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Hope Spoken

On: Friday, April 11, 2014

I had the great privilege of attending Hope Spoken in March. It truly was a beautiful weekend. I went into the weekend a bit concerned about leaving Katee for the first time since her adoption, having no idea what speakers I had signed up for or even when the conference actually started. My main reason for going to Hope Spoken was to support my sweet friend Jess as she shared her story of blessing and God's faithfulness in her life.

It was a joy to see God give her the strength to stand up in front of a room full of women and share what true blessing really is. To hear her share that God is good and faithful even in the midst of her deepest suffering. Her life is a beautiful testimony and I'm so thankful for her.

It was also pretty amazing to spend four days with my friends. We had lots of late night heart talks and that is always a good thing.

As I reflected on the parable of the talents this past week in Matthew 25, I couldn't help but think of all the women I met in Dallas a few weeks ago. In the passage, the talents represent God's truth (the Bible and knowledge of Jesus Christ). God has entrusted the Gospel to His servants. "Every individual is born into different circumstances, has different levels of understanding about God and different opportunities. God holds us responsible for the treasure He gives us. We are to use the opportunities He gives, grow in our knowledge of Him and give His treasure to the world" (BSF  Lesson 25 notes on Matthew).

The women I met and listened to at Hope Spoken were women who translated their Bible knowledge into living experience. They loved Jesus and desired to help others know Him too. Many of these women have experienced great pain/trial. Loss of a child, infertility, infidelity, childhood abuse, etc. All of these women could have become bitter. They could have chosen to turn from the Lord and leave their Bibles on the shelf. They could have chosen to reject God's goodness; but instead, their hearts chose to believe and trust in God. They spoke of a loving God who sent His Son to die for us and ultimately each woman chose to believe in who God is over what they felt.

I left the conference encouraged. Refreshed. God has truly designed all our earthly experiences--even the hard, sorrowful seasons--to rid us of our fleshly desires and prepare us for our glorious future with Him. We all have a story to tell!

And this little girl? She did just fine without Mommy for four days (probably because Daddy took off work and took amazing care of our babies). I received the best welcome home hugs and kisses and squeals. I don't think I could have left Katee for that long even in January, but so much healing has happened in her heart recently and I give Him all the glory for that. She is seriously a different little girl. More at peace and filled with a genuine joy. The Lord is so faithful to restore "the years the locusts have eaten" (Joel 2:25). So thankful!


On: Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sweet Katee turned three on February 10th. I really can't believe my baby is three. I've had a baby in the house for five years and feel like we are beginning a new stage . . . and while it is good and beautiful, it's really different.

Katee is such a big girl now. Naps are a thing of the past, although she seems to enjoy an hour or two of rest time in the afternoon.

At 3, she's all about changing clothes a dozen times a day, reading piles of books, and tending to the needs of her "babies" and stuffed animals. She is extremely nurturing and loves to hold our friends' babies. It's pretty sweet.

She is constantly talking and narrating as she bounces around the house pushing a stroller, shopping cart, or some other wheeled contraption. In fact, it really bothers her that her sister doesn't talk much in the mornings. I'll often hear, "Mommy! Calla not talking." I guess she can't fathom that some people do not need to need to talk ;) Thankfully, she is happy to have a conversation with her breakfast food.

 We are so in love with our treasured daughter. God is doing a work in her life and it is a privilege to see her grow and blossom in our family. A little over a month ago she was really struggling emotionally. I was struggling, too, and our days were honestly pretty hard. However, the past several weeks she has transformed into a joyful, content little girl. I'm not sure what caused the change, but I know there is power in prayer and feel like God is bringing healing. I know there will be hard weeks in the future, but getting to see a glimpse of who this little one truly is . . . that is a gift I treasure.

She is such  joy and we all love her to pieces!!!! Happy third birthday, Katee-girl!

Out of the "safe boat"

On: Thursday, January 16, 2014

As I read my Bible Study Fellowship notes this afternoon explaining Matthew 14 (when Peter walks on the water toward Jesus), I am encouraged on an especially exhausting day of parenting.

A little over a year ago, our family climbed out of our "safe boat" and adopted a child. My heart is for the orphan. I LOVE adoption and could talk about it for hours. However,  these little people carry a lot of hurt and pain inside of them--more than I ever thought was possible. (After all, Katee was not even two when she came home.) Please remember that when there is adoption there is always pain. Something happened that wasn't right in a child's life.

Many of our days are filled with great joys. To see our youngest daughter bloom and learn to love and laugh (and walk!) is beyond precious. It's a front row seat to watch God transform and redeem a life. Other days, like today, are days where the pain is raw. The meltdowns? They are around every corner. Honestly, I can tend to feel upset about how her pain is affecting our otherwise "predictable" day. 

Today, the storm was real and I took comfort in this: "Perhaps, as He did with the disciples, Jesus sent [us] into this storm so [we] would see the great security of His presence with [us]. . . . The moment Peter looked away from Jesus, he lost touch with Jesus' power to do the humanly impossible moment by moment. Peter had no power of his own" (BSF notes Lesson 15, p. 5). 

I have no power of my own either, that is for sure. Oh, to see Christ as Lord and keep focused on Him! Jesus still invites us to come and do the impossible by trusting Him. He knows the circumstances involved with adoption and He would not have called us if He didn't intend to bring us through. He won't let us sink.

Today I am challenged to take His outstretched hand and do something hard: love selflessly and hurt alongside my daughter as she heals.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

On: Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The gift of walking.

On: Tuesday, December 24, 2013

After Katee showed us that she could walk a few weeks ago, she decided to go on a walking strike. My stubborn princess would not walk without a fight. Therapy was terrible. She refused to obey her therapist and do the exercises and either manipulated situations or sat and cried puddles of tears. It was really quite trying for all involved. Setbacks are never easy.

Thankfully, four days ago things changed. Katee looked at me intently after lunch and said, "I want walk." I tried not to make a big deal about it in front of her, but inside I was jumping for joy at the thought our daily struggle of walking practice (aka bribery session) being over.

I sat down on the kitchen floor and Katee walked back and forth between me and Ori for about 20-25 minutes. She didn't want to stop. Her walking has progressed from there. Each day she is a bit more stable on her feet. She still falls down a lot, but is able to get back up (huge!). I called Calla and Katee for lunch today and they walked into the kitchen holding hands. Cutest thing ever (and Katee kept up with Calla, who is not exactly slow and graceful!).

This video is from her 2nd day of walking. Now she is walking all over the house. Can you believe it??  This girl has taken off.

Her desire to walk is strong and she's gaining confidence--she even took several steps in the snow. I'm so, so proud of her!

Last Christmas we were preparing to serial cast her feet;  I remember thinking how awesome it would be if she would be walking by Christmas 2013. We are truly thankful for the gift of her toddling around our house this Christmas. She's so amazing.

Calla {4}

On: Monday, December 16, 2013

My sweet oldest daughter turns FOUR today. We celebrated her all weekend, and I hope she felt loved and special. This girl is really something and is growing into a beautiful little girl.

Calla is energetic and rarely still, but recently she has been asking, "Mommy, can you snuggle me?"I am soaking it in. It's worth spending an extra 10 minutes putting her to bed at night so that we can snuggle. She strokes my hair and talks/giggles as we lay side by side in her bed. I treasure our time together.

Sometimes I stare at her, and I remember all the hours I spent sitting beside her isolette while she was in the NICU. I wondered what her future held and who my little baby would grow up to become.

She was so teeny tiny and many days too sick to hold (at least for long). I had no idea at that time what a blessing this little one would be to us as her parents. She is a treasure. (A treasure God used to open my heart to special needs adoption!)

Calla is no longer a sick baby and we thank God for healing her. It is a gift to be her parents, and we don't take her life for granted.
Today, she's healthy and strong.

She's filled with joy. Lots and lots of joy.

She puts her entire self into whatever it is she is doing.

At 4, Calla is a well-rounded individual. She loves playing trucks and hot wheels, but also loves to mother her dolls, dress-up, and dance. She enjoys music and can often be found prancing around the house performing her "ballet moves." She's pretty proud that she can stand on her toes.

She loves to take pictures with Daddy's camera. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up so she can help people. Her favorite food is roast.

Oh, sweet Calla Jayne, you are so loved. Happy birthday!


On: Thursday, December 5, 2013

I have a natural tendency to forget the wonderful things God has done for me. I can be so focused on the present, pressing "issue" that I forget His faithfulness in the past. We need reminders, don't we?

Our Bible Study Fellowship notes this week also reminded me of the importance of helping our children remember these things too.

Our kids have yet to experience God as mighty and good personally, but we as adults have. By sharing stories and memories of how God has sustained us, answered our prayers, and given us blessings throughout the previous year, we can teach them more of God's character and also nurture a grateful spirit at the same time.

One way our family remembers the things God has done for us (the fun, special, and hard times) is through our Christmas tree.
Our tree is filled with pictures that represent significant milestones: birthdays, surgeries, vacations, family, China, etc.

Waiting ]
When I see the picture ornament of Calla in the NICU, I am reminded that God was with me when I delivered a 1 lb. 15 oz. baby. He was with me when she was too sick to hold, and He was with me the glorious day she came home. (Calla loves the ornament of the picture of her in her hospital isolette and carries it everywhere. It is her reminder of how God healed her.)

More recently, God was with us in China when we were figuring out to parent and love our newest daughter. He provided all we needed and didn't stop after we came home. Still today, we daily experience some intense emotional moments that cause me to question my parenting, yet He is present and gives strength and peace. Adoption has blessed and enriched our family in many ways. We are grateful.

God answered Katee's prayer to walk. She's learning His faithfulness.

The Lord was with us when we took our first family vacation to Colorado. I smile when I remember our cabin and the memories made and bonding that occurred. (I almost forgot about all the throw-up that happened on that trip. Almost.)

That's just a sampling of the ways these photo ornaments help us remember what God has done. My kids LOVE them, and I do too. Our Christmas tree makes me smile. And more importantly, it helps me remember so that I do not forget.