Monday, November 24, 2014

And She's 5!

I must've blinked!
There's no way Kasidi Joy is 5!  But she is!
Sharing birthday secrets

Beautiful big sister, and our resident photographer
 Big brother making Kasidi's birthday dinner
Her dinner request is a treat for everyone!

 Oh, Khloie

Happy 5th birthday, sweet JOY!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

3 Bags; 3 Winners!

Thank you to everyone who gave and shared our Bags for our Boy campaign!
We are so thankful for you helping us bring Kohlby home!!!
Without further ado, here are the winners~

#1 ~ Kathy Roberts
        She chose 

#2 ~ Tara Harp
         She chose

#3 ~ Denise Poarch
        She chose

Thank you and congratulations!!!
Your bags will be shipped Monday!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ruined? A Bio Kid Speaks on Adoption

It's a well known fact that I (and my husband!) can talk adoption all day long, but what do our bio kids have to say about it?  You might be able to tell how much they love their siblings by the way they care for them, play with them and communicate with them.  But when one of them told me his Comp I instructor allowed him to choose a topic for his paper, and wrote about adoption, it touched my heart.

This is significant to me on so many levels.  When we started adopting 11 years ago, and had three biological children, ages 6, 7 and 14, one criticism we got was, "You'll ruin your family.  You won't be able to pay for your kids' college or buy them a car."  

*news flash* My parents didn't pay for my college or buy me a car, and they didn't adopt.  

We've got one college graduate, one college freshman and another entering college next year.  All three have vehicles, and... you guessed it, we didn't buy those either.  They did.

Nine adoptions later and we still hear similar arguments.  What it boils down to, for us, is... what are we living our lives for?  Who are we living for?

Adoption isn't for everyone.  Adopting doesn't make one family any holier than another.  It certainly isn't a way to get into heaven.  For Clayton and I, it is a way of living out Christ's love for us by loving others.  When He redeemed us 13 years ago we surrendered everything to Him.  Willingly. joyfully, completely.  It's not always easy, and we constantly have an inner battle with our selfish flesh.  But every aspect of adoption, from the paper work, the thorough home studies, the waiting, the faith for provision and the transition has built character in us and our children.

Here is Kolton's Comp I paper.  As an English student, I will tell you it has a few grammatical errors, and he changed some of the facts ~ (you know, names have been changed to protect the innocent:).  But evidently the content and subject superseded the flaws because he got a 100!

So, maybe my kids are ruined.  And that's not a bad thing!

Little Bundle of Joy 
A group of short women wearing the same outfit walk into the room, each one with a little dark haired baby wearing way too much clothing for the temperature in the building. Everyone in the area is sniffling and wiping back tears of joy as the women with the little bundles of silent babies, line up. 

There are about 60 million orphaned children in all of Asia. The cause of most of the orphans in China is their one and two child policies. When a family is only allowed to have one child, they are forced to desperately try to conceive a boy so their family name can continue to survive. 

So, what happens when a family has a girl? Girls are simply dumped in alleys, left on doorsteps, put in drainage ways, or dropped at bus stops. These cruel means of abandonment are due to the fact that it is illegal to put your own child into an orphanage. 

There is hope for these children. On a normal summer morning, my older brother and I, gone, my sister playing in her room, my parents sit silently reading their bibles in the living room. The silence is broken by my mom’s voice, “Have you ever thought of adoption,” she says to my dad. “Yes, I have actually, all week I have been thinking about it,” he replied. 

Without them even knowing it, the Lord had stirred both of their hearts for the same cause. “I have been thinking about China and all the orphaned girls there,” my mom says. “I was also thinking of somewhere in Asia,” said my dad. 

At that moment they both knew what they were supposed to do. Whenever my mom had spare time after that she spent it on the computer researching international adoption. She poured over detail after detail on every single adoption website. She eventually found blogs from adoptive families which turned out to be a great resource for learning the steps of the international adoption process. 

After my mother read many blogs, she found that she needed to talk to an adoption agency, Dillon. Dillon is an international adoption agency out of Tulsa, that my mom got hooked up with to get even more information. She talked to a very nice sounding lady that gave her all the minuscule details that she had so desperately dug for. 

My parents decided to travel to Tulsa to meet with this faceless bearer of all good information. Upon arriving at Dillon they walked into the nicely sized building and met a receptionist. The lady at the door sent them back to an office where they met the rather wrong image of the woman my mother had talked to on the phone. The voice on the phone had come from a large statured, red haired, almost burly looking woman. Despite her appearance, she was the nicest woman someone would ever want to meet. The nice sounding lady helped them tremendously and my parents actually left that day with the information of a baby girl. 

Many months, fundraisers, sleepless nights, and endless prayers later, my parents and my older brother found themselves in the middle of the densely populated country of China. While in the great country, my family took warm muggy boat rides down ever-flowing rivers with steep jagged limestone walls on each side, reaching up toward the sky. 

The giant white people walked through extensive market places that were set up for a much shorter person. The smell of the thick, grungy air followed them everywhere they went, even to the little city in which they were to obtain their baby girl.

 My family members arrived with several other families at the building that their guides led them to. Inside the building all the families were instructed to stand in this blank room and wait patiently for what was to come. 

Then, out of nowhere, a group of short women wearing the same outfit walk into the room, each one with a little dark haired baby wearing way too much clothing for the temperature in the building. Everyone in the area is sniffling and wiping back tears of joy as the women with the little bundles of silent babies, line up. In that moment, the moment every single one of those families had been waiting so long for, my mom and dad were united with their own chunky little bundle of joy. 

Since that awesome point in time my parents have adopted seven more of my wonderful brothers and sisters and are in the process to bring home another. My mom has kept a blog through all the adoptions of my siblings. Through my mother’s blog, and other outreach programs, she has mentored, and encouraged many families through the adoption process. She even helped start an adoption fund grant foundation. From that one single bundle of joy branched countless precious lives saved.


Friday, November 14, 2014

It's 41 Days till Christmas - You Can Help Bring Kohlby Home AND Get a Shot at 1 of 3 Vera Bradley Bags!

*I updated the Widget to PitchInBox so the contributions are visible*

I just realized it's only 41 days till Christmas!  Forty-One!
And I'm estimating our travel in 90 to 120 days! *this is my best estimate only*

We've taken a break from fundraising because we sensed the Lord was asking us to wait.  Until now.  It is now time to move forward.  Not out of panic or anxiety.  But in peace. 

And I'm so excited to show you what we've come up with!!!

Just in time for Christmas gift-giving, or keeping for yourself, I've got a girlie giveaway.

And, because I couldn't decide which item I might like the most if I were buying one, there will be not one, but three winners drawn!

Vera Bradley Triple Zip Holster in Canterberry Magenta

Vera Bradley Trimmed Vera in Ziggy Zinnia

Vera Bradley Work Tote in Cheery Blossoms with Black Trim

So, how can you enter?
*Click on the Purse in the right sidebar called Bags for Our Boy (this takes you to PayPal where you can use your PP account, a credit card or a bank account) or email me for other options
*$5 for a shot
*$10 for 3 shots
*Each blog, FB and IG share gets 1 additional shot (don't forget to comment or email me to let me know, along with the link, please)
*First winner drawn chooses first, second winner chooses next, and well, you get the idea
*Runs from Friday, November 14 to Saturday, November 22
We thank you for journeying with us to bring Kohlby home!

Hurry and consider yourself ahead of the game in shopping this year :) 


Monday, November 10, 2014


Not one thing on my to-do list included what we've actually been doing the past 15 days.
We were caught off guard.
But we've been sustained by the One who is never taken by surprise.
Two weeks ago I received one of the most frightening phone calls of my life, from this guy...

 This is the way he usually is.  Silly.  Tender.  Compassionate.  Passionate about his Lord.
 Ferociously protective of his family.
 His crazy family.
Serious about his corn.

But circumstances we couldn't  have anticipated changed everything.  Clayton was in an accident that landed him in the hospital 15 days.  He's got a long road to recovery, but he will recover, and Lord willing, in time to travel to China for Kohlby and to plant corn next spring!  I can't begin to tell you all the blessings that have come from this unexpected change of plans.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  
Isaiah 55:9

We are so thankful for:
~The Lord's promise to never leave nor forsake us
~The power of prayer
~Our big kids
~Our church family, the body of believers, employers, neighbors, teachers and our entire community
~Prompt response of and great care from EMTs
~Hospital personnel: CNAs, nurses, physicians, surgeons, respiratory, physical and occupational therapists
~Medical equipment
~Unfailing love from the Father!

When I got the phone call, I literally ran out the door, leaving everything behind, because Allie just happened to be with the kids, so I could do that. 

 Every single day for the past two weeks I've been able to stay in the hospital with my husband because people have rallied around our family caring for Khloie all day and the rest of the littles after school, bringing hot meals to the house, stocking our freezer with food, cleaning our house, doing load after load of laundry, and so many things we probably aren't even aware of yet.

Kuyler and Caitlin cleared their schedule and came home the first weekend to help.  Kolton's been taking care of things on the farm.  Kenzie has been transporting kids and taking care of all the evening, nighttime and morning tasks with them.

We will get the word this afternoon, Lord willing, that we get to go home tomorrow!  One thing's for sure: doing laundry, homework and meals will be much more enjoyable to me now.  Nothing like a good dose of perspective ;-)  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Kohlby in Motion!

Our agency requests an update when families are DTC (Dossier To China), and we have just what we asked for!

What a beautiful sight to see, our little man running around!  Looks like he'll fit right in!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tea Eggs!

My kids love boiled eggs, and they really love Tea Eggs (a common snack in China)!
They're like boiled eggs with enough flavor that you don't need to salt them.
So it would be a shame if I didn't share the recipe.  Here's my revised version.

Tea Eggs
6 eggs
5 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 black tea bags (or 2 Tbsp of black tea leaves)
1 tsp Anise
1 stick cinnamon
Place the eggs in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 2 minutes
Remove the eggs from the water, and using a knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shell in several places.
Return the eggs to the saucepan of water, and add the rest of the ingredients.
Cover and simmer for 3 hours, adding additional water as necessary.
I let the eggs sit in the water till it's room temp, and then refrigerate them.
Peel, rinse and enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

This Time is Different

We are smack in the middle of the journey to bring home our 9th treasure from China. 

Although the process has changed since we first adopted 10 years ago, the thing that’s changed the most is ME!

I’m a take-charge kind of gal.  Give me a task and I’m on it.  Give me stacks of paper work, no sweat.  Ask me to sit quietly and wait patiently…fail.  But that is changing, ever so slowly.

I have orchestrated fundraisers, tried to make crafty things (in my severe un-crafty-ness) , held garage sales and whittled our budget to the bone in order to raise adoption funds.  Usually the entire journey is one fundraiser after another, frantic that we will fall short of our goal.

We’re still raising funds and working overtime to cover the expense of the adoption, but this time is different. 

Over the past year the Lord has dealt with my heart in so many ways.  First, that He would allow us to adopt again is incredible.  But I am recognizing His sovereignty.  And I’m learning to abide.

Abiding doesn’t mean I’m sitting on my hands.  But I am seeking Him, soaking in His truth, and instead of plowing my way through things, I’m content to follow Him.  I’m learning that as I fix my gaze upon Him, I am less likely to become distracted. 

The adoption process has many milestones, each culminating hopefully in the homecoming of a child.  In the past I’ve gotten so wrapped up in the destination that I couldn’t enjoy the journey.  And the Lord has so much to teach me in the journey.

This time I want Him more than I want the things I ask of Him.

Friday, October 17, 2014

When I Lost My Smile

My optimistic attitude and faith have served as great companions in supplying endurance in the most difficult circumstances.  Even when my first response is of the flesh, the Lord always gives me new perspective and changes my heart on the matter.

Sometimes He removes the obstacle, sometimes He walks me around it, and sometimes He allows me to struggle, chin-deep in the quicksand of the matter.

No matter His method of leading me, He has never left me to fend for myself, and He’s always brought me through the fire refined.

During the past five years our family has danced with the flames of darkness, grief, loss and incessant turmoil.  No matter how upbeat or how great a sense of humor I once had, somewhere along the way I succumbed to the flames and lost my smile.

I knew from the depths of my soul that the Lord had not left me and that He had much to teach me.  He brought me face to face with my own sin of selfishness and independence.  Yet I couldn’t break the chains of my flesh.  Or rather, I wouldn’t.

Each day brought more chaos, more pressure and required more action to bring resolution.  The burden to try to keep the wheels of our family of 12 running smoothly are lofty under normal circumstances, but add the medical needs of five precious children, the daily in-your-face battles, and I became resentful and bitter.  I’d lost my emotions and even forgotten how to laugh.  

Each opportunity the Lord gave me to trust Him, no matter to what degree I tried at first, I would ultimately cave to my own need for control.

Please understand that I’m not proud of this, but my prayer is that the Lord might use my transparency to minister to your heart in the midst of suffering.
Oh, I continued to put one foot in front of the other.  I performed all the necessary duties of a wife and mom, and  I traveled back and forth to numerous medical visits without a problem, but when it came to the biggest thing the Lord was using to change my heart, I dug my heels in every.single.time, which meant about a thousand times a day.  Fail.

And yet, His mercies are new each morning.  His grace is sufficient, His patience is unimaginable, His presence is constant, and He is the Source of love.

Each time I shook my finger at the situation was as if I were looking in a mirror reflecting my own black heart.  I was convicted of how the Lord drew me to Himself and Jesus brought me from death to life.  So what was wrong with me?  I’m a Christ follower!  The Spirit dwells within me.  He has given me a new heart.  He continues to diminish my desire for the things of this world and long for Him.  I kept hoping, praying and waiting for Him to change the situation.  Otherwise, it would require changing ME, and apparently I was running from that, unwilling to repent.  

To this day I am amazed at His patient pursuit of me.
The situation is not entirely resolved, but the Lord is doing an amazing work in my heart.  He has brought me to a place of brokenness and complete dependence upon Him.  There is a spring in my step and a smile on my face.  Only by His grace. 

The bitterness was hurting my family, and the need for control was driving me further away from those I love.  The Lord brought me to repentance and complete surrender.  I still battle the flesh, but I have an arsenal of Truth as my first line of defense.

Have you lost your smile?

Fear not!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel  11:19b 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More Lovely Letters!

We just found out today our dossier was logged in on October 9!

Though we still have several acronyms to go, this is cause for celebration!
The next step, LOA, could come in 30 days or 90 days or 150 days...
How's that for nailin' it down?
One thing we know for certain: the Lord's timing is perfect!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Homemade Favorite to Go

We are that family.  You know, the family that has a separate cabinet for storing Ramen.
It's ridiculous how much instant MSG my kids consume.
But, it's so handy before a game or after a game.  Ah, who am I kidding?  We even feed it to them for supper.
Maybe you've already discovered this, but being a bit slow, I've just now figured out that I can make a healthier and tastier version of my people's favorite!
The key is variety.
And making it your own.

In this experiment I just used what I had on hand:
Spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained
Ringwood Gold cut corn (of course)
Chicken base
Carrots, chopped
Onion, finely chopped
Jars with lids

This is the mix, ready to refrigerate or pack in your lunch!
Add boiling water, seal the lid and let sit for 4 minutes.
I use chicken and beef base in so many of my recipes to add flavor!
*hint* use a low sodium chicken or beef base, or you'll end up with nearly the same thing as you find in the bag or cup of ramen.

Homemade Ramen to Go
Chicken or Beef base (low sodium)
Vegetables (shredded carrots, sweet peppers, scallions or onion, corn)
Seasonings (cumin, crushed red pepper)
Noodles (thin spaghetti, rice noodles - the possibilities are endless!)
Dried or diced meat of your choice

In a clean jar, add 1 Tbsp beef or chicken base.  Add vegetables and seasoning to your liking, then top with cooked noodles.  Refrigerate the jars if you're not using them immediately.
Add boiling water to the top of the noodles, seal the lid and let sit 4 minutes.  Stir and enjoy!

You're welcome :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Celebrating "Lasts"

If you ask me what we've been up to, I'd say in addition to physical therapy, surgery post-ops, making more wedding plans, fundraising and paper chasing for Kohlby, we are celebrating 'lasts'.

I'm a bit sappy about this being Kenzie's senior year, but having 3 to 4 softball games each week has kept me busy enough that I don't have time to pout :) 
Last night our Lady Devils represented at the Cherokee Strip Conference awards and game.  The Ladies are conference champions!
Kenzie was selected to play as 2nd baseman.
And I realized this might be the last time I see her catch for the out.

Senior power!
 Selected to the Cherokee Strip Conference:  
Kenzie, LS, KS, KR and CF! 

I've really enjoyed watching these gals play!

Cherokee Strip Champions!

 Making memories on the field.

Tonight the gals play again in the Tri-County Conference game!
More pictures, more 'lasts.'

Monday, October 6, 2014

Yumilicious Black Bean n' Rice Burritos

I have several friends who've got a knack for cooking for a crowd.  Sometimes they don't even use a recipe!  But when I ask them to put it on paper so my people can enjoy it, they always oblige :)

Kim made these while we were in China last year, and my big kids love them!
I make a batch, wrap each in Press n' Seal, then store them in the freezer (in a freezer bag), and we've got an energy-packed snack after 2 minutes in the microwave.

It wouldn't be fair for me NOT to share this one, and since she agreed, here goes:

The prep looks something like this...

First, I rinse, soak and cook my beans.

When they're done, they'll go in this concoction to finish up!

While that's finishing up, I'm heating the sauce mixture.

I'm cooking the rice and getting the tortillas and cheese out.
 Then we're ready to make something beautiful!

Black Bean and Rice Burritos

Black beans (2 cans of Bush's Best, drained and rinsed or cook your own)
16 oz Red Enchilada sauce, mild
16 oz tomato sauce
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked riced (cooked in 4 cups chicken broth)
Burrito size tortillas
Shredded cheese
2 Tbsp salsa
2 Tbsp bacon drippings
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
First, prepare the beans.  When they are ready, place them in a sauce pan (or I use a cast iron skillet) with 2 Tbsp bacon drippings, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp cumin and 5 Tbsp salsa.  Heat through.  You can also add diced bell pepper, jalapeno, onions, crumbled bacon or finely chopped cilantro.  Make it your own.
Meanwhile, cook or steam your rice in chicken broth.
To make your red sauce, in a saucepan, add 16 oz enchilada sauce, 16 oz tomato sauce, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp chili powder.  Cook that on low heat until warmed and seasonings have blended.
To assemble burritos:
Warm tortillas in microwave to make soft.
Lay out Press 'n Seal for each burrito.  On your tortilla, add 2 heaping Tbsp rice, 2 Tbsp beans, 1 heaping Tbsp sauce and top with a handful of cheese.  You can add ground beef, shredded chicken or pork too!  Roll the burrito and wrap with Press n' Seal.  Store the wrapped burritos in a large Ziploc freezer bag.
Pop frozen burritos (still in Press n' Seal) in the microwave for 2 minutes and enjoy!

Thank you, Kim!!!

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