Wonderful

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Did she really just say that?

Last night I heard our daughter say something that truly surprised me. After a veeerrrry……slooooow…..starrrrrrt in speaking English, she has now begun her “language explosion,” and we are loving hearing her verbiage grow. After meeting with the international adoption specialists a few times, we had come to the conclusion that her slow language progression had nothing to do with her IQ: our little girl is a highly intelligent and very observant young lady. But it took virtually two weeks for us to get her to speak any words, in her native tongue or likewise. And, though her receptive language was very good (she could understand most of what we said to her), her spoken language didn’t seem to be progressing much at all. The doctors’ conclusion? She is just a shy little girl, and language is one of her control issues. And why not? Her world may be a good one, but it is entirely new and must be exhausting at times…trying to take in all the new sights, sounds, personalities, culture differences, and language.

So, first we tried really praising our daughter for any attempt she made at speaking. “Good job!” “Way to go, sweetheart, speaking English!” This backfired, however, because our shy little girl did not appreciate us making a big deal out of every word. So, we learned to reward her efforts in other ways: quickly responding to her words and smiling at her efforts. Hugs are giving quite often, too.

Another issue that was specific to me was the fact that our little one really adores her daddy. So she would more readily speak with him than she would me. Yes, we do have a “Daddy’s girl” on our hands, a fact that was evident from our first visit at her orphanage. And since daddy is often gone for quite a bit, mommy is more often the disciplinarian, teacher, and chore-enforcer.

But the past couple of weeks have seen quite a change in language expression. She has been telling Mommy when she is hungry, when she wants to visit her grandparents, telling Mommy when a brother is misbehaving, and asking when Daddy was going to come home. It is such a pleasure watching her grown and develop!

But last night, as I was tucking her in bed, I heard those precious, precious words that let me know I was important to this sweet little girl.

“I love you,” she volunteered.

I stopped in my step. I wanted to grab her out of bed, hold her in my arms, and gleefully tell her I loved her, too. Instead, I quietly responded, “I love you, too, K.” Smiling, I turned off the light and walked out the door.

Thank you, Jesus.

 

Here are some recent pics of her first trip to our mall. She had a blast!

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2 Months Home: The Truth

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It’s been two months today since we landed in our local airport. Sweaty, exhausted, and somehow surviving off of little to no sleep over the past 48 hours, we were so happy to be home. My mamma’s heart ached to see our boys, and it took all the patience within me to wait for our checked carry-on luggage with grace. We had traveled around the world, been on over half a dozen airplanes, and the first delay came on our final stretch home. Friends and family were awaiting us in the airport, and I could just feel those little arms of our youngest son around my neck.

As we finally rounded that last corner in the airport to the area where our loved ones were waiting, the tears could not be held back. Among the balloons, signs, and smiles, our eyes quickly searched for three little button-nosed boys to embrace first. My eagerness can be seen on the many cell-phone videos of my family and friends, as I would almost break into a run, and then hold myself back, awaiting my husband and daughter coming up behind me. Our daughter had brought so much joy to us, and yet, the joy could not be complete without our boys in our arms as well.

The first embrace came from our youngest, always the most eager to give hugs. How healing that was! I may have hugged him a bit too excitedly, swinging him around so that I could wrap my arms around our eldest at the same time. Not surprisingly, our least-physical child was the final one we reached, as he was just as happy just to see us as he would have been to receive a hug. But he was getting one anyway: I had missed them all too much!

Then I made the rounds, embracing everyone I could, so very grateful to each of them for making the time to greet us on one of the happiest days of our lives. And more than that, for holding our hands and hearts throughout the long journey, when we didn’t know how we would make it.

Our delicate little girl didn’t know what to think with all of this excitement. We knew that she may not appreciate the welcoming party on that day as much as she would later on when she viewed the photos and realized what it all meant. She tightly held onto her Daddy and was not to let go until we reached our vehicle to go home. However, she was a trooper. She accepted a stuffed lamb from her cousin, and willingly held onto a balloon bouquet that was handed to her. Thanks to modern technology, she was familiar with many of the faces, as we had video-chatted with family and shared many photos with her while on the ground in India.

The first two weeks home were just full of rest and happiness. We allowed ourselves time to recover from jet lag and time change. We just took that time to get to know each other and have some normalcy. I remember wondering why I had a smile on my face all the time. But I know why: My soul finally felt like I was doing what I was called on this earth to do. I was ecstatic to be back home with our boys, and I was thrilled to have our daughter in our home after so many years of waiting.

Our newest family member really amazed us from day one. She slept in her bed all the way through the night on her very first night. This was miraculous, as the time change was completely opposite on our side of the world. She woke up the next morning, picked out what she wanted to wear, went outside and began to jump on the trampoline with her brothers. It was breathtaking.

After about 2 weeks, our (very expected) challenges began. Our youngest wasn’t so sure he liked so much change at once, and our newest wasn’t so sure she liked his attitude. ;) Hubby was back at work, and reality began to sink in. We now have four children, and we must make every effort to be excellent parents to each of them. Though our daughter was still sleeping through the night, she began to gently protest bedtime. And meal time. And reading time. And sitting still in church. And taking turns. She began to see that we had rules and life wasn’t always cartoons and ice cream.

Mamma began to get tired. A new child, whether by birth or adoption, takes a lot of extra time, and routines must change. The house didn’t remain as spic and span as our family had it waiting for us when we returned home. Nor did our van. Biggest brother wasn’t so sure he liked an extra little person getting into his things. Thanks be to God we have some wonderful people who gave us some great tips to help us navigate this new adventure.

So what does life look like two months later? Pretty amazing. Challenges have required creative solutions, and we have all become better for it. Mamma had to get more organized. Big Brother has learned to lock his door. A tiny Indian body necessitated that we sit around the table as a family more often, encouraging a few more bites eaten at each meal. We eat more Indian food. We take more family outings together to just have fun. Mamma has begun an exercise routine in the mornings to help energize her for the day to come. And she realized her business had made her quiet times with Jesus fewer and farther between. Those have been prioritized. And we have learned we cannot expect a perfectly clean house anymore.

Little Brother and Little Sister still have their spats. This means they are really siblings, right? And yes, it can be exhausting for Mamma. But now Little Brother says things like, “Sister is funny!” and “I kinda like having a sister now.” And Little Sister’s agitated, “HEY!” is now often followed by giggles directed towards Little Brother.

Little Sister’s First 2 Months’ Milestones:
*Learning to ride a bike (with training wheels)
*Learning to eat some American foods
*Learning lots of English
*Beginning to enjoy playing with new friends
*Learning to trust mamma and daddy in the pool (with floaties, of course)
*Wowing Mamma and Daddy with how much she knows already (ABC’s, Counting, Adding, her Colors, Writing, Coloring, Origami)
*Learning letter sounds

Our goals for the next few months are to help our little one grow physically, to make sure we spend lots of time loving on and having fun with each of our precious kiddos, read lots of books together, and to get a date night. Yeah, that hasn’t happened for about 3 months now. Another expected challenge of having a new child join the family.

Anyone want to babysit for our 14th wedding anniversary? ;)

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How is She Doing?

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I know that so many of you prayed, gave, and/or simply followed our story throughout our adoption process. Now, instead of the question, “When is she coming home?” we are often asked, “How is she doing?” Today I thought I’d give you all an update.

Our daughter is doing so well. We have been given so much grace. The ladies at her orphanage really must have worked with her,  preparing her for a new family and a life in an English-speaking country. She came home already knowing all of her English ABC’s, how to write her name and a few friends’ names, and knew all the names of family members that we had placed in her photo album that was sent to the orphanage.

Our biggest challenge so far has been her medical appointments. Bless her heart, they have to draw several vials of blood to run all the necessary tests on her, and we still have yet to be successful at that. The last time we told the lab workers to just stop, after they had tried three of her tiny veins with little to no luck. We are supposed to go back, but we are waiting some time to try to hydrate her more and help her feel a bit more at ease.

Our middle son and our daughter have really bonded from the start. His heart is so big. He adores her, gets a kick out of the native words she says, and is always considering her needs. It has been so beautiful watching the love between those two.

Our oldest son has been a typical older brother, trying to keep her in line, and watching out for her. He is a great older brother.

Our youngest son has had the biggest challenge. He was the youngest child for several years, and while he still is the “youngest,” he’s not the newest, and he has had some challenges dealing with that idea. We have intentionally spent loads of extra time with all of our children, to make sure they all know how treasured they all are. We knew we were turning a corner when he said, “Having a sister isn’t all bad.” ;)

Food has been a bit of a challenge. We suspect that she may have a parasite, as she just isn’t ever really hungry, and usually moans when we tell her it’s time to eat. So far, we have discovered that she likes bread, chips, popsicles, and apples. Most everything else she really hesitates to eat. We are waiting to hear back from her doctor as to how the tests went…hopefully the samples we sent in will give us some answers.

One of the most fun things to experience with our daughter is to hear her learn new words. Some of her first words were the following: Daddy, ninja, popsicle, chocolate, Let it go, Mommy, Calliou, George, all her brother’s names, Dack, Nana, Nanny, Pawpaw, no, and juice. Her newest word is adorable: “Cinderella.” I wish I had a recording to share with you how she pronounces it, but it is too cute.

Last week our daughter was dedicated at church. What that means is that we dedicated ourselves to raise our daughter in the love of Christ, not only teaching her, but also modeling godly lives so that she can see truth and Love. Later that same day, we celebrated her first birthday home. It was wonderful. She picked out a princess cake. We had a few of our closest family and friends over, and we blew bubbles. Keeping it simple, I think we were able to make her feel really special.

 

 

 

Dedication Service. Look closely and you can see how excited one of our boys was about the whole thing…;)
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Happy Memorial Day

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Happy Memorial Day

We spent the weekend with family, celebrating our country and remembering those who gave their lives so that we could be free. And this year of course was especially memorable for us, as we watched a child who lived free for the first time. Here she is in her daddy’s arms before we all came home.

Thank You

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After long last, we have our daughter in our arms. She is amazing and lovely, and we are so grateful for this opportunity. Throughout our trip, we thought of many of you…when we gave donated items to the orphanage, when we thought of the many prayers prayed for her and us over the years…you have truly been with us on our entire journey. Now we eagerly look forward to our future together, with all of our children.

We are a living example that God keeps His promises, no matter how impossible they may seem. We waited 11 years for our daughter, many of them joyful, many of them difficult. Yes, we had people suggest we give up. We had people tell us to just give money instead of adopting. We had people say we were crazy for adopting. Hold onto your calling, my friends. I guarantee you that people will try to discourage you. It may not be easy. Don’t let go. What God has spoken to you, He will bring to pass.

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…on Christ the Solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Fully Funded!

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Our bags are packed, and we leave soon! We are pinching ourselves and thanking our God for His kindness and provision. Due to a generous donation from some loving church members, we are now fully funded for travel!! Keeping true to His promises, God provided for this adoption, so that we incurred ZERO debt. He is a miracle worker!

Thank you so much.

Keep the prayers coming, especially for the flights back home. We are hearing that customs can be a difficult process on the trip back.

 

Blessings to you and yours!

Joy

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It is with joyful hearts and excited anticipation that we announce that our daughter is coming home! Paperwork has been approved, corrected, submitted, etc.,  and we have travel dates!

Spring has dawned on earth, and our hearts are blooming as well.

Gratefulness, thankfulness, appreciation…none of those words convey how we feel about the many prayers you all have prayed to storm heaven for this to happen. We love you.

We are still working out all the travel details, but we should be united with our child in a few short weeks.

Praising the Provider for His provision and grace!!

Please don’t stop the prayers. Our journey has truly just begun as we will have travel, transition, and lots of firsts coming up!

P.S. We still have a bit of funds we need to raise. If you’d like to contribute to our travel expenses, message me, and I can show you how to do so and receive a tax deduction.

 

 

Please Pray

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If you’ve ever thought about our story….if there ever was a time to pray…

It’s now.

As of tomorrow, we will have waited a month to have those court documents corrected. So, the passport, according to the information we currently have, has not even been ordered yet.

The family behind us…the one who we prayed would be able to be processed after us…they have already traveled and received their son.

Our hearts are aching so much now. We need your prayers. Our little one needs your prayers. She has known about us since October. Imagine. Bless her precious heart, wondering why Mom and Dad haven’t come yet.

God is working. I know that to be true, because He is always faithful. Please keep praying.

Blessings.

What’s in Your Hand?

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I’ve been reflecting on our adoption journey a lot this week. As each morning I trepidatiously check my email, hoping for word that our daughter’s passport is FINALLY ready, I have found myself fighting frustration at the waiting. (Sound familiar, anyone?) But as several friends reminded me, there is no wasted waiting. No wasted tears. God is always at work, doing something, whether we see it right now or not. So, tonight, I found a quite moment to dive into God’s word, and again I am so glad it is alive! I can read the same passage a thousand times and it can teach me new truths each time.

I turned to 1st Samuel, to chapters 16 and 17. This is the story of David and Goliath. Even those who don’t read the Bible know this story. It is used as an adjective even in the secular world. (If you want to read the entire story, please look it up! You don’t have to buy a Bible to do so…just do a web search on 1 Samuel 17-18.)

And what new truths I found! First, when we are doing Yahweh’s work, we WILL be attacked. We will be questioned, doubted, and even hated. And it won’t come from just those who don’t know God. It can even come from those who claim to know God. Chapter 17:28 finds David in this situation. His older brother loathes the fact that David is considering doing something radical for God: “When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

Whoa. Listen to those venomous words! David’s own brother not only attacked David’s intentions, he also attacked his character as well as his daily occupation. Belittling him with jealousy, Eliab was not speaking to David like a loved one. David could have totally backed down at this point, not wanting to look “conceited.” But David kept on.

Eliab wasn’t the only one who doubted David. King Saul quickly heard of this young boy and called for him. “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

Now, it’s one thing for your competitive brother to not believe in you. But it’s another for the king, the leader of your people to try to talk you out of your destiny. At this point, I am sure many of us would have come to our senses and walked away. Surely the king knows better than a boy, right??

But, David recounts to Kind Saul that, with his bare hands, he had killed both a lion and a bear. Saul is convinced, either out of astonishment or lack of other options. He gives David his armor. But David cannot move freely in such heavy armor, and removes it. He approaches his destiny.

Here comes the next guy who didn’t believe in David. You know who it is…Goliath. David has passed the family members, made his way past a respectable leader, but now? Now he must face a giant. An ugly, arrogant giant, that, according to biblical scholars, was between 1-3 feet taller than most men of that day! So, here comes a young shepherd boy…with NO armor on…coming to fight a massive, confident creature, who had considerable battle experience.

I wonder if the words of Eliab, Saul, and Goliath were ringing in David’s ears as he approached this battle….”with whom did you leave those few sheep…? I know how conceited…and how wicked your heart is”…”You are not able to go out against this Philistine…you are only a young man”…”Come here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the wild animals!”

But here is what I LOVE to read. David’s reply…”All those gathered here will know that it is not by the sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

And little David, with no armor, no sword, and really no emotional support, takes what he has in his hand: a stone.

Let’s stop there. I love this part! How many times do we feel like we don’t measure up? Like we don’t have enough education, don’t make enough money, don’t have enough experience, aren’t attractive enough, aren’t fit enough, aren’t a picture-perfect parent…blah, blah, blah.

Who. Flippin. Cares.

What is in your hand?? You have something there. Open it and look!

Whatever it is, God can use that. That thing. That thing that you don’t think is significant. That little. Bitty. Stone.

And why? Because, “The battle is the Lord’s.” See? Now we can all relax and say, “Ahhhh.”

“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” (17:48-50)

It’s been said before, but I want you to realize that you are SO VERY SIGNIFICANT. Truly. And those little talents, those little desires, those tiny pastimes you enjoy…those things might just be your little stone. It wasn’t a theologian who defeated the giant that day. No highly educated man. No decorated warrior. Just a boy, a stone, and his God.

So, here’s your homework. Ask God what your stone is. Then, listen. Once you figure it out, ask Him how He can use it to defeat giants in your life. How God can do big things with what is in your hand. You are important!

And here is my homework: I am going to do the same, and my goal is to use my stone to do whatever I can while I wait. There is no wasted waiting!