Monday, December 31, 2012

Give 1 Save 1 ASIA Update

Tonight is the start of the new year and along with that comes some amazing families being featured on
Give 1 Save 1 Asia's blog!
Check out family #1 here.
Would you consider donating?
All it takes to bless this family who is trusting God for their child's future is
Please consider if this might be an opportunity for your family to bless others each week in
I will let you all know when our family is featured later this week (1/6), but in the meantime, would you please take a quick moment to shoot one dollar (or more, if you feel led) to the McKnights?
Thanks Bloggy friends!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What can a dollar do?

Friends, I am excited to tell you about two really amazing things that have happened in our adoption/fundraising journey over the past two weeks!
God has been confirming for us over and over again that He will provide all we need. 

Not only have we gotten several very generous donations over the past two weeks, we also heard from a local Orphan Care ministry that we were approved for a $1000 matching grant during the month of January!

Thanks to Journey Together Ministries, we now have the opportunity to match all donations received during the month of January up to $1000!  We are so excited about this blessing.

What makes the timing so wonderful is that just days before getting this news, we heard from
that we were accepted as a featured family!

Guess when? 
(January 6th, the be exact!)

So, whatever we raise through this effort, JTM will MATCH the first $1000!

Is our God amazing or what?

Ok, so let me explain what this is.

GIVE1SAVE1 is really a very simple concept.

Each week, this blogger will promote one family in need of financial blessing who is adopting from ASIA.

The week of January 6th will be
The RYLANDS family! :-)

The featured family must have a video to share.
(Got that one COVERED!)

Then they ask the reader one simple thing.


Who among us can't spare ONE dollar?

I love this idea SO MUCH that our family has decided to make this a new ministry habit.

Each week, we will log on and donate our $1 to the family of the week.

I love knowing that we can discipline ourselves to the habit of giving each week. 

I hope to give more.
Lots more.
Once we are done adopting and in a season where we can do so. 
But, as a first step, in addition to our tithe, we will give regularly to a family that will truly be blessed.

I would encourage all of you to consider this as a ministry opportunity for your family as well.  Wouldn't this be a great idea for your children too?  How about your Bible Study group or Sunday school class?

Is there a small chore around the house that the kids could do each week to earn their $1 to give?  How fun would it be to log on each week and watch the video of that week's featured family and know that you were a part of their adoption story?  A very real part of bringing a child home?

So, we will post again before the launch date and provide some more context and details, but for now, check it out and if you feel led, please share about this opportunity. 


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas traditions- Rylands style!

I have always been a fan of Christmas. 
I can't say that it's my favorite holiday, as that honor is reserved for Easter, but it is a close second.
The reasons may be obvious to some, but the older I get, the more I realize that there is no meaning, no purpose, no value to anything in this life without the coming, living, and dying of the Savior. 
So, while these two "religious" holidays have always been enjoyable to me, even as a child, they are now treasures that I want to cherish and share with my children.
I personally believe that "tradition" is important.  In most all contexts, especially family.  It is one of the things that makes "family" unique to other social settings or living arrangements.
With each passing month that our sons, Colin and Cameron, are in our home, I learn more and more how significant "traditions" can be.
Our boys brought with them Chinese traditions and I have tried to educate myself on those traditions, holidays and habits so that I can discern which ones can/should become a part of our family story here in the states.
This helps me to connect with the boys in some small way that makes up for, as much as we ever can, missing all those years of their lives.  It also, I believe, allows them to reconcile their previous "identity" with their new one as a Rylands, a son and brother. 
How often do we wrestle with our previous identity and attempt to reconcile it with (for those who are followers of Christ) our new identity in Him?  I sympathize a bit with my boys just realizing how challenging it can be when I have one foot in this world and another in the world to come.  Do you ever have those days when you forget where you truly belong and feel as if you don't know who you really are? 
In God's loving kindness, He gifted to each of us the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us and to redirect us back to the Cross where our true identity is found.
For our adopted children, we celebrate that which is good from both cultures and begin to forge new traditions that are ones they can identify within their family. 
Not all of these efforts are monumental or particularly genius, but rather little things that continue to engrave their presence as Rylands into the fabric of our family. 
So we start with the Christmas tree.
Spending time together decorating the tree, talking about those ornaments that carry some special significance, sharing old family stories so that they will become part of the tapestry our older sons will one day reflect upon.

Cameron said this was his favorite ornament!
We made sure that while many of our ornaments are remembrances from Tommy's early years,
that Colin, Cameron and now Connor and Cooper have a personal presence on the tree too.


Another Rylands family "tradition", added only 2 years ago, is the reading of an advent story each night during our regular devotion time. 
We light the advent candles for each week that approches Christmas and listen while Tom, a naturally gifted orator, reads the story to us with the inevitable cliff hanger each night.
This year has been especially nice since both boys can now understand the lion's share of what's being said, unlike last year.
Colin has gotten into the habit of squeezing in behind Tom's reading chair to get close and see the pages as he reads.
Cameron likes to sprawl down on the carpet in front of the tree

and Tommy snuggles up into the recliner with Mom.
This nightly reading is a time that all of us look forward to in this season of advent.  A time to listen to the adventures of those in our storybook and how they demonstrate the excitement of our old testament ancestors as they waited for the coming of the Messiah.
Each night after the reading is done, the boys take turns blowing out the candles and off to bed they go.
Today, I was able to add yet another piece to the Christmas puzzle as we start to integrate our sons, old and new, into the tapestry of Christmas.
One night, as I wondered aimlessly through the pages of pinterest, I found the prettiest Christmas stockings. 
It got me thinking how much I would love to have new, matching stockings for all the boys.
Clearly, this was not a need. 
It was definitely a want.
  And, more than likely, only a want of mine, as I do live in a house full of boys, afterall!
Be that as it may, I daydreamed about having these beautiful Christmas stockings hung by the fireplace signifying that each one of our five boys "belonged" with us and had a special place.
Despite the fact that we are still fundraising and are so very far from our goal, and knowing that I could not even think of splurging on something so frivilous at this time, I asked some folks where they get their stockings, just to see what was out there and maybe hoping that some crazy amazing deal was lurking around the corner that would make this justifiable.
 (Yeah, I know YOU'VE never done that!)
Well, once again, God demonstrated that He cares about the desires of our hearts and even those things that are truly just "wants". 
Not long after I posted about Christmas stockings, an old friend from out of state, a second mama, once upon a time, offers to sew some stockings for my boys!
I was thrilled!  She even took the picture I had, the one from pinterest, and set out making these matching stockings for my clan, as a gift, no less!
It is always amazing to see God provide for our needs, but somedays, it is just so cool when he provides for those things that we don't need, those things that just make us happy!
But, our stocking story doesn't end there, oh no!
Realizing that we were going to get these cool stockings at no cost, I thought to myself...
Self?  Maybe, you could afford to get them embroidered with each boys' name?
Knowing a great friend of mine who does embroidery, I asked her if this was something she had the time to take on so close to Christmas.
Not only did she say yes, but once again, she offered this as a GIFT! 
My Christmas daydream of new stockings for the boys was actually going to materialize and without spending a dime!
This morning at church I finally got to see the finished product!  To say that I was pleased was a total understatement!

Not only did she get the boys' names on them, but their birth province too!
Just look at these!  They are so great looking!
Colin, born in Liaoning Province

Connor, born in Chongqing Province

Cameron, born in Hubei Province

Cooper, born in Hunan Province

Tommy, born in South Carolina, USA
I loved being able to hang these stockings today! Even though Connor and Cooper can not yet come home to us, and despite missing them even more at Christmas time, it was comforting to see their names, hanging at the fireplace along with our other boys. 
I am so thankful for this Christmas gift and I can't wait for the boys to see that they are already a part of us!
So even though we aren't all together for Christmas this year, we rejoice in the hope that comes from remembering the birth of Christ and as we yearn for our sons to be home, it makes me mindful that this sacrifice is nothing compared to the sacrifice made by our Heavenly Father to send his son away to pay a price that would allow each of us to live in spiritual purity before the Father.  Purity that is so undeserved, making his grace that much sweeter!
Merry Christmas all!
The Rylands

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looking for Families!

Hey bloggy friends!
I need a favor.
Will you help me spread the word about a special need?
One of the many responsibilities that I have at Lifeline, and one that is especially important to me, is helping our social work assistance team in special cases.
As a mom who has adopted older children, I know that adoption parenting is different.
Different, and often very difficult.
These special children come to you with lots of history.  History that you were not privileged to shape.  History that is hard.  History that is not easily overcome.
It takes lots of intentional education, patience, grace, support, love and did I say... patience?
In most cases, given sufficient time to adjust, these adoptions turn into happy well adjusted families.
However, at times, even with ALL OF THIS, even with exceptional parents with the highest and most dedicated intentions, something doesn't fit.
There are situations where it is necessary to remove the child and find them a new family. A new home that is better equipped to meet their unique needs.
Thank the Lord this is not a common occurence, but when it does happen, it becomes necessary to find that child a new family.  A family who desires the challenge and feels called by God to pour into the life of a deserving child.
When Lifeline becomes aware of such a situation, we strive to help.
That's where you all come in!  My faithful Bloggy followers!
If you, or someone you know, feel called to parent children from a dissolved adoption situation, please have them contact me at my work email address:
We are developing a pool of potential Christian families who want to be considered as possible adoptive families.  The children in question are often older.
We know that these kids are often in need of something that for whatever reason, their current family is unable to offer them and so we work diligently to secure a family that can meet their needs and help them to develop into healthy, happy and productive citizens.
I appreciate your help!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas for Connor & Cooper

Well, the day has finally arrived!

That's right! 
We have L.O.A!
LOA stands for
Letter of Acceptance!
Tom and I signing the boys' LOAs!
It is the 
piece of paper that says that our new boys CAN BE RYLANDS!

While it isn't the last step in this crazy process, it is one of the most important and represents the official approval from their country for us to be their parents.

So, while we are whirling with excitement about being so close to getting our boys, we are also aware of the fact that the Lord has not yet provided all the needed funds.
Now, we've done a lot of work getting to this point.  To date, we've raised a little over $15,000 through donations and  fundraisers of all kinds.
And just as I was sensing the Lord asking us to slow down and breathe, our LOA comes in! 
So, as I pray about what steps He would have us take next, He brought to mind the ways in which He has provided for our adoption needs in the past. 
(Without our help)
He also reminded me of all the ways he has blessed our family when we've had the opportunity to give to others who are serving orphans.


So here we are. 
LOA in hand. 
A large amount of money still needed
(to cover the $12,000 in orphanage donations, travel and in country legal fees),
 and a strong sense that God is ready to take the reins and get us to the finish line.
I don't know exactly what this will look like. I don't know who God will work through or how He will provide.
But, as I told Colin a couple months ago...


I know that He will call those whom He wants to walk alongside us.
He will nudge those who He wants to give.

So we are going to take an intentional break from the madness of the last 6 months and agree together that the Lord will bring us the rest of the way.

So, if you feel that you'd like to play a part in Connor and Cooper's story, we'd be honored if you'd join us in praying and giving as the Lord leads.

Since it is 12-12-12 today, 
and we are bringing home TWO boys this time...

anyone seeing double?

How about a 
$20/20 CAMPAIGN?

Here's our goal

20 days for Cooper
20 days for Connor
$20 gifts to raise

It's a God-sized goal to be sure, but I am learning to expect big things from God and from His people!

Let's see what blessing God could pour out on behalf of these precious boys with a $20 gift for Christmas.  Really, that's all we're asking.
$10 per boy to get them home!

Would you intentionally pray for our sons?
Would you share with those who you think might join us?
Would you give?

To donate directly to our adoption fund, tax-free, you can click on the far left corner of our blog and donate in any amount you choose or use the direct link above.  These funds will go to
 and be directed to our account.  JTM does not take out administrative or processing fees, so 100% of what you give (minus the small convenience fee from the online processor) will be sent directly to Lifeline Children's Services and applied to our adoption fees.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Our little Artist!

Many of you already know that we have a talented artist in the family...
Much to our surprise, Cameron came to us with a special talent.
A talent that in my estimation required a real cultivation.  Surely, people aren't just "born with" an artistic talent, or are they?
Well, Cameron did say that they spent some time at his orphanage learning about art and I saw on my tour that they had some easels out in the common area for the kids to draw on.
I remember shortly after Cameron came home, I saw him sketching this picture free hand...

Shortly after this one, a few more came along...

Needless to say, I was impressed.  I have Z.E.R.O. talent in this arena. 

Wanna learn to play a wind instrument? 
I'm your gal.
Need a theory lesson? 
Got ya covered!

But Art? Sorry Charlie! Not my gift.
So, we began to realize that outside help was going to be necessary.

Thankfully, he has been blessed with some really talented teachers and most recently attended a two day art camp at school over the Thanksgiving break.

While I haven't seen all of his work from those two days (some things were secret projects for Christmas gifts), I can tell you that his work continues to show promise.

His first painting with textured paint- Tiger, Summer 2012.

Gift for Mom presented on Thanksgiving, 2012

Gorgeous Winter Scene
I posted these on facebook and a good friend suggested that we should make this winter scene into a card.

I liked the idea so much that this is exactly what we've done.

Cameron has asked before if he could paint something to sell so that he could help us raise the needed funds to get his two new brothers home. 
(How sweet is that??)

But, I told him that I was not ready to sell one of his paintings because they were too special to me.

So, when this suggestion was presented, it seemed like the perfect way for me to keep his art and share it! (Thanks, Paula!)

Here is a proof of the card.  

We are going to give them in sets of:
 10 for $12 and sets of 
24 for $25 donations.

*Please include $3 for shipping (set of 10) or $5.50 for a set of 24
 if you are not local.

Once folded, each card will measure 4.25"x5.5" and include an A2 envelope.

These will make wonderful Holiday cards but will also be useful anytime and any year since the inside is blank.

Everytime I look at one of his paintings it is a reminder to me that God redeems all things.  He took this little boy from a tough place and a rougher than desired start in life and gifted him with an amazing talent.  Then, he orchestrated circumstances in his life where he could express this gift and share it.

He is so excited to be an active part of this most recent adoption.  Somehow, I think it is helping him to heal a little and to turn something sad into something joyful for another. 

We would love it if you would help share about Cameron's Winter Card Sale and order some of these as gifts or to use for your own family.

Donations can be made to the side of our blog or via Journey Together Ministries if you desire a tax deduction for your gift.

The Rylands family hopes that each one of you have a Christmas season filled with blessings from the Father and that you take some time to slow down and recognize the redemption taking place in your own lives.  God is always at work!  We just have to slow down and take a close look.

Merry Christmas, May Jesus Christ be Praised!

Tom & Angie

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Traditions-a sneak peek into our home!

 Admittedly, there are years that it would be easy to leave the tree in the garage and NOT work so hard to get the house all dolled up for the Holidays.
In fact, last year, all we managed to do was get the tree up.  Since we were planning to leave for China, I just couldn't rev myself up to hang garland and all the other things that come along with Holiday decor.  All of our normal "Christmas traditions" were on hold last year.
Well, this year, we decided that it was time to dig it all out again and share this experience with the kids.  While Colin did get to experience the tree decorating last year, Cameron was not with us then.  So, this year, as we celebrated Cameron's first official (and new) birthday, what did he want to do?
Decorate the Christmas Tree!
It was a sweet night watching the boys pull out the ornaments and place them all on the tree.


 It was also sweet to see my darling Cameron holding this "hope" ornament.
God, in His infinite wisdom and love ordained a hope and a future for this precious boy!
Sweeter still?
He is beginning to see it for himself.
When this ornament came out of the box, Cameron was quick to tell me who those people were! 
He is very proud of the Bible knowledge he is acquiring and it is great to see him connect with the stories we've studied together each night as a family.
Another family tradition that we've started in recent years is the "Scrabble" ornaments.

Just one of the many Christmas crafts started by my talented and crafty mother. Aren't they adorable?
Nicer still is that each child as they enter the family gets an ornament that is the same as the children that were here before.
There is a sameness that is often missing when adopted children enter their forever families. 
A sameness that provides security. 
A sameness that reinforces their precious identity as a member of their new family.

Mom has already created new ornaments for Connor and Cooper and I can't wait to see their names hanging on the tree next year!
Since this was Cameron's birthday,
when he asked to place the angel on the top of the tree, of course he got to!

The finished product

One of my favorite "accessories" this Christmas is the handmade tree skirt that my mom quilted for me last year.

Isn't it gorgeous?

 Just look at that detail work!
Ok, enough about the tree...
Next, as we move around the room, we have our pewter nativity set from Lenox that we've had since we were newly married.
Not only is it pretty, but
(and this is KEY)
they are indestructible!

Over the fireplace is our large wreath
and lighted garland.

 So that is the decorating process in the Rylands' home.
In my next Holiday post, I will cover advent traditions.  This has become a special season of reflection for us in recent years and we are off to a great start this season.