It's late.... I'm exhausted. But there's no way I'm letting this day go by without a little reflection. I put together a little slide show for your enjoyment, and let's be honest, mine! It's been fun watching Jia change! I don't notice it as much being with her everyday, but her hair is getting much longer and she's learning so much! She's also forgetting so much. She rarely rattles off Chinese anymore and she's lost that desire to line up her shoes and put everything back in it's place! (sigh)
She has adjusted perfectly and I just can't help but think that Jack and I did everything just right! She's so happy and loving and just the most perfect little girl every! Oh, she can throw a fit, a dandy to! And yell at her brothers. And pout. But she's perfect.
It's been nice to remember our time in China, especially this time of year. I feel God intimately shared with us a bit of His heart in China. Oh, how He loves the orphan. I pray I never forget the faces I seen there waiting on their families. And I pray I never take for granted how blessed I am. I pray that when I fret over little things, material things... I remember. I hope I always have the orphan forefront in my mind and am constantly thinking of ways to unite familes. I will forever be an adoption advocate, it has rocked my world!
I realized I have been very bad at keeping up my blog, and thank you Renea for pointing that out! :-) But now that Christmas is almost over, I promise to get you caught up and do better!
I ran across this short note from Dr. Charles Stanley and wanted to share it with you today. Let me know you're thankful for this year!
Give Thanks In Everything...
Why would God command us to thank Him regardless of the circumstances? The idea defies human logic. But then, the Lord rarely binds Himself to man-made rules. Scriptural principles serve specific purposes in the Christian’s life.Gratitude keeps us aware of God’s presence, which builds our trust and ultimately strengthens our witness.
We must realize that thankfulness is not based on emotions or a situation’s outcome. We can be grateful, even during trials, because the Lord has promised to work everything for our good (Romans 8:28). That means He has a purpose for every experience, pleasant or difficult. A big problem stacked against our small resources sends us running to Him, thankful He has committed to work it to our benefit.
The believer’s part is to trust God will bring good from trials and to discover His plan, which gives further reason for thanking Him. Understanding His intentions renews our strength for facing difficult trials. Expressing gratefulness changes our attitude about God, ourselves, and our situations. Most people allow hurt and stress to form a pessimistic mindset, which negatively impacts every facet of their life. But believers have God’s Spirit working within to provide courage and a flow of thanksgiving.
When we demonstrate thankfulness in harsh circumstances, other people pay attention. Our coworkers, family, and friends will want for themselves the peace and energy we derive from a grateful relationship with the Lord. So whatever you experience today, go ahead and defy logic—praise God.
RHEMA - A rhema is a verse or portion of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention with application to a current situation or need for direction.
Have you ever had a RHEMA? A Word from God? That was brought up in our Sunday School class today. Pastor Randy used Jack and I as an example, saying that we most likely had a Word from God to confirm our desire to adopt. It really struck home with me. It stirred my heart. It resonated down deep in my soul. It brought back a very profound memory. I did indeed have a RHEMA. I can't recall one in paticular before we adopted, but the morning we were to get Jia, I received a Word. I actually blogged about it here.
I remember being such a bundle of nerves. We were in a foreign land, away from all comforts... including our home, our children, our familiar smells, our language, oreos! We had no clue what that day would bring. I remember at one point we were actually questioning whether or not we were doing what's best for Jia. Taking her from all her comforts to live in a foreign land. I imagined her waking up that morning in her orphanage, then being removed from all she's known, drove 4 hours in a bus, and handed off to people she's never seen before. I truly questioned if it was our own selfish desires, or if this was what's best for her.
We spent some time in the Word that morning, hoping to calm our doubts and fears and that's when the scripture just jumped off the page at me. Psalms 68:6 God sets the lonely in families. I had read the verse before that one a hundred times Psalms 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. But I had never read on. I remember just feeling so peaceful about what the day was to bring. God sets the lonely in families. They are not to be left orphaned. It is His desire for them to be taken into a home, loved, cherished, adored, adopted... just as God does us, His children. I stood upon that verse, knowing that after 3 years, God was remaining faithful and giving us our daughter. His daughter, to love, cherish, adore and instruct for a season. I still stand upon that verse as we build Joint Heirs Adoption Minstry, in hopes of helping others take the lonely into their familes.
It wasn't until after church, that I realized that it was also our 5 month anniversary! We held Jia for the first time June 22nd! I have no doubts that we did what was best for her. It's hard to imagine her once being abandoned, living in an orphange and having no one to love her. It's hard to imagine a child ever being more loved and cherished than her. She has absolutely thrived and taken over, not only our home, but our hearts as well.
My blogger friend Stephanie over at Ni Hao Y'all is doing a little Christmas Shopping and she needs our help. Actually, I could use your help! What are you getting your kids this year?
Jack and I have struggled to come up with something that will make Christmas magical and memorable, because the gifts just aren't doing it. And we want to emphasize the Reason for the Season. Each year, we buy way too much and by the next week, they are done with it. I mean done. I asked Jacen and Jory at supper last night what they got for Christmas last year and Jacen does remember that they each got a Nintendo DS, but that's it. I want something that, when you ask them what they got last year... their little faces will light up and they'll think back fondly of Christmases past. This year, we had our trip to China and brought home our precious little Jia. Therefore, funds are a little low after mommy took off work for 3 months. I really want to get Jia this Dora book for writing Chinese characters from AsianParent.com. And she's getting a kitchen set too. She loves the one at daycare. But I have no clue what else to get her. Any ideas???? She will be 4 January 7th, so I need a birthday gift too. She plays okay with her babydolls, but what she really enjoys is just playing with Jory and **gasp** rough housing. She really is a busy, hands on type of girl that enjoys interaction. Now, for the boys!!! Jory wants a Zero Gravity Air Hog car that will go up the walls and stuff. Yikes! And Jacen wants a phone. But since he's only going to be 13 (Dec. 12th) I don't think he needs that. I'm considering a video camera. He's always taking my camera to the skate park to video his tricks and stuff.. so that's a possibility. However, we haven't thought this completely out, but here is what we want to do! Get them a great pair of warm snow boots, snowsuit, stocking hat, and warm gloves and go snow tubing! Be sure to click on that snow tubing link... doesn't that look like fun???!!! Do you think if you asked them next year, what they got for Christmas this year, they would remember? I can't help but think so!
Now in case you're looking for a great gift idea for the adult on your list... how about a great Tshirt? ***I ran across something even greater than a Tshirt... an apron! Check these out at ScarletThread.*** If you are doing a bit of online shopping... like John Gosselin is this year... "I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet, it will probably be all Internet based this year, pre-wrapped. You know, I'm a guy, when there's free gift wrap, I'm like, 'Yeah, yes please." Consider going through Love Without Boundries or New Day Foster Home's Amazon stores. That way you can get more for your money. And who doesn't want that in today's economy? So bring on the ideas! What gifts were a success for you? And more importantly, what traditions do you have to successfully incorporate Jesus into your holiday season? Bring it on girls...!!!
So... here's a bit of conversation between Jack and I last night. Let me first set the scene... I had a major headache all day. Took a much needed nap after church... still have a headache. Took too many motrin's...still have a headache. Now I'm guessing it's because I've had absolutely no caffiene today. Fixed a cup of French Vanilla coffee... still have a headache. (but I did learn that Jia likes coffee) So Jack goes down the street to get me a Dr. Pepper. I'm veggin' out on the couch, making my weekly menu and Jack cooks supper for us. Fried Chicken Corn Mashed Potatoes Gravy Macaroni and Cheese Applesauce I'm doing clean up, because it's the least I can do afterall.... and my head if feeling a bit better after a cup of coffee and a Dr. Pepper. Jack is bringing the dishes to me and makes this comment, "About 18 more years of this..." You know, fixing big suppers, big clean up, lots of dishes, etc.... I reminded him that Jia is almost 4, so maybe only about 15 more years. He mumbles "But I never know what you're gonna want to do next" and he leaves the room. I'm standing there mulling that over in my head... Whhhhaaa???? (Thanks Aimee for that, I like it! :-)) What did that comment mean? Did he just insinuate what I thought he insinuated and was okay with it??? So I called him back in the room and asked him what that meant. I was right. He meant, knowing me, I'd probably be wanting to adopt another one down the road. And I said to Him "You acted like it would be okay with you." He replied "I couldn't ever say no to you." Ahhhhh... yes, isn't that sweet? The stuff dreams are made of... So... just to let you all know. No, we're not adopting again. We are totally enjoying Jia and she is amazing, I don't see it in our future again. But it's nice to know that my husbands heart is in it just as much as mine!
It seems all of my posts are about 'catch up'! It's been so crazy busy around here with Joint Heirs Adoption Ministry taking off and Orphan Sunday last week. But things are slowing down and I'm going to try and catch you up a bit...
Today, we're going all the way back to Halloween!
It was Jia's first Halloween and she had a ball! She totally got into it! We looked at costumes and just couldn't part with the money when we had this adorable little outfit at home from China. So she was a Chinese Princess!
Jory wanted to be a skater boy... himself.
We did pumpkins the week of Halloween also. Jia was all over cleaning them out! Such a cleaner....
Grandma's candy bowl! I don't think she had ever seen this much candy in her life! But she certainly knew what to do with it!
Grandma got her crown out to!
Jia is really a Grandpa's girl! She can often be found on his lap... this time looking at picutes on mommea's camera.
We had to re-apply a bit of glitter before we hit the road and went door to door!
Big smiles before hitting the candy....
And no night of Trick or Treating is complete without stopping at McDonalds!
Sunday began with church at First Assembly of God in Trenton.
This was the title of Pastor Randy Cowarts message...
Is there not a cause? Indeed there is.
I think Pastor Randy did a marvelous job with his sermon and I love his comment about not playing on peoples emotions. He could have stood up there and told sad story after sad story, but he didn't. He simply got up there and shared scripture. I believe even the saddest of sad stories couldn't have been more powerful than the Word. People needed to know they were hearing the Truth, not some possibly made up story.
And the Truth is... we are commanded to care for the widow and orphan! In the OT, caring for widows, orphans and strangers was structured into their entire being. It was a way of life. Perhaps if we would continue to take God at His Word and obey, there wouldn't be 147 million orphans in the world.
Renea and I were given the opportunity to stand before the church and share the vision and purpose of Joint Heirs Adoption Ministry. To date, there are now 6 families who have expressed a desire to adopt just within my church! Tell me God isn't about to do something awesome!
With JHAM, our goal is to educate, bring awareness and be able to help families financially adopt. I felt that most families were probably discouraged from adopting because of the costs involved. But really what I've learned this weekend is that even more of a barrier than the money, is simply the husband.
Perhaps the money is the reason behind the husbands unwillingness? I don't know. I know that was Jack's biggest concern. How will we ever afford it? But that's where JHAM comes in! We can tell people where to go for help in financing and eventually be able to help them ourselves.
It does make me very thankful for my husband. He was always on board. A few people said he was just going along with it because it was what I wanted. They made it sound like he was being roped into something he didn't want. He completely was not. He and I talked and prayed about it and both came to the conslusion that this was something we both wanted to dive into. And isn't that what marriage is all about? How often do we go along with something that is important to our spouse that we wouldn't choose to do on our own? I think I'm chasing rabbits here... but my point is, the husbands seem reluctant and I would welcome any idea's you have on how to reach them. My husband will tell anyone that he would do this all over again, just not publicly! :-) But, one on one... He's an advocate!
From 2-4 on Sunday was our Open House. Renea and I have discussed wether or not it was a success.
We did not have nearly the attendance we had hoped for, but I don't believe numbers determine success. This day was not about 'us', it was a day to advocate for orphans.
Our goal, as stated above, was to give those interested in adoption and foster care a place to go for resources and to raise awareness.
Did we raise awareness? I think we did! People are calling me a celebrity from being on the radio so much this month! So I think we've got the word out!
Did we provide resources and help to those looking? Absolutely! Those that did attend our event were the ones seriously interested in growing their family through adoption and they found what they needed.
I'm so glad that we had representatives from Childrens Services (DFS) because a lot of people seem to be interested in domestic adoption and it was wonderful to have them there to answer questions.
Here's Renea and I in our Orphan Sunday shirts!
We learned a lot from this event about what to do and not to do next time!
For starters... our venue had a big band orchestra the night before so we could not get in to set up until after church. Our event started at 2. So you see, we were rushed! I will NEVER again do that!
There are a ton of people to thank... including Renea's mom who works at the center and for that we were able to use the building free! So thank you very much!
My mom... baked cookies, helped set up, stayed, completely tore it down while I visited. She truly worked her butt off for us and I'm so thankful for her help and support. Thanks mom, I love you.
My Aunt Ake drove over 4 hours to be there to support us and she was helping set things up as well! It was such a wonderful surprise to see her and have her help. She is always sending us encouraging emails and supporting us! Thanks Aunt Ake! Love ya!
And Cindy - thank you so much. Just your presence was wonderful. I didn't have time to visit with you much, but you helped more than you know. Thank you for keeping an eye out on Jia and for coming and showing your support. I'm so glad about the information you got and can't wait to see what God holds for your future!
To everyone who showed up and worked, the ladies from DFS, Judy, Diane, our familes... thank you so much for living with the craziness that has become our lives in the last couple of months!
Renea's beautiful daughter, Taylor, and Jia, playing the organ. Jia just loved her and according to Renea, the feeling ran both ways!
Princess Jia. Her brother got her crown from halloween out of the van and she wore it all day! She really is somethin'!
Possibly the best part of the day was meeting my friend Beth, her husband Ron and daughter Lucey. Beth and I have been 'blogger buddies' for a while now and they've recently moved closer to us. After a few failed attempts to get together, Beth, Ron and Lucey decided to make the 2 hour trip to see us Sunday!
We had such a great time meeting you and seeing the girls together!
I see a long friendship ahead of us!
We got so excited visiting with Lucey and family that we forgot all about the Steven Curtis Chapman telecast. Kasey and Krista stopped by to check it out and then we didn't even do it. That is my one regret from Sunday. I felt so bad we forgot all about that part. So sorry guys.
Renea, Melinda and I really worked our tails off trying to get local churches involved in National Adoption Month and Orphan Sunday. We presented to the Ministerial Alliance, we sent letters to pastors asking them to speak on orphan care, we advertised, we did open line...Renea went to several churches in our community personally and shared with them. The responses went from one pastor visiting with her at length and preaching about accountability on Orphan Sunday to completely ignoring her as they walked to their car for lunch.
I really wanted to rant and rave about the response from the local pastors... I REALLY wanted to. I wanted to go on about how the church is more worried about itself than others, but I won't. I wanted to go on about how churches seem to think they need bigger and better churches and activity centers than the church down the street, but I won't. This day wasn't about them, or us. It was about the orphan. And the orphans are close to God's heart and He will take care of them.
We can't all share the same vision, God hasn't given us all the same gifts. And I'm sure there are people out there with a passion for something that I just 'dont' get'.
I ran across this verse and shared it with Renea in her time of discouragement and I'll share it here... this will be my rant and rave, then I'm done!
Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.
It's been an exciting week! Here's the ad going in our local paper for our Open House event! I am just so thrilled to have Renea as a partner on this journey! She is amazingly talented and makes everything we do... just that much better!
If you visit our website and go to the blog, you can see the video we made to share with churches.
Yesterday we joined the Mayor as she signed a proclamation designating the month of November, National Adoption Month, in the city of Trenton. This picture will appear in Monday's newspaper along with a press release! I'm adding the proclamation we wrote up at the bottom of this post, so if anyone is considering having your city do the same, please feel free to copy or modify this one.
We missed our other partner/founder/friend Melinda but I know she was with us in spirit! We love you Melinda!
We have had soooooooooooo many people comment on hearing the Open Line radio program. I am thrilled at the people it has reached! I never dreamed when we met for lunch just a few short weeks ago that we'd be where we are now! I can't wait to see where God takes us from here! We have been experiencing a few attacks from the advesary, but my mom sent me this scripture this AM...
2 Chronicles 20:12
...for we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.
Looking forward.... JMS
Whereas, there are more than 500,000 children in the foster care system, and more than 100,000 of those children are waiting to be placed in permanent homes; and
Whereas, there are 147 million orphans worldwide needing the care and love of a forever family; and
Whereas, statistics regarding the future prospects for children who emancipate from the orphanages or foster care system are profoundly bleak, and
Whereas, theft, prostitution, homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration, and suicide affect the lives of the vast majority of children who grow up as orphans and never find permanent loving homes; and
Whereas, we recognize the compassion of adoptive and foster families as we seek to raise awareness of the need for every child to have a safe, loving, and permanent home; and
Whereas, we have joined with community and faith-based organizations to raise public awareness of the plight of the orphan and those awaiting adoption; and
Whereas, we will offer support to help families overcome the barriers of adoption and take steps to build a stronger, healthier, more diverse community; and
Whereas, may we honor foster and adoptive parents in our community who have shown the depth and kindness of the human heart. Their love and dedication inspire the next generation to achieve their dreams and demonstrate the true spirit of a community; and
Whereas, to help achieve this goal, Joint Heirs Adoption Ministry invites the city of Trenton, Missouri to participate in National Adoption Month.
NOW, THEREFORE, I Cathie Smith, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of Trenton, Missouri, do hereby proclaim the month of November as
NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH
In Trenton, Missouri and call upon the people of Trenton, Missouri to observe this month by supporting appropriate programs, activities and ceremonies advocating adoption and to help make a difference in the life of an orphan.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 29th day of October, 2009
Not all of you can handle this post. Not all of you should click on the links. WHY??? Because some of you will lose a huge chunk of your heart. If you feel like you can handle it... go ahead! But don't say you weren't warned! Get ready for some killer cuteness, and possibly a change in your life.
AAC - I already lost my heart to Lillian and Sophie. And I double dog dare you to check out Marcus and Wayne and not lose your heart. Ask yourself why you couldn't parent one of these cuties! You could be the one they're waiting on! And you can reveiw their file free!
Leslie over at Room for at Least One More has compiled an awesome list of agencies with waiting children. I can't tell you how amazing the experience of adoption is. It's addictive. You are changed. You just can't help but want, not only for these children to find their forever families, but the families to find their forever children. I can't imagine missing out on Jia if someone hadn't planted that seed of adoption. That is why I've worked so hard on Joint Heirs Adoption Ministry. I know once people open up their hearts and begin asking themselves if this is something they could do, the answer will be 'yes'!
Go ahead now and take a peek! Let me know which one you end up adopting! :-)
Things are really taking off with Joint Heirs Adoption Ministry! It has been an exciting couple of weeks! We met with the Trenton Ministerial Alliance October 13th and shared our vision with local pastors.
We had an entry in the Missouri Day's Parade in Trenton and it is a HUGE parade! It's also a band competition so people from all over come to this parade to support their kids. I believe this year there were over 50 bands participating. All throughout the parade people would applaud when they seen us! It was truly a great feeling.
This last Monday we were on our local radio station's Open Line program where approximately 5,000 listeners got to hear us speak about Foster Care and Adoption for 30 minutes! KTTN also offered us some free advertising so until November 8th you'll hear me doing a PSA for our Open House and then Renea will be doing a general PSA for National Adoption Month! This has really generated a lot of publicity for us. I checked my messages on the sidewalk in front of the radio station as soon as we were done and already had an email from someone offering us 'commercial space' to operate our ministry out of!
Also on Monday our new website went 'live' and it's awesome! When you first enter you immediately think 'fields of the fatherless'. Renea is our computer junkie and has done such a fabulous job on the website and blog. Be sure to check it out at http://www.jointheirsadoptionministry.org/
And, November 8th is our big open house!!! We have a lot of people coming to present information on international and domestic adoption, as well as foster care. So anything people want to know... there will be a professional from an agency there to answer it!
Tomorrow morning we are meeting with the mayor, who by the way has become a HUGE supporter! She is signing a proclamation designating November National Adoption Month for the city of Trenton. Who HOO! The local newspaper will be covering this.
I, literally, everyday have someone contact me asking me about adoption. I'm so excited to see what the next year brings. I know there are people in our community who are about to be called to adopt and I can't wait to see who it is. With God opening the doors and the exceptional reception from the community, I know this is a message Trenton needs to hear. I'm thrilled that God is using me to demonstrate His love for orphans and remind the Body of Christ that what concerns God, should concern them. I see great things happening!
Renea is also our local photographer, so anytime we get together, she has her big 'ole fancy camera to document it. Which means, we can never meet looking anything less than 'not too shabby'!!!! I know one day we'll be glad to have these photo's to back and see how it all began!
Enjoy the photo's and I promise a Jia update soon!
I was asked to be a panelist on a webinar hosted by our agency tonight. Other families beginning the adoption process or considering joining the special needs program logged in to hear how the process works.
At the end, they had a Q&A time with an family that had adopted from the SN program - Me!
Actually it was 'us' but Jack is relatively bashful and most likely would say anything. And Monday night I logged in and practiced with the agency representative, just to make sure everything worked right and Jia was right on my lap, pushing buttons, holding my face talking to me,etc... So Jack took the kids to McDonalds, then Grandma and Grandpas tonight!
Anyway, the family that we shared our 'gotcha day' with switched to SN after attending one of these very webinars where they learned how the program worked. They are thrilled to have their daughter with cleft lip and palet. So it was kind of special to be able to do this because I know it does make a difference in how people view special needs and in their decision to go with a SN child. I was honored to be asked and am always willing to do whatever I can to advocate for adoption!
Here's a picture of me with my headset on getting ready!
This is our slide! Sarah W., our agency rep, couldn't decide which picture she liked most to share, so she chose her top 3. She was so funny telling me how she saved her favorites then narrowed them down and still couldn't decide and had to narrow it down some more!
I can't tell you how much we LOVE our agency! Yes, even though we're done with the adoption process, they are still OUR agency. We love them and are forever grateful to them and will advocate for them until we can do so no longer. Every person we have dealt with at our agency has been genuinely kind and encouraging.
If you're considering adopting and looking into agencies.... please contact me so I can give you a very good recommendation!
And yes.... he brought her a toy! And he wonders why everyone thinks he's Santa! :-)
Jia enjoying some peaches! I have a whole bunch of photo's of her eating these peaches! She was so funny... and not very ladylike!
Momma wanted to see the Hannah Montana movie one night... so Jory and Jia got their popcorn and settled in for the night! They were so adorable!
And yes, I thought the movie was great!
When Jia takes a bath, I usually sit on the bed and read. This is the view from where I sit! She just peeks out and says "Mom, doing?" the ENTIRE time! So cute!
Jia LOVES to wear Daddy's glasses!
The weekend of my birthday we went to a balloon derby not far from our house. It was the most fabulous time. The weather was glorious! We were with great friends! It was just so relaxing to eat a picnic lunch on our blanket and watch the balloons come in! The kids all loved it and we can't wait to go next year! You're invited to join us!
Anyway, there was a man making balloon hats and Jory and Jia both got one! You can see all the balloons coming in, in the background.
Here are the balloons leaving... I love the sunset picture!
Jory was invited to go to the Omaha Zoo for the weekend. Thanks Cindy for this amazing photo! I love this sweet little face!
Jory and his friend Cole at the zoo!
Not too many photo's of Racin' Skatin' Jacen, but as you can see, he's as cool as ever!!! He is fixin' to play middle school basketball!
Jack had a birthday. I won't tell you how many, but the extra help with the candles was much needed! JK! Love you honey!
If you've heard me say it once, you've heard it a million times... Jia loves to perch herself on the kitchen counter while I'm working in there... usually she has my camera in hand saying "smile!". So here's a photo by Jia!
And all of this 'catch up' has worn poor Jory out!
I'll try not to take so long in between posts next time, but you'll soon find out what has been keeping me busy! I think this is enough catch up for one day though!