Thursday, December 28, 2017

Three in a twin

I cannot remember the last time Cherish slept in her own bed. Tonight, I found Daniel, Cherish, and Samuel all snuggled up in a twin bed.

Cherish loves her brothers, and they adore her!

All the children are asleep, and yet there is an empty bouble bed in the boys' room tonight. Why spread out when you can sleep closer in a twin?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Henan Province Donations

"Henan Province is one of the largest and poorest areas within China" (CCAI), and so far, three families have donated 62 long-sleeve onesies, 56 hats, 20 pairs of socks, 5 sets of pajamas, 6 bibs, 1 pair of shoes, along with various other pieces of clothing for the orphans living in Henan Province. We still have room in our suitcase for more winter donations--if you would like to join in caring for orphans. Derek leaves in about 14 days.

Thank you, Families, who donated!!!!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Happy Gotcha Day Anniversary, Andrew!

6 years ago, a precious little bundle was placed into my arms and melted into my heart. Andrew stopped breathing twice on "Gotcha Day" night, and God allowed me to be his resuscitator. We bonded immediately. Thank You, LORD, for the gift of such a tender, sweet, gentle soul!

"Happy Gotcha Day Anniversary, Andrew!
We love you!!"

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Happy Gotcha Day Anniversary, Cherish!!

💖 10 years ago today, God placed His precious gift into our arms. What a day! Tears of joy and gratitude still flow as we retell Cherish her story! How precious and sweet our Cherish Rose is! Thank You, God, for such an amazing gift!! 💖

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, 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!! 


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 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

Children Planned by a Sovereign God

(a mother’s prospective)

When Derek and I got married in 1999, we chose to trust God's perfect timing for children. We waited. And we waited.

After seven years of marriage and still having no children, my husband was told by his friend about a fertility clinic here in town that he and his wife had gone to. His wife was 8 months pregnant with their first child at that time.

Derek asked me to go with him to consult a doctor to see if anything was “wrong” medically that could be fixed. Derek made our appointment and off we went to the fertility clinic.

While we were in the waiting room of the fertility clinic, an engulfing weight of horror came over me, and I knew something horrible was going to happen if we did not leave that waiting room immediately. The feeling of terror was so great that I wanted immensely to bolt from the 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 if we became patients of the clinic.

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

I told him that if I wasn’t a believer in the Sovereignty of God I would run out of the waiting room and not return. However, since I believed in God's sovereignty, I was going to choose submission and do as Derek had asked.

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

I struggled in my heart. I felt the intense feelings of horror that engulfed me; I was certain of the trauma that would come if I followed through with the surgery. Yet, I knew God was (is) completely sovereign. I preached to myself.

Over and over again I reminded myself that God’s declared will was for me to submit to my husband, if I did that, I could trust the outcome to His sovereign hands. I knew that even my possible death would be for His glory if I only walked in obedience.

I continued to preach to myself. I was not going to allow my feelings to win over my knowledge of The Good and Sovereign God. I knew He was trustworthy.

We went forward with the surgery, and it was discovered that I indeed had endometriosis. Stage 2. 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 get up. I could not move.

The nurses gave me narcotics. I still could not walk.

The recovery room was manned only by the doctor’s nurses, and 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 to the restroom, so Derek borrowed a walker for me to use.

On day two of the 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).

On day three of the recovery, the fever worsened. Derek called the doctor’s office again. Once again, the nurse told him I was fine and told Derek to give me Tylenol and Gatorade.

On day four of the recovery, I became delusional and began talking to Tinker Bell. My fever remained high. 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 simply give me Tylenol for the fever and Gatorade to keep me hydrated.

That night I felt certain that death was coming close. I asked Derek to stay with me and sleep in the living room. 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 extremely 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 first (knowing they had Saturday appointments from 7-9 a.m.), and told them I needed 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, 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 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.

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 ICU nurse there was nothing more they could do. With antibiotics pouring into my veins I drifted off into unconsciousness.

Sunday passed. I was unaware of it.

Monday morning dawned and I awoke as the infectious disease specialist came in. His first words to me were: “I never expected to see you alive again.”

GOD had kept me alive. Thus, the surgeons went into action to combat the trauma my body was enduring due to the toxic shock.

I spent ten days in ICU. My days were full of battling 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 yet another surgery.

A hysterectomy was performed. I was shocked.

I kept preaching to myself that God is completely sovereign over every detail of my life and so long as I continued to walk in obedience to His declared will, I would be protected by His perfect will and plan.

Having full trust in God’s sovereignty, we knew there were no such things as accidents. Therefore, we did not sue the surgeon or his staff.

God was at work.

During 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. I felt no need to pray—fully believing that God would lead my husband as the leader of our family. However, I did as he asked. I prayed for God’s direction. 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 both of us that I would have died shortly after adopting Cherish, because it was during the complications of the toxic shock that my blood had clotted. The hematologist had discovered that I had a hereditary disorder that caused my blood to clot.

I had been so active in life that I never knew I had the disorder. Had the discovery not been made through the ordeal of the toxic shock, my blood would have clotted on the international flight to China, and our daughter would have come to America to be raised by a widowed daddy. What a blessed discovery!

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

If I had run out of that doctor’s office, each month Derek and I 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 had been matched. And, I would likely have died from clotting on that first trip to China with the pressure of the high altitude, combined with flying for so long with a sleeping child on my lap.

Even in trials, we Believers can be absolutely confident that God is Sovereign over all the details of our lives, and we can put our full confidence and trust in His good and loving hands as we walk in obedience to His Word.

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.” All things.

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


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:


 Someone was beyond excited!


And pictures taken by Aunt Jen:

And a picture from Uncle Paul:

Thanks, sweet family!!