Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Change of Plans

Less than 24 hours after our last post we found out that Lai has a family!  We were in shock and in awe of how faithful God is to the fatherless.  We thought it would be hard to advocate for him, but God had different plans in mind.  A family saw his file and quickly said yes.  We are so thankful that he has a family and have just found out that his family will be hosting him over Christmas.  How cool is that?!  There were 7 kids from China that were not chosen to be hosted so we took another look at the profiles and felt led to Hui.  He is a healthy 13 year old boy who loves basketball.  He is nervous about coming, but I hope he quickly feels comfortable once he is here. 

Because Hui is 13 years old already, he has less than a year for a family to say yes and get the adoption process completed.  Please, please be in prayer that his family finds him.  We are really looking forward to him coming.

Please also pray that churches and/or organizations step up and say yes and allow us to come and advocate for him.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Why

This story is something that has been culminating in my head and heart for years, but recently I have felt the urge to put it down in writing.  We have many exciting and scary things happening in our life right now.  Things that have been dreams of ours for years, things that are requiring a complete leap of faith, things that are so unsure and scary yet very exciting as well.

It all began for me when I was around 14 years old.  Growing up, we only had a few TV stations.  One night I watched this TV program about orphans in Romania.  I am not even sure what program it was, but that night, as I watched these kids, my heart ached for these orphans.  I was stricken by the conditions for orphans in Romania and I think it was the first time that I really understood that there were children in the world that would grow up without an earthly father and mother.  This seemed unimaginable to me.  My parents were divorced, but I knew I not only had a mom and dad, but I had a stepdad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, and cousins who loved me unconditionally.  If I wanted someone to tuck me in at night, I had someone.  If I wanted a kiss or hug, I could have one at any time.  And if I just wanted to talk to one of my parents, they were there.  As I watched that TV program that night, my heart changed for the orphan child and I knew the path of my life would change.  I had no idea what I would do when I grew up, had no idea who I would marry, but I KNEW I would adopt children someday. 

Fast forward several years, Michael and I are engaged and talking about our future together.  Part of that future included children.  We knew we wanted to have children and we knew adoption would be part of our family.  The Lord ended up blessing us with two amazing boys.  Aidan and Keenan were healthy, handsome, and they had amazing little personalities.  But not long after Keenan was born, we decided that our family was not done yet and we started to look into adoption.  After waiting 2 ½ years from the time we started filling out the first piece of paperwork, we brought Isabella home from China.  Our life was again, forever changed.  Then once again, in February 2013, we were blessed to bring home Elijah, our never ending little ball of Joy!  Through it all, God has pushed us, challenged us, stretched us, but above all, he has blessed us. 

From the time Aidan was born, I have always wanted to stay at home with the kids and we have recently been able to make that happen.  A little over a year ago, we started a new business where we buy houses that need some major help, fix them up and then sell them.  This business is to serve two purposes.  One, to allow me to stay at home with the kids.  And two, to give us the means to help support and advocate for adoption.  Part of the proceeds from each of the homes goes to help orphans.  This is another dream of mine … to advocate and help the orphan child.  We know how much adoption can cost, so our hope is to help as many families in the adoption process as we can.  We also want to sponsor children who have no hope for adoption.  The business name is Chosen Properties because we believe each child is chosen to be one of God’s children.  This business is both exciting and scary.  It has been a HUGE leap of faith … and we have seen so many blessings through this leap.

One of those blessings was being able to lead a mission team to Mexico this summer, to work with the orphans in Monterrey.  Aidan went on the trip as well, and it was great to be able to share this experience together.  Each person in our group was paired up with a child.  Our sole purpose for the week was to play and be with the kids.  These children live in a children’s home, and while they try to make it as much like a home as possible, it is an institution.  We played games, ate good food together, went swimming, took the kids to a safari and went to church with them.  Our visit allowed all of these things to happen.  I recently received a drawing from the sweet little girl that I spent the week with.  We have been asked not to share pictures of their faces to help protect their privacy, but I was able to get creative with some of the pics.  Our church is planning to send another team again next year and I think Michael will be going this time.

I just recently completed the courses and passed the exam to obtain my real estate license.  We hope this will help us with both buying and selling our properties.  Plus, I LOVE to look at homes, see their potential and I hope to be able to help others do the same.  It has been so neat to see how God has worked through the homes we have bought and sold already.  We have been able to help several families with their adoption expenses and at the same time we have seen buyer’s excitement about their new home.  We have so many hopes and dreams and pray that with the Lord’s help, we are able to see more children come home to families, see more children get sponsorship, and see more people understand the needs and open up their hearts and homes to the orphan child.

We know what adoption can mean for a child.  We have seen the transformation first hand.  Our sweet boy was so malnourished, weak and withdrawn when we met him.  He is now the happiest little guy who runs and jumps and is just all boy.  We have seen friends adopt and have seen the light enter into a child’s eyes for the first time.  There are unknowns, but when aren’t there?    

We believe that the Bible calls us all to care for the orphan child (James 1:27).  There are so many ways to do so.  One that has been recently placed on our hearts is through an orphan hosting program.  We have decided to host a child from China for a month over the Christmas break.  The child we are going to sponsor is 12 years old, and his name is Lai.  He is listed as healthy and is available for adoption through CCAI (, the agency who helped us bring Eli home.  You can go to the website to see more photos and a brief synopsis.  He sounds like he is a great kid and we can’t wait to spend some time with him.  Our hope and prayer is that we can help advocate for him and that his forever family will find him before he ages out at the age of 14.  No child should be without a family and no 14 year old should have to be told their time at an orphanage is up.  We will be speaking at churches and advocating for him in the months leading up to his arrival and while he is here.  If you know anyone who may be interested in adoption or a church or organization that may be open to us coming to share about this sweet boy, please let us know.  CCAI has even more information and you can request to see his file.  Statistics show that children this age have almost no chance at adoption through the normal channels, but if they are hosted and people are able to meet them, the chances for adoption go up to 70%.  That’s HUGE!  We are praying for Lai’s forever family, praying they will find him, and that he will be Chosen!

God has called us to care for the orphans and the widows (Isaiah 1:17).  For us, this is a personal commandment, something that God has woven into our hearts.  There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for the children that God has placed into our lives.  While we can’t adopt all of the orphaned children in the world, we can make a difference for 1, 2, 3 or more.  Please join us in prayer as we host Lai.  Praying that his family will find him, praying that his visit will be a good one for him (and us), and mostly, praying that one day there won’t be any orphans in the world.  It might seem like an impossible task, but with God, all things are possible!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One Year

What happens in 1 year?  A lot!  Yesterday we celebrated 1 year with Eli and cannot believe how much this sweet little boy has grown.  When he was placed in our arms that January day, he was sick, very malnourished and had no light in his eyes.  He was timid and scared and did not smile or cry for a few days.  I can only imagine what was going on in his mind.  Who are these strange people?  Where am I?  What is going on?  What are they saying?
In 1 year, he has learned to walk, run, jump and do all of the things a toddler should.  He has grown taller and gained 15 pounds (he LOVES food)!  He started preschool and is in the process of potty training (and is doing great).  He has charmed just about everyone he meets.  He has gone from a baby bed to a big boy bed.  His speech has exploded recently and he has started talking in full sentences.  He announces "Home!" whenever we pull into our neighborhood.  He has a special bond with each of his siblings.  He loves to play anything his sister asks of him, including dress up.  He enjoys snuggling with Keenan and he loves being Aidan's buddy.  They adore him and I sometimes wonder what we would have done without him in our lives.  The answer is always, "I can't even imagine!"  He brings so much joy and laughter to our family.  He is rarely upset (unless you tell him "no" to food).  He likes playing with cars, trucks, trains ... and has quite the imagination.  He has the sweetest manners and is always saying thank-you and giving kisses when he knows someone is upset.  He is also mischievous and knows how to get out of being in trouble by flashing that precious smile which makes his eyes twinkle.  He does the cutest things like fake snoring as soon as you put him down to bed.  And he has the best belly laugh ever!  He is such a blessing to us all.  We are so grateful to be his parents.  He may not have been born to us but he was definitely born in our hearts.  Adoption rocks!  We love you Eli!

We celebrated by eating some great American-Chinese food.  Here are some pics from our celebration ...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

In Review

We are now a few days into 2014 and I have to say, I am so excited to see what this year will bring!  I have also been reflecting on 2013 and unlike some years where I am ready to see them end, 2013 was a great year for us.  The year started off with a wonderful trip to China to bring Eli home.  I can't express enough how this little man is not the same little boy that was handed to us on that January day.  Eli is so full of joy and life and love.  There is not an hour that goes by that he does not make us smile. 

This year also brought a lot of time with family and friends, birthday parties, trips to Milwaukee, Myrtle Beach, Gatlinburg, Cedar Point, Hocking Hills and soccer, soccer, soccer.  Catching up with some pictures ... 

All 4 kiddos at Hocking Hills ... such a beautiful place and a favorite place for us to visit in the fall.
Halloween, TinkerBell and an Ape who quickly got the hang of asking for candy.
Bella and her cousin Addyson having some girl time - love their smiles!

Fall Fun

Lakota Futbol Club - tournament runner-up
The holidays were extra special for us this year since it was Eli's first Christmas.  He woke up Christmas morning and was so excited when he saw a car under the tree that he knew was for him.  He came running into our bedroom saying, "Mom! Car!  Mom!  Car! Mom, new Car!!!"  Priceless.  His speech has just been coming so quickly and is getting more clear all of the time.  He could have cared less for the other presents under the tree.  He just wanted to drive his new wheels. 
Love these two - they have such giving hearts.  They could not wait to give each other the gifts they picked out and bought.
We also celebrated Bella's 8th birthday surrounded by lots of family.
Aunt "T" made Bella Olaf cupcakes (from the movie Frozen) ... so cute and yummy!

So here is to a wonderful 2013 and an exciting 2014 that is yet to unfold!  May you all be blessed and surrounded by God's love this year.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Some Important Dates

We have had some important dates over the last couple of months.  We celebrated our family day with Bella on August 10th.  Bella has been part of our family for 4 years.  Sometimes I can't believe it has been 4 years while other times it feels like yesterday that we were in China meeting our little Spicy Girl for the first time.  As always, we went and had some yummy Chinese (American) food and had a great afternoon out together.

Our 4 Silly Kiddos - almost impossible to get them all to look at the camera at the same time

 Our Sweet Bella
We snuck in one last trip before school started.  We went to Milwaukee for the first time to visit my sister who moved there a couple of years ago.  We had a great time visiting with Alyssa and Will and seeing the city, going to the beach, having fun at the waterpark and eating a lot of wonderful food.  The lake is so beautiful and the weather was perfect!  One of the highlights of the trip was going to Chicago's Chinatown on our way to Milwaukee.  It was a small glimpse of China for our kids.  We did some searching and went to a wonderful restaurant and it was like being back in China with the smells, the language, the people.  We love China because it is a huge part of our family, so this little pit-stop was so fun!

We also were able to meet up with sweet friends that we met on our first trip to China.  It was so neat to see Della and Bella together again, 4 years later.  We loved catching up with them and hope to do it again soon.

The boys giving a thumbs up at the beach

Aunt "Sissy" with her adoring niece and nephews

On the way out of town we stopped at the Jelly Belly factory and took a tour.  We also had to stock up on some beans, which didn't last long in this family.  Here is a pic of our goofy boys "acting" scared of the train ride through the factory.
The first day of school came quickly.  We had a wonderful summer, but the kids were ready to head back to school (I think).  Bella is in the 1st grade.  Keenan is in the 2nd grade.  And Aidan is in the 5th grade (how do I have a 5th grader??). 



Last but not least, we celebrated Aidan's 11th birthday and Keenan's 8th birthday over Labor Day weekend.  We had 2 parties ... one at Sky Zone with friends and another with family at our house.  Figured out a cheap and easy way to feed 9 hungry boys is to go to CiCi's pizza for all you can eat pizza.  :-)
Jack, Aidan, Matthew, Jason and Garrett
Colin, Keenan, Jacob and Matthew

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Celebrating 6 months

6 months ago this weekend Eli was placed in our arms forever.  He was so sick, scared and timid.  It took us several days to get smiles and it wasn't until we were home that he really showed us his true self.  If I could use one word to describe him now, it would be pure "joy".  He is always smiling, laughing, and just being sweet.  The only times he is not happy is when he is hungry.  He loves food and has not turned down anything we have offered him yet!  In 6 months, he has learned to walk (practically running now), he is starting to form words (his current favorite word is "no"), he has learned how to do puzzles, he no longer needs a bottle and he loves to swim!!  He has had so many transitions, but he truly is doing amazing!  He loves his older brothers and sister and I can't imagine our family without him.  Aidan said the other night that he is "the best thing that has ever happened to us".  Adoption rocks!  I am so thankful that God has called our family to adoption.

In the last 6 months we have been a very busy family.  We have traveled to South Carolina and Tennessee to visit with friends.  We have traveled to Cedar Point to attend a soccer tournament and to have a family weekend away.  We have visited with friends, both near and far, spent time with family and experienced lots of new places and things.  Here are just a few pics from the last 6 months.

The Super Hero Boys

Aidan ... love that smile

Bella and Lulu

First trip to the Strawberry Patch (check out the strawberry juice running down his face)

Great day (someone ate more than he kept) 

Time with a friend we met in China ... Josiah and Eli

Great visit with sweet friends we got to know while in China.  The "big" kids hit it off and had a blast swimming together


First time tubing - Aidan

Our college group get-together ... the kids out boating

Keenan loving being on the lake
 Love these two!

Fun with friends catching fireflies 

Celebrating 6 months with some good Chinese food

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Break - Part 2

Since I had so many pics to share from the first part of spring break, here is part 2.  Our first adoption agency put us in contact with a wonderful family that had just adopted a daughter with the same special needs as our Bella.  A couple of years have gone by and that connection has turned into a beautiful friendship.  The really cool thing is that all of our kids are about the same ages ... they have 4 and we have 4.  They have 2 adopted kiddos and we do too.  Even though Amy and I have gotten to spend more time together, our kids and hubbys have not, but they all hit it off!  We met up for a few days in Pigeon Forge and really had a good time.  When we left the cabin on Sunday we asked the kids if they had fun and Aidan's immediate response was, "Yes!  When can we see them again?"
Our cabin was in a community that offered a lot of free activities ... there was a putt putt, a 3 par golf course, a pool, fishing ponds and hiking trails.  We took advantage of it all other than the pool (still a little too cold).  We all enjoyed the hot tub and the cabin had plenty of space to relax and spend time together.  The older kids were often outside in the surrounding woods exploring and having fun.  On one afternoon, we decided to take a hike.  The hike ended up being straight up a mountain (where we thought we would eventually see a waterfall - we found out later that the waterfall was on a diffferent trail ... oops!).  The kids all did awesome and did not complain.  Actually, I think the grownups did a lot more complaining than the kids did!  Here are some pics from our time in Tennessee...
Claire, Keenan, Aidan and Anna
My sweet friend Amy and I
Family Pic

Claire with one of her treasures
Aidan and Eli, my oldest with my youngest - LOVE!
All of the kiddos
Bella and Ella, aka "Double Trouble"

I said in a previous post that Eli was going to get thrown into soccer this spring and has he ever!  Aidan had a tournament this past weekend and Keenan also had a game.  5 games in all!  The kids who hung with me on the sidelines did amazing!  Michael coaches Keenan's team and assists with Aidan's team, so I always have whoever is not playing with me.  I have learned over the years to have plenty of snacks and toys to keep them occupied because I love watching the games.  Keenan's team won their first game 3-2, with Keenan having 2 of their goals.  Aidan's team made it into the championship game and lost with 5 seconds left to go in double overtime.  Talk about an intense game!  We were so proud of the boys ... they all did an amazing job.  Here are some pics of our first weekend at the fields.
Keenan and Eli
Bella and Eli
Aidan and Michael
The Lakota Futball Club Bearcats

I also headed back to the office this week.  I have been working from home for several weeks, but Monday was my first official day being back in the office.  My mom is watching Eli for us until the summer and this is a huge blessing.  This allows him to be at home longer before going somewhere else for daycare.  He did great, but this momma's heart hurt all day long.  So thankful for the friends who have reached out to me with encouragement over the last few days.  I needed it!  I know we will get into our new routine, but this week has been harder than most.  Just trying to see the blessings in everything that God has provided and orchestrated and to rest in that.