Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thirty-Five Years

It's still summer, right?  I mean, it IS still November, which is just after Octember.  Yes?

Summer held a remarkable anniversary.  We've survived 35 years together!  Whew!  (Oops!  Did I say survived?)  Getting married at 18 so many people said we would never make it.

I think at times we made it because we are both stubborn and just wanted to prove all the haters wrong--so we stuck through the hard times which meant we were still together to celebrate all the good times--and they far outnumbered the bad.

We started having kids a year later, and in some ways we were babies raising babies, but we grew up together.

Through it all, I'm thankful we've had each other.

For our 35th we went on a new adventure!  Our kids were entertained at Auntie Amber's Summer Camp and we were entertained by Carnival Cruise!  I've always though it would be fun, Hubby wasn't so sure, but we both had a BLAST!  It was like one big party on the ship, with food and entertainment galore, and stops in Cozumel and Progreso.  We met so many wonderful people and enjoyed the beaches, Mayan ruins, and just spending time together.

I highly recommend a cruise!  We want to take the whole family someday.

My best advice to newlyweds is to take the finger that is pointing at your spouse, and point it right back at yourself. Try though we might, there is only so much we can do to change someone else, but we can change ourselves.  Compromise, communicate, and do little things to show your love.

Here's to another 35 years!

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Camp Auntie Amber

I have a couple posts I still want to share.  It's still kinda summer, right?  I mean, it's Thanksgiving weekend, which means it's a holiday weekend with no school and today it was even warm enough for a hike.

Let's go with that.  On top of my ridiculous correlation, it IS a time of thankfulness and I am SO VERY thankful for family.  Raising our kids would be a lot more challenging and lonely without all the people around us who cheer during the good times and wrap their arms around us during the challenges.

This has been a good year.  Coming off some hard years.  And it was with thankfulness that my sister came up with a plan to watch our kids for several days while Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary.

CAMP AUNTIE AMBER is a time my kids will never forget!!  When Amber does something, she does it Texas style--big!  Amber is loving, creative and FUN!

We flew with the five youngest and the adventure began!

It was a grand adventure!  Because of work, Paul could only stay half the week, but he had a blast the days he spent at "camp."  Although there were many activities, my kids LOVED just spending time with their aunt, uncle and cousins.

And while they were "glamping," Hubby and I were on our own adventure . . . up next.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Why We Don't Have A "Little Kids" Table Anymore

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from our house to yours!  We had kids coming and going during the day, and some had to be connected with through facetime.

In case there are any questions about who does the baking in our family, I'll clue you in.  This is how my husband makes cookies.

And this is how I make cookies.

This is how I make pie.  (Hubby makes homemade pumpkin pie.) 

It's called time management peoples!  Don't judge me.  I have no patience when it comes to cooking. And I'd like you to know that box was not easy to open! AND on top of that I was supporting the band with their pie fundraiser.  So there!

All the kids actually got involved in the cooking this year, which was not only fun but helpful!

Our kids are getting older, but some time ago we quit having a "little kids" table.  It's a lot more convenient, but we learned from one of our older adoptees that they were never included at the family table in their foster home.  Just writing that makes my heart sob!  Orphans face so much discrimination and separation.We didn't know for a long time why that child had such negative feelings about having separate tables--now we get it.

My mom hosted Thanksgiving and it was so special.  My mom moved near us two years ago.

We originally had this table all set.

Then we realized we needed more place settings.

It would have been easier to just have some people sit in the kitchen.  Instead we took everything off and added another leaf and a larger tablecloth.

I will forever find a way of making the table as long as needed.

The things we learn in adoption.  

Now it's time to watch football.

And enjoy Christmas Vacation, while scouting ads for Black Friday shopping!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Time to buckle up for Christmas!

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Oh my goodness!  I have the BEST news for you!!!  News to make Thanksgiving an extra special feast!  

Are you ready for it???


The past year was rough as I loved him from afar and so desperately tried to find him a home.  Not a day, not an hour, went by, and my thoughts would travel 6,000 miles back to China to wonder what he was doing.  What was he thinking?  Did he think of me?  Did he wonder if I had found him a mother?  Did he wonder why I didn't come back to make him my son?

I wanted to.  And yet, I also knew it wasn't meant to be.  Each and every orphan we met was precious. And yet Phillip . . . I can't even find the words for the way he touched my soul.  

Oh how I prayed and begged God to find Phillip a family!  I dreamed of Phillip.  I lost sleep.  I once got up at 5 am, put on layers against the rising mist on the cabin lake, and rowed for two hours sobbing!  WHY GOD?  Why would you let me fall in love with a little boy and not help me find him a family?  I asked everyone I knew.  I posted on waiting child listings.  I wrote articles and talked to prospective families.

Yet an orphan he remained.  

I didn't understand it.  I still don't.

There was a popular song, Stand By You, by Rachel Platten, that would come on the radio and speak to my heart:

Hands, put your empty hands in mine
And scars, show me all the scars you hide . . .

Tears make kaleidoscopes in your eyes
And hurt, I know you're hurting, and so am I.
And love, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open
'Cause I'm gonna stand by you.

Even if we're breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through hell with you
Love, you're not alone, 'cause I'm gonna stand by you . . .

Perhaps Phillip would never have a family.  Perhaps the only job God had for me to do was to pray for Phillip.  And love him from afar.  As hollow as it felt, I finally reached the point where I had to begin to accept that truth.  I knew God heard my prayers.  But his answer seemed to be opposite what I hoped.  

I found peace.  

And yet . . . I couldn't.

On a busy day I was driving home at sunset and pointed out a sky both dark as light.  It was so stunning Lan Lan, sitting next to me, took a photo. We looked at each other and I said, "Look at that sky!  I wonder what God is trying to say?"  

At the next stop light we pulled behind a car with a bumper sticker that read, "With God all things are possible."  Lan Lan laughed, and took another photo.  

I thought of Phillip.

Two days later, I was out for a walk with Mei Mei, Kim, and baby K.  It was chilly and late in the day.  I was so surprised when a ladybug landed near my hand that I snapped a photo.  

Anyone in the adoption world knows that ladybugs signify adoption.  So, of course, I thought of Phillip again.  And while I don't go around snapping photos and waiting for God to send me messages (perhaps I should more often?!) I am now absolutely certain that God was grabbing my attention!  Because right then things were being put into motion that could only be God ordained.  A friend of a friend contacted me.  

And God answered prayers big time! 

PHILLIP HAS A FAMILY!!  And they are rushing to finish the 6,000 miles of paperwork to bring him home.  He has a wonderful family with a loving mama, devoted daddy, and siblings galore.  He will be loved!  

And finally, finally, Phillip will have a mama to echo his "wo ai ni" back.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever."   Psalm 136:1