Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Get Off at the Next Exit

Sorry for the absence--I had a wretched cold over the weekend and then a migraine yesterday.

So here is my Memorial Box post--two days late. :) Memorial Box Monday originated with my friend, Linny, from A Place Called Simplicity.

A month or two after returning from China with our second daughter, Molly, God led us to start an adoption of a little girl in China named, Xiao Fu. The story of us finding her is a separate Memorial Box post--but that would make this one waaaay too long.

She was the first child with special needs that we were led to pursue. At the time, the current process of putting SN kids on lists was just starting. We, along with several other families were hoping to adopt children from the same orphanage. All were special needs. Xiao Fu had an unusual special need that had never been eligible for adoption. We were told by everyone that this adoption was 'impossible.'

But God made it so very clear that we were to step forward. And so we did. It was the year that China instituted the quota system, only allowing agencies a specific number of slots for families. Once those slots were filled, agencies had to wait until the following year to submit any more dossiers.

Just as our dossier was being finished, our agency informed us that there had been a mistake and that the slot we thought was available, was gone. We had a dossier but no way to send it to China.

God? What now?

We could do nothing but wait and pray. A different agency was willing to try the 'new' waiting list procedure and request the girls that we and several other families were trying to adopt. As the months passed, all of the other little girls were put on lists except Xiao Fu. Each time a list arrived, we were crushed to learn that XiaoFu's name was not on it.

Eight months after our dossier was completed--and just sitting on a desk in the US--our agency finally found a slot available with a different agency. It was a small agency and I had never heard of them. It had been a looong eight months of waiting and wondering if/how/when our dossier would ever get to China.

We were eventually logged in and our agency promised to request that XiaoFu be put on their waiting child list. Their first list Xiao Fu. The lists came every 3-4 months, so we waited and prayed that she would be on the next one. She wasn't.

In the meantime, many, many people were praying for Xiao Fu and for us. God brought people out of the woodwork to help us. It was totally amazing. He put us in contact with a well-connected offici*l in Beij*ng, a woman who had formerly worked for the CC*A, a doctor who called and talked to the CC*A officials about Xiao Fu's special need, etc. One by one, they did what they could to convince the CC*A that we were Xiao Fu's family and that her special need should not prevent her from being adoptable.

Because of the many miraculous ways God brought people to help, it certainly seemed like God was orchestrating events to bring Xiao Fu home to us. Mountain after mountain was crossed or removed--but then just as quickly, another would stand in its place. God continued to urge us forward. He told us that she was a child of Promise. Over and over, I felt that God had promised to bring her home.

One day while talking to a friend and voicing my fears of XiaoFu never coming home, my friend said, "Karin, God said that she is the child of promise...through this child will come the promise." A shiver went through me at the mention of 'through,' and though I wanted to brush it off, I knew it was the Holy Spirit.

For two years we pursued Xiao Fu.

And we loved her.

We treasured every photo, every crumb of information. We prayed for her as any parent would who was separated from their child.

Finally, the day came when we would receive a referral. The call finally came and before I heard the news, I knew.

We had been offered a beautiful baby girl...but it wasn't Xiao Fu. Our agency said that Xiao Fu was not eligible for adoption and that our request had been denied.

We were crushed. Devastated. Confused.

What in the world was God doing? Why had He told me that XiaoFu was the child of promise? Why had He tricked me? Or was I just completely off base, and if so, how could I ever trust myself to hear from Him again?

And what were we supposed to do about this precious baby girl whose referral we had been offered?

There are so many details to this story that I can't share here because it would be a BOOK. However, during the wait for Xiao Fu, God told me that He had a little girl for us (that I assumed would come home after XiaoFu). God had let me know that she was 'lame,' born in the fall of 2002, and that we were to name her Chloe.

Jeff and I went to prayer about the child we were referred. God showed us that she was not our daughter and we made the difficult decision to decline the referral. It was excruciatingly hard. Our agency relayed the information to CC*A with the request for us to wait until their next waiting child list came and allow us to choose a child from the list. CC*A agreed. My arms ached, my heart even worse. There was a little Asian girl who had filled my heart--but now she was gone.

We waited some more. I was plagued with doubts. Had we just given up on Xiao Fu? She needed a family. Should we continue to fight for her?

And then two months after our referral, an email came from a contact in China. Miraculously, amazingly, spectacularly, our Father had provided a family for our sweet Xiao Fu. A local family had decided to adopt her. And they were a family who would teach her about Jesus. We could rest--knowing that our God--who is the Father to the fatherless--had taken care of her. We had been called to advocate for her as only parents can, but now that call had ended and she was moved to the care of another.

Two more months went by and we celebrated Christmas. I knew the waiting child list was supposed to be coming soon. While we were celebrating New Years, a package was winging it's way to America. In it contained the files of six children. Only six.

I called our agency the first day they opened after the holiday. The list had just arrived. Breathlessly, I asked, 'Is there a little girl on the list who has a leg or foot deformity?"

"Just a minute, I'll check."


"Yes! There is one. A little girl born in Nov. of 2002."

It was our Chloe.

Our amazing God had laid that little girl on my heart with just enough information to let me know who she was. And all at once my heart healed. I could hear from Him. I wasn't 'crazy.' I didn't always understand exactly what He was saying, but I could hear His voice.

It took me many months and years to process the whole situation. But this is what I have come to believe. It's easier to tell in a word picture, so here goes....

Let's say God says you are to travel from Florida to New York. You get on the road and have a flat tire. You wonder if the trip will have to be canceled. But then, someone comes along to help and you think--wow--God must really want me to get to NY. Awhile later, your car breaks down. You wonder again if the trip will have to be canceled. But then...someone comes along and takes your car to his shop and fixes it for free! Woohoo! You think, wow--God REALLY wants me to get to NY. A bit farther down the road, someone crashes into your car. Now you are thinking...this is it--the trip will have to be canceled. But no...someone comes along who fixes the car in a few hours, the hospital fixes your broken arm, and before you know it, you're back on the road. Wow...God REALLY, REALLY wants you to get to NY.

And then, there is a big detour sign. The highway is closed and NO ONE is getting through--ever. You have to exit. There is absolutely no way to get to NY. The exit says you now have to go to North Carolina. But, that is not where God told you to go. Shouldn't you be going to NY?

And then God whispers to your heart. "No, actually, North Carolina was the original destination, but for reasons unknown to you, I asked you to just head north. There was no road available from Florida to North Carolina when you started out. The only way to get there was to start for NY."

And then I realized...Xiao Fu WAS the child of promise. THROUGH her, all of our kids with special needs came home. She was the one who caused us to 'exit' the highway and head toward Special Needs. Prior to that, I was way too scared of 'special needs' to consider adopting a child who was classified as such.

I am sure that God had other reasons for the journey. Some of those reasons were just getting to know Him better, and learning to listen to His voice. I now know that I can't just head for New York and assume that He would never tell me to detour to North Carolina at some point in the journey. I need to listen carefully and at all times to make sure I know His heart.

Our precious Chloe

For the Memorial Box, I need to find a small exit sign--but so far I haven't found one. :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zoey and Kate at the Pumpkin Patch

It is our family tradition to take the kids to the pumpkin patch to choose a pumpkin. Since we recently moved to Massachusetts, we had to find a new 'patch.' We were happy to discover that they have pumpkin farms in New England, as well as corn and apples. What we were not expecting to find was a blueberry patch! In September! The blueberries in Michigan are always done by mid-August. We continue to find wild blueberries in our yard, but I thought maybe they were a fluke. Apparently not. Cool!

The kids begged to pick some blueberries, which were absurdly expensive, so we let them pick a few. Jake was shoveling them into his mouth as fast as he could, and had a hard time understanding that he could NOT steal blueberries. He picks them in our yard, so the concept of paying to pick was lost on him.

"You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing."

Psalm 145:19

What is this strange American tradition of riding in a wooden wagon that is pulled by a tractor? Whatever it is, we think it's F.U.N!

Not sure what everyone was staring at--and although they don't look like they are having fun, I assure you they were!

"I'm loving the idea of getting a pumpkin. Please don't make me share!"


And in other news....

Our remote has been missing for days and our VCR/DVD player hasn't been working for just about as long. After a fruitless attempt at finding the stupid remote, Jeff gave up and decided to fix the VCR instead.

He lifted the little door where the tape goes in, and guess what? The remote was inside. The usual band of suspects was questioned to no avail. It remains a mystery how the remote--and also a quarter--was found inside.

Our guess is that the culprit is none other than....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Doctor's office visit

SaraGrace had a check-up today (where we found out she is in the whopping five percentile for weight and height!). They had foam hand sanitizers hanging on the walls in many locations. As we were leaving, I saw one conveniently located near the exit. Great! I could go home germ-free.

The dispensers looked very similar to an upside down can of whipped cream. It had the little spout thingy pointed down. I looked at it...a bit unsure how to activate it. I decided to put my palm under it and pull forward.

To my horror, it sprayed toward me in--I kid you not-- a good two feet square area. I was plastered in white foam. It covered my navy blue shirt, my arms, my hair--even the BACK of my shirt. I started cracking up and made a hasty escape as the receptionist politely pretended not to notice. Yeah...she and the rest of the staff probably laughed until they peed their pants after I walked out.

I laughed all the way out to the car, with SaraGrace asking me, "Mommy, why do you look like you have snow all over you?"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Fall Foliage

We went to the bog again today to feed the geese. We had lots of old bread crusts and some bread heels to share.

The kids had fun but after a few minutes, the geese swam away. What in the world?! Apparently, the kids were a bit overwhelming and it upset little goose stomachs or something. We went for a short hike and when we returned, the geese were gobbling bread from an older lady. They dissed us! How rude! Zoey decided to get back at them by sneaking the bread herself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

God's Artistry

Not the greatest photo--but the colors are so gorgeous that I posted it anyway

Photo of the bog near our house

Typical New England barn, which is also near our house

Did someone say, 'Berry picking?'

"Hand me a bucket and let's go..."

Kate is determined to put some berries in that bucket


"I think all this talk about putting berries in your bucket is highly over-rated. I prefer to eat my berries straight from the bush and wear my bucket on my head."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Children are a reward

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
Psalm 127:3-5

Often, when I tell people that I have ten children, they look shocked and say, "Ten?! Wow...bless your heart. I have two and I can't even handle them." As I have said before, I only 'handle' having ten kids with God's strength flowing through me. Because of this reaction, it is tempting for me to sometimes think I am doing God a favor by adopting the children He has laid on our hearts.

The other day when I was reading my Bible, it hit me in a new way that God considers children a blessing straight from His arms to ours. I think most people would go along with that--as long as they get to decide how many times God can bless them.

In our culture we tend to think of children as being:
high maintenance
a financial drain
an emotional and energy drain

But God says they are:
a heritage from Him (ie: a gift of great value)
a reward

I don't know about you but when I am cleaning up endless messes, changing diapers, and other 'menial' tasks, I'm not always focused on how these little people are a reward. A REWARD.

I sat and thought about that for awhile. If I truly believe that they are a reward, and a special gift, how would I respond if God asked me to adopt again? Honestly...I would probably groan. I adore my kids, but I'm thinkin' it's someone else's turn to go to China.

I read the next verse...'Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.' What is a quiver? It's a sheath for holding the arrows. Over the years I have heard many arguments over how many arrows are supposed to be in a quiver--and I truly don't know how many there should be. But if you were in a battle--wouldn't it be good to have um...a lot? Like have that honker STUFFED with arrows? (OK--if my husband is reading this right now, he is probably having a stroke!) It's pointless to try to figure out how many arrows are supposed to be in a quiver. I think the point that God was trying to make was that just like a warrior would try to take as many arrows as possible into battle, the more children you have, the more blessed you are.

The rewards may be in the gift of giggles and laughter that rings through the house. The soft hand that reaches for yours. That surprise hug from behind that makes you fall over because you were hunched over and not expecting it. The spontaneous, "I lub you, Mama." How many times have I been having a bad day and my kids did something hysterically funny that suddenly lightened the moment? Or the times I have been sick and they led me to the couch, told me to lie down and tucked me in with their blankies?

Is there anything else that I would rather be doing with my life? Despite having big dreams of other things, I can honestly say that those dreams pale in comparison to walking the path that God has laid out for our family. I'm not doing HIM a favor. He's doing ME a favor. God always gives us His best. My kids are proof of that.

"Wook, Mom. When we wick ouw vitamin it stickths to ouw fathe."
Translation: When we lick our vitamin, it sticks to our face."

Baby Shower post-poned

Lori and I have decided to postpone the baby shower for Morning Star Foundation until she is home from China. She has a lot on her heart that she wants to share with everyone and just won't have the time to do that while on her trip. We will give more details in a few weeks! God is doing exciting things there and we won't want you to miss out on knowing what is happening!

If you have already donated--no worries, the needs are great and all will be put to good use.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meet the Babies!!!!!

Lori, my friend at Joy Unspeakable, spent the day with the babies at Morning Star Foundation and has posted pictures. She is having trouble posting pictures since Blogger is currently blocked in China. She is posting at Journey to Me, click on 'adoption stories' and then 'Journey to ShuLi.'

Before she left, we agreed that to help raise awareness for the baby shower, she would post a bunch of pictures and I would copy and paste her blog post(s) onto mine, in case you don't want to click over to hers. When we were there in January, they only had Corrie. She was SO tiny and limp. At six months old, she was the size of a newborn and with even less muscle tone. Under the care of Bill and Lynsay, she has gained lots of weight and now she is crawling!! So without further ado... here are some of the babies....

Beijing Day 2

We had a great day in Beijing today! Our friends Bill & Lynsay know this city inside and out. I'm amazed at their language and driving skills. Seriously.

Baby new BFF
Baby new BFF

Bill and Corrie...she adores him!
Bill and Corrie...she adores him!

The new building for the Morning Star Family Home!!
The new building for the Morning Star Family Home!!

Bill and Lynsay are so excited about the renovation!
Bill and Lynsay are so excited about the renovation!

Chubby Baby Abby!  Isn"t she a cutie!!
Chubby Baby Abby! Isn't she a cutie!!

Although she was non too thrilled with me.
Although she was none too thrilled with me.

This is Faith...a peanut full of giggles!
This is Faith...a peanut full of giggles!

Baby Luke who is having surgery on Monday! PLEASE PRAY!!
Baby Luke who is having surgery on Monday! PLEASE PRAY!!
Let's shower those babies with baby beds, blankets, diapers, formula, toys and everything else they need! To donate, you can go to Lynsay's blog or if you would rather send a check, you can send it to:

The Cause
365 NE Greenwood Avenue Suite 1
Bend, Oregon 97701
Designate in the memo section that it is for Morning Star Foundation.

No amount is too small! Even $5 helps.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Memorial Box Monday --on Friday :)

I am soooo not good with the posts that have to be on a certain day--because I just like to write what strikes me. When I have to wait for a certain day, I usually forget. :) So my Memorial Box posts will probably get posted any day of the week that I think of a story.


Today I was reminiscing about the time we were getting ready to travel to Guatemala for baby Jake. His adoption had been totally unexpected and only six months after Jordan's. To say we were strapped for funds was an understatement. We needed to purchase plane tickets and had three weeks notice--plenty of time to make plans.

A friend in our small group Bible study told me that she knew a pilot who worked for Spirit Airlines. She put me in touch with the pilot's wife, to see if she could get us some free passes to Guatemala. The pilots got a certain number of free passes per month and they are allowed to give them to friends or family.

The pilot's wife told me that Spirit did not have service to Guatemala yet, but it was supposed to be starting soon and she would call me back.

I gave her our travel dates--May 10-15.

She called back awhile later and said...are you ready?

The first day Spirit Airlines would offer service there would be....May 10th. :)

No way!!! Yep--God had a plan!

Then it got a bit more interesting... Spirit Airline has a policy that does not permit pilots to use their passes until a city has offered service for 60 days. So...that meant we could not use the free pilot passes. This precious family decided to plead our case to Spirit Air. The pilot went to the head pilot, who went to the Director of Operations at Spirit.

Well, that was all very exciting but time was ticking. Two weeks had gone by and we were now 7 days away from our departure date and we had NO PLANE TICKETS! Some people advised me to just go ahead and buy some tickets--that it would be horrible to wait and end up having to buy tickets with one or two day's notice. Or not be able to get any tickets and miss our appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Guatemala to process Jake's visa.

However, we just felt that God wanted to provide the tickets from Spirit, so we continued to pray that we would get them. My faith was stretched to the breaking point, I'll tell ya, because I am a planner. I like having things all planned out in advance...all my ducks in a row.

Another day passed...we were now six days away from departure. That evening the phone rang. It was our friend with news from Spirit Airlines.

Although they could not give us pilot passes (which would be a stand-by type of ticket), they decided--as a gesture of goodwill--to give us FREE TICKETS! read that correctly--FREE TICKETS!

The tickets were given in spite of the flight to Guatemala being sold out. We just praised God and were again, in awe of the One who moves on behalf of the orphans.

The Fun Surprise

My friend Lori, at Joy Unspeakable and I have come up with something fun for all of us to do!

Lori and her husband are currently winging their way across the ocean to adopt their daughter. Before the big day, they will be spending the weekend with some special mutual friends of ours, Bill and Lynsay. You may remember me mentioning them before. They have started a small home for orphans with special needs and currently have five adorable babies in their care. God has provided a new place for them to live that can better serve the babies' needs and allow them to accept more children.

Here's where the fun surprise comes in... Wouldn't it be fun to have a 'baby shower' for them? We can help with the costs of outfitting the new home! Lori is on her way there and will introduce you to all the babies by taking photos and telling us a little bit about each child. I have a list of needs from Lynsay and will post it soon. You can also go to Lynsay's new blog. There is a donate button on her blog, if you would like to donate that way. I will also be posting an address to a place in the U.S. where you can send a check if you prefer.

Since it is so much cheaper to buy the baby shower items where Bill and Lynsay live, we thought it would be more prudent to ask for donations and let Lynsay shop for them, rather than collect items here and ship them over.

After you 'meet' the babies, I will post a list (or partial list--since it's quite extensive) of what they will be needing to outfit the baby home. The needs they have are HUGE, but we have a BIG God and I know that lots of you reading this have BIG hearts and will want to help!

By way of introduction...I have known Lynsay for several years and she was Kate's personal nurse when Kate first arrived at Hope Healing Home. God has given them a great passion for orphans.

"....for in you the fatherless find compassion." Hosea 14:3

Feel free to spread the word on your blogs by linking to this post or copying and pasting!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Play Ball!

"I am READY to play ball. Kate...burn one in here..."

"I can't help it, matter how hard I try, I still throw like a girl."

"Hmph...I suppose you're quitting and going off to play on the swings. You just don't take your baseball career seriously."

"Um...yeah...pretty much."

Still best buddies in spite of their differences

No matter how hard I try, I cannot get a photo of both of them smiling at the same time. argh!

There is nothing more fun than blowing dandelion seeds all over the yard!

And coming tomorrow....a FUN SURPRISE!!! Tune in

"Never Forsaken"

A sweet friend of mine has written one of the most touching stories I have ever read. Please go to her blog, "No Greater Joy Mom" and read it. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rice and Beans

A bloggy friend of mine came up with the idea to collect money for orphans by eating rice and beans for dinner every night for a month. They will donate the money they save on dinners to a fund they have set up to help a family with the costs of adopting a child.

I thought this was a really cool idea but figured my kids would not go for it. Instead, I asked them if they would be willing to eat rice and beans one night a week for awhile and we could donate the cost of dinner to orphans or needy families.

The youngest eight were happy to do it. So today was our first night of rice and beans. Jeff is out of town so he escaped this first try. It actually tasted pretty good. The older boys opted out and ate something else (what party-poopers).

Surprisingly, Zoey and Kate, who are not picky eaters were not so fond of Mom's culinary excellence.
" we HAVE to eat this? Isn't there something else?

SaraGrace also thought the new dish was most unwelcome. Even Jake handing her a half-eaten apple didn't perk her up. (What's up with Jake and apples lately?) And is it me, or is the look on Kate's face priceless?

I asked them, "Who wants to have rice and beans again?!" Jake's hand shot up in the air and he said, 'Me! Me! I wike it."

It was a good opportunity to educate them on the fact that there are children in this world who would stand in a long line to have one meal a day consisting of rice and beans. It is quite sobering to think of how many little ones go to bed with a tummy that is aching with hunger. It is easy for us to eat rice and beans once a week to help fill those little bellies.

Thank you, God, for enough money to have full stomachs every night.