Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Evolution of a Harvest

The hard-working man whose knee prints you will find in the soil. If you were to drive by and see him, it would appear he's planting seed ... but he's really spending time with the Father!
The field is ready....
...and corn is being planted. Our prayer is that we would be picking, bagging and selling sweet corn by July 1st.
Now let's see what God is going to do with this! To Him be the glory!

Malachi 3:10 ~ Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Let the Familiar Become Fresh!

How many times have we heard this verse:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Many learn this verse as a child. Some read it on a billboard. Some have never heard it at all.

God has reminded me this morning of the significance of a right relationship with Him. No matter how much our 'head' knows, it matters only what our 'heart' knows.

Whether we are on the mountaintop (and some are!) or in the depths of the valley (and many are!), the most important thing is the state of our relationship with the Father who gave His one and only Son for us!

Our immediate circumstances don't catch Him off guard, even though they make us fall on our knees. We are never beyond His reach.

His Word promises that He is working all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. In some tragedies we may only be left with "Why?" and in others we may see glimpses of the grander plans He has.

May we be encouraged today that He has loved us from the beginning, more than we can comprehend. Let His love and His Spirit fall afresh on us today!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Random Randomness

Outside on a spring day... beautiful

Pure J-O-Y!

Haircuts needed. Ya' think?!?Yep, pretty sure!
Much better...times 7!

When You Give a Girl a Camera...

...she'll find many adorable subjects!

Including her own toes. Thank you, Kambry Hope!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Where are the Tears? (Grief)

Attachment, bonding, transition, grieving… so many terms and stages. Just when we think we’re past one phase, we enter another. Though we’ve read about it, until we’ve been slapped in the face with full-on grief, we have no idea what it looks like. And it will look different for each child!

Understand, I’m not an expert. I’m a mom. I spend more time raising my children than reading about how to raise them, and I’m still learning, after 21 years of parenting! There are tons of resources at our fingertips now, thanks to technology, but the search can be overwhelming, so when I find something that is applicable to us, I focus on it. I also am thankful for others walking the same journey who are willing to pass resources along. We may not always be able to offer advice to one another, but we can certainly relate and share our own experiences.

When I think of the expression of grief, I think more of mourning, which is an outward expression of loss such as weeping; whereas grieving is to experience deep mental suffering, often alone and in silence. I found it very helpful to understand the difference between the two, especially since our son was showing no obvious signs of mourning, but his behavior was changing.

There are a lot of authoritative writings on the subject, but I found this link most helpful for us regarding the stages of grief:
1) Shock and numbness
2) Yearning and searching
3) Disorientation and disorganization
4) Reorganization and resolution

Because this is the pattern our child followed, I refer back to this site, as well as the hyperlinks within it that lead to a lot of helpful information. It’s amazing what a little knowledge and a lot of prayer can do! Now that we fully understand where we are, we can respond appropriately.

And that leads to the next topic ~ expectations. Whether we realize it or not, we have expectations for our newly adopted children. Perhaps I expected my 14 year old to act his age. Maybe I expected him to understand that he would have struggled without a family in his birth country. Maybe, just maybe, I thought he would be somewhat grateful (did I say that????) for two parents and seven siblings who have turned their world as they know it upside down to meet his needs.

Though I never vocalized these ideas, they are likely among the many subconscious expectations I had placed upon my child. To get a fresh perspective on expectations, please see this site for short video clips by Dr. Karyn Purvis. Co-author of The Connected Child. These clips, regarding parenting children from the hard places, are amazing and perfect for busy parents because they are short, to the point and full of insight.

Another thing we’ve found helpful is starting a teen life book. We’ve chosen the one by Beth O’Malley, titled For When I’m Famous. It has been great for connecting with our child and memorializing his past, as well as dreaming for his future.

Though we’ve been attending worship services, youth group, having family devos and praying with our child, even since we were in China, he cannot fully understand the reason for this because of the language barrier. A friend recently shared a site that has been an answer to prayer. It’s the video Story of Jesus in every language, told by children! We’ve watched it in Mandarin and English, and it has spurred many questions and led to meaningful conversations.

We have sought and followed the advice of professionals who recommended doing such tests as hearing, allergy, blood work, a non-verbal IQ, and have scheduled our post-adoption assessment with a reputable international adoption team. We also cherish the friendship of families similar to ours and want to thank them for their unending prayers and for providing some of the links above, as well as other valuable resources!

While our son appears to be in the final stage of grieving and is doing so much better, perhaps the biggest change has been in us, his parents. We have recognized our unrealistic expectations, causing us to take a new approach to his unpredictable behavior, allowing him to re-live the childhood he never had and learning to love him out of the hard places.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cake, The Sequel

Hmmm, missing 3 littles... probably cookin' up a mess of their own!
How'd I know that?!?

Let Them Eat Cake!

My boy l.o.v.e.s. to help me cook! So yesterday when he asked if I would teach him how to bake a cake as a surprise for the family...well, yes! So it's out of a box, but the icing is homemade!

Complete with sprinkles.

Together we are preparing a feast for tonight, including tacos, homemade refried beans, rice, guac, salsa and CHOCOLATE!
So I'm supposed to be writing a post on grieving, and I'm talking beans and cake? I'm working on it...
Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers! God is hearing and answering them. He is so very good!
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through Him the "Amen" is spoken...
2 Cor 1:20

Saturday, April 17, 2010


So I'm a late bloomer in the 'recognizing grieving' department, but eventually I want to share with you some of the information we learned this week on line. It has been such an amazing help to us. Right now we are in the final stages of grief, and I'm just enjoying the harmony in my house!

We received our six-month post placement report today, and it's a reminder of where we were three weeks ago ... and how far we've come! It's no surprise the Enemy would rear his ugly head and try to discourage us. But we serve a BIG GOD who is more than able to overcome. The happy-go-lucky boy we brought home five and a half months ago is back...only with more English and healthy affection for his parents!
Watching Kenzie play ball
Clowning at the house


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dear "Anonymous"

Dear “Anonymous”~

Thank you for reading my post today and taking the time to comment, albeit anonymously. I would have responded earlier, but our family was at a softball game, “isolating” our son. While I want to believe you are only trying to help, I think there are better ways to do so, such as emailing me personally using either of the two addresses listed on my blog, or considering the facts before drawing conclusions.

I suppose that choosing to blog openly and publicly for the last three years has exposed me to such a critical comment (although you are the first). If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you already know that I have never claimed to be an expert at.anything. And unfortunately, it hasn’t taken me six months to understand where we are, but 21.75 years, for that’s how long I’ve been parenting. I confess I AM STILL learning…and frankly, I hope that never changes. Perhaps I should have consulted your expertise much earlier, but … you are Anonymous.

Anonymous, I also thank you for giving me yet another opportunity to cling to God’s daily renewed compassions, mercy and grace. I certainly have had a lot of chances to do so, especially the past six months, and just when I think I’m doing okay, I get yet another opportunity. So thank you for these moments of searching my heart and asking the Lord how He would have me respond.

Oh, Anonymous, I can’t possibly know what unfortunate circumstances you have faced, what deep hurts, criticism or loss which has led to your critical spirit. But please know this: I am praying for you, and the One Who hears my prayers knows you not as Anonymous, but by name.

Speaking of prayer, you say that, ‘just praying is not always the answer.’ I would wholeheartedly agree that there are times we need to stop praying and start doing! But the action we take should be guided by the time we’ve spent in prayer! See, I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One Who does! Oh, how He has confided His plans to me and caused me to bear the burden of ‘doing.’

Perhaps the view is clearer from the outside looking in when we are not consumed by the reality of the situation. So, Anonymous, if you would like to step out of the shadows and enlighten all of us, I invite you to do so.

I grant that you have made a few valid points, and without going back too far on my blog, you will see that these are things I agree with. Yes, my son is a 14 year old, and …well, if you have a clue what’s going on inside their precious heads, let me know. I would also agree that my son does not have the ‘language skills’ to express himself or his feelings. Oh, the issue of his feelings runs so much deeper than this, dear Anonymous. And finally, I would agree that we ALL need help ‘in getting through this.’ I have never denied that. In the last 12 months I have leaned on my Savior more than ever before. I simply could not have endured the insurmountable hurdles we’ve faced. I have even asked others to pray for us A LOT! I am so grateful we have and continue to receive the Help we need!

I do wish to address your concern, as you see it, that ‘he has no friends and is very isolated.’ I don’t know how you could possibly ‘see’ this, but so be it. If you mean isolated from the pressure of peers who don’t have his best interests at heart, isolated from drugs and alcohol, then you are absolutely correct. But my son has seven siblings, two parents, lots of extended family, a youth group, a church family and others who adore him.

Anonymous, in my nine year relationship with my Savior, I have learned that many times the Enemy rears his ugly head following God’s victories. I’m probably as thin skinned as the next gal, and a year ago I might have cowered after such criticism. But I have been armed with strength, truth, endurance, grace, mercy, joy and so much more. God’s Word tells us that if we choose to follow Him we WILL face trouble and persecution. In all honesty, I have no idea what true persecution feels like, but I have faced negativity, more so since we’ve been blessed by adoption. Unfortunately, there seems to be a pattern in these episodes. Most folks tell ‘a friend of a friend’ who will pass the negative remark on…or hide behind anonymity.

So, Anonymous, again I thank you for all the opportunities you have given me. I am praying for you, and should you ever decide to come out of hiding, I will be here.

Can I Get an AMEN!

As I've mentioned, every day in these parts is like a box of cheap chocolates. We hope for the best and pray in preparation for the ...

Now that we've figured out that our 14 year old is in full-on grieving mode, the days are more bearable. We are more able to claim God's renewed mercies, draw from His strength and cling to the hope that this season won't last forever!

Every school day is a challenge, especially at this time when his grief is causing confusion and lack of concentration. I often wonder if he's learning anything I'm teaching. To top it off, he's not a morning person at.all! About noon he perks up, on a good day.

BUT TODAY I had a happy student from the get-go! He was excited that his hair is getting too long and stands straight up after the shower. He was not irritated that the kids were loud. He was not annoyed that the sun is shining. He was not upset that it is daytime...

We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not the train!

Lord, I thank You that even when we are so far into the pit we fail to recognize You that You are STILL THERE. Thank You for giving us glimpses outside the pit and for ultimately bringing us out, desiring to refine us every teeny.tiny.step of the way! AMEN!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea Eggs

You can be a hero too! Turns out all my kids love these...and that makes me very happy to make them very happy! I've tweaked the recipe to my liking and according to what I had on hand.
Tea Eggs (cha ye dan)
6 eggs
5 TBSP soy sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 TBSP black tea leaves or 2 bags
2 tsp anise
1 small stick cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp cracked peppercorns (optional)
1)Place eggs in saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes.
2)Remove the eggs. With a knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shells in 2 or 3 places (or roll in a towel - much prettier!). Return to saucepan.
3)Add all other ingredients and stir. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, adding water as necessary.
Drain and serve hot or cold.
This is very aromatic when cooking!

Memorial Box Monday (on Wednesday)

Rock of My World
One year ago today God rocked our world… and has continuously been the Rock of our world too! He confided a secret to us that we never saw coming! He revealed that we should adopt an older child.

What? Lord, don’t you remember me saying, “I praise God that some people are equipped to adopt older children, but it sure isn’t me”? Or what about when I said, “I could NEVER do that”?

I remember clearly first thinking, ‘How am I going to break this to Clayton?’ But I also remember clearly that God wouldn’t let go of my heart, no matter how much I protested. And so we prayed.

Have you ever experienced God’s perfect timing or his divine plans?

Unbeknownst to us, on the very day that God burdened my heart, there was a file of a particular 13 year old boy on its way back to China. Sadly, though many families had considered this child, none had ever followed through, and his chance for a family was running out.

After five days of praying, we had the confirmation we needed from the Lord to ask our agency to consider allowing us to adopt two children at the same time. We said we were not going to pursue any particular child, but “you know, a boy who is 13 and near aging out, he would be our son.”

To our amazement, as we prayed and rested during the night, CCAA produced the file they had just received of a certain 13 year old boy to our agency, and the next morning we got the news that we had a son! God had taken the brokenness of his life and redeemed it. He had brought a boy in need of a family and a family in need of The Rock together! In His glorious, always-perfect timing!

Had we known the challenges we would face in the coming twelve months, we would have run like the wind. But God gives us exactly the portion we need for a single day, and His mercies and compassions are renewed each morning! He was, and still is, faithful to reveal Himself through His Word, His provision, His mercies and His ability to overcome obstacles far beyond us.

He has moved mountain after mountain, and continues to do so as we journey onward. He has brought HIS plans to fruition by bringing our son home, a child that He has watched over and loved more than anyone else ever can or will.

It’s completely amazing to me that the God who breathed the Universe into existence would confide His miraculous plans to me or that He would change my plans in a single moment. He can join cultures, hearts and families!

I never want to miss a single thing He has for me. “Here am I. Send me!” Isa 6:8

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just Call Me HERO For a Day :)

Fresh outa the pan


Thumbs up!

This mama has spent the day (in addition to homeschool) researching grief in the older internationally adopted child. My uneducated opinion is that we are in phase 3 of the grieving process: disorientation/disorganization.

This can manifest itself through sadness, depression, the reality of the loss sinking in, and not participating in activities he typically enjoys. And to say that his emotions are like a roller coaster is a gross understatement! Let me off so I can lose my cookies already - lol. He can be chipper and chatty one minute and silent and distant the next. There's more I want to write about this, but for now, the bottom line is ~ how are we going to help Kooper cope? Lots of personal things, plus we've ordered a teen Life book, For When I'm Famous, and I'm trying my hand at making some comfort foods. Several times he's mentioned:


So I made them.

And he loves them!

Yep, call me Hero for a day!


Sweet and Sour

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Phil 2:5
What do these two verses have to do with one another? Lately I've allowed my circumstances to greatly affect my attitude. The challenges have been hard; the days have been long; the path is rocky. But isn't that the test? Isn't that the test of my growth, my faith? I've been failing the test...but NO MORE! I want my attitude to be a sweet fragrance, not an awful stench...starting now!
Lord, even when my circumstances are sour, let my attitude be sweet!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Teeny Tiny Prayer Request

Cool Hand Luke here has yet another visit to the doctor tomorrow for his allergy testing and sinus x-rays. We are also expecting results from labs taken last week.

It really seems we've crossed a threshold in regard to his emotions, but many days are a roller coaster as he teeters between acting 14 and...well, much younger. It's so difficult for him! And it's pretty tough on the big people too...but we know where our hope lies. Thank you for praying! Someday soon hopefully we will be back into a routine that this child desperately needs, same as his siblings.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Wish I Could Tell Her Yes

I shouldn't be surprised. After all, Kayden has never been afraid to ask questions, and I've known for five and a half years this one would eventually come.

So why did I stammer when today she said, "You're the best mom ever. The one who had me, did she love me?"

Oh, my heart. I would love nothing more than to look into her beautiful eyes and tell her unequivocally yes! The truth is, I don't know. I don't know the circumstances surrounding her abandonment at three weeks of age.

What I do know is ~
she was placed where she could easily be found.
she seemed reasonably healthy.
I couldn't love her more if I had given birth to her.
God takes our messes and uses them for His glory (Isa 61:1-3)
I never want her to think she has gone even one second un-loved or that she has any responsibility for the choices made

I have no idea what her birth mother endured in carrying my daughter for nine months, then caring for her three weeks. I don't know if the decision was made for her by family members, if it was because of her marital status, poverty, health... I just don't know. And I've never been very good at making up fairy tales.

So for now, I told her, "Sweetheart, I don't know, but I would like to think so. After all, she did give birth to you." To which she said, "God gave me life, and you are my mommy," and then went on to talk about a giraffe having babies, seriously! I'm not making light of this, but at this moment I'm praising the Lord for diversions!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Five Months Home and Krazy Days!

This is one of the stupid pictures Kooper took in China. It's kinda how I feel many days... but it's not really that bad!

We're doing things we never thought we would do, going places we never thought we'd need to go, and learning things we never thought we should learn...but we serve a God who is not taken by surprise!

Every morning I ask the Lord to help me glorify Him no.matter.what the day brings. He knows what's going to happen and how I will respond. See, I used to pray for a 'good' day. But where's the growth in that? How can I glorify Him if it seems I'm capable of getting by on my own? Yep, I've learned to pray for opportunities to shine for Him no.matter.what. And boy, am I getting them - yikes!

So, here's the progress report:

Kooper has grown 1.5 inches and gained 2 pounds. He's learning to write in cursive. He's moving into 3rd grade math (if I could figure out how to teach him multiplication/division we'd go beyond!). He's starting Bob Books Set 2 on Monday. He's learning 100 sight words. He's doing story problems (yes, he's sort of understanding enough that we can do the stories!!!). Did I mention he's speaking in sentences??? And he's been sharing things about China, some good, some not so much. Our goal is to enroll him in school in August, and with the help of the Amazing Erica this summer, we just may accomplish this!

We had blood work done this week, and he goes in for allergy testing next week, in hopes we can gather helpful information for our trip to the International Adoption Clinic in Alabama next month. Right now we're trying to decide whether to drive or fly - yowza - both will cost a lot of $$$. But this trip is necessary!

The most monumental thing that happened this week is that Kooper sought out Dad to discuss a disagreement between he and Kolton. Shortly into the conversation he broke down and cried. That may not sound like a good thing, BUT IT IS! We've waited five months to see if our son is capable of feeling anything! Another good thing is that he and Kolton made amends and Kooper didn't hide in his room. He even let me comfort him and allowed me to join him on the front porch where he was sitting alone after supper.

And I bet you can guess my answer when every day he asks me, "Mom, you, me, tonight we sit on porch, talk about sun going down, China, family?"

I tell ya', we serve a very BIG GOD!

Spotlight On A Cowboy

My cowboy who evades the camera is graduating 8th grade next month!
#45 scored the winning touchdown in the last game (while we were in China)

But since I needed to produce pictures for the ceremony, he has no choice but to show his face here :)
Look at that smile!
Look at my toe-headed, gun-toting little man!
Be still, my heart. What a doll little man at three months!

Kolton Tee, we were sure The Strong Willed Child was written for you! We've prayed that God would channel your will and go-get-em heart for Himself. It's such a blessing to see that happening!

Six, Going On...

...twelve maybe??? Oh, Kayden Faith, your picture is surely under the definition of "Princess." Is it possible you're about to finish 1st grade, you're reading your fifth 'chapter' book...and you're my beautiful daughter?!?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Storm Before the Calm (or something like that)

It's no secret we recently had a rough couple of weeks ~ lots of silence, frustration, drama, tears (maybe those were mine)... you name it, we've had it! BUT GOD...
is so faithful and so very good ALWAYS!

It's as if our son had reached a crossroads, not knowing which way to turn. Do I take the path of risk, risking rejection, fear and heartache? Or do I take the path of familiarity, going to that place of safety, where I trust no one and have to invest nothing? He chose the place of safety, internalizing everything, exposing himself to no one.

It's not that we weren't there for him; he just didn't accept our extended hand of love. Oh, how my heart hurt for him. He was completely overwhelmed. I felt sorry for him...and maybe a little angry too, unable to understand why he couldn't realize how much we love him and have poured ourselves into him.

But that is totally beyond his comprehension. When has he ever been in one place FOREVER? When has anyone ever been there for him FOREVER? When has anyone loved him, no matter what, FOREVER? He simply can't comprehend such a relationship.

Last Wednesday afternoon he began to veer to the other path, the one that allows him to slowly reopen his heart. He began to see that we expect great things for him and from him. It's as if he's finally challenged himself to trust someone US!

I've wanted to share this because so many of YOU are praying for us! God is hearing and answering those prayers. He is peeling away the fear in Kooper's heart, one layer at a time. He is replacing it with courage.

Kooper has begun sharing more of history; he has become more affectionate and relational; he has begun speaking in sentences (**squeal**); and he has begun asking for my help during school. This is huge! He has typically refused to turn to us for help, apparently seeing that as a form of weakness.

I know the tough days aren't over, but I admit that the really rough moments have been like a final push to look beyond ourselves in bringing healing. And while we are finding a few of the missing pieces to the puzzle of his life, the real hope and healing come from only One Source! We will never get it all right, but He never gets it wrong!

I suspect this transition is as much about what God wants to do in our hearts as Kooper's. So thank you for praying, and please don't stop. We all need Him to continue to transform us!

Now this is scary ;-)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Col 4:2

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy 3rd Gotcha Day, Kambry Hope!

Kambry Hope, our eyes first saw you when you were 8 months; our arms first held you when you were 10 months. Now you are 3, and our hearts have been forever changed!
Here's the link to your video since I can't get it to post here.
And here's your website.

Weekend in Pictures

The eggs are hunted...

...more eggs are boiled and colored...

...the new park has been broken in ...

...our children have been spoiled by Andy and Christina with a basket o' fun...

...trikes have been ridden...
...time has been spent with precious family and friends, new recipes tried, including these Southwest eggrolls, to die for!

What an amazing weekend! I hope yours was filled with joy as well!

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