Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sarah's story, and answered prayer!

Hi everyone!

I have been having a wonderful time lately.  Not quite sure why, really.  Just happy in the Lord, I guess!  We've been pretty relaxed around pressure to do a whole's been chilly outside but no snow, some rain,  (don't you just love rain??)  and cozy in the house.  The kids have been healthy (until Sarah came down with a little cold yesterday--oh well.)  Sometimes God just gives you a time of relative quiet when you can just be thankful for the blessings of life.  And there are so many of them!  (And by the way, when I say quiet, I do not in any way mean the decibal level in our house.  It's not really quiet in here.)    : )

So, onto the subject of my post today!  Ever since we had Sarah, I started longing to know anything I could about her past.  I think other adoptive moms would agree with me when I say that that mysterious, shadowy time before we had Sarah just drives me crazy, not knowing EVERYTHING that happened in her life.  Here is what we have been told about Sarah's beginnings...

There is a busy market area in Zhengzhou City in China.  A woman brought baby Sarah to a police officer on duty at a police station to hold while she went next door to use the restroom.  And then she never returned to get her.  The officer waited, and finally took the baby home to his family.  She was about two months old.  Each day he went to work, and waited for the woman to come back for the baby.  Finally after two weeks, he took her to the orphanage in Zhengzhou.  She stayed there for eight or nine months until they changed plans for that building, and moved most of the children to different locations.  At around nine months old, Sarah was moved to a different orphanage in a city called Luo He.  She was blessed to be in this one that is run by our adoption agency's charity division.  After a time, she was moved to a foster family's home.  Supposedly she was only with them for a few months when our letter of intent to adopt Sarah was accepted, and they moved her back to the orphanage again for a few more months until we would travel to get her.  If you weren't counting, that was seven different living placements in the first 21 months of her life, including the police officer's family, the second orphanage two different times, and our family. 

When we met Sarah, she was not afraid of us at all.  She easily took to us, and started laughing and playing with us within the first hour that we had her!  We were so thankful that obviously she had been loved, played with, and most likely not mistreated.  But oh, how we wish we could talk with those people.  Any of them!  who loved her and played with her, and cuddled with her and knew her.  And how I wish I had some pictures of her life before she was with us.  We have a few, but not many.

So, I started searching around in an online adoption group last summer.  I posted a message on the board asking if anyone had pictures of the orphanage Sarah was in.  I at least wanted to know more about where she had lived.  I searched the faces in the albums others posted, but had no luck.  And then I started praying that I would someday see some pictures of Sarah.  I just knew God would answer that prayer!

Last night I decided to search on that board again.  I looked at Sarah.  And then I went back in the message archives and came across that old question I had asked on there last summer, wondering if anyone had any pictures of the orphanage she was in.  Lo and behold, I had had a reply that I hadn't noticed.  A lady had adopted a daughter the same age as Sarah, who had been in the orphanage at the same time, and she had pictures on her blog that someone had given to her of her daughter and others in the orphanage.  My heart beat faster as I went over to her blog and started flipping through those pictures.  And here is what I saw...

The little girl in the yellow shorts outfit...I thought she might be her but I couldn't be sure...

Until I saw this one!  My heart started leaping when I saw this!  Look at that precious face.  And such a perfect shot! 

 And I smiled when I saw this one (Sarah in bright pink) because she always loves to cuddle and sit on our laps.  This volunteer was just filling in for Daddy. : )

She was probably just learning to walk around this time. : )

And there she is in the back in the middle.  When I showed this picture to Sarah, she said, "Where's Mommy?"  And I told her I just hadn't come to get her yet. : ( Thank you to these wonderful ladies who invested in the lives of these precious children!

It really is strange looking at these pictures of Sarah, and us not being in them.  Like Sarah asked, "Where are you?"  My first thought was something like that too.  Where was I?  Who are these people?  It felt a little like I must have dropped her off at a daycare or something.  So strange to remember that here she was in a life without me.  Our heartstrings are so completely wound around that little girl.  She IS our daughter.   

I am so thankful that God provided these pictures for us to see, and I will keep searching for more.  I would love to see ones from when she was a younger baby.  And my next hope and prayer is that we could somehow make contact with her foster parents and special nannies so that we can show them pictures and tell them all about what Sarah went through and how God pulled her through.  I'll let you know when that happens!  (I would LOVE to somehow have contact with her birth mother, but that is next to impossible here on this earth.  Hopefully in heaven someday...)

Isn't God good?  Answering prayers--the big ones and small ones.  He is just so wonderful!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Here at our house, we homeschool.  I know, it's not such a big deal these days.  Lots and lots of people homeschool.  We have plenty of friends who make it a way of life like we do.  But just in case you are not one of those people, you might be curious about what exactly homeschooling looks like.  And you might think we are crazy for doing it.  And...sometimes I think you would be right. : )

It's different for every family, and that's the beauty of it.  We can choose the best curriculum that fits our child.  If something is not working, we can change it.  (Wouldn't mainstream teachers love it if they had the freedom to do that?!)  If our child does not understand something, we do not have to move on until they do.  We sit at the table and work with them until they understand.  There is a one to three teacher/student ratio here.  There is no pressure to get a good grade.  They are not doing it for grades, they are doing it simply to learn.  There is no comparing themselves to other kids, no advanced or not so advanced reading groups.  No labeling.  There are no bullies.  They do not have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus.  They don't have hours of homework in the afternoon, so that there is hardly any time to play.  They have more time to be creative!  Do they play with other kids??  YES!  They play with neighborhood friends every day, and they also do extra curricular activities like basketball, softball, sign language class, gymnastics, art, and others.  They get to spend lots of time with the family, strengthening those bonds (and learning how to get along with each other because they are forced to!)  We can teach our kids our values, and we spend time doing things like singing together and learning Bible verses.  It sounds nice, doesn't it??  Well it is........

But, nothing is perfect, and we don't live in heaven yet. : )  Our kids find seat work horribly boring, there are bad attitudes and complaining around here (that we are constantly trying to keep in check), I have a busy three year old running around, it's difficult to get everything in my day done, and on and on it goes.  Too many days, especially this crazy year, I relied way too much on workbooks, simply because I was not here a whole lot.  The kids did get bored with school. 

However, I'm trying to make up for lost time.  We just finished a unit on geology.  One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that I get to learn everything all over again!  I love it!!  And truth be told, a lot of things the kids and I learn, I don't think I ever went into much depth at all when I was in school, if we learned it at all, so it's totally new and fresh to me.  Anyway, we did some fun things with this unit, so I thought I would share some of the high-lights with you.

Sometimes, you have to teach something that you really don't know much about, and there is only so much you can learn from textbooks and library books.  I don't know a whole lot about rocks and minerals!  So, my wonderful friend, Julie, just happened to study geology in college, and has a degree in education to boot!  So, she graciously came to our house, brought her stuff, and taught my kids about rocks.  How awesome is that?

We learned about different ways you can test to identify minerals.  Believe it or not, one way is tasting, in some circumstances!  This one is halite (aka salt)  : )  You can see Ben loved it.

Here the kids are learning that pumice, an igneous rock, floats!  It was Sarah's very favorite one!

One awesome thing about homeschooling is that the kids can learn together, and help each other learn.  I love it. 

We spent some time learning about volcanoes, and yes, we made one!  Notice it's not very high tech, and I do not claim to be crafty, but we did it, and it was fun!  (Even our lava was green because I did not have red food coloring on hand.  Of course I didn't.)

Another great thing about homeschooling is that you can stop what you are doing, and learn about something that's going on in current events.  We took some time to learn about earthquakes following the disaster in Japan.  Here the boys are experimenting with different building styles, and seeing which ones stand up to some shaking the best.  And earthquakes also happen to fall into the geology category, so that was a bonus.  (By the way, you will notice a pattern of one or more kids wearing pajamas in these pictures.  Well, didn't you know that p.j.'s are the homeschool uniform??)

We learned about seismographs, and made our own....

And for our final geology test, we decided to have some fun.  We had a gameshow and dressed up like Flintstones characters!  Here is our Pebbles. : )  (Notice that fantastic pony tail?  I snatched that up at the dollar store!)

Our contestants were, from left to right, Fred, Dino, Barney, and of course, Pebbles.  Our show was called, "Who Wants to be a Geologist?"  They did really great, and it was a very close game!  Lots of candy and money was awarded!  (Well, "lots" being a relative term, of course.)

And you don't recognize the famous gameshow host?  It's Howie Gill-Stone, of course.  : )  (I can't believe I am posting this on a public blog...)

For our final treat, we had this delicious ice cream volcano, created by my talented husband! 

See how well the boys learned?  They know how serious volcanoes can be!

They are really, really concerned!

And they told Sarah about the calamity at hand.  She is obviously very troubled by it too!

So, there you have it...a behind the scenes look into homeschooling!  (But don't let all those last, fun pictures fool you.  We even had real life show up at our fun little game show--one boy ended up in tears because he hurt his hand slapping the bell as hard as he could while his brother was trying to do the same...  It's never perfect, but we do the best we can... and it's fun! : )  I wouldn't give up homeschooling for anything!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Laura Story -- Blessings

A friend of mine on facebook posted this song, and I just loved it so much I wanted to share it with you in case you haven't heard it yet.  So potent and beautiful, and absolutely true.

We pray for blessings,
We pray for peace.
Comfort for family,
Protection while we sleep.

We pray for healing,
For prosperity.
We pray for Your mighty hand
To ease our suffering.

And all the while
You hear each spoken need,
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know you’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom,
Your voice to hear.
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near.

We doubt Your goodness,
We doubt Your love,
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough.

And all the while, You hear each desperate plea,
and long that we’d have faith to believe.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know you’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us,
When darkness seems to win,
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not--
This is not our home.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know you’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life--
The rain,
The storms,
The hardest nights,

Are your mercies in disguise?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Normal stuff, and an update about Micah

First of all, if you are wondering what's new with us...nothing much.   : )  We are excited it is almost SPRING,!  Cassandra is working, working, working, the bigger boys are playing homeschool basketball, the littlest boy is in gymnastics (and no, it is not girly....)  He LOVES it, and he is really, really good at it, and Sarah is a wrecking ball--getting into everything she can get her little hands on, and making our house a mess every single day.  : )  And you know what?  I love it!  Seeing her trail of odds and ends everywhere around the house just reminds me that we are spending lots and lots of time at HOME.  God is so good.  Even messes are a blessing.  However,  I'm not sure what it is, but our little sweetie is becoming little Miss Whiny more often these days.  Yeah...we are nipping this new pastime in the bud, because whininess is one little habit that drives me up the wall.  I guess we are all sinners at heart.  Even our precious Sarah.

" some paint on my sleeve, Mom."  : )

Well, she's a keeper when she's sweetly painting, and when she is not so sweetly whining.  So very thankful for every single day!  And check out that head of hair!  I went out and got some supplies to make some pretty headbands today. : )

Secondly, a friend of mine who reads my blog called me the other day to ask some questions about little Micah, so I thought I would clarify some things for others who might be wondering.

I copied this bit of info from a post written by a family member:

 The type of liver cancer Micah has is called natal hepatoblastoma.  Only about one hundred children in the United States are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year.  Most cases occur in children between the ages of two months and three years old. Seventy percent of the liver tumors are not diagnosed until the cancer has progressed to stage three or four.  Only one to two percent of cancers in children are liver cancer.  This specific cancer is so rare that very few studies have been done to find causes of the disease.

Micah's mom told me that the biggest scare is not necessarily the cancer that is in the liver, since surgery or a liver transplant could be possible.  What is most concerning are the spots on the lungs.  She said that they are going to treat the tumors with chemo, but if they do not all go away, Micah will not be able to get a liver transplant, since they will not give a healthy liver to a child with sick lungs.  I do not know if there would be a plan B if the chemo does not take care of those tumors in the lungs, so that is a huge prayer request!

Steve and Elizabeth are doing really well.  They are handling this with faith and trust in God, and He is rewarding them with the supernatural peace that I know so well.  God truly does give us the grace to get through the circumstances He brings into our lives.  Life on this earth is just plain hard sometimes, but God is only good, and He loves to show us who He really is.  Please continue to pray for them.  It truly does make all the difference!

Micah made it through the rough week, and now he's been resting. They have weaned him off the ventilator, and he only needs a little oxygen now. They are going to let him rest and get stronger through the weekend, and then they plan to start chemo on Monday.  We are continuing to pray for a miracle for him!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I would like to introduce you to a sweet boy named Micah.

Micah is 2 years old.  Two years and five months, actually.  The same age Sarah was when she was diagnosed with cancer last year.  He and his family are members of our church, and his mom, Elizabeth, is a friend of mine.  Elizabeth and her husband have three precious kids--Ben is five.  He was in my 3-4 year old class at church, and he is probably one of the most adorable, sweetest children on the planet, hands down.  Micah I don't know as well, since he was never in my class, but he is very sweet and quiet, and adorable as well, as you can see.  They also have a baby girl, five months old.  She is honestly one of the prettiest babies anywhere!  Elizabeth is one of those creative and crafty people you wish you could be like.  I saw pictures of cupcakes she made, with each one decorated as a different Toy Story character.  ALL of the characters.  They were amazing!  And she can sew.  She made Mr. Incredible costumes for each member of her family at halloween time.  The cutest things you ever saw! AND, the last wedding shower I went to, her gift was this wedding cake...made of TOWELS, and decorated really cute.  I have no idea how she even assembled the thing.  She is one of those people! 

Anyway, she and her husband are wonderful people and terrific parents.  Just a little background on this family to file away before I tell you what kind of a week they've been having.

Micah had been not eating well at all for a few weeks, and he had a fever that kept spiking.  After some bloodwork and different doctors putting pieces of the puzzle together, they ran some tests and found that he has stage 4 cancer of the liver and lungs.  About 90% of his liver is filled with a malignant tumor, and he has around twenty cancerous spots in each of his lungs.  The amazing thing is that his liver is working miraculously well at only 10% capacity, and he is not having trouble breathing at all.  The doctors are amazed.

They just found out all of this this past  Saturday, so this is all still fresh and shocking.  Scott and I went to visit with them at the hospital Monday night, since we are all too familiar with how they are feeling right now.  Yesterday things got scarier, however, as Micah went in for more tests, and he was bleeding from his liver.  I am not sure if this bleeding was already happening, or if it was a result of the testing, but it would not stop bleeding.  They could have lost him right there, but God intervened, and thankfully they got him stabilized.  Even now he is stable, but still in critical condition in the ICU.

Our friends are handling this as well as they can.  They have peace that God is in control, although of course it is difficult.

It's so strange to me that in our relatively small church within a year's time, two toddlers almost exactly the same age were diagnosed with cancer.  We never know exactly why we have to go through certain things, but I am happy that we have already walked this cancer road, and we are able to walk through it with our friends, knowing to some extent what they are going through.  I hope and pray that we will be able to be an encouragement to them.

Please pray for sweet little Micah!  He really needs a miracle, and God can certainly give him one!  We have seen Him do wonders in  Sarah's life, and we are waiting to watch Him do them again.  The name of Micah's Carepage is "Watch Him Work."  I love that! 

Thanks for praying, friends. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Our new normal...

This morning Sarah and I went to see Dr. Aaberg, the eye cancer specialist.  I was excited to take her, since she is doing so well, and her hair is growing, and she has her new eye.  She kept saying she was going to show Dr. Aaberg her "new, pretty eye."  : )  Here are some of the things we hear when we visit the surgery center on these appointment days...

"Is that Sarah?!  I would know that voice anywhere!"

"I am so happy to see you!"

"Sarah, did you know that when I see your name on the schedule for the day, it makes me happy?  You make me happy in my heart!"

"Sarah! I've missed you!!"

Now, if you got this kind of a welcome when you went to the doctor, wouldn't you want to go back there too?  : ) 

The staff at the surgery center see patients of all ages, and probably not too many children.  So, Sarah is really special to them.  Her picture was in the paper a few months back, and they clipped it and hung it up on their bulletin board.  Most of the nurses are grandma ages, so they just love to eat Sarah up.  We love all of them, too!

Sarah has to go back and get eye exams under sedation, now only every two months, to check and make sure everything is still free and clear in there.  And praise the Lord, everything IS!  Every time it's time to go in for one of these check-ups, I get a little nervous, and when he comes out and tells me all is well, it's almost like getting the good news all over again.  I feel like singing all the way home!  (And I do.  Loudly!) 

So now, we are settled into the "after cancer" routine.  Basically this routine is all about NOTHING cancer related. : )  No medicine, no tubees drinks, no being careful about not breaking the tubees, no spending all day at clinic appointments, no sponge baths (Splash away, baby!)  I honestly thought I would miss going to clinic somewhat.  But guess what?  I don't!  I do miss the nurses and staff sometimes.  You really do get attached to some people...but overall, life is just really good without cancer being in it.  We are so thankful, and I NEVER take normal life for granted anymore! 

Oh, in case you are wondering...even though the rest of us are completely content with medical thoughts not even on our radar most days, Sarah still continues to spend most of her time wearing her doctor suit, giving froggy hugs to people, putting on and taking off rubber gloves, and giving tubees drinks to her stuffed animals.  The girl has the medical field in her blood.  And she still talks about going to clinic just about every day.  Poor just isn't as fun as it used to be for her...; )

Thursday, March 3, 2011


We are HOME!

We actually got home on Sunday, but I have been too busy/too tired to blog since then.  But I am so excited to tell you about our amazing trip!!

I had been praying about this vacation to Florida for a long time...probably since we knew for sure we were going, months and months ago.  I prayed for good health mostly--for Sarah and for everyone.  I just wanted this trip to be a blessing from top to bottom after this crazy year we had.  And God delivered in a big way!

First of all, we drove down there.  We live about a 21 hour drive away--with stops, the total travel time for us was 24 hours.  We did it in two driving days.  The first blessing was that seven of us smooshed in the van survived the drive only a little worse for wear!   No one threw up, and I am very thankful.  : ) 

The next blessing was where we stayed.  My wonderful in-laws rent a house near Orlando every winter for a couple of months.  This time they picked a 4 bedroom one with plenty of room for us to spread out.  Scott and I had our own beautiful room with a big, private bath.  There was a heated pool and a hot tub in the backyard.  It was so wonderful!!  Sarah had an absolute blast jumping in that pool!  She is fearless in  the water, and I know she will be swimming for real in no time.

 First, she played in the tub while the pool was heating up.

 Hanging out at the pool..

 Ready to jump...

 No fear!

 JUMP!!  (She wanted to do this all day...Daddy is such a good sport.)  : )


Yea, Grandpa!

I could post so many more pictures on here of swimming in the "cool."  She had the time of her life. : )

The day after we arrived, I was so nervous because two of the boys were showing symptoms of being sick.  Jacob and Josh had head-aches, ear-aches, sore throats and slight fevers.  RIGHT OFF THE BAT!  I was picturing a week or more of laying around the house, but instead, I prayed!!  I prayed and prayed, and believed that God would not let that happen on this trip I'd been praying about for months. 

And He did not let that happen!  The boys both got better, lickety split.  Praise the Lord!  That was the next huge blessing.  And then we did lots of things...

We caught a lizard and named him "Geico."  And Ben practically adopted the little thing.

We wore pretty dresses and played...

We went for walks because it was warm outside...

We hung out at Downtown Disney..

 and saw alligators and 97 year old toroises at Gatorland!

 We enjoyed time together as a family...

We saw cool things!

 And we played golf. : )

 We went to Medieval Times...

And really loved it...

and the amazing Cirque du Soleil!

 And we ended it all by spending the day at the beach!

We even got to see the last launch of the Space shuttle Discovery from a distance!

The last blessing was that we got to stay with one of my dear friends and her family on the way down, and a different dear friend and her family on the way back.  Doubly wonderful!  And, we made it back safely, once again all smooshed in the car...a little more smooshed because I also got some great shopping deals, and the kids got a little spoiled by Grandma and Grandpa...with no problems. : )

We did and saw more on this trip than I could have dreamed of.  God was so good to us.  Thank you also to my precious mom and dad in law who did so much for us and helped us make a million memories on this vacation.  It was just such an all around beautiful blessing!

I will bless the Lord at all times:  His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  Psalm 34:1