Count of Chicks for Children

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Friends, Please click on link above that says  "Xiaoyun Speaks" to watch  a video Xiaoyun made, encouraging others to adopt. She saw me preparing some adoption/ orphan care links for our church web page and got all excited. She told me she wanted to tell people, too. Our friend came over and sat the camera in front of her and asked only one question - "What do you want to tell others?". Until she started speaking, we had no idea what she was going to say. What a precious testimony!!! Please feel free to share with anyone who might be blessed by it!
Xiaoyun goes into the hospital for at least 6 weeks in January. She will have 4 surgeries to treat her severe congenital scoliosis. Her first surgery is January 4. We appreciate all who will keep her in their prayers!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The backpack and the haircut

An empty backpack and a new haircut. Two things that seem totally unrelated at first glance, but a deeper look reveals so much more.

Xiaoyun came to us with a red backpack and a large stuffed bear. Nothing more. She didn't offer to show me what was inside, and I didn't want to ask and make her uncomfortable. While still in China, she pulled out a school yearbook and asked me and mom to sign a page. She didn't show us the rest of the book, but I felt it was a step in the right direction. Eventually, after we got home, she did show us the rest of her yearbook, and pointed out the faces of her friends. Little by little, she pulled out the rest of her treasures from her backpack - stuffed animals her friends gave before she left school, yellow converse sneakers, a small green clock. Finally, she pulled out the photos. There were three pictures. They were of Xiaoyun and her 'China mama' (her foster mom for 9 years), when she was younger. What a treasure they were to have - a connection with her past. That empty backpack was a concrete sign that she was starting to feel at home here.

September 23 was another big milestone for Xiaoyun. What was planned was a routine bang trim for all the girls. Xiaoyun decided, however, that she wanted her hair cut. If you've seen her, you know that she has been letting her hair grow for a very long time. It was obvious from the start that she placed a lot of importance on her hair. Some of mine and Xiaoyun's earliest bonding moments were when I'd dry that long hair in China, and then brush it out before bed. She had shared with me that her 'China mama' would dry her hair and fix it for her. I'd also wondered if she used her hair to hide the scoliosis. She never mentioned it, but I know she is careful with the type of shirt she wears and I thought the hair might also be a covering of sorts.

But that day, before we went for our hair appointment, she told me she wanted it cut. When we got there and told the hair stylist, she tried to talk her out of cutting it. Knowing how Xiaoyun was about her hair, she was afraid she'd be upset once it was cut. She was adamant, however, and showed her the style she wanted. When all was said and done, she had about 11 inches of hair cut off. She loved the finished product (so did the rest of us).

Both things - the empty backpack and the haircut, seemed like a confirmation to me that she feels safe and loved. What a joy that is to this mama's heart!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Teeth lost, money gained

Elli and Enya have had some excitement in their lives lately. In the last 2 weeks Enya has lost 3 teeth (the first she's lost since comng home). The first she pulled herself and Baba pulled the other two. When she lost that first tooth, we told her she needed to put in under her pillow and see what happened to it. Evidently, none of our girls had heard of the tooth fairie. She was thrilled the next morning that there was money instead of the tooth. Since it worked out so well that time, she had Baba pull another one the next day ;-) . This, however, caused two other girls to be a little bit jealous. Elli immediately set about trying to find a loose tooth she could help along (she had never lost a tooth). Xiaoyun felt she had really gotten a bad deal. She told us " No fair! I didn't know about this in China and didn't get any money when I lost mine". Of course, baba is a softie, so the next morning all three had some money under their pillow (and yes, Enya had more than the other two since she was the one who had lost the tooth). Everyday Elli worked on her tooth and had us checking it constantly to see if it was loose enough. Sunday was the big day - Elli's first tooth was finally pulled. Enya also decided to lose another tooth that day (one I didn't even know was loose), so it was quite exciting the next morning when the girls both woke up. In the video you see the girls holding a little bag, which contained the tooth and then the money. These were bags that jewelry was put in when you purchase it in China, so it was a neat thing to use for the girls.

*For the record, our girls know where the money came from - didn't want them thinking a stranger in a tutu was lurking in their room ;-)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The summer - doctors and surgeries

Some have asked how we spent our summer. I just added up all our doctor's visits, and since the girls came home we have had 39 different specialists/ pediatric appointments, and one surgery. Many of the appointments were in Louisville, an hour drive away. Enya had her first eye surgery this past Monday. The surgeon is hopeful that she won't need the other two surgeries - we are praying for that, also. It was an outpatient surgery and in less than 6 hours we were back home. LiLi won the hearts of her nurses, and was saying 'thank you so much!' to them as we were leaving. Zeb (my oldest son - 26 yrs old) went with me and LiLi, since he was off that day, so we could save Virgil's vacation days for Xiaoyun's surgery. Everyone evidently thought I'd robbed the cradle, because they all thought he was my husband. It was nice to say this is my oldest child and this is my youngest. The hardest part of the surgery was once we got home. Enya wasn't allowed to run, bend or lift for a week. It's obvious the doctor doesn't know my little whirlwind, or he would have prescribed something to make her sleep for the entire week ;-) ! When Enya first saw her eye after the patch was removed, her comment was 'too big!!' Enya has another surgery on October 24. It will be a repair of her lip. After that, she shouldn't need anymore surgery until she's around 10 yrs old (another repair of her lip and palate).

Xiaoyun has had quite a few appointments to make sure she would be able to have her scoliosis corrected. There were three areas of concern. Her heart was good and strong and her kidneys were both present and functioning. Unfortunately, her lungs were not so good. She has only 33% lung function and she also has asthma. There was a point where the surgeon wasn't sure if surgery was an option because of that, but the pulmonologist gave approval, with the understanding that the surgeries would need to be monitored closely. Also, the threat of pneumonia while in the hospital is a great concern. Xiaoyun will have, what they think now, 4 surgeries over the course of at least six weeks in the hospital. The first surgery is to put a halo on, after which they will do traction and try to stretch the vertebrae as much as possible. The next two will involve removing bone (some of her ribs have grown up into the curve of her spine). Finally, after several weeks of traction she will have rods inserted and 'build' her backbone. We do not have the exact date, but as of now, she will have surgery the beginning of January. This will give us time to try and put some weight on her (she weighs 44 lbs), which the doctor felt was important because the drugs they will give her will cut her appetite. It will also allow us to celebrate their first Thanksgiving and Christmas at home. She has an appointment the end of October with the surgeon. If she hasn't started putting on any weight, they will not schedule the appointment, so please be in prayer that she gains at least 2 pounds before then (so far I think I'm the only one gaining the weight!).

We haven't explained to Xiaoyun exactly what will take place. We don't want her to worry, so we won't say much about it until shortly before the surgeries. She's excited to be able to have the surgery, and at this point that is enough.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Enya's eye

Enya's eye the day before surgery and the day after surgery. When she first saw the eye, when the patch was removed, she said " too big!" The stuffed animal was given to her by a young lady who had had many eye surgeries when she was a little girl and had carried it with her throughout the surgeries. She wanted to pass it on the Enya, which was so very kind.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Family visits and fun days

This photo was taken after the girls received a box filled with goodies from a sweet lady who had been following their journey. They were so excited!

Zak, Mandy and Zeza came for a visit. It was the first time Xiaoyun and Enya had met Mandy and Zeza, except for Skype.

Xiaoyun - 14 yrs old

Emily - 19

Zak - 25

Enya (LiLi)- 7

Zeb - 26

Elli- 7

Practicing with chopsticks - Virgil, Elli, Zeb, Dana, Zeza, Zak, Mandy, Enya, Xiaoyun

Mamaw and Papaw's visit

Scary faces

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Today we celebrated Emily's 19th birthday. It is hard to believe it has been that long since she was first placed in my arms. God has blessed me immensely with this beautiful girl. I don't know how I would have made it without Emily - she is such a help with the girls. The love her sisters have for her is so sweet and a testimony to the fact that she is a fantastic older sister. The girls were so excited to go shopping for gifts for Em and each picked out and then decorated their own cards for her. I think Enya was more excited because she hasn't really experienced anything like this before. Xiaoyun's birthday was celebrated only a few hours after we got home, and I don't think Enya had really grasped the concept until Em's birthday. After Emily had opened her gift from Enya, Enya went into her room and picked out some of her own special things and refilled the gift bag and gave it to Em again. Xiaoyun was concerned about getting something special for Em and asked me everyday this week to make sure I was going to take her to the store so she could pick something out. Watching the girls all swarming around Emily waiting their turn to give her their own gift and card, was so touching.
This afternoon the girls got in the little swimming pool Zak and Mandy had bought last weekend when they brought our precious granddaughter down for a visit. (Last week was a wonderful week of visiting first with Mamaw and Papaw David, and then with Zak, Mandy and Zeza!!) I was out there sitting with them while they played, when Virgil snuck around the house with a bucket full of cold water. He splashed us all, and by the time we were finished we were sitting in this little pool - completely clothed - with the girls. As I listened to the girls laughing and playing, I couldn't help but think of our life and what an incredible blessing it is. The girls would have had no more fun if we had a mansion and an in ground pool. Just the fact that we were all together was enough.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

July pics

Thoughts from a Mama's heart

This morning I realized I had neglected the plants around the fish pond and set about pulling the weeds. Enya Li, my early bird, immediately started helping me. She sang, laughed or talked the entire time. As we pulled weeds, she came to a clump of clover and said “Ooh, beautiful!” She picked the clover, and instead of putting it in the pile with the other weeds, she said “Lili de” meaning they were now her’s. As we continued to pull the weeds, I listened to her humming and thought about what a joyful child she is. Everything is like Christmas to her. She appreciates every little thing given to her, and is always quick to say “Thank you, Mama” even if I’m only washing off her hands or giving her a glass of water. To be blessed with the opportunity to see life through the eyes of someone who has never had anything of her own, who has lived in an orphanage all her life, who has done without so many things we call ‘necessities’, is a gift for me. She has given me an appreciation for things I never stopped to consider before. I remember last year, when we brought Elli home, becoming more aware of what I take for granted, but Enya has deepened that awareness. Every night I say her prayers, and when we come to the end she always says ‘amen’ with me. Then she wraps her arms around me and pulls me down and gives me a huge kiss and hug. And every night, as she embraces me, I think what a miracle this is – that a little girl who, for years, had neither father nor mother, is now part of a large family who loves her very much. Today, as we pulled those weeds, I thought of how some consider her (and other orphans) just ‘weeds’. The first picture we saw of Enya was shortly after her surgery for cleft lip. Her face was swollen and it made the ptosis of her right eye even more pronounced. Her file had been on the Waiting Children’s list for several years and had not been updated. When we looked at her picture we knew she was the one who needed us – the child whose file people kept passing over. Their loss has been our gain. Those people fail to see the beauty that is waiting there – waiting to be ‘picked’. Waiting for someone to pick them up and say ‘Ooh, beautiful!’ Waiting to blossom before the eyes of those who will shower them with love.
I pray God helps me to see others as He sees them - 'man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart' 1 Samuel 16:7b

Friday, June 17, 2011

I am so woefully behind on the blog - sorry! My body is taking a long time to get back to normal, and the girls require most of my energy. All the girls are doing well. Things are settling into a good routine. I realized the other day that we needed to have a chore chart so that I was not the only one doing all the housework. Surprisingly, all the girls were good with that. I explained that my job was to make sure that when they grew up they needed to be able to take care of themselves. Since then, they are pitching in without any complaints (so far!) I have had to lower my expectations about how well a job is done, but honestly, I had already lowered them for myself - it doesn't matter how many times a day you clean the floors or pick up the toys - 20 minutes later it looks as though you never touched the house. I've learned to be a little more laid back on the cleanliness of the house - not sure if that has come with age, or the fact my time is full of more important things - kids on the lap, singing songs, pulling out baby dolls supplies, etc.
We had a flashback the other day. Last year, Elli sat in Virgil's lap and watched Em's dance recital and let us know she wanted to do that too. This year, Enya Li sat on Virgil's lap and watched Emily and Elli dance and let us know she wanted to dance, also. That may end up happening because Emily just became the new dance instructor where she has taken dance for years. Hopefully, Elli and Enya Li can take lessons with her.
Xiaoyun is having a hard time missing her foster family and her friends. We found out this past week she was actually going to a boarding school through the week and came home on the weekends. It is hard for her not to be surrounded by all her friends. She pulled out pictures for us to look at of her class, and also gave me two precious pictures of her and her foster mom. One was made when she was 7 and the other when she was nine. I'm so grateful to have a bit of her past. The foster family had two children of their own - a girl 21 and a boy 19. The girl was married and had a little boy that Xiaoyun was crazy about. There were also two foster brothers in the home. A fourteen year old, who also had scoliosis, and a thirteen year old, who I believe has Hepatitis B. (She has already been tested and does not have it). I can not imagine how hard all this is for her. What is incredible is that she gives us hugs and kisses all the time, loves to sit in your lap, and says 'I love you' frequently. God is a miracle worker!
Elli is doing better with the new family members. She's really taken up with Xiaoyun, and her and Enya Li are finally starting playing together. We still have battles over toys and clothes, but I suppose that is to be expected with two so close in age. Elli has become more emotional, and we have to be careful to make sure she gets as much attention as the other two. She is compassionate when Enya gets hurt and will go get a washcloth and wipe Enya's face, or grab the bandaids if she has a cut or scratch.
Enya continues to be quite the character. She is still up bright and early, but at least she has a smile on her face and gets up in a good mood. She takes delight in the little things. Anything given to her excites her - even if it is a piece of gum. She can turn on the emotions like a switch. She can go from laughing to crying in the blink of an eye. Food continues to be foremost on her mind. She eats non stop. Fortunately, she likes the healthy foods. I sat out cereal around the house for her to snack on, and this week fixed a bucket of snacks that they are allowed to grab any time they want. (We have a bucket of sweets that they must ask for before touching and they are doing fine with that also.) Enya has started singing Jesus Loves Me, and it is precious to hear. We are going to take her to church this Sunday for the first time. It would have been sooner, but the last two weeks we've had someone with strep, three with colds, and one with a mysterious rash in the family. Somehow I didn't think people would appreciate being contaminated ;-) .
The girls got the preliminary labs and x-rays back this week and referrals have now been ordered to all the specialists. Enya needs to have surgery on her eye, and then also surgeries at some point on her lip. Her blood work was good except for low protein (normal given the circumstances) and her lead was a little high. Other than that all looked good. Xiaoyun's labs were about the same. Her xrays showed a 144% curvature, which is considered severe. Hopefully she will be seeing a specialist quickly so we can see what/if anything can be done.
God continues to bless each and every day. We continue to thank God for friends and family who are so faithful to pray for us!

*I've been told by several people that they have been unable to post a comment. For some reason the blog will not accept any comments and the website is trying to work on it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Xiaoyun's 14th birthday - May 15, 2011

Welcome home!!!! May 14

Yes, I know this is out of order and it should have been posted last week - sorry! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves :-)