Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ellie and her pal Doodle

Little girl who loves her Doodle dog a lot! Ellie and Doodle decided to snuggle up this afternoon in the living room, complete with her cupcake blankie and her personal remote (sans batteries)
Happiness is a warm puppy!









No! Not naptime!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

ORPHAN CARE IS WARFARE
Satan is a thief, a liar, a murderer, and a deceiver. He doesn't want us to do God's mission. He has many schemes for attack. We should expect him to be opposed to what I've mentioned in this chapter. That means that adoption and orphan care requires serious prayer, a reliance on God's power, and a steadfast faith in the promises of God.
You can expect opposition from the inside and the outside. From the outside, you will discover that many people are against you. Just remember there is something deeper going on other than what you see on the surface. Have you ever wondered why it is that there are so many fatherless children in the world? This is a spiritual matter. The world is not as it should be because of the fall. And why is it so hard to adopt? Could it be that there are spiritual forces involved? -from the book "Orphanology" by Tony Merida & Rick Morton

Wow. I haven't blogged since July! I must confess the adoption road hasn't been easy this time around. We've face opposition. We've faced the unknown in regards to fundraising. We've faced some health issues. Satan has figured out where he hadn't hit us, and chipped away at the armor. I've let him. I wallowed in self-pity. I've let anxiety and fear rule. How in the world can we do all this? How can we organize a large fundraiser ourselves with just a small (albeit faithful) group of volunteers? I've looked into the future and wondered if I could keep going, how in the world we would manage all this with TWO toddlers.
And then I thought of Job, and I also thought of Satan. Was he having a similar conversation with God about how he (Satan) knew I would fold like a cheap lawn chair in the face of opposition? Somehow the thought of that conversation actually taking place has fueled me to keep going.
I started reading "Orphanology" today and when I'm not wiping a snotty toddler nose or attending to a sick teenage boy, I am captivated by everything the authors have to say. It's the church's blue print for orphan care. It's the call to Christians to adopt, it is an "awakening to a gospel-centered adoption and orphan care". I am humbled I have been called upon to undertake this task. To be a part of a glorious kingdom.
Matthew 28:20 tells us Jesus will always be with us, no matter what. Even if life isn't always unicorns and rainbows.

Tell me..isn't the video proof enough

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Big Weekend






Awesome signs courtesy of  Kelly Ratcliff of Collinsville, Illinois
Wow! It's been a hectic few weeks! Every since we decided to answer the call to adopt again, we have been BUSY! We know God is faithful, but we also know we must do some of the hard work. Since this is His timing not ours, we were not prepared financially, nor could we be having just returned from our first adoption in China. We decided to start out having a fundraiser yard sale to raise the money for some of the fees we need to begin. I had been organizing and cleaning out closets ever since our return home from China. I knew I would not be able to get organized enough for our big city wide sale in June with Ellie demanding most of my time. Being two and all, it's her job. I continued to put stuff away, organized as if in my mind I was having a yard sale. When we decided we were going ahead with our journey, we put the word out to family and friends, cleaned out EVERYTHING we could find to sell and went to work. Donations of furniture, knick knacks, and more bags of clothes than you could imagine poured in. We cleaned the garage in 106 degree heat. On Monday ten members of our church's youth group pitched in and help carry up items, price and organize. Good friends stopped by to help sort, or to lend a helping hand with child care.

 I am over joyed to report two awesome affirmations from God...1) During horrible, record setting high heat, for most of the month of July...Friday, the first day of the sale, there was continual cloud cover and a high of barely 90 degrees by end of day. Most of the day was a gentle breeze and pleasant, cool weather. Saturday was a bit warmer but still very pleasant. 2) And this is the best part.... we made TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS! Enough to begin to start again. It's a long road but it will be worth it! We can't save them all but we can save at least one more.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Last night I was putting Ellie's scrapbook away in our fireproof locker for safe keeping. It was given to us on gotcha day and it contains photos of her first year, including when she was just days old. Most adoptive parents are not given such a wonderful valuable gift. I studied the photos like I had never had before, knowing I was tucking it away for safe keeping. For the first time I noticed a photo, of Ellie when she was about a year old, covered in scabies bites from head to toe. I realized then for the first time how hard the first almost two years of her life had been. We can't even imagine. We see this beautiful, intelligent, sassy, smiling toddler and can't even imagine what she endured in the first months of life.

We know there is one more who needs us.

Today the one who lives in darkness tried to discourage. He doesn't like when Christians are obedient and he lights fires wherever he can. Today we heard the words spoken, "you're too old", "China is a scary place to take your oldest child", "you'll die soon." Really, we're going to die....soon? Who knew?

We know this will be a hard road, we have no funds saved for a second adoption, we know we have to pretty much start all over with paperwork. We're willing to sacrifice everything of value to get her home. "Stuff" has no meaning anymore.

Pastor David Platt has written about Christians living radically. Many love to attend secret church simulcasts and then go back home, back to their same living. Unchanged. I can't really express it more than the following words, which I stumbled across today (accident? I don't think so) and the writer so graciously has allowed me to use whatever words bring glory to God. So here goes...my thoughts only written so thoughtfully by someone else I've never met. The beauty of it being I didn't have to expend brain cells thinking!

We are...

in love with Jesus.

crazy.

imperfect parents.

sinners saved by grace.

completely dependent upon the Father.

disappointed in ourselves daily.

adopting again.

Yes, we are.

We've pondered this little announcement.

Honestly, if we could do this privately, we would probably opt for that.

But maybe the journey has much to do with the destination.

Because we know we are not equipped.

We know we are not capable.

We know we are not strong enough.

But we know the One who is all the above and so much more!

We realize we need to look to Him for assurance now more than ever.

And we trust Him for direction every step of the way.

As someone has so beautifully said, 'kids are dying.'

And yet we go on with our comfy life.

Can we 'save' them all?

Nope.

Can we make a difference for one?

Yep.

Probably the biggest difference is made in our own hearts.

We are being refined.

We are NOT, I repeat NOT 'working our way to heaven.'

That deal is done. Sealed. When Jesus died on the cross and we (in our much-adult years) surrendered our lives to Him.

This is what we know:

There are over 147 million orphans

We are one family

There is this one little girl

We are her family

Someday maybe she will follow hard after the Lord

For now, we are committed to work wholeheartedly to bring her home

And we can't make this journey a private one because we are fundraising our way to her

Oh, the 'F' word

But the sooner we start fundraising, the sooner she comes home

We can't wait to share her with you

We cherish your prayers

In 50 years this won't make any difference to the nay-sayers, but it will surely have made a difference for us and for one little girl.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tonight we enjoyed some of the Key lime pie Auntie Leann left us. Then we decided to have a "Key Lime Facial"

Then we got silly!

So we had to have a bath right then!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's been nearly four months since our "Gotcha Day" for Ellie. Wow, she has changed so much and kept me on my toes! She's went from being a needy baby, barely walking and still taking a bottle to a running, laughing, "big girl", sassy two year old! She has caught up with her actual age, telling me "no, Hold you" and "mine" along with countless other words. She loves being with children and adults. She is just a joy and delight. We can't ever imagine a time she wasn't part of our family.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Been wanting to share Doodle photos for a while. Ellie finds Doodle the most interesting!
 Someone is SAD she is no longer the baby!


This was taken with Summer's phone. Three tired girls!

Happy Easter!

Whew! It's been a long day! The Bunny came this morning, we had Worship and Sunday school, then a nap, an egg hunt at Mawma and Pawpa's and then dinner at Cracker Barrel.
Click on the link below to view Ellie's photos on my share site.


Ellie's Easter photos

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wow! We've been home almost a month! What a whirlwind it has been! I will try and update soon. Until then,
here are videos of us coming home and photos from the airport.
Ellie has changed so much in this time, going from almost a baby to an active toddler.


Here are some photos from our share site which will make it easier to share photos.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Another video of Ellie

This was taken in Xi'an at our hotel a couple of days ago.

So we arrived late in Guangzhou (GZ) late last night. The flight took two and half hours.  Ellie did great! She fell alseep when the plane took off and slept most of the flight. I on the other hand forgot to take any medication and was a hot mess. I hate flying. I dread the flight home. Thank goodness God is so good and has provided us with an awesome family we've come to know, and are a good fit with us to fly home with.  GZ is different. It's warmer and more touristy. I didn't think our hotel could top the first one of our stay, but boy was I wrong! The Garden in GZ is more luxurious than one can imagine. We have a suite with walk in tub/shower. Did I mention it's marble? There are FRESH pink roses in a vase on the desk. The buffet for breakfast it to die for! There is less staring by the Chinese people. We had the medical exam for Ellie today. It was a cattle call. All the families go to this office and after several stations of weighing, ear, nose and throat checks and some general questions they send you on your way. Oh yeah, and charge around 500 rmb for that. What a racket!
Tonight we walked to Pizza Hut. It is not like Pizza Hut at home. They have pizza alright, and it tastes like home, but they have tons of other stuff on the menu which is several pages. Pizza Hut should just serve pizza!
Earlier today after the medical exam we went to McDonalds. Ordering was an adventure! My burger came with lettuce, two patties and...mashed potatoes! Yes, mashed potatoes! It wasn't ketchup or mustard so I was good. We had our first drinks with ice since we got to China. Apparently we look like sprite drinkers because that is what we got with our meal. 
Despite the five star living, I am so ready to be home. And home for good. 
Ellie's walking is better, she is taking more steps but like a one year old learning to walk. It's kind of neat she'll do her first real walking with us, probably at home when she gets some decent shoes.
She is still amazing! She is perfect when we are on the bus, perfect when out, and in our room she laughs and plays and cracks herself up. I'm not sure she is a real baby. She is amazing. She even has a heart shaped birthmark on her leg. She is the sweetest thing. She still is super friendly and will go to just about anyone who hold their arms out...so when we get home besides walking, bonding will be a must. Stranger danger IS important.
Well Ellie just finished her night time bottle and has gone to bed. She is a delight and joy to us.


With our guide, Ann in Xi'an right before we left for the airport for GZ.

Medical exam day!



Being silly with Baba (Daddy)

First McDonalds. Placing order was an adventure! Children are NOT allowed to get soda with their meal. Not that we would order her soda but still.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Terra Cotta Today!

With the farmer who originally found the warrior site. He's now a celebrity. When you walk in, they pressure you to buy the book and get his autograph and photo. It's raining, I have no flat iron, or will to care anymore :)

Wow, I am so glad we got to do this, even though the day was LONG! I was surprised too at how good the photos turned out.



Daddy's girl. She likes Mamma too but Dad doesn't look like quite the mess!


Ten Dollar each person for "take your own" photo with replica warriors

Love the angle our guide Ann took. It looks like we are down in the pit.



There are very few who actually get to stand in the pits. This one's for you dad!

End of a long day. The bow I made has held up well. We are eating most of our dinners in the hotel. This one gets rock star treatment from the staff!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chris shares more thoughts

This is Chris again, today marks the fourth day since we were united with Ellie!  The first evening back at the hotel, we took our baby girl for her first restaurant meal.  She tasted a few of the noodles we put on her plate, then promptly spit them into my hand.  The next morning we went to the breakfast buffet.  We gave Ellie some tangerines, sweet cake, and Cheerios.  Ellie quickly let us know she was having none of that either.  Being the "good parents" we quickly labeled her a picky eater.  While Skyping with Wyatt, we informed him his baby sister was picky, just like him.  Well, this morning, our "picky eater" ate two bowls of tangerines and a bowl of Cheerios!  So much for our parenting wisdom!  Apparently, being carried away by two strangers, who look nothing like anyone else you have ever seen, effects your appetite!  Who knew?

Just like Ellie's appetite, her personality continues to grow with each passing day!  She has a smile and a laugh which lights up a room, I can't even describe how it makes me feel!  I do know if I could put the feeling in a bottle and sell it, I'd be a very rich man!  Ellie thinks its hilarious to sneeze, belch, or cough in my face!  For some unknown reason, I think it's pretty darn funny myself!  It seems like every time Ellie wakes up in the morning, or, from a nap, and sees we're still here with her, she lights up even more!

The hotel staff, especially the waitresses, continue to fawn over Ellie!  There's not a lot of adoption families here and I guess Ellie is reaping the benefits.  It doesn't hurt she's the cutest thing this side of Beijing!  Tonight we're venturing out to a restaurant famous for it's dumplings.  We're going to go with the other family who is here and will be traveling to  Guangzhou with us.

Today, a hotel manager told Julie and I we were "charitable."  Of all the emotions I have been feeling, charitable is certainly not one of them.  Blessed, elated, indescribable joy, yes!!  Charitable, I hardly think so!  This gift from God is something I cannot figure out in my mind.   This morning, while we were both watching Ellie sleep,  I asked Julie; "what did we do to deserve her?"  Neither of us could think of anything.  Like all gifts from God, we're not worthy of his generosity.  Its what we do with these gifts for which God will hold us accountable.  Love your children, hold them, teach them, be those "good parents."              

Video

video

A few photos from Julie





Just a few notes as I am tired.
Found out her American name probably for paperwork purposes and doubtfully she was ever called this was...Gabrielle. Chris was worried about her not being regular. When the first "load" came, I let him have the honor of changing her!


The nannies gave us a scrapbook of her life. I now have photos of her first bath, where she still has her cord attached, first birthday complete with big birthday cake and first Christmas photo in front of a Christmas tree.


 After first bath, didn't care for it too much!
 Bottle after bath
 Waiting in the hotel lounge for our room to be cleaned.
 Angry bird shoes she came with!
 Stacking cups entertain for hours!