Saturday, March 31, 2012

Great Saturday with the boys

Today was the first Saturday in MONTHS that we did not have a pre-determined schedule.

It was heavenly.  Now, that is not the same as relaxing, 
(I don't do that well...)
 but it was so nice to be flexible and not confined to the clock.

And speaking of clocks, MINE said 8:something when I hauled my lazy saturday morning self out of bed!  I think Tom described it as "decadent".  

So, after a nice breakfast with the family, we began our Saturday morning Chore-fest.  I think it has been at least three weeks since we have really cleaned the house.  That makes for a cranky mom...

All three boys have bathrooms to clean each Saturday morning and they each went straight to work after we ate- no complaining.  

We were a house full of busy bees today.  

Then we were off to SAM's club which makes Cameron smile. 

He just LOVES to get a hot dog there with Dad.  

Once we got our weekly allotment of fresh fruit (and I say weekly by loose definition- its usually gone in about 4-5 days!), we headed off to 

That's right, we braved Wal-mart on a Saturday.  The boys were all fired up to use some of their spending money to get water guns.  Of course, they had to wait patiently while we got everything else on our list first. :-) Yeah, I'm THAT mom.

So, once we successfully got our water guns and misc other items, we were off for home. It was a gorgeous day here in Charleston with an amazing breeze and we had a great time shopping together.

Once home, it was YARD WORK time!  Colin got his first "lawnmower lesson" and away they went.

Colin before he saw the camera...

 Colin after he saw the camera...

Tom took care of the precision work-

My contribution?

Well, I planted our new beefsteak tomato plant, 

trimmed the rosemary bush out front and did general clean up.  Once the mowing was complete, the older boys took to the weeds along the side of the house and Tommy cleaned up the piles I raked.

Now, did I mention that water guns were purchased today????

And we all know there's nothing better than a good old fashioned water fight after an hour of yard work!

Cameron ready for battle!

who thinks he's sneaky?

It didn't take long for the two youngest to form an alliance against their big brother

Next thing I knew, they were wearing eye protection.  
Hard core!
What a glorious day with our big family.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Report Card Time!

When he first came home from China, we homeschooled Colin along with Tommy. 

 By the time Cameron came home, Colin's comprehension was at a level where we felt that he could be successful in a school setting.  

Additionally, we learned really quickly that Colin was a convenient crutch for Cameron.  So long as Colin was around to speak Mandarin, Cameron did not need us.  That wasn't a good thing.
It was an understandable thing, but was going to make our attachment more challenging as well as his commitment to learn English.

So, all those factors combined, we decided to enroll Colin in middle school.

This was an especially difficult decision for me.  So, as He always does, our Heavenly Father gave me grace and brought into our lives a group of especially committed teachers and staff at our local school.  

I had always heard that my district school was one of the very best public schools in our county, and now I know why.

When we initially made the appointment to come visit the school, I was expecting to see the head of the Guidance Department. 

 I thought we might get a tour, and that we would be in and out as fast as they could shuffle us along.

What we received instead was a wonderful greeting.  

The Principal 

spent almost two hours with us, along with the very attentive and compassionate guidance counselor. 
**I must note here that  since Tom was a school Principal for about 30 years, we know that they don't have the luxury of spending two hours with ANYONE on a normal day.**
 They listened to Colin's story and asked questions about him.  They introduced Colin to the two other mandarin speaking students in the school and allowed the one with the best English skills to take him on the tour of the school.  She was a very polite and friendly 7th grade girl who had been in America for 5 years.  Her Mandarin was still very strong so Colin was put at ease right away.  

They even took into account (without me having to ask....) that he would be learning much more than academics from his fellow students and they scheduled him with the top academic tier students so that he would have a better group after which to model his behaviors and study skills.

Needless to say, this all worked together to make mama a little less fearful about his transition.  Now, I can't say that I wouldn't feel the same way about any of our children starting public school, but for Colin and Cameron the concern was different.  Neither of these boys has a spiritual filter by which to process what they see in the world.  They are both pleasers by nature and I was concerned that they would have a harder time discerning what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  Colin was such a "good boy" and I was concerned that this would change in a public school setting where Christ is not the standard.

However, our experience thus far has been very positive.  

Now, as to his academics.....

Colin is very strong in Math.  This was easily detected when we brought him home. He loves Math (to the exclusion of most everything else actually).  

The first time I saw Tom teaching him Math, his whole face lit up.  It was as if he was saying, "Finally, something that isn't a struggle!"

So, our middle school scheduled him with the Algebra I honors students for Math.

Now, state law prohibits any school from failing a foreign student the first year they are in the country due to the obvious language barriers.  Consequently, there was no legal push for Colin to learn or to do well at all.  No matter what his grades actually were, he would pass.

But, for the 8th grade team at Hanahan Middle School, that was not an acceptable standard.  Each of his teachers consulted on his progress as a team and they went way above the "acceptable minimum" and worked very hard to ensure that he was learning.  Many of his teachers have taken the extra time to translate his class notes for him and even have his tests translated into Chinese so that he can be assessed on his knowledge of the subject rather than his ability to read English.

As a parent that does a lot of this at home, I know what an effort it is and, as a former teacher with 500 students a week, I fully understand that this was a sacrifice of precious time and I am so grateful!

These teachers have been understanding of my concerns and they kept in regular contact with me to make sure that I was being made aware of his progress and his successes.

They assured me that he was doing well in social settings and making good friends.  They even paired him the first day with one of their most responsible male students so that he would have an instant friend.

These teachers genuinely care about my son and it has made all the difference for my mental health! :-)

So, now that you have a brief idea of his academic journey, let's get to the drumroll please...................


This week we received Colin's first public school report card and he got 

ALL A's!

We are very proud of his hard work and the way his teachers have worked so diligently to help him adjust to his new surroundings.

We are very proud of our new son!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our Lifeline Journey begins

Well, we are off and running with the new job. As SC State Director, my first responsibility privilege was to offer a job to my dear friend Annie as 
Lifeline Child Advocate.  

Many of you know Annie already, but for those who don't know her personally, or know the work she does to advocate for orphans around the world, I hope you will check out her blog at 

Annie is one of my adoption mentors and took many a phone call from me in those early months while we raced to get Colin home. So, for all of those who call me now and are so appreciative of the time I take on the phone with have Annie to thank (among others!).  She was amazing with me and always patiently answered my questions. (and there were many!)

Well, in a matter of a few short days, Annie and I hopped a plane to Birmingham, AL.  We spent the next 4 days soaking up as much of the Lifeline culture as we could.

We were greeted with such hospitality and genuine smiles!

But, once we hit the door, it was
We started each day with emails (LOTS of emails) and then we re-fueled with C.O.F.F.E.E.

Then, we were off to the office and our very packed schedule.

We met with each division of the organization.  The more I learn about the heartbeat of this ministry, the more excited I am that I am now a part of this team.  To hear from the Directors of the Foster Care, Domestic adoption, and International adoption teams and to meet one on one with the social workers, birthmother counselors and leadership staff was so nice.

As it happened, I was able to extend my stay slightly in order to attend the

more orphans

on Saturday hosted by Alter84

After I literally took the shirt of someone's back....
I was ready to help with the registration table.  I believe that we had somewhere in the vicinity of 800 attend this conference.

It is easy to see, even in a short few days, that this team of people are no strangers to fun!  It was nice spending the morning with them in service.

There was an amazing line up of speakers as well.  Click here to see more about them!
I especially enjoyed Rick Morton and David Nasser.  I would encourage those of you who are passionate about Christ to read "Orphanology", co-authored by Rick Morton and Tony Merida.  

Sadly, my plane left early afternoon, so I was unable to stay for the entire event.
It was tough being away from Tom and the boys for 4 days, but they were 4 very productive days and were vital in preparing Annie and me for the months ahead as we work to secure licensure in SC.

We appreciate your prayer support!

If you or anyone you know is considering how they can get involved in honoring the Word of God by caring for orphans in distress, I would consider it a privilege to answer any questions that you/they have!

Friday, March 2, 2012

How God Works- Part 5

This post is part five of the "How God Works" series, so if you have not read the original post, click here first, then here for post 2, here for post 3, and last but not least, here to catch up. :-)

You all have been more than patient with me this week so, without further ado.  Even though I wrote these a few days in advance, I anticipate that by the time we get to Day 5, you will all be ready to shoot me, so here we go.

---We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.---

As I mentioned a few days ago, the process of adopting two aging out children in the span of less than 6 months had stirred up a little attention. God had used this attention to open doors for me to minister and encourage other families with a heart for adoption.  He had opened doors for me to deliver messages to orphans waiting for their families and He had allowed me to advocate for those still waiting.

He had used all of this to open my eyes. I was now seeing clearly that He wanted me to use the skills He has given me to affect change in the world.  Ok Lord, but what does that look like?  I need a P.L.A.N!

Seriously ya'll. I don't even get out of bed in the morning without a plan.  Those who know me will testify to that. 

  • I knew I wanted to help others adopt. 
  •  I knew that I wanted to focus on those who were less likely to find their families and those who never will. 
  •  I wanted to be used to find godly homes for the neediest of children; homes where the gospel would be lived out day to day.  

As I continued to ponder these things, and as I talked with wiser men and women than myself, one name continually came to mind.


Now, many who are reading this will know immediately what this means- who this is.

But, for those who do not---

Lifeline Children's Services is an adoption agency based in Alabama.  A distinctively Christian agency.

An agency that has a wonderful reputation in the adoption world for their unrelenting pursuit of spreading the gospel and providing orphan care around the world.

Just the sort of missional organization that would share my new-found passion.

Only one problem.  They were not MY agency.  In fact, we had not used Lifeline for either of our adoptions.  But despite this fact, and despite the fact that I did not know a soul at Lifeline, my friend Annie (remember the rock-star orphan advocate from earlier?) and I decided that we needed to reach out to Lifeline and see what the Lord would do.

So, on January 5th, after Annie's initial contact, I sent an email to Dave Wood, International Director at Lifeline.  I shared with Dave what I had seen God doing in Charleston and that I felt Him calling me to do more.  We asked them if they would consider opening a satellite office here in Charleston.  

Now, it is probably time for another confession.  Even though I knew without any reservation that I was to send that email, I really did not expect a response.  I mean, Lifeline is a large organization.  Dave had never heard my name.  And here I was asking them to open an office?  That was bold- even for me.  But, Annie and I obeyed God's calling and boy did He respond.

Not only did Dave respond (thanks Dave!), but he and Herbie, the Executive Director both responded. They expressed a clear interest in talking more about this opportunity.  They shared with us how God had been preparing them for this in advance of even receiving our email. 


In case you are wondering, God was at it AGAIN!

You see, unbeknownst to us, the leadership at Lifeline had been praying for direction from the Lord on where He might have them go next and SC had already been discussed as a strong possibility.  However, as the email went on to explain, the board felt that they were to wait on the Lord to bring that confirmation their way.

So, you see...that email, the one I thought would end up in the "circular file of cyber space" was in fact, an answer to prayer.

Within a week, I had met via video conference with Dave and Herbie and they scheduled a visit to Charleston.  

So, in February, they came to town and met with many, many people in the area with huge hearts for adoption.

During their two day stay, they were able to see first-hand just how the Lord was moving among His people here and that there was a very open and supportive network already developing.

They heard from families about the need for a Christian agency that could provide homestudy services as well as placement services.  

They met with Pastors and adoption ministry leads with a passion to mobilize the church to take up the cause of orphans in their communities and around the world.

They shared the larger scope of their ministry- not just for those lucky ones chosen to be adopted, but for the unadopted as well. They shared how they have come alongside the social service agencies in various states to support the recruitment and training of christian foster families. 
We learned about their heart for the unborn and how they minister to birth families as well as adoptive families. 

Throughout those two days, the Lord continued to confirm for us that He was bringing us together to do His work.

So, here we are at the Big Reveal!
After much prayer, the Board of Directors has voted unanimously to pursue licensure in South Carolina based out of Charleston.

This is an amazing blessing for the state of SC and  for our local Charleston community in particular.  

Not only that, but I was blessed with an offer to be the Director of this new office that will serve all of South Carolina.  Needless to say, I said YES!

I know that the story will not end there, but I am so humbled to have been a part of this miracle.

Thank you all for staying with me as I attempt to shine a light on the Creator who cares so deeply for the "Least of these" and so deeply for you and me.

If you have considered adoption, foster care, or supporting any of the ministries that you've read about here, please contact me.  I would love to provide you with more information about how God can use you too!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

How God Works- Part 4

This post is part four of the "How God Works" series, so if you have not read the original post, click here first, then here and here to catch up. :-)

Now, I must stop for a moment to thank those who have stayed with me this week.  No one likes cliffhangers, and I am not being deliberately cruel (I promise).  There is a method to this madness.  

You see, as I thought about how to share this "God story", I realized that what was most important was to show God's hand at work.  I simply did not think that a quick "Guess what?" sort of post was sufficient to show how intricately God has been weaving His plans together for His children over these past few months.  I felt that without a significant portion of the "back-story", the awe and wonder of all of this would be lost.  It has truly left me breathless and even more amazing--speechless-- on more than one occasion this year and that does not happen often ya'll!  So, I beg forgiveness from those of you who, like me, were wide awake at ridiculous hours this week pondering this series of events.

OK, disclaimer over. Now, on with the show!

While I was in China in December with the boys, I still felt a nagging from the Lord that we were only getting started. Now, not to say that my heart is at all closed to future adoptions (it is not!), but I am not talking about more kids here.

In fact, at that point, I wasn't at all sure what I was talking about, but it was there, under the surface.  Each night in our hotel room, I would put the boys to bed at 9 and had some alone time to skype with friends (my lifelines!!!), read, and pray.

It was during one of those skype sessions in particular that I chatted with a dear friend about this "nagging".  She confirmed that she, too, had felt the Lord moving in a big way in our community and wondered if the events of this year were not intended to move my heart toward some sort of mission work related to orphan care.

After all, this very same friend was the one who started all this in the first place one warm April day at an Easter egg hunt.  She was there for the very first conversation we ever had about adoption. She heard my flimsy excuses and my rationalizations for why "WE" could never adopt. (And I had some GOOD ONES.)
She saw something that I was not able to see at that point, and she had seen the transformation of my family and my heart for the orphans appear right before her eyes in the months that followed.

The next day, I shared this off-the-wall thought with another friend.  Surprisingly, she not only agreed with my first friend, but she said to me, "Have you spoken to Tom about this yet?"  When I said no, she proceeds to tell me that in checking in on my other two "boys" during my absence that she had had an almost identical conversation with my husband where he told her that he thought the Lord was leading me to a ministry for orphan care. HUH?  

The weeks in China went relatively fast and on Christmas Eve, we finally arrived home with our newest son!

We were so happy to be home for Christmas and to see Tom and Tommy again.

 We enjoyed a nice (yet terribly jet-lagged) Christmas visit with my sister
and the rest of the clan.
"My Three Sons"

My beautiful niece, Lindsey

My sister's twin boys, Ryan & Jacob

My beautiful Sis-in-law, Teresa, and super handsome nephew Easton.

My Father opening gifts

Tom gets another kitchen gadget! His favorite.

You get the idea.  Two days of visiting and we were finally off for home.

Now after sharing a house over the holidays in a VERY jet-lagged state of mind with 17 family members, I was needless to say, grateful to finally be home. 
My bed. My pillow. My coffee!!! 

I know, get to the point. Ok. The point is this:  I wanted to rest

I wanted to get my sea legs back before doing anything that required effort. I wanted to make sure that Cameron felt safe and that his needs were being met.

But, God kept nudging.

A few days after we returned home, once we were a little settled, (ok, not settled, but the laundry was done) we invited some friends over to meet Cameron and visit.  

It was during that larger group meeting of other adoptive families that I laid out my heart and shared that I felt the Lord asking me to move into an adoption-related ministry position of some sort.

I sought their counsel and began to see the Lord speaking through them.  

So, just over a week after returning home with all three boys, (wow- still boggles my mind that we have three boys) 

I know what the Lord wants me to do.

Stay tuned...tomorrow will be the last post in this series and will reveal the plan that God has set before me.