God's Plan For Us

This is our journey - God's incredible plan for our lives. When we followed the moving of the Holy Spirit, He opened the windows of Heaven and poured out upon us blessings we never dreamed of! Indescribable joy!

" 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

Friday, September 4, 2015

Our Last Night in the Room with a Million Dollar View

This morning at breakfast we solved a mystery.  Wednesday morning when we met our guide he told us he had good news - the hotel was giving us a much larger room (free), because they felt our room was too small with the girls. The room they gave us was a lot bigger than the one we had, but what was most impressive was the view. Out our window was an incredible view of the South China Sea. The room we had before didn't even give us a hint that you could even see the sea from our hotel, and until we looked out our new window we had no idea we were so close to the ocean. It  was nice to have the extra space, but it did leave us wondering why? At breakfast today the general manager and assistant manager came to the restaurant and introduced themselves. They said they changed the room because they saw what we were doing for Erin and wanted to say thank you to us. The assistant manager was a younger woman, and she gave me three hugs in those few minutes. It was obvious that they were touched, and it touched us as well. Many times we notice the stares, but there are also many who are kind, and it seems this has been more the case here in Hainan for us. The general manager told us to let him know if there is anything we need, and asked to take a photo with us. We showed him our Easter family photo, and he took a picture of it as well. This afternoon we answered a knock at our door to find that they had sent up a fruit basket for us with an orchid on top. It was a nice way to end our time here.

We took the girls swimming again today, and once again had the pool to ourselves. The rain finally chased us inside, and the rest of the afternoon was spent packing. We leave out at 8:00 in the morning heading to Meimei in Guizhou. Sunday we will get settled in, and count down until Monday afternoon when we meet our little girl.

Continued thanks for the prayers!!



Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Little About Erin

I thought I'd tell you a little about Erin. We've been together almost a week now, and her personality is emerging. It is obvious that music is a vital part of who she is. She is constantly singing or humming. We had uploaded the Frozen CD onto the iPod, and she is already singing "Do you want to build a snowman?" She spends hours listening to music and books on tape. She spells English words all the time, and is a sponge for learning new things. She is bit of a picky eater, and isn't a fan of trying new things. She does like noodles, yogurt, eggs, and rice. So far I haven't had much success getting her to eat too many vegetables, or even fruit. Pizza, chicken, fries and hamburgers are also on her good list.

Erin is fixated on being young. She says she is 11, instead of 12, and was very offended when we said she was 12. She wants to know if people are big or little (age wise), and says she only likes little. She wants to be a little girl forever. One of our other girls is also focused on age. I can't help but wonder if it is because there is a clock that ticks for all those kids in orphanages. Here in China, once that clock turns to their14th birthday their opportunity is lost.

She is also very vocal about sharing her Bible knowledge with anyone who will listen. Our guide and driver have been forced to listen to Bible stories because we've been in traffic jams, and driving around for paperwork. They now know the name of Moses' mother, and what happened to Joseph ��. How incredible is it that an orphan in China, not only knows about God, but is eager to share that news with others!!!

We went to the pool today and she loved the water!! She can't swim yet, but the hotel has a small pool and she played in that until the rain came in. We plan on taking her and Elli again tomorrow. It is good for her to be out and about.

Continued thanks for prayers!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Day 543

OK, just kidding. It just seems like we've been gone that long. Actually, it has only been a week, but it certainly seems longer. Didn't do much of anything yesterday. I think everything was catching up with us and we needed a day of rest. We (and yes, I mean we - Virgil and Elli also got in on the fun) did laundry, which was about an hour and half ordeal. Stockings were hung by the chimney with care (or maybe over the bathtub with clothesline brought from home). I am such a spoiled girl. Many in the world don't even have easy access to water, and I complain about washing clothes by hand. (BTW - laundry service is EXPENSIVE; a T-shirt costs over $5 to wash!!! Hence boiling water and scrubbing by hand) That washing must have worn me out, because that was about as productive as the day got.

Today was a better day for us all. After another great breakfast (Elli had stir fry and dumplings and Erin ate the same thing she has asked for every morning - NOODLES!! She will also eat eggs and dumplings, but prefers noodles. Yesterday she had THREE bowls of noodles, three drinkable yogurts, and some milk before we cut her off. She (like the rest of our gang) can put the food away. I'm thinking Virgil may have to plow up the back yard and put in a big garden just to feed them all.
We went to the notary today to make everything legal. Because of the holiday beginning tomorrow, they were just going to mail our paperwork to the next province (which is a little scary, because we're not leaving the country without those documents), but the lawyer called back this afternoon and said we could come late today and get them. They are now safely tucked away with the other million pieces of paper in our binder.

The orphanage director, who was also present when we picked up Erin's paperwork, invited us to come back by the orphanage to get a journal of Erin's time there from 2010-2011. The journal includes several photos and updates on her daily life. We love getting those kind of treasures!!

We also did a bit of sightseeing today. We visited two parks, both of which overlooked the South China Sea. Both parks were beautiful settings, and we all had a good time getting out and walking some. We also went to Holiday Beach, which is a popular area here. Erin and Elli dipped their toes in the South China Sea, which feeds into the Pacific. Hainan is a tourist destination, with a climate similar to Hawaii. Coconut trees line every street. I had my first taste of juice from a coconut that had just been opened up. After we finished drinking the juice (which wasn't very popular with the girls) they cut the meat of the coconut and we sampled that as well. A neat thing to do with the girls even if it wasn't pleasing to their taste buds.

Since everyone has already fallen asleep, I'll call it a night as well.

Blessings, Cindy

Monday, August 31, 2015

Erin Quinglian is ours!!!

Months of paperwork and praying came down to a few strokes of a pen. Erin Qinglian is ours!! Papers were signed today- we skipped the Harmonious Period (the 24 hour period that you normally have before you sign- not that we needed time to decide anyway) because there is a holiday this week which shuts down business, so they are pushing it through to be done before we leave on Saturday.
Erin is absolutely beautiful!! She knows much more English than we anticipated (thanks to great volunteers- like Jessie from Illinois and Anna from Spain), and she is spelling many of the words!!! She LOVES music and has been singing Oh My Darlin' all day. She has also been singing "I've got the Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart" .  We've got joy too- knowing we now have another daughter, and that she now has a family. Since I am pretty clueless about raising a blind child, I am still trying to figure out what she needs help with, and also how best to help her. It's been trickier since we are in a strange place for us all.
We went to the Civil Affairs Office, then to get photos needed for
paperwork, and then on to the orphanage. We met her teacher from when she lived there (it's been more than 4 years since she left there to go to Bethel in Beijing), and also her music teacher. Erin sat down and played a couple of songs on the piano for us.

Before I go further- We got to meet some of the children in the orphanage. They were all so precious. One little guy in a wheelchair - probably 4-5 years old- reached out and grabbed me, pulled my face right over to his and didn't let go. I can NEVER explain how hard it is to see these children and know that for most, they will sit there year after year, waiting for the one thing they will probably never have - family. It breaks my heart, and I want to encourage each person reading this to pray and consider whether or not God is calling you to adopt or care for the orphan in some way. There are millions of children who need someone to love them.

We ended a long day with another trip to the Civil Affairs Office and the supermarket. Since our flight was delayed and it was after 1 this morning before we got to the room, we are pretty exhausted. The girls have both already gone to sleep and I am soon to head that way myself.
To all those who have been following our journey and praying for us- THANK YOU!! It is exciting to see how God is working.

Friday, August 28, 2015

We Made It!

We arrived in Beijing about 3,  and got to the hotel around 4:00. We'd been going for 24 hours, and were ready to take a little nap. The Lord graciously allowed us to have an empty seat beside us on the flight, which gave us (in truth, it was me, not us) a little more room to get comfortable (as much is possible for 13 hours). Thanks to a tailwind, the flight was an hour shorter than anticipated. We met with Shirley (our agency representative who was with us the last time we were here as well) this morning and took Elli to see the Great Wall. She was as impressed as she thought she would be. We've determined that none of us will try out for a stair climbing class any time soon ;-). It's a wonder I made it to the first section. Pretty sure I had forgotten (since our last time at the Great Wall) that I had those muscles.

After eating at a Chinese buffet, we headed on to the Summer Palace. (We had Elli pick the two sites she had wanted to see, and those were at the top of her list.) As with the other times we have visited, the workmanship there amazed me. The longest covered corridor is there housing over 14,000 paintings. It is a beautiful place to see.

Thank you for continued prayers!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We're on Our Way to China!!!

We've checked in our luggage and are waiting to board. All the months of waiting, planning, praying, preparing, and waiting some more are over. It seems surreal right this moment. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that soon they will be in our arms. Soon, two more daughters will call me mama.
Leaving the girls was hard. Ximi just sobbed. They were all pretty upset that we were saying goodbye. 24 days is a long time to be away, but even as I type this I can't help but think of the birth moms, who so many years ago, said goodbye forever to their daughters. All our daughters have health needs, so I believe their moms did what they thought was best for them. They left them somewhere that they'd be found, and hopefully cared for. I wish I could tell their moms that they are loved beyond anything I can explain. They are cherished daughters and we are blessed to call them ours.
Please pray for Erin and Meimei. Leaving all they know will be hard for them. Pray also for our girls waiting at home for us to return.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Roller Coaster of Adoption

I love roller coasters. Prior to neck surgery, it was my favorite part of a trip to an amusement park.

Oftentimes, I feel the journey of adoption is like a roller coaster......

I feel I am in the standing-in-line phase of the ride. As you probably know, the best coasters have the longest line and seem to take FOREVER for your turn. But finally, you are close to the front of the line, and a funny thing begins to happen. In the pit of your stomach it starts to tighten up. You want to ride, but there is some fear of the unknown (and sometimes the known!). Each step tenses you up a little more until finally it is time to take your seat and get strapped in. In no way does the tenseness lessen once the coaster begins to move. As a matter of fact, as the ride inches up that first hill, your heart is pounding, your hands are gripping tightly to the bar, and you can barely breath. It seems as though you hang forever on that first hill before you start down the other side. At this point you're thinking you must be crazy for voluntarily getting on this dangerous thing.

But then.......

You start down that first hill and the screams of terror become screams of excitement. Laughter erupts. You let go of the bar and put your hands in the air. It is a thrill!!

I willingly get back on that coaster and will ride it over and over, and go through those same emotions again and again ( though not to the same degree as the first time, because I know all those twists and turns now).

This particular 'ride' has taken us a year- short by adoption standards, but oh, the line has seemed so long. We are finally at the front of the line and getting ready to board our seats. The knot in my stomach is there. The unknown ride is about to begin. Yes, many things I know quite well to expect. To be honest, they make me tense up even more. I do not look forward to taking two girls from the only family they have really known. It will be hard for them and their foster families. Grieving is hard, but at the same time, I know that it is a good sign because they have felt love (and we are eternally grateful for those who have loved them these past few years!).  Adjustments are hard, and since Erin is blind, I know it will add another layer to that. Each daughter we have brought home has had their own difficult adjustments to make-to a new life and to a forever family. They have done so beautifully, and I know Erin and Meimei will as well. As we climb up that first hill, and before we start down the other side, we will have some tense moments, both while in China and once home. We will all have to discover a new normal. Oftentimes that is not an easy thing to do. Expectations need to be readjusted. Many prayers need to be prayed- day in and day out. My biggest job will be to let go of the bar on the ride I'm holding tightly to. I know that my grip is not what keeps me from falling out of my seat. Actually, it is an easier ride when I take my hands off the bar and relax. That's what I need to do now as well- stop gripping tightly to something I'm not in control of and let God work His mighty works. The journey will be smoother and more joyous.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Travel Approval!! Tickets to China!!!

There is something special about those two little letters- TA. If you have adopted, are in the process, or have someone close to you who has, you understand just what seeing those letters together will do to you heart. So many emotions flooding into the same space in your heart- excitement that soon you will hold them in your arms, relief that the paperwork and waiting, waiting, waiting are almost over, stress over all the things you still have to do to get ready (even though I've had a year to prepare!!!), concern for the little ones you have to be away from for three weeks,

but most of all..

GRATITUDE.

Grateful that God has allowed me this incredible privilege to have two more children who call me Mama.
Grateful for being allowed to see God at work in so many amazing ways this past year.
Grateful He shouted loud and clear to begin the process to bring home more children.
Grateful He guided us gently to those who will soon be called by our name.
Grateful that He has surrounded us with  those who have prayed, loved and encouraged us throughout the journey, and that we know will continue to do so.
Grateful that we will soon be able to share with our two precious girls just how much God loves them.

We will head to China August 26. We would love your prayers as we go!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Nini and Ximi- First Day of School


                                              
 I wasn’t anticipating the tears that came with the first day of school.
Nini and Ximi started first grade today. They have been homeschooling since they came home from China, so today was a big deal. They attended first grade camp a few days the past week, and were so excited that they talked about school continuously. When it was time for them to get on the bus, it wasn’t Nini or Ximi who had the tears. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure they even really said goodbye to us. Their focus was on their seat on the bus. The tears were from a 50 year old woman who knows that time moves swiftly. I thought I’d be a bit more excited than I was, but instead it signaled another tick on the clock of life that moves more quickly the older I get. Having a 30 year old son, I know how fast they grow up. I know I will turn around and we will be planning graduation. More than once I’ve told our kids who now have little ones of their own to savor the moments. Yes, even the fussy, cranky times when they are driving us crazy. It is but a breath that we hold them in our arms (and yes, I know that when we are in the middle of a full blown meltdown it feels more like an eternity!!).

So, in our ever changing ‘normal’, we now have Xiaoyun, our sophomore at the local high school; Elli taking academic classes with other homeschoolers; Enya, homeschooling; Nini and Ximi, 1st grade in public school. Soon Erin and Meimei will be coming home, and our ‘normal’ will once again shift. More updates on that soon!!

BTW- When we went to open house, I’m sure it was just my imagination, but almost all the other parents looked quite a bit younger than us J

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Tragic Choice

 I sat in the courtroom today as a jury found a man guilty of murder. He was the driver of the vehicle that hit and killed my 17 year old niece, Brianna, last year, and severely injured her best friend. I listened as first one family member and then another got up and spoke about lives lost, and lives changed forever. My sister-in-law spoke about the fact that she didn't carry hatred toward the 36 year old who had made a choice- almost exactly a year ago- to drive after consuming more than 3 times the legal limit. As a matter of fact, she said she pitied him. He already had 6 DUI's prior to last year's wreck.

                                                                    S I X

This now makes seven times that he has been convicted of driving under the influence.
 Each time he drank he made a choice.
Each time he drove drunk, he made a choice.

She pitied him, because he'd been given a chance to make better choices.

 Six times prior he could have chosen to start doing the right thing. To turn over a new leaf.

And yet, he never did.

This time his choice took the life of a girl just days out of high school. A girl who never left your house without giving you a hug and telling you she loved you. A girl full of life and laughter and sunshine. His choice also left a young girl with permanent brain damage, and the effects of having both legs broken.
If you read my post last year, you also know that Brianna's older brother was returning from a memorial service for Brianna, ONE WEEK TO THE DAY, and was struck by a deer, suffered a severe brain injury and died a few days later. He was buried the day before he would have turned 21 and two days before Brianna would have turned 18. They were Tonya and David's only children.

The choices we make have ripple effects. Many times we don't like to think of that part, because we don't want to acknowledge the opportunity we have to make a difference in other's lives- both for the good or the bad. It is easier to think that our actions don't effect others- it 'takes the pressure off'.

But we KNOW firsthand how untrue that is.

As I type this the jury is deliberating what his sentence will be. Whatever the amount of time, it will not erase the pain felt by Tonya and David as they struggle to learn to breathe again. As they try to go on with a life now devoid of the hopes and dreams they had for their children. Please pray for them, and for all those affected by the choices of this man.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fundraising to bring home Erin and Ettamei

We have avoided fundraising in the past, not because we think it is wrong, but we just never expected to adopt seven children.
However, we have been given a grant through Orphan Care Alliance. They will match up to $6000. So if you give $50, then your $50 becomes $100.
We have the potential to raise $12,000 towards our adoption.
The money is a tax deductible gift, donated through an organization called Lifesong.  OCA then matches the amount and Lifesong sends us a check to help cover adoption cost. Any money that goes into our account beyond that $6000 still is tax deductible, and will come to us, it just isn't doubled. We appreciate your support and prayers! 

To Give: Checks should be payable to “Lifesong for Orphans". In the memo, write (Willoughby / #5285)-  to assure it goes to the correct account.
Please mail to: Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744. 
To pay online: DONATE
Note PayPal charges an administrative fee (2.9% + $.30 USD per transaction). Your donation will be decreased by the amount of this fee.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Introducing Erin and Ettamei- our two daughters who are waiting

Now that we have that coveted piece of paper- LOA!!!!!!!- I'd like to formally introduce  you to our two new daughters waiting in China.



Erin Qinglian is 12 years old and currently lives in Beijing in a wonderful foster program called Bethel. If you go to their website she is called Katie.  Bethel cares for orphans who are blind or have a vision impairment. Erin has been blind since birth. She attends the Beijing School for the Blind. She has run the Beijing mini marathon, and plays a percussion instrument at her school. She was told last week that she has a family coming for her. She lives in an apartment with three other girls who are also part of Bethel, and we've heard that two of the other girls also have families coming for them.


Our other daughter waiting is Ettamei Zijui.
She will be the baby of our family.
She is 6 years old and is part of
another wonderful foster care
program called Love Without
Boundaries. She lives with a
 foster granny and grandpa who
obviously dote on her. She
likes the color pink and her
foster granny bought her
some flashy pink shoes. The
foster grandpa walks her to
school each day. She has mild
 CP that doesn't seem to slow
her down any. Her file makes it
seem as if she is quite the
social butterfly. As far as we
 know Meimei has not yet
 been told she is being adopted.
 
Our paperwork was sent this week for our I-800, so our next big thing we are waiting on is our travel approval. Once we have that, we'll be in the final stages of waiting to travel. It will probably be 8-10 more weeks before we head to China. We were given a gift that will allow Elli to travel with us. She is so excited to see places in China she never saw while living there, but she is even more excited to meet her newest sisters. We think it will be comforting, especially for Erin (since they are almost the same age) to have someone a bit younger there with us.
Soon there will be two less orphans in the world!!!! Hallelujah!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nini and Ximi's 2nd Gotcha Day's

May 26, 2013
May 24, 2015

We have just celebrated our last two Gotcha Days of this past month. Nini was adopted May 20 and Ximi was adopted May 26, 2013. As usual, we sat down both days to watch videos of our first few days and weeks together. As usual, emotions flood through me. What precious gifts each of our children are!!

Nini went through a disruption before we became her parents. A woman came to adopt her, and saw signs of CP and decided that that was more of a need than she could handle. Less than a day after meeting Nini she decided not to continue with the adoption. Nini does indeed have CP, along with a variety of other health issues, but they do not define her. They have served only to show how resilient a child she is and how God is in the miracle business. Her MRI shows a child who should not be able to walk or communicate much at all. The hydrocephalus was never treated and did a great deal of damage. When the neurosurgeon looked at the images of her brain, he wanted to know what she was even capable of doing. Yes, Nini is delayed, but she is capable of learning and thriving. To be able to speak English alone is an incredible thing! She has some short term memory issues, but it doesn't slow her down. She does learn slower than other kids her age, and that is ok. She is a 'Barnabas' (in the New Testament Barnabas was known as the Encourager). She is quick to compliment and cheer others on. Never in my life have I been told I am beautiful so many times. She is ever grateful for all that she receives. I am grateful that we didn't know her diagnosis before she came home. It would have scared me. But we fell in love with a little girl, who just happens to also have some medical things to deal with. There are days that we struggle, and that's ok because she is worth it. She is truly a gift!!

I'll never forget our first moments with Ximi. We had been told she was losing her vision, and when she was brought into the room, one look at her eyes made us think she was already blind. However, it took about a second after they put her down on the floor before we realized she could indeed see and that she was fearless! She immediately began scoping out the room and checking out everything she came into contact with. From the beginning we have seen her inquisitive nature. She loves to explore and learn. Her ability to hear a song and start humming it instantly is something to behold. She is a bundle of joyful energy, who is smiling when she gets up in the morning until she goes to sleep at night. She is the best little snuggle bunny you would ever meet. She has asked about her eyes, and I have told her God made her with special 'dancing eyes'. I think she feels sorry for the rest of us because our eyes don't dance :-) . Her nystagmus is pretty severe, as is her corneal scarring, but she compensates in amazing ways. She and Nini share a special bond, which is fitting for two beautiful girls who came into our family just a few days apart.
Happy 2nd Gotcha Day Nini and Ximi!!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Elli's 5th Gotcha Day

Yet again, I find myself crying over gotcha videos and precious memories. As we watched Elli's video tonight I found it hard to believe how much she has grown.


A few hours after gotcha
No longer the little girl we tried to hug in the Civil Affairs office (she wasn't having anything to do with that!), she has become a young woman with such a tender heart. Her emotions are still guarded, and she thinks quite a while before she speaks, but when you get her talking about something that interests her, her face lights up like the noonday sun, and the words gush out. She is so fun to watch and listen to when she has something she really wants to share. She becomes so animated when she is telling us about an animal she has learned about or a recipe she wants to try. She is so patient with her little sisters and nieces. She is Enya's voice of reason, and a little mama to Nini and Ximi. We thank God for our sweet Elli Chun!!



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Xiaoyun- home 4 years

It is hard to believe, even now, the circumstances that brought Xiaoyun into our family.
Only God's guiding hand could have orchestrated the events that led a girl, just a few weeks shy of turning 14  (and forever losing her chance at a family),  to become our daughter.
Only God could have moved in a lady's heart (thank you Annie!), whom I have never met and only know through the internet, to advocate for a girl who had almost no hope of family left.
 
The first picture we saw of Xiaoyun
 

Only God could have put me on her mailing list, and only God could have moved Virgil and I to both say yes when we read about her. We had no plans to adopt another child. We were already in the process of adopting Enya.
Only God could have timed the events that led China to change the policy ( only a few months prior) that allowed two unrelated children to be adopted at the same time.
Only God could have moved in our caseworker's heart when she was against allowing two adoptions at the same time (as she said herself, " I was a mountain that had to be moved, and He has moved it".) He continued to move mountain after mountain to get all paperwork completed in time.
Only God could have brought a new daughter home, and 15 minutes after landing at the Louisville airport from China we sang happy birthday to her- 12 short weeks after we first saw her picture and read about her.

Xiaoyun is a joy. She is funny (even when she isn't meaning to be), considerate, and kind. She is also one tough cookie. She has endured 6 difficult surgeries in the four years she has been home. We are so thankful that God has allowed us the privilege of being called her parents.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Celebrating 4 years with Enya


Four years have passed since I laid eyes on our sweet Lili. We watched her Gotcha video today, and she seemed like such a little girl. As usual, I cried when I watched it. It stirs up so many wonderful emotions, and so much gratitude. She has come so far, in such a short time, but her specialness is still the same. She is ever loyal, friendly (never meets a stranger), quick to smile, and busy, busy, busy. I’ll never forget how she kept my mom and me on our toes during our time in China. Virgil couldn’t understand why we weren’t out shopping and sightseeing all the time – that is until we got home and he actually met our busy bee! When you allow a girl who is very inquisitive and has LOTS of energy loose from the confines of orphanage living- LOOK OUT! Pretty sure she touched everything she came in contact with. Keeping her from running into traffic, almost falling out of a 12th floor window, melting down in the Beijing airport (her and me-hah!), and checking out every squatty potty in China (not to mention hourly visits while on all the airplanes), left little energy for anything but surviving. I look back now and laugh- just like you forget the labor pains of giving birth, you also forget the tough spots and focus on the laughter and the joy. And she is a joy! Filled with life and laughter.

 


Our first day together. Only hours after meeting. She still has that million dollar smile.

She no longer wants to be Lili- as she’ll quickly tell you. She is Enya now, and that name is fitting for her. Enya isn’t a common name, and our Enya isn’t an ordinary girl. She is one of a kind, and we are so blessed that she is our daughter!!!
 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Family together for Easter


Front Row: Emily, Melody, Nini, Ximi
Middle: Xiaoyun, Elli, Virgil, Enya, Zeza
Back: Zak, Mandy, Zayden , Cindy, Zeb, Sierra, Dana 

This has been a special weekend. Of course, Easter is always special and a day of celebrating Christ rising from the grave and for that we rejoice!
Our rejoicing was even sweeter this Sunday for I had all my children worshiping with us. One of our sons and his family don't live near us, and we don't get to see them very often. Zak is in school in Florida and our daughter-in-law and grandbabies are in Minnesota living with her parents until he completes school. Friday Zak surprised us with a visit, and then the next morning as we were eating breakfast, Mandy and the kids walked into the house. They'd driven 12 hours to surprise us all (including Zak!). This morning we had filled and entire row at church. With the grandkids, and my mom and step dad, we had 18. It was such a joy to look to my right and left and see all the kids together!!!Afterwards, extended family gathered at our house for a large, boisterous dinner.
Thanking God for this day!!!

BTW- Many of us are wearing the same t-shirt.
On the front is James 1:27 "Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world."
Underneath is the mission statement of our church - Love God, Love Others, and Serve the World.
There is a movement called Forget the Frock that encourages people to purchase a t-shirt to help orphans instead of spending money on Easter outfits. Since our church supports an orphanage in Mexico, the church printed up shirts and the proceeds will be sent there. It was so encouraging to see so many shirts at the service today!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Birthday to Our Daughter Who Waits

Today our little girl celebrated her birthday. We did not decorate the house, or make a cake. There were no gifts. We did however, think of her and pray for her, and wish she was here. She won't know this however, for many months to come. She still waits for us in China. She turned 12 today, and celebrated her last birthday without a family name. Next year she will be surrounded by brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephew, and grandparents. She will have a baba and mama who thank God for her life, her precious life, and rejoice in the fact she is our daughter.
We know she is well cared for, and have no doubt that special people recognized her birthday . For that we are so grateful. We will never be able to thank them enough for the love they have shown her.
We know God's timing is perfect, but it is so hard to wait. How we'd love to have both our daughters home. Thankfully, before another birthday has come and gone for either of them, they should be in our arms. Already they are in our hearts.
Happy birthday sweetheart!! You are loved!!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In regards to 'Hope'

I failed to mention in my previous post, but Hope is on the shared list which means any agency can submit paperwork to adopt her. I do have other information if anyone is interested in making Hope their daughter. If you'll leave a message and email address (it will not be posted and will remain private) I'd be glad to share what I know.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Could you be Hope's family?

There is a little 8 year old girl who has captured my heart. She needs a family who will take a chance on the unknown. She is blind (congenital glaucoma), though she may be able to discern light. I first saw this girl a couple of years or so ago. I remember her pose and her outfit. She looked adorable. Recently, I was looking at an advocacy site and saw the same picture again. Beside it was the photo below. I was shocked to realize that it was the same girl. Her hair had been cut off, and her update seemed as though she's not been given an opportunity to thrive. The video broke my heart. They were asking her to walk around without a cane or anything to guide her. When I showed the video to Xiaoyun she said that it seemed as if the girl had lost hope. Since then I have called her 'Hope' and pray that she will find a family who will give her every chance to succeed. Could you be the family she is waiting for?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pri8FubEsQg&feature=youtube


Updated picture and info from November 2014. 1. Does she have any vision? Can she see anything? She can’t see anything, but she has light sense. She has no vision. 2. Has she had any surgeries? If so, when and for what? Never. 3. What is her personality like? What does she enjoy doing? She is fairly introverted. She likes to talk to herself, play with her hands. She doesn’t communicate with others. 4. What are some things she is good at doing? What things does she struggle with? Unknown. 5. Who is she closest to? Her foster mom. 6. What calms her when she is upset? Hug her and give her a toy. 7. Does she receive any schooling at the orphanage? If so, how is she doing? She’s not attending school. 8. Is she living in the orphanage or in foster care? She’s in foster family. 9. What does she like to eat and to drink? She likes to eat noodle, rice. She likes to drink soup with spoon. 10. Updated measurements Height: 112cm; Weight: 19kg; Head: 47cm; Chest: 52cm; Foot: 19cm


The photo I saw of her before:



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Acorns


Who would have thought acorns could be used to create a masterpiece?
 
Our incredibly imaginative girls did.

 For weeks now, Virgil and I have fought a losing battle with our oak tree. It hangs over the driveway and has rained down more acorns (thanks to an industrious squirrel) than we've ever seen before. If they were just falling in the yard it would not be a big deal, but since they fall on the drive, it creates a hazard for walking (think walking on marbles). With one child who has an unsteady gait and another who is visually impaired, it gets even trickier.
So Virgil has been continuously getting rid of acorns that have become a thorn in our side.

That is until the girls got involved.

What we saw as a nuisance, they saw as beauty in the making.

They were outside playing one day, when they called for me to come out and look.

I WAS SHOCKED :-)
 
They had gathered up those acorns and used them to 'draw' a picture of their Baba and Mama. Above it they had used acorns to write 'I love you Mama and Baba'.
 
This may sound like a proud mama ;-) but I thought that was pretty incredible.
 
The girls remind me over and over to look through the eyes of a child.
 To see the joy and wonder God gives us each day.
To think outside the box.
To stop complaining about inconveniences, and start turning those moments around and finding good in them.
To enjoy the simple things I often overlook in my haste.
 




Friday, September 19, 2014

Living in an Upside-Down World


We live in an upside-down world.

Why is it, that when you tell someone you’re adopting, you MANY TIMES get either a negative response or an indifferent one?

If I was telling someone I was buying a new car, moving to a new house, my husband was getting a promotion, a raise, or even won a trip in some give-away, they’d be excited.

But telling people you’re adopting usually seems to go something like this:

“Really? How many will that make?”

 “How in the world are you going to pay for that?”

“You’re a little old for that..”

“Are you sure you have thought this through?”

“Where in the world are you going to put them?”

“Don’t you think you have enough?”

“Why?”

There are also the looks of surprise, the looks that say we’re crazy, the long pause on the other end of the phone while they try to think of something to say, etc.

I usually move on without answering the questions, or give a quick answer, and try to change the subject. But today my heart wants to say what it is feeling.

How many -This will make me the mother of NINE children. Three are now grown, but I am fully aware that I have five at home and adding one more will make six.

Paying for it- We have been married 31 years. We have paid our bills on time – every time- by God’s grace Virgil has held a steady job throughout our marriage. We didn’t have much money when first married, and we learned quickly to budget. Though the pay has increased, our desire to live on a budget, and within our means, has remained. We do not have a lot of debt and we try to be good stewards of the money God gives us. God has provided in different ways for our other adoptions, and since He is calling us to do this, we know He’ll continue to be faithful in providing.

Besides all that – I am almost 50 years old and Virgil will soon be 52. We are not children who haven’t considered the financial part of things.

Also, since I am on the subject of age-
Yes, I am quite aware of my age. I realize that as our children grow into adulthood, that I may not be around to hold their children. Even so, I HAVE HELD MY CHILDREN, and they in turn will know how to love and nurture their own. None of us is guaranteed another day on this earth. For as long as I am here, I will love and encourage my children, and when I am gone, they will still have a large extended family that will continue to love them.

Thinking it through- We have thought this through more times than you can imagine. We have looked at all the facets, counted all the costs (I’m not just talking financial), and prayed over this decision for a while. This is not a flippant decision made on a whim. We are fully aware of the changes this will make. After all, we are the ones living it. We aren’t new to adopting, and we’re not new to children with special needs. I am the one who cares for the kids every day, takes them to every doctor appointment, sits through every surgery, wipes away the tears, fixes every meal, and washes every piece of clothing a family of our size goes through in a day. I am not wearing rose-colored glasses.

Room for another- our newest daughter will share a bedroom with her sisters that are almost the same age. I’d venture to guess that many other people shared bedrooms growing up and turned out fine. We’re probably one of the very few countries in the world that have such large houses for so few people. A smaller house allows us to be together more. We make efficient use of the space we have.

Enough kids- When I was growing up, I planned on having 3 kids. That held true for many years. But God had other plans. If you came to our house, you would see joyful children who love life. If you asked them, they would tell you they are LOVED. In many cultures a large family is a blessing. In our home, A LARGE FAMILY IS A BLESSING!!!!!!!

How many is enough? However many God says is enough. He now sets the number for the size of our household. Granted, our girls may not be able to do dance lessons, take lots of trips, or a plethora of other things kids in a smaller household could afford to do, but at the end of life, they will be able to say that we introduced them to God, tried to be a godly example for them, and encouraged them to live life fully.

Let’s also remember that if they hadn’t been adopted, they would never have had those opportunities either, and I can guarantee that those aren’t the things they were wanting.

THEY WERE WANTING A FAMILY! THEY WERE WANTING TO KNOW THAT SOMEONE CARED ABOUT THEM! THAT THEY MATTERED!!!

Which leads me to the why- When I am asked “why?” what I want to reply back with is
WHY NOT?

 Why not open our hearts and homes to a child who has waited years for love? Why not spend our money to make a difference instead of on that new car, or new home, or vacation? All those things will be gone in the blink of an eye. Only the difference we make in another’s life can last through eternity.

Showing them Christ’s love – there is no better thing we can do with our time and money.

God has called us to adopt again. We live in a world that thinks this is foolish, but-

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” 1 Cor 1:27

We are thankful and EXCITED to bring another child home. Soon there will be ONE LESS ORPHAN!!!

 

 

Another daughter coming home!

We are excited to announce -that hopefully sometime next summer- we will be adding another precious daughter to our family!!!! Her name will be Ettamei , and will be called Meimei (which is Chinese for little sister). She will turn 6 in a couple of months. She is from the same province as Xiaoyun. We are at the very beginning of our paper pregnancy, but it makes it so much easier already knowing the steps in the process. The girls are all very excited to bring Meimei home. We can't post a picture yet, but she is adorable!!

Soon there will be ONE LESS ORPHAN!!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Nini is doing well 4 weeks post surgery

Nini went back to the surgeon for a follow-up and all is looking great. The surgery has taken care of one of her main issues, and we are so thankful for that answered prayer!! I have been so surprised by how well she has done since the surgery. For a girl who likes to show me every boo-boo (real or perceived ;-)  ) she complained very little following the surgeries. Her hair is growing back quickly-which is a good thing. She has decided she doesn't like her 'Baba hair' and wants her long like the other girls. Thank you to all who have prayed for her and we ask that you continue to do so!! Blessings, Cindy

Lifeline is hosting children from China who need families

 
My friend, Annie, wants to get the word out about an opportunity (for people considering adoption) to meet some of the incredible kids waiting for families from China. If you know someone interested please share this info with them. Wouldn't it be wonderful if each of these children went back to China only long enough for their paperwork to be completed, and then back here to their forever families? What a blessing that would be!!
 



"Southern Hospitality 2014" Hosting Program
 
 
Lifeline Children's Services is excited to announce that we will be hosting twelve children from Kunming City, China as part of our first ever hosting program! The hosting program, "Southern Hospitality 2014," will be held in Hattiesburg, MS on October 12-26, 2014.
 
We are inviting families to join us in Hattiesburg to help us make "Southern Hospitality" a memorable experience for the children. The children, with ages ranging from six to thirteen years old, will be staying all together in one hosting home with translators and a representative from the orphanage. Families will be visiting with all of the children in the home, learning about them and their culture, and participating in activities throughout the week. Families will also have the opportunity to meet with a representative from the Kunming orphanage and interact with the Lifeline China team. As a part of the hosting program, the children will also be seen by a medical doctor associated with the International Adoption Clinic in Birmingham, AL.
 
Our goal in this endeavor is to shower these children with love, introduce them to the culture of the southern United States, and provide them with some unique experiences. This event is also an important element in our on-going development of our orphanage partnerships in China. Through our partnership orphanages we are able to serve the children of China, both adoptable and unadoptable, orphanage staff, directors, and government officials. We are grateful to be able to participate in an opportunity such as this one. Please join us in making this an unforgettable and life-changing experience for these precious children!
 
DATES: The dates families will be attending the program will be either 10/15-10/19 or 10/21-10/25; families will attend only one session (these dates are subject to change depending on the travel schedules of the children).

WHERE: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

CHILDREN PARTICIPATING: There will be twelve boys and girls, ages six to thirteen years old, with mild to moderate medical special needs.

FAMILY PARTICIPANT REQUIREMENTS: 
  • ALL families must have an accepted Lifeline application on file at the Lifeline offices.
  • Families must have a finalized home study from a Hague/COA agency.
  • If you do not have a finalized home study, there are requirements that will need to be met before you will be able to participate in the hosting program. These requirements will include FBI clearances, Adam Walsh clearances, medical statement, home inspection, etc.
  • These children will need to be adopted through Lifeline Children's Services. Lifeline will not be able to transfer these files to another agency.
  • Prior to the camp, we will be developing pools of interest for each child. We will not be matching children until the program has been completed. Once the camp has been completed, we will look at the pools of interest for each child and matches will be made in the best interest of each child.
  • Families will be responsible for their own travel/lodging/food/activity expenses. Lifeline has secured a block of hotel rooms in Hattiesburg where all participating families will stay. This information will be provided to you upon acceptance to the program.
For information on the twelve children and to find Frequently Asked Questions about the program, visit our website HERE.
 
If you are a family interested in participating in the hosting program, please contact Karla Thrasher at: 205.967.0811 or by e-mail at karla.thrasher@lifelinechild.org

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nini is Home!!!!

Nini is home and doing well. Our biggest challenge is keeping her from doing too much ;-)
Thank you to all who prayed  for Nini during her hospital stay. We'd ask that you continue praying that the tethered cord release will take care of some of the problems she has been having. Blessings, cindy
 
 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

One day after tethered cord release

Today has been Nini's roughest day since we came into the hospital on Tuesday. She has complained about pain and threw up again. We've had quite a bit of tears. She is on a muscle relaxer, pain meds, nausea medicine, and antibiotics. It's a balancing act trying to decide whether she is having spasms or pain, and what to give when. Since she can't explain exactly what she's feeling (when you only have a year of English under your belt it's hard to describe what is going on) it makes it more difficult to know how to treat. As usual, the staff here at Kosair is wonderful and go above and beyond in making her as comfortable as possible. Her headache brought a visit from a doctor immediately because it can be a red flag that there are problems with spinal fluid leaking. All was well in that area thankfully.
Her best medicine came when her sisters came to visit. She hasn't seen any of them since Tuesday and that's been hard on her. Since she was in PICU until surgery yesterday, we haven't brought them up (we live an hour away from hospital). It's been especially difficult for her to be away from Ximi, and I've heard quite a bit about how much she misses Ximi. She's shed tears everyday for her.
When it was time to say goodbye, neither one wanted to leave the other, so we got permission for Ximi to stay up here with us. Since Ximi will be sharing the window seat with me, I'm hoping she has a good night sleep ;-)
Tomorrow morning the physical therapist will come and get her out of bed and walking. As long as there are no problems we'll get to go home tomorrow. Blessings, cindy

Our little Peanut Butter(Ximi) and Jelly (Nini)


Xiaoyun, Virgil, Nini, Ximi, Elli and Enya