Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? -Matthew 6:26

As we walk through this adventure called life, we remind ourselves that we are all precious children of our Father-- those of us who have walked a little further down the road striving to guide those who have been entrusted to our care for a time. Here is our journey down this path.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Our fun weekend

Ok, can you guess where we went? It may look like we took a big trip, but this is not Greece.....it is Nashville, Tennessee....where the only scale replica of the Greek Parthenon is located. We went to see grandparents and for Jeff to attend a conference, so the kids and I did some fun activities around town. I have a ton of fun pictures and could have done a post per day (would have if I hadn't left the camera-to-computer cord at home...next to our computer where I usually use it.) Oh, well, here they all are...Enjoy!

It is quite an impressive site.... And even more so inside....introducing Athena, goddess of wisdom. Impressive, but sad at the same time. Kind of similar to all of the idols in China, except there were no worshippers here. Thomas had studied a little of Greek mythology in school, so this was interesting to him.Fist bump with the ?Phoenix????

I'll give you 3 guesses as to what she is laughing at....and the first 2 don't count!!!
After the tour...time for a little snack.

And then some exploring on the outside of the structure.

Of course, for boys, there is always something to be conquered....they 'scaled' up one side and back on the other.
Molly decided it looked like fun.......maybe.
What a great big brother!!!
And, of course, someone else wanted to join the gang......don't worry, I said no.

That night, a little 'Rock Band' with Uncle Trent! "Eye of the Tiger" was a big hit!

The next morning, Friday the 28th, Molly turned 4 1/2.....so we had some half donuts to celebrate the occassion.

Then, we headed over to a nearby park to check out the nature center.
There was a 'pond full of tadpoles' to explore and they were apparently growing quickly, because lots of these little guys were hopping around. Watch where you step!

Inside the nature center, there were lots of things to explore..........

And out back......a really big chair!

That afternoon, we got to spend some time with our cousins. And they got to meet Cynthia for the first time.

The next day, was Samuel's birthday. (yes, they are 2 1/2 years minus 1 day apart!)
The much anticipated and much asked for gift......

So, we went to a local playground that had a small walking track around it to check it out....looks like it fits!!

Molly 'cooking' dinner for us all.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! (You can't really tell from this picture, but she loves it!)
That night....Grandmommy took Samuel shopping (Star Wars Legos) and he got to pick the menu (hamurgers and hot dogs) and then we had a yummy ice cream cake.

All in all, it was a fun weekend and a good start to our summer!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Samuel!!!!

Today our sweet Samuel is turning 7 years old!!!! I can't believe it. Didn't we just bring him home from the hospital??? He is such a fun kid and we are very blessed to have him in our family. It has been a joy to see him grow into the boy he is. He is a good friend and a wonderful brother. He has also recently become such a cheerful, first time obeyer--it seems the fruit of the spirit are showing up in his life--what a joy to watch as a parent. We thank God for you and for His work in your life! We love you, buddy!! Happy SEVEN!!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A plea

An African children's choir came to perform at our church Sunday night. We heard about it several weeks ago and were excited to go, take the kids and see and hear the performance.

Only that morning did I learn they were all orphans.

My heart skipped a beat.

We arrived and found a seat just before the kids came out. The show started with a bang---literally. There were 4 adults who began playing the drums and then these beautiful children came on stage, dancing, singing, and smiling--big beautiful bright smiles. The girls came from backstage and the boys ran up the aisles from the back of the sanctuary. All in bright colorful costumes.

These kids are with an organization called Watoto--check it out at http://www.watoto.com/. It is an amazing organization. They are doing a wonderful job of filling the gap. The majority of the kids were orphaned either because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic or because their parents were soldiers and were killed. The stories were heartbreaking, as most were old enough when they lost their parents to remember, to realized they had to 'provide' for themselves by begging or scavaging for food, looking anywhere for basic necessities we all need and that children should NOT have to worry about. Each of them was somehow 'found' by Watoto and the end results are kids who are filled with joy because of the love of Christ. The smiles on their faces were incredible as they sang.

It was an amazing story to hear--and I almost had to get up and leave.

You see, as I sat there, listening to these beautiful children sing, my sweet Cynthia was on my lap. Here was a child who, just a few weeks ago, was an orphan. Now a cherished daughter and sister, loved beyond words, but just like them, she was fatherless, hopeless, and alone. I was already having trouble containing my emotions when they sang this song:

I Am Not Forgotten
I Am Not Forgotten
I Am Not Forgotten

God Knows My Name
He Knows My Name

Light Over Darkness
Strength Over Weakness
Joy Over Sadness
He Knows My Name
Father To The Fatherless
Friend To The Friendless
Hope For The Hopeless
He Knows My Name

I Will Praise You
I Will Praise You
For I Am Fearfully And Wonderfully Made.

I Am Not Forgotten
Never Forsaken.

I really about lost it. You see, I still firmly believe that God named Cynthia. Just this morning, our pastor mentioned the same passage that I heard a talk on the day I found out the meaning of her name. How God is a personal God who has personal relationships with people he loves and KNOWS by NAME. So, hearing these beautiful children sing about this love that they know, the love that saved them--literally. The love of Jesus that moved people to rescue them from begging on the streets or digging all day to try to find a bit of food. Love that gave them a home, food, clothing, school. And not just enough to get by, but a love that is trying to redeem, trying to rebuild. That is the gospel. This organization is truly answering the call given to the church:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. --Micah 6:8

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.--James 1:27

My heart was moved. We know we were called to care for the orphan. One specifically, but is there more? The tugging on my heart that night made me think God has more in mind for us. I don't know what that is, what it looks like, what the timing will be...another child? Sponsoring a child through an organization like Watoto? Someday going to work somewhere like that? I don't know now.

So, here is the question.....what can you do? There are millions of orphans all over the world. Can you do something to help? Some people are truly called by God--called to adopt. If you feel that tugging, if the word 'orphan' stirs something in your heart, if you have had tears in your eyes looking at this blog...don't ignore it! You may be missing out on one of the biggest blessings of your life! Pray that God would show you.

And even if you aren't called to bring one of these precious children home, if you are a Christian, you are still called...as part of the church, the body of Christ....to care for the orphan. And there are so many ways you can help. So, go find one. Make a one time donation, help a family who is trying to adopt by supporting them financially, prayerfully, practically, check out Watoto or another organization to support a child monthly......or even just buy a T-shirt! Do something.

To act justly, to love mercy....what better picture of mercy and justice than to help a child who is truly helpless.

So, my plea--do something, anything........for these precious children whom God knows by name.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

2 Months.........

Today is 2 months since our lives changed forever. Since a precious little girl was carried up an elevator and placed--rather abruptly--into my arms....crying, bucking, scared and confused. Oh, how I wish I knew what was going through her sweet mind that day. I would so much have liked to have helped her understand...to explain it to her. To tell her how much we already loved her. How long we had waited for that moment, how we had prepared, planned and prayed for that moment....for her.

I have to admit, when the orphanage director handed me a crying child who reared back, trying to get away from me, I didn't have the immediate bond that I thought I would have. I thought that I already loved her, that she was my daughter, that there would be no problems....well, at that moment, I suddenly realized "I don't know this child." "I don't know what makes her happy and sad, what her personality is like, what she even likes to eat."
But, I did know that God had called us to this and that this was the child he chose for our family--I never doubted that. And He was so right.
The tears quickly turned to smiles that day. And it seems to us that she hasn't really looked back. Sometimes I wonder if she thinks of her home in China, if she misses the people who cared for her. Last night, we went camping and were trying to fall asleep next to each other. She reached her little hand up and stroked my hair. Then she stroked my hand and was saying, I think, something in Chinese...over and over....something very sweet and soothing sounding. I suddenly had to remind myself that she had a life before us...one we will probably never know much about.

For a child barely 2 years old, she has gone through too many transitions in her life. I don't want to make light of that and that she may someday grieve the loss of her first home, family and country. But I have to believe that God works all things for good......because these last 2 months, we have seen so much good.
So much happiness, acceptance, comfort, peace, and love.
So many smiles, giggles, teasing faces.
I know she is ours, we are hers, all of the initial doubts were so quickly washed away and she is home....


We love you, sweet Cynthia!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Word of the Day

Can you guess what it is? You can almost see her saying it in this picture....Samuel needed a Band-Aid for a cut on his finger.........
There is absolutely nothing wrong with her knees, but we learned..........

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cub Stud

Ok, my hubby is a stud...does this picture (minus the big light spot) make your heart race? Let me explain....he was helping 3 cub scouts build bird houses to earn a badge. The 3 younger sibs were painting a birdhouse and a birdfeeder that were already built. What a guy!

Thomas being silly--"I glued my fingers together!"
J.R. hard at work.
Samuel is a serious artist....concentration.
Molly chose a 'castle' birdhouse...don't worry, the other side is pink!
L.B. getting a little help....

and W.H.

While all of this craftiness was going on, someone was running around being really cute.....

She is learning new words every day...here was today's:
"Happy" (with the fingers twisting on her cheeks--so cute!!)

Our neighbors' cat has been hanging out at our house a good bit over the last few days, so we have also learned "meow!" Here she is looking at it from afar.
And up close.........OK, so not a 'cat person'! Last picture, since I had to rescue her!