Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Bunnies

They make me smile. And so would springtime!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snow Day

This + ...
.. this ...
... = Mom getting to eat make all the chocolate chip cookie dough the Krew can handle!
Cookies for supper? Probably should have some nutrition... so we added hot dogs!

Up the hill
down the hill
No clue

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If Only I Could...

...plant the Nanjing money tree in my yard;
...find chocolate syrup in the same size container as my laundry soap;
...bottle the energy of my kids;
...speak Chinese;
...under every circumstance extend the Father's mercy to my husband and children; all my bloggy friends;
...accomplish a little more in my 18 waking hours;
...get inside the mind of my 14-year-old (errr, maybe not);
...get a sneak preview of what God has planned for our family;
...make more of a difference!

The fear of the Lord leads to life:
Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
Prov 19:23

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Behold the Cuteness!

Aren't they adorable! And they call me Mama - thank you, Jesus!

Word-full Wednesday :)

Out of the mouths of babes:

Three little monkeys dancing in the kitchen, and one falls on his bum.
"Mama, I fall on my bum-bum."
(Backing up to mom).
"Tan you tiss it...right here?"

Kambry: "Mama, what you name? Are you 'Mama-Tonnie-Hon'?"

They keep me smilin'

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"Your primary goal should be to live in an ongoing state of surrender, acknowledging that without the intervention of the Holy Spirit you will be defeated by the power of sin. If there is a singular theme that emerges from the entirety of Scripture, it is this: Through relationship with God, man is finally capable of doing that which he was incapable of doing on his own. That's what walking in the Spirit is all about. And that's what character is all about...Character is the by-product of dependency...Character is the will to do what is right, as defined by God, regardless of personal cost."
~Andy Stanley~

Monday, January 25, 2010

Memorial Box Monday ~ Red Threads

RED THREADS~~~~~~~~~~
You want to know another thing I love about adoption ~ the people! We've made lifelong friends that we never would have met but for the miracle of adoption.

Some folks we've never actually met, except on line; some we've met on the OU Campus; some at adoption workshops; some we've traveled with; some we've gotten to spend time with in their homes; some on the phone; and some we've been friends with for a long time and have recently had the privilege of watching them step out into the journey of adoption.
This week a couple of really awesome things have happened to remind me that God is intentional about placing people in our lives.

A couple years ago our friends, Brad and Kim, brought their beautiful 8 year old daughter home from China, and as fate (NOT!) would have it, they met a young Chinese man, who happens to be a believer, and he was interested in helping them communicate with their newest daughter. Needless to say, they have built quite a relationship with this young man and are very close to he and his wife to this day.

Fast forward a couple years to this slightly aging and weary couple in small town Oklahoma who have been blessed to add a 13 year old son to their Khaotic family. Communication between these parents and their new son is largely through a series of signs, gestures, laughter, tears and misspoken words.

Every week the parents we desperately seek out another Chinese-speaking individual to relay some important messages to our son. But everyone we know, or hope to know, is so busy we are left to deal with communication issues on our own with the help of the Lord.

Through trial and error (mostly error), we have learned to use humor and various other means to communicate the really important stuff to our now 14-year-old son. But then we make the decision to home school him, which he initially is not happy about, we desperately want to communicate that it's not a punishment, but rather a matter of his best interest, and once again, there is no one to effectively translate this message.

Now, it should be noted here that we have been in constant contact with Brad and Kim in regard to adoption and home school issues, but only after having been home two and a half months do I recall they know a young man who has been such a blessing to them. We are immediately in contact with him but decide to wait until things level off a bit before he speaks to Kooper.

Fast forward a week, four amazing days of home school behind us, rebuilding family trust, and this young man calls to tell us he's been praying for us! Before we know it he's been on the phone with Kooper 15 minutes, and Mr. Talks-A-Lot Kooper has said very little other than, "M-hm, okay, yes...." In a short time this incredible young man has explained the importance of the love of the Father, family, faith, education, integrity and trust. And Kooper can't wait till the next time they talk! Now that's a red thread, woven by the hand of the Father!
From Kim's comment below:
Just to add a little note to Connie's post... the miracle of the young man mentioned is that he was granted a visa and traveled to America, meeting our daughter on her first days at home. He shared with us that only God could have granted that Visa as everyone else that day had been refused a Visa. He was questioned at length and then surprise,they granted his. He and his wife are two of the most precious people ...they want to do mission work. We told him that we think his mission work is helping the children and parents of older child adoption... God is truly amazing!!

And then there's another thread! On February 1, 2007, after waiting nearly two years, we received the referral of our fourth child, Kambry Hope. She was residing in the Welfare Institute of Xiushan in China. Two months later we traveled to her and got to meet her ayi.

Fast forward two and a half years, July 2009, when our friends David and April received the referral of their precious daughter, Emily. Guess where she's from?!? The Welfare Institute of Xiushan! Of all the orphanages in China, of all the families in the world! Call it fate ~ NOT!

I quickly put together a photo album of "Kambry" shots to send with David and April in hopes someone would remember who she was. Imagine my sweet surprise to see that Emily had the same ayi as Kambry!

A red thread, woven by the hand of the Father!

Kambry, in 2007 with her ayi, parents and one brother. You'll just have to check out David and April's site to see Emily with her ayi.

Happy Birthday, Clayton...and this n' that

This is my Kolton Tee! He shys away from the camera, but Mom can always find him. I wanted to share his project. He's been raising chickens for almost a year now. He's got several breeds, and he gathers 6 to 10 eggs every day. He's also got his own hatchery and has many full-grown hatchlings. He's currently building a chicken run. He's my go-getter!

This shows my photography inability ~ the wall says "The Hangout" and I missed it!

One of the nesting boxes.

Happy Birthday, Honey! In celebration, Daddy grilled steaks, taters and veggies!

Apparently I said, "On three give me your goofiest or saddest face." Kuyler, we missed you!
A guy can never have too many cowboy cuts!

Did somebody say cake?!? Don't worry, Kuyler, I ate your share :)
Just doing what he asked - the ever-so-compliant mom :)

It's Monday. No, not laundry day ~ every day is laundry day here!

In other news ~ it's a new and improved week! We have a 14 year old who is much more eager to learn (thanks to the power of prayer!). Not sayin' there aren't going to be some rough days ahead, but we've seen a huge upward swing. Better get to the 'to-do' list....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Road Trip and They're Off!

We had the privilege of making a road trip last night to see the Mueller's off to China at 4 this morning!
Here we are waiting for our car at 4 in the lobby.
At the airport. How much time do we spend in these places anyway?!?

Not a great picture, but they're headed for security. See you in 2 weeks!!!After driving last night, a late supper (Thank you, Dale!), getting up at 3, going back to the hotel for a 6 a.m. swim (seriously!), and driving home, our day was a little off track. We randomly napped and feasted on popcorn and noodles :)
Our only regret: that we didn't do the same thing with Dale and Tina a few weeks ago when they left for Korea. It can be overwhelming to me to pack up 7 kids for the night and go to the airport really early...but in hindsight I wish we would have! (Alyssa is absolutely beautiful, BTW!)
What a blessing to send people off ... and see them return changed!
You can follow David and April's journey here!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Candidly speaking, Monday home school was okay, Tuesday was terrible, Wednesday was better...
On Wednesday Kooper could say about half the alphabet. Daddy has this amazing way of teaching him, and today Kooper said the entire alphabet! He's now working on writing it...a zillion times!
So, this is the season we are in ~
where English needs to be the first language,
the laundry is never done,
there's a neat stack of school books on every flat surface,
the pencil sharpener is overworked,
Mama gets up at 4 just to get some work done in peace and quiet,
Daddy is gearing up for corn between teaching, laundry and driving the school bus,
we dream about subtraction tables,
plan a week of meals in advance,
Checkers is the game of the day,
constantly strive to relinquish the control we never really had...
and wonder why we are dog tired by 9 p.m. :)

Not so long ago I was that mom who wouldn't allow Play-Doh in the house because I didn't want the mess. Times, they have changed ~ Play-Doh is my friend!

And ya' know what? Life is good!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Man!

Do you know how grateful I am for him?!? He has given up his dreams to follow the Lord. He serves humbly and leads our family with love and grace.
He is the most amazing daddy to all of our children!

He is an incredibly hard worker and provider!

He is gentle!
He is an example to our boys.

He acknowledges the Lord's plans are far better than his own, even though the path isn't always easy. He can bring Jesus into any conversation, naturally. That's because He loves Him so much! Honey, you rock!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Older Child Adoption, Part V

You'll be happy to know there are only a couple more topics on my heart :) Those of you who know me, already know the following, but for those of you who do not, I'm giving the disclaimer that I am not an expert!

I am a daughter of the King, a farmer's wife, a working-full-time-outside-(and in)-the-home mom to tots, a tween, teens and young adult who daily minute by minute and hour by hour draws strength from the Source, walking, running and often stumbling in the shoes God has given me, sharing my 'sole' with you in hopes that one person would be encouraged and God would be glorified in the process.

Today I want to share two sort of related/unrelated topics: school and isolation. Only the Lord knew how much I needed the first verse in our message this morning:

2 Cor 3:5 ~ Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

Yep, that's where we are! We made the ginormous decision yesterday to pull Kooper out of school and resume home school. I will again give the disclaimer that the terminology I'm using is my own and likely will not be found in professional articles on the subject of school, bonding, attachment and language learning for an adopted older child.

Kooper has been in school full-time for two weeks, and it has gone fairly well, in fact better than expected in some aspects. However, this week we've noticed some changes. We've worked very closely with the school in putting together a plan for our son, and at this time I want you all to know how amazing our school is! We've shared our gratefulness to the administration and faculty and I think it is understood that our decision has absolutely nothing to do with the school and everything to do with Kooper.

For the last week Kooper has grown increasingly disinterested in family. He would go through the motions and do what he was supposed to do, but there was no connection. No humor. No fun. He would ignore Daddy at school and provoke his sister to tears. At home he would have nothing to do with his little siblings. Finally, on Saturday he walked from room to room, avoiding contact with any family member who was in the same area. He had stopped saying, "Amen" during family prayer times and even began to fib about some things.

This just isn't like him. Kooper is a kindhearted boy, and we've been amazed at his attachment and trust with family. He claims his name and does not want to be called by his former name. So it took a few days for us to recognize the signs, but basically what was happening was a detachment from his family as he began to seek the approval and attachment of his peers.

I will admit the friends he was hanging with weren't the ones we would have chosen. Not that they're bad kids, just not the best influence. It's a mom thing, I know. I'm just sayin'...
Most importantly, we had lost our influence.

The things we were teaching him about family, integrity, cooperation, faith and communication were gradually diminishing. I'm so grateful we picked up on the signs when we did.

Does this mean every older child will not succeed in public school? Absolutely not! In fact, we know many who have. We have been our own worst enemy in the school issue, second guessing and doubting our 'competence.' For today we know we have made the right decision, the best decision for Kooper.

I've told friends I'm not as intimidated by home school as I am selecting the curriculum! We have a lesson plan for this week and are ordering some new stuff to change it up a bit.

We broke the news to Kooper last night, and he was not happy! In fact, during the conversation several times he said, "No! I say no!" When we were finished he stormed out of the room, slammed the bedroom door and went to bed. We tried to explain that this is not a punishment; it's what's best for Kooper. He didn't care. All he could say was, "Tomorrow tomorrow school!" We told him that Monday through Friday either Mama or Daddy would teach him English, computer English, math, writing and PE with emphasis on family! We shared that this is not the easiest thing to do and it's because we love him and want what's best for him. At barely 14, he still thinks he knows what's best :)

We feel his pain. We don't like for him to be sad or frustrated. We honestly didn't know what to expect today and Clayton was prepared to stay home from church if Kooper refused to get out of bed. By the time we woke up the kids we'd each spent lots of time in prayer. We were kinda in shock when he got up, got ready for church and got in the car without ever complaining. Of course, he never said a single word (very uncharacteristic if ya' know what I mean), but he did what he was supposed to do.

Today has been unexpectedly pleasant as our son is slowly coming back to us. What a reminder that nothing is impossible with God! Our expectations are so low compared to His plans! We know we have a rocky road ahead. We both acknowledge that the real test will not be whether or not Kooper excels in home education but rather our reaction and response to the times he refuses to cooperate. This is our prayer: to love unconditionally and resort to humor rather than anger and frustration.

I will say it again, I am no expert, and the decisions we've made as a family will not be best for everyone. But as a parent, you know what's best for your child, so don't listen to the lies of the enemy as he whispers words of doubt and defeat into your already vulnerable thought process.

So the house is not as quiet (because it was so quiet with just the tots at home - lol!); we're back to a rigid schedule, preparing 'real' lunches and planning ahead. It's no sacrifice at all compared to the risk of losing our son.

I rarely give names on my blog for fear of invading someone's privacy or that I will forget someone who has poured so much into our family...but I'm throwing all that out the window now and want to thank some folks who have taken the time to pray with us, share home school tips, older child adoption testimonies or just been there when we needed it!

So our hat's off to: Andrea, Lori G, Cheri, April, Kim S, Kim H, Kim C, Carol, Susan C, Diane, Tina, Amanda, Christy, Christina, Linny, Nicole, Lori M, Martha, Tami, Gael, Tammy, Laine, Kim L, Marjorie, Mary, Jodi, Barb, Adeye, Paige, Tim, Lori H, Shelly ...
I apologize if I've left anyone out, and I know as soon as I hit 'publish post' I'll think of you...and will come back and add your name!
As for the topic of isolation, we'll just have to catch that next time...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nothin' Much

I wish I had some really great pictures to post...but life just hasn't given those opportunities lately. So here's the most exciting stuff:
Somebody agreed to get a haircut...
I mean really a haircut!

Well, we can hope for more exciting stuff next week :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Could be Worse

As much as I detest doing laundry, I realize how grateful I should be when everything is working. For three days (count 'em, 1, 2, 3) my washing machine has been on the blitz (you know, the one we bought 2 years, 2 months ago, and the warranty expired 2 months ago).

Dear hubby has had the thing torn apart, strung out and trying to fix it since the service guy said it would take a week (hello????) to get out here, and even if we brought it in it would be several days before they could even look at it. I can't begin to tell 'ya what kind of atmosphere this would create here :)

Today my amazing husband figured out the problem! A few phone calls, a trip to town and a $25 part and we're back in business. Thank you, Lord, for appliances that work! Tonight we can actually walk through the laundry room....well, after we work our way through the mountain of clothes.

The Spirit speaks...

...even in the midst of Khaos! Last Saturday while Daddy took the four big kids to the farm show, I stayed home with the four littlest ones. In those crazy moments preceding mealtime as three of them sat at the island impatiently demanding food, Kayden said, "I wish I could just go to heaven right now!"

This comment started a conversation that would end well! See, Kayden has been sharing Jesus since she was two years old, but it was mostly head knowledge so whenever she has asked questions we've tried to answer them without persuading her to make a decision for us.

As the noise level escalated, our conversation got even deeper, and Kayden accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior!!! She brought Daddy to tears when she called and told him.

God is good! Even in the midst of the mundane daily tasks He is calling!
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Older Child Adoption, Part IV

What if this isn't his/her actual birthday? How can I cope with never knowing her biological parents? His medical history? Actual birthplace?

These are all questions that plagued me before we first adopted. After meeting our child, I realized that God gives us some things on a need-to-know basis...that I didn't need to know these things to love the child He placed in my arms.

In a perfect world, maybe I'd have all these answers...but in a perfect world, babies wouldn't be murdered in the womb, dumped in dark places, defenseless people wouldn't be the victims of another's rage, children wouldn't be starving, and there would be no need for the orphan's bed.

God created a perfect world, and then He created us, imperfect beings who tend to mess things up. Oh, how He must grieve over the 147 million orphans around the world, many of whom will never have a mommy and daddy to tuck them into bed. But He must grieve even more watching His children do nothing about it.

How many generations has it taken to become united in complacency? We are so consumed with storing up our treasures for retirement (where is that in the Bible anyway?), entertaining our minds, filling our bellies...and then patting ourselves on the back when we squeeze God into our busy schedules and throw a leftover bone to someone in need.

I've seen the statistic that if 7% of Christians adopted there would be no need for orphanages. Staggering! If 7% of us would put feet on our faith, and turn seeking and following Him into action words, the orphan bed would be empty!

As children of the Father, we want to be set apart...and yet we don't. We want to fit in and do things that are logical and make sense. But should the plans God has for us make sense to an unbelieving world?

We are in a constant struggle to do the right thing in God's eyes and the right thing in the eyes of society. What makes it even more difficult is that our fellow believers are doing the same thing. We steer away from those things that seem radical because they are so uncommon today.

We are commanded to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39; "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Rom 13:9); "This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:17).

What happened between the early church and our generation that we've forgotten these commands? What does it look like to love others 'as ourselves'? Doesn't it mean we should be spending at least as much time, energy, resources in loving others as we do ourselves? Do we just talk about how much we love others, or do we show it?

My prayer lately is that God would fill me with joy and cultivate it, and that His love would manifest itself into visible form onto the lives of others. It seems we all have a desire to fit in, but I question what I want to fit in to.

When I seek more stuff, more pleasure, more happiness, I'm always left dissatisfied, empty and hopeless. Seeking and following Him must be an action on my part; otherwise I'm drifting and fitting into common complacency. It's such a battle.

When we built our home, we thought when Kuyler left for college we'd extend the master bedroom, then maybe build a garage, a basement, a larger patio. Oh, I still long for those things some days, but He had much grander building plans for us! I'm convinced that on judgment day, God will not ask me, "Why didn't you build that garage? Or enlarge that room?"

My children have never asked those questions either. The size of my home or the kind of car I drive isn't nearly as important as what I will do with what He has given me. But what about the other children? Some are in need of medical care, many are hungry, many are close to losing their chance for a family due to their age...but all are in need of love: the love of the Father which is manifest through ordinary people like you and me.

Will we be set apart or will we look like so many others and serve safely, thinking about His commands rather than carrying them out? There are 147 million children waiting for us to respond.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kooper!

One miracle after another has brought our son home for his 14th birthday!
He eagerly volunteered to pray before the meal tonight...with the help of big brother Kuyler.
God is so good, and He has amazing plans in store for Kooper!
And speaking of blessings, there's tons of good news to share:
Dale and Tina are home with Alyssa, and she's p.r.e.c.i.o.u.s.!
David and April have TA and a confirmed CA for February 3. Two weeks from today they will be in flight for Emily!
And check out the website of this precious family leaving in one week. They are short their travel funds, and we all have an opportunity to help bring Selah home!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Older Child Adoption, Part III

Recently we've been asked if there is an adoption book we recommend regarding older children. I'm not being flippant when I say the o.n.l.y. book I can recommend at this time is the BIBLE!

If you've adopted before or are in the process of adopting, you've skimmed read the laundry list of books required by a social worker. Some of them contain valuable information, warning signs and advice, but all of them I've read are written from a secular point of view. Don't get me wrong, I've read lots of secular books, but when it comes to adoption, there is spiritual warfare going on, and the required reading doesn't cover anything that can prepare us for such a battle!

When Kayden came home at the age of 15 months, we had read all fifty two (ok, maybe ten) required books cover to cover and yet when she screamed in terror many times a night for months we totally forgot about the one chapter we'd read addressing 'night terrors.' Once diagnosed, we could deal with it, but we knew it was more than a physical battle. See, we had taken this little girl from a very dark place, we were praying over her, we were exhausted, we were clueless, we were doubtful, weak...and yet, God's grace was sufficient. His grace allowed us to endure the sleepless nights without losing our cool, to parent our four children, even in the fog.

We had no idea the battle that would be waged over our recent adoptions, and the only book that addressed the issues we faced was the BIBLE. The battle continues. There are souls involved. One person commented that older child adoption is a clear picture of the Gospel, and as I have pondered this I agree that adoption IS bringing the Gospel to life, and adoption of an older child reminds me so much of myself before Christ!

Something about that age, 13! I'm speaking generally here because I've raised two boys past 13 and 1 in the midst. A child this age can be particularly unlovely, willful, selfish, unable to determine right from wrong, inconsiderate. Yep, that's me before Christ! All those characteristics fit me to a T. And yet, for 36 years the Father pursued me, loved me unconditionally, and desired better for me. He sacrificed for me. He didn't ask me if I would accept His gift, or if I even recognized all He did for me...He just did it!

Now that He has adopted me, He still desires to grow and change me, but I must be willing. I still don't know what's best for myself and must trust His parenting. I may question the plans He has for me, but when I reflect back, I realize He has always been faithful, always present, leading me, confiding in me. But when I turn my back on Him, I lose my way. And yet He's patiently waiting for me to take His hand and ask for help.

And so it goes with an older child with a language barrier. Veering down the winding path, looking for the way...but at the end of the day he is loved by two people who want the very best for him, whether he realizes it or not!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Roll Call

8 little monkeys sittin' in a chair...
And the zoo keepers recognize just how blessed they are!


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