Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thanking Him in the Big Things and in the Small

We have been blessed in many ways these past few days. Some big and some little.

In no particular order. . . .

Blessing #1
The children and I were in a Birmingham thrift store the other day when we ran into some friends from the children's art co-op class. They were surprised to see us and said they happened to have something in their van for us.

We learned that their sweet 9 year old daughter and 2 other friends the same age had been making handmade greeting cards and selling them to benefit our adoption. Right in the middle of the thrift store (which is not even in my neck of the woods), she presented us with $100.I was shocked and very humbled. We were blessed by their love and compassion, and I got another small glimpse into the way the Lord works in the hearts of His people on behalf of the orphan.

Blessing #2
You see, Big Sister (as well as all our children) have been on Cloud 9 about our adopting from the very beginning. Once we learned back in March that we were bringing Hai Hai into our family, Big Sister had made up her mind she was buying him a special gift just from her. She soon decided she would purchase a Panda at the Build-a-Bear store at first opportunity. Back in the summer the Panda came home with us and has been waiting for Hai Hai ever since.

Upon learning we were bringing Zheng Zheng into our family, Big Sister soon realized she needed another Panda. However, Build-a-Bears are not cheap, and their store is also not in my neck of the woods. :-) I had encouraged her to settle for something else.

Well, while visiting the thrift store the other day, Big Sister and Middle Sister came hurrying to me with a "You are not going to believe this!" look on their faces. Right there on the thrift store shelf was a Build-a-Bear Panda. Just like the one she already had. What a precious and tangible reminder to us all that God cares about the details.



Blessing #3
My dear friend April and her family planned a special fundraising event for Hai Hai and Zheng Zheng. She organized an Old Fashioned HoeDown, and it was a blast!



She reserved a great venue and some awesome callers, and we had loads of fun last night, dancing the night away! (OK, so I danced 3 dances, but my feet felt like it was all night. . .;-)



Everyone enjoyed it so much, and it was definitely multi-generational, which I think is THE WAY TO GO!!! We had grandparents, moms and dads, newlyweds, young adults, children, and babies, all dancing for a cause! I don't think we could have had a more fun and joyous fundraiser!











We were so thankful for the many, many families who attended the fundraiser. The Lord blessed us with another $952. He is ever so faithful.

Looking out at the many who participated, my husband commented, "The Lord continues to show how much He loves adoption."

(Thank you, Kathy, for this group pic!)

In our long, long journey in and to adoption, we have learned a lot of things. Things about ourselves and also about the Lord. One thing we know for sure, He does love adoption, and He certainly loves the orphan.

"I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you" (John 14:18).


What about you???

Ni Hao Yall

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cabeled!

Today I received an email from the National Visa Center (and the all-important NVC letter attached) that Zheng Zheng's paperwork has been cabeled to the American Embassy/Consulate in Guangzhou, Ch*na!

We're getting very close!

Praying Hai Hai's would catch up quickly. :0)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Zheng Zheng's 800 Approval

For anyone who knows much about the China adoption process, you may have noticed we have been waiting on our I-800 approval from immigration for several weeks.

We sent Hai Hai's LOA and immigration paperwork off first and then Zheng Zheng's about 10 days later (as soon as we received his LOA). Well, today we received Zheng Zheng's 800 approval in the mail! We are so thankful. The approval is dated January 13.

The best I can understand these last few steps, his information has been forwarded to the National Visa Center which will then "cable" his information to the American Consulate/Embassy in Guangzhou, China. Once it is there (any day now, I hope?), our agency can submit our "Article 5 letter." Once it has been signed by the consulate, our agency's liason in China will pick it up and deliver it to the CC*A. After maybe 2 weeks, the C*AA will issue our Travel Approval!

Of course, nothing ever goes very smoothly in our adoption world, and Chinese New Year is coming up very quickly. Ch*na's government offices take 2 weeks off for this celebration. Just in time for our paperwork to arrive. :-/

Speaking of things not going very smoothly, you may have noticed I did not mention Hai Hai's approval coming in the mail today. After a bit of confusion with his paperwork, we are still waiting on his. We are praying to see it very soon!

Anyhoo. . .friends are always asking when we expect to travel. That's the lowdown. :0)

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Gideon-like Fundraiser

The Lord amazed us again with the results of our Spaghetti Dinner/Silent Auction!

This was the first of its kind that I had ever planned and organized. Needless to say, as I was purchasing the supplies, I was nervous about how much or how little to buy.

We finally decided to prepare for 400, not knowing if we would have 100 people with ALOT of leftover food or if we would run out of food and wish we would have had larger goals.

I knew that we had the potential of making $2000 if our maximum arrived.

So imagine my disappointment when only 1/4 of the number of people showed up. All I could think about were my dear friends and family who had helped me cook all day and all the dear friends who had baked desserts for this fundraiser. I knew deep down that God would do what He wanted with this particular fundraiser and eventually provide what we needed, but boy was I disappointed that we had put so much effort into this Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction with such a low turnout.

Then I went home, and as the children were getting ready to fall into bed, I began to count the money.

Can I just say that God doesn't need my numbers?

He gave us, through the hearts of many precious and generous people, $2386! Totally amazing. And since then we have received another $300 donation.

He exceeded my "goal" with a quarter of the turnout I thought I needed.

It reminded me so much of Gideon.

Remember when God wanted to use Gideon to lead Isreal in victory over the Midianites? Gideon started with 32,000. God said this was too many. Then Gideon had 10,000 men, but God said, "The people are still too many" (Judges 6:4).

Eventually, Gideon was left with only 300 men, and they ran the Midianites out of town with only trumpets, pitchers, and torches.

And God got all the glory. No one could say that Gideon had planned it so well or that he was such a mighty commander. It was all God.

And so goes our Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction. It was all God. Fighting on behalf of our sons. Moving mountains. Building a testimony in their lives.

So thankful we get to be a part of this story.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tonight is the Spaghetti Dinner

Tonight we will be holding the Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction, a fundraiser for our sweet China boys!

This is a new adventure for me. I cook for a lot of hungry people everyday, but it pales in comparison to all the spaghetti we will be cooking today!

Date: Saturday, January 15
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: Bethel Baptist Church in Snead
Cost: $6 a plate (spaghetti, bread, dessert, drink)

If you're a local friend, come have dinner with us! If not, please pray for the Lord's blessings on our event!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Help Another Adoptive Family

We have a sweet friend who is actually a "real life" friend ;-), and they are in the process of their 5th and 6th China adoptions. Janet is an amazing lady who loves the Lord and has a precious family! Their son Waid actually came home from Tianjin, which is where our little Hai Hai is waiting!

When Janet was preparing to leave this past August to bring Waid home, she was so thoughtful that she offered to make room in her very limited bag for a blanket I was sending to Hai Hai, and on their Gotcha Day still made it a point to give the blanket to the orphanage director. (I hope when I am preparing to leave I still have enough sense to think of others! LOL!)

Please go to their blog to read their story to their newest children and consider participating in their fundraiser. You could win an Ipad!! :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Are We Still in Alabama?

We've had a bit of a Winter Wonderland around our house lately.





The snow has been beautiful, and the children have definitely had a blast!






When snow arrives in these parts you have to enjoy it while it's here. Cause you expect it to be gone tomorrow.



Well, not this week! This snow came Sunday night, and we still have the same view on Wednesday!



Hubby and the big boys had fun playing "air soft" in the woods.



And it has been soooo much fun to watch Little Brother in his first "big" snow.








Soon the snow will be gone (I hope ;-), but maybe the memories will linger for a while.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Kung Fu Heart

Can I just say, "How do you miss someone you've never met?"



How can your heart ache for someone you've never even held in your arms?



My friend Laine one time told me it is called "Kung Fu Heart."

I think I must have it.

Longing for 2 little boys in China. . . . . . .

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Watching the Fruit Ripen

Ya know, being part of big family requires certain responsibilities. Actually being a part of any size family requires certain responsibilities. I have definitely found, though, that as our family grew, I had to make changes and adjustments to increase efficiency around the house, ensure I was teaching necessary life skills to all ages, and also maximizing one on one time with the children.

We do a lot of chores around here. Everyone from Little Sister up has at least 3 daily chores in addition to room clean up, zone clean up, and kitchen duty.

It has been in meal preparation that I have found some of those most fulfilling times as a mom.

You see, I always said I would NOT be one of those moms who always shooed my children out of the kitchen during cooking time.

But when my first 4 were so little (barely 5 and under, for the record ;-), I found myself doing just that. I mean, it was just too easy to send them away from the kitchen so I could get it done quickly and with as little mess as possible.

I soon began to recognize in my words, though, "No, just let Mama do it by myself. I'll be done so much faster!" that I knew I was becoming what I didn't want.

But four stirring the brownie batter? Four beating the eggs? There had to be a better way.

What is the saying about necessity being the mother of invention? Well, I didn't actually invent anything, but I had to creatively problem solve.

So, thus, the assigned meal helper idea was born. I assigned a meal to one child (plus snack time), and we began to work in the kitchen together, side by side, one on one.

Every six months, we switch the meal assignments around, so everyone gets plenty of experience cooking different things. Boy, has it been helpful to see how a few months into a new rotation how different children become little experts at different foods/meals.

This morning was one of those wonderful moments when you realize that the time you are investing is really paying off.

Middle Sister wanted to surprise me with breakfast. She wanted to select the meal and cook it w/o my attendance. I was a smidge hesitant to say yes, but I decided, "why not?"

She did a perfectly wonderful job of cooking breakfast burritos for the whole family! She has helped me make them several times, but this is the first time she has cooked all the ingredients and assembled them by herself.
And they were very yummy! :0)




I am so proud of her for taking initiative and being willing to work and serve her family. And I am thankful to see fruit beginning to ripen that was planted a long time ago.

You know, skills and character do not develop overnight. It takes time and perseverance. If I went out in the yard and planted some apple seeds, I would not have an apple tree tomorrow. It takes time. But if I don't take care of those seeds and tend to what I've planted, I may never see the fruit I desired.

Seems to be that way with children, too.

I pray the Lord will help me persevere and tend very carefully the seeds we've been given.



It sure seems worth it! :-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spaghetti Dinner

Hi, everyone!!! My family is having a Spaghetti Dinner to help raise these last funds needed to complete both our boys' adoptions. We would love to invite you!

The dinner will be Saturday, January 15th at 5:30 PM at Bethel Baptist in Snead (about a mile east of the crossroads on the left of HWY 278--much thanks to Bethel Baptist for allowing us to use their facilities!). The price of each plate is $6 and includes spaghetti, bread, dessert, and drink. Also, there will be a Silent Auction at the dinner!

Please consider making plans to attend (and inviting everyone you know ;-)! What a great way to enjoy dinner without the cooking and clean up AND BE PART OF THE HANDS AND FEET THAT HELP BRING 2 ORPHANS TO THEIR FOREVER HOME!!!

(We are so thankful to be 100% funded for one adoption and about 35% funded for the other son's adoption. God is amazing!!!)

Feel free to re-post, especially if you are a local friend!