Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Deja Vu Daughters

Anneli gets a bit rolly in the eyes when I do it yet AGAIN.

I call Darrah Kate by her name.

Most moms have this issue. I think.

Even know of moms who call the dog by the youngest kid's name. Yes, really! (Are you one?)

But, I think I may have it a wee tiny bit more.

Today, I discovered why.

For HOURS I had to work on a life timeline for my 5th grader.

This sounds like such a NICE little project for a 5th grader. Doesn't it?

Scope out your life year by year, cite major events. Find pictures to represent these fine moments.

You'd think especially since her parents did some professional photography for a time.

But no.

You may be like me, all those wonderful digital photos sit on a disk or hard drive somewhere.

(At one point, this same now 5th grader asked me if she was ever a baby...we didn't have a single picture available to prove it. She just had to take my word for it!)

So, for 7 hours I dug. Disks whirred, rainbow circles spun, the hourglass rotated.

I came up with some pretty cool pictures of my 10 year old's life.

And then, I realized...








Just look at this:
Okay, I rest my case.

You see it, right?

It's like having a second swing at raising that daughter!

They both love princess and dress up. They both fell in love with a stuffed animal at birth. (Anneli a pig, Darrah Kate an elephant.) They both pitch a pretty darn good fit have a strong personality. They both snuggle and love whole heartedly. Incidentally, Anneli was actually "Anna Kate" in utero till Brian vetoed it at 35 weeks!

Serious deja vu!

But of course they have their own personalities and special things just for them.

I'm just giggling that I'm not crazy I'm not as crazy afterall for the thousands of times I've mixed them up!!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book It for Baby!



To bring this now BIGGER boy home to our family!

(Can you believe how different he looks than that little boy in the crib in the sidebar?!?! Me neither!!)

Anyway, back to the goods!

We have the fabulous opportunity to earn funds for bringing Toby home by hosting an Usborne Book Party!!

Yayyyyy!!!! (the crowd goes wild!)

I have a history of home schooling. Not a long history, about 2 years is all actually. But during that time we bought many Usborne books because they are SO WONDERFUL and full of awesomely colored pages and information that our kids gobbled up. These books are so wonderful that Sonlight curriculum uses volumes of them in their Core curriculums. So when my friend offered to hold a party with these same books to help bring The Tobster home, well, let's just say I JUMPED UP AND DOWN!!

Just to throw a little marketing your way, here is what they about their books:
Usborne and Kane Miller books are the most exciting, engaging and educational books on the market today. They are high quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated and best of all they are the books kids love to read. Choose from almost 2,000 bright colorful and fun titles covering a wide variety of subjects.

And I agree!! My kids POUR over these books!!!

I went around our house just collecting the Usborne titles we have loved over the years and this is what I've come up with:

Most of our titles are science and history related, but clearly Usborne has fiction and other books too! ;)

So what do our mommy-minds think about after we've put our kiddos back on the school bus and kicked off the school year?


(Stop rolling your eyes, you KNOW it's coming in just 4 months, don't you???)

We also have birthdays in between now and then too!

So here's what I'm thinking. Let's all get AHEAD this year. Consider gifting your beloved ones with books! I can attest to all FIVE of our children pouring over these books for HOURS at a time!

If you choose to do this, you have the joint pleasure knowing that your purchases have helped bring our little Toby-man home!! Twenty-five percent of your purchase will be deposited into Toby's adoption fund. Plus, the more people buy Toby will earn free welcome home books! How cool is THAT?!? I absolutely cannot WAIT to hold him and read to him!!

Follow this linky-dink to shop! Click me! Just to be sure your purchase helps Toby, please select "Amy Shaw" under "choose your event" (never knew I was an event before, haha!) before you proceed to shop.


Monday, August 13, 2012

A Letter to Toby

Dear Toby,

I'm writing to you as your Momma, but you do not even yet know my name or my face. Actually, you do not yet know yourself as "Toby!" But you are already in my heart, as God has grown you there ever since I first saw your face on April 30, 2012.

Happy birthday! You are TWO today! You may or may not know it. I pray and hope that your orphanage workers are singing to you in Mandarin! "Zhu ni shenri quai le!" I giggle. You see, God took us to your home country 9 years ago. Long before you ever were a twinkle in your dear birth mother's eye, He planted a love for your culture in our hearts. God is amazing like that.

You do not yet know about God's love. I cannot wait to teach you. He lovingly created you, just as you are...with AMC and all...because He has a plan for you. And baby, it's gonna be good!

I was just moved by a letter from a friend who is a doctor. She recently delivered a baby with AMC. Another doctor had advised the baby's mother to terminate her pregnancy because of it.  I am so glad this little girl lived to enjoy life...and I am SO glad that you were not aborted before you drew breath. Your life is PRECIOUS to me...so so so very precious.

O that you may know deep down in your heart that you are CHOSEN and LOVED and PRICELESS! You wait there in that orphanage, completely not knowing that our family has gone down a path to bring you here. With us. Forever. That's right, you are going to leave the orphanage and become our son! You are loved. You are chosen. You are priceless. You are ours.

Waiting here for you is a crazy crew. Daddy and I who are thrilled to pieces to have you. Five brothers and sisters who cannot wait to dote on you and who pray for you daily. Oh, you have NO IDEA the fun that awaits!!

Today is not just your birthday, it's mine too. A significant birthday. I am 40. That's a big deal over here in America. To celebrate my 40th and your 2nd, I decided to see if I could get 42 (that's 40 for my birthday +2 for your birthday) people to give $42 to help bring us together. I asked my friends and family to consider helping us bring you home...do you know what they did?

Not just 42 people gave, but 58! And they did not stop at the goal of $1,764---no, these friends went WAAAY above and beyond. Dear child, they gave us $5,920.24 to bring you home. If that doesn't blow you away and make you feel LOVED then I don't know what will! And the truth is, that more people are telling me they want to give! There is NO WAY that you are going to sit there waiting one second longer than what is absolutely necessary. PRAISE GOD!!!

Sweet child, I want you to know that your life is NOT a mistake. Perhaps you were born in China to keep your mother FROM aborting you due to the information available here to mothers. You have gone through unimaginable pain in your early life...and I do not yet know it personally. But you have also been held in the arms of a loving God who has never left you. He chose a family (who is excited beyond belief) to bring you home and love you and get you the medical treatment you need.

Life is going to change radically, little mister. Not today, but soon. Hang in!!!

All my love,


Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Year Ago Today...

Sometimes I just sit amazed at ALL God has done in one year's time.

One year ago today, we met Zareb Jeremiah.

He was all dressed up in layers of funny colors as only an orphanage could do!

That moment that the director brought him in to her office to meet his parents was a holy moment.

I KNOW I heard angels' wings flutter. "Shhhh! This is the MOMENT!!" they must have said.

"Jeremiah, this is your Mummy and your Daddy," said Barbara, the director. She led a silent, wide-eyed little boy over to the chairs where we sat waiting with big round eyes ourselves. It was a moment we had all been anticipating and none of us could believe was happening.

"Hullo Mummy." He said in the softest voice, barely lifting his eyes.

"And this is your Daddy," Barbara guided.

"Hullo Daddy." he breathed, looking at his shoes.

We thanked Barbara profusely for choosing us to be his parents. She waved her hand, "No no, I didn't do this, GOD DID." (in a fabulous Ugandan accent)

From there, we immediately got into a taxi to take his passport picture. Note how happy WE were...and how scared to death poor little "Jeremiah" was!

That scared look was appropriate! Who in the world were we?? He left the orphanage for the first time in TEN MONTHS! And with these strange white people!

Then I compare that with how he is now.

It's an astounding change.

He loves freely.

Covers my face with sloppy wet kisses of his own volition.


Eats like there's no tomorrow.

Twirls and sings.

Beats the African drums with his brother and daddy.

Loudly declares his opinions while playing.

He rides a bike without training wheels.

Loves to swim in the pool.

Drops everything and breaks into an all-out run when he learns his daddy is home!

Early in the mornings he crawls into bed with me declaring, "It's snuggle time!"

When we snuggle, he remembers. We talk. He mentions the orphanage. How we came to get him and we brought him here.

Deeper snuggle.

"Will you always keep me safe?" he asks.

"I will."

"We need to get Toby out of the orphanage too, Mommy." This comment breaks my reverie and snaps me back to the job of bringing Toby home.

Reality comes in like an unwanted icy blast...dear little Toby does not yet know the freedom to come find mommy and snuggle and hear that life is going to be alright.

I had NO IDEA that one year from today we would be delighting in Zebby and collectively aching to bring home yet ANOTHER orphan. 

It kind of amazes me.

If I were writing the text of my life story, I would have never added these chapters. These adoption chapters of sons. 

But God.

He is writing our lives, and we are committed to the task of keeping our eyes on Him and obeying. We no more than finalized Zareb's adoption in April and He led us to the file of a Dong BaoKun in China. I think I would have given us a little breather...but not God! Here we go!

I wonder where we will be next August 11 as we mark 2 years of knowing Zareb?

Only God and time will tell.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Day at the Lake

I grew up going to Lakeside.

The Chautauqua on Lake Erie.
(That funny word means a really fun place that kids and adults love to go.)

My parents started going there the year I turned 10.  

Guess what that means?

They've been going there for 30 years straight! (I'm not 10 anymore.)

Ha ha! I'm a real math whiz. Just ask my Dad! ;)

We joined them for one amazing ACTION PACKED day. And it was pure heaven. 

Three generations at Lakeside.

Allow me to revisit it...

We hung out while it rained in the morning and had lovely visits with extended family and cousins! The rain gave way to a lovely rest of the day!

We marveled at some balanced rocks that others had carefully placed.

We walked along the lake path and delighted in some new additions like the new beach area and bistro tables.

We ate Sloopy's pizza (hey, this IS Ohio ya know!) where they have the best pizza in the midwest. Even got an award this year to prove it!

We were welcomed to the pavilion area with the sound of the Lakeside orchestra, laughed as we saw hundreds of people gathered under tents and shade trees to enjoy the ice cream social and marveled at the long lines to get a twisty balloon from a clown. (And gave up when the clown needed to sit down to rest on the child right before us in line! Hey, even clowns get tired!!)

We enjoyed the "Mayberry" feel of the park full of people playing shuffleboard, basketball, putt putt and getting their faces painted and lining up for rides on the horse and carriages. And we nearly got run over by the athletes working on their running skills!

We opted for a favorite place to have ice cream cones and dripped ice cream all over ourselves.

We napped.

We shopped in the adorable shops and found a few early Christmas gifts! :)

We oohed and ahhed over a new bookstore where DQ found the perfect place to play with a doll house nestled in the corner of some children's books.

We found some great new Lakeside tee shirts for the kids and made the merchant so happy with our purchase.

We fished and laughed out loud with joy as Oliver couldn't get over that he actually caught one!

We shared a home-cooked lake-cooked meal with my parents, bro and family and his in-laws. So fun!

We hung out on the rocks after dinner hour and watched the freighter come in. (My dad's favorite part of Lakeside I think!)

We grabbed our camera and shot some new favorite pictures as that "golden hour" of sunlight was truly magical!!

We delighted in yet another gorgeous sunset.

We played "Going...going...gone!" as we watched to sun sink below the horizon. (This little game my dad made up a LONG time ago--and I think it still enhances the show!)

Those flags are off the Lakeside pier: the American flag on top and the Lakeside flag below.
We swatted biting flies while laughing our heads off at our kids perform songs and dance with the microphone down at the park by the water! OH MY, our kids are such hams!!! (see video trust me...the video piece of this blog post has sunk hours of my day and I'm no longer going to try and do it. Please help me if you love iMovie!)

We bathed kids and visited a little more with some Olympic men's track and field trials thrown in.

In bed at midnight, back in our own beds.

It was a PERFECT DAY!!

Can't wait for next year...longer we hope! :)

Friday, August 3, 2012


There are days of celebration, and then there are


Today is one, my friends!!!!

This morning we got an UPDATE on our Toby!!

Now let me explain a few things so you can REALLY celebrate with us...

Toby has something called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita or "AMC." This means that his joints and muscles have been contracted and frozen before his birth. He is unable to bend his elbows (they are fixed straight) and his wrists are severely bent backwards and is unable to use his hands in the proper way. This is a permanent condition that does not progress. It was present at birth but CAN be helped with multiple surgeries.

What we DID NOT KNOW was whether Toby's other joints were involved. You see, if his hips, knees, ankles were affected...this would mean he could not walk. At least he would not be able to walk until multiple surgeries were performed over a long stretch of time. I have been told to anticipate upwards of 20 surgeries if all 4 limbs are affected. In every picture, we could see one of his knees bend, but the other remained perfectly straight.

We have been planning and operating as if Toby will not walk.


Specialty van.

Ramps around our home.

Needing to carry him up and down stairs...

...you get the picture.

When we were praying about adopting Toby, it was clear to us that HE WAS OUR SON. After that, it didn't matter what the extent of his issues were. He was ours and we were going to embark on this journey of special needs, come what may.

But we truly didn't know how BIG this might be for us. (and really, we still don't!)

A friend of mine has also adopted a son from China with AMC. All four of his limbs are affected. She says that parenting him is very labor intensive as she must do so much for him: feed, dress, potty, carry, etc. We heard what she said, and since God made it clear that Toby was ours...we knew Toby was worth it.

We moved forward.

After we were given Pre-Approval (PA) from China to be his family, we were able to request an update. We submitted 10 questions that were translated into Chinese and we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

And today...we heard back!

There were 3 glorious pictures of him!!!


TOBY CAN WALK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Both of his knees bend and in response to our question, "Can he walk, is he learning to walk?" The response was translated:

He walks freely.

Suddenly all the wheelchairs, ramps, specialty van and surgeries melted away.

He walks freely!!!!

I rejoice!

I feel like what a mother of a cripple back in the days of Jesus must have felt like! WOW!!!!!

There were some other amazing descriptions of our little man too...so much fun!

"He is bright, he interacts well with other children and adults, he gets along very well with them."

"He laughs easily."

"He loves to be held and cuddled."

"He has a sweet temper, occasionally he is bossy, he does not cry a lot."(...and Lord knows he is gonna need to hold his own with a DQ around here...!!!)

In response to some specific questions about how he uses his hands:
"He waves his hands and says goodbye, he will use his hands when he wants to catch something. Although he cannot play with toys freely, he can catch up his toys."

And in response to my asking if he can sit up on his own (he could not at 18 months):
"Because of his toes missing, he will be a little afraid of sitting up, but he can sit up slowly by himself."

My little conqueror is already mastering the sit-up!! AND DID I MENTION THAT HE IS WALKING!?!??!?!? Hahahahhahahaha!!! BURSTING WITH JOY!!!

And of course, some NEW PICTURES!!! Just in time for our birthday!

Feast your eyes on our little man:

Oh! I'm giggling like crazy! Do you see that sweet smile? Do you see that sideways glance? He's getting READY for some SIBLINGS!!! OH YEAH!!!! :) :) :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hungry for MORE...a book review

When you find something that you really love, you share it.

If it's a meal at a restaurant (oh, those amazing Sushi Nachos we had on our date night in South Carolina!!)


if it's a favorite lipstick (like Avon's Beyond Color in Pink Lemonade that they discontinued! :( Sniff sniff!)


if it's a favorite brand of jeans (love me some Banana Republic jeans!)

And if it's a book...

well, I'm gonna tell you about it!

I read Kandy Persall's Hungry For More recently. It was an amazing journey of a book!

Click to buy
First, some background. The author is my personal friend. She and her husband and two daughters served in East Asia as missionaries when we did and they were amazing mentors to us. They served for a good 20 years (we only did 2!) before moving home to America. They are amazing faith-filled people who love to do whatever God gives them to do.

And she wrote a book. A very good book!

She asks a very GOOD question:
What are you hungry for?

Really—What is your deepest desire?

Kandy's book was my daily delight as I would meet with Jesus each morning. This book was a fabulous companion to the Word. I quickly realized that this book was not going to be a "quick read" but rather a deep, satisfying read. In her terms of meals...it was a slow, savory rich meal--with chopsticks! ;)

By no means was it hard to understand, you see, my friend Kandy writes some very humorous tales of her time in Asia and has this incredible ability to tie it to spiritual truth. Her style is very honest and open about her own struggles and she shares what God taught her through them. She uses parenthetical notes with Scripture addresses so the reader can pause and look up each verse as he or she is reading. Kandy encourages this of each reader so they can reap the most benefit from her work.

I was delighted to discover that each cited Scripture was NOT the typical verses we tend to think of. She has done an exhaustive study of the Word and is sharing Scriptures to be read and understood in new ways. There were many times while reading the book that I would just pause and let the verse sit on my heart before moving on. There was MORE to get from it. 

Kandy's own pursuit of the Lord and His ways and heart are inspiring. She lays out her own vulnerabilities and allows the reader to enter in and study the Scriptures that relate. I found new truths and realities in my own walk with God because of reading her analogies and her journey. 

I have made myself a note to go back and refer to Chapter 14 when I am a worn out, exhausted mother of 6 children. I know those days are in my future, and I will use Kandy's words here along with my Bible and prayer to combat those future days!

I especially liked Chapter 22 where Kandy gives guidance in learning to discern God's voice apart from Satan's. She offers practical questions to help the reader determine if they are tuned into the Lord's frequency or picking up evil words of the accuser. She also explains how a long battle of taking thoughts captive might take--more than just calling off the evil one once or twice! Her writing is very practical training for anyone who wants to learn the voice of the Shepherd and to hear it clearer.

As you read this book, you will be asked to read through 3 of the 4 gospels. Kandy lists the references at the top of the chapter. My time was limited each morning so I got into a habit of reading the 3-6 chapters on one morning and digging into her chapter about them (and all those parenthetical Scripture citings) the next. It was a good rhythm that worked well for me.

Chapter 25 was like an old friend. As I read, I recognized the material. 9 years before, Kandy had given a break out session that I attended. The topic? How to STOP being a people pleaser and learn to tune our hearts to our Lord and please HIM only. I even still have my notes from her talk in my Bible...it was THAT GOOD. And sure enough, it's that study that springs to life in this chapter!

I lovingly recommend this book to all my bloggy friends who want to go deeper or have a new experience in their personal time with God!

Click here to hop over to Kandy's website where her book may be purchased. And yes! E-books are available! I read mine daily on my Kindle! You will enjoy all the goodies on her website!

And looky at what I unearthed...a picture taken by then 3-year-old Jensi of Kandy and I (and baby Anneli with her mouth hanging open!) while we made homemade Jaozi for a fun Chinese meal! Hee hee! :)

circa 2003
Kandy joyfully smiling with her whole family. 
So, are you hungry for more? Well, get feasting!

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