Sunday, March 28, 2010


Our church service this morning was so inspiring! There are so many great things going on at SHCC and I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of this church family. Terry's message was about running the good race for God. Joe and Daniel did an awesome skit that really opened my mind to receive God's word. Something that really hit me today was when Terry said being a Christian is a marathon, not a sprint! I LOVE that saying. I so often think that in order to really worship God, you have to be an every day committed follower. You can't just attend on special events or holidays or be a part of a church without being involved in a ministry (or two, or three, or ten!!!) and expect to grow closer to God and be equipped to spread the Good News! There is a phrase that has been used, "pew sitters", to describe the people who come for one hour on Sunday to do their time. I can't imagine being that kind of Christian, but I also feel challenged ot encourage others to not be that way. I am by no means the perfect Christian and there are people who probably call me a hypocrit (which Terry also talked about today), but God knows my heart and His forgiveness is really the only thing that matters.

When I decided to propose Bright Beginnings to the Elders, I wasn't sure how it would be received, but from day 1 i have had so much support and encouragement. I have seen God's hand in all that we have done and continue to do for the families of Lebanon. I wish each and every person in this world could focus on the path that God has set before him. He has given all of us talents and given us everything we need to be a successful follower of His. Being committed to Him sometimes has a worldly price, people aren't always going to understand you or like you, but it's not about being popular or rich. I am so blessed to work at Bright Beginnings, where our faith is shared not only with the kids and families, but with eachother. My coworkers are also my sisters in Christ and it is so nice to be able to be a part of something that is making an eternal difference.

I have been thinking about commitment, too, when I think about adoption. I have some very close friends that are adoptive parents, some who are waiting, and I am quite certain, some who will eventually join this "club"! When God calls us to adopt, we have to be committed to His plan. We have to commit financially, emotionally, and parentally (not sure that is a word, but you know what I mean!). We are facing some challenges with our kids lately, especially Ryleigh. I want to show her and my other daughters what it means to stay in the race, even when it is hard. We made the commitment to being a family and we have to remember that when we are getting on eachother's nerves, fighting, or feeling hurt. It is hard to add two older children to your family, but just because it is difficult, doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Jesus endured horrible things in His life on earth. He was perfect, but he didn't have love and support from everyone! Can you imagine how silly it is for us to expect everyone to like us, when we are so imperfect? I want to remember that about all four of my daughters and try to show them that we cannot be perfect, but we can strive to be like Jesus by being more forgiving, more loving, and more passionate about the Bible. God has given me my children and I want to parent them the way He wants me to. I am so thankful that He is with me yesterday, today, and always!

I have been praying special prayers for the families who are waiting for their referrals, in particular, The Jays and The Belotes, who are waiting for their baby girls from Ethiopia. They are so close to seeing the faces of their chosen children and while the excitement has been building for a long time, I know that this is probably the hardest part, when you are so close, yet it seems so far. I thank God for their commitment to this wait and for the love they have for the child they haven't even met yet! It truly takes patience and unexplainable love to adopt a child. Just like God adopts us as His children with His love and patience.

We had a special prayer for Stacy today, for her mission trip to Kazahkstan, and the work they will be doing to build a playground. It is that kind of commitment that changes the world! I am so proud to have the chance to know somebody who gives so much to others in the name of the Lord. Is is easy to do this? NO! But there are people who sacrifice for God and it's so awesome to see someone following God's plan for them. God gave Stacy and many others the heart for orphans. I pray for the people of Kaz to see Jesus in each of the 11 people who are making this trip. Thank God for their commitment!

We had a Girls Night Out in honor of Brenda on Friday night. She will be moving to North Carolina one week from today. It was so much fun to be with a great group of women. Laughing and talking does wonders! Of course, there were tears, too, because I am going to miss Brenda so much! She has laid the foundation for the daycare at Bright Beginnings in a way that nobody else could have! I thank her for her commitment to the kids and families, and most of all to God. Her little KayAnna is like the mascot of our school! She was just a teeny little baby, who was always so happy to be up there working on getting the rooms ready! And Aleigha was in our first Peaceful Pals class and has blossomed this year as a Faithful Friend. It won't be the same without them! I am happy to have Facebook to keep in touch with them! And they will be back in 7 years! (when Isabella is 20!!!! Yikes!)

I just wanted to share these thoughts on a lazy Sunday afternoon as I was reflecting on a wonderful morning of Praise and Worship at SHCC! God Bless!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break Pictures

Here's the Scoop

I thought it was probably time for an update for all you "blog stalkers"! Just kidding, I really appreciate the continued thoughts and prayers for our family. We are continuing to adjust to life as a family of 6! We were on Spring Break last week, so we had LOTS of time together, which was good. We got a lot of things checked off our list of things to do...

The big girls had a good report at the their eye dr. appointment. I was so happy to introduce them to my friend, Marla and I was proud of how well they did. (Thanks, Marla, for EVERYTHING!) And Isabella doesn't need glasses after all! We have decided her squinting and blinking is more of a nervous habit, which we are seeing less of lately. The doctor appointment on Friday also went well. Dr. Mebruer decided to start from scratch with their immunizations, since they do not have a shot record. They both cried when they got their 3 shots. Unfortunately, that was only the first round. We will be making frequent visits in the next 6 months so they can get caught up. :( We also got advice on how to deal with all of their skin issues, and we have already seen a big difference. They are both extremely excited about getting the spots on their legs cleared up.

We attended the funeral of my Aunt Dixie, so that was a learning experience for the girls. I hope that if they got anything out of it, it was that you need to live for Jesus, so when it is your time to go, you can spend eternity with him. It's such a comfort to know that she is in a better place and her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can be at peace because they know she is in heaven.

We took the girls to Build-A-Bear and Isabella and Becca had so much fun. Isabella made a Jonas Brothers dog and named it Isabella Jonas. Becca made a bear that she dressed in a soccer uniform and named Troy. Reagan used her very own money to make a bunny that she dressed in a fancy purple dress and named Addie. Ryleigh bought a Mizzou handkerchief for a bear she already has. It was a fun time! We also got Easter outfits for all the girls. We also bought the big girls Bibles. They are excited about that!

We went to Sequiota Park and walked around, fed the ducks and explored the caves. All of the girls had a blast and it was nice to have some time sitting with Tim while the girls played on the playground. It's not often that we have any quiet time to talk anymore!

There continues to be some struggles and frustrations for all of us. It is so hard to know if the attitudes Isabella and Becca sometimes have are from pain from their past, grieving, anger at us for being "mean", their age, etc. It's hard to understand sometimes how they cannot be more appreciative of their life with us, but I know that they are going through a lot emotionally and we are doing our best to be understanding and loving, yet consistent with rules and expectations. We are doing our best to choose the battles that matter the most and letting the other things go, which is certainly not easy!

We enjoy the fact that we have cut back on activities for awhile... Ryleigh is in between basketball teams, soccer for Becca and Reagan hasn't started yet, and we are taking a break from our Sunday night Small Group (this was such a hard decision for us, but after really praying about it and thinking about what is best for our family at this point, we decided we need that time to be at home). It really takes a lot of thought when we go places to think about who and what the big girls are being exposed to. We want to make sure that we do our best to keep them around positive influences and Godly people.

I am very happy to be back at work in the regular routine. I am excited about all the changes that are going on at Bright Beginnings. We officially hired Ms. Melissa as the new Daycare Director and she is going to be a wonderful asset to the Bright Beginnings family! We are adding several new programs for the 2010-2011 school year and summer school for June. I am so thankful for all the awesome women I work with and how they all add new ideas and are willing to work so hard to make an eternal difference in the lives of the children and families of Lebanon. Nothing can compare to the education the kids get at Bright Beginnings! I am looking forward to our Enrollment Kick-Off Carnival on April 12th.

Again, thank for the support and prayers for our family!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Good Times!

Catching Up!

It was a very long week! A good one, but it seems like life is just more exhausting than it ever has been before! The best way to describe our house is a big slumber party. There's lots of giggling, a little bit of fighting, and two parents who just want everyone to go to bed at night! Considering all the changes we are all going through, things have been great. There are only little issues that come up, but I have to admit I found myself very frustrated yesterday with the little issues and kind of lost my temper with the big girls. There is such a fine line trying to cut them some slack because of their circumstances and trying to teach them our expectations as a part of this family.

I suppose there are a few things people are curious about, so I will try to address a few of those things...

Food... The girls have both adapted to our food very easily. They eat everything we eat and are very good helpers in the kitchen. Candy has been one of those little issues with Becca, as she sneaks it in her pockets and eats it when she wants. Not a big deal, but it's something we don't let the other girls do, so we had to ask her to not do that anymore. Isabella says one of her favorite things is fajitas and Becca loves apple juice slushes from Sonic! We are very pleased with how easy it has been to cook for them and with them and our meals together are a fun time of talking and laughing and each of us telling our favorite part of our day.

School... We are so happy with how well the girls did in their first week of school! They both talk a mile a minute (another little issue of trying to teach manners and how to listen to all the sisters talk) when they come home. We are very pleasantly surprised at how much Isabella loves school. They are both starting to make friends and both say that the other one has a boy that likes her! Becca only had one trip to the nurses office for a skinned up knee from a rough basketball game at recess! P.E. is definitely her favorite part of school and I think Isabella likes her time with Mrs. Arl the best. They both wrote the alphabet perfectly and read several easy reader books to us this week. We are so thankful for the wonderful teachers they have and for the kids for making them feel so welcome. Their English is improving more and more each day, which is super!

Little girls... Ryleigh is probably having the most difficult time with all the changes. She was really sick at the beginning of the week, with a high fever and aching all over. She gets irritated when the big girls speak Latvian to eachother (and I don't blame her... that's another little issue!) and she gets annoyed at all the noise sometimes (and again, I don't blame her!). It seems like we have tv's, computers, and cd players blaring all the time! Reagan loved having me back with her at Bright Beginnings this week! She is so laid back and really seems to enjoy the company of her big sisters. All in all, the four of them get along well and enjoy playing, doing crafts, and just hanging out.

Adoption progress... we received word from Daina that we can file the 1800 paperwork for the girls. Which is just the next step in making this all official. No word yet on our second trip or if the girls will have to go (please keep praying that they don't). We have started working on the forms and hope to get done in the next day or two. We also have to set up a couple of visits with our social worker so she can monitor our bonding time. We are praying that the agency is not going to charge an arm and a leg for these reports. It is one of those things that we have to do and they can pretty much make us pay whatever they want. This is one of the unexpected expenses that we did not know about at the beginning, not that it would have made a difference!

Church... We wondered how the big girls were going to feel about all the time we spend at SHCC. We just started a Saturday night contemporary service, so we go on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday nights, not to mention all the time I spend there for meetings for preschool and Children's ministry and the other activities that go on that we are a part of. We don't want to burn them out on church, but we want them to understand how important SHCC is to our family. So far they are doing fine as long as we explain to them what we are doing. We are still trying to make them understand appropriate ways to act at church, like no running, no wild behavior, no talking out during the sermon, etc. Everytime someone says "Amen", Becca says "Amen", too! I know it is hard on them to not understand everything that is being said and I am praying that they know in time it will get easier and that they will come to know Christ in a deeply personal way.

Going back to work... Being back at Bright Beginnings full time last week was such a blessing! It was so nice to have some sort of normal again! Although, it was a very sad day on Friday as we had to say good-bye to Ms. Brenda. There are a lot of changes going on and it is exciting to see where God is leading us next! I am so grateful to the awesome, Godly women I work with that make me laugh every single day! We had a great staff meeting on Thursday and those of us who are going to the Women of Joy conference in April are getting super excited about this weekend of fun, fellowship, and of course seeing Steven Curtis Chapman and Candace Cameron! I say this often, but think it is worth mentioning again, I am so blessed to work in a Christian environment where I can do what I love with the best staff ever!

Mornings with 4 daughers...The girls all get up and get ready quickly for school and really our mornings are not too hectic! We have been on time every day, but have figured out that we really need to leave no later than 7:35 for everyone to get to the right place on time. Fixing hair is an issue, not just because it is time consuming, but because the big girls are very picky about how they like their hair. I am really trying to not make it a fight, but I want them to see that it is okay to try different things. They are both so beautiful and I wish they would let me fix their hair like Ryleigh and Reagan always have. Becca did tell me that her Latvia mom burned her with the curling iron, which probably explains some of her issues. It was more of a thing where it seemed like she had done it on purpose and I explained to her that I would never, ever hurt her on purpose and that she never has to be scared about that.

Basketball... We are trying to clear up all the misunderstandings and problems that occured while we were gone and are continuing to pray for guidance as to what God's plan is for Ryleigh. For me it all goes back to this... I want her to have fun and be a part of a team that enjoys playing a fun sport that can teach them lots of things about life. I want her to be the best she can be. I really appreciate all the people who have given advice and helped me see this situation from lots of different angles. It's so sad to think that this type of thing happens all the time in little kids' sports. Part of me feels better that we are not alone, but part of me feels sad that others have walked down this road, too.

Spring break... We don't have many plans for this coming week of Spring Break. The big girls have eye dr. (can't wait for them to meet Marla!!!!) and dr. appointments this week. We will be going to my aunt Dixie's funeral on Wednesday. She lost her battle with cancer on Friday. Please pray for my Uncle Bob and the rest of their family. I know she is celebrating with Jesus now and is pain-free. I am thankful for all the memories I have of her.

Other thoughts... This adoption journey has been a leap of faith from the very beginning. We have spent a lot of time in prayer lately for God to give us the wisdom to parent our children in a way that will be pleasing to Him. I read somewhere recently that adopting older children is more like a marriage and we are finding that to be very true. The girls already have personalities that we have nothing to do with and have learned things and been influenced by so many different parental figures. It's a slow process of blending us all together. I know that they say "I love you" but I don't think they really comprehend really loving someone yet. Sometimes their lack of appreciation, concern for others, and bad attitudes are really frustrating. I know that probably sounds harsh to some of you and to others, I know you know exactly what I mean! We knew there would be challenges and we prepared ourselves the best we knew how, but the truth is, the girls are each unique in the way they deal with things, so we know that there is no book or Hague training information that could really prepare us on how to handle the issues that come up. What works for one will most certainly not work with the other because they are so different. We just pray that the love we have for them will be consistent and real to them so they can begin to heal from their past. They are generally good, sweet, funny, happy girls, which is a miracle in itself!

We appreciate all the self-proclaimed blog-stalkers who have been faithfully checking our blog and apologize that I have not had time to post lately! Thanks for continuing to pray for our family!

Monday, March 8, 2010

First Day of School

Our prayers were definitely answered today! Isabella and Becca had a fantastic first day of school! They did such a great job telling us all the details about their day... they made friends, had fun, and learned a lot. We are so proud of them and thankful for the three amazing teachers that are helping them!

I have found that the girls love to be read to. They have probably never had that experience of reading a book before bed, so that's what we have been doing. I have never in my life seen anyone enjoy the book "Green Eggs and Ham" like they did tonight. On one hand I am so sad that they have never been read to, but on the other hand I am so glad that I get to share this with them.

On another adoption note... today marks the 3 year anniversary of our paperwork being logged in for baby Reece in China. Reagan drew a picture today and gave it to me and said, "mommy, this is you and me and Reece" It was so cute! Then she said at bedtime, "Am I going to help with Reece?' And I said "yes". She said, "What about Isabella, Becca, and Ryleigh?" I said, "yes". And she said, "No, I think I can do it by myself. Reece will like me because we are both from China!" She is going to make a great big sister someday!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One Week Anniversary!

Well, we have survived our first week, and obviously I have not had much computer time! There has been a lot of getting the girls settled, spending time as a family, and unpacking. Becca and Isabella are doing well, they love their rooms and are very excited at each new sight, smell, and experience. It reminds me of a toddler that has learned to walk and talk and wants to touch and get into everything! They are both eager to help, which is great, but it also means we have to explain things like, you don't push the button that starts the conveyer belt at Wal-Mart and you can't just push buttons on the tv remote (they managed to order 3 movies from Dish on Demand that cost $15 and we have no interest in watching).

They took the English Language test on Wednesday and met their classes and teachers. You could feel the excitement from the students at the chance to see and talk to the girls in person. Becca got to go to P.E. and LOVED it! Isabella got to go to Art class, but she was really to shy to participate. The kids asked her a million questions, especially the boys, but she stayed pretty quiet most of the time. We went and bought all their school supplies yesterday and that was really fun! I love shopping for school supplies during the Back to School time and it was just as fun doing it with two girls who have never had that experience! It really makes you realize that it is definitely the little things in life that can make you happy! Both girls got haircuts yesterday and Isabella really liked when Brittany put lots of curls all over after she cut it. Becca just couldn't wait to put her ponytail back in!

Becca thinks that living in America is all about documents. I have had to fill out paperwork for the eye doctor, insurance, school, and more adoption stuff. She is so funny with her English, she picks up on words easily and uses them in context, but then later she will say "What is this_________?" Like, the word, "nevermind". She was using it a lot, but then last night in the car, she said "I like "nevermind" but I no understand it!" That was kind of a hard one to translate! She can't remember Ooach Coplings name, but she loves to say "P.E. teacher". She says "I like that word"! She has picked through the clothes in her closet and only agreed to wear a few things that aren't too beautiful, too tight, too flared in the legs, etc. She shows the most attitude when she doesn't get her way or loses at something, but we are working on that!

Isabella is opposite of Becca in so many ways. She rarely tries to say new things in English, did not try her best on the English test, and loves beautiful things. She gladly takes any item of clothing that Becca doesn't want and puts it in her closet. She still LOVES the Jonas Brothers and has spent a lot of time watching their videos. At night she leaves her closet light on and opens the door just right to where is shines on her poster of the Jonas Brothers. I guess that gives her sweet dreams! Her attitude really came out at church Wednesday night and it was the first time I really had to be stern with her. I think I made my point and she knew I was serious and straightened up immediately. I hope that her confidence will build and she will have the desire to do her best.

Ryleigh and Reagan are doing well. They still argue like always, but have welcomed their new sisters with open arms. Right now it still feels like one big slumber party so we are enjoying this "honeymoon" phase while we prepare for the challenges that are still to come. We suprsisingly got up and around on time every day this past week!

I am anxious to get back to work on Monday, I have really missed the kids and my co-workers and just doing my jobs. I appreciate all the ways people have stepped in to help keep things running smoothly while I have been away! What a blessing!

Well, the kids are starting to wake up now, so I probably should sign off and think about fixing breakfast! Thanks for continuing to follow along on our journey!