Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Black Hills or BUST!

We packed up the "burbon" as Selah calls it and headed west last week. As a girl, the Black Hills was the vacation spot when raised in South Dakota. We would venture out to the Hills quite often and see the sights...Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, and the tourist traps...Wall Drug on the way, the World's only Corn Palace, Reptile Gardens...the list goes on and on. We decided to hit it all...take it all in. The Griswalds take on the Black Hills...well, sort of. Why do things seem smaller when we grow up? Where does the magic go?

I survived on taffy--I kid you not! Curtis grabbed me a few king-sized laffy taffys for the car ride--I also snuck in a couple. Then on day 1 we stopped at the taffy shop in Keystone and picked out all of our favorite flavors--11/2 pounds of taffy and it all ended up in my belly. I seriously couldn't get enough of it! I thought it would make sense to just eat it until I got sick of it--never happened. In fact, I could down a pound right now if it was in front of me. When I got home I hopped on the scale, thinking 11/2 pounds of taffy could only put 11/2 pounds on me--wrong! Maybe I should try some fruit. I started thinking perhaps I had a problem when I found myself hiding the bag between my feet in the front seat so noone else would think of asking for any.

Anyways, life is good. Vacation was fun--filled with memories, lots of special moments. Isn't that what we all remember looking back at our childhoods? Lots of the insignificant funny stuff that just happens when 7 people cram in a vehicle and a hotel room. Good times.
Enjoy your last lazy days of summer!

Friday, July 10, 2009

One year ago...

I was packing my bags, checking the paperwork just one more time, and getting ready to board a plane that would take me halfway around the world so I could bring home our daughter. What a year it has been!! A sweet orphan would be coming home...coming home to an at-times chaotic house, to a daddy, a mommy, and brothers and sisters, even a dog. I look at the photos now and see the fear in her fake smile, see the apprehension in her brave eyes. I realized the fear we had and tried to comprehend the fear she must've carried, but of course couldn't feel the depths of what this little girl could. Our sweet Selah...brave beyond measure, a risk taker with a quiet personality, a little girl who feels deeply, yet continues to fear her future. 71/2 years is a long time to be institutionalized, a long time to be unloved, a long time to develop survival habits that were once necessary, but today not. We are amazed at how one year of a family, of friends, of Jesus can nearly wipe out 71/2 years of heartache. Because of our imperfections, things are not perfect...yet the Lord has filled the gaps...the prayers and support of His people have given this child such a future.

I just want to share my heart a bit...it is full. As I read Ephesians 1, where God gives us this perfect gift of adopting us as His children, I see a parallel with sweet Selah. Know this...I'm not claiming any sort of goodness here at all. We are seriously lost without Jesus, our family would be a mess, and we would've never had the courage or the desire to adopt without Him. In bringing Selah home, it had nothing to do with us...nothing at all, we simply tried our best to obey what God had in store for us. We are completely messed up people with a desire to please Him...that's all.

We received a list of special needs children from China about every 3 months. After adopting Gracie, we hadn't even looked at the lists for several months except to pray for the children. With Gracie's great needs, we had decided to leave our paperwork in China until God told us to take it out. Since Gracie had spent so much time in the hospital and her prognosis was very, very poor, we were quite certain our plate was full and God would certainly not expect us to add to our already busy family. We had emotions riding all over the place. Several times, we had to tell Gracie "good-bye", giving her kisses as we would send her off to yet another surgery. In the back of our minds and in the simplicity of the prayers we could muster, China remained. If you know us, or followed our journey to Gracie, you may remember March 16, 2007, the day we turned off ECMO, Gracie's lifeline, to rock her to heaven. She was given two hours to live and we were told her heart would just stop beating. Well, obviously March 16, 2007 was not the day God had written in His book to take her home! As we spent the next month or so in the hospital, being a part of something so glorious...an obvious great miracle in our generation...we continued to seek out the Lord's desire for "our" China plans. He didn't take it away...someone who remains anonymous generously paid for Gracie's entire adoption! It was the black and white answer we had been looking for! With Gracie's medical needs came months of paying for 2 places to live, much travel...we, in no way, were in a position to foot the bill for 2 adoptions in just one year. He, in His time, in His way revealed His plan, ever so gently, ever so remarkably.

We started to pray over the lists. With each list we requested several children--most of them were between 2 and 4 with minimal needs. We felt rejected each and every time, thinking we had this all figured out. We were trying so hard to be obedient to what God was calling us to do...why is He saying "no" all the time?? Yet, He began to give us such a strong desire for our child. A list came out on Valentine's Day of 08. With this particular list, He slowed us down a bit. Ok...a lot. We prayed fervently over each child, boy or girl, severe need to moderate need, ages 1 to 7. In my mind, I could not wrap my mind around adopting an older child...I had read too much, "educated" myself too much. Not through Scripture necessarily, but books and websites, and other's opinions. Curtis had not. His only adoption advice came through Scripture...that's it. Pure, simple...someone needs a home, give it to him or her, clothe, feed, love, welcome one of these children, ability to do all things through Him, trust Him.

Needless to say, our list was long of the children we were to request. I kept leaving the 7 year-old off, Curtis had her on his heart and I'd put her back on. We knew, if we request the older child, we would likely be matched to her. Many times the older children remain...so often because of the fear of the unknown, because of the fear of what 7 years can do to a person. We needed to put in our request at noon (I can't remember the day). I had an email ready to go...the names of the children typed out, but didn't hit the send button until 11:59, so much fear, so much doubt. Within 24 hours we were matched to He Fubai...the 7 year-old little girl with the sad eyes living in the HeShan City Social Welfare Institute in Guangdong Province. We knew it. Curtis was estatic, I was still unsure. This hesitation lasted until I boarded the plane to bring her home.

Curtis, the dad in the family had a desire for this child. Curtis chose her to give her an inheritance, a worldly one. He desired to give her a family...to be her dad. God works this way...oh, how He desires for us to call Him "Father". He has chosen each one of us to be His child, He has given us an eternal inheritance through His Son. He takes us, orphans, and gives us a family...He calls us His children!! We just need to choose. We can't have it both ways...either we accept His adoption of us into His family or we do not. It's quite simple. Selah could have fought us tooth and nail, yet she has submitted to her daddy, she has come willingly and now excitedly. She calls Curtis "dad" and Curtis calls her daughter. She's one of his princesses, a part of our family so intricately detailed out by the grace of God. Sometimes, like Selah, we are afraid, afraid of how this new life of adoption is going to go. Is it for real? Do I really get a family forever? Am I truly loved? Will I ever have to go back to my old life? Am I really wanted?? A lifetime of pain and heartache, a lifetime of being told she is unworthy, unlovable. Oh, how we love Selah. Oh, how God loves us!! Times a billion!!

Ephesians 1:3-14 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.

Feeling blessed today!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This is what we walked into the other day. Gracie and Selah were playing and praying! Through adoption, these two beautiful girls are learning about the kind and loving God who created them. They are learning to thank Him, to trust Him, to talk to Him...sweet!

Deut. 6:6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Many days we go to bed thinking we have not done all we can, we have not accomplished what we should. Yet, these girls have an opportunity to know Jesus--if that's all we can give them, it's enough. Consider the orphan...the child who may never learn to pray, may never learn that there is One to pray to!

Much, much love,

Just horsin' around!

Breuklyn participated in her first horse show with her own horse last week--WOW! She has worked so hard and is such a great little rider. Her horse, however, is not used to competing or being around other horses and people...he was naughty! Oh, so naughty. He bucked and reared and wouldn't cooperate for anything. By the last event people were just cheering as Breuklyn and La-Kota finished well. We are looking forward to many more shows and knowing that things can only get better :) !! Breuklyn's comment a couple of days ago was this... "These horses are teaching me to not be so competetive, but rather to love them as they are." Insightful, huh? I think, as parents, we should be hanging this little quote on our fridge. Out of the mouth of Breuklyn...

Potential?? Perhaps! (It's a stick horse...if you couldn't tell!)

4th of July fun!

Freedom was written across Gracie and Selah's shirts on Saturday. I think I have taken this word for granted while celebrating in past years. One year ago, our sweet Selah was not living in freedom--she was bound tightly in an orphanage, in a country where the freedoms we casually dismiss don't exist. The likelyhood of Selah hearing about the love of Christ in her old life is quite small. To see her free smile, knowing that she knows she can choose the life she desires...it makes my heart jump for joy. Her life in the past year has changed so much...she has went from orphan to princess and is tasting freedom! How sweet is that!

Oh yeah--and Connor's team won the little league championships!

And Derek came in 2nd place in the firecracker run with no photo!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bloggy friends!

Seriously, when we started Gracie's Journey to Me journal three years ago, it was for the sole purpose of keeping family and friends updated without needing to make a gzillion phone calls. I had no idea that God would use that journal to bring friends alongside us, to bless us so abundantly with others who have a heart for adoption. I must admit, I have about five blogs I check daily...not only do I read these blogs, I pray for these families, and email back and forth a bit. Last week, I was blessed...oh, so blessed...to meet two families in person and "hug their necks" as Linny would say. First of all, on Monday, I drove down to Iowa City to meet Linn, Dw, Isaiah, and Liberty. Going to Iowa City to have this incredible surgery done on Isaiah's legs, only to land Dw in the hospital with a serious liver disease. They are now home in Colorado, but Dw is still feeling crummy. Linn and I hit it off beautifully! I knew we would...we have this relationship built on something so much bigger than blogs...our relationship has been built on prayer, we share a heart for the orphan and more importantly, a heart for Jesus. We ate lunch together with Dw and the kids, then ventured off to shop, even purchasing matching shirts for our next get-together. I'm thinking a trip to Colorado is in our future!!!

Then on Thursday, my friend Jean, from Minnesota, was traveling to Iowa City to see her daughter and we met at the local park. It was sweet! We had to cram 20 hours of talking into one...you can just about imagine! Most definitely we will be meeting up with Jean, her husband, and children soon. Our husbands hit it off quite well also--we had a great time--it was just too short. This sweet family has such a heart for adoption. After raising several children, they are not content with the two girls they have already adopted from China, but rather continue on bringing home as many children as God places in their hearts and in their arms. I'm inspired!

Phil. 2:1-4 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Like-minded--exactly! Fun to meet my new friends in person, share some sweet conversation, some sweet hugs!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

pray for my friends

Many of you follow A Place Called Simplicity. The Saunders need our prayers. Sweet Isaiah has been in Iowa City having surgery to correct his legs. While there, Dw has been diagnosed with Hepatitis and is feeling horrible. They are overwhelmed, to say the least. Tired, away from home, sick, family split apart--it's just a lot. Join our family lifting this precious family to the Lord!

Thanks for praying,


I'm in love!! Many, many children captured my heart over the past week. While in Mexico, we served at a special needs orphanage, called the Gabriel House. 38 children with varying special needs call this place home. What I was expecting was sadness, blank faces...instead we were greeted with huge smiles and left the same way. As I couldn't help compare this bright, loving orphanage to Selah's dark, cold one, it is evident the difference. This orphanage proclaims Christ as Lord...Selah's does not. Jesus is spoken freely, praying is a part of life at the Gabriel House. Many of these children are orphans, meaning they have no parents. Many of the children do have parents who come and love on them, but are unable to care for them. Mexico is quite different than the States...the government does not aid the families. Many families cannot afford medical care, afford taking the time off from work to care for a child. I cannot imagine the grief that goes along with dropping off a child because of circumstance. I'm convinced MOST children are loved deeply by their parents...they have just run out of options. The children at the Gabriel House have captured my heart and the hearts of our boys, that's for sure.

The boys, along with the men in our group built an addition to the Gabriel House that will eventually house the boys residing there. They did a phenomenal job--the building looks fantastic. It was fun to watch them serve, to pray over everything, to watch God fit everything together...amazing! My heart was also rejoicing when watching our young men and women love on these kids without hesitation. Pure love. It was difficult to leave. Instead of wanting the day of work to end, each young person would decide to stay longer, to work longer, to love longer. Showers could wait, dinner could wait, yet the relationships couldn't. Sweet stuff.

Since returning home, I have a shadow! It's about 30 inches tall and 22 pounds, with a loud, demanding voice. Right now, blogging is not on her mind, but playing and singing with Bob the Tomato and Mom. I better run!

I'll write more later about my meeting with my friend Linny from A Place Called Simplicity. Oh, my did we have fun! Continue to pray for her sweet Isaiah who is recovering nicely from his leg surgery.
Much love,