Sunday, April 20, 2014

Our son

I have mixed feelings about the season of Lent ending.  Don't get me wrong...I am overwhelmed by the joy that Easter brings and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus for all humanity, but each year, through the Lenten journey, I am brought closer to Him in ways that change me forever. The walk with Jesus is amazing, and so very humbling, isn't it?

This one was filled with unimaginable blessings and unexpected surprises, as we now prepare our hearts for a son.

Our son.

I am in awe at what's transpired in this forty days and how God has blessed us. It makes me only want to walk in more faithfulness. I will share more in the days to come, but our plan has changed. He has revealed our child.

He has changed our hearts.

We've reviewed many files of girls who need families in China, but for some reason beyond explanation, we could not find peace about them, and then after our Olivia whose file we set free, we could not wholeheartedly say "yes" to another referral.

And even as He handed us this new gift of life, I still fought. I fought because His will was not mine. Does that sound familiar?

But when I finally gave way from my wants and desires to His, it is all falling into place...the signs, the financial provision, the peace.

As I sat in Mass this morning celebrating Jesus risen and our hope of salvation, I felt that peace. Easter was the only Holy Day we spent together with our son, Daniel, in our lives. I can't imagine a more meaningful Holy Day to spend with him. He went to Heaven only weeks after.

There in the pew, as we rejoiced because Jesus ascended into Heaven, we also rejoiced that Daniel is with Him. And then my mind was drawn to imagining life with another son to love with all our hearts.

Another son to celebrate Easter with. Thank you, Jesus.

With tear-filled eyes and a hope-filled heart, I thank you. We are so excited for this little book to travel across the world. We pray it brings your peace to our son while he waits for us to come.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Divine weekend

Madi had her first Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation last weekend. It was a truly beautiful and overwhelming experience to see our daughter walking into the light of Christ and confessing her sins.

In typical Madi fashion, she was totally prepared for the special occasion. Once she sat down across from the priest, she pulled out a folded piece of paper, which turned out to be a rather large piece of paper!  Oh, the list!

We celebrated when she was finished, and she admitted that it was much easier than she thought it would be. I love the fact that we can now go to confession together. Perhaps this will get us there more often!

On Sunday, Charlie had his first preschool singing performance in the chapel. He was so adorable, but something came over him that resulted in our boy being completely zoned out and exhausted! We waved our arms around like monkeys trying to get his attention, but no such luck...he was in a trance. 

Charlie proceeded to yawn four or five times throughout the performance, and I truly thought he was going down! He was rubbing his eyes like crazy, and he seriously looked like he was going to fall asleep right in the middle of it. He nearly tripped walking off the stage. Poor guy. But even with that, he managed to sing every song with almost all the proper gestures he was supposed to make. 

When I asked him what happened, Charlie told me that he was nervous. It totally brought back memories to a dance recital, about ten years ago, and the same thing happened to me before I went on stage. I could not stop yawning! Someone told me it's a biological response to stress when the body needs extra oxygen. My little boy is just like me!

Thankfully, he was fully recovered (thanks to juice and donuts in his classroom) by the time we went to lunch with Bubba and Grandpa.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Gift of New Life

We were blessed, last weekend, with an incredibly meaningful donation for our adoption, and we feel tremendously grateful to be the recipients of so much love and support on our adoption journeys.  It is a humbling experience.

A dear family came into our lives a little over a year ago. We share many similarities, one of them being the red thread connection of children adopted from China. While I became close to the Mom in this family, Jimmy became friends with her son. He helped this young man find a home, and these guys forged a bond that will be lasting.

We just found out, through a beautifully written letter, that this friend became engaged to the woman who has stirred his heart and whom he has fallen in love with. Their relationship has been blessed with a strong spiritual connection that they've embraced and nurtured. They believe they came into each other's lives "because of something bigger" than themselves. The letter is far too personal to give verbatim, but I would like to share the story, since it is such an awesome testimony of faith and goodness.

This young man wanted his fiance's ring to be very special. He truly did not want to "commercialize" their relationship, and with that wish, his loving and supportive mother stepped in and offered him the diamond that his father had given her.  She said that she would be completely honored for her daughter-in-law to wear her special ring.

Because his mother refused to accept any money for the diamond, he asked her where he could donate some money as a gesture of thanksgiving for what she'd done. She suggested one of her favorite charities, Half the Sky, but then said to him, "You know...your friend Jim is raising money to go back to China to adopt another child."

He told his mom, "That's where the money should go."

And just like that, we became the recipients of this generous gift! Jimmy and I were both brought to tears at such a gracious expression of love and faith.

We've promised this sweet couple that they will be a part of our child's life. What a beautiful way to start an engagement in union with our Lord and savior! We are so thankful for the Hand of God in this adoption!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Three years with Charlie

Time flies, doesn't it?  We celebrated three years with Charlie on March 21st. Yet it seems like yesterday when they put that tiny little peanut of a baby in our arms. He was 18 months old but seemed so much younger.

Thankfully, he caught up so quickly. Within a month or so, he became a robust baby. I didn't realize that I was giving him double the amount of formula he was given in China!  Oops! It was pure joy to be there for many of his "firsts" including his first steps.

We celebrated Gotcha Day with a trip to the zoo with Bubba and Grandpa. It was so much fun! We are blessed with everything Charlie brings into our family...craziness and all!  Love you, Char Char!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Student of the Month

On Valentine's Day, I was taken completely by surprise when I was greeted by Madi's name in bright lights on the school marquee as I walked past with Charlie in the stroller! I couldn't help but get a little misty. She just works so hard, and she's so deserving. 

This milestone is no surprise to Jimmy and me, though. Seriously. Our daughter is a fiercely determined child. Madi honestly possesses the "eye of the tiger."

I find it funny that several people have bestowed kudos upon Jimmy and me for doing a "good job" with her, given her achievement, but honestly, we really can't take much credit for her success. She is a completely driven self-starter. She'll come home from school and sit down right away to complete her homework. Madi strives to read chapter books during the school day to accumulate Reading Counts points, which--by the way--is her after school recreational activity of choice. 

And math? Oh, yes, her favorite subject, math. Madi's class began working on their times tables at the beginning of February, and she's already memorized all but two of them and passed the tests. Unstoppable.

She's the type of kid that volunteers to present her project first, and apparently delivers in such a way that she has a possible future in public speaking. She's been a professional negotiator since she was a toddler.

But what we adore most about our student of the month is her big heart and her kind nature. Madi is considerate of others. She's a good friend, and she will take time to help those who struggle; she will take extra steps to ensure that no one feels excluded or left out. Our girl is not hung up on insignificant things, such as her wardrobe or other "stuff." She doesn't know a thing about name brands, and I love it (knowing that this will likely change in her future)! She loves Jesus and she knows all of her prayers for Holy Communion by heart and recites them every night in joyful anticipation of her upcoming sacrament. She's a good kid with her priorities in order, for sure.

As I ponder the many factors, and the many people who've helped mold her along the way, many names pop into my head. Most are the names of the teachers who've loved her from the time she attended the Little Owls program at the YMCA, to speech classes, to Pre-K, to elementary school and CCD classes, where she is now. These are the amazing role models who praised Madi and built her confidence, who instilled in her a desire to adore learning through their passion for teaching. These are heroes in our daughter's life, and it's clear they've made such a positive impact on her. We've been so blessed by their efforts, and Jimmy and I will forever be grateful to them for giving our "Student of the Month" the incredible foundation that she obviously has.

Dawn Marshall Moss
Lora Kennedy
Kendra Bivins 
Dana Johnson
Clare Avogardo
Charde Maldonado
Dina Barganier
Kathi Mueller
Marissa Tata 
Sister Lucy

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Blankie Tales


After we were home a while with Charlie, we introduced him to a little blanket. It had belonged to his big brother Daniel, though he'd never cared for it much. So we passed it along to Charlie, and he adored it from the get-go. It truly became his beloved blanket.

Charlie affectionately named his blanket, "Bee Bee" which meant "baby," but he couldn't pronounce it quite right. Bee Bee never left his sight, and he relied on that soft piece of fabric as much as he relied on his middle two fingers to soothe him.


At some point in the past year, Charlie decided that he wanted to really be "at one" with his blanket. Wouldn't it be better if he could climb into Bee Bee? So, Charlie broke apart the seam of his two-ply blanket, and tore at the thread until he had created a sack, like a sleeping bag. What a cozy idea!


It didn't take long before Charlie then decided that he wanted a BIGGER Bee Bee. I mean, bigger is better, right? So he decided to tear apart the other two seams of his two-ply blanket, until he had created a gigantic one-ply blanket.

His new creation kinda came in handy as a leash for Mommy's use, or more like a pull rope, at times, but I must say, as the primary maintenance provider of the blanket, this extra large stage was disastrous. Can you say "germ-fest?" We felt totally blessed that Charlie wasn't sick all the time since Bee Bee was constantly filthy from being dragged on the floor and stepped upon.


Once Charlie got tired of Bee Bee being so unmanageably large, and it often went missing because OCD Mommy had thrown it into the wash yet AGAIN, our clever young son thought maybe bigger wasn't better, maybe MORE was the answer.

So he ripped that blanket in two.

It became somewhat of a bonus for me, the primary Bee Bee seeker and handler. For now, I could conveniently wash one Bee Bee, while the other was being continuously exposed to filth and squalor...and then put right into our son's mouth like a chew-toy.


Most recently, Charlie has latched on to the idea that many Bee Bees would be totally ideal. And since he's recently discovered what a joy scissors can be, he decided to cut his Bee Bee into pieces. One would think it would be easier for Charlie to have unlimited access now, given his multiple parts, but actually, for some reason, he seems to be losing them more. I find these tattered and torn pieces tucked and hidden into the strangest places.

Charlie also decided it was time for a name change, and is now the proud owner of his six separate pieces, all named "Blankie."  However, since I am losing track of who's who, I might be assigning numbers to these guys shortly.

On the upside, I am finding it easier to keep a good rotation of these pieces clean...when I can find them.

And so, I ask, what do you think the next chapter will be here folks? Is our son trying to rid himself of his precious blanket once and for all?

Will the next chapter of this story be "Bee Bee's" Disappearing Act?  And once all the pieces disappear, will he be seeking a replacement?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The "Right" Decision?

Every time I hear those words, I want to break.


I know that people are being kind and the intent is to console. That it comes out of love.

But--truly--who says we made "the right decision" not to adopt Olivia?

I can't even say those words for fear I'd choke on them. Because I think only God knows the answer to that.

And why?  Because we need to adhere to our cozy, comfortable, and convenient little life?

Well, what about HER?

What about that beautiful gentle child who stares off in the distance because she has NO ONE to love her and hold her and tell her how precious she is?

Does that seem like the right decision to you?

And then, naturally, people defend our other children and how this child's needs would take away from theirs.  But WHO SAYS a child with more needs is a BURDEN and not a BLESSING?

Shouldn't that be the most important lesson in LIFE?  That our children learn how to love unconditionally despite one's flaws?  Shouldn't they see that love doesn't stop short of perfection?

As you can see, I'm really struggling here. Please forgive me for wearing my heart on my sleeve today.

Dear Lord Jesus, please remove the bitterness from my heart and replace it with peace. I trust YOU. I have faith in your plan for our family, and I pray that YOU will be glorified through this storm. Please, Lord, please find her a home...find her a family.

I will NEVER consider this as a "right" decision, but rather a very difficult one we chose to make.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. -- Proverbs 3:5-6