Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stribling Orchard

Every fall, we take a trip out to Stribling Orchard.

Family owned for over 200 years, 
the orchard boasts a wonderful assortment of seasonal deliciousness.

Today, we stuffed our bags (and our bellies)... 

I think an applie pie is on the menu for the weekend!

Or maybe we'll try pumpkin instead :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our road to China

Months ago, Chris and I formally began our adoption journey.  We *knew* the Lord had blessed us with another daughter; we simply had to find her!  After researching various agencies and options, we decided to partner with America World Adoption, and we have been blessed beyond measure by their good, good work ever since.

Initially, we reviewed the lengthy list of countries with whom AWAA works, and after feeling the Lord lead us towards China, we applied to that specific program.  At that time, the wait for a "healthy" baby girl from China was 5-6 years, and since we hoped to NOT wait that long, we began to research other options.  Good friends came to mind-- a special family who adopted a sweet, sweet little guy from China three years ago, a little guy who was abandoned due to his cleft lip & palate (both of which are considered curses in Chinese culture).  Thinking a similar adoption might be a possibility for us, we immediately began to research children with "special needs."  In China, children are placed under that label for a variety of reasons; many, however, fall in to that category because of a physical ailment... a physical ailment which is quite often correctable with proper medical help and care-- cleft lip and/or palate, ear deformities, scars and burns, minor heart defects, and so on.  From a list far more extensive than this, we ultimately filled out an application which required us to indicate which conditions we could "accept."

Both Chris & I struggled with that list-- it was long, and some of the conditions were severe.  But the Lord, mysterious & loving, impressed upon our hearts the need to think big.  To see past the "imperfections" and remember (as my Mama always told me), "God don't make no junk!"  Precious little people needed families. And our family was created for one of those special little people!  So many children have been rejected due to their appearance or "complication" or "imperfection." Yet every single one of them IS absolutely perfect in His sight!

"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
 Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."
Psalm 139:14

So... quickly we printed out form after form after form, anxious to submit our paperwork as quickly as possible to the Waiting Child Program.  We scrambled and we scurried to write our autobiographies and to have our fingerprints taken, to complete financial forms and background checks, to prepare for home visits, personal interviews, and family interviews, to endure doctor's physicals and to complete employment letters, and on and on and on.  And with each passing day, the clocked ticked a little bit louder.

At the onset, I thrived on the excitement of it all-- the details and the fact-gathering and the organization required to keep my sanity! But when progress started to depend on others who simply did not share our sense of urgency (think: government bureaucrats at the city & state levels), frustration quickly set in.  Thankfully, many special folks regularly reminded me of one simple truth:  THIS was God's plan.  His plan-- set in motion before time began... for us. To be completed in His time and in His way.  Just as He ordained.  And even better?  The completion of said plan depended not on me and not on Chris, but on the awesome God we serve!  And He has never proven Himself unfaithful!!

"Have you not known?  Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to hm who has no might He increases strength
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; 
they shall walk and not faint."

Isaiah 40:28-31

So, armed with God's Word and an assurance of His calling, Chris and I pressed forth.  We scrambled and we raced to gather every teeny detail needed to complete our end of the bargain as quickly as possible.  Thankfully, most documents fell in to place very nicely, and most were processed through all the proper channels without a hitch.

Until we had to deal with my birth certificate.  I filled out the appropriate forms and mailed them with a cashier's check to the Department of Heath (as directed).  They mailed a newly issued birth certificate back to me, but when AWAA returned the document to their Secretary of State for certification (a necessary step in the chain of events), it was declined.  Issued by Hawaii.  Declined by Hawaii.  Go figure.  So I tried again-- this time with a different form and a couple additional checks.  Four to six weeks we would have to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  By this point in time, our dossier was compete.  Every document had been certified at the Secretary of State level and each one had passed muster at the State Department and the Chinese Embassy.  All but my birth certificate, which lay untouched (evidently) on a desk across the Pacific.

Until last week. When it finally arrived in the mail. The very last piece of the puzzle... the last document needed to complete our dossier!  Hallelujah!!

To be continued...

Monday, September 17, 2012

1000 Gifts: A new day

Come, Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
~Robert Robinson

 His mercies never ceasing, I keep on counting...
so, so thankful for His goodness and love!

A cool, brisk morning

A quiet, sleeping house

God's colors painted acorss the sky... the sun rising to its appointed place

A brand new day

And the many changes it will bring

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

My dear sister-in-love and a full day together-- even though surrounded with moving boxes

Child laughter outdoors, little bodies running

While we packed the kitchen-- oh, how I'll miss those faces!


Thoughts of other little, special folks, too far away in SC... and the hope of seeing them again soon.

And their mama-- a gift to our family.
I think these are her favorites :)

Family... even the furry ones!

A party to celebrate a precious little girl... due in Novemeber... anxiously anticipated by all

Her mama 

And one of our favorite reminders (thanks to our favorite, Beth Moore)-- 
Pink is *always* God's will.
We need never pray about pink!!

The moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of weakness we must bow
And hear You say "It's over now"

I'm alive...
~Mercy Me

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. 
 I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
John 10:10

and the list continues...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Because God

The last six months have closely resembled a roller coaster ride.  Lots of ups; lots of downs.  A few twists & turns in the road; a bit of mind-numbing exhilaration & a bit of gut-wrenching pain.

Because God.

Because God chose to interrupt our northern Virginia status-quo-- our mini version of the American Dream-- and call us to something greater, something outside ourselves, something He had ordained for us from before the foundation of time.

"For My thoughts are note your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,"
 declares the LORD.  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. 
 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven 
and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, 
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; 
it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."  
Isaiah 55:8-11

Indeeed, His mega plan plopped us square in the seat of that wild & crazy roller coaster ride, and it has been all grace ever since!

Because in His infinite goodness, our sovereign Lord rocked our world and revealed to us-- in the blink of an eye-- one major snippet of truth... our comfy little life in suburbia was about to change.  It was about to expand.  It was about to explode.  Because our cozy family of six, which we once considered whole, was not whole at all.  His design for us was, in fact, far from complete.  As Love came down and filled our souls, Chris and I learned first hand the truth of His Word.

"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 a hope and a future." 
Jeremiah 29:11

To initiate that plan, He planted a few seeds. He watered them.  He fashioned them, and He formed them. He pruned them, and He nurtured them.  And He helped them grow.  And as they grew, that plan took shape.  A big plan.  A new plan.  A plan we never would have formulated on our own.  A plan created in HIS heart.  A plan to bless us in ways inexplicable-- a plan to stretch us and grow us and challenge us and change us.

This plan-- His wonderful, loving, infinitely good plan-- for us involves a precious little girl on the other side of the globe.  A beautiful little thing-- born to another woman but conceived in our hearts and destined to be ours by adoption.  Just as "He predestined us for adoption as sons of Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:5), so He predestined our family to follow where He has led.

Early next year (I hope!), we'll by flying to China, and we'll be bringing our daughter home!

Monday, September 10, 2012

1000 Gifts: Lately

"And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, 
they set Jesus on it. And as He rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.  
As He was drawing near-- already on the way down the Mount of Olives-- 
the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice 
for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying,
 "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" 

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, 
"Teacher, rebuke your disciples."  

He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out."  
Luke 19:35-40

Silent too long, I am compelled to rejoice...
so I start counting again,
because the gifts are too great, the majesty too marvelous, the love too grand!

For You and You alone
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done, let Your will be done in me

In Your prescence, in Your power
For this moment, for this hour, 
~Chris Tomlin

A renewed vision, priorities re-visited... His faithfulness to all generations

The clarity of His call, the power to trust and obey, and the guarantee of eternity with Jesus

Discipleship, accountability, and 5 sisters in Christ... following hard together after Him



Eleven wonderful summers on the sands of North Myrtle
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Gramoggie & Poppa!!

Family traditions

The last of the garden's harvest... red & yellow bite-size goodness!

A new school year with new books, new subjects, and a new routine

Plus cooler temps outdoors, open windows, and gentle breezes throughout

Backyard shenanigans

"Faster wheels" and a seven year old's determination

Daddy home after a week in California

In-&-Out Burger-- the silver lining to his west coast travels... sometimes even twice in 1 day

Hand-me down sneakers and hand-me shorts... both with a touch of pink. Sheer bliss.

Training wheel removal and the hope of riding success

A chance to try again tomorrow :)

Walks around the neighborhood.
Frisbee in the park.
Laughter all around.


"So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture
Will give thanks to You forever;
To all generations we will tell of Your praise."

Psalm 79:13

and the list continues...