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Testing. Testing. Is this thing on?

Summer is wrapping up to a close. It’s been lovely, busy, fun, tiring & sunny. And we have obviously taken a break from blogging…

Hoping to do some posts soon as the kids go back to school.

Here are some summertime pictures. Soak up the last bits of your summer!

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Wow friends! I am overcome with thankfulness!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
YOU gave & together we can purchase 16 special baby bottles for the precious little children at Shanghai Healing Home. Nearly $500 was given in total for them. THEM. The least of these. Sweet little children just like the sweet little children in your home or the ones you know… Only you or I are able to regularly invest in and love on the sweet little children in our homes or the ones we come into contact with frequently. THEM. Thank you for loving on them. Those that don’t have a forever family. {not yet.} And how I pray that THEY will all know the love of a family. That they will learn of Jesus’ love for them.

Thank you for your kindness to them and to me. Best birthday present!

We are blessed to live in a pretty cool neighborhood. We enjoy it very much. It’s pretty “diverse.” Although sometimes it might be comforting, we aren’t necessarily surrounded by people who share the same backgrounds or viewpoints that we do, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t friends. We love where God has placed us at this time & that he gives us opportunities to act out what it means when he calls us to be salt & light. (And we REALLY love our neighbors!!) One of the cool things our neighborhood does is have a community-wide yard sale event every year. We had not had the opportunity to participate or experience it before. This year there were approximately 250 houses that had yard sales & its estimated that about 15,000 people come to the event. We had our first yard sale this weekend as part of the event. We hoped to raise a lil lump to start us off on our adoption fund. I honestly prayed (selfishly, but boldly) that we would be able to make $1000. I thought that seemed like a pretty impossible amount for a yard sale. I mean most people I talk to make a couple hundred bucks. $500 would be a great yard sale. When we added up at the end of the day the total was $1000.95. I laughed out loud. Thank you Lord! Thank you for your provision, thank you for your encouragement, & thank you for sustaining us.

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So that lump plus what we can squeak out of the budget this month plus some extra from some extra work Nick did gets us almost there for that first $2500 fee. I’m filling out paperwork to begin a lil work as soon as possible, but regardless I think by next month we’ll have that covered & get to move on to the “home study.” Hooray! Praise The Lord with us!

Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Part 3…Meet the Wickershams. A pretty incredible family. Miss Megan & I grew up in the same church. She was just enough older than me that she got to be a “chaperone” as a college student for our high school youth trip. God used Megan to show me how “real” as in “relationship” he was & wanted to be with me. I remember her telling me that God must surely smile when he looks down on me. That was really impactful to a young girl, especially coming from such a cool young woman.

Fast forward a few years. Megan graduated from college & began teaching English to college students in China. I believe she initially planned to only go for a year or two, but God had other plans. She has lived there since! (And visited “home” several times along the way.)

A few more years & Megan marries Mark. A soccer player/coach & teacher from Megan’s home state-Indiana. Then they go back to China. While there, they have added three beautiful children to their family through adoption over the past ~9 years.

First came Grace who is very close in age to our Will. Then came Rose who is a couple years older than Grace. And most recently came little Josiah towards the beginning of this year. Each one beautiful, special, & loved.

After Rose came there was a point in time where Megan had some health issues that needed to be addressed in the states. This meant an extra long stay for she & the girls. Since Megan’s parents live in the town that we lived in (before we moved to TN), we got to see them a lot. We loved that. Especially Clara. They would come over for play dates & Clara would call Grace & Rose her sisters. Even when they left, she’d call them her sisters. What a sweet time. Love grew. The girls would play & Megan would so patiently, so sweetly, so lovingly answer my questions about adoption as God began to stir this in my heart.

Slowly I began to ask God. How am I called to care for “the orphan” as it commands in his book? I know he doesn’t call everyone to adopt. But whatever he calls me to, I want him to find me obeying.

There’s more I could say about adoption & the term “special needs” & the Wickershams… But maybe we’ll save that for another time. They inspire us to love others as Christ & to be obedient to his call-whether halfway around the globe or in your own house. You can follow Megan’s blog to learn more about their family & enjoy photos & snippets of their life in China here

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Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Another story. Part 2:
Meet the Hart family. When you picture a sweet southern family, the Harts are what you see in your mind. When we moved to our new city, they were some of the most welcoming. We nearly immediately realized that both our families had started the adoption process (when we started the first time) for international adoptions. Their application was to Africa & ours to China, but I definitely felt that our paths crossed as part of God’s plan-stirring each other, encouraging one another. They have been so helpful to us in explaining different parts of the process, the “how” of details like where papers get signed, sharing their own experiences.

The timeline for the Harts has been long. They had a move that caused delay in paperwork, usual (but long) waiting through different steps of the process, then a change in country (though still in Africa) due to circumstances out of their control. But as Mary Craig has shared with me, God has sustained them through it. Even when they were matched with one little guy who was later claimed by a family member in his country. This was a very hard experience to become attached to a child, call him your own & have your other children call him their brother and when that was lost…it was such a deep loss that it felt like a death. However, they trusted in God’s plan, knowing that it was a great thing for that child to be with their birth family. Knowing God loved that child and knowing God loves them. And now they are so close! They were matched again. The country they are adopting from requires two visits to complete the process. They have just returned from their first trip where momma & daddy got to meet & love on their new son! Soon they’ll return to him & bring him home to his forever family. What a picture. A living example & experience of Jesus’ love for us. Though we are/were alone, orphaned, cast out…he comes & invites us into his family. To love us. To teach us. To guide us.

John 14:18
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
(ESV)

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It has been on our hearts for some time that we’d like to adopt a child into our family. We actually had begun the process before we found out about my benign tumor last year. I think I started the application in September of 2011. (Almost 2 years ago!) Then we were led through, by God’s grace, the diagnosis, surgical removal & recovery from an acoustic neuroma. A little more than a year after completion of a series of three surgeries, I am fully recovered & we began to whisper around the house about the possibility of adoption again.

After some research & prayer, we decided to apply again, but this time through a different agency. Honestly, the first time the application took a long time to complete & a while to hear about its status. I really thought this would be similar. There are different processes, but we completed our application in 3 days. Then some additional paperwork was needed to confirm my health status due to the surgeries a year ago-again…I thought it would take a few days & miraculously it was completed in a few hours. So today the agency called me & officially approved our application! We are very excited & wanted to share this news with you! What this means is that we qualify to adopt from China & can move onto the next steps of “home study” (a social work lengthy document about our family) & the “dossier” (the formal paperwork that is submitted to the Chinese authorities.) We are thrilled & a little surprised about the swiftness. However, we thought that it would take more time & thus we’d have more time for saving… If The Lord wills it, it will be. This we are certain is true. Please be in prayer for us as we seek his best. I am seriously considering finding a job for the hours when Fritz will be in preschool soon. Please pray that I would find something that is flexible to our family’s needs.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

August 2nd 2005… The day my first baby was born. He was a little guy, 6 lb 6 oz, 19 3/4 inches long. But boy was he big in my heart.

A sweet little bundle

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Fairly recently Will unloaded the dishwasher for me. Then he decided he wanted to organize the silverware drawer. As he meticulously arranged the forks in their different sizes, he discovered the small plastic container towards the back of the drawer. In it lives all the little medicine cups & syringes, etc. Will pulls out a syringe, holds it out to me & says with tilted head, “What is this for?! I know it’s not for shots…” I explained that they are used to give medicines to babies like Tylenol, etc. Will, “Well why do WE have them?” (In a ridiculous tone) And I told him, “Because we used to have babies. And they grew. And they grew and they grew.”

And that’s a true story folks. He grew. He is still growing in stature, in intelligence, in learning what it is to love, and in his faith in Jesus. Please join me in praying for my son the same prayer I prayed over him when he was in my belly. “Lord let this boy grow to know you, to love you & to serve you.”

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Happy birthday Will! I can’t believe you are 8 years old! You could not be more loved, cherished or wanted. We thank God for granting us you as our son. XO

Wanted to share some pictures from Mother’s Day weekend. At least my mom will like to see them. πŸ˜‰

My sweet husband got me flowers

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Clara & I went Disney on Ice in our town. Was a good show & fun to watch her watch it.

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We went on our first family bike ride. Clara & Fritz were a bit cramped in the bike trailer, but it worked out for a 3.5 mile ride. Will did a great job on his bike.

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I got some new running kicks & tried them out on a 3 mile run.

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Picked my first crops from the garden: broccoli, lettuce & spinach.

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Poor Fritzy had a yucky stomach bug for a lil more than 48 hours. Being the lover he is, he shared with mom & dad & we were both pretty miserable most of the day. Luckily he’s feeling much better. Praying for a quick recovery & that his brother & sister don’t get it.

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I was blessed to read a blog post called: Mother’s Day when you aren’t quite legit. Thought I’d share the link for that hereif you are interested.

πŸ™‚

I have an old friend who does amazing things with her blog as ministry. One of the things I learned from her blog a year or two ago was that this thing called “The Cupcake Kids” existed. The Cupcake Kids started as a way for kids to support a ministry called SixtyFeet. This ministry seeks to bring hope & restoration to the imprisoned children of Africa in Jesus’ name. You can learn more at:
www.sixtyfeet.org
And:
www.thecupcakekids.org

We have wanted to do a cupcake/bake sale for the cupcake kids since, but hadn’t mustered the courage. (I am so not gifted with sales…)

This past Saturday, Clara & I were given the chance to have a bake sale at her Upward Soccer program games. We were excited to hand out flyers & sell cupcakes. It was fun to see her eagerness to help other children. She had to warm up (she’s her mother’s daughter), but once she did, she made sure all the flyers were passed out.

We hope to continue to do this every year & encourage others to join in.
Please, take the time to check out SixtyFeet. See what they are up to & educate yourself on what’s really happening in the world. Maybe you aren’t as naive as I am. Maybe you already know about the fact that there are actually children in prisons. Not for crimes. Some yes, but many…no. Go look.

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I’m sad I missed doing a post on Clara’s birthday. Hoping to catch up for that now. We are having a girl overnight trip with Granny Helen & Aunt Becca tonight/tomorrow to Atlanta for an American Girl doll store visit. This trip is intended to celebrate Clara’s 5th birthday. (Which was February 11th.) So it seems fitting to do it now.

Clara is a sweet & beautiful little girl. And I love her much! πŸ’—

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My mom used to tell me a little rhyme that I now tell Clara. And it’s also pretty accurate:
“there was a little girl with a curl,
That hung down on her forehead.
And when she was good,
she was very good.
And when she was bad,
She was horrid!

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Clara (so we both can remember), you love all things pink. Your favorite food is spaghetti. You like to play with your dolls & to play dress up. You love your brothers. You are [mostly] sweet with your little Fritzy & you adore big brother Will & want to do whatever he is doing. You are a good helper. You love your daddy so much & often pray that “he could be done with work” so he could be home with you. Honestly sweetie, I’m glad your daddy goes to work & works hard for us. And I know you will too someday. πŸ˜‰

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And oh how she has taught me what grace looks like. Over and over. I mess up a lot. I lose it. She forgives me. She loves me. She hugs me & kisses my cheek. I remember once when she was working on making a necklace. She had spent a LOT of time carefully stringing little beads on a long strand. Meticulously putting them in special order as she chose each one. She asked me to come tie the ends when she had finished. I came to do just that, but when I started grab hold of the strands…I dropped it. And all her work tumbled to the floor. I about cried. Not Clara. She sweetly said, “it’s ok mommy. I can put them back on.” I totally thought she’d start screaming, crying, throwing a fit & rightfully so as I had just ruined her beautiful creation that took her a lengthy amount of time to complete. But no-she offered me grace. Sweet grace. By no means is she a perfect child. There’s no such thing. But my maker often shows me his love for me through examples & teachings from my children. And how sweet it is.

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