Tuesday, December 31, 2013

For Emme

(Written by Emme's biggest, big sister- Melissa)

 Just typing that precious, beautiful name brings me straight to tears. Two days ago we found out that our sweet Emelia Rose Ai Ni (Emme) went home. Really home. Not to our family’s home where we imagined we would get to see her grow up and know what it’s like to have a mom and a dad and six siblings who love her more than words can say. She skipped right over our home and went straight to be with Jesus. She went straight to her eternal heavenly home, where her broken little body is now perfect in every way. She now knows just how loved she is… By us, and most of all by Jesus.

When we were first hit with the news that Emme had gone to be with Jesus, I was completely heartbroken, overcome with grief, and to be honest, I was angry. I didn’t want to be angry, but I was. The entire night questions were racing through my mind…Why would God do something like this? What if  Emme had never had surgery in China… would things be different, and would she still be here? Why wouldn’t God let Emme come home to us? What if the orphanage had let us come to get Emme sooner? Why would God put this little girl in our lives, If He planned to take her away from us like this before we were even able to go to China and get her?? Truth is that we could ask all the “whys” and “what ifs”  that we want to- they don’t change what happened. . . And as I’ve had the last couple days to reflect and really process this situation, I’m finally beginning to see what God did through Emme’s life, And why He did what He did.

Through Emme, God showed us what it means to love dangerously. Loving Emme was not safe. At all. Her heart was very sick, and we knew from the very moment that we were matched with her, that we could lose her at anytime. But we chose to love her with all of our hearts anyway. Because she deserved to be loved that much.

God also showed us how to really obey and trust Him throughout Emme’s adoption. As soon as we saw the picture of an adorable little girl sitting on a plastic green seahorse, with bumble bees on her tiny toes looking back at us from the computer screen, we knew deep in our hearts that she was the one God wanted us to make a part of our family. And even though the severity of Emme’s very complex heart condition made us fearful, we trusted God with all our hearts (Proverbs 3:5-6), and kept in mind His promise- that He will never give us more than we can handle. So we obeyed what God told us to do, and I believe that in many ways The Lord confirmed to us that we were on the right path all throughout this journey. Even though Emme is in Heaven now, and we never got to hold her in our arms, I will never question our decision to work and fight towards being Emme’s family. I know with every part of me that God put Emme in our lives for a reason… wanting her and loving her was not a mistake. We obeyed and trusted God, and our reward was being able to love Emme during her short little life here on earth. Loving Emme was a beautiful gift… and after all “there is no greater gift than Love.”

I could go on and on about my youngest little sister… She had the most beautiful, big brown eyes I have ever seen before in my life. The quote “The eyes are the window to the soul” is very true. Emme’s eyes were the window to her soul. Through those big brown eyes I could tell she was sad, lonely, scared, longing to be loved, and strong. Although I never got to meet her, I know she was a very strong little girl. She had to be. She experienced so much sadness and pain in her little life then any child should ever have to face. Our sweet girl had a smile that melted our hearts. She was so precious, and so loved.

Although my heart hurts so much over the loss of our Emme, I’m finding comfort in knowing that she’s not in pain anymore. She’s not lying in a cold metal crib for hours upon hours, or in a hospital hooked up to machines. She’s not suffering anymore... She’s perfect now! And her broken little body has been made new. She knows how much we love her. Emme is with Jesus for eternity, and there is so much peace in knowing that one day we will get to be there too… With her, and with our Savior.

Sweet Emme Rose, We love you so very much! We will hold you in our hearts forever.    

Friday, December 27, 2013

Angel wings

I've tried to write this in my head many times and to say it is hard...isn't near enough.  Our sweet Emme has earned her angel wings. She has passed away.  We got the call late Monday night. We are heartbroken. 

Now she finally knows how very much she was loved by us and that she had a family, with a brother and sisters who prayed for her every day. For seven months, almost to the day, we had so much hope for her. For all the friends and family that prayed along with us for most of this past year, our prayers did not go unanswered. We prayed for God to hold her and to make her little heart new. We prayed for a miracle when our travel was delayed last month. This wasn't how we thought He would answer, but now she is being held by perfect hands and resting in perfect arms with her little heart made new. Her Heavenly Father loves her so much. 

I wish I could tell you all what happened. But all I know is that she was very ill and once she was finally taken to the hospital, she wasn't able to be helped there any more. It's tragic and very sad. Circumstances, a fallen world, pain. We fought for her every step of the way through medical expedites, and trying to get her outside help. But ultimately, we had no control over anything. He had plans far greater than ours and now her little heart is made new. 

Sweet Emme,

We love you so much. We will never hold you this side of Heaven, kiss your sweet head, or rock you to sleep. You will never sleep in the pink crib we had ready for you or be wrapped in your special Mama-made blanket. And we ache knowing this. So we hold tight to the knowledge that you will forever be in our hearts. Right where you grew. You will always be our Sweet Emelia Rose Aini - our precious daughter. 

And we will find comfort that His plan is a good plan, and we will trust Him, even when we feel lost. We know he brought you into our hearts for a purpose, sweet girl. We were honored to be considered your family. 

I can't begin to say how much you changed us - from the inside out - the changes we have made as a family will forever be made. Because of you. We are so glad we were given the chance to love you, fight for you, pray for you and hope for you. 

May you sleep now, forever in Heavenly Peace, perfectly healed in your eternal Father's arms. 

Loving you always,

Your Mama, Daddy, Sisters and Brother

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."  James 1:17

Thursday, December 12, 2013


So what do you do when your travel is delayed, you're trusting God to fight your battles and you're being as patient as possible?

Pretty up the gift bags that are a required part of the adoption trip. The gifts are for the guides, drivers, officials, orphanage director and nannies. We're taking things like postcards from Texas, pecan candies, lotions, post it notes, bookmarks and for the men - Texas flag koozies! We will make little gift bags up of these goodies once in China. By the way, when you're trying to find something made in the USA to take to China - it's pretty funny when everything you pick up is from China. 

What else do you do when you're waiting? How about see the movie Frozen...twice!! My kids loved this movie so much the first time, we went again. And for everyone that knows me, knows I never go to the movies let alone twice to the same movie. Last time I saw so many  movies, I was waiting for Brett to be born.  It's a very similar kind of waiting this adoption thing. 

Then there's retail therapy. Proven to be an expensive way to spend the time, but also know to produce stress relaxant hormones in any waiting mother. Plus, Emme needed some on sale dresses! Thank you day after Thanksgiving sales and Black Friday.  She will be well dressed once she finally gets home! 

Praying for her every moment of the day and trusting in His plan. 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finding the Gift

Two weeks ago our Travel Approval arrived.  Last Friday I should have been on a plane to bring our daughter home to us.  Those were my plans... my plans. God is always trying to teach me this and goodness I should have learned it by now.  MY plans, they mean nothing.  HIS plans, they mean everything.

We have to wait some more.  But I'm just now seeing the gift.  See, I could cry and stomp my feet in true childlike fashion (ok...maybe I kind of did a little...) and ask all the whys in the world and beg God to change this thing we are in the midst of.  I have, because I'm human.  And my mama's heart, it's breaking not being able to get to my girl.  My arms ache and my heart weeps, but my soul is good.  It's good because I can cry and beg and ask those whys, and He listens.  God listens to our troubles and knows in the good fatherly way he has, that all will be okay because he has a plan.  Sometimes we don't know what he is doing and question those plans, and that's where we decide to trust or not.  I'm trusting.  Trusting in His perfect plan for our daughter and trusting Him to hold her tight, fight any battles and protect her.  I'll do this when we eventually get to bring her home too as I do with all my children.  So this gift, the gift of waiting, being thankful in the time we have been given, is a present to us this Christmas.

I'm seeing the gift as a time to slow down - before we were all go, go, go, getting ready for our trip to China.  I'm seeing the gift of time to just relish in our family before adding another member and we transition from a family of 8 to one of 9.  I'm seeing the gift of Christmas.  This Christmas we are turning things around a little by putting all our focus on Christ.  There will still be presents and goodies, but there will be more of Him here in our home.  The kids know that Santa is a fun story, and we giggle through the many Christmas books of baking cookies and filling the sleigh.  But most importantly, they know who Christmas is really about - Jesus - and that he came for us and will come again one day.  In these days of waiting (again), we are treasuring the time we have to prepare for Christ's coming and learning (always learning) to trust in His plans for our lives.  What a gift we've all been given!

I haven't shared these pictures here yet, but they are also my gift right now.  We waited so long to see a new picture of our little girl (6 months) and I look at them daily, wondering when our first meeting will be and what it will be like.   It's looking like it won't be until after the first of the year - January.  Just writing that makes me take a breath.  This is the hard part.  The waiting.  She waits and we wait.  Yet we have hope in the New Year and new beginnings.  So much hope for what is to come.

Sweet Emme Rose, we just can't wait to meet you.  It's hard to understand why we have to wait some more, but we know this time is a gift for you to heal and for us to prepare.  Wo ai ni - I love you little one.

Little bit, is truly little - a petite little 21 month old girl with a very strong will to live.  She had her first heart surgeries in August and October in China.  She was released back to the orphanage in November and now we wait for the doctors there to give us clearance to travel.  Let's all pray it comes very soon! 

Seeing gift in the wait and hope in our future.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


It's super cold right now in Texas, as our first real cold front of the season has blown in making the kids run to the hot chocolate and pull out their winter gear.  But that's not why this post is titled "frozen".  I haven't written in such a very long time... the words...they just have been frozen.  I've felt paralyzed to write as we waited to hear news about our little girl in China.  What could I say that would encourage others or tell them about our journey... That's what August through November has felt like for me.  I think I'm ready to share now so let's catch up.

We're in the home stretch and all the paperwork, the prayers and preparation are coming to be fulfilled.  She is coming home - soon.  The official invite, our Travel Approval, is coming soon. Then our agency will help us book our Consulate Appointment and then we book our travel arrangements from our home to her province.  Our agency takes care of all the in-country flights, hotels and guides for us.  

Up until this point, our lives have been filled with concern and trying to trust in God's will and hand in all of this.  Since September, we've wondered how Emme was doing and since September, no one could give us any answers.  We received little tidbits though - two times we received little two line updates.  Another family were the ones to let us know she had been taken to the hospital when they visited the orphanage to adopt their little girl back in September.  Such a surprise that was! We had assumed she would remain there until we brought her home and then have her surgery.  But my prayers all along were for God to hold her tight and take care of her heart.  He did.  

Once in October our news was that she had surgery and was on breathing support - a ventilator.  Nothing else... Goodness that was so hard to hear, but knowing what I know now about heart surgery, I knew most heart patients come out on breathing support but many go off of it quickly.  So we assumed her surgery must have been recent.  Then recently, this month, our news was that she had a second surgery in October and was released from ICU early this month.  A little better news, but nothing to tell us HOW she was doing or WHAT surgeries she had.  Our agency called to tell us we shouldn't plan to travel very soon since she would need to be released back to the orphanage before we could bring her home.  

That was just a frustrating time for us and we really struggled with it.  The lack of information took it's toll.  Loving a child half way around the world yet knowing her little complicated heart underwent surgery just left me feeling empty.  Selfish reasons took over and the "whys" set in.  Why wasn't she with us when she had surgery? Why did they take her without asking us? Why wasn't the paperwork moving faster? Why can't we find out anything about her?  Thus the frozen feeling.  But we were ok. Because overall we knew who was in control of the situation and that everything would happen in His timing.

So now we're up to date and it's the end of November.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner and all the little pieces are falling into place. Many paperwork milestones have been met (see our timeline link above) and Emme is out of the hospital, back at the orphanage and recovering well from the pictures we recently received.  She's rocking' her Daddy's no-fuss hairstyle. (They shaved her head while she was in the hospital).  No worries - we'll be bringing many cute head bands! Since when we were waiting for some type of news... I was shopping! haha   She's so beautiful.  She has the biggest brown eyes and the tiniest little fingers.  She's standing on her own and sitting on her own.  This is so huge for someone who has been hospitalized for 3 months.  We just can't wait to pour love into her and welcome her into our family.  Soon baby girl...soon. 

While we've been doing paperwork and waiting - lots of waiting - life has been going on as usually.  Allie celebrated her 9th birthday with getting her ears pierced.  Fun!

Grace and Jessica celebrated their 14th birthday! I don't know why but I love this picture of the two of them.  Maybe it's all the personality it shows, because they tend to be pretty shy at this age - I'm sure that will change!

The fair came to town and my girls baked up a storm.  Two won grand prizes for their cake decorating!

Now as we prepare to give thanks for all that we've been given, we look back on all our blessings of this year.  Our Thankful Tree is up and how fun it is to look back on the reasons we were thankful last year and the year before.  This year, I'm thankful for everything.  The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.  There's been plenty of ugly and spiritual warfare type things happening all throughout this year.  But that just means we are doing what God has asked of us and we are stepping out in obedience.  The beautiful is waiting and it's so exciting to know we are almost there!  

Happy Thanksgiving & Many Blessings,

Friday, July 19, 2013

Love you - the day we found our daughter

Back in May, I was browsing the agency waiting children lists like I had been known to do many times a week (ahem - okay sometimes daily).  After a while of doing this, it kind of feels like you are shopping for a child and that just doesn't feel okay.  There also comes a time when you don't think you could say "yes" to just one and "no" to so many others.  So how does one know when that's the child that is meant to be yours? I asked myself this question and prayed over it many times over the course of months.

So there's that day in May - a new listing is on the waiting child list and she fits our "criteria".  The agency had us fill out a form stating what needs we would be open to and what age/gender.  For some reason, I'm drawn to the heart babies over and over again, where Jeff felt like we would be given the need God knew we could handle and didn't want us to pick and choose.  The first time I expressed interest in a child's file, a heart baby - age 2, she was on hold by another family and we got in line.  That family decided to go forward for her so we never got a chance with her.  This happened a couple of times and we started to wonder how fast did we actually need to ask about a child before we even got the chance to be first.  On May 17th, our agency added a file and named her "Poppy".  There she was, sitting on her green seahorse, wearing little bumblebee socks and the cutest little smile.  I emailed immediately.  The response was the same - "you can review her file, but she's on hold for another family, did we want to get in line?". Absolutely yes - we got in line.  And kind of figured she wasn't ours.  We left the idea of her being ours alone.  We went on with our daily lives.

May 22nd was an ordinary day and the school year was drawing to a close for us.  Our oldest was in finals mode and studying like crazy.  Volleyball season was in full swing with practices and games for the twins.  Life was busy and I was at the grocery store picking up more food to feed our crew.  I tend to check my phone before heading home from the store to make sure Jeff or Melissa didn't need something.  That's when I saw the email from our case worker and tingles ran through my body. Our family was up, she was on hold for us and she wanted to know if we wanted to go forward.

I quickly emailed her back asking if I could call her when I got home to talk to her.  We had glanced at the file when we received it, but quickly put it away thinking we wouldn't get a chance with her.  Now I was trying to pull up everything I had read and it frightened me.  Complex CHD - could we handle that and everything it meant?  Were we thinking correctly and realistically? She was adorable - 14 months old which was the perfect age to keep birth order in our family (which was important to us) - and a heart baby.   I could tell by the look in Jeff's eyes that evening when we sat down to go over everything, that he was looking at his daughter.  That look that a daddy gets when he first sees his baby.  A loving look like no other.  She was going to be ours.  She was ours!

So let me introduce you to our new daughter!  Isn't she the sweetest thing? Her Chinese name means "love you" and oh how we can't wait to love on her.

She will be Emelia Rose "china name" and called Emme for short.  We can't share her China name online - but we feel it's important to honor where she is coming from because it's always going to be a part of who she is.  There's so much we don't know about our Emme Rose yet.  We do know that she must have been loved by her birth parents as she was abandoned 12 days after her birth, with a note and milk powder.  They must have known about her condition and knew they couldn't take care of her.  We know she is a survivor. Her spirit must be one of uniqueness to survive as long as she has without much medical care and needed surgery.  We know we can't wait to hold her and let her experience the love of a family.  She will touch hearts. We love her so much already.

Hold on a little while longer sweet girl, we are working hard to bring you home.  Love you, XOXO, Mom & Daddy.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mid Summer dreams

It's quite obvious that I am not a regular blogger.  With such infrequent posting it's likely someone reading to assume that there is nothing going on.  Ha! Quite the opposite actually. Life happens so fast that I have blinked and it's now July.  Wasn't it just January??? So I'm going to use this post as an overall catch up on what's been going on with us lately.

Dreaming of Her: Quite the most important event of the year is our referral for our new little girl.  We are so excited!   I will write a separate post, because it deserves it's very own spot to tell all about how we came to be her parents to be and her, our precious daughter to be.  This news came to us late May one day, and caught us by surprise.  Aren't the best gifts those we weren't expecting? She is a gem.  I promise it will be next to tell all about her. For now, those that are interested in our "stats", we have PA for her as of June 8th (after our LOI, Letter of Intent, date of June 1st).  We didn't hear of our PA until June 21st though so that was quite a wait! We have finished our fingerprinting for our I800a application.  This approval is what we are waiting for now and comes through USCIS.  This whole process is not for the faint of heart and comes with many hoops to jump through.  We are jumping through them now for our I800a approval.  Next up comes our dossier being notarized and authenticated, then what all adoptive parents wait for...three little letters....DTC.  Dossier to China that is.  Basically our life story gets sent overseas, gets matched with our girl's file and our PA (Provisional Approval).  Then we wait again for the China gov't to issue us LOA, Letter of Acceptance.  Have I lost you yet? It's a lot to take in, this internationally adoption process.  Every step requires approval by someone and every step require waiting by us.  My arms already ache for her to be in them and oh how I want to give her little sweet tummy a squeeze.  She is in my dreams and prayers daily. Trying hard to trust in God's timing - He is good all the time.

Fundraising: Last up on our fundraising train was our big Trash to Treasures yard sale and how big it was! A friend arranged for us to use her church parking lot and it was the perfect location.  The trip there had us driving a loaded Suburban (can you see my daughter in the pic - it's kind of like a Where's Waldo, but Where's Jessica pic), a pick up truck full inside and out, and a trailer full of donated items.  Of course, shoppers began arriving before we finished setting up - those early birds.  My girls baked some yummy goodies for their bake sale and really put their heart and soul into helping with the adoption.  One shopper came back later in the day just for Grace's cookies (PB Choc Chip... so good!).  But what we took away most from this day is the friends that came out to help us.  A few couples we hardly knew came from our church bible study group and stayed the whole day.  Some donated their clothes & goods, others came to shop.  Another bought a pan of cinnamon rolls for way too much.  They were all such blessings to us and truly touched our hearts.

I've thought a lot about posting how much money we made that day, and I want to encourage others fundraising so I will. We raised $1900! Just in time to send in our next agency payment (which happened to be $2088) too.   So if anyone might be thinking the yard sale is too much work, it is A LOT of work, but it's very worthwhile.  We only had one day to sell our donations, so we had a lot left over which was then re-donated to another charity.


Summer Fun:

The rest of this post promises to be light hearted and fun! Craft Week was so much fun and the girls participating did such a good job on all the projects.  It was a week full of color, in the form of paint and fabric, full of learning (all the girls learned how to sew on a sewing machine for the first time!) and full of making new friends.  We gear up and do it all again with 12 new girls later this month!  

VBS is on the horizon and this is the first time I have a driver in the family to take the kids.  The older girls are volunteers, the younger girls participating, which leaves me and Brett Henry to do..... I'm not sure yet! VBS at our church is always a blast so I know everyone is looking forward to that.  I may even get to sew that week! Goodness knows the shop needs some inventory and I've got a bunch all cut out - and they are super cute!

We've been visiting with family near and far, getting to know our neighbors better (after almost 2 years, it's time!), swimming and enjoying hot, lazy days which come in the slowerness of Summer.  Granted it's never dull, quiet or too lazy around here! Right now the kids are watching old family movies - I forgot how much they love that and it's always funny to hear the little ones ask "where am I?" when its from a time before they were born.  Then comes an answer from a sister who says "on a cloud, waiting to be sent from Heaven".... so sweet.

Back soon! Keep dreamin'!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Craft Week!

In less than a couple of weeks, our very first Craft Week for girls will take place.  I can not tell you how excited I am! Each week, eight or more girls will fill my house with their presence, their enthusiasm, their joy, their silliness and their individual personalities.  The idea for Craft Week came to me one day - in a moment of brilliance (haha - not really), but maybe in a stroke of genius. ;)  Truly, God will take all the glory in this event and the idea for it as he uses my talents to help us raise funds for our adoption.

The fabulous fabric designer, Jennifer Paganelli (insert my squeal here), has generously offered to partner with me as a sponsor for Craft Week for Girls! Jennifer blogs over at www.sisboom.com/blog and she is also the author of "Girls World: Twenty One Sewing Projects to Make for Girls". I've had a copy of her book for awhile now and love it!  Jennifer sent us some of her beautiful fabric to sew with and a copy of her book (which I think one lucky girl will be taking home with her this Summer!). 

Details are below for anyone interested! The July camp week is FULL at this time, but the June week has a few spots available.  The projects I have planned with the girls are going to have them in crafting heaven.  It's going to be so much fun!

1. Dates: June 17 - 21st and July 22-26th (July is now FULL - waiting list)

2. Time: 9 am - noon daily

3. What will we do?  
We will get creative with fun new projects and let your inner rainbow out!  
There will be sewing (beginners welcome & must bring sewing machine), painting, hammering, glueing, laughing and making new friends.  There will be fabric, pom poms, glitter and lots and lots of color!  We will teach you what you need to know for each craft and there will be helpers along the way.  Everyone will complete & take home at least five projects. We will have an AWESOME time!

4. Who can sign up? GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!  8-14 (if you are close to the age range-contact me!)

5. Where will camp take place?  At my home in River Chase (off 306 in New Braunfels).
It has workspace for everyone, large kitchen, living room and porch for girls to enjoy.
There are 4 acres to explore, feed chickens, collect eggs, cuddle with cats and belly rub the dog.

6. How much does it cost?  Price for the whole craft week camp is $125.  Everything is included (a snack too!)- all you need to bring is YOU!

7  How to sign up?  Just email me to get your name on the list! Send your child's name & age, name of primary contact person, contact info (phone and email) and which camp week you prefer (each
week will have 8 spots available).  A deposit of $25 will be due within 10 days to save your spot.  Balance is due the first day of camp. That's it!

Who am I? I'm Lisa Holcombe, homeschool mom to six (5 of those girls), sewist & crafter.  Contact me for questions.  email: lisalholcombe@gmail.com
www.fireflyflickers.com - my blog                    www.etsy.com/shop/FireflyFlickersCo - my shop"Girls World: Twenty One Sewing Projects to Make for Girls"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Color of Summer

Ah Summer.... I always want to take a deep breath at this point.  BREATHE.  That's what Summer feels like to me - a big breath of air.  A time to relax, to put away the school books (for the most part), to take the kids swimming and to put schedules away.  This Summer is a little different in the fact that adoption paperwork is keeping me very busy.  I want to sip lemonade on the porch swing and read a book - I plan to make that happen at least one day this Summer! Anyone want to babysit?

I realize I haven't posted much here in this space for about a month and I have a good reason.  We have been nose to the book in finishing up our school year, and the most exciting part is the adoption.  Our first fundraiser the online silent auction we hosted on facebook was so much fun!  Then we immediately turned around and had a HUGE yard sale.  That one was a lot of work and more than one person put in sweat to make it happen.  Our friends have been a blessing to us during the fundraising and helped us make it successful.  Now that the yard sale is done - no more yard sales.  I really prefer to donate items to others and it's humbling being on the receiving end.  My time has been moved out of the places I like to spend it to places that make me uncomfortable.  It takes so much time filling out forms, grant applications, fundraising, but in the end there's a little one with the cutest little smile waiting for us and that makes it all worthwhile.

That's right, our first referral came in this month!  I can't post anything more than that just yet as we are in the process of being approved for her.  This (PA) can take about 2 weeks.  Patience....it's what we've been working on with our kiddos in Sunday School and it's what I always need to work on.  As I sit here, I am scanning documents and emailing them to our social worker so that she can put together our LOI (letter of intent) to send to China.  Honestly, its not exactly how I imagined it would happen but then when God is at work, it's hard to wrap our minds around it.  He knows though.  I'll write more when I can about her and how we knew she was the one for us.  We would appreciate prayers for her health and well being as we work to bring her home.

The second most exciting part of this blog post is this:

Craft Week for Girls!  I'm hosting a super fun and COLORFUL camp for girls ages 8-14 this Summer! We are going to get our crafting on and I can't wait to see the girls create, sew, paint and let their inner rainbows out! Can you tell I'm a little excited about this?  I'm not sure where this idea came from really, but I'll give it to God.  Using our talents is something we talk a lot about with our children and doing something that you love.  Crafting and sewing let's my mind relax, and I think it's so important to show girls that they have this way to express themselves.  We are planning two camps, a week in June and a week in July (which is already full!), with at least five fun projects for the girls to take home.  I can't wait to show off pictures of our Craft Week camps with you here.  It's all about COLOR this Summer.  


Monday, April 29, 2013

Somewhere over the rainbow

It's here! It's here! Our first fundraiser for our China Adoption is live on our facebook page.  If you'd like to join us in the fun, just follow this link to "Let Love Grow - Our Adoption Journey" and ask to join.  Once there, you will go to our photo album titled, Silent Auction.  There are many wonderful products that have been donated to us and we are very grateful to all those who donated.  Here's a little sampling for you:

There's truly something for everyone - local friends and those who live a little too far away - everyone can participate!  I hope you'll join us and in turn find something just for you - or just for your Mom.  Mother's Day is not too far away now, so don't forget your Mom.

I'll be showcasing the products over the next week on the facebook page so everyone can get a little insight into the products we have lined up and the people behind them.  The silent online auction will end promptly next Sunday, May 5th at 9pm central time.  So there's lots of time to shop and find something you like.  I'm so excited and I'll see you over there!


Friday, April 26, 2013

What's been going on

What's been going on in our life these days? Paperwork.  And more paperwork. There are days when I wonder if we will ever see our sweet child's face.  Still I push forward and I fill out more paperwork.  Oh, the humanity of it all - this is about a person who need a family and a family who needs them.  It's easy to forget all that in the pile of paperwork.  I think I read someone once that the adoption paperwork stack will weigh about 10 pounds.  Sounds about right!  But I do have good news on the adoption front too! Our home study was finalized and approved on the 23rd so we are officially over that step now! I am so glad.  We submitted our application for the home study the end of January so it took us 3 months to complete - the norm is somewhere between 2-4 months so we are pretty normal people I guess.

What's next? Well there's a little form (haha) called the I800 which we will use to apply to immigration, get an appointment to be fingerprinted and then approved by our government to adopt a child internationally.  That should go out this week.  I've been working on some grant applications while we waited for the home study so as soon as it was ready, we could apply.  One grant has a deadline of April 30th....just making that one! There's another one with a deadline of May 15th.  Most of the foundations that offer grants to adoptive families only take applications a few times a year.  Then it takes a good 90 days to hear if you've even been awarded a grant.  I'm trying to be hopeful and trust that God's got this!

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Phlippians 4:13

Then there's fundraising! We knew going into this that we wouldn't be able to cash flow it all by ourselves.  Sure we could go into debt, but that is our absolute last choice.  Dave Ramsey is our friend (ok, not really - but figuratively he is!).  And I don't think that's what God really wants us to do.  He's asking us to trust Him.  Yet it's humbling.  Asking for support is tough for someone like me who likes to do it all herself without help.  I'm just not good at it.  Ah, another lesson I need to learn....  I've learned so much through this process already in God's timing, his will for us and his need for us to follow him.

So this is my thought about fundraising - it's tough yes, to ask for help.  But, to not ask for help, is like us saying to God, we can do this all by ourselves - and that goes against our self dying and Him living within us.  He didn't ask us to do this adoption thing alone. But we also know that not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all asked to help care for the orphans. For some of us, it's a call to adopt and make the world one less orphan, for others its supporting those adopting, sponsoring a child or giving monetarily where your heart leads you to give.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God our Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  James 1:27

So we've started some fundraising by planning a Trash to Treasures yard sale and we've been so surprised by the donations we've received thus far.  We offered to pick things up as folks cleaned out for Spring and we've gotten lots of great stuff! So it's a win-win for all of us.  We help unload other's clutter (that might be someone else's treasure) and we get a boost toward our adoption fund goal.  Our goal in fundraising is to make helping others a focus of our efforts.

The next week we have planned a fun surprise on our facebook page which we created for folks to follow our adoption journey.  The best thing about this fundraiser is the businesses that we know and love, the ones we support as well - I get to tell you all about them! I'll post information about it here too very soon!  I promise I'll be back to tell you all about it within a day or two.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

So blessed

Wow...  I am so blessed. So blessed by the response to our adoption announcement.  So very grateful for everyone who took a moment to send well wishes, encouragement, support and love.  I want to print out all the facebook messages, blog comments and other notes I've received then tuck them away in our Sweet Child's lifebook.

The lifebook will be their story - the story of us waiting, the story of their waiting, and ultimately the joining of family. Our homestudy social worker encouraged us to start the lifebook now and I think it's a great idea! We have been blessed by an amazing social worker in our homestudy process. She actually goes to our church - I am amazed at how God puts people together. We go to a fairly large church and so there are many people whom we have never met. We had never met M.B. before our first homestudy visit, but now we have run into her every Sunday since at church. She has made the process so easy for us so far. The homestudy visits are exhausting though....so many questions and of course I want the house to be clean and tidy each time she comes over. Not an easy task for a family of eight, but we can pull it together when we need to!

We are finished now with our homestudy visits.  China requires four.... Some countries only require one! So now we wait for our social worker to type it all up - it's supposed to be about 25 pages all together. wow.  Then she sends it to us to review before it gets all finalized and approved.  In the meantime, we work on our Hague education requirement.  There's an all day training we will need to attend.  I feel like if I can just do a little something everyday to move forward, whether it's sending an email to our agency, filling out a forms....oh, so many forms to fill out, or say a prayer on our Sweet Child's behalf, then we are making progress.

I'm reading The Connected Child right now.  Anything we can do to prepare ourselves and our child for the road ahead - it may be bumpy, but it will always be full of love and compassion.  Someone once said that adoption is not for the faint of heart. There are hard times.  So far, the waiting hasn't been too hard, but I think it's because I've had so much peace over our decision to move forward. God doesn't give us a task without equipping us for the challenge and I think knowing His hand is in this completely provides us with the peace and understanding we need.  I bet it will be harder to wait though once we see our child's face and know we can't bring them home right away!  We may be months off before that happens. Can't wait for it to happen though!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Journey to you - here we go!

There was a time not too long ago, when I never thought I would be writing this. But I want to share this journey, to also have a place to document it, but to also have a place to share the amazing road God has put us on. As my husband said not long ago... this isn't about us, it's about Him.

So where to start?! I guess the beginning is the most obvious place so I'll start there.  I never thought we would be the ones to adopt a child. We have six healthy children, and we love them ALL to the moon and back.  They are Jeff's and my world and heart. I was adopted as a baby, at three months old, and raised by parents who loved me. But I never longed to adopt, because there have always been issues about being adopted that I didn't want to deal with. So many who have gone before us on this journey have always known that they would adopt one day - not us. Imagine our surprise when God placed this on our hearts then! We felt smacked. Us adopt? We have SIX children! Are you kidding us?!

There's a wonderful organization called Love Without Boundaries and they do amazing work in China for orphans and children.  While taking the Snap Shop course last Spring offered by Ashley Ann, I followed her journey to her little one and watched as they waited for her to come home. At first, I just thought how wonderful that they are doing that! Then while they waited, the very long wait - she raised funds for an incubator for her daughter's orphanage. She hoped to raise enough to cover the incubator....she raised A LOT more...and through LWB support was able to help dozens of orphans have surgeries they needed and receive the care they so desperately needed. I contributed - it was the least I could do (isn't that how most of us think?).

I must have signed myself up through my donation for the LWB newsletter as it started arriving in my in box a bit later. My interest in China adoption had definitely been sparked. Through a series of articles called "Realistic Expectations" in the newsletters, I sat in my room reading one day... I felt God speak to me. As an electrical numbness ran through my body, like I had just been shocked, I read each and every article in the series. I'll never forget the fear/excitement I felt as I paced afterwards, prayed and wondered if this is really what we were meant to do. There's nothing logical about it.  But there's one thing I know and that is that journey's of faith are often of limited sight.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6

Jeff and I talked, walked (we talk most when we walk), ran, prayed and researched all Summer long. Each blog or article I read, led me to another, and at every turn I read just what I needed to know next. I found some wonderful women online willing to talk about their experiences. We found New Day. The day I found them, I clicked on their contact information and about fell down when I saw the US contact address was in our very own town.  Goosebumps.  Everywhere we turned, we felt that we were being led to start this journey and to share the blessings we have been given.  So we gave our fear and faith to God and said "yes"!  I have found a lot of comfort in these Bible verses as we contemplated what to do.

"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

So we begin! The peace I feel now that we made the decision to do this is amazing! The children are excited...we are excited... and we know there's a sweet little child out there in China waiting to become a part of our family and us a part of their life.  We pray for support from our family and friends as we begin our adoption journey and hope you'll follow along.  I want to write all of this down, to share one day with our sweet child. I know it will mean a lot to know how someone on the other side of the earth loved them and waited for them. In the meantime, I just pray that God will wrap them in His arms with love and comfort until I can do the same myself.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phillippians 3:6-7


Friday, March 1, 2013

Dinner Blessings - DIY Taco Box

I can't remember where I first saw this idea for a Taco Box dinner, but I tucked it away knowing I would use it one day. So when a friend needed a dinner, the Taco Box dinner was made. We love our Tex-Mex food here in Texas and how fun to make a box to deliver the dinner in?!

So easy to make a little extra to help out a friend. We all know how much it means to have a night off cooking dinner, especially when a husband has had surgery or when a new baby arrives.  How many times I have been blessed by a friend's meals and what a treasure they were at the time.  Nourishment for the body and the soul.


The original idea called for a wooden box, but I had a cardboard box handy and just the right size.  I taped the letters out in painters tape then brought out the spray paint. Red seemed perfect!


The box was filled with chicken taco meat (how to: boneless chicken thighs, salsa or can of tomatoes, some chili powder, salt, pepper and garlic - all go into the crock pot on high for 4-5 hours, then shredded), guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, corn & flour tortillas and beverages for the family (plus a little chocolate for my sweet friend).

So fun to make and a blessing to give.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sweet Melissa

My sweet girl had a birthday this month...17 years old.... (insert the Mom sigh here). I'm sure all Moms wonder this, but how on earth can that sweet baby be a junior in high school, driving a car, and be so darn smart?! I know I was just unwrapping her newly bundled blanket from her fresh new body to examine her tiny fingers and toes and talking about our dreams for her. She has dreams of her own now and only a few short years until life is on her own. I still wonder where her life will take her, but I know it will be filled with love and family. The daughter I guide, the friend I share with - my sweet Melissa.

We celebrated her with a fun dinner and a huge cookie cake - baked by her sister and myself. I love having girls who like to bake!


So beautiful - today, yesterday and always. Watching her grow has been a great pleasure of my life.


Giant cookie cake - our first one ever!  How to: make up your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough, spread on pizza pan lined with parchment paper, bake at 325 degrees for 18-20 min or until lightly browned. It spreads quite a bit while baking, so don't let the dough get too close to the edge. Cool and decorate!


"Batman" trying to patiently wait. He even let her blow out her own candles! Being two years old must be so much fun - who else can run around all day in costumes and underwear without too many people wondering if you are crazy?!


Love you my Sweet Melissa!  xoxo ~Mom

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Love in the air

This February brought us many chances to share love and I can't let it slip by without sharing some of it here in this little space of mine. I'm terrible at journaling, scrapbooking or pretty much anything to document our lives.  Except for photographs - I love taking pictures.

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it is full of love and full of fun! The girls spent some time crafting, finding little things to share with others to show that they are loved. There was stamping by little fingers, cutting and stickering going on right before the big day.  We had plans to share some love secretly by dropping off little Valentine Blessings to those that might need a little bit of love that day. So they made - and created - and shared the love.



I love these cute bookmarks! Paint strips + heart punch + ribbon = ADORABLE.  Chevron notecards from the Target $1 section - love!


Sisters working together to make someone else's day brighter. And it wouldn't be complete without a little comic humor now would it? I'm so blessed to call this little man my son.  He brightens our days and makes us laugh!



"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7  

Loving each other and showing love is something I am always emphasizing with my children. It is should probably be our family motto they hear it so much! But I just want them to know that they are so loved by us their parents, their siblings and most of all their God. Living this out each and every day, not just Valentine's Day is what I want them to remember most.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Little bird, little bird

With the Texas weather giving us hints toward springtime this week, we couldn't help but head outdoors for some sunshine and vitamin D.  Little birds chirping right outside the window early in the morning, reminded me that we had some leftover supplies for making bird feeders. This little "craft" is so easy to do with a bunch of kiddos and something even I have enough patience to do! Teaching them to knit... uh, not so much patience for that. Brett couldn't wait to get started when he found out what we were doing.


We ended up attracting a few more birds than we had bargained for.  Hello Chickens!



Rocky says "It's nice to share".

Or not... I laughed when I took this picture as that silly Guinea's head popped up just as I took it. It's like the hen is saying "Hey! She was taking my picture!". I think she is giving him the stink eye.


Pine cones and peanut butter - spread it on thick.



Roll it in birdseed. This combo is so good for the winter birds when there isn't much food to be found.


Your fingers will get plenty sticky.


And that's just fine with Brett who preferred to lick his clean. He seemed to really like the birdseed too...


All finished! Hoping some bright red ribbon will help attract the little birds and bring them to the house for us to watch.  Brett wants you to know that this is his bird feeder. Such a beautiful day!


Look what was waiting for them inside! Grandma arrived with lunch and fun Valentine's treats. I love that she does this for us once a week. It gives me a break from thinking about what to feed them for lunch and it gives her something to do - she loves it too I think.


This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Word Up!

Do you look for a word to help you in the New Year? I know January is almost over now, but I thought I would share my word for 2013 and how it came about. After talking with a friend who instead of making resolutions for the new year, prayed for a "word" and made that her word for the year, I decided to give it a try this year. I know I've read about others doing this before, and it had always intrigued me. Would God find a word for me too? So I prayed.... I prayed for guidance and I prayed among other things that should God have a word in mind for me, He would make it appear to me.

A few times I would think I would see a word coming to me - a word like "pray" or "love", but it didn't feel like it was THE word. Praying and loving are important to me, and both are things I want to do more of this year - so that is true. Then one day right after New Year's Day, I was siting on the couch with a book and I just closed my eyes for a minute. I prayed to God, "what is the word you want me to focus on this year Lord?". Then in the depths of my mind, I could see it emerge. MOTIVATE.

Not motivation, or motivating or motivator... just motivate.

A verb: meaning to provide someone with a motive for doing something. Or to stimulate someone's interest in or enthusiasm for doing something.

Now what does He want me to motivate? I have a few ideas and hopefully those will be seen played out soon. I like the word! I think it will be true to my nature to motivate, but I am going to trust in the Lord to show me where to do the work.

Happy 2013! Let's motivate!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Girl

There is something about her, my Girl. The way she lights up a room with her bright eyed, wide mouth smiles and her lust for life. This little six year old whom I never thought I would have, is my sunshine.  She makes a great model and I couldn't stop clicking the camera when she went into her "ham it up" mode the other day. I always thought she would be my baby girl.... then came baby boy. God sure has other plans! I am learning to trust Him with ALL of it.

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11












Oh the many faces of Abbey... How I love this girl of mine.