Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Cook-"In"

The kids begged me last weekend to let them have a cook-"in," so we rigged some wire hangers and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for s'mores over the fire in our woodburner. Rob and I weren't quite feeling up to hot dogs with our sensitive systems, but we had just as much fun as the kids watching them make and eat their rustic dinner.

Could I live off the grid? Sometimes I feel like we could, especially with the wood-burning stove providing our only heat source here during this most turbulent winter. Sometimes when I'm out tromping through the drifts to throw a bale of hay to the horse and then off to the woodshed to carry a couple of armloads of wood to fill the wood box in the living room, I think, what would be the big deal of having to go out just one more time to hand pump a couple buckets of water to heat on the wood stove for cooking and bathing...I think we could probably do it!

But...I do look forward to the day when all I have to do is turn a little dial, and I can trust that all the children will be warm for the evening. Once taken-for-granted, such conveniences seem almost luxurious now!

Maybe someday we'll throw out our modern conveniences--ooh, I'm not sure how happy I would be without internet!--and cooking over the woodburning stove in the winter will be the norm and not the exception! Probably not anytime soon...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Two Cuties

I just had to share this picture of my youngest two with you. Church was about to start, and I was trying to get all four kids and all the materials I needed for the science project we were doing in children's church out the door. I glanced at everyone and marked off my mental checklist: 8 feet, 8 shoes all on the correct feet--check. Hair combed--check. Faces cleaned from breakfast--check. Acceptable church clothes--check. And that's when I took a second glace at Seth and Lily, put down all the children's church supplies and got my camera. They were simply too delectable not to capture on film. Caleb and Gabe looked cute too, but they were already out the door before I returned with the camera.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

40 Days of prayer, and God speaks...

...and this is where he is leading.

To the Navy.

Rob is working right now to become a full time chaplain in the US Navy. It's a lot to digest, I know, and the path that God used to get us to this point is not a straight one, but obscured and full of blinding curves and huge boulders and tree roots and mud puddles. But here we are.

And both of us feel a release from the current ministry at which we are serving, which is only by God's hand, because we both have said that we would like to stay here and serve for life if that is what God chose. It is, however, not what God is choosing.

We will be putting our house on the market in the next couple of weeks. Please pray that God would bring a buyer, and soon. That would be a miracle in this slow market.

Our families and our church have been wonderfully and most confirmingly supportive, and they are even excited for us.

Should everything go as planned, Rob will enter the Navy as an officer (because of his post-graduate work and pastoral experience) and he will leave for 13 weeks of officer indoctrination and chaplaincy training. We plan to be out of our house by then--June, and the kids and I will put our household in storage, and then live for a few weeks here and there with family in both IN and OH. Maybe even MO. It will be a long time for us to be without our husband and father, but it must be done, and we will make the best of it and I think the kids will actually enjoy the adventure of it all.

Next up on our agenda:

Rob must complete a 6-hour physical with a military doctor. (I can't even imagine what kind of poking and proding will be going on for 6 hours.) Then he must complete a physical fitness test where he has to run, do sit-ups and do push-ups, all within prescribed time limits. After that, the Navy will fly him to Wash. DC where he will receive his rank from congress. In May, he will take the oath of office, and in the middle of June, he will leave for Rhode Island for training. Oh, and he is missing about 5 post-grad hours, so he took a Feb class at Bethel, and he is taking one in March as well. Sometime in the midst of all that he will also meet before the board of the National Association of Evangelicals to receive his chaplaincy license. Oh, and sell a house and pack up a church and pack up a house and prepare to be gone for a long time. And still not know exacly where we will be commissioned. We should know before he leaves for training. We actually get to pick our top three locations, and they will TRY to match us up with one of those three. No guarantees, of course, it is the military.

I feel like we are preparing go to the mission field. We're both excited and up for the call. We feel a distinct sense of peace about this decision and opportunity, and that it could only have come from God, because we would not have chosen this on our own. But when every other door has closed...sometimes God leads that way. And now that we have been walking in that direction for several weeks, we are thankful that God is the one in charge and not us, because we feel that this is what God has been preparing us for all along.

Please continue to pray for us: finances and provision, our Pathway church family who is undecided about what they will do, the selling of our house, the packing up of our family, and that God will put us exactly where he wants us. God bless!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gotcha Forever!

Two years! How they have zipped right on by.

Two years since the day I first looked into her deep, mysterious eyes.
Who is this child who is now my daughter? I remember gazing at each of
my newborn sons whom I had carried from their first heatbeat inside me
until I was searching their faces with my own eyes and thinking the same
thing. Who are you? How I long to know who this little person is and
what he loves and what he will someday become. But with Lily I wondered
in addition to that, How can I make up for all the time that we were not

Two years since I first felt her warm hand in my own, and my heart
nearly burst with love for her. The same joy I felt when I gave birth to
and held my sons coursed through me when I placed my new 2-year-old
daughter on my lap and promised to keep her safe and close to my heart
for the rest of my life, and beyond.

And I store those first sweet memories of her deep in my heart. Today
I've pulled them out one by one and relived them and cherished them so.

In two short months, Lily will have been my daughter longer than she was
an orphan. I will celebrate with her then, too!

Someday, after Jesus comes back and takes us from the only life we've
know into our real home, the home we were created for, there will come a
time when we will have lived in Heaven longer than we have lived on
earth. That will be a day for celebration as well!

Lily has been counting down the days to "Got You Day" as she says, and
then she always adds, "And it's Chinese New Year!" Very cute. We gave
her some little gifts that we had purchased in China for this very day,
and I also made her a toddler version of her lifebook, that tells her
all about her life in China--or what little we know of it--and how she
came to be a part of our family. It's no secret to her, but to put it in
writing and to discuss with her all we know about her birth parents and
her visible special need and her abandonment was very difficult for me.
Laced thoughout the story is God's plan and provision in a less than
perfect world. She really loves the book, even though she really doesn't
want to spend too much time looking at the picures of herself before her
lip repair or even talking about her birth parents and then foster
parents. She wants to get right to the pictures and the story of us
going to China "all the way across the big, blue ocean" to get her.
That's my favorite part, too, but I worry about her tender little heart
that has gone though more sorrow and loss than most of us will ever

Still, she is a strong and resilient little girl, braver than I am. I
couldn't be more proud of her, and I love her more than she'll ever
understand until her own children are placed in her arms.

Here are some pictures celebrating Lily!

This was taken in China when Lily was about 17 months old, about 9 months before we were allowed to travel. However, we weren't given this picture of her until after we traveled. I didn't have ANY pictures of her amazing smile the whole time we waited and waited and waited. I can't tell you how much I would have loved to have this picture during the wait, just so that I could know that she was not terribly unhappy. Wasn't she so, so cute and fun?

My first time holding my new daughter. She's not sure what to think!

Our first Gotcha Day, 2007. She was wearing the same sweater she wore in the very first picture I saw of her. I was thrilled that the orphanage sent her to us in it. What a keepsake! I've seen many pictures of children from Dongguan orphanage in these exact sweaters; they must have LOTS of them!

Sweet, spicy Lily on Gotcha Day 2008. She is such a precious little girl, and I'm humbled that God chose us to parent this amazing child of His.

Lily looking at her new lifebook, with help from Caleb and Gabriel. See the cute little Chinese doll? We bought it in China at a little shop as a set, a boy and a girl, clothed in traditional Chinese silks. She loves them! She loves anything Chinese and gets so excited when she hears about The Great Wall or when she sees another Chinese child at the grocery store. Last week, we saw an Hispanic family, and there were two little girls not much older than Lily. She exclaimed loudly (she does nothing quietly, by the way), "Mom, they're from China like me!" I told her, "No, honey. They're not from China." She literally said, "Huh?" Like, "Watchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" I was trying not to laugh, and trying to push the cart down a different aisle, but I'm sure her voice carried. Then she asked, "Where?" I said, "They're from Dowagiac." She again said, "Huh?" We're still working on the whole thing about America being a melting pot. For her, anyone with dark hair and eyes must be from China. I'm thrilled, however, that she is so proud of her heritage. It is definitely what we want for her.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

or Lots of blessings and prosperity to you! Happy Chinese New Year!

Normally I like to cook and have a special CNY meal for the family, but nobody in this house has his or her appetite right now. We have all been so sick. I can't remember ever having been this far under the weather. I had a fever and cough for about a week and a half, and in the midst of it, I lost my voice. I still haven't found it yet. Then all the kids had fevers and coughs and felt miserable for about five days. I took everybody to the doctor, but alas, it's a virus, and we just have to work our way through the misery. Lily has an ear and sinus infection, so she is on an antibiotic for that, but it doesn't touch the main symptoms.

Blah. I can't tell you how many unheavenly hours of cartoons these kids have consumed in the past week. I only have the energy to do about a third of a project at a time before I want to collapse. And Rob finally succombed to it, but he was also the first to get better. He even preached on Sunday with a fever.

So, I think we'll all celebrate Chinese New Year, which in reality last about 14 days, next week. Maybe we'll make some paper lanterns today.

Oh, and Rob and I have only nine more days to go on our fast. Then we'll ease back into the eating world with rice and simple veggies. My brain tells me a bucket of fried chicken would be heavenly, but I know my stomach would go into shock and send everything right back out. I guess the chicken can wait!