For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, July 30, 2011

4 Years Ago...

On this day , four years ago, a very scared but courageous little girl's life was changed forever! She had a family to call her own...a forever family! It is sometimes hard to believe that it has only been four years, and at other times it feels like it was only yesterday. Our sweet Mandy girl greeted us at the door of the civil affairs office(she slipped away from the director)  with a beautiful smile and the only English words she knew, "Hello Mother, hello Father!" She was super excited and very scared all at the same time ( I can assure you that we were having almost the exact same emotions). When we left China, she never once looked back. She was ready to tackle her new world and her new life. It was then that we realized that Mandy had a mind of her own and a determination that no one could change. She has grown physically (a lot), emotionally (which we still have struggles with) and spiritually (which brings tears to our eyes). Adopting her at an older age has been down right hard! The hardest parenting we have ever done, but we were assured in our hearts and minds of one thing. God told us to trust him, to win another precious soul for Jesus. We knew that He had/has HUGE plans for this precious child!  He never promised us easy, but He knew the plans He had for her and for US. As the years pass, Mandy is learning to trust more, to love harder, and to turn to Jesus for her strength. She has been trying harder and having more success at being a part of our family. She shares with us that she had always desired a family, but there have been many times that we knew she wasn't prepared for what having a family meant. She is letting go of her past (the harder, uglier things) and moving forward slowly with the new life God has given her. Throughout all these struggles, God has been working on her heart and ours. We have learned so much more of what "to love someone" means... to love as Jesus loved. She has learned to accept love and continues to learn what it means to be loved unconditionally. Tenacious, brave, courageous, ambitious are just a few words to describe our Mandy-girl. She loves dance with an amzing talent for ballet. She has a gorgeous smile that brightens a room. She is something of a perfectionist about things, but she is learning that she can't be "perfect" (that she doesn't have to be). She has a very tender heart especially for toddler children. She desires to be a preschool dance instructor some day. That desire fits her perfectly. We are so proud of the young lady she is becoming. We are honored to be able to call her our daughter. Happy Forever Family Day Mandy girl!

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Girlie Girl" Reunion

Three Amigos

Meeting New Friends

Swimming in the early morning hours

Playing games when the temps soared past 100 each day


Riding Big Wheel Cycles

The Gang
This past week, we took a trip to meet some of Mandy's orphanage friends. We all decided to meet at a Campground near St Louis, and we had planned this several months ago before the unbearable heat hit the mid-section of the U.S.. So, we braved it and made the most of our time together. It was HOT, HOT, HOT!!! One of the families rented a double wide trailer that they had available at the campsite. The trailer became our meeting place for meals and to pass the hotest parts of the day. The kiddos enjoyed swimming, riding "hot wheels",playing miniature golf, playing board games, coloring, watching movies, and just hanging out together. The grownups got a chance to visit and share our stories.Oh... and did I mention eating... we had some great food cooked by chefs from each family...Yum Oh! As for the friends, well, we hardly saw them the whole weekend. They spent lots of time talking, doing hair, chatting, and giggling as girls will do. We missed one of the friends a whole bunch...The amigos just weren't complete without Miss J~! Looking forward to our visit in August J~! 

Summer Fun

We were blessed by friends who were getting a larger above ground pool. They gave us their old pool, a gift from them and an answer to a small prayer. I had the thought that a small kiddie pool wouldn't work for our kids this year...they had pretty much outgrown one (sniff,sniff). We were going to be playing in the sprinklers a lot this summer. These friends offered their pool, and it was a reminder to me that God is even in the smaller things. Our kiddos have been having fun swimming and splashing in these hot, hot, hot days of summer!

Guess Who Lost a Tooth?

Not just 1 but 2... within 24 hours of each other...       She has been waiting... "FOR-EV-ER"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Struggles... In Loving Memory...

 My weekend was wrecked by the news that a dear, dear friend of mine went to be with the Lord on Saturday. To say that it was a shock is an understatement!! She was 41 yrs old and left behind a husband and 7 children (ranging in age from 15 to 5 mths.). From the news on her facebook page, she died of a brain aneurysm on Saturday morning.
Kristen was BEAUTIFUL... a one word description that summarizes everything about her! She was a true Proverbs 31 woman with a heart of gold and a smile that was infectious. We met at a crazy time in both of our lives, and Kristen became my inspiration! Brad and I had made the decision to change churches (hopefully moving to one closer to our home), and we were raising 3 little that was starting Kindergarten. We chose the church, we would come to call home, because we awakened to late on a Sunday morning to go to a church farther away. We had remembered the church with the little blue roof, literally down the street from us. The minute we walked through its doors, we knew we had found a place that was very special, a place to call home. Within 5 minutes we had met tons of brothers and sisters in Christ, and Kristen was the first to greet and welcome me (with her big beautiful smile). From that day forward our friendship would grow. We shared the common love of Jesus and the second love of our husbands and children. She had three children that were near my boys ages with her daughter being of school age. Alas, we would begin to form the common bond of homeschool. She would be my mentor and help as Brad and I began the journey to homeschool our children; however, she was more than that ...she was another sister, a soul sister and dear friend. We would meet weekly, sometimes daily to pray, study the Lord's word, and share our dreams, struggles, and joys of being mommies. We would sometimes meet at our house and sometimes theirs, and more often than not we would end up at a kitchen table with a cup of tea,studying God's word, and spending hours talking and sharing our spiritual walk while our kiddos played together. We refered to each other as "kitchen table" friend, and a sisterhood began, a love for one another that can only be formed with Jesus at the center.  In recent years(she moved to Houston, and I moved to Missouri),we hadn't seen each other as much nor did we talk on the phone much, but we thanked God for the gift of facebook (so we could keep up with the things happening in each others lives... God would bless their family with 4 more children, and ours with 3,and one waiting in China). She would send me facebook messages with hopes of us getting our families together and meeting all the newest members of each family. Kristen loved without measure and lived her life totally devoted to God and her family! She gave of herself. She radiated JOY, and she was a person whose presence lifted you up and made you want to strive for more. She was an amazing wife, mother, and homeschool teacher. She lived life to serve the Lord, and she often shared that she wanted nothing more than for her children to grow up serving and loving the Lord with all their hearts, minds and soul.
Me...the tears keep flowing and won't stop... I have been alternating between tears and joy. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kristen is in the arms of Jesus...dancing,dancing,dancing...oh and singing (what a glorious voice she had). I know that God has a reason ... that He needed her and that she is more than happy to serve HIM. Oh but it hurts... and I hurt for her husband and children... so How can you be filled with Joy and filled with sorrow at the same time? ... all because we know that Jesus lives so that we can have eternity with him. Kristen, my sweet, sweet Kitchen friend...we will meet again...we already agreed... I'll see you in heaven!!
Would you please join me in praying for her husband and children? They are hurting and struggling, and I cannot imagine how their life has been turned upside down...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to me... DTC AND LID ...

What a day I have had.... fun filled with all my kiddos and my hubby, and then I come home to find a email with our LID (log-in-date)!
We were DTC last week on July 5th, and we were originally told that our LID could take 2-4 weeks to come back. But, their timing is not the Lord's timing, and HE is moving mountains for me to get to my baby boy! Our official LID is July 12th and that is 7 days!!!
Our next countdown begins for LOA (letter of Acceptance) and the estimate for that wait is 2-4 months. ...but, God is moving Mountains I tell ya.... Please keep praying for our sweet boy, that his heart is ready for his new family, and for God to move that financial mountain. HE has provided every step of the way thus far, and we KNOW that he has the plans to provide the rest.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Spaghetti Anyone?...

Today is our Spaghetti Lunch and Bake Sale Fundraiser. We are planning to feed 150 people after church (at noon-ish). If you live close by, come on out and enjoy the food.The Cost of a lunch is donations. The menu includes Spaghetti/Meat Sauce,Garlic Bread, Salad, Dessert and Drink. We have some awesome baked goods that are for sale as well. I know...cause I have been baking for 2 solid days... and a few of my friends are donating their time and talent to make even more goodies for the sale.
If you can't come by would you please join us in praying for the success of this fundraiser.
Oh!!! Did I forget to mention?...WE ARE DTC ...documents are sent to China... One Step Closer To Our Baby Boy!!!
P.S. Would any of our fellow adoptive families out there be able to tell me where to find and how to add those cute letters that people post on their blog to spell out DTC,LID, and so forth?

Technical Difficulties

Has anyone else been having difficulties with blogger? My pages have been mixed up and stuff has been posting that is ancient news (like a previous post from a few years ago)...have no idea how the post appeared again as blogger wouldn't even allow me to post anything. Oh well! Guess it was a glich in the system because things appear back to normal.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chef Garrett

It's no secret, Garrett loves to cook! He has been my "soux-chef" from the age of four until now...
After spending a week with his grandpa and grandma, he came home excited and raving about a dish that his grandma had made for grandpa's birthday. He was rapidly telling me about all the ingredients of the dish. He wanted me to make this dish for dinner one night. Well... he got the opportunity to make it all by himself. A migraine invaded my head the other day, and Garrett became chef for the night. He made the dish from help from mom at all. He decided to experiment a little with the seasonings; however, the dish tasted good, and it was edible. He did a super job! We talked a little about season combinations and other dishes that he could make in a similar fashion. I for one am excited because there is now another person who can make a few meals around here. He is ready and set to take on the challenge...
Garrett's version of Grandma's Shepherds Pie

Dinner is served...
Will he be the next Food Network Star? ... Honestly, I can see this child doing whatever he sets his mind too.