Wednesday, December 19, 2012

They're Back

To wish you a Merry Christmas!!




Hope your holiday is filled with Joy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Encourage them to Go


This series has taken a little longer than I thought it would. If you have stuck with me throughout, thank you!!

This last one is one of the most important:

#10 Don't Squelch or Limit what God is doing in the lives of your Kids

At Vacation Bible School last summer, the kids were trying to raise money for a local charity. As we were getting read to go to one of the last classes, one of my kids came down with his piggy bank, proceeded to take the majority of the money out and asked if he could give it to the charity that night.

It was a sweet, generous gesture.

Would you like to know what my first thought was?

I wanted to ask him if he was sure he wanted to give that much.

I wanted to limit his generosity because it felt like he was making too big of a sacrifice, you know, so he could spend that $20 on some cheap toy instead.

Thankfully, God talked me down before I talked him down. I ended up encouraging him in his giving. Even though, to my shame, I felt the desire to hold him back.

I was talking to a dear friend whose kids are grown about this topic and asked her what they did to encourage a global perspective in their kids. She told me,

I don't think we did anything specific. But, I do think that as we saw how God was growing our kids' hearts, we tried not to squelch or limit what he was doing. As parents, when we are students of our child's design, and see what their "bent" is, we want to encourage and challenge them to explore possibilities. For example, when our daughter talked about being a missionary when she was in 5th grade, we told her we thought that was great.
Frankly this can be easier said than done. Encouraging my daughter to be a missionary is one thing. But then, watching her become one and be placed in potentially dangerous situations is another. I hope when the time comes I will encourage my kids in what God has called them to no matter what I feel on the inside, even when doing so compromises their safety.

Christians are not called to live a safe life. We are called to obey where we are called to go no matter what.

When we see a call being placed on our kids, let's don't try to hold them back. Instead, let's encourage them to go.

That last sentence was the perfect place to stop, but at the risk of creating a post that is too long I want to add one more thought before I close out this series on global perspective.

You might follow all ten of these suggestions to encourage a global perspective in your kids and one hundred more and there is a chance that your kids will not care in the slightest. We can do all the right things as parents, but in the end our kids have free will. We are not responsible for what they choose. We are responsible to faithfully parent and teach our kids God's truths.

They must choose how they will live it out.

One of my kids had a small excerpt published in our local paper. The topic was "How would you spend one million dollars?" I immediately thought of all the orphans he would help. Instead he wrote this:

"I would buy a Nerf sword and Nerf gun. I would buy lots of toys at garage sales."

It is a hilarious answer and even if the thought of giving money away did not enter his sweet head, at least he was being frugal with his purchases. We do our best to teach and broaden his perspective, but in the end it is up to him to choose.

Thanks again for following along with this little series. If you have any additional ideas to share, please do! I appreciate every comment you have made. So many of you are living this out and I am so thankful for the examples you are to me as we journey on together.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LOA!!!!!




It's been a big week at our house. 

Monday afternoon the e-mail saying our LOA had arrived dinged in my inbox. 

On Tuesday, we received, signed, marked the box that said "We accept" and overnighted that precious piece of paper back to our agency.

Just in case you aren't immersed in Chinese adoption lingo and are a little hazy on what LOA actually means... It means China has officially given us their approval to adopt Zak. It is a HUGE step forward in our adoption process and hopefully means we will be on our way to China in 10 - 14 weeks. 

Which is a good thing. A very good thing.

Up until the last week or so I have been fairly successful at keeping thoughts of our little munchkin somewhat in the back of my brain. But the closer we get to travel, the more thoughts of Zak begin to fill the front, middle and back parts of it. 

I can pretty much guarantee by the time we hop on a plane, my brain will have been overrun with thoughts of the Zak-man. In fact, I am just going to warn you now, if you have any interaction with me over the next few months and I don't seem all there, or a little scattered... it's because a large part of my brain has moved to China. 

I had a dream about him last night. I dreamed he was a quiet little man with a lot of energy. He kept us on our toes. I CAN NOT WAIT to see if my dream comes true!!

The closer we get, the harder the waiting becomes and months that normally appear to be right around the corner, suddenly feel a million miles away. 

It's all part of the process. 

The excruciating, wonderful adoption process.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Care for the Orphaned


#9 Care for the Orphaned

Adoption is definitely one way you can do this. And, one of the side-benefits of international adoption is that it brings "global perspective" into your family in an intensely personal way. Our family has become multi-cultural since adopting Suhn. We try to incorporate a little bit of China into our American life which has been fun for all of us. But, Adoption is not the only way you can care for the orphaned.  


I am going to add one more thing to her list:

Support families around you who have adopted. Have your kids help you prepare a meal for them when they bring their little one home. Talk about the adoption process with your kids and learn about the countries people you know are adopting from. Support their fundraisers. Love on their kids.

Our church family and friends have been an amazing blessing to us in the way they have accepted Suhn, loved on her and in general embraced her as one of their own. Adoption has not exactly been an easy road for me, but I guarantee you it would have been 10,000 times harder without the amazing support, love and prayers of our family, friends and church family. 

You may not be called to adopt, but if you know someone who has, your love and support can lighten their load and give you a practical way to grow compassion and a global perspective in  your kids.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gifts that Give Back (along with 6, 7, and 8)


6. Let your Kids see you Be Generous. There are so many creative and fun ways to do this, especially this time of year!

Participate in programs like Operation Christmas Child.

Lifesong for Orphans is giving out a special Advent Calendar that incorporates giving into your holiday season.

Take advantage of Christmas Catalogs that ministries like Compassion, World Vision and Lifesong put out. Consider cutting back on Christmas gifts and shopping these catalogs as a family with the money you saved.
Or ask friends to bring money to your birthday party instead of gifts and shop the catalogs as a group.

Purchase gifts that give back. We are That Family has a list of places to shop here. HKI (a charitable organization that raises funds for orphans in Suhn and Zak's province in China) is doing a fundraiser with Thirty-One Bags here until November 23. Scarlet Threads and Live Fashionable are two other organizations that will give back through your shopping support.

Whatever you do, let your kids see you do it! Take the time to turn your Christmas shopping into a teachable moment. Let your kids shop with you to fill the shoe box for Operation Christmas Child. Pour over the ministry catalogs together. This holiday season let your generosity be visible and contagious!

7. Sponsor a Child
We have sponsored children through Compassion  International for over ten years. Two of our Compassion kids have aged out of the system. When the last one did, we decided to sponsor another child, but this time let Mya pick.

We now sponsor a child in Ethiopia who is about Mya's age. Mya is in charge of writing letters to her. She knows where she lives on our map, and whenever Compassion sends updates or our sponsor child writes letters it gives an amazing, personal teaching moment for our daughter on what life is like on the other side of the world.

8. Take your Kids on a Mission Trip
Many of these ideas will involve a sacrifice of time and money, but the perspective it gives our kids is priceless. Mya traveled with me to Zambia this past spring.

Mid-way through the trip she looked up at me and said, "Mom, the world is a lot bigger than I thought."

Exposing our kids first-hand to the way others live can be a life-changing experience that will encourage a global perspective like nothing else.

Your Turn: Please share places you have found where you can purchase gifts that give back, or any other ways you encourage a global perspective in your kids.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pray


#5 Pray.

It is one of the simplest and maybe the most profound way you can encourage a global perspective in your child.

Pray as a family for the world.

Does that sound overwhelming? Or bring up questions like How?

I have a few resources that will help:

1. Window on the World is a book that shares over 90 countries and people groups with its readers. We are currently reading through it as part of our family devotions at dinner time. Each page shares the story of a child in a specific country or people group along with a little bit about that country and specific ways you can pray for each people group.

Sometimes we are consistent in our family devotions and make it through several people groups a week, and sometimes we only make it through one (or less). Consistency is not our strong suit.

2. If you don't want to purchase a book, consider creating your own prayer cards.

The Joshua Project has a webpage where they have already created prayer cards for many of the people groups around the world. All you need to do is print them off and pray!

Compassion International has a list of 52 ways to pray for children on their website (one for each week of the year). If you need the names of specific children to pray for, visit the child sponsorship pages of Compassion and World Vision.

I often underestimate the power of prayer. But the truth is, prayer is probably the most effective thing we can do to make a difference in the world. It is something our young children can do, it is something we can do together as families. We may not see the difference our prayers make this side of heaven, but I believe someday we will be amazed when we hear how those prayers were used to change the world.

Your turn:  How does your family utilize the power of prayer?

Monday, November 05, 2012

Noisy House

*Taking a short break from the Encouraging a Global Perspective Series, to be continued on Wednesday*



I live in a noisy house.

Kids calling to each other from across the house, or across a room. Footsteps walking, running, stomping, jumping.

Doors opening, doors shutting, doors slamming.

Piano practicing, dishwasher running.

Yelling, laughing, crying, chattering, cheering, whining.

Picking up, throwing down.

Asking, answering, complaining, questioning.

Sound after sound, sometimes cascading down like the waters from Niagara falls. Sometimes dribbling slowly, barely a sound.

Sometimes the noise is enough to drive me crazy. The minute the sound of the garage door opening reaches my ears (aka Kory's home) and I am ready to escape to grab a bit of quiet SOMEwhere.

Other-times, I relish the noise. It won't be here forever. I walk from room to room and realize that each noise represents this wonderful, crazy, noisy stage of life I am living. A stage I LOVE!

Some day the noises encased in this house will grow up and leave to fill another place.

Some day the only steps I hear will be mine and Kory's.

That is not a bad thing, time moves on as it was created to do.

And because that is true, I hope I will relish the noise more times than I wish it away.


*Taking a short break from the Encouraging a Global Perspective Series, to be continued on Wednesday*

Friday, November 02, 2012

Number 2,3, and 4



Moving right along.

#1 we talked about on Wednesday, encouraging a global perspective in your kids starts with encouraging a global perspective in yourself.

Numbers 2 - 4 are a little more on the practical side. Some of you have already shared your own lists in the comments. THANK YOU and keep'em coming!!

#2:  Encourage your Kids to Read or Read to Them.

Honestly, I believe this can include just about any type of book. While on the surface Dr. Seuss may not seem to encourage global thinking, a love of reading might.

(then again, one of my favorite quotes right now comes from Dr. Seuss: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, its not!")

Dr. Noble of Summit Ministries has been known to say, "If you want to be a leader, you have got to be a reader." If you instill in your kids a love of reading their perspective will enlarge.

Some books to focus them on a more global/missional mindset:  YWAM's Christian Heroes Then and Now. They have a series for more advanced readers (9 and up) and one for younger readers (4-6). Faith-building stories of men and women like George Mueller, Mary Slessor and Corrie Ten Boom.

If magazines or a website would keep your kid's attention better, Voice of the Martyrs has a website/blog for kids and Compassion has a magazine.

#3: Display a World Map

Here is ours.



We have push pins in all of the countries we have some kind of connection to, whether it be a Lifesong mission, a Compassion kid, or a missionary we know. It is a subtle thing, but there is something about seeing where you live compared to the rest of the world that gets a person thinking.

We have ours hanging in the office; the kids walk past it most days.

#4:  Find Local Events that Introduce Global Thinking

If you look for them you find them everywhere. This Sunday is Orphan Sunday, if you head to this website I  think there is a good chance you will find an event in your neighborhood this weekend. We are heading to hear a missionary family talk about their work in Guatamala tonight. Lifesong for Orphans is doing a Christmas tour with the muscial group FFH and 6 kids from the Lifesong school in Zambia (go here for the schedule). Our church put together their first (and hopefully not last) missions night last winter.

By supporting this type of event, you will introduce your kids to new cultures in a fun and interesting way.

These are all small ways you can start introducing global perspective to your kids at young ages, and hopefully as a result, you can begin to introduce the concept that the rest of the world does not live like we do in America. It takes some intentionality and time, but it is a lesson worth teaching.

I've got 6 more ways to encourage a global perspective coming, but for now, please continue to share some of yours!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It Starts with You



I am hoping to share ten ways to encourage a global perspective with your kids over the next few weeks. Some will get a post of their own, some will be shared together, at the end of each post I would LOVE for you to share your own ideas. The more you share, the more helpful for all of us. Otherwise, you've just got me.

On to #1:  In order to encourage a global perspective in your kids, it has to start with You!

Susie Larson writes in her book Growing Grateful Kids that we cannot teach what we do not impart. This is true in growing grateful kids and this is true in growing a global perspective. The needs of our world need to be important to us, if we want our kids to care. We have to expose ourselves to those needs. To allow ourselves to hurt for those who are hurting.

This is not an easy thing. I would much rather keep my head inside my own comfortable house and forget that the majority of the world does not live so comfortably. I know God calls us to be Jesus to those who are hurting, but sometimes it feels to hard to go where He has called.

The Israelites struggled with this too. During Haggai's time (one of the minor prophets), they were called by God to rebuild the temple. They started the job, but then stopped because of outside pressures. Instead they started building comfortable houses for themselves and abandoned their mission.

In her book, The Missional Mom, Helen Lee writes about this time and this people. She said:

During the sixteen years after they abandoned work on the temple, the Israelites demonstrated that God's mission was not as important to them as focusing on their own lives. They were fearful of their surrounding enemies and culture, but instead of engaging in a battle against those pressures, they chose to escape into their paneled houses and ignore the clear calling God had given them to rebuild His temple. The consequence for this abandonment of their calling, in addition to earning God's displeasure, is that their labors produced very little fruit. 

Ignorance may be bliss, but God calls us to more. He calls us to care for the poor and defenseless. He calls us to "administer true justice and show compassion and mercy to one another." (Zechariah 7:9) And to do that, we need to expose ourselves to our world and learn about the needs.

So how do we do that in a country where affluence appears to be the norm? Here are a few ideas:

1.  Take a Perspective Class. I have many friends who have taken this class and raved. It is a class that "shares how God has been moving, how the global Church has responded, and what the greatest needs in world evangelization are." There are classes all over the country, and on-line classes as well. Visit their website at www.perspectives.org to find out more.

2.  Read books and magazines that revolve around this topic. Compassion International and Voice of the Martyrs both produce magazines with articles centered on the needs of people groups around the world. There are a myriad of books that will expand on those needs and our response to them. Two that have been impactful in my life are The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns and The Missional Mom by Helen Lee.

3.  If you are presented with an opportunity to travel on a mission trip, take it. It may mean sacrifice financially and emotionally, but nothing enlarges your perspective like seeing firsthand how others around the world actually live.


In order to change the world, we need to know what needs changed. But once we start to expose ourselves to the hurts of the world, it is extremely overwhelming. 

But God. 

He knows every need intimately and He knows how we are best equipped to make a difference. He WANTS to use us to change the world. He WANTS us to be His hands and feet. Are you willing to step out? Seek His wisdom, follow His leading and step by step He will guide your feet. 

Now it is YOUR turn! What resources (books, movies, etc.) have had the biggest impact in enlarging your global perspective?


Monday, October 29, 2012

Blessed to Bless


This phrase has apparently been stalking me over the last few weeks. I’ve been hearing it as others speak, and reading it where others have written. All the while those words, “blessed to bless” tumble around inside my head as I move about my every days.

It’s true you know. We have not been given much to hoard and keep for ourselves. Contrary to the “American dream” type of living, that surrounds us.

We have been blessed to bless. And miraculously through the handing out of the blessing, it somehow finds its way back into our pockets. Conversely, when we hoard the blessings they oftentimes slip away leaving us feeling cheated.

We have been blessed to bless.

So how do I teach my kids this lesson? In a me-centered materialistic society, how do I help them learn and live this in their every days. I won’t pretend to be an expert because I’m not. But I have a thought, one focus that might help.

Several years ago, after watching the movie Slumdog Millionaire, I kinda lost it for a day or two. The movie had a profound effect on me. It made me want to do more. In the aftermath, I wrote this:

I want to be intentional about teaching my kids about the world and the orphans and the kids who are hurting. Maybe if they grow up with that awareness they can do something to change it. Maybe that is one way I can do something. So here are the goals I have for my children: To give them an awareness of the needs of the world around them; to grow compassion for those needs, and a desire/will to act on those needs and make a difference.
Honestly, I kind of forgot I had even made that goal until I was reading back through my moleskin notebook and rediscovered it. But I think there is a kind of magic in writing goals like that down. Even if you don’t revisit the actual written goal, pen to paper somehow indents them a little firmer in your heart. Looking back, I can see evidence of that goal's indention in how we've lived our lives.

Not that we are doing it perfectly, or even consistently. We struggle with materialism and wanting a comfortable life every day. Often our choices reflect the "American Dream,"way more than a "Blessed to Bless" attitude.  But, it is something we are aware of and trying to teach our kids. We are trying to teach them a global perspective with the hope that they will live lives of compassion and make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and vulnerable. We hope that they will live out the phrase, “blessed to bless” as they grow.

With all that in mind, I am planning a series of posts over the next few weeks on ways we have intentionally tried to encourage a global perspective in our kids. I know for a fact that many of you who actually read my ramblings have the same goal for your families and I hope that you will add your thoughts and ideas along the way so we can all learn from each other.

One last thought, I recently read the following post on the Lifesong Blog, written by a high school student in Illinois. She writes on why we have been blessed to bless. It is well worth the read.

We have been blessed to bless. May we all live this out, in practical ways, to the glory of our God!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Knit One, Purl One

Three years ago I picked up knitting. I had several friends who had taught themselves and were creating adorable projects. It looked like fun. So, I watched You Tube videos, looked up simple patterns on-line, picked the absolute easiest one I could find and dove in. It was a scarf. All knit stitch, no purl.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I made it about 4/5 of the way through the project and then three years ago, I put down knitting.

And never picked it up again.

Until last week.

I figured it was time to finish the scarf. So I tried, without taking a refresher course.


It is pretty obvious I needed a refresher course.

But hey, sloppy stitches and widening scarf aside, I finished.

Moral of the story, if you want one... finish what you start seems appropriate. Don't procrastinate, might be better. Persevere? Or something else.

The kids were very interested in my knitting this time around. They want their own scarves. So I'm giving it another go around. This time I've added the purl stitch to my arsenal  which ended up being a lot harder that I think it should have been.

Let's see if I can take my own advice and persevere to finish what I've started, without procrastination??

I'll let you know... hopefully sometime in the next three years.

Happy Weekend Friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Cover and Title Page


Our minister on Sunday reminded us that we were created for another world. This one is just the "cover and the title page;" the preview to the movie.

I heard Chip Ingram ask a question on the radio today, "Are we spending our lives or investing them?"

It is a question I need to ask myself every day: Am I spending my life on this world, that lasts but a moment, or am I investing my life in the world to come? 


Lord, help my live my every days with an eternal perspective, remembering how short life is and what's coming after. Help me to live for the world to come.

Then Aslan turned to them and said: 
"You do not look so happy as I mean you to be." 
Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often." 
"No fear of that," said Aslan. "Have you not guessed?" 
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them. 
"There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are--as you used to call it in the Shadowlands--dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended:  this is the morning." 
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were  so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. 
All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page:  now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on forever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.
excerpt take from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Monday, October 22, 2012

God or The Man?



A kind of game has evolved between me and the 4-year olds, one in particular. He came up with it, I just play along.

He asks a question. I ask a question. He gives the answer.

The question is always the same, changed only by what we happen to be driving by in the moment. My response NEVER changes, if I try, I get in trouble.

There are only two answers: God or The Man

Hey Mom, Who made the sky?
Who do you think?
Um, God.
Mom, Who made the cars?
Who do you think?
The Man

It is So. Much. Fun.

He could play for hours. I typically end it after the fifth question.

Every once in a while he questions me about this "man" of whom we speak. Where is he? How old is he? Can I meet him?

Periodically I remind him who created "the man" and how he was created to be creative.

The other day he threw a curve ball into our little game, a small, but fun, deviation.

Hey Mom, Who made the spiderweb?
A new answer, the spider.
Oh, So who made the spider?
Who do you think?
Spiderman? 
Good times, with a 4 year old. Can't wait for the next round. :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stepping Out

Can I just say I HATE getting out of my comfort zone. HATE. IT.

Until I do.

Then I'm always glad I did.

Wish I could remember that every time I approached the step out. It would make my life a lot less tearful.

Kory tries to remind me. Heck, I try to remind me. And still, my emotions take over and tell me that if I dare leave my comfortable place, I may look the fool or get hurt, or even worse lose any semblance of control all together.

With my natural tendency toward the known, I am so thankful for a Heavenly Father (and a supportive husband) who constantly push me towards the unknown.

My life is a lot fuller because of it. And maybe, just maybe one of these days, I will kick those emotions that try to tie me down to the curb and embrace the unknown... at least in a somewhat controlled kind of way.

Maybe.

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
-Neale Donald Walsh

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An Update on our Ming Ming


Ming, Ming. The update says that is what his nannies call him. It means "little bright one" in English. I like it. It fits.

The update also gave us a page's worth of glimpses into his personality, likes, abilities, dislikes.

I wasn't expecting it. We didn't get any updates in the wait for Suhn except her height and weight. This update came with pictures and words, lots of words (and not near enough).

They told us he is quick to share, that music comes naturally for him and he likes to sing.

They also shared a snippet of every day life with our "little bright one."

"Ming Ming, where are you going?"
"I am going to school."
 
This is what our Ming Ming often says.  Ming Ming is a child who loves to study and in the morning after breakfast, he will put on his backpack and go to school.  After dinner, he will put on his backpack wanting to go to school.  The nannies will heartily laugh and say, 
“Ming Ming is so diligent, every day he wants to go to night school too!”

Ah, be still my beating heart. I CANNOT WAIT to bring my little boy home!

But for now, in the waiting, I am SO THANKFUL, that he is happy and well taken care of. That he is with nannies who laugh with him and help him go to sleep at night.

That he is loved.

Under the circumstances, I could not ask for more!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Past 12 Days

Over the summer, my man started a new job.

With the new job, came the opportunity for travel, something he did not have to do with his old job.

Yes, I've been spoiled.

And as a spoiled wife who is used to having her husband home, I was hoping for a gradual easing into the travel portion of his work, maybe a one-nighter for starters?

HaHaHa, they said (they being the "powers that be" who decide these type of things).

And off he was sent on a 12-DAY TRIP.

I'm not going to lie, it was daunting. But we geared up, made plans and plunged in head first.

And now, 12 days later, he's home. (YAY!!) We survived, and surprisingly, the days went by fast.

(It helps that the traveling he was doing was for the benefit of orphans and other vulnerable children. I am so thankful he had the opportunity to go and see how Lifesong is making a difference for kids in Zambia and Ukraine and that he is now a part of the difference they are making.)

I noticed a few things while he was gone...


  • I am a compulsive door-locker/checker. When he is home, I typically check them once before bed. When he was gone, I found myself "making the rounds" several times a night. Just in case one decided to unlock itself or something.
  • Bedtime (for the kids) seemed to come earlier and earlier the longer he was gone.
  • I LOVE Downton Abbey. Thanks to a friend who was willing to loan me season 2 my evenings were filled with English accents.
  • I used to be able to sleep without a sound machine, not so much anymore. 
  • My imagination can over-react (just a little), at night, when I'm trying to sleep, without a sound machine.
  • Going out with five kids and one adult, while doable for a short period of time, is EXHAUSTING. But then, if you remember this post, you know I should already know this.
  • And while we are on the topic of EXHAUSTING... I don't know who is more jet-lagged, him or me.
  • I have amazing friends who lift me up in prayer. I am convinced that is THE reason why the 12 days went so quickly (and smoothly, if you don't count the "fire alarm being pulled at the restaurant by one of my kids" incident).
All in all, it was a good 12 days. BUT, I am SO glad he is home safe and sound.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Glimpse of the Forest


I was looking through an old moleskine notebook this week. I love my moleskine notebooks because they are thin, lightweight and I can carry one around in my purse. Or leave one on my nightstand, or on the coffee table. Wherever I find them, they make me feel like a writer. The writings that fill their pages are typically a hodge podge of thoughts I don't want to forget, or conference notes, or blog post ideas, or book quotes, or vacation murmurings, or names of people whose names I am trying to remember.

The hodge podge creates a treasure-seeking kind of experience when you look back. You never know what you might find.

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." Three years ago I wrote of an experience that led to some soul-searching that led to a goal. Today, three years later, I see more clearly how the person I am becoming was being shaped by those experiences. I read my plans and reviewed my steps and feel the truth of that verse.

It is exciting to see the past intersect with the present. It is exciting to dream how those experiences may continue to mature and impact the future. Because most of the time, I don't see it. I think it's called the "can't see the forest through the tress" phenomenon. This week offered a chance to climb one of those trees and glimpse a little bit of the forest.

Which reinforces one more reason why I love my moleskine notebooks.

"We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" 
1 Corinthians 13:12 The Message


Monday, October 01, 2012

The Moon Festival



We celebrated the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for the first time this year.

The moon was full and we were ready for our night-time picnic. Close friends had traveled hours to spend the weekend with us. The air was crisp; the sky was clear. Lanterns glowed in the trees.

Traditional moon cakes were served along with pumpkin ginger cupcakes, blending Chinese traditions with American. 

The kids danced in the yard until beds beckoned.

It was a beautiful night.

Beautiful and chaotic.

Because while the kids did, in fact, dance... they also cried. 

Parents were tired. Kids were tired. 

Complaints were made about the food. 

Several "talks" were had before kids were sent to bed and parents collapsed on the sofa.

We never even looked at the moon.

Life in all it's glorious chaotic messiness.

 It was not perfect, BUT memories with friends were made 
AND lanterns lit up our tree.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Letters of Adoption

We've taken big steps in bringing Zak home this week. Hitting milestones disguised by initials.

The first one came on Monday, 9/24/12, when three lovely letters were sent our way:



aka: Dossier to China.

That special packet of medical exams, police clearance reports, financial statements, etc., etc. etc., the bulk of the paper chase, out of my hands and into China's. Huge sigh of relief.

Then today, sooner than anticipated (insert happy dance), three more letters came our way:




9/28/12: our official Log In Date, indicating China has received our precious packet of papers and has "logged" them into their system. So now we are officially waiting for, wait for it...




Letter of Acceptance. LOA means China has read our dossier and has given the okay to adopt Zak. I am hoping for those beautiful letters by the beginning of December, or better yet, by Thanksgiving (which would be pushing it, but would most definitely be something to give thanks for!) As with all adoption waiting, I hope for the best but try to expect the worse, or at least the realistic.

As far as timing goes, a mid-February departure for China is not out of the question.

Can I just say WAHOOOOOO!!!

Little Zak we are coming and can't WAIT to meet you and bring you HOME!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The First Day of School

Up early, as in way too early. Dressed, socks on, Ready to go.

He eats fast, so he has more time to play before the bus comes.

Excited and nervous.

One not quite ready for summer to end, but the bus is coming. Ready or not.

Socks and tennis shoes replace flip flops.

Backpacks on, loaded down with supplies for the year.

Pictures on the front porch ready to join the menagerie already on Facebook. Say Cheese.

Here comes the bus. Smiles on. Line up. Here we go.

"See you after school!"

Back to the house. The Quiet shouts on the first day of school. Even with two still home.

One 4th grader and two 1st graders. Where does time go?

On to the gym and groceries before they come back. Rushing in the door. Big smiles. All talking at once.

Ready for day 2.




Saturday, August 18, 2012

FYI for Adopting Families

Adoptionjourney.com recently posted a report of organizations who offer financial assistance to adoptive families. If you are adopting and in need of financial assistance, this might be a good place to start.

Go HERE to view the report.

The end.

Friday, August 17, 2012

An Adoption Update


Things are moving!

We head up to Naperville next Thursday to get our fingerprints taken for the Department of Homeland Security. You know cause the ones we gave them for Suhn’s expired.

After that we are one form away from a complete dossier. I am hoping to be DTC (Dossier to China) by the end of September. That might be pushing it but I think it’s possible. In my mind, we are on track for a Marchish trip to China. Time will tell..

Meanwhile, we continue making our way through the many, many, MANY steps it will take to bring Zak home. Each accomplished task bringing us a little closer to the ultimate goal:  one less orphan, aka a family for Zak and Zak for our family.

Each step also brings bills. Big ones. Bills we don’t quite have the cash flow to cover.

And so we raise funds.

I believe many people are called to adopt. Many are called to support those who adopt. Many are called to both. AND, many are called to other completely different and worthy ministries. If this next part rubs you the wrong way, then please stop reading and go in peace. I get it. And it's okay. But, if you have a heart for adoption or supporting families who adopt, read on.

It’s a humbling thing to ask for help. The word “humbling” feels almost trite, like it is the expected thing to say. We mean it though. We feel vulnerable when we ask and the truth is we are vulnerable and it is good for us to ask because we can't do this alone. We need you. And as we ask for help, we want you to know that our desire is to pay it forward, to try to give back what we have been given.

We do not take the generosity of our friends and family lightly. It makes us want to be like you.

We are excited to see how God provides for this adoption. He has called us and we trust that he will.

All that to say, if you are interested in partnering with us, go here to find out how.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Made for More


Like many of you, I have a bucket list.

And one of the items on my bucket list has been to attend a Coldplay concert.

Last night they were in Chicago and Kory and I were in attendance along with 20,000 plus others.

To say it was AMAZING is putting it mildly. Frankly to put the experience into words is near impossible.

Visually, Acoustically, everything was CRAZY good.

Since the concert ended, I've been wanting more and I have spent a good part of today trying to figure out why exactly I've felt so moved

One of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis came to mind. In Mere Christianity he says:

"... when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognize it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or think of some foreign country, [or listen to great music]...are longings which no marriage, no travel, [no music] can really satisfy... If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world... Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing."

Last night at the concert I felt that yearning again, that "suggestion of the real thing." It's kind of thrown my whole day off as I've processed the moment. I feel it often when I listen to Coldplay. I would guess that you feel it too.  Maybe with Coldplay or maybe not, but with whatever kind of music moves your soul. That desire for something more.

I was not made for this world. Most days I am immersed in the things of this life. But then a song plays, or I read something, or go to a concert and I feel that hunger. A craving that will never be filled in my lifetime. I can try to fill it with more music, or other good or bad things but I will only be frustrated when the temporary fix rubs off if I expect to keep the hunger pains at bay for long.

But, if I accept the longing, the ache and let it remind me of what is to come... then I can, as C.S. Lewis puts it, "make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same."

Last night surrounded by thousands of people I had the thought of Heaven and what it would be like to be surrounded by people and music: amazing, soul-moving, gut-wrenching music, praising Jesus.

It is going to be Awesome.

Coldplay left me wanting more, but I believe the "more" I am really wanting will never be filled in this lifetime, the satisfaction and fullness I am looking for, is waiting for me in the next.

Friday, August 03, 2012

He has a name!!


We have been waffling over names for little boy for the past two months. 

Boy names are hard for us.

But last night Kory put up a new basketball hoop by our driveway. The wet cement was practically begging for initials, face prints or something.

We opted for initials and as a result the waffling is over.

Initials in cement are kinda hard to erase.

Can you guess?

Never mind, I'll tell you...


Zak William AiMing 

Zak means "remembered by God" which fits him in so many ways.

William is the name of Kory's dad (all our boys have middle names after a grandpa or great-grandpa)

AiMing is his Chinese name.

I think it has a nice ring.

Happy Weekend!

Monday, July 16, 2012

World Tour at TJ Maxx

I was in TJ Maxx the other day. By my SELF. :)

Perusing the home goods section of the store.

As I walked down one aisle, I saw a Chinese family speaking to another Chinese woman in Mandarin.

Ni Hao and all that.

I smiled. Thought of little boy and moved on down the aisle.

As I turned to look at throw pillows, an African woman walked by pushing her cart, talking on her phone in some kind of Africanish language.

Interesting.

I headed down another aisle to check out the rugs only to find an Indian couple speaking to each other in Hindi (or something like that), scouring the rugs. They didn't find one they liked.

A multi-cultural experience in the home goods section of TJ Maxx in the middle of a corn field in central Illinois.

Who knew?!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nothing like a Good Series

Finding a good Series of books is a great motivator for reading more books. This works for kids and adults.

Although, this is ONLY true if you actually LIKE the first book. If you don't like the first book, it can be more of a discourager. Obviously, this is true of stand-alone novels too.  But the point of this post is not to share novels, but rather, Series of books that either I (or my kids) have enjoyed over the years, thus encouraging you (and your kids) to read MORE.

A Series for Beginning Readers, especially boys:

The Fly Guy books.
We just discovered these and my boys LOVE them. Apparently so do a lot of other kids because their shelf at the library is consistently empty. This series is fun, creative and perfect for kids who are first learning to read.

A Series for Early Readers, ages 7 and up, Grade level: 2 and up:

 AIO Imagination Station books.
This is a great little series from the creators of Adventures in Odyssey. Two kids from  Odyssey are sent on numerous adventures to different times/places in world history. Their adventures are fun, exciting and educational. A great way for your kids to learn a little history without realizing they are learning it.


A Series for Readers, ages 8 and up, Grade level: 3 and up:

Christian Heroes: Then and Now
I LOVE these books. Maybe more than Mya. There are over 40 covering AMAZING people like George Muller, Gladys Aylward, C.S. Lewis, Mary Slessor. I could go on and on. Biographies of men and women whom God used in huge, faith-strengthening ways. A great way to broaden your perspective and inspire your faith.


There are a lot of other Series I could mention. But many of them are already well-loved by many of you:  The Ramona or Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary, The Little House on the Prairie Saga, The Box Car Children, my all-time favorites The Chronicles of Narnia...

Help me keep the list going in the comments! What are you favorite Series?


PS Thanks to all of you who have supported our adoption fundraiser so far. If you are interested in doing a little more shopping while supporting adoption, head on over to Ashlee's blog where she has compiled a whole lot of adoption fundraisers that are currently going on.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why I like to go to Target by my SELF.

I avoid going to Target with all five kids as MUCH as possible.

One or two or even three kids is fine, but all five with little ole me is asking for Trouble (which was capitalized intentionally).


Sometimes, however, I can not avoid it. Especially during summer.

So we go.

Hello, Target customers. Why yes they are ALL mine. Thank you SO much for asking.

Before we enter the building we have the same conversation. Every. Time.

Kids, What are we going to do?
Answer:  STICK TOGETHER.
Does that mean you can run ahead of me?
Answer:  NO
Does that mean you lag WAY behind?
Answer: NO
All righty then, Here We Go!

Sometimes the pep talk works, if we run in and out in record time, but A LOT of times it doesn't.

Two run ahead. One lags behind. I try to yell without yelling. Get. Over. Here. Now.
Stick. To.Geth.er!!! 


Fights break out over who gets to push Suhn in the stroller. 


A flip flop breaks leaving one kid hopping/walking barefoot/alternating between both options. 


They hide behind and in clothes racks. 
They knock things off the shelves.
They pout because I veto the orange tic tacs.
They pout because they don't WANT Sean to push them.
They lay down in the middle of the aisle because they WANT to push Suhn.


One pees his pants.


Sigh.


Hello, Target customers. Anyone want to buy a kid?


Hahahahahaha. I jest.


BUT, just to be safe... I think I need to try HARDER to avoid going to Target with ALL five kids.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Telling of a Story

God is an exciting author and sometimes He gives us a glimpse at how perfectly He is weaving our stories together. I imagine in Heaven when all has become clear we will be AMAZED at how the plots of our days on earth twisted and came together.


When we first got the e-mail, making us aware that little boy existed I honestly did not think life was going to change. It took me 24 hours to tell Kory about it and even that was a passing, "I got a funny e-mail yesterday" kind of conversation.

A year before I had peeked at the waiting kids on our agency's website, feeling an itch, but not knowing where to scratch. A couple months after that I felt completely at peace with our family the way it was. I thought that IF adoption was in our future, it would be years down the road once our kids were older.

That was where I was. I thought we were done expanding our family for the near future.

And then we were asked to adopt again.

We were never opposed to the idea. We just didn't know if it was right. But as the days turned into a week and then two, the thought of little boy grew in my mind and wouldn't leave. We started to talk about it. I would ask what Kory thought about little boy, if anything. We discussed the logistics, the cost, the emotional impact.

Then Suhn asked to see her baby pictures, and we found a picture of Suhn and little boy together.

Just the two of them.
A picture of our china babies together, in China, waiting for our family.

We found out they were from the same city in China. They both spent the majority of their pre-family life at Angel House in Beijing. They even lived their together for a short time. They also happen to have the same special need.

It still took us a month to actually start the adoption process. Kory is making a job change in a couple weeks and was in the midst of sharing that news (because why make one huge, life-altering decision when you can make two at the same time). But, when I saw that picture it felt pretty clear where we were heading. 

When we called our agency to see if they would even be able to find His file, it took ONE minute to do so creating one more open door for us to walk through.

Yep, this is one story that has me hooked!

I can't wait to see the plot thicken as we bring little boy home and watch his story intersect with Suhn's and ours. I am sure it will have its share of conflict, as all good stories do, but in the end I am praying for a happy ending of EPIC proportions.


Don't forget to check out our T-Shirt fundraiser with Wild Olives. You can get the details here. But the main detail you need is to remember to use our code: KAEB629 when you check out. Thanks!!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The End of Birthday Week


Birthday week is wrapping up.

Technically it was supposed to end yesterday.

Yesterday my boys became SEVEN year olds. My funny, energetic, tree-climbing boys.

Their birthday wish included an "ugly green" cake. They also wanted a slip n' slide attached to the pool with pop at the bottom waiting for them. You know kind of like bowling your booty into floating pop cans. 

Or something like that. 

I was able to deliver the cake.

We were set for the birthday celebration. Until the crying started. 

He had actually told me the day before his ear had been hurting him. Which I thought about for a minute. Something like "Oh no, Do we have time for the doctor today?" And then promptly forgot, being the good mother I am. 

When he started saying things like, "I wish I had never been born" the mommy guilt hit hard (Why didn't we go to the doctor yesterday!) and we rushed to the doctor at 4:40 on a Friday night (we made it 5 minutes before closing). 

He had swimmer's ear. 

The party was put on hold. Ear drops were obtained and he was asleep on the sofa by 6.

Some days just don't go like you plan. 

It was the worst birthday ever.

Thankfully the ear drops did their job. He is glad to be alive again and we are getting ready to redeem his birthday and eat ugly green cake.

And THEN, birthday week will come to a close.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

She's Nine


Mya is 9 years old today.

NINE. 

Where did those years go? 

She is a beautiful, tender-hearted, amazing girl with a zeal for life that is contagious. 

She is a gift, plain and simple.

I was getting all nostalgic last night. Thinking back to nine years ago when she first joined us. Sometimes I find myself wanting to freeze time. Stop the days from roaring by. Keep my kids just as they are today.

Really, I'm glad that is not an option, but periodically I feel the pangs of time moving too fast. 

Emma Timmons (a character from Lark Rise to Candleford) had the same desire once, to freeze time. In response, her husband shared some wise words:

You could stop it right now, but then there would be no more moments to turn into memories. 
It's true, I know, and even though time flies by too fast on some days and too slow on others, I am thankful for its passage. I am thankful for nine years with my sweet girl and looking forward to many more moments yet to come.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Win-Win-Win

As you know, adoption is expensive.


And this adoption, well it kind of caught us by surprise. 

The result of those two statements combined = fundraising.

I just received an e-mail this morning from Wild Olive Tees. Have you heard of them?

They create awesome t-shirts.
  

And if you buy one in the next two months (and enter a special code for our family: KAEB629), you help us bring little boy home!




An awesome t-shirt for you, your son or daughter, your mom or sister or friends; one step closer to bringing little boy home for us!




A win-win-win (as my buddy Michael Scott once said).

To check out the adoption fundraising t-shirts, go here and make sure you enter KAEB629 in the coupon code or you will remove one of the wins and our account won't get credited.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns or problems. And, if you want to share this post with your facebook and twitter friends I won't stop you.

As an FYI, we are in the process of setting up an account with Lifesong for Orphans as well. This will allow those who wish to contribute to our adoption fundraising in a more direct fashion the chance to do so in a tax-deductible kind of way.


Is it too early to say Thank You!
We so appreciate your support whether it comes as a comment, prayer or donation.
We could not do this alone.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Special Anniversary

Two years ago today,
we met a beautiful little girl in a red dress.

It was an upsetting day for her. 
She was leaving behind everything she had ever known.
It was also, oh-so-sweet, even though she didn't quite know what family meant yet.


Two years later she continues to bring joy and Suhn-shine to our lives.
She is ours and we are hers.
What would we do with her?


Happy "Gotcha" Day Suhn!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lost

We lost puppy last week.

I'm not sure how it happened, but Tuesday night I was tucking Sean into bed and he asked for puppy as he has most nights for the last two years. I looked all over the house and couldn't find him. So I found a substitute puppy and told Sean we would find puppy in the morning.

But we didn't.

By Friday puppy was still missing. I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach.

I thought puppy was gone for good.

We decided to retrace our steps. We looked at the park. We looked at the gym. We looked at the doctor's office.

Still no puppy.

Sean was sure puppy had been eaten by a monster.

And then, on Sunday morning, we were getting ready for church when we heard a shout from Mya's room. She found puppy. In her closet.

And there was much rejoicing in the house. 

What was lost had been found.

It was a glorious reunion.





Monday, June 18, 2012

Checkout lane philosophy 101



I was waiting to pay for my groceries the other day. There was one older man in front of me with a minimal number of items to buy, which is exactly why I picked the line I found myself standing in.

The cashier asked the obligatory, "How are you doing today?"

To which he replied, "Every day I wake up is a good one."

He probably answers that way to everyone. Maybe so often that he doesn't mean it anymore, the words just spill out. His pat answer. (Is it cynical of me to think this way?)

Regardless, he got me thinking.

"Every day I wake up is a good one."

Hmmm, what a way to live. I've heard it before: Every day is a gift. Enjoy the moment. Live in the present, etc., etc. etc.

I'm still thankful for the reminder.

Whether he actually meant it or not.