "normal" lately is to live on hype, stress, and action. Being called to go to China yearly to adopt (with pre- and post-adoption paperwork, transitions, doctor, dental, and therapy appointments...) and doing all the regular things families do--including homeschooling--take their toll. It felt wonderful to pull away and rest with each other.

Thank you, Dear Family, for thinking of us! We love and appreciate you so much!!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Last update from the orphanage before travel

Today we received an update on Matthew. This will be the last update before Derek and Andrew travel to get the little guy.

Here are some of the things the orphanage nannies told us about Matthew:
Matthew is 32½" tall, weighs 22½ lbs, and wears size 5 shoes.
He likes colorful toys that make noise, but he is afraid of stuffed animals.
He feeds himself but eats slowly. He is not picky about food.
He is a very obedient child who likes the praises of others.





Here are some videos they took of Matthew:

Matthew, your daddy and brother will be there as soon as they can. You may be celebrating Christmas for the first time this year...as a son!

We love you!!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A servant-hearted child

Last night Samuel was wired from a neighborhood party and could not fall asleep. Cherish happily announced that she would sleep with Sammy (instead of Daniel). After they were in bed, I heard Sammy laughing and laughing(!) until he finally fell asleep.

Before retiring for the night, I went to check on the children. (I took the following picture for myself, but I have since decided to share it.) Cherish was sleeping in a fetal position, and Sammy was cradled into her lap. It melted my heart.


It was after midnight before I finally crawled into bed, and I hoped that I could sleep in just a bit in the morning to feel rested.

I did get to sleep in and finally got out of bed at 6:45 a.m. I thought it was shocking that my children had slept in so late--until I found these two awake. Cherish had gotten up with Sammy, changed his diaper, and she was taking care of him so he wouldn't wake me up. 💜


We have a servant-hearted child for our oldest. We know we are blessed beyond what we deserve! Cherish is a blessing and a treasure from the LORD!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hope's Gotcha Day Anniversary

Today was Hope's Gotcha Day Anniversary. We had a surprise lined up for Hope: she was going to have an opportunity to Skype with Zach. Zach is Hope's friend who was from the same orphanage as Hope, and who was adopted on the same day as Hope.


Here is a picture of Zach and Hope as 4-year-olds:

Hope had a blast reconnecting with her "old" friend.

In addition, our neighbor was having a children's party, and Hope chose to go to the party instead of out to a Chinese restaurant.... My friend, Elisabeth, knew it was Hope's Gotcha Day, and she made Hope feel special as a princess:

 and Andrew as a snake:
 and Daniel as a dinosaur:
(Photos compliments of Elisabeth)

We had a great time celebrating Hope today! If you would like to reminisce with us, you may watch Hope's "Gotcha Day Video" HERE.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Negative Situation Turned Upside Down

I am not sure if I have ever shared my part of our family’s journey on this blog, so I would like to show how a negative situation turned upside down.

When Derek and I first got married, we chose to let God determine when we would have children. We waited. And waited. After seven years of marriage and having no children, my husband was told by his friend about a fertility clinic that he and his wife had gone to, and his wife was at that point 8 months pregnant.

So, Derek asked me to go with him to consult a doctor to see if there was anything “wrong”.

While in the waiting room, an engulfing weight of horror came over me, and I knew something horrible would happen if we did not leave that waiting room.

Derek noticed the change in my demeanor and asked what was wrong. I told him I thought we needed to leave and not return to the clinic. I told him of the horrible feeling that had entered my being and that I was sure something terrible was going to happen due to us being at the clinic.

Derek asked me to stay and keep the doctor’s appointment.

I told him that if I wasn’t a Christian I would run out of the office and not return. However, since I was a Christian and believed in God's sovereignty, I was going to choose submission and do as he asked me.

We had our consultation, and the doctor assumed I had endometriosis. He scheduled me for surgery. He said that the recovery time was two days, and that after that, I could resume my normal activities. It was simply that easy to correct endometriosis.

We went forward with the out-patient surgery that was at the hospital, and it was discovered that I, indeed, had stage-2 endometriosis. It was removed.

Upon waking up, I could not move. The nurses were very kind and kept coaxing me to get up and walk. I could not move.

They gave me narcotics. I still could not walk.

The recovery room was manned only by the doctor’s nurses, so their work day ended at 5 p.m. Ready or not, I had to leave at 5 p.m. They put me in a wheelchair and assisted Derek in getting me into the car to go home.

At home, I slept on the couch. Every movement was agony. I could not even walk myself to the restroom, so Derek borrowed a walker for me to use.

On day two of recovery, a fever began. Derek called the doctor’s office to tell them about my pain and fever. They told him I was “fine” and to give me “Tylenol and Gatorade” (as I was not eating).

Day three, the fever was worse. Derek called the doctor’s office again. Once again, they told him I was fine and to give me Tylenol and Gatorade.

Day four, I became delusional and began talking to Tinker Bell. Derek called the doctor’s office again. The nurse yelled at Derek for bothering them. The nurse said that I was probably exaggerating and to just give me Tylenol for the fever and Gatorade (since I wasn’t eating or drinking).

That night I felt certain that death was coming close. I asked Derek to sleep with me on the couch. In the morning I saw how scary I looked as I shuffled past a mirror on my way to the restroom. My body had become swollen overnight, and I had no idea what was happening.

I woke Derek and told him to take me to the hospital. Since the doctor’s office is a suite in the hospital, Derek called the doctor’s office (knowing they had Saturday appointments from 7-9 a.m.), and told them I need to be seen immediately!

The nurse yelled at Derek! She told him that it was unnecessary, but if he really thought it was an emergency, that he had to have me there by 8 a.m. or they would not see me.

The agony of getting to the doctor’s office was almost more than I could bear! I was crying from the pain. I thought I would die from my organs exploding with each push of the brake and with every grout rut I had to be wheeled over while in the wheelchair.

I finally made it to the doctor’s office alive. I was surprised. Upon seeing me, the nurses quickly ushered me out of the waiting room and into a private room. The doctor (surgeon) came in and immediately began ordering the nurses around. I had toxic shock, and it was day 5! I was literally on my death bed.

Long story short, after multiple tests I was placed into the ICU ward of the hospital. It was Saturday night by this time. I overheard the infectious disease specialist tell the nurse there was nothing more they could do but to wait and see. With antibiotics pouring into my veins I drifted off into unconsciousness.

Monday morning dawned and the infectious disease specialist came in. (I’m sure he came in on Sunday as well, though I was unaware of it.) His first words to me were: “I never expected to see you alive again.”

The ten days in ICU consisted of another surgery and more complications.

I was eventually moved to a regular room in the hospital for five days and then discharged. I came out of the hospital with many medical issues due to the complications that had arisen from my time at the hospital. But, I was alive.

A little while later, a grapefruit-sized mass developed in my lower abdomen due to the toxic shock—which had essentially melted my insides together. I was transferred to an oncologist and prepped for surgery.

A hysterectomy was performed due to the trauma of toxic shock. It blew my mind!

Since the hysterectomy, I have recovered well.

People have asked Derek and me if we ever sued over the situation. The answer is: no. The surgeon took care of the nurses who had been so unkind and incorrect, he covered all the expenses of my initial hospitalization, and he humbled himself in front of many other surgeons and specialists to get me the help I needed to get through the dangerous situation. We felt that his kindness and my life that was spared were gifts enough.

During all this time Derek began feeling a call for us to adopt from China. He asked me to pray and see if God was leading me as well. Within two months of praying, we both knew 100% that God had called us to adopt from China. The door down that path had flung wide open with nothing holding us back.

So, forward we charged. On our first trip to China, it became clear to me that I probably would have died shortly after adopting Cherish, because it was during the complications of toxic shock that my blood clotted. The hematologist had done tests that revealed I had a hereditary disorder that caused my blood to clot.

I had been so active in life that I never stayed still long enough to realize I had the disorder. Had the discovery not been made, my blood would have clotted on the international flight to China. What a blessed discovery!

So, should I have run out of that doctor’s office on the consultation day? No. If I had, we wouldn’t have these five amazing children with a sixth child on the way!


If I had run out of that doctor’s office, each month we would have had a hesitation in our hearts wondering if I would be getting pregnant during the adoption process—and thus lose the child with whom we were matched. And, I would have likely died from clotting at that altitude, flying for so long, and sleeping with a child on my lap.

God had indeed turned a negative situation upside down and brought beauty through the trial. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

What had started out as a desire to be a mom has now turned into an all-consuming desire to care for the most vulnerable humans in the world.

I am so thankful for the darkness we walked through. I wouldn’t change it for anything!


To God be the glory!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A picture with a story

The picture is blurry. I know.
I did my best in my boys' dark room.
This picture tells a story, so I wanted to treasure the moment.


1. My children love each other. What a blessing from God! Look at Cherish and Daniel's interlocking arms. Sweet! Cherish has her own bed, but you will hardly ever find her sleeping in it--unless I make her sleep in her own bed due to illness. Otherwise, you will find her each night snuggling with Andrew, Daniel, or Samuel in their bedroom. Her heart for children is unlike anything I have ever witnessed. She chooses to sleep with the boys so she can be with them in the night when they have their nightmares, and so that she can be with them in the morning the moment they wake up. Ask her. She will tell you those two reasons every time.

2. You can often find Andrew sleeping with his eyes covered--even in a dark room. Andrew's orphanage did not turn the lights out at night, so they placed a blanket over the children's faces to let them know when night and sleep times were. Andrew has since substituted the blanket for his headband.

3. People constantly tell me we need to move to a bigger house as we have outgrown our house. However, we could literally live in a two-bedroom house. My children prefer to sleep together in one room, and if a child is moved to another room for any reason (sickness), it is viewed as a punishment by that child.

Here's what I have discovered growing up and now that I have children: children that room together become friends. I wouldn't want it any other way. 💗

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

LOA!!

It looks like we may be getting our little guy for Christmas!! China has sent out our "LOA" (Letter of Acceptance). They have approved of all our adoption paperwork, so now we begin the immigration paperwork for a "named orphan". The timeline will likely land us in China at the end of the year. We are SO thankful!!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sammy helps daddy

I caught Sammy helping daddy fix the screen and clean the window area.
He can always be found wanting to help out!

He is taking after his brother, Andrew, who cleaned the bathroom last night before bed--without anyone asking him to clean. He cleaned the bathroom after hours of fishing and being up late!

Love my boys!
They have tender hearts.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Julie's Birthday

I want to say a special "Thank You" to all who made my birthday so special! It was a fun day spent with family.

"Grandma" came up to visit, and "Pappy & Nanny" returned home from a trip in order to celebrate with me.

The day and weekend were filled with sweet birthday messages and gifts of thoughtfulness. Thanks, everyone, for making my birthday so special!

Cherish made the cake and the gift basket. So preciously sweet!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Where we are in "life"...

...has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with God's kindness and the kindness of so many others!

Let me explain:

1. Ms. Shirley, out of the kindness of her heart, has granted Cherish another year of free piano lessons. Pure graciousness! Pure generousity! Pure love! If music ends up being in Cherish's future, I want her to always remember that it was Ms. Shirley who took Cherish "under her wing" to teach, guide, and mold her! Thank you, Ms. Shirley!!! What a gift!!

2. We had our adoption yard sale this past Saturday during our community yard sale. Almost all of the donations came from the Parsons family! Again, pure kindness, graciousness, and love! Thank you for caring for orphans, John, Beth, and family!

3. During the community yard sale, one of our neighbors allowed my children to purchase items for what came out to be 1¢ on the $1. My children bought some NICE gifts for their daddy and siblings!! What an immense kindness!!!

4. Most of my children's clothes and shoes are given to us by family and friends. YOU all keep my children looking good and in style 😉. You all have been so kind in thinking of them! Thank you! Thank you!

5. My children are learning Chinese as a second language due to the kindness and patience of my friend, Mrs. Kong--who knows Korean, Chinese, English, and some Japanese--being able to speak, read, and write in these languages! She drives 30 minutes to our house to give of her time, so my children will know a second language. She is giving them a head-start in life. What a gift! What graciousness! (What patience!!!!!) God bless "Teacher"!

6. My husband has been granted a job where he can work many hours over 40 hours per week, and GOD has granted him the strength to do it. For example, Derek can be found working all shifts in random order to earn money to pay adoption expenses. However, most bodies would crash and burn (and become ill) after some of the hours he works, yet Derek is able to keep going--sometimes on just naps after being awake for over 24 hours. GOD is the One Who has granted Derek the strength and stamina he has needed all these years. Thank You, LORD!!!

7. My children have a Pappy and Nanny who help with childcare and/or carpooling when needed. They have helped our family so very much!!!!!! Thank you!!

I could go on and on and on.

God has blessed us with folks who care for our family and help hold us up. We are where we are today because of what OTHERS have done for us.

God bless you all!!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

CCAI Celebrates 25 years!

CCAI and Co-Founders, Josh and Lily, are celebrating 25 years and 12,000 lives forever changed! All our children were adopted through CCAI. God bless Josh and Lily!


Our children are at 0:56 seconds.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Visiting Family

We were excited about our quick trip to visit Uncle Paul and Aunt Kelsey before the hurricane. Here are some pictures from our special day together:






 

*kiss*
 Someone was beyond excited!


 

And pictures taken by Aunt Jen:






And a picture from Uncle Paul:

Thanks, sweet family!!