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.



Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our Hearts' Desires

Yesterday was such a great day. Great, and so fun, to see the God given differences in boys and girls. Molly and I started our day out early. She heard at some point in the last week about the royal wedding and was SO excited--a princess!!! When you are 5 and believe in fairy tales and happily ever after and a princess is having a wedding...wow! How could I not play up this special event for her? We had a sweet mommy & me time. We got up at 5:30 to watch the processional and then the wedding....
Complete with scones!





We both enjoyed watching William & Kate and all of the pomp & circumstance!

Then we had to get moving to school for field day 2011. Now it was the boys' turn to be super excited. Thomas has been preparing for field day for a couple of weeks now...working out to videos on TV, running to the end of the street and back and strategizing with his friends. The day began with a little more pomp & circumstance......


The Olympic fanfare played as the competitors marched onto the field.


A welcome, pledges to the flags, a sweet prayer by a friend in 5th grade, a little dance by the 5th graders, and the lighting of the 'torch' completed the opening ceremonies. Then off to the events....

Thomas played the goalie for the 'soccer shoot out'


Samuel had the last leg of the baton relay.


Thomas had the 2nd leg in his grade....


Samuel was a kicker....


Thomas did the new event this year, the obstacle course....





And another new one this year....the sack race!

Overall, the boys had a blast. Molly's class didn't compete, but came out to watch for a while. Mommy & Cynthia spent our morning alternately watching the boys and hunting for them-trying to find which event they were doing next! (Hence, no pictures of every event--they did a lot more than I documented!) It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed it.


Last night, I was thinking of how much fun it was and how amazing the differences between boys and girls are. Why is it that girls are attracted to the perfect love story, the elegance of the wedding, and the 'happily ever after'? Why are boys drawn inexplicably to competition--the kind of draw that will sacrifice body, feel no pain, give it their all, for the joy of the win? Why do romantic movies or sports events draw thousands? Why do our hearts desire love, relationship, competition, victory?

I think the answer lies in the fact that we are made in God's image. Neither male nor female reflects him wholly, but together, we reflect (in a sinful, broken way) the image of God. The tender, loving, gentle side as well as the side that will protect, compete, and fight for his own. On that last day, when all knees bow, every desire of our hearts will come to fulfillment. We will see the last, greatest battle. There will be the satisfaction of an eternal victory as Christ defeats once and for all the evil of sin and then there will be the beauty of Christ and the church, his bride, being united in joyful communion for eternity. I don't think it an accident that God gave us weddings and field days to move our hearts. We just have to have eyes open to see what and who our hearts truly desire.

Yesterday was a great day. That day will be the greatest day. I am so thankful that God gives me glimpses of himself through a day with my children, my blessings.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cynthia-isms

OK, have I mentioned how much I LOVE language development?? I mean, yes, I love to see my kids learn to roll over, walk, use a spoon and such, but to me language is the best. As they learn more and more, it just opens up a new world to them--and opens up their mind to the world. I love to hear the things they come up with! And I don't want to forget them. So...Several recent new sayings:


She has begun to understand pretend, thanks in large part to big sis Molly who often plays house with her. I will suddenly hear, "Mama!" to which I reply and then she says, "No! Pretend mama!" meaning Molly.


They also play doctor quite a bit, so we all get shots--a lot. She will come up and say, "What's your name?" "How old are you?" "OK, shot." When we pretend to cry, "It's OK, baby." while rubbing the spot and giving you a pretend band-aid.


Tonight, she was playing with Jeff and she was the mama and he was the baby. She told him she was going to the mama doctor. He asked where he should go and she quickly replied, "Different else, (means somewhere or something else, depending on the setting) go Home Depot!"


Any time we finish a box, jar, or bottle of ANYTHING in the kitchen, she will announce it--and the solution to the empty container--to everyone present. For example: "All gone goldfish! More grocery store!"


If someone asks her a question to which she doesn't know the answer, she will think a minute and then look at me and in the tiniest whisper say, "help you?"


I am sure as soon as I click 'publish' I will think of something else....maybe more to come, but for now-goodnight and happy Thursday! J


PS Those of you who live in or near Augusta and want to help bring another sweet baby home...check this out!! We are so excited for our friends and can't wait to see them bring home their little one!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

HAPPY EASTER!

We have enjoyed Easter week this year....it has been a time I have actually been able to reflect a little more than normal. That reflection was in large part due to a family devotional guide that our chuch gave out to prepare us for the Good Friday service. It included 9 items and the meaning of each in relation to what Christ took to the cross. For example betrayal--30 silver coins from Judas or mockery--crown of thorns. It was really good for the kids (and us)! to process this week.

If you are interested, check it out here. I highly recommend it--even after Easter!

Well, at the beginning of the service, there was a 'processional' of the 9 items. Thomas was asked to carry one. He agreed, but wasn't all that excited until he got there that night and saw what he was going to carry. The Roman soldier's pilum (spear that pierced Jesus' side after he died on the cross) It was a very solemn processional ending with the cross--very moving and made the whole evening so meaningful. I did manage to snap these 2 pictures while they were practicing before the service.






And, we did do the 'traditional' coloring of the eggs....still not sure how eggs and bunnies fit in with Jesus, but fun was had by all! Cynthia managed to do the most as she was very quick and kept saying 'again'! Her amazement at the color change made me lose count and we didn't exactly have a 'fair' share...oops!


And.....this morning before the Easter celebration at church, we managed to be ready a little early(!) so decided to snap a few pictures and I was so pleased....I guess it was just a good day for pictures.




The girls wanted Abby in one...not so sure Abby agreed.




Molly said she wanted to tilt her head because 'pictures look cute that way.'

Sweet smile.



OK, this one cracked both Jeff and I up.........the boys with their "we aren't smiling" pose...


Ok, maybe a little smile.

These next 2 are going up in the house somewhere!!! Rare pics that are good of everyone!!!! I LOVE them both!



We spent our Easter afternoon enjoying a beautiful day walking along the canal and down to the river with friends. Then we finished off the day with a yummy dinner that I got spontaeous 'this is great' or 'yummy' from all the kids....truly a feat! (and Mom & Dad, it wasn't tacos!)


All in all, we enjoyed our day together and the joy of Easter must have been the key! Hope you all had a wonderful day celebrating as well!


Jesus is RISEN!!! He is RISEN indeed!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Results.......

A huge thank you to all of you who have prayed for Cynthia and asked about her test results. The brief explanation--no H. pylori, but the biopsy specimens were consistent with reflux/irritation from that. There is a small possibility of another problem related to food allergies, etc, but that doesn't fit the clinical picture well, so the Dr. is leaning toward reflux. Her quick improvement on medicine also supports that as well. But, the Dr. said the way to know for sure is to treat her for 6-8 weeks and then do ANOTHER scope! Ugh! (I can tell you, if we do that again, I will be taking reinforcements with me!!!!) We have a follow up in early June to decide one way or the other. Cynthia is doing great and is actually eating better than ever, so I think she--and her tummy-- are on the mend. Thanks again!!

Hope you are all enjoying this Holy Week....celebrating the RISEN Savior!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Return of Spice Girl!!!

This is a little rambling, but read on and you will understand....You may remember that when we were in China, we found out that Cynthia is from a province where the girls are called 'spicy girls' because of their love for spicy food as well as the tempers and attitudes. :) We don't see that too much in her, beyond normal 3 year old issues. Well, today was a long day. I haven't mentioned it here, but several weeks ago Cynthia was having some severe stomach pain. On top of already having recently found out that she was anemic and had (non-visible) blood in her poops (the official medical term!). So, we saw our freindly Peds GI doctor who thinks she probably was exposed to H. pylori (the ulcer causing bacteria) in China as she has seen this in multiple Chinese children in her practice. This would be a very easy problem to fix, so we are hoping that is indeed what it is. We did some tests which did not show definite results, so today she was scheduled for an upper endoscopy. Really not a complicated thing, but she did have to be sedated. She was a trooper in the pre-anesthesia area. Telling me they were going to squeeze her arm when she saw the blood pressure cuff wheeled in, taking big breaths when the nurse listened to her, chatting with the doctor while I was filling out the consent form--all the while, saying, "no boo-boos!" Just checking.... They gave her some versed as a pre-anesthesia med to relax her and so she wouldn't be nervous to leave me, she fell asleep and they took her on in. I waited maybe 30 minutes and it was finished. The doctor showed me pictures and said we will have results by Wednesday of the biopsies that will give us an answer. I thanked her and then turned my attention to our sweet girl who was just starting to wake up. And then, wow!!! I watched a child who looked just like my daughter turn into a child I have never seen before. And for that I am thankful. Granted, some days when she wakes from a nap, she is a little grumpy--nothing LITTLE about today! First, there was some rolling around and fussy, eyes still closed, still looked asleep. Then started the 'NO!' 'NO!' 'NO!'........... Then 'STOP!' 'NO!' 'STOP!'........... Pulling on IV's, pulse ox probes, tape, literally screaming at the top of her lungs. I asked if I could hold her and the nurse agreed--rather quickly. Tried picking her up, which seemed to escalate the noise and started the hitting--me, the IV, the air next to her that was apparantly also bothering her because each slap was preceeded by a 'NO' or 'STOP' I felt a little desparation creeping in wondering how long it would take for these medicines to get out of her system. All the while the nurse kept saying she was acting like many others--all the while I heard others crying but no screaming/yelling.... After a while, she offered for us to go to another room. Not sure if this is standard procedure or if it is reserved for those who are 'disturbing the peace'. We got in there with some cartoons on and seemed to begin to finally calm a little. After about 20 more minutes she seemed to realize who I was (and maybe who she was!) and seemed to be coming around to herself. The anesthesia doctor peeked in and said we could go and she looked over and said, 'bye bye'. Out we went--another hurdle jumped. There were a few more grumpy spells after leaving, but once we got home and got some food in her she was good to go and our sweet, smiling girl was back this evening. As I sat there today trying to hold an inconsolable, angry, confused child my mind couldn't help but wander back to the first time I held her. Her reaction today was actually worse, but I was not too emotional about it since I knew it was medication induced. That first time, though, I felt so sad for her--I couldn't comfort her then because she had no idea who I was. I had no idea what she did and didn't like. We didn't speak the same language. We had built no relationship. Now, as soon as she was back to herself, she stopped fighting and melted into my arms again. What a sweet feeling....and the best calling on earth.......mommy. I mentioned to some friends that somehow in adopting a 'special needs' child, somewhere in my mind I had the unrealistic thought that the problems were spelled out. That we knew what faced us and what challenges lay ahead. This medical issue has nothing to do with her original special need (which is such a non-issue, it is hard for me to even call it that) so somehow caught me by surprise. I know and trust, though, like I do with all of our children--and really everything in life--that nothing catches God by surprise. And I can trust in that. (Reading back over this before I post it, I am now laughing about the scene we must have created today--something I don't think I will forget. Funny now, that I got a 'Mama, hug, kiss!' before bed tonight and giggles and smiles. I am so thankful for our girl and I am even thankful that the spicy fight is in her somewhere because I think that makes her who she is--a very strong, resilient little girl who has already overcome more obstacles than most of us! I still remember every time someone in Guangzhou asked us where she was from, the response was 'Oh, spicy girl!' in their Chinese accented English with a big smile on their face.......boy were they right! And boy are we glad she is OUR spicy girl!!!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beach! Part 2---Bikes, Crabs and "How much fun can you have for $1???"

Our week at Hilton Head was so great. Our lives seem to fly by with activities, work, to-do lists, sports....you get the picture. This last week was a week of just being. Being together as a family, being in God's creation, playing with each other, no schedule, no agenda, no clock watching--we ate when we got hungry, got up when we woke up and decided what to do as we went. It was truly a vacation! The first morning, we ventured out to rent some bikes. We brought the boys' bikes and got these fun ones for the rest of us: Molly LOVED this--and loved being with her Daddy.
Cynthia and I got this great set up. I loved her being in the front instead of the back because we could talk and she could see. She loved riding bikes. Almost every time after we rode, she would comment, "Fun ride biking!!" She also liked to sing as we rode...Kum Ba Yah being one of her common selections! (No comments about my anti-sun-loving get up, please!)There was a park near our condo with a fun playground.
A couple of days were cool and the outdoor pool was definitely frigid, so we spent some time at the indoor pool....Samuel giving Molly a ride...


Thomas and some other boys played ball in the water for hours.
Another big brother back ride!
We decided to try our hand a crabbing, too. This was a beautiful but cool day, so we headed out to the marshy area near our condo.
And.....this guy took the bait on our 2nd throw into the water. He was quickly named 'Blue'. Unfortunately the rest of our time was not as productive-we caught 3 other small ones (named 'White', 'Red', and 'And'....get it? Red White And Blue?) We did cook them up and eat them, well, really nibble--as there was not a whole lot of crab meat to be shared! It was really fun, though, just experiencing the 'thrill of the hunt'.
There were also a lot of birds around--and no, that isn't where we stayed....

Then for a cool, windy day activity, we got these kites from Wal-Mart for $1 a piece. They provided quite some lengthy entertainment.



Later in the week, the weather got much warmer and we did venture into the ocean. I did not take the camera to the beach for the wet, sandy trips, so no pics.


One thing I wanted to do while we were there was to spend some one on one time with the boys, since they seem to be gone so much and growing up so quickly. Thomas and I played tennis one evening which was great--and we have agreed we need to do it again at home on a regular basis. Samuel agreed to get up early with me one morning to go for a walk on the beach. We got up and headed out, hoping to see the sun rise. We were a little disappointed when we noticed it was a little overcast. We didn't get to see the sun, but as we turned the corner on the boardwalk to the ocean, right there in front of us were 3 dolphins swimming in the water!! They were swimming toward our right, so we walked in that direction and watched them as we walked. We kept seeing more and more--at least 8 or 10, I think. They were slowly swimming, playing, we saw their tales pop up a few times and it was just so amazing. Several times they were so close to the shore, he really wanted to get in the water to try to touch them. They were so peaceful and graceful, I couldn't take my eyes off of them. Then we noticed a little tidal pool and went to check it out. There were dozens and dozens of little hermit crabs in it, which he thought was super cool. I could have stayed there forever with him and didn't want that sweet time to end--seeing it all through his eyes was so great. I told him that I thought God gave us a special present that morning and he smiled up at me, said, "yep"--and then ran to pick up another shell. :) That's my boy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sandy toes!!!

Wow! It has been quite a few weeks. As most of you know, we live in Augusta--home to a small golf tournament that comes around this time of year. This year, we were fortunate enough to be able to rent our house out for the week. For those of you not from here, that may sound crazy, and it is a little weird to have people we don't know in our house, but as a friend said a while back, it is 'part of life in Augusta'. The word came that we rented only a few weeks prior, so we had a mad dash at a huge 'to do' list around the house--some necessary fixes, some projects that we had been wanting to do and suddenly had the motivation and deadline that made it possible. Needless to say, there were many late nights, long Saturdays and MANY trips to the local home improvement stores! One motivating factor through all of it was that at the end of the work, there was sand! A much awaited, anticipated, longed for beach trip. Refreshing doesn't even begin to describe the week we had. As we rushed around getting out of our house by noon, we stuffed (literally--as packing was an afterthought) everything in the car and drove away....satisfied in the hard work we had done and looking forward to the week of family time ahead. As soon as we arrived, we headed to find the sand. The place we stayed had a boardwalk over the marsh to the beach. Here is the crew headed out the first time. She may not look it here, but Cynthia was excited by association...she has never been to the beach, but with the other kids excitement, hers quickly grew and when we made it, she seemed to understand very quickly!Here she is with her very first sand. She didn't want to put her foot down at first!When we started laughing, she did, too, and as she watched us all put our toes in, she decided she would try! Seeing those little feet in the sand did something for my soul! To think how far they had come....Water! She loved the ocean right away.Experienced wave jumpers.....The sentiment of us all!!!!!!!!!! Finally!!!! We made it!!Beach combing....... Thomas decided we needed to leave our mark.... Westminster W!

Samuel had been the one specifically asking to go to the beach for so long! So glad we could make it. What a joy to see him.

Does this guy look relaxed?Where is Mommy, you ask? Well, here..... behind the camera! Trying to capture this........another first for our sweet girl. And this memory for our whole family.
After the initial exploration, a trip to the store and settling in, it was time to rest up for the next day. I will post more pictures soon.
All said we had an amazingly wonderful, relaxing, absolutely no agenda, "we're on island time" week together. We made some great memories and are so thankful for God's provision of a time to rest....together.