Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Fresh Look!

So excited to share with you what my fav designer, Jenn, has been working on for us! :)

Do you like it?

I sure do!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sweet Esty's Update!!!

Nothing brings more joy to a waiting adoptive Momma like pictures and video of her sweet baby girl who's waiting in an orphanage. Oh to scoop her up and draw into our family with loving arms!

We received an answer to 10 of our questions that we asked about her back in May, right after China gave us pre-approval to adopt her.

In those questions, we learned she:

 loves bunny rabbits,

can crawl around using the strength in her arms,

likes to:



handcraft (we have a precious video of her creating an intricate origami boat--all from memory!)


and serve tea!!

She :

is very active and outgoing

loves to play with other children

and is really excited to have so many brothers and sisters!!!

And does anyone remember that I sent her a very special necklace while we were in China adopting Toby? (If not, you can read about it here.) Well, here's what was said about it:

"She keeps that necklace for herself all the time. She doesn't wear it during the daytime though as she doesn't want to break it. She cherishes it very much."

"She cherishes it very much..."

These words stick in my heart...and catch in my throat. Just like the words from her original update I read when we fell in love with her. The question was asked, "Does she want a large family or a small family?"

The answer from Esty, "I just want a family."

Those words pounded through my heart for days.

A sweet, most precious little girl, just longing for ANY FAMILY.

Oh. It makes me teary even still.

And then, to be in China and be able to send her the necklace...for it said on the back "Jeremiah 29:11"
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

God Almighty has an incredible plan for our Esty. I believe this because for the first time EVER in my life, God told me something directly in a dream. 

Our first night in Hong Kong, on the way to adopt Toby (this is even BEFORE Brian was on board to adopt her!!) I dreamt that God came to me and told me to name HanHan (her current Chinese name) Esther because He wanted her in place for the special job He has for her. I knew in the dream that that placement was in our family, in America. Not in an orphanage.

If you are not familiar with the amazing biblical story of Esther, you should really go read it.

The clincher line that has always stayed with me is when Mordecai says to Esther, "who knows if perhaps you were made queen for a time such as this?" when he bolsters her with courage to do a very important job to save her people.

Similarly, our daughter must no longer be an orphan in order to do the job she must do.

Hence, the name "Esty." (Yes, we know it's like Etsy...and even though we adore art and all things crafty, we are not naming her after that website!) hee hee

As I watched the 3 minute and 44 second video of her silently, carefully folding the paper into a paper boat I realized many things:

she is patient,

she is intelligent,

she sees things through to the end,

she is good with her hands,

she loves to create,

she takes pride in a job well done.

You might note that those are all things really necessary for a doctor. 

In her original video, shot two years ago now, she said that when she grows up she wants to become a doctor!

I don't know if that is the job the Lord has for her or not, but one thing is for sure: she won't get there sitting in an orphanage in China!

OH! We are sooooo thrilled to become her family!

I couldn't help creating this photo montage when I realized I had an image of her pointing to something else she had made:

Will you join us in praying Esty HOME???

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why I Advocate

Toby's story was written up by my sweet friend in Philadelphia on the No Hands But Ours blog!!

We found Toby on my friend's blog who was advocating for a family for him. Because we have been SO BLESSED BY TOBY I give my time to finding families for children. (And now I've discovered that I was looking for Esty's family...and it was US!!)

Please go delight in the tale...(click here!)

A tale of obedience...of risk...of stepping out in faith...of adoption...a tale of complete and utter joy!

A tale of TRUE LOVE!!!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What to Pray...When You Say You'll Pray

So lately, our church body is going through a lot.


There is nothing that we need to do MORE than to pray. These situations are overwhelming, unfathomable and downright choking. But do you wonder WHAT to pray, in such times?

By no accident I am sure, one of our fabulous pastors recently preached about some ways we can WRESTLE in prayer for one another, like our great example Epaphras in Colossians.

He had cool video of big ugly wrestlers lifting heavy rocks up onto ledges. This would be the part of the sermon my 7 year old proudly reported that he remembered from the sermon.


So, the people of Colosse were going through a lot too back then.

And fascinatingly, Epaphras did NOT pray for their trouble to be removed.


That's right.

There will always be situations that will come along and slide into the place of those that we pray for release from.

We live in a fallen world.

But you knew that.

So what did Epaphras pray for those whom he wrestled in prayer? Glad you asked!

He prayed some things that are NOT dependent upon good or bad circumstances...but rather that they would grow in many ways, no doubt as a result of the trials they were facing.

My point in this blog post is not to reiterate what wonderful Nate already preached, so please if you have time go hear the full sermon here.

If you need some quick bullet points (as we often need to cut to the chase!) here's what Nate gleaned from Colossians 1: 9-12 and I've been using as a prayer guide for others:

1) That they would be filled with God's wisdom.

2) That they would be compelled to please Christ in every way. That they would be aware of His presence with them.

3) That their faith would deepen and that they would bear fruit for Christ. Nate suggested we pray for specific fruit in their lives. But please, don't everyone pray patience for me!! (LOL)

4) That God would strengthen them with: ENDURANCE, PATIENCE, JOY and GRATITUDE, and GOD'S GRACE which is more than sufficient in spite of all our circumstances.

This is a wonderful list of ways we can pray into the character of our friends and loved ones who need us to go to God on their behalf. I love this list because it takes me out of the habit of "please bless them, Lord" to asking for specific godly qualities to be forged in their hearts and lives.

As I often tell my children, your CHARACTER is the only thing you get to take with you to heaven. By praying into our friends' and families' characters, we're investing in them for the long haul.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A New Challenge--TF and LMP Hybrid!

Home from Philadelphia...first morning back I'm looking to start a new program!

(People often tell me that I'm must be so busy for having six kids...but here's my secret: daily exercise and clean eating!! If you want energy, you have to fuel right and burn off stress with exercise! Did you know that the brain benefits the MOST from exercise? All the body changes are just SIDE EFFECTS!! :) And yes, SHAKEOLOGY is a daily component of "clean eating" for us over here!!)

Here's what I'm going to get after...a hybrid of two of my all time favorite Beachbody programs!!!

Les Mills Pump for weight training married with Turbo Fire for kickin' cardio! Both have AWESOME music that's OFF DA CHAIN!!!!!!!

If you have these two awesome programs you may be searching for a plan to hybrid them together. There are many ways already written out...and I have chosen this one!

  1. Pump Challenge and Fire 30
  2. Fire 55EZ+Stretch 10
  3. Pump Challenge and HIIT 20
  4. Flow and Fire 30
  5. Pump Challenge and Fire 30
  6. Hard Core Abs and Fire 45EZ + Stretch 10
  7. REST
  1. Pump & Burn and HIIT 20
  2. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  3. Pump Challenge and Hard Core Abs
  4. Flow and Fire 30
  5. Pump & Burn and HIIT 25
  6. REST
  7. Hard Core Abs and Fire 30 + Stretch 10
  1. Pump & Burn and HIIT 20
  2. Hard Core Abs and Fire 45EZ + Stretch 10
  3. Pump & Burn and Fire 30
  4. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  5. REST
  6. Pump & Burn and Fire 45EZ
  7. Hard Core Abs and Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  1. Pump & Burn and HIIT 25
  2. REST
  3. Pump & Burn and Fire 45 + Stretch 10
  4. Hard Core Abs and Fire 30
  5. Pump & Burn
  6. Pump & Burn and HIIT 20
  7. Flow and Core 20
  1. Pump & Shred and HIIT 15
  2. Hard Core Abs and Fire 45EZ + Stretch 10
  3. Pump & Burn and Fire 30
  4. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  5. REST
  6. Pump & Shred and HIIT 20
  7. Hard Core Abs and Fire 55EZ + Stretch 10
  1. Pump & Shred and Fire 30
  2. Hard Core Abs and Fire 45EZ + Stretch 10
  3. Pump & Shred and HIIT 20
  4. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  5. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  6. Pump & Shred and HIIT 15
  7. REST
  1. Pump & Burn and Hard Core Abs
  2. REST
  3. Pump Revolution
  4. Hard Core Abs and Fire 45EZ + Stretch 10
  5. Pump & Shred and HIIT 20
  6. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  7. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  1. Pump Extreme
  2. Hard Core Abs and Fire 45EZ + Stretch 10
  3. Pump & Shred and HIIT 15
  4. REST
  5. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  6. Pump Extreme and HIIT 20
  7. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  1. Pump Revolution
  2. REST
  3. Pump Extreme and HIIT 20
  4. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  5. Fire 45EZ
  6. Pump Revolution and HIIT 15 + Stretch 10
  7. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  1. Pump Extreme and HIIT 20
  2. Flow and Core 20
  3. REST
  4. Pump Revolution and HIIT 15 + Stretch 10
  5. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  6. Pump Extreme and HIIT 20
  7. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  1. Pump Revolution and HIIT 20
  2. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  3. REST
  4. Pump Extreme and HIIT 30
  5. Flow and Core 20
  6. Fire 55EZ + Stretch 10
  7. Pump Revolution and HIIT 15
  1. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  2. Pump Extreme and HIIT 20
  3. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  4. REST
  5. Pump Revolution and HIIT 25 + Stretch 10
  6. Fire 55EZ + Stretch 10
  7. Pump Extreme and HIIT 15
  1. Flow and Hard Core Abs
  2. Pump Revolution and HIIT 30 + Stretch 10
  3. REST
  4. Fire 60 + Stretch 10
  5. Hard Core Abs and Fire 45EZ + Stretch 10
  6. Pump Extreme and HIIT 30
  7. DONE!!!
Starting today will take me deep into October...perfectly in time to change things up and do something new for fighting the holiday weight gain season! (If you are going to live fit, you always keep a plan in place!!)

Anybody want to join me? I'm hopping into this TODAY!!!  Jump in with both feet and let's go!!! :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Toby's Surgical Outcome

Wow! Thank you for the outpouring of love and prayers on behalf of Toby as he had surgery!

I just took this, 2 days post op, for this post. Can you believe him?!?!?!

Surgery lasted 4 hours. First Dr. R began with the circumcision. This went smoothly. Then Dr. Z came in and started with the toe removal. Then he began on his arm.

This was a big deal.

First order of business was to rotate his arm. You see, his shoulders are internally rotated making his hand in a backward position (on top of his wrists being severely bent). Surgeries to alter the shoulder have been highly unsuccessful, but they have discovered that it is working to cut the humorous in half, rotate the lower part of the arm into the correct position and then put pins or plates in to hold it. (Toby has permanent plates.) They did this just above his elbow.

Then, they did an elbow release. This involved cutting tendons, moving nerves and then making slices in his tricep muscles to lengthen them. The way it was, the arm still would be unable to move due to the tight muscle that has never been used.

Are you grossed out yet? Yeah. I know.

Then they cast that arm in a 90 degree position.

He got his fingers in his mouth for the FIRST TIME EVER!!!

He can actually reach his left ear with his right arm!! (not without help)

This is in the recovery room. His face was very swollen and he didn't look like himself.

As is common with AMC kids, they were unable to get a good vein for an IV in either his hand or foot. (his poor foot is all bruised and I can see they tried 5x to get one in!) So it was in his neck. :(

While in the hospital...we did very little.

Lots of sitting and holding. And trying not to cry.

But Toby is a fighter. And although he wasn't happy, he didn't cry that first night.
He had me sleep in his bed to comfort him and he worked on a new position about every ten minutes, but the boy did not cry all night.

We were incredibly blessed to share a room with our good friends Gideon and his dear mommy! They made the entire experience amazing with their company and all their helpful AMC wisdom! We even got to meet up with  3rd Chinese AMC adoptive mommy however they were on their way out and it was much too short a visit! Next time!

Toby borrowed Gideon's iPad while Mommy grabbed a shower. With his dominant hand occupied, he resorted to his good foot for iPad playing:

This is how he looked by yesterday afternoon when it was time to go to the airport:

A study in pitiful.

But he immediately perked up when we saw our friends who graciously picked us up and drove us to the New Jersey airport.

And he so mercifully slept on the flight home to Ohio.

And then we were back at Grandpa and Grandma's house for the night. He started to smile once again. What a joy!!

The only snag was that his high powered pain killer exploded in our suitcase and he never got a drop. He's been only on regular children's Tylenol.

And now you say: WOW!!!!!!!!

He traveled home to our house well (a 3 hour trip) and began to eat once he was back safe at home. (I thought that was so interesting!)

This boy is SUCH an amazing child. I cannot fathom doing all he is just 2 days out of surgery. Isn't he AMAZING!??!?!

Now the outcome of his arm surgery is not yet determined. The GOAL is that his arm will return to a straight position and then be able to press against something to bend.

Reality could be different. He could become locked up in the new 90 degree position. He could get a small range of motion.

There is a very teeny, tiny chance that he could get an active bend in his arm. (Meaning he could draw his arm up on his own.) But the report from the doctor is that his muscles are not healthy and deep red but rather a salmon color, indicating that he will most likely not.

We return to Shriner's in Philadelphia in just two weeks for post op and therapy. This will be several days of twice daily work to use the arm in it's new way.

In the middle of our experience, another Chinese adoptive family...just a few miles away from us in Philadelphia...lost their precious daughter when she did not make it through her final heart surgery. We (Gideon's mommy and I) had knelt and prayed for them before we learned the outcome. This was a last ditch effort to keep her alive until another donor heart became available. It was so sad to learn that they handed her to her parents to hold her while she left this earth. There is no way to sum up the blessing these Chinese children are to our families.

There was someone who told us while we were fundraising to bring Toby home that he was better off in his orphanage and that we should leave him there. I cannot fathom where this person was coming from to say such a thing, but all I know is he was DEAD WRONG. There is no honor on this planet like being Toby's family and this AMC journey is such a blessing. The joy his smiles and laughter bring are worth every ounce of effort we pour into him. We are counted blessed by the Lord to be chosen to be his family.

Thank you for your prayers for our sweet boy as he went through this! I ask that you continue to pray for him as he adjusts and learns to use his arm, especially as we begin therapy in the next few weeks!

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