Wednesday, December 1, 2010

5 months home

We arrived home from China five months ago today
with this little girl,

our newest family member.
To say that the last six months has been hard wouldn't really seem to do it justice,
but I'm not sure what else to say. It has been hard.

But it hasn't only been hard.
It's been humbling.
Emotionally exhausting.
A test of our faith.
oh did I say that already.....well I really can't say it enough.
A time of teaching.
A time of growing, learning.

It has been a blessing to welcome Jenna into our lives
and graft her into our hearts and our family.
Two weeks ago we dedicated her to the Lord at church. What an honor.

bad blogger

I know, I've been a really bad blogger.
I do really enjoy getting these memories down to look back on one day, it's just that time escapes me.
But here's my attempt to catch up.
A conglomeration post.
We've been busy with fall activities. Abby is doing competitive cheer and she is working so hard at it and having so much fun. It's been fun for us to see her really loving an activity, as that hadn't ever happened up until now. Her team recently had 2 competitions and got 1st place in both for their division! Abby got to bring the trophy home from one of them for a visit so that was exciting for her!

It's turning into winter here in the midwest and this is how I found Emily one morning recently.

It made me laugh, and then run to grab the camera. I can't say enough what a riot she is. She has a big personality for such a little girl. A great sense of humor and makes me smile and laugh constantly.

Thanksgiving has come and gone already and we had the pleasure of hosting some good friends for the day and an overnight.

Our kids were very excited to spend time with their kids and I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel the same about spending time with their family as well. We had a great meal,

good conversation, the men had football and naps, and Sara and I had each otherfor company in themiddle-of-the-night Black Friday shopping. We are so blessed! ;)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 days of giveaways

Ni Hao Y'all

Stefanie at Ni Hao Y'all apparently wants to get an early jump at this fast-approaching Christmas season. She's starting off right for all of us, with 30 days of giveaways!
Head over and leave a comment to get entered for some sweet prizes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday snapshot: spooky ooky

Ni Hao Y'all

Halloween this year was again a success. And we made Bakerella's Cake Pop ghosts, which contributed to it being so successful!

The big 3 chose their own costumes and after convincing Emily that she didn't want to be minnie mouse, the littles were bugs together. And cute ones at that.

The weather was decent, though a bit colder than I'd prefer, but I certainly acknowledged it as better than snowing on our begging night.
Jenna was clueless. She looked darling but I'm sure she couldn't grasp what or why we were doing this. She can't say 'trick or treat' but she didn't hesitate to grab candy from the bowls offered, and held it tightly once in her grasp, which wasn't a surprise! She did sign a 'thank you' when I asked her to, and then happily retreated back to the wagon under the warm blanket. Emily would have none of that. She had to run along and keep up with the big 3!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

come alive

Brace yourself, I'm feeling wordy today!

Remember back in May? We had a Mark Schultz concert/fundraiser at our church. The proceeds helped us bring Jenna home, donated a bunch of stuff to her orphanage, and helped the new ministry our church has started, Grace for Orphans. To look back on it now, the entire event and night seems surreal. It is one of my favorite memories of my life thus far. I was surrounded by people I many of whom helped to make the event happen. We stood in the foyer as a group (all the volunteers and some church staff) before we opened the doors that night and held hands in a huge circle (of about 40 people) and prayed. We asked God to use the night to bless the orphans of the world, we prayed specifically for Jenna, and we prayed for the event to reach the people who were about to come through the doors for Him. I cried during that prayer. It was so humbling.
Anyways, God has continued to use Mark Schultz's music to speak to me. My favorite song at the time of the concert was He Is. Unfortunately, it wasn't included in his set that night. I gave him a hard time about it afterwards and he sang a little of it to me then... amazing. Anyways, a few short weeks later when I was in China, I listened to his music on my ipod. That song came on while we were on the drive out to the Great Wall - in very rural China, still sleep deprived from jet lag, completely emotional and scared to death in this country feeling so alone, watching the landscape change out the window as we drove further out of the city; I cried as he sang the words, (and I'm totally cutting in and out of the song the parts that really struck me-but you should go listen to the whole thing yourselves!)

"Father let the world just fade away, let me feel your presence in this place....
Lord I've never been so weary, how I need to know you're near me,
Father let the world just fade away......
even when it feels like there is no one holding me...
be still, my soul, HE IS."

"Father let your holy spirit sing, let it calm this storm inside of me,
As I stand amazed, lift my hands and say He is, He was, He always will be,
He lives, He loves, He's always with me.....
be still, my soul, through every fear, and every doubt, in every tear I shed,
down every road, I'm not alone, no matter WHERE I AM,

Isn't that incredible! Well I hadn't heard the song since coming back home and then when I did, I cried all over again and felt like I was back in China again seeing that same landscape change before my eyes. It sounds delusional, I know.....but I just think it's a little treasure God gave me!

Anyways, now the song that is speaking to me is Mark Schultz's Come Alive. And I DO listen to other artists!
This song is all about (I think, anyways) how God's love can make you truly come alive. But I hear it through the filter of Jenna and all that she has endured, and never experienced in her short 2-year life. I have no idea still, what her personality really is; she is very serious, rarely playful. Usually just sits alone in the living room, not playing with toys but her hands, it's been very hard, and very sad. She still doesn't trust me. Our therapist says she has learned from the adults in her life that adults are not reliable and do not meet her needs, so it's just going to take some time. Maybe a long time....

Anyways, with that filter in these lyrics....and then better yet, go listen to the song!

Whatever happened to your childlike wonder,
whatever happened to your heart felt faith?
You used to live your life with such a hunger
whatever happened to those days?

Your smile used to tell a beautiful story
But every life will make a few wrong turns
But now you hide your heart,
Afraid that you're too far beyond repair, oh but I am here

So bring your broken heart to me,
lift it up and you will see
that our love can make a heart that's barely beating,
come alive, come alive.

My love is stronger than your weakest moment
My grace is greater than your worst mistakes
No matter where you've been,
I'm waiting at the end of every road

So close your eyes, let me love you,
I'm by your side, let me love you
so close your eyes, let me love you,
I'm by your side...

Bring your broken heart to me
Lift is up and you will see
That our love can make a heart that's barely beating
Come alive

And even when it all goes wrong
There's no such thing as too far gone
And our love can make a heart that's barely beating
Come alive, Come alive


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

on hiatus

I have been on hiatus from blog world. Not purposefully or for a lack of things to report. I have many a blog post forming in my mind...but I'm sorting through some things and can't seem to get anything down clearly just yet.
Anyways, for the journal that this serves for me, I wanted to get some pictures up from our recent trip to Minnesota. We went to a friends' wedding and got to hang out with some fun people for the weekend. Since we were there, we made a weekend of it, and took in the zoo, the lake, and children's museum. Then we danced the night away at the reception. Literally. I absolutely love to dance with my kids. Seriously, one of my most favorite things.
Wish I had pictures of that to post (or not!). I hardly took any pictures all weekend. Very unlike me. Just soaked it all into memory instead. And had a great time enjoying my family and others we love that are like family.
More blogging to come soon as the fog lifts, so to speak.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2 months home

Two months ago today, we arrived home with Jenna.
It feels like she's been here soooo much longer, but you know how it is when you're in the midst of something hard and time seems to drag on. that's about where we're at.

Friends of mine who have seen Jenna a few times since being home tell me she has made so much progress. It's harder to see from the inside I think.
In some regards, she's come so far, and in other areas I wonder if she's progressed at all. All part of the process, I'm sure.

She is understanding a lot of English. I know this because she does what we tell her, most of the time. Things like: get your shoes, put them away (to which she just throws them in the mudroom- just like all the rest of us ;) ), come here, stand up, sit down, time for bed (she goes to her bed), hug, and kiss.

She and the kids are doing fantastic together. She is definitely more bonded to them than to Jason or I. I keep feeling lately like she just won't give in to us. Not sure what that's about but I suspect it has to do with the fact that she's never had any reason to trust the adults in her life. She and Emily are very good together. They have moments here and there with sharing, but they also share hugs and kisses. It has been so humbling to see how easily the kids love her.

Her language is still very lacking. The speech therapist told me this week that if she had a language at all to begin with, even if it were chinese, she would be able to pick up another language more quickly. We're more and more convinced that she had no language at all upon arrival home and the sounds she makes are very much indicative of that. Baby babble is about all she's got. She is starting to mimic sounds that I make if she watches me make the sound first. She does have a few signs: eat, more, please, and we're working on all-done and thank-you. Most use is regarding food, which also continues to be her biggest struggle area.

Anyways, please continue praying for her heart and mine! There have been some struggles in this that I just didn't expect, which being the planner I am, have made them somewhat harder for me to deal with. But I know it will all come in time. And I thought the waiting was over! Ha!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

first day

A new year for everyone has begun! They started last week, and it's going really well. Each of the kids like their teacher so, so much (which makes a world of difference). The first day Ben got in the car after school and told me he couldn't wait for the next day. I looked at him, surprisedly, and asked, "really? why?" He replied, "because I have the most awesome teacher ever...." That's pretty great for a fifth grader!
So yes, 5th, 3rd and 1st grades. And one more year home with two littles. They'll go to preschool next year. I'm already looking forward to it! ;)

Here's the classic first day photos:


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

matthew's turn

Though our life feels quite consumed by Jenna lately, there are 4 other terrific kids who are anything but inactive.
Wanted to talk a little about Matthew today and give him a turn to shine.
While Ben and I were away in China, Matthew stepped into the role of oldest sibling. Normally, Matthew is a very laid-back, mellow, almost oblivious kid. He's very sweet, just marches to the beat of his own drummer, as we like to say.... off in his own little world. A quality I wish I had sometimes ;)
Anyways, while we were gone, Matthew totally stepped it up and filled that responsible, oldest child role. He was a huge help with the other kids, and to Jason too as he would remind him of things! I was so proud to hear that! Maybe he's less oblivious than we think!
So after our return, Matthew got to play in one more tournament. It was kind of like his 'state,' since his team didn't go.
Matthew played great! He pitched well. He played second base and had an amazing running grab of a line drive that was hit in the gap that he stretched across his body and caught for the game winning/ending out. So fun to see him enjoying the game that our family loves so much!
Time is flying by. Only about 2 more weeks until the big 3 go back to school. I hope you're living up your summer!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday snapshot: one month home

Ni Hao Y'all

Yesterday marked one month since I arrived home with Jenna.

She's gone from a little girl who looked like this when we met

to one who looks like this with only a little effort

Don't get me is still a very slow going process. But these glimpses of hope I see through her assure me that she is cracking open a little more....a day at a time.

I have progressed in this as well.
I have a better perspective than ever from God's vantage point. About how we all, like orphans, have few, if any, redeeming qualities to offer. Yet He redeems anyways, like I'm trying to with Jenna.
And how for all those years before I knew Him, he was just pleading with me, "i'm safe, just love me....just trust me..." Just like I'm trying to do with Jenna.

Praise God for redemption.
Isaiah 61:3 "…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."