Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Raina's 2nd Birthday!

My week is finally slowing down just a tad.  Today I am baking muffins (gotta clean up those bananas before they go bad) and will complete and send off our business paper work to our accountant.  I am SO glad to have the business work done (or almost).  It has been hanging over my head for ages...yes, I was WAY behind...12 months to be exact...SCARY!  Best of all, my office floor is no longer strewn with papers!
I also hope to do some more fall cleaning...hate those spiders...and decorate some more for Christmas...AND...if possible have a nap.  I have this nasty cough that keeps me awake at night and I am exhausted.  Then I have a meeting at 4pm and a soccer game at 7pm.  It should be a busy, but good day.

Anyhow, on to what is important...Raina's 2nd birthday! It was Raina's first birthday at home. We celebrated quietly,as a family and Martin even made it home early from hunting. He was not about to miss Raina's first birthday celebration! I feel so blessed to have this sweet little one in our family...she is a delight!
Raina's favorite words are "Mommy", "baby", "yauh", and "no".   Raina's language is slightly delayed, although she knows more words than she generally uses. I am waiting for the day when she consistently puts words together to form a sentence.  She is mischievous and is known to throw everything from socks to important papers into the garbage.  She loves playing with her "baby" and is very good at entertaining herself.  Raina is still a very good sleeper, sleeping 12 hrs at night and 3 hrs at nap time.  She is beginning to sit long enough to watch a tv show.  Raina is not completely potty trained, but will generally do her big job on the toilet.  I should take the time to potty train her, but with all the stress of late, it has not been a priority (so different from my first baby...he would have trained come hell or high water!).  I can not imagine our life without this little gem...she truly lives up to the word that kept coming to my mind while we waited for her!

Raina loved the cake and was fascinated by the candles, but refused to blow them out.

Daddy helping Raina hold up 2 fingers.

Her favorite gift was the least expensive one...a play phone!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Private or Public?

  I began blogging simply to keep my distant family members up to date on the happenings in our particular, our adoptions.  However, in the past year I have often wondered whether I should make my blog public.  So far I have been able to share almost anything because I know who views my blog.  A part of me would like to keep it that to say almost anything.  Yet, a part of me would like to make it public.  I know what a wonderful help and inspiration other open bloggers have been to me and I know I would meet more online friends.  Still I am afraid.  Afraid that certain people, known critics, would have too much of a view of my life.  Afraid I will share too much info, and thus make my family vulnerable.  I would love some feed back on this....


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time Out

I am in the middle of a super crazy week.  Martin left on Saturday to go moose and deer hunting and will be home on Friday.  I have so much to share, but that will have to wait for a few days.  However, I just HAD to share this photo.  Raina is at the age where she gets into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g!  I have begun decorating for Christmas and Raina is continually touching and playing with items not to be touched.  After scolding her yet again, she went to the kitchen, dragged a stool to the window where the kids have their time outs and put herself into timeout!  Too cute!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Battle Cry

I have been thinking about writing this post for a very long time.  Even as I write I'm not certain it is the best thing to do.  It is very personal and yet I'm guessing I'm not alone in this story.  My life in the past 6 months has been difficult to say the least.  I have been stretched and stressed in ways that I have never experienced before.  A few weeks ago I almost lost it...literally!  I could not stop crying and there were times I literally felt I would collapse and had to work with every fibre of my being not to.

I believe with all my heart that we need to do more for orphans, and quite frankly would willingly adopt again.  Martin on the other hand says we are done!  Forever!  If ever I have respected anyone, it is Martin and because of that I respect his opinion and belief.  However, it has me questioning many particular this relationship that I have with God.  Don't get me wrong.  I love God!  I worship Him alone and feel Him with me constantly!  But...I wonder if how I understand Him is correct.  I seriously thought He was calling us to adopt again.  Am I wrong?  I'm not convinced...

I have not lost my passion for orphans and know I must do something with how I feel and based on scripture( Hebrews  11:1, James 1:22, Matthew 6:20 & 21, Luke 12:48, Ephesians 3: 20 &21) I will continue to advocate for all those in need...especially those without a mommy and a daddy!  I do believe this is what God wants for me at the moment, however, I never would have guessed it would be this difficult!

The attack of the evil one has been relentless!  The more I do, the more he tries to destroy me...emotionally and physically.  It seems he likes to use those closest to us.  Family and sometimes even friends...good people.  We do have people who support us and are behind us 100% and I thank God for that!  Unfortunately, most of these people live far away.  Perhaps that is why I am sharing this.  I know those of you who read my blog, (and those that do and never leave a comment :) are also passionate about orphans and perhaps you understand what I am talking about.   Would you mind praying specifically for this?  I sure would appreciate it.  Here are some of the things I have been involved in the past months...the reason I believe the evil one is attacking.

About a month ago I approached our pastor about participating in Orphan Sunday.  He was very willing to do so, and had a wonderful presentation.  I shared part of our story, which I shared  a while back.  I know God touched peoples hearts that day, and they will be forever changed!  Thank you Lord!!

We attended a fundraising event last night for God's Littlest Angels in Haiti.  I had the privilege of inviting 21 people to come listen to Dixie Bickel, the founder of GLA.  I know that made Satan angry...21 more people becoming aware of the needs of orphans.  Potentially 21 more people stepping up and taking a stand!

We are also in the process of planning a trip to Haiti, in January,  to work at GLA.  I am the coordinator for this trip and am tickled that 8 other people will be joining Martin and I.  We are planning a soup & pie supper next week to raise funds to purchase much needed supplies for GLA.  Again, more people will be made aware of the dire needs of orphans.

Next week our local adoption support group (once again I am the coordinator) will be meeting with a local speaker to discuss some of the challenges related to adoption.  The gal coming to speak is Christian and has 7 adopted children...I can hardly wait!  It should be an awesome evening!  An evening of new ideas and renewed energy!

I have come to the conclusion that Satan hates it when we as believers unite to fight for a worthy cause and he will do all he can to defeat us.  That is why I ask that you join me in praying for all of us involved, in what ever shape or form, in transforming the lives of orphans.  Thank you!  God Bless!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Morgun's 10th Birthday

Morgun celebrated his 10th birthday on!  We're into double digits! Morgun is maturing rapidly and decided, like Alex to have a simpler cake.  Yah!  Once again, not nearly as labor intensive!  However, he did throw me for a bit of a loop when he requested a Coffee Crisp Cake.  When I asked Morgun how I should make it, he had it all figured out..."take a few Coffee Crisp bars, chop them up and add to cake mix and cover with chocolate icing".  I did find a few recipes on line and came up with my own version.  I simply added lots of instant coffee grounds(1 heaping TBSP) and cappacino mix ( 2+ heaping TBSP)to the water called for in a chocolate fudge cake mix.  When the cakes were cooled I sliced each round cake into halves to make 4 layers.  I then whipped some cream, added a little sugar and icing sugar, and 2 chopped Coffee Crisp bars and spread the mixture between each layer.  I then spread more whipped cream (chocolate) on top and added 1/2 a chopped Coffee Crisp bar to the center.  Yummy!

Morgun is an amazing kid...very resilient.  He takes things in stride and loves to give hugs!  He is friendly and fun loving!  He makes me laugh!  I am so very proud to be his Mom!

However, I do worry at times.  Morgun is also easily influenced and I fear he will make bad choices.  For the most part though, he is wise...especially with the good influence of his older brother who happens to have the gift of discernment.  (It is rather intriguing to see how our boys compliment each others personalities...)

Morgun LOVES  Tae Kwon Do and excels at it, getting better marks than Alex and I.  He moves confidently and quickly and has an incredibly high kick.  Morgun chose this over hockey this year and I think he made a very wise choice! And I'm not saying that because I hate the contact and all the driving involved in hockey.  He truly has found a sport that fits him perfectly! 

Morgun trying to figure out what we bought him....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday

For the very first time our church acknowledged Orphan Sunday.  Pastor Nick asked if I would share our story.  Here is what I shared...

When I first started preparing for this presentation I did not know where to begin or what to say. I pray that what I share today will motivate all of us to do MORE for orphans. That we will be so excited that neither fear or finances will get in the way!

I have always enjoyed working with kids and even as a very young child,6-7 years of age, I would always be found were the babies were. As a young teen I read a book called The Family Nobody Wanted. A true story of a couple who adopted or fostered many children that everyone else rejected. This story had a profound impact on me and it was through this story that I first began to develop a passion for orphans. It was then that I began to dream of someday adopting a child.

While Martin and I were dating, Martin saw my passion for kids and became concerned saying “ we’re not having a bunch of kids! Are we?” To which I adamantly replied “no!” Even though I loved kids I had absolutely no desire to parent lots of kids! In fact, after we had our boys, I was rather proud of the fact that we were not like my siblings and many other Mennonite couples who were rapidly increasing their broods! But God will accomplish what He wants to accomplish.

Back in 1998 my sister brought a little girl, by the name of Kayla, to our attention. She was my brother-in-laws, nephews child, and she had been placed for adoption here in Saskatoon. We pursued this adoption for over a year, spending most Sundays playing with her and getting to know her. Eventually we were told the foster family would be granted parental rights. We were devastated! Martin vowed his life would never be invaded and scrutinized again!

By 2001 we had 2 handsome boys, Alex and Morgun. And our life was PERFECT! However, deep inside of me there was still the desire to adopt. Martin was not on board at all! His life had been invaded once and he was not about to get hurt again. And he was afraid…afraid of all the uncertainty…could he love an adopted child as much as his biological children? What about all the baggage an orphan was bound to come with? What about finances? All things relating to fear.

I prayed…and prayed…asking, begging God to show us His will. Either through His word, a dream, a vision or through one of his children. And guess what ??? He did !!!!

In December of 2005, Martin had a dream. In his dream he saw a deep, wide ravine with 2 paths on it. Two young chubby boys, looking very dirty and wearing tattered clothes were traveling the easier path. Martin knew without a shadow of a doubt that the other path, the one not completely visible, was the right path. In his dream he urged the boys to take the right path.

A door then appeared and an old man walked out. He had the most incredible look in His eyes. The look was one of deepest compassion and an indescribable love. Martin realized it was the face of God! And yet, he was in a state of disbelief. The man slowly faded away. Martin asked God to show his face again, and he did! Martin then knew that it was indeed God looking at him with eyes full of love and compassion, such as he had never seen before!

That night Martin and I had the most amazing, peaceful sleep ever!

It was around this time that I also had a vision. I saw Martin carrying a little girl with an olive complexion, squinty eyes, and straight, black hair pulled back into 2 pig tails.

About a month later we were watching a documentary on an organization called Help Us Help The Children. It’s an organization that provides food, clothing, etc to orphanages in the Ukraine. As usual I felt a strong pull to adopt. Later that night, Martin shared that while watching the program he had seen a vision. He saw Jesus descending from heaven on stairs surrounded by clouds. He remarked that God and I would just have to keep working on him!

Remember the fear I talked about earlier? I believe God was telling us not fear, that He would be with us every step of the way!

I LOVE it when God talks!

In May of 2006 my Dad was diagnosed with liver cancer. Two weeks later he passed away. This hit us hard! Dad was only 69 and for the most part appeared healthy. It made us realize how short life really is and that if we wanted to make a difference in this world we needed to do so now!

By October 18, 2006 our home study to adopt from China was complete. We requested a healthy girl under 2 years of age. We expected the process to take up to 3 years. By the summer of 2008, we realized the Regular Program offering healthy babies, had come to a stand still. It was at this time that Pat and Gary Wiebe

Life continued while we waited…and waited. I often wondered why God was allowing the process to take soooo long. We soon found out why. In January of 2007 my Mom was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery on a massive cancerous growth. She managed to recover, but by Sept cancer had once again invaded her body. Even though very few people knew of our plans to adopt, we felt we should tell Mom. She was excited for us! On Dec. 5, 2007, we lost Mom. We grieved and slowly began to heal. (God knew we needed this time to heal)

The adoption process is a roller coaster of emotions. Excitement followed by fear, questions of “ What ARE we getting ourselves into?” and all the “what ifs” What if we don’t bond? What if she hates us? Do we have what it takes to meet this child’s’ needs? What if she comes with major baggage such as abuse?….and the list goes on…

On January 5th, 2009, we finally had a proposal for Ma Yongjun aged 3 years. We fell in love instantly!

It was at this point that my fears came to the forefront. One of the most difficult aspects of adoption, at least for me, is knowing who my child is and not being there to comfort her, hold her, love her, and protect her! There are many horror stories of what children in orphanages often endure. I fervently prayed that God would protect our little one!

We planned to travel to China in May, but 2 days before our departure, we had to postpone due to the H1N1outbreak. Adoptions from all provinces in China were still proceeding with adoptions, except Beijing…where Malia is from. We were finally able to travel in July.

As long as I live I will NEVER forget the day we met Malia Yongjun Faith! I was incredibly nervous, but all my fears dissolved when I saw this beautiful, but VERY sad little girl who was about to have her world turned upside down. The English language does not contain words capable of describing what we felt…pure joy, excitement, fulfillment, peace, and contentment partly describe the moment…perhaps the work “God” describes it best!

We arrived home on July 31, 2009...which would have been my Mom’s 69th birthday! Special! Isn’t it!! It was at this time that my favorite saying became“ my cup runneth over!”

Malia adjusted amazingly well! We had prepared for, as best as we could, a worst case scenario, but truly ended up with a best case scenario! God is so good!

Two weeks after arriving home from China, Martin and I looked at each other and said “lets do this again!” Crazy I know, but true!

Don’t get me wrong, life was not all warm and fuzzy. The first 2-3 months were very difficult! Alex and Morgun wanted life to be “just the 4 of us”. We had many sleepless nights and I struggled with knowing how to handle Malia’s adjustment. We were trying to figure out Malia’s needs and wants with a major language barrier while deciphering which behavior was typical of a 3 year old and what was related to grief. We faced 3 hour episodes dealing with inappropriate behavior…EXHAUSTING! Martin and I would look at each other and say “what have we gotten ourselves into??? “We must have been crazy!”

Six months after arriving home life began to feel normal again. Martin or I were with Malia 24/7. For an entire year we did not go on a date!! Trust me, we sure could have used one!! Instead, we became a little more creative and had mini dates at home after the kids were in bed.

One of the most important things I learned was that even though I do not consider myself to be cut out for this role…parenting…God can and does still use me! I also learned that some of the things I hated most about myself were things I needed most!

In November of 2009 I once again began to feel an urgency to adopt, but Martin wasn’t quite ready. However, by March of 2010 we were once again registered for international adoption. We requested a girl with a minor disability ranging in age from 0-3 ½ years. However, I kept telling Martin that I had a feeling our daughter would be little. There were days where I could feel her in my arms and she was not 3 ½ years old! In August we finally got our proposal for Chen Liuji, aged 9 months! With a birth date of November 24th, 2009...around the same time that I had felt an urgency to adopt again!! Don’t ya just love how God works??!!!

Once again the mama in me could not handle my child living so far away without my love and protection. And once again God proved faithful. In church one Sunday, Pastor Nick posted this picture during the worship service. It was then that God told me very clearly “Stop worrying! I am taking care of your child! She is safe with me!” I was immediately filled with an incredible peace.

At the beginning of Raina’s adoption process I had prayed that this process would not be long. I clearly remember telling God that I could handle 9 months but that was all! Dec. 6 2010 ( less than 9 months from our first home study) we met Raina Liuji Marie! What an emotion filled day it was! God had indeed cared for Raina! She lived in the same foster home from the age of 3 days. It tore our hearts in two to watch her foster mom weep, knowing she would never see Raina again, but also knowing she would finally have a forever family!

The first night was brutal! Raina called for her “mama” all night long. Heart wrenching! Each night after that was a little better with one exception. Our guide offered to hold Raina while we ate lunch. It seemed like a great offer, but it left Raina confused and once again she had a rough night.

Before long Raina was all smiles and had wound her way into everyone’s hearts. Our boys were phenomenal! They welcomed Raina with open arms and continue to adore her. Malia, however, really struggled. She was no longer the center of attention and her behavior soon led to more exhausting episodes…up to 5 hours!! We eventually learned how to handle the episodes and how to pick our battles. We also made every effort to ensure Malia she was still special! As the months passed we saw huge improvements and learned a little more about Malia. We now believe there were times where she was indeed mistreated. We do still deal with “issues” on a regular basis, but that is to be expected.

One of the most difficult aspects of adoption is dealing with people that stare. Not the innocent, I’m curious and interested stare, but rather the rude stares. We met many people in China that gave one of our daughters looks of disgust because of her looks. There were times I was literally ready to hurt someone! However, some of the looks her in Canada are more hurtful…like the old lady that literally turned around…completely to stare at our girls. Martin finally had enough and turned around and winked at her! She immediately looked away! Humor is essential!!

I can honestly say that, most days, I love being a mom and feel extremely privileged to be hand picked by God to be Alex, Morgun, Malia, and Raina’s Mama!

This journey has been and continues to be both amazing and challenging. God has proven he listens to us, he answers our prayer and he fulfills his promises.

I never fully understood Psalm 127:3...“children are a reward from the Lord”

Really??? Late nights, early mornings, teething, vomit, temper tantrums, last minute assignments…all had me questioning this verse. However, when I began to consciously see my kids as a reward, I began to see sweet smiles, hilarious comments, adorable kisses, warm hugs, and possibly most importantly a personal growth that is not possible with out the presence of children!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Alex's 12th Birthday!

Alex celebrated his 12th birthday this past Friday.  Where does the time go???  It feels like a few short months ago that we brought this adorable boy home!  Sometimes I want time to slow down and other times I wish it would go faster! 
The past 5 years have been difficult years for Alex (and Martin & I).   After losing Grandpa and Grandma, Alex's faith took a real hit and he often doubted God's promises and even his existence.  However, we are finally beginning to see a change in Alex...he is once again learning to trust God and it is beginning to shine through!  I pray that this year will be an amazing year for Alex...a year where he will continue to see God's faithfulness, goodness, and love. 
I pray that Alex will have a growth spurt.  I know it may be a weird thing to pray, but it is important to him...he even asked for an extra candle on his cake saying "and one to grow!"  I know he was kidding, but also somewhat serious.  He is among the smallest kids in his class.  Perhaps if he was more athletic and "macho" his size would not be such an issue.  At this point it only adds to the things kids bug him about.  :(
I know this will be a year where our little Alex will become a young man.  We are beginning to see it in his maturity...especially in the little things.  He is becoming more responsible and is gaining control of his emotions.  He even asked for a mocha black forest cake for his birthday!  Yah for me!  No labor intensive decorating this year! 

In spite of being a challenge on a regular basis, Alex is truly the most loving kid ever!  I think Satan must tremble and shake at the thought of what Alex will do in his life!  I know it will be profound!