Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rejoice with those . . .

Rejoice with those that rejoice; 
mourn with those who mourn. 
Romans 12:15 

Parents across the land are rejoicing and posting photos of the awards their children have received as another school year comes to a close! It is wonderful to read about and see all the trophies, certificates, medals, and scholarship offers! Congratulations!

My heart goes out to those whose children that didn't receive any type of recognition! Did their lack of apparent success mean they didn't work as hard? Perhaps, yet perhaps not!

For my ESL learners success comes in many immeasurable ways! This is true of any child with a learning disability! While they may go unnoticed during award ceremonies they certainly do not go without recognition, especially to that parent that has worked and cheered them on as they conquered that which was so difficult for them in the beginning.

Yes, I rejoice that your child received so many tangible rewards for their hard work! Great job! I also rejoice with those that went seemingly unnoticed on awards day! While your photo may not grace the social media sites you are special and you deserve to be congratulated for each and every victory you made in your journey this past year! Never give up!

Mourn with those that mourn . . . today I talked with one of my precious adoptive mama friends! She is such a godly woman. She and her husband have adopted several children from China.

My sweet friend has received a devastating diagnosis for one of her children. When she called I had just dropped Gavin off and was feeling pretty sorry for myself as this will most likely be my last day with him before the big move. What I'm facing so pales in comparison! My heartbreaks and I mourn for this mama as she and her husband face a very difficult future with their beloved child!

I mourn what could have been, what will be and the unknowns between now the future. While we mourn together, we also pray, encourage and cheer each other on as we know the God who holds the future in his hands! No matter the circumstances we have an eternal hope in the one that calls us his own via the blood shed by Jesus Christ his son on Calvary!

Rejoicing and Mourning with those that rejoice and mourn!

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Celebrations!

The process of adoption took 15 months and the long awaited day finally arrived! On May 14, 2012, just one week after meeting Kendall it was finally time to meet Lan Xiang! Journey Caroline Xiang my beautiful dancing girl was finally mine!


Journey was well liked at her orphanage. She arrived in a cute outfit, extra clothes, and two pairs of shoes! She had a sweet gift for me too! What a contrast from where Kendall came from!


Journey is very self-confident! Last week I told her she looked cute and she immediately replied, "No, I look adorable!" Indeed, she did!

I cannot begin to tell you how much Journey has changed since coming home! She has developed a softer side, a kindness that just wasn't there four short years ago! She pretends that she hasn't changed, yet smiles freely when we talk about her changes and how sweet she has become!

Journey is a hard working student! She and Mackinley are on the same level in school! When Mackinley doesn't do as well on a test, she will ask Mackinley, "What happened to you?" They are very competitive which keeps both of them on their toes! Trust me, Mackinley and Journey have a special bond and their competitiveness is very friendly and they really do encourage one another!



This week we attended Jackson's pre-school graduation! He is the little guy in the blue tie! Jackson in such a love! 



Kendall walked to his room and snapped this photo of Jackson waiting for the "big moment!"



I love this photo of Kayte and Jordan! Katye is one active little princess! She kept going from her mama and Jimmy's mom while she waited for things to get started! Katye loves wearing dresses! A real girly girl!



The little graduate with all his aunts! I was so proud of Avery on this trip. Her behavior was perfect!



I love this little family! I'm blessed to live close enough to share in these precious moments!



One more photo with the girls! Journey was feeling her best, yet she pushed through the event without complaints!



One photo with my first born daughter! I love my time with this special young woman! I'm proud to be her mom!

Congratulations Jackson on this achievement! I look forward to watching and being there for your next educational milestone! 

Until next time . . .

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day Weekend!

On the 7th of May 2012, I met Huai Xia Song in Hefei, China! She looks so young and tiny! Kendall Katherine Xia Song has never looked back! 


On the 7th of May 2016, we celebrated Kendall's arrival to our family at her favorite restaurant! She has changed quite a bit over the last four years!


Kendall is a sweetheart! Her older brother and sister adore her! Kendall has a servant's heart and shares without thinking twice (and has from the moment I met her).

This child has known hunger, she has known abuse by the hands of her care givers and other children. God protected her heart and she has the capacity to love and give freely! 

I am beyond blessed to call Kendall my daughter! 



Journey took a few photos of her sisters as we waited for our meal. Thus no individual photos of her! I love Mackinley's smile in this photo!


I love the way Eden smiles with her eyes! 


Avery seems to be fitting in more and more and it is good to see her smiles as she enjoys family times of celebration.



Eden took this selfie and she and Journey thought it was so good that I didn't have the heart to delete it!


Of course, I had to get a group shot! These girls are precious and I love my time with them!



Once our food arrived the girls shared a little of their meal with each other! Our American waitress that speaks fluent Mandarin told the girls not to fill up on the rice as then they wouldn't want to eat their meals! 



I assured her it wouldn't be a problem! I didn't care for my meal so the girls shared it! Only Eden and Journey had a small amount leftover to bring home!



The Saturday before Mother's Day we honor the girl's birth mom's with a balloon release!



I was at a conference in Birmingham and nearly forgot about this special tradition!



Once I remembered we jumped in the car and ran for balloons! I'm so thankful for the Dollar Tree that has hundreds of balloons ready!



Using the car lights we snapped a quick photo of each girl with the balloon they selected to honor their birth mom.



As you can see from Journey's express, this was a somber time for her! Before the release we gathered in a circle and prayed for the birth moms!


I am thankful that the girls mom's choose life for them! We will never know why they had to give up their precious daughters but we know they loved them enough to give them life and place them in a safe place were they could be found!



For the last 12 weeks I have been in a Freedom small group at church! Here we are at the conference held at Grants Mill in Birmingham! I have been abundantly blessed and God has worked mightily in my life via this curriculum and HIS WORD!

Today, I saw all of my seven children! Jordan and Jimmy brought me flowers! It's been ages since I've had a bouquet of flowers and I just love them! I especially enjoyed my time visiting with them!


The lighting isn't great but what more could I ask for? A lap full of grand-babies! I love Katye and Jackson!

This morning I had a visit from Matthew. He blessed me with my favorite coffee along with a gift card to Starbucks!

The girls made original cards, each reflecting their individual thoughts and personalities! I won't share other than to say, I am blessed that each has chosen to love me!

My day would not be complete without honoring my own mother! She is aging and suffers from a vessel disease that sometimes interferes with her ability to get her words out! This saddens me, yet I know without a doubt that I am loved by her and I return her love and honor her for being the best mom she knew how to be! I cherish my time with her and thank God that she is still here to love!

It has been a blessed busy weekend! Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Celebrations and new looks!

It was time for a change. I have been slowing inching my way to this hairstyle! 


 
I hate getting my photo made but there was no other way to show off my new cut!


I have loved this cut on others and now it is mine too!

This is the shortest I've had my hair in years! I like it! The true test will come when I have to style it for the first time!


Nine years ago, on May 5th my daughter Jordan married her love, Jimmy! I adore this photo of Jimmy and Jordan at their reception! Jimmy's look at Jordan is priceless!



Jordan and Jimmy are a beautiful couple with two precious children. I love them more than words can express and thank God for their special day of celebration!


For Cinco De Mayo we enjoyed tacos from Taco Bell and as a treat we added the happy hour frozen drinks to our order! 



As you may recall, the school room is a work in progress! One of you suggested that we turn the desk to face one another and the other morning we gave it a try! The extension cords are not in the way and it does open up the room. Thanks for your suggestion!



Avery's desk is still off to the side, she requested it face in its current direction!  

One day, I hope to get the rest of the project completed. Right now it works, and the girls are certainly enjoying their individual space. I'm enjoying having the breakfast room back without all the books!


Supper is in the crock pot! Vegetable beef soup with a side salad! I love that the girls like soup! It is so easy and good for them!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Seasons!

Have you ever been in that place when you felt God trying to tell you something? You heard clearly what he was saying, yet you couldn't or wouldn't let go of the "thing" he was calling you to let go of?

You knew God was right but you rationalized the situation, thinking you wouldn't spend as much time on or with the "thing." You would seek God first, but in the end the "thing" had a grip that kept taking first place in your life.

Yet, that was where I was! My "thing" was an online game that I loved playing. It became my god! I woke to play in the morning, on my breaks, at work and then once home. Was this a "bad" game, no! It was fun to hunt for the hidden object and conquer each level. The problem, I put it before my time with God!

We are to have no other gods before God and I was breaking that sacred commandment! I let a silly game come first before God! You would think at my age things like that wouldn't happen yet I'm here to tell you the enemy has an insidious way of working! What started out as simple fun became all consuming and thus caused spiritual havoc in my life! (HEAR me, I'm not saying all games are bad!) What I am saying, is that anything that comes before your time with God is bad. In my case, it was a game. 

God doesn't want our leftovers! He deserves my first in everything, my time, my money, my praise, and my love! There is freedom in making and allowing God to be first. A burden lifts from our shoulders and there is no shame or condemnation when GOD is in control!

I am thankful that God loves me enough to get my attention and to call me back to him, in a way that is far more honoring and pleasing! It is this process of refinement that reminds me yet again that I am his and that he wants my best!

I rejoice that I serve a living GOD that is in control. I am thankful for his love for me and that he didn't give up on me.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

It happened . . .

I have been very open regarding my struggle with Avery! I wanted to share that it finally happened! I can say . . . at last, I love her!

It makes my heart exceedingly thankful that God did His work in my heart and that he enabled me to open up and love her!

I'm praying that God will help me show Avery how to accept and receive our(my) love! 

The struggle was real, it was tough, yet it was so worth it! Even in the midst of the worst of times I could see a sweetness in Avery, this of course made the conflict so much more difficult. 

Avery is one very brave girl, she is amazingly gifted with desire to make things beautiful. The other night while helping to cook she placed the potatoes and carrots in a ring around the chicken that looked beautiful and would have been perfect for a table presentation. Unfortunately the pan I was using was just to shallow for cooking in that particular manner.

Avery is great at origami! She can and does make the best cards, they always have some sort of origami creation included on the front. 

Avery loves cats! She will stroke and pet them ever so gently!

Avery loves music and the iPod that she received in China filled with Christian music! 

I rejoice that God did his work and that he opened my heart to love this child that he called me to love and adopt as my very own. This conflict was deep and it took until now for it to be resolved. The conflict was mostly mine and it dealt with so many things that happened during this adoption process at home and in country, and really once home that it has taken until now for me to be "free" to love. 

Our rough start only added fuel to the conflict making it easier to want to run than to fight and love. I praise God that we didn't run and that HE did his work in my heart!

Yes, it happened . . . my heart is filled with love for this beautiful daughter of mine! Thanks be to the Lord God almighty!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ramblings

As many of you know, a year or so ago I started a weekly mother/daughter date with the girls! Each week one of the girls and I go out for special one on one time.

The girls keep a list and each takes a turn being first in the rotation! It is cute to me how they keep up with whose turn it is! It is great for me as I never have to remember who goes next!

A couple of weeks ago it was Avery's turn! We ran a lot of errands. When the girl's English isn't great we use the time to be together to run errands and slowly develop our focused one on one communication. 

This week was Journey's turn! We visited at Starbucks where we each enjoyed our favorite drink. Today, she ran with me so that I could renew the car rental for another two weeks! We stopped by the repair shop and work on the van has yet to begin! (Insert frowning face)!

Today, I had to make an emergency visit to the ophthalmologist! My right eye is infected, the good news, it is not "pink eye"! The bad news, I'll be on drops four times a day and an ointment twice a day for the next 10 days! Thankfully, with good hand washing on my part I won't have to worry about the girls or my patients "catching" this! 

Our school year is coming to a close! It seems each day we are finishing off various subjects! I have assigned three of the girls one page reports on the President of their choice! I gave them the facts that I wanted to see and have left the rest up to them. I have loved watching them research and can't wait to read their final report. Their paper is due next week! 

I'm thankful for ALL my children and know that God has a plan no matter what difficulty we may have walked through! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Where are we?

Five months and three days ago, I met Avery for the first time in Kunming, China. It was not a good first meeting by any stretch of the imagination! I immediately thought I had made a huge mistake!

Those thoughts and feelings continued the next day as we returned to the civil affairs office to finalize paperwork. To be honest, I ready did not want to sign but felt pressured by myself and others to move forward!

I put a lot of pressure on myself thinking that if I didn't finalize the adoption this child's chance at a forever family was completely destroyed! I knew of those that had sacrificed so much to help supply the financial need for her adoption and I didn't want to let them down.

Facebook followers were very opinionated about what I should do. I can't tell you how many people told me that the child I was seeing in China wasn't the same one that I would see once home. As if I hadn't adopted an older child before and as if they could see what I was seeing first hand.

Please never judge someone that disrupts in country or put pressure on them to adopt when they feel in their heart that they are making a mistake. They need your love and encouragement not your opinion, especially when you don't know their particular family dynamics!

I have disclosed to my social worker my disappointment in my adoption agency and guides in China regarding this situation. I will forever feel that I was deceived by them and that regardless to what they may say, they were not equipped to handle this type of situation nor did they want to! It was easier to push us right through the assembly line to travel home thus making it nearly impossible to disrupt once home.

To say that we started out on the wrong foot would be the understatement of the year! Oh, and for the record, the child I saw in China is exactly the child that I see at home! 

So with all of that being said, how are we doing! Better! Our first days home were "hell on earth"! I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy! There was no "honeymoon" period!

The things that made me question Avery's fit for our family are still issues. Issues that we are learning to work around, yet issues that remain and still make we wonder if she would not be better off with another family that could better meet her particular need.

The girls are learning to work together without as many melt downs although sometimes they still occur when Avery hasn't been as kind as she could be. Her unkindness comes in the form of actions and words. She has never been violent for which I'm thankful.

I'll be honest, Avery has been hard for me to learn to love! I didn't want to love her, I didn't want to let her in. I wanted her gone so that we could return to our happy family! 

I have had to pray about my attitude toward Avery and about the words I was speaking regarding our situation. I shared with my small group at church and asked them to pray as well. I have shared here about how hard this was for all of us.

Things are better! I see progress in so many little things, yet in saying this I almost cringe as each time I share this news we seem to have a major step backwards. 

Avery wants to love and be loved although she isn't always comfortable knowing how to give and receive love. She has bonded best with Journey and I think this is because Journey doesn't take her attacks personally like some of her sisters.

I am thankful that Avery wasn't left in China to "age out". I am thankful that she has a beautiful smile and laugh! I'm thankful for the progress she has made in so many different areas of her life. I'm thankful that I see a kind spirit within that peeks out from time to time. 

Are we there, no. Will we get there? Yes, with God's direction and help! Would I be open to re-homing, honestly, some days, YES! As a single mom, I'm still not sure that we are Avery's best fit. I believe that a smaller family with a stay at home mom would meet Avery's need far better than I ever could!

Would I re-home? I'm not sure! I will say this, Avery is a beautiful girl with a world of potential! I'm thankful that God has opened my heart to her and that is truly an answer to prayer!

No, we aren't there, but my of my we have come so far! I can say that I'm thankful for the work God has done in my heart for this child! The real change had to start in my heart and life before I could expect a change in our household. God is faithful and that change has begun. 

I'm thankful that He that began a good work in me will be faithful to fulfill that work!

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A typical evening!

A few photos from our school room this evening as the girls work on their lessons!



We are loving our new desk! It is so nice not to have our books and supply caddies piled on the breakfast room table! We can eat our meals without clearing the table or looking over mounds of books!


I especially like that each girl has their own space and the built in shelves are perfect for all their workbooks and books!


The nice thing about home schooling is that the girls can dress as they wish! Some have had their showers and are dressed and others are still hanging out in their p.j.'s! It is perfect!


The boxes behind Eden will be unpacked shortly! They are full of next year's curriculum! We took advantage of a terrific sale back in February!



Now for an Eden close up! Her braces came off on Monday! Her smile is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!



Kendall decided that she wanted the puppies in her photo! Actually, she brought them in to eat dinner so we snapped a quick picture!



Our school room in a work in progress! I would like to  take out the filing cabinet behind Kendall and the stand next to it, freeing up a little more floor space!

My desk in the corner is a nice workspace for me! It makes checking work easy and keeps me near by for any questions the girls might have!

Last Thursday, I took the girls to see the Montgomery Capital Sounds. I free concert at one of the local churches!


As you can see the event was not well attended. Once there, I learned that they were telecasting the event live.


A few shots before things got started! Avery loved the harp!


This is an all volunteer band, they do a number of performances throughout the year! It is made up of community members that have finished college!



I'm still waiting to hear about my car. I sure hope it will be soon. I have a feeling that I'm going to have to extend my car rental! I'm thankful for something nice to drive that is large enough. I just don't like the cost involved! Thankfully, I will not be in this position again! I now have rental coverage!

Until next time . . .

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Just another day!

Friday, on the way home from work I was hit by a young girl. 

The facts: 
  • She was talking on her cellphone to her mom. Her mom said, "I told her to follow me!" She proceeded to move from the far right lane crossing over the middle lane to hit me in the far left lane.
  • Her mom told me that I was trying to tell her to look out for the van!
  • She did not have car insurance!
  • She does not have a job!
  • She never once said she was sorry she hit me!   







The police office said that I couldn't drive due to the side airbag being deployed! As you can see from the photos it goes the entire length of the van.





As you can see from the photos all the flush mounted devices along the top panel are all out of place due to the airbag deployment! 

Facts:

  • I missed a night of work due to my lack of transportation and stiff back/neck
  • I had to rent a vehicle (I didn't have rental coverage, this will be changed immediately!)
I have a wonderful loving supportive family! Matthew came and sat with me while I waited, and waited, and waited, for the tow truck. The office took a good while to bring me the offending driver's information!

Facts:
  • The office told me that she was ticketed for not having insurance.
  • The office said her car would be impounded! (Her car appeared to be totaled so I do not see a huge incentive for her to want to collect her wreck)!

Matthew also came over early Saturday morning and took me to pick up my rental, plus he and Gavin brought breakfast!



A special thanks too to my sisters and parents that called and offered their prayers and assistance!

Now the fun part begins. Getting an estimate for my repairs and praying the repair company does a good job!  Like I didn't have enough on my plate!

Facts: I have the young woman's name address and I even found her photo of FB. If my insurance company does not go after her to pay for these repairs, I will be forced to do so. I have no malice, but I do expect her to do the responsible thing and that is to pay for the damages and losses for which she is responsible.

I am thankful that the girls weren't with me! I'm thankful that I wasn't seriously hurt! 

The Bible says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

God is in control! He can do far more than I can expect or imagine!

Until next time . . .