Last fall a friend of mine brought over some foods she thought our family might enjoy. Thrive Life freeze dried foods. They are pure foods, freeze dried, with no added preservatives, sugars or salt. I thought they were nice, but wasn't sure if we needed them. I then went to a jar meal class where I watched a woman put together a Taco soup Meal in a jar made with all Thrive foods. It was delicious! Then...something clicked. I realized that if I could put together these various jar meals to stock up on, that take minutes in comparison to making freezer meals, this could literally change my life! Dinner time can be stressful for me, always trying to put a hearty, healthy meal on the table. I'm not always prepared every day, and I hate that feeling of , "oh, no...it's 5pm, what am I gonna make for dinner??" So...I went on Pinterest, found tons of Thrive jar meal recipes that I liked, and placed my first Thrive Life order, and started making Jar meals, and stocking my pantry with them. So simple, so quick, no more last minute fast food trips, and my family is fed healthy wholesome meals!! I can't tell you how much Thrive really has helped our family and changed our lives! I also love that I no longer feel guilty if I am gone one evening and I don't have dinner prepared, leaving my husband to cook. He just grabs a jar meal out of the cupboard, adds water, and cooks it up! He also told me that he has been using Thrive veggies to add to his breakfast wraps he makes in the morning for himself before work. He loves Thrive too! And...the kids...you would think these foods are candy...and now I have healthy snacks all my kids enjoy from corn to peas, to yogurt bites and green beans...so far they love it all! I buy so much of it that I am now a consultant, because I thought, since I am going to be doing this long term, I might as well get a percentage back on my purchases! Also...for a later post, these foods last 25 years unopened, so I am finally able to start the long term food storage I have been wanting to do for years. Yay! This stuff is amazing. If you want some of this too...just get in touch, or click on my website below. You will love Thrive foods, I can guarantee it! https://www.thrivelife.com/weweremadetothrive
So blessed this Christmas!!! We had three different family gatherings, went to the Nutcracker, the Journey to Bethlehem, and a Christmas play. We spent time with many friends and family. There was much laughter and lots of memories made. We also spent time at home with just family. We added a new puppy to the family for Christmas. It was a beautiful time for all of us. The only thing missing was snow. The photo above is that of our recent photo shoot near the orchard in the backyard in November. Two of my sweet daughters. I am so blessed. My miracles. My joy. Being their Mother is something I am thankful for daily. Lately I am obsessed with advocating for orphans. How can I stop? How can I not do my part to help them find families? This passion of mine just won't go away, so I spend time each evening on numerous facebook groups advocating for China's special needs orphans. Good news! Two of the ones I had advocated for are now matched with families! The way the system works for China now is that you can actually see lists of children on many agency lists, and you can ask to be approved to adopt them. It is so exciting to see so many being chosen, but heartbreaking to also see so many more for months on end that never end up with a family. I am determined to keep advocating...speaking for those that can't speak for themselves. Also...I just might turn this blog into an advocacy blog. Many exciting things are happening!
I LOVE this week every year! The week between Christmas and New Year. We sleep in, we don't do school. We play with all our new toys. We play with our animals. We go out. We catch a movie. We generally take the time to just be. And I wish we did this more often. If we had snow----like we should by now, we would also be out in it..sledding, building snowmen and then coming in for hot cocoa with marshmallows. The kids are dying for some snow to finally come our way. Since we don't have any yet, but do have cold temps, we have been snuggling up by the wood stove and the Christmas tree reading books and being cozy. That's what winter is to me, and I love it!
I was contacted by this website to share our story, so they featured it a few weeks ago. I love how this site shares positive, uplifting, and encouraging stories every week. You should check it out! If you haven't heard the story behind our family, why we adopt, and why I am so passionate about orphan care, Read here, for the whole story!
Deep thoughts tonight as I remember this girl...and now, seven years later, see the beautiful, sweet, loving, amazing person she is. My daughter. It's hard to believe that is her in that crib. I see God's hand on her life and all He is doing in her, and it is not because of me, it is Him. She is thirsty for His word. She is an incredible gift. She is advancing God's kingdom already. She has dreams and passions. For the Lord. For the orphan. For the unsaved, and for the lost. So much wisdom and deep understanding at such a young age. I have seen this all come up out of her little soul so early on, I thought it was a phase years back, but her passions and her purpose just grow stronger. She is a radiant light for Jesus. She is mission minded. She has so much love to give, and if you just spend one day out with her...she gives that love to those around her in the most admirable ways. It is a gift, and something I do not possess, but I learn so much from her, and admire the person she is. I love her so much. She has dreams and aspirations, and none of them are for her gain, but for God and those she wants to bless. Incredible. I am not here to brag, just here to describe what can be uncovered in the life of an orphan turned daughter. The love she has to give, she shares freely with everyone. I can't wait to see all the Lord will make of her life, as she lives for Him. I am so excited to see it all unfold.
Today I saw something that brings me profound sadness. I visited a website of an adoption agency and clicked on a video of a little girl who is currently available for adoption in China. What I saw brought back memories of my first few days with my sweet Lilyann, pictured above. You see, neglect and institutionalization changes a child. It changes the brain. Connections are not made when they need to be. When nurturing doesn't come as it should, a baby goes through the normal cries from it's crib, no one shows up to help, and the baby actually goes through a rage cycle and then literally gives up when time and time again their cries bring nobody to their side...to feed them..to hold them...to cherish them. Neglect and attachment disorders set in. The metal cribs in the picture are the typical ones you see in many Chinese orphanages. They are bare. There are no toys. There is nothing soft to cuddle up to. The children begin visually zoning in on their hands as they move their fingers around in an attempt to find some sort of stimulation. It becomes their only means to stimulate, and occupy themselves in an environment of neglect. Then when someone comes along, and actually holds them, and attempts to play with them, there is no smile, and their hands go back up in front of their face...as they don't understand what someone giving them attention even means and their brain doesn't process it as it should. I saw this with my daughter those first weeks in China. I gulped down my fears each day as I heard the thoughts in my head saying "she may never snap out of this, then what??" Uncertainty. Unknowns. Yet, I knew in my heart the Lord brought us together. We brought her home. She still did not register our facial expressions at 16 months of age. Flat affect, hands in front of her eyes, tuned out to the world. Little by little, as we nurtured her, fed her, cared for her and played with her, she began to smile. Connections were being made in her brain. Healing was taking place. Caring for the orphan has been the most incredible experience ever.
Back to what I saw today. The little girl is close to four years old, I believe. She is more than precious, but appears fragile in every way. She is sad. It appears to be an extreme case of neglect. Hands trying to move in front of her face when others want to talk to her. Her own little world seems more comfortable to her, yet she tries to comply with what is asked of her. I so wanted to do anything I could to reach into that video, scoop up that little girl and hold her, love her, care for her, with the nurturing, affection, and attention she so desperately needs. She seems so lost and alone, and so sad. I hope and pray a mommy and daddy come for her soon. Please join me in praying for this little one who is on my heart tonight, and for the millions of other orphans out there who also need a mommy and daddy to come for them.
I am sitting here today in total amazement, and gratitude. I have been home educating for approximately 10 years now! It has gone so fast, and for the most part, I still feel like a beginner. I only have a quick moment to write this today, but I wanted to talk about two things that are going on in our homeschool right now that completely have me floored!
I am in the process of proof reading a novel that my 12 year old wrote this year and she is about to publish it! About three years ago I knew she was given a gift for writing when I gave her a simple story assignment and she brought me a novel! So this year we delved deep into the writing process and also had the opportunity to take a writing class with a few other students. As I sat here this morning proof reading her book, I not only smiled, and laughed during certain parts, but I cried too! This story drew me in! It had me on edge, and it really touched me. It is a combination of her life up to this point, her loves, and her struggles. It is very nicely written, and was so much fun to read! She is in the process of designing her cover, and I can't wait to hold the finished product in my hands! If she can write and publish a novel at the age of 12, I will never underestimate her ability to do anything again! The sky is the limit...and that is the beauty homeschooling has been, with the freedom to develop the gifts God has given my children.
As a homeschooling momma, I have come to realize the enormous responsibility I have to train up my children in the ways of the Lord. Many times I know I fall short. I want our home, and our homeschool to be an environment of love, and growth, and nurture, and learning, and I want them to see Jesus in it all. We have our times of prayer, and I read them children's Bible books, and we sing praise songs, and we talk about the Lord. But, what really, sort of surprised me this week, is that one of my four year old daughters brought me the new Bible I recently gave to her. Somehow she opened it to the beginning of the book of Esther and asked me to start reading it. I do read straight from the Bible to them at times, but usually only bits and pieces, a scripture here, or a scripture there. This time I just started reading from the beginning of Esther. I was on the second page and I realized I now had three little girls gathered around me. I stopped...and asked them if they were ready for me to stop and read more tomorrow. They said no! They were engaged and interested, and wanted to know what would happen next...so I continued on. This has been going on every day this week. We are almost done with that book. They don't want me to stop, but I am usually the one that stops, and tells them we will read more tomorrow. They are soaking up God's word like sponges. I will never again underestimate them and their ability to learn, and understand, and take God's word into their little hearts. I have learned a lot this week. I will continue to feed them from the word of God in large portions and I will not deprive them again. I will listen to the holy spirit, and pray for them whenever possible. I will never again underestimate them!
I am still here! I really hope to post to this blog again sometime soon...but not sure anyone even reads anymore, since I haven't been around! Sorry! I really hope to be back with some updates soon..!!! I will say I am still alive and well, still loving my sweet kids, still passionate about orphan care, fostering, adoption, and much more! God just keeps expanding my vision...and I hope to come back soon with a real update! Let me know if you still read, I would love to know who's out there! More soon.........
As my children are growing, they are becoming more aware of their reality. They are adopted. They have other people out there that are related to them biologically. Because my family is so diverse, they all have very different stories. I am honest with my children, and try and give them information as they ask or as situations arise. I take into consideration their age, and I try to explain it age-appropriately.
We don't live in hugely populated area. Four of my adopted children who were adopted from foster care have bio parents that live right here. Close. Very, very close. We all basically live in the same little city. I have seen them when I have been out and about. I have not run into them when I have had the kids with me yet, but I am sure that day is coming. One of my adopted daughters has a biological mom, grandma and great grandma that all live only a few minutes from where we live. I have a semi-open adoption with the mom, however, she always wants her mom and grandma to be a part of it, and for the first visit after our adoption, I did allow them to come, as long as they went by my rules. They send gifts, they are in love with my daughter, and just weren't able to get their lives together enough to take care of her. I do have a place in my heart for this biological mom. She has had a very difficult, hard life, and addictions have taken the place of being able to parent. I have to walk a fine line while trying to keep my daughter informed, and in touch with her biological mother, and while also trying to maintain a healthy relationship between the two with boundaries. I still pray for her. I know that when the Lord brought my daughter into my life, He also gave me a burden for her biological mother. And so I pray, and we pray together for her.
My sweet little spirit from China has another very different story. China is a complicated place when it comes to children, babies, the one child policy, etc. I have told my Chinese daughter that we may not ever know who her tummy mommy is. She is still so young. She is happy that Jesus brought her and I together but also wishes she could see her biological mother one day. I can't tell her for sure that it won't ever happen, but it will be a miracle if it ever did. So many people still think that mother's give birth in china in private, then abandon their babies out in plain sight where they will be easily found, because they can't keep them due to the one child policy. The fact is, there are many, many other reasons why and how a child in China might be abandoned. The culture is very different there. Many married couples live with the husbands' parents. They make the call. Sometimes it is the grandparents that take the babies and abandon them, while the mother grieves. Sometimes it is a single mother that must abandon the baby since you must be married and apply to have a baby in China. If not, your child will not have an identity or be accepted. Other times it is the one child policy that drives the abandonment. There is no way to know in any situation when a Chinese baby is found without a note or any clues who's baby this was or where it came from. Awhile back I had an assessment done to find out if there were any leads on where our daughter could be from or if there were any clues to who left her. Based on the findings, and the location of where she was found, it was determined that it would be almost 100% impossible to know. I will have to break this info to her as she gets older and understands more about her birth country. There still could be clues in an orphanage file somewhere that has not yet been disclosed. Also, if it is God's will, I know that He can do anything and reveal her biological parents to us one day. Anything is possible, but from what I understand at this point in time, not very much is probable. This is one reason why I think going on a heritage tour is so important with a child adopted from china. They will gain a much greater understanding when they are there, and they will see many other children who have similar stories.
I don't know all the answers. I can't say I am doing it right all the time. All of their stories are so different. I don't know how they will feel when one has contact with a biological parent and another does not. That is a more difficult aspect when there are multiple adopted children in one family. I will continue to pray for wisdom and guidance as time goes on.
I will always reassure them that they are right where God, their heavenly father who loves them so much wants them to be. When I do, I see smiles and faces that look content and happy. With that, I am at peace, and I know I am right where I am supposed to be too, loving these precious kiddos the Lord has so graciously and generously given to me.
We are a christian adoptive family! God has pieced together our family in a way that is more beautiful than anything I could have imagined! We have adopted internationally, as well as through the US foster care system, but most importantly we have all been adopted by God! Ephesians 1:5 says "God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ".
We live on a small hobby farm, and homeschool our six children. Life is full!
My first miracle born in 2001. After giving birth to her, I realized that being a mother was the best job out there, and children are a miracle and precious gift from God. She is a true country girl at heart. Horses are her passion. She is an amazing big sister to her 5 little siblings!
Adopted from China in 2007.
Her sweet spirit fills our home with beauty and love. She is our little dancer, and introduced me to the world of recitals, dance practices, tutu's and ballet! Most of all, her love for Jesus shines bright, and even at her young age, she has a passion for orphan care and missions. These are subjects she talks and prays about on a daily basis! Can't wait to see where the Lord takes this girl!
Adopted from U.S. foster care, July 2013.
God's surprises never cease to amaze me. He is Laney's full sibling who came to live with us in Nov. 2011. Our son since the day he arrived. This is the sweetest boy you will ever meet.
Adopted from U.S. foster care November 2011.
Words cannot describe the joy this precious pumpkin brings to our lives! Another sweet miracle fromt the Lord. She was our first foster baby, arriving at the age of 7 weeks. We were blessed to adopt her in November of 2011. She refers to herself as a princess, and is also a lover of kittens, books, and dancing. I guess many more dance practices and recitals are in our future, lol!
Adopted from U.S. foster care, July 2013.
She was our second foster child who came home from the hospital at one week old. She livens up our days with her endless energy and strong will! It has been such a joy to see her and Austin have the chance to be together as brother and sister, and they definately have a bond that makes my heart smile!
Adopted from U.S. foster care July 2013. What a surprise it was to see that the little boy I pictured in my mind, who only the Lord would know, was actually in need of a forever family! Another miraculous gift from the Lord. He arrived at 4 mos. of age in Oct. 2011. Cute as can be with a contagious laugh and smile.