Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our Beloved Gable!

Oh what a joy it is to share with you about our wonderful son, Gable Philip YiJun!



We met him on Monday, April 20, 2015. We traveled to Chengdu, Sichuan (where the yummiest food of all China is...and the spiciest!) and went with some special friends to his orphanage. We were signing some paperwork when we heard them say, "Here he is!" And in came JunJun, carried in the arms of a woman who has spent her past two years loving and caring for him.

We took our time. I had been prepared that he might pitch a big nasty fit because he was so attached to his caregiver, and she him. We spent time just talking with him as she stayed in her arms. We put our foreheads together. I handed him a teddy bear Toby and I had chosen for him at Chocolate World the week before. He pointed to my picture and then at me, "Mama," he told me.

After about 6-7 minutes, we began the handoff. He came timidly, but without tears. He whispered "mama" after I would say it. I then pulled out a few goodies from the "bag of tricks" we adoptive families take to meet our kids. It was the bubbles that we played with out on the porch that coaxed the first teethy grins and began the bonding between the two of us.

One amazing blessing that I never saw coming was the presence of a gentle, kind woman named Christine Keegan. She is a photographer living in Chengdu and had been dreaming of capturing these first moments for an adoptive family...but had not yet had the opportunity. We were beyond belief blessed to be that first family! She has posted a stream of her work on her blog. You can see those pictures here: http://homemadeinchina.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-gotcha-day-story-beginnings.html


We were doubly blessed by being able to stay with some other friends, the Holloways, while we were in Chengdu. They work during the week at a school, so we had their apartment during the day and were absolutely delighted to share time together in the evenings. What a JOY JOY JOY they are! Brandi and I had originally met at Shriner's hospital in Philadelphia when both of our sons (adopted from China) with arthrogryposis were being treated. Each member of their family is a joy and her husband made us laugh so much with his stories of music in China! We would love to come back and see them again!

In the subsequent days, we have just deeply enjoyed getting to know Gable. He is an incredibly SMART little boy and after one time of me teaching him the sign language for "more" he began asking for food that way. His soft sweet little voice saying ,"mo'" looking at me for another bite melts me each and every time.

He took his time learning to eat...he batted most things away before trying them. He's got a serious sweet tooth that may be the reason for his adorable chubby cheeks! I asked the orphanage caregivers what his favorite food was and was a bit shocked when they told me, "candy!" I can see now that they were 100% on!

He is the perfect mix of compliant child and energetic giggles. He can be a challenge to change his clothes as he thinks its the perfect time for a game of "run-from-mommy" complete with giggles that will melt your heart. But in general he is an easy going, happy boy. 
 

He is also super snuggly, a great sleeper and has decided that he MUST have his mommy almost all the time!

(This was taken during the medical exam required for getting an American visa. He was more frightened by the doctors than anyone I've ever seen.)

Evidence of his cancer is found on his multiple scars around his body from the ports and 7" incision across his belly where they went in to remove the malignant tumor. We were given a picture of him with his surgeon that the orphanage wanted us to have. I think that our Gable was really special to them. They requested a special goodbye before we left that day.

Healthwise, he appears to be completely normal. We have an appointment scheduled for the end of this week back home with a pediatric oncology team. Typically in a case like his, they would do monthly follow ups after the surgery and chemotherapy. That has not happened. We will be so anxious to hear how he is doing from a medical standpoint.

His adoption process could not have gone smoother in country and we will receive his visa today. We fly home tomorrow and are so so anxious to be together again as an entire family! Here you can see him interacting with some of our other kids using FaceTime! 


What a joyful journey it has been to return to China for this son of ours!

 



Monday, April 13, 2015

It's GO Time!!!


My dear bloggy friends,

How awesome it is to be writing again! I deeply apologize for my long hiatus! It has been unbelievably busy around here. (I can barely keep up with it all myself!)

TODAY we leave to bring home our little "caboose" Gable Philip YiJun!! 

We will be calling him "Jun Jun" as he is currently known as we first meet and then transition over to using his American name. (Just so you know who we are talking about...and that we didn't get a different child!)

We have been able to successfully expedite his adoption case due to his medical condition. We will be able to get him home and immediately to the oncologist for beginning assessments of his condition. We will just roll with it from there.

Many people have asked if we have any Love endlessly notecards left...and although we were once sold out, we now have a LIMITED QUANTITY available once again!! YAY!!! We also have a few sets of "Gable's Oil" sets (a specially prepared dipping oil for breads using Sichuan peppercorns that are native to Gable's province and an "Upper Crust" dipping plate with a package of Love endlessly notecards!) There are a few Love endlessly necklaces waiting in the hands of Upper Crust too, if you are local and would like to pick up one. (And if I'm allowed to say it, these necklaces are MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!!) Any of these would make fabulous Mother's Day gifts AND you will help us bring Gable home!!

To reserve any of these aforementioned items, please send an email to: uppercrust@centurylink.net .

Please DO be praying for our safety, the children who are staying behind, their caregivers, and our little Gable. We have been told that he is especially connected with his "aiyi" (auntie/orphanage worker) there and that the day we meet him may be very difficult for all of us. There is simply no way to prepare a 2 year old for all that is about to sweep through his life. Pray that love is felt and that he feels safe with us. We will get him Monday April 20th at 2:30 pm local time. (That will be 2:30 am on Monday morning for Eastern coast people!)

We are so grateful for your encouragement, love and support as we follow God's lead in our lives!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Love Endlessly the Sterling Silver Necklace!




I couldn't be more excited!!!
I'm absolutely bursting with JOY to show you what we've been working on for several months behind the scenes!

If you remember, we were frantically working on fundraising for Esty's adoption...and I got this crazy, nutso idea to PAINT CANVASES to auction off as a fundraiser.

I was scared.

I'd never done that before.

But I stepped forward in fear and trembling and painted. The auction?  

It totally blew me away. We made more money than I could have ever imagined off 20 paintings.

If that didn't shock me, what happened next certainly did. 

One particular painting, Love endlessly, went crazy. As people bid on it, they asked for t shirts of it. Those went into a 3rd printing for Valentine's day last year. Then, at the prompting of a sweet friend, we had blank notecards created to fundraise for Gable.

And THAT has gone amazingly well...being for sale in a local floral shop as well as a bakery taking it and creating AWESOME bundles with her baked creations...all to help bring our Gable home. (And a fabulous local shipping company is donating their services to make shipping these bundles around the country possible too!) WOW!!! We are so stinking blessed. Thank You, sweet Lord.

And now, my dear friend who owns Mountain Girl Silver (we've never met in person, but when a woman has 10 baby name disks...you start to stand out as a customer! ;)) has done something else absolutely astonishing.

I asked her if she would be interested in using the wording "love endlessly" for a pendant that we could fundraise with. Her answer blew me completely away.

Listen to this: she requested vector art of the original painting and asked if she could take it to HER art department and to create a CUSTOM stamp from my design. She paid for this entirely. Otherwise, there would be no possible way to have that handwritten cursive "endlessly" stamped into silver. Then, she pitched an idea back to me...

Let's use these awesome necklaces not only to fundraise for Gable...but let's create a permanent part of Mountain Girl Silver where we use this design to help fundraise for OTHER adoptive families working to bring their children home. (More about this program to come!) *giggle*

I. Was. Speechless.

And then, I cried.

(I think often how MUCH I would have missed out on if I had shied away from that first painting auction!)

So as it stands tonight (launch day!) you can purchase these AWESOME necklaces of love endlessly directly from my blog.  Click here!! After the final page is ready over at MGS, you can purchase directly from there. 

Just a note about her products: they are TOP NOTCH. That's why I went to her. I have loved her work for years and years. All of her pieces are solid sterling silver. Her chains are incredibly strong and she is top quality. So these are individually hand stamped on her "La Vintage" pendant and if you buy BEFORE FRIDAY February 6, 2015 you will receive yours in time for Valentine's Day! :)

So, sweet ones, if you want to help Gable home (and dudes...we are MEDICALLY EXPEDITING HIM HOME SOON) then order yourself or your loved ones a necklace!!! You will be part of something BIG!!!

Love endlessly,

Amy



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Friday, January 30, 2015

Downshifting.



A car that is driving at highway speeds has two options when it comes to slow down for a stop:

a) The brake can be applied;

b) If the car is manual, the driver can take the transmission slowly from 5th gear, to 4th gear, to 3rd gear and so forth. The car will slow.

Now in the event of an emergency, there is only ONE option: the brake!

I must admit it, I've been living my life at BREAKNECK speeds. For years. And honestly, I thought nothing of it. However the toll of those years of self propelled velocity have taken their toll. My body crashes HARD when the stomach bug visits our home...because I have no reserve. 

I've burned all reserves up in daily life.

I've burned the candle at both ends...getting up early for a quiet devotional time followed by a workout, shower and then getting the kids up and out the door for school. I've stayed up getting all the kids in bed, attempting to have time with my husband at the end of the day and practically pass out as my head hits the pillow. And the in-between time? I've been rushed, harried and driving myself to do more more more more.

I honestly I thought I was making Him pleased by all I was accomplishing each and every day. And they ARE good things. So I was pretty surprised when I heard God tell me to SLOW DOWN.

But it truly confounded me, He was telling me to cool my jets.

In the past year, I've experienced two deep melt downs. Deep. They frightened me. I shared with a friend about them and she was warm and embracing. She had actually walked this path before and she has been advising me. She shared that God told her, "slow down or you'll be dead in a year." 

YIKES!!! That was a bit alarming!

She has proven to be a fabulous guide for me in this endeavor.

My friend wrote this amazing article called Sabbath in a Fallow Field, and I strongly encourage you to read it. She shares how God instructed her to peel back 75% of her activity and merely do the 25% left.

Honestly, it totally scared me. What might be left if I were to peel back THAT MUCH of my activity??? Is it even humanly possible with 7-almost 8- kids???

I came to realize that her percentages were not necessarily mine. God is telling me to downshift my life. To do less, to slow down. To listen more, to meditate, to bring back communing prayer.

I obediently deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone. Guess what I found? I spent that same time I used to do posting pictures and scrolling...looking at decorating ideas on Houzz. 

I began to sense a problem.

My issue isn't too much activity. It's a harried heart. My spirit is trying to chase things that will not satisfy.

And guess what? Those new hours I spent on Houzz while I waited for a doctor to arrive for one of the kid's appointments...began to grow something new in me. And it wasn't pretty: discontent.

I began to look at my stuff with greedy eyes. I wanted to change things. I wanted to update things. 

Again, the Sweet Spirit of the Lord spoke to me, "that is NOT what you want...you want Me."

I remember back to a time when I had a most vibrant experience with Him. I had only 3 children then and woke up at a shocking hour to pray each day for upwards of 2 hours. It was not a burden or a "have to" it was a true DELIGHT. I missed that.

I am not sure what happened, and I won't waste time trying to understand. We know we have an enemy...and he does NOT want us close to God's heart. I can say that after our son Oskar died so suddenly, our lives were radically turned upside down and we moved to our current location and began serial adopting. (Hahahaha, but you KNOW I'm calling it straight!)

I have begun to recover an inner prayer dialogue with my Savior that has been so sweet. A closeness that truly was impacted by the Ice Pillars that He hung over our house. Do ask me about this experience in person, I doubt I'll be able to do it justice in written words!! IT WAS AMAZING!!!!

I asked him to guide me in what to study during this time and here is what He has put together for me so far:
Hearing God by Dallas Willard;
Found by Micha Boyett;
A study with a group of women called Chase by Jennie Allen;
and something I've just begun this week: Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

This has done wonders for me learning to downshift to a slower pace. I am still moving forward, yet not over scheduling, not saying yes to too many good things, not scrolling like a mad woman on my smart phone and even NOT setting goals for the New Year. I am continuing to tune my heart to my Lord and hear what it is HE wants me to do each day. 

Often, I am shocked. He doesn't seem to care very much about the laundry, the dust bunnies or the clutter.

He cares about my heart.

Do you need to downshift? What will this look like for you?


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Monday, December 8, 2014

Love Endlessly Notecards...Bringing Gable Home!




These are busy days as we all prepare for the holidays. It's a challenge to hold our to do lists at bay in order to quiet our hearts to prepare for the season, don't you think? I find my mind filled up (especially as I'm trying to sleep at night!) with ways to earn funds to bring Gable home.

I'm so thrilled to say that our Mercy shirts for Gable were very well received and we sold 80 shirts with 101 former orphans listed on the back of them! So happy! Can't wait to see all those names on the back! GOD IS SO GOOD!

I had a wonderful event at the Burr House...a local open house where I took art and other crafts and sold them for Gable's adoption. I  was able to earn another $700+ for sweet boy's adoption fund! WOO HOOOOOOO!!

I'm so excited to share with you yet another product for you to help earn funds for Gable's adoption.

Remember that Love endlessly painting I made for Esty's adoption auction? Well...we now have it in notecards!


These are excellent quality, printed on heavy card stock and ready for you to write your own personal message to whomever you choose! 


Remember the thrill of getting an actual LETTER in the mail?? You can give this joy to others now...on the Love endlessly cards! And you can feel like a rock star because your purchase helps bring sweet Gable home so we can love on him endlessly!


Packs of notecards and white envelopes are NOW FOR SALE!! You can order these using the "SHOP" tab above or by clicking HERE. Each 8-pack sells for $15. You can also pick up cards at The Weeping Willow florist in Pettisville, if you are local.

These are perfect gifts for teachers, post carriers, hair dressers or any one you need a small gift for!

Thank you so much for supporting sweet Gable!



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Saturday, November 22, 2014

First Fundraiser for Gable--Mercy Shirts!!!!

Hey EVERYONE!!

I'm bursting at the seams with excitement to roll out our new fundraiser shirts!!


Read more about this design below.


WHY in the world are we doing this AGAIN????


He is why.

{Oh my heart.}

We need to get Gable home so we can properly care for his cancer. (Hepatoblastoma.)

And to love on him silly.

Oh those chubby cheeks!!

This design is something I created over the course of a few days (with some awesome feedback from a few of my peeps!) based on an image I saw in my mind from Hosea 14:3, "In You, O Lord, the orphan finds mercy." The silhouette is specifically God the Father holding our little Gable...safe and sound in His arms of love...but it is to represent the loving care He gives to EACH of our children.

And all of us who have adopted these precious treasures formerly known as "orphans" KNOW what a blessing it is that the Father has mercy on them (and us) and unites us together in heart.

What is going to make this Tshirt/hoodie EXTRA SPECIAL is that it's going to have names of YOUR beloved children on the back! What?? That's right! ALL of our precious kiddos get listed on the back en masse as orphans who've been shown mercy from our gracious God.
This is an example of what our shirt will look like with YOUR children's names on the back!

Yay!!!

The back space is going to be limited, so this will be open for your submissions and T shirt and hoodie orders only for TWO WEEKS. We want to get right on printing and shipping these out to you so you'll have them in plenty of time for Christmas giving! Cut off date for orders will be DECEMBER 7, 2014.

Order using the tab at the top "Mercy Shirts for Gable" or click HERE.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Why Older Child Adoption is So Hard


Jesus is the Light, our Hope
Older child adoption is a beautiful thing...but at the same time it's a deeply hard thing.

And when the face of the child is SO beautiful, SO smiley, NO ONE CAN IMAGINE that it's not all sunny and rosy all the time.

But it's not.

Plain and simple.

When you've fended for yourself for ten long years, in an institutional environment, you learn to survive.

And those skills? They were reinforced again and again in her previous life. They are what made her STAY ALIVE.

You have your life whirl-winded off to another land, another culture, language...you wear different clothes, eat different foods, go by a different name, begin new things like walking, school and self care...

but the old habits are still lying underneath. Ready to rear their ugly heads.

Ready to be employed when deep emotions start to surface.

They worked before! They will work again!

But, well, not so much.

Not here. Not in a family.

My sweet friend sent me a message today. Her perspective on parenting and WHY this might be so hard:

Deeply praying for you all during what looks like a potentially long hard road with her. It's obviously a heart issue...and she's had less than one year of her 11 years of ANYONE teaching her what that even means. You're stuck/privileged (depends on the day how you see it, I'm sure) with having to make up for 10+ years of no one teaching her right and wrong and positive vs negative attention and lying and how to be in a family and the list of what we teach our kids is soooooo long!!! It's hard enough when we get to start from the beginning of their lives!
Praying for wisdom and endurance and extra measures of grace for you to give to her, and a softening and opening of her heart to all you've been trying to teach her in these last 10 months!

And isn't that the truth? It's HARD when we start with our children at birth! Let alone massive trauma at the front end! And don't forget to factor in atrocities suffered in the years while waiting for a family. How could we think that we can teach her what she needs in a few months?

We don't. But, on a daily practical basis, we expect things from her to keep our family functioning...afterall she's CAPABLE, but then again...she's not because of so many, many factors.

Older child adoption is hard because we are starting past the middle! We've lost formative years, laying groundwork and building trust. Trying to go backward to fit it in doesn't work because there are paradigms pre-existing in those places in her brain...and they were critical to her survival. I can't in one word, one week, one month, one year say ANYTHING to debunk them. 

It's a slow, plodding work.

Times like these I see the inside out yuck of my own black heart and sit in awed wonder at the grace God has on ME.

Please pray for Esty. Pray for us as her parents. Pray for her siblings. These things affect us all, wear on us all and we need to remember that we are called to this, no matter what.  (This is why adoption is intense ministry!)

We must cling to the hope of Christ in it all.


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