Friday, December 21, 2012

Jesus at Christmas

This Christmas season has been full of running to events and parties, making cookies and gifts, and watching the excitement as the girls experience all the firsts; decorating the tree, Christmas lights, Nativity play, etc. 

Rachel performed beautifully at her piano recital

And we finally got our Christmas cards out - without the pretty matching tops I hoped to use

But in the midst of the fun, we've managed to keep focused on the true meaning of Christmas - God with us - walking among us - 2,000 years ago.  During her Bible study this morning, Katie asked if she could pray to accept Jesus into her heart.  While Rachel early knew the love of God, Jenny was attracted to the justice and protection of God, and Sarah was BORN with the joy of the Lord,  Katie has never felt His call till now.  My most pragmatic and sensible child, she lives in the here and now, always serving and not easily moved.  I was overjoyed to pray with her and can't think of a better Christmas gift.

So after the excitement, the girls are now insisting that we set up a Bible Club for children in our house - Jenny says we "need" to do this - and they're all very excited about it.  Not sure what they have in mind, but they want to teach other children the wonderful things they've learned about God in the nearly nine months they've been home.  I'm sure they'll be able to accomplish anything they set out to do - so I'm looking forward to what the New Year will bring.  Praising God for His mercy and every day thanking Him for the blessings of these beautiful children.

Please remember to pray for "Chad" - he has only days to find a committed family.

Blessings, Kim

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.  Isaiah 9:2

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

Monday, December 10, 2012


I have been praying and advocating for this boy since March - and not one person has asked about him.     He has been waiting - first with a foster family - and now in the orphanage for more than 10 years.  He and his best friend "Chad" have been waiting together, and now a family has come forward for his best buddy - but Chaz (pictured above) has only two and a half months for his family to find him before he ages out.  He is now almost 14 years old, and reportedly "nice, funny, generous" and wants nothing more than to "become a useful person."  His special need is simply that at a young age his hair fell out. It has grown back in.  He now looks like this:

Can you see his terrific personality shining through?  Humor gets you far in life, and helps you deal with the worst of circumstances.  He has the look of optimism in his eyes, and I hope and pray that someone "sees their son" in this picture.  He can take a toy car apart and put it back together.  He has spent nearly 14 years on this earth never having a dad to teach him sports or a mom to cheer him on.  My heart is breaking because the outlook is grim - he needs a miracle family - someone with incredible energy, resources, and most of all faith - to make this happen.  He needs all of US to intercede for him with the father.

Mother Teresa once said, and I agree:

Please remember Chaz in your prayers.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful for...myself??

     Yep - you read the title right - thankful for myself.  While we spent time thanking God for our many blessings at Thanksgiving, one little girl had her own "thankful ideas:"

     If you read the back of the table place card carefully,  it reads, "I love myself, love, me."  That's our girl!  There's no doubt that a good foster family can make a huge difference for a child, and our Sarah was well loved. :)  She made place cards expressing her love for everyone on the backs - including herself, haha - the source of her brimming confidence.  She is incredibly smart and loving, bringing home new awards every day from school - she's also my designated "informer" keeping me apprised of any misbehavior in the home, neighborhood, or anywhere else we go.  We're working on that Pharisaical attitude - but for now it comes in handy, lol.

     Jenny took on the dreaded task of gravy making - and is another common sense competent girl like sister Katie.   They amaze me with their servant's hearts and ability to solve household problems at such a young age.  Jenny can fix anything, is diligent with school, and as more of her former life story unfolds, we understand more of her personality.  She is an honest child, but is still learning to trust us.  As long as we keep heaps of food in her life, she's joyful and content.  I'm not sure where she puts it all, but the "fight's on" when the dishes hit the table, and I've taken to superstore portions of bread and rolls to make sure we don't run short.

For anyone freaking out at the above picture, we're drinking Apple Cider in the wine glasses!

     We don't have any exciting travel pictures to share, or momentous stories to tell, just plain everyday life with school, activities, and cooking to feed a ravenous family.   It makes it hard to blog when you don't have anything exciting to trumpet, other than this is the easiest adoption we've ever done.  The most challenging aspect has been giving both girls the attention and help they need with such monumental tasks such as learning to speak English and reading - it's time consuming and pretty much takes up most of each day.  While they learn fast, they both are eager to get back to the level of competency they had in Chinese, and that will take a long time with much effort.

     We continue to work on the decibel level of Jenny's speech  - her limited hearing makes speaking quietly nearly impossible.  Sarah speaks loudly because that is her personality and she will most certainly wind up on a stage somewhere in life.  We've struggled to keep glasses on Jenny's head without an ear to hold them up (and a receding skull), and are at our wits end with what to do.  We've had a lot of arguing among the girls as everyone jockeys for their "new positions" in the family, but that's mostly settled out.  They really enjoy each other's company and are all so very different.  We are so thankful for each and every one.  The boys enjoy spending time with their sisters, and have had very little change in their lives as college and work keep them very busy.

     I'm praying a lot this week for friends like Chris and "K" who are struggling with medical and attachment issues with their recent adoptions - we've been there and it's so hard on everyone - especially Mom.  It will get better, and they WILL reap after sowing so long - but it's hard to remember in the midst of the storm.  Please pray for both ladies and also for "Chaz," a young boy turning 14 in March.  He needs a miracle to find a family before he ages out of the system in 4 months.  Please pray he gets his chance to know the love of a family before it's too late.  I can't imagine not having that one gift in life - the gift of being loved.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall, Football, and Fun

Not much to talk about here - daily life goes on with homeschooling, public schooling, college exams, yardwork, and house cleaning.  Throw in a couple of late night presidential debates, dance, rehab, dental and doctor's appointments, and we've got a full schedule!  With six kiddos, it's a numbers game with cooking, laundry, activities, and routine stuff that keeps me short on time, big on fun!  I wish I had more time for friends and service and am trying to work that into our crazy life.  Bible study happens, but Bible application is a more complicated matter.

The male side of the house is committed to football this time of year, and I've given up resisting.  We find outdoor things to do to avoid "Sunday surround sound," and occasionally, the girls get in the excitement with the various fan gear left laying around.  I don't get the sports hoopla, but I suppose I'm outnumbered here in the South and in our family at large!  Rachel sports Clint's Viking gear below:

My Bible resistant one, Jenny, has enjoyed finding scripture to memorize lately, as a result of her BJU Press Bible study in the morning.  She loves doing the 1st grade Bible text as it is on her reading level and she is able to understand it.  Last night, she was excited to see the different Chinese hymns on youtube such as this one HERE.

Sarah is my clingy one - a super "mama's girl," and loves constant affection when not engaged in outside or other activity.

The younger girls all take a dance class together and love goofing around to Christian music at night - they love singing and dancing and fill our lives with a rather high level of noise, activity, and joy - 24/7 - leaving me thankful for a big backyard and a few minutes of peace here and there.

 I turn 50 this month, and thank God that I'm healing nicely from my AT rupture this May.  Rehab has given me lots of energy and fitness that wasn't there pre-injury.  As far as keeping up, I did lay down the law on Bible study in the morning this weekend - as without God first-  I'm pretty frazzled the rest of the day.  The girls understand that they have to give me that 30 minutes now - and our days proceed more smoothly so far.  That time with God is the source of my strength, joy, and patience - which wears thin without supernatural help. :)

Oddly enough, Jenny seems to be interested in Chinese again and we've made great effort to separate the culture from her individual experience (see previous post.)  We are coordinating a "China Day" for her sister's class at school, and she will be teaching us her various paper folding skills, character writing, and other fun things to do with the 1st graders.  I am thankful to see her healing and moving forward.

The big boys are doing well in school, encouraging those who aren't, and voting Republican.  Can't ask for more than that! :) (except maybe more conservative wardrobe choices)  We are seeking to simplify our lives each day to allow more downtime.  We haven't had much success there - but the days proceed with a steady pace of love and family time so I can't complain.  Wishing we had more time to do something great for God, but for this season, He seems to be directing us to focus home and children first.  Thanking God for our barrels of blessings.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Beauty for Ashes

…(the Lord will) provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.  Isaiah 61:3

This is the first adoption we’ve had where our children had many memories of their past.  Our first daughter was a toddler, and while clearly affected by her institutional start, she had no verbal memories of her beginnings.  Our second daughter had several traumatic surgeries at 5 years old, including much time on the bypass machine, and possibly as a result, has few memories left of her early years.

But our new girls remember everything. 

They were born skilled communicators and value relationships greatly.  They are people oriented and watch and evaluate everyone around them.  They are excellent storytellers and as their command of English grows, we hear more and more about their different pasts. 

One dd has stories so comical that no one could make them up – she was clearly loved, cherished, and spoiled by all who came in contact with her.  Her enthusiasm for life is hard to resist, and even those who would notice her visible differences are quickly diverted by her winning personality.  She is a force to be reckoned with, so any attempts at mocking would have likely resulted in the mocker’s quick demise.  But there was evidently little of that, and she possesses a confidence born of nurturing and love.  How they must miss her!

 Our other child had a much different experience.  When we heard her speak fondly of those she missed, we promised to take her back to visit.   But shortly after returning home, she refused to speak her former language – even to friends.  Yesterday, out of nowhere, the heartbreaking details of her past emerged through sobs and tears.  She expressed terror that she might have to return. Our sweet natured girl had suffered at the hands of one who was supposed to protect her, but she had been afraid to speak out for fear of worse.  Her visible differences were used as an excuse for violence and mocking, and her only reprieve was in a few protectors and school.

So things are not always what they seem, and I would caution parents to follow the lead of a child who may not be telling the whole story at first. While she had loving people in her life, they were unable to protect her from those whose cowardly anger was vented on a defenseless child.  Our good intentions in keeping her past alive had caused her anxiety and worry for the last several months – the last thing she needed after years of pain and vigilance.   As she firmly states, “My life is here now.” 

She is remarkably unscathed by a past that would make most of us timid and unable to trust.  She is a sponge for affection and wants so badly to please –something she was unable to do for those in her former life.  We are awed by her resilience and optimism and believe she will accomplish anything she puts her mind to.  We now understand the compelling call we received from God two summers ago to bring this child home.  When she now spontaneously blurts out, “I’m so happy living here,” we know she really means, “ I feel so safe, secure, and permanent living here.”

Yesterday, we received the incredible news that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this child was not affected by the genetic syndrome we had been told was so likely.  It was a miracle, and she was cleared of all medical worries for the future.  We think it is the beginning of a new life of blessings, “beauty for ashes,” that God has in store for this brave girl.  

 If your heart is calling you to a child, consider it may be because of great need – regardless of the difficulties of finances, fear of the unknown, and impossibility of their SN or your current situation.  It may be an answer to a child’s prayer.  Listen to that call and trust God to work out the details – and deliver that child from a lifetime of loneliness.  

Blessings, Kim

Monday, September 10, 2012

6 months home

We are settling into a normal but busy life.  The girls are pictured above with Rachel when she got her ears pierced on Saturday.  Katie really wanted to get hers pierced, but I had to check with the doc for both her and Jenny since they've both had open heart surgery and I was afraid they'd need antibiotics.  But the doc said no - so back we went to Claires today.

Jenny kept saying, "I'm so 'cited, Mom.  It's just so 'citing." (meaning excited. :) ) And no, they didn't do it for half price since she only got one ear least we'll have an extra earring for her prosthetic ear when we get it.

 Katie was a trooper - but Jenny needed to hold my hand.  It's interesting how Jenny is so self sufficient, yet more like a younger girl with many things.  She's very frightened of medical things - despite of, or perhaps as a result of, her early hospitalizations for open heart surgeries.  She needs to be reassured all the time, and still doesn't quite trust our love.  She gets very excited when she writes a composition well enough for a sticker on her book - she never got those early grade rewards.

She gets stickers for obvious care and effort in her 3 sentence compositions each day.  She enjoys this basic work and drawing the pictures - even though she's able to read fairly high level material in her native language - including Tom Sawyer.   I found out why she was behind in school:  apparently many schools would not accept an orphan.  It took her foster mother 2 years to find one that would accept her.  She said they were very nice to her at that school.

Sarah is super confident - as you can tell from this pic:

Hands are always on hips - and she walks like she owns the world.  She loves 1st grade and improved so much in reading this summer that she won't qualify for the Reading Recovery program at her school. (bummer) She is barrels of fun and finds friends wherever she goes.  Jenny is much more insecure at home - and has dealt with a lot of rejection and hurt in her life due to her visible differences.  She tries to control everything and everyone around her - which gets on my nerves since that's MY issue, lol!  Funny how God sends you kids with your own issues - even if you weren't the ones to relay them!  Homeschooling has been perfect for her - giving her confidence and the closeness that she needs.

One interesting thing is that neither girl will speak Chinese anymore - and honestly seem befuddled with both languages right now.  They were very eager to speak to Chinese friends when we arrived home, but are now so immersed in English that they're thinking in this language.  I think they'll do better in a few months as they get the two separated in their brains.

I love these girls and almost weep when I think that we may have missed finding them a world away.  The boy in my last post - along with many others - is another one of these treasures waiting for a family to bless. (ok - and occasionally annoy - haha!)  They're precious, they're God's children, and so much fun to get to know.   Four miracles in our lives - most people never even get one. 

Blessings, Kim

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Looking for a family...

     I have received a final "no" from my hubby - so I'd like to make a plea for someone to come forward for this child.  He has been waiting for FOUR AND A HALF YEARS on the shared list (and many agency lists) and his only special need is a family.  He's smart, athletic, positive, extroverted, and happy - just desperately wants and needs a mom and dad.  He likes Basketball, Ping Pong, and fishing.  He has won numerous awards for excellence at school - he just shines.

     There is video of him and several updates - all talking about his successes in school, many friends, and sweet "tenderhearted" personality.  Unfortunately, his file will return to the shared list of 2,000+ names on Monday - and he will be lost in the multitudes of orphans needing families.  He has until August of 2013 to find a family.  After that, his file will be closed, and he will move forward in life alone - never having the chance for a family - for his own dad and mom.  

     Will adopting a 13 year old be easy?  Of course not.  Will learning a new language and culture at 13 be hard for him?  Of course it will!  But compared to a lifetime of loneliness, these challenges pale in comparison.  God has called us to be His hands and feet to orphans and widows - to make a difference in the lives of others.  Adoption changes lives - but mostly for the families receiving these beautiful children.  This young man is a blessing waiting for someone willing to take a leap of faith - could it be you?

Blessings, Kim

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.  
Psalm 127:3

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pajama School

     School started last week - just a few subjects that the kids were really excited about - and of course, they wanted to do the first day in their pajamas, lol!   Big brother, a homeschool alumni, stopped by to see their work and offer suggestions. 

     This year, the girls are doing a State Notebook and having a great time learning about their home state!  They get to use tracing paper for drawing pictures, the computer for printing pictures, and the encyclopedia for finding out all kinds of interesting tidbits about our colorful past and present.

     Big bro's are kind of "state experts" as they had a tremendous interest in geography, the east coast states, and presidents when they were homeschooling.  One of our state mottos, "While I breathe, I hope" is my favorite, while the other, "Prepared in mind and resources," is a good start to the school year!

     Even Sarah joined in with a little coloring and her own special book.

     Our intellectual dog leads the way with reading time - beginning with Treasure Island and later the Disney movie to finish the day.  Arrrgh, matey, we had a fun day!

     The Math video classes start next week when our energetic little one begins school and we'll have more quiet time.   She is still in need of ESL classes and other resources (like PE!) to help her with her reading skills and energy level, so she will be working with our beloved "Mrs. McKenzie" at the local school.   She and her new sister still clash daily and we believe that this will work best for both their schooling needs.  The older girls are very excited about learning American History this year and so we've already started this class as well.  It's fun to have such interested students!  We'll be focusing on servant's hearts and living at peace with others this year in Bible.  My study need more than theirs, lol!  Romans chapter 12 is our place to start.

Blessings to all for a wonderful new school year!  Kim

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hidden Treasures

     This morning, I woke up to this picture on my phone.  While we're all used to adoption photos, this child is special to me because of her story.  She had waited for a very long time on the special needs list, her file pictures the only record of the years passing.   One day, I posted her picture to our local homeschooling loop - right before Church - with my family clamoring to get out the door.  It was with reluctance, as I thought an older child would not get much interest from our mostly young group of families.

     A few days later,  a young woman called me on my phone while we were at the pool.  She and her husband had never adopted before, had two very young boys,  but she described how God was pulling her heart towards this child.  I thought they were an unlikely family - but talked for a long time with her about the process.  I think I may have even mentioned some younger children to her - and figured I'd never hear from them again.  I was wrong.

     Carrie and her hubby have faithfully walked through a difficult process, changing their family dynamic in a huge way from early elementary to the challenges of teen years.   What looked like an impossible idea was made possible by one young family's obedience to the gently nudging voice of God.  I will never forget my own lack of faith about this child's chances, and Carrie's simple faith that God would make it work.   We daily fail to recognize the power of God to move if we will just have a mustard seed of faith - and confidence in His care and provision.   In the words of an ancient man: "Oh, Lord!  Help my unbelief!"

     Their daughter's 14th birthday is this week - the day she would have lost all hope of a family.  Her future possibilities are now unlimited, she will know the warmth of a family forever,  she has the protection and security of a mother and father.  Most of all, she will know that she is a cherished child of God - created for His glory - special and loved by Him from the day she was born.  In the words of Paul:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.   Ephesians 3:20-21

Blessings, Kim

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Loneliness and Quiet time

Well - the ankle is getting better - but I've got a long way to go.  There's no doubt that God orchestrated this event, and I'm listening carefully to anything He's trying to teach me during this recovery.  As I've posted before, my kids have been huge blessings and have really stepped up to the plate with cooking, shopping, etc.  Once I was fairly self sufficient, I sent them off on our annual trip to Maine so at least some of their summer could be salvaged.  The big guys stayed here to work and drive me to physical therapy, etc.

So Dad packed up four girls and the dog and made the trek north to cooler weather.

They're having a great time playing games and hanging out at Nana's house.  In the meantime, I have safe run (read limp) of the house without doggies and kiddos to trip me up during these wobbly weeks of rehab.

But I'm lonely for the noise and chaos, and thankful I have my big kids here with me.

I've had more time to rest and connect with the adoption community again - and can't wait to follow along with many local friends who are headed out to meet their children.  I also came across this terrific boy while reading through my friend Annie's website update:

He's bright, positive, and really wants a family.  He likes fishing, basketball, and ping pong.  He was recently moved from his foster family of 5 years back to the orphanage - and he misses them terribly.  His best friend is very similar and even more dangerously close to aging out.  His pic is below and he has until March to find a family.  His hope is "to become a useful person" in the future.

Perhaps all this seat time of recovery was just to give me time to pray for these two guys.  My ankle will heal, but a lifetime without a family is a hurt that never goes away.  Please join me in praying for them to find families before it's too late.  Prayer is the most powerful tool we have to change the world for better.

Blessings, Kim 

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights. 

Habukkuk 3:19

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Story and a Call to Action

As I logged on and saw my last post and all the cute dresses, I realized that some might think about how our girls are more materially well off then they were in China.  While that is the case for most orphans, they care very little for the goodies and gifts that come their way.  The joy in their faces comes from belonging – having a mom and a dad, forever brothers and sisters, grandmas, grandpas and even cousins.  The security of knowing that love surrounds them on every side – no matter what happens – and that they are cherished by many.  I don’t think we can quantify that feeling – and most of us take that status for granted - every day.

Today, I read about a boy who feels the pain of not belonging – who knows he is missing the love of a family – and who desperately longs for this attachment.  His name is Joseph, and his story is here:

 “Joseph is losing hope” is how it begins, and his story is heartbreaking.  He is well cared for in a loving foster care community – but he is aware that of what he is missing – and aches for what most of us take for granted. 

Family love.
Family ties.

There are so many children, some in adequate or even good circumstances, others in horrific conditions, but all longing only for the simple status of “cherished child.”  They don’t need or wish for entertainment, toys, or material comfort – just a mom and dad.  There are so many who can be just that for a child – so many living on the edge of blessings  - hesitant to take that first step.  Read Joseph’s story and make up your mind to be that family for one of these children – here at home or abroad.    

Do it for Joseph.   

Love, Kim

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4th Party pics

We celebrated the 4th at Nanny's house and she had it decorated beautifully.  As usual, the neighborhood party crowd pulled out the stops and helped with creative ideas.  Mary M. is a party powerhouse!  Pat and Sam brought their famous watermelon boat. :)

I created a perfect little "invalid outpost" at a chair and ottoman, and enjoyed talking to the crowd one by one!

I ventured out to get a few pics of the kids, cousins, and action outside

And the crowd slowly grew as Nanny's  golf crew showed up

We had a delicious dinner with all sorts of goodies - but our favorite is always my Chocolate Trifle. We left it there since we are always tempted to eat it for breakfast!!  The boys and I enjoyed talking to Mill and Rosalie who have even better stories than most fighter pilots!  He's an OB/GYN who specializes in high risk births and has researched all over the world - including in places during revolutions and danger! They are amazing people and fellow fliers - the South American stories were best - you guys lived on the edge!

My sister and her husband have a penchant for dangerous living and made some fireworks guy's day by buying the place out.  They lit off hundreds of fireworks on the golf course, and we could see the neighbors' shows as well - it was wonderful!  (other than wondering if I was sitting in fire ants or if the gator in the pond was awake - nothing like our hostile southern environment)  Uncle Bob, Connor, and Cole ran around with flashlights and walkie talkies - it was almost as fun to watch them run like crazy as to see the fireworks!  Aunt Kristen bought glow sticks to complete the fun - the girls had a great time on their first Independence Day.

Thank you to the many service men and women who make our wonderful life possible and give us our priceless freedom.   We are so grateful for your sacrifices - especially those who are away from family during the holidays.  And thank you to Nanny and friends for all their hard work in making everyone's day so special and to my parents opening their home to such a crowd.  What a fun night!

Thanking God for our wonderful country and praying that we can continue in freedom - not using liberty for license - but for goodness to those who need our help.  The orphan, the destitute, the exploited, and the hurting in this world.  God Bless the USA!

Love, Kim