And we're off

Tomorrow is the day that we begin our trip to China!   We are leaving home a couple days early to drive our kids to our friends house and get them settled in, then we're off to the City we're we'll catch our flight to Beijing on Friday morning.  We're scheduled to meet Elijah, after we fly to his province on Sunday.  It will be Saturday night back home when we will meet our son.  That meeting will also be "gotcha day" and he will leave with us.  The next day we will return to the office to finish up the official adoption paperwork and he will be legally our son on Jan. 29th.

I can't believe we're finally at this point in the process!  It used to seem like SO far away.  Such a victorious end to a years worth of working, trusting, praying, and pursuing the adoption of our son.

We are so thankful.

It all feels kind of surreal and I know it will sink in once we're on the plane headed to China.
It will be really hard to say goodbye to our kids.   I know they're all in good hands, but it still feels like a long time.  They are all very excited to meet their new brother.

I don't think I'll be able to blog while we're away, I'm not sure what our internet situation will be but Aili said she'll update and post some pics while I'm gone.  I'll have lots of adventures and pictures to share once we get back...although I suspect time will be in shorter supply.


Big Changes...and what comes next

There are going to be some BIG changes for our little guy.

A week from now we'll be getting acquainted with our new son  (How awesome is that?!)  At the same time we are saying hello to him,  he will be saying goodbye.  A new life for all of us begins.

When I think about that day it's mixed with both longing and excitement, as well as some sadness for my little boy. No parent wants to see their child hurting, or afraid.  It makes me ache just thinking about it.  In a matter of just a few minutes his life will change drastically.


This time he will have the love and comfort of a Mommy and Daddy to help him through grief and transition, but it will still be hard. Our love may be of little value to him in the beginning.

He has very little concept of all that he is gaining through his adoption into a family, but he will be keenly aware of what he is losing...anything he has known.


His world that he has known for 6 years will change.  He will be joined to two people who he has seen in pictures, whom he calls "mama" and "baba"... but who are essentially strangers who speak a strange language, and who do everything different than he is used to.

We will be with him in China for nearly two weeks.  That will give us some time to form the beginnings of a bond with him...just Mama, Baba and Elijah.  Judging by our itinerary it will also be a busy, hectic, travelling around doing touristy stuff, time.   I don't know yet if keeping busy will be a good distraction from his loneliness and will be great fun.. or if it will just be overwhelming for him and us.  I guess we'll find out.  I suspect it will be exhausting either way...physically and emotionally.

Coming home will be amazing and victorious...as well as the accumulation of two weeks of exhaustion, travel, and jet lag.  I should probably apologize to any friends and family who show up at the airport now...I quite possibly will be in an emotional zombie-like state and entirely focused on reuniting with my kids, introducing them to their brother, and possibly comforting an exhausting overwhelmed little boy.   If I don't get a chance to greet you...I'm sorry, please know that I do very much appreciate you celebrating with us and I ask for your grace.

Then begins our new life.

Our little boy will need to learn what a forever family is, and that we won't leave him.  After 7 major care-giver/ location changes (that we are aware of) in his 6 yr long life.... permanency is a completely foreign concept.  It could take years of trust building for him to feel that security.

Building a secure attachment will take some major effort.  It will be the focus of most everything we do with him in the months and years to come.    He will naturally have some insecure attachment issues, quite possibly even an "attachment disorder"  resulting from his past traumas, neglect, and caregiver losses.  That can be a major challenge.  Of course I'm praying that he will accept our love, and feel secure in that right away ...but that would be nothing short of a miracle.

In order to help him through the things he will need to work through and heal, we will need to parent him differently than we do our biological kids or well attached adopted daughter. There are things that we do as parents that may seem entirely counter-intuitive, backwards, or strange to casual observers...but after much reading, studying, and seeking out the advice of parents who are parenting children with attachment disorders, or pasts that contain trauma we know this will take some effort, and the parenting techniques used may seem odd.  I know we will be learning as we go.

I'm not sure how much "cocooning" we will do (the term used for basically hermitting the family for the first little while, to provide a foundation of routine, familiarity, and an understanding of who belongs in the immediate family unit).  Our life is pretty slow paced, and home based anyhow so our coming and going might not change all that much.  I suspect we'll carrying on with life as usual within a week or so of our return home (we'll play that by ear).   I think we'll go raving mad if we're cooped up at home too long.

The important thing is for him to understand who his primary caregivers are...that we are his parents, through the good, bad and ugly.  For a kid who has had multiple different foster parents and orphanage 'caregivers' this can be harder concept to grasp than one might think.

Building security is our first priority, that will include not leaving him anywhere (babysitter, family, church class, camp, school) for a little while (or as long as necessary) , he will be our Velcro child, where we go he will go too.

While we will be pushing him forwards physically and advocating for him to get the medical care and physical therapy he needs...it may look like we are "babying him" in other areas as we seek to fill in some gaps and meet his emotional needs.

We will be teaching him one day at a time that we will consistently meet his needs, that he won't go hungry, that we won't forget about him, that we won't leave without him, and that we won't hurt him.

 One way that our friends and family can help us with that nurturing is to allow us to be the only ones to take care of any of his physical needs and emotional comfort.  As much as I know so many people are waiting to love on our boy...and as much as we LOVE that...we need to establish that trust with him first before we widen our caregiver circle too much.  Of course we welcome your love, prayers and support in so many other practical ways as we figure out our new "normal".

Thankyou to everyone, all our family, friends, church, and even a few strangers, who have helped to bring our son home...and prayed for us along the way.  This child is such a blessing, and we are so thankful that the Lord has brought him to us.

Please keep Elijah in your prayers this week, that the Holy Spirit would prepare his heart for the upcoming change and for the courage to risk loving again.  Also for safety next weekend as he travels about 8 hours on some treacherous mountain highways to come meet us in Guiyang.

Thankyou so much for standing, and kneeling, with us....and for your patience and grace with our family as we navigate all the changes ahead.



 Here is a glimpse of Silas' 6th Birthday fiesta,

although they don't quite capture the deafening intensity of 8 partying five and six year old's.

We had a good mix of boys and girls.

The little girls gravitated toward the pink bedroom to play house and bake cookies...
and the little boys did some pretty impressive ninja moves off of the couch.

Sticking with our Mexican theme, we served quesadillas for supper.

A couple of the kids were even brave enough to go all out Mexican with the hot sauce.

I have a dream that someday, at some birthday, Silas won't cover his ears when people sing "Happy Birthday" to him.

He tolerates it just enough to get to the cake part.

No fiesta is complete without a pinata.

I now have 2 six year olds!  

...and this fancy piece of paper that came in the mail yesterday says "come and get him"..well maybe not in those exact words, but it is our notice of travel, the final piece of paper we need to go and get our son.  

One week from today I'll be able to kiss those sweet cheeks.  


I'm going to miss this girl...

My girly girl with a flair all her own.

I sure do love my Miss Cece.

"helping" mommy make birthday cake

It's going to be hard to leave her for 2 weeks!  

I'll end with a Cece story.  Today I followed a strong smell of nail polish to the basement where Cece had pulled out her big sisters nail polish box and helped herself.  She carefully painted each one of her fingers (she was generous enough to have the whole ends of all her fingers painted) with about 4 different colors of paint.  She looked up at me smiling, various colors streaked across her dress (the play dress pictured above that she wore for three days), lipstick all around her mouth, and multi colored hands..."SURPRISE!"..."SO PRETTY!".....amazingly she got none on the carpet. 

I'm going to miss this girl.


6 years with Silas

6 years since  
this little boy came into the outside world.  

6 seems like the end of the "little" and the beginning of the "big" kid phase.  sigh.
Although it's crazy to see my last tummy "baby" grow up so fast I can't say I'm going to miss his preschool years too much.   He was my most docile, happy, and angelic baby (after he got past his fierce colic) but by about 2 1/2 ..wow.   Life has been an adventure.  

Silas' preschool years have been intense.   
He has a way of making simple things very very complicated.  He is opposite of "go with the flow".

little by little this boy is growing up...
and I'm starting to see the traits that were so challenging being matured into an enjoyable little personality.  I'm noticing traits that were once the cause of nuclear meltdowns now being used as assets.  I'm really enjoying being his mom, rather than just surviving being his mom. 
Of course I've always loved him to bits.

His ability to focus very intently, notice details that others miss, and see the world from a different perspective is pretty amazing now that he's a school boy.    

He is loving being in Kindergarten and in an actual classroom ( I'm homeschooing 2 and 1 is in public school.), he thrives on the structure, routine, and predictability.   He's really thriving this year...which is so great to see. 

He is literal, logical, silly, and smart.   He has an unbelievable memory for detail.  He reminds me of things, events, and details from things I have long forgotten...or never noticed in the first place.  He informs me that "I have the best memory in the family"..
and quite often tells me that "you just don't understand Science".   Fair enough.

He really loved our time in Mexico, which was surprising because the year before he was confused, and mostly miserable the whole time.  Maybe he liked it this year because it was familiar to him and he had so many memories from the year before.  Either way it was a great experience for him...it stretched his empathy muscles and broadened his slightly narrow perspective a wee bit. I think he mostly just liked the chili candies.

This boy has such a sweet gentle nurturing side to him.  It's mostly reserved for babies and little people.  He adores his little sister.  She taps into a place into his heart and brings out a side of him that the rest of the world rarely sees.  He would do anything for her.  

I asked Silas what kind of birthday he wanted to have.  Without hesitation he insisted a "Mexico Birthday Party"...with a Mexico cake and decorations.   His birthday has been the topic of every conversation with him for the last week...and actually much of the last year.  He has had trouble sleeping for days just thinking about it...so this scatter brained mom had better not disappoint.   He even made pictograph lists for me to follow...that included a schedule of events, what the decorations should be like, and how everything was going to happen. 

So I need to go get off of the computer and finish my cactus cake. 

He  told me today after I told him he was our little town's "New Years Baby" of 2007, that he is now the "New years boy" and "someday when I grow up I'll be the New Years Daddy...because once you're a New Years kid you're always a New Years kid...until you're a grown up then you're a New Years grown up".

so there you have it.  Silas claim to fame forever.  
Happy Birthday my New Years baby.  


Last week at home

So, if all goes as planned in the next several days, this will be our last full week at home.  My days are pretty intentional and busy right now, which is inevitable.  I guess the good thing is it keeps me from sitting and watching my clock, willing the days to go by.

I'm mostly finished packing, and accumulating supplies,  for the three of us who will be in China (Me, my hubby, and our new son)...the rest of the kids I'll pack for just before we leave.  They'll be going to some friends of ours so their packing will be pretty basic.

I've been trying to make up a few meals to have in my freezer for when we get back.  I did that while waiting for Silas to make his appearance 6 years ago too and it was nice to have.  With foster babies I didn't ever have more than a days notice so there really wasn't any prep time other than stuffing some things into a diaper bag and putting in an extra car seat.   I know making meals of substance will be the last thing I feel like doing once we get our son home.  I suspect my time will be better spent in the rocking chair bonding with my new child, or reconnecting with kids we haven't seen in two weeks once we get home.  I have the suspicion we'll be exhausted and jet lagged the first few days too.  Trying my best to think ahead. 

{some sort of turkey casserole}

A camera crew invaded our home this past weekend.  Or rather, our good friends, lugging their equipment came and set up in our house for the afternoon on Saturday.  They recruited Roman to be the microphone guy for a while. 

These guys have some crazy talent at making video stories.  I'm so excited that they're using their gifts and talent to capture some of our adoption journey.  I really don't know what the finished product will be like but I do know it will make much of Jesus and his gospel, it will be awesome (based on past projects of theirs), and it will be used as part of a video testimony with our church {Grace Fellowship}.  I'm excited to see what the finished product is! ..although it's not likely to be done until Spring.  It will likely be a few hours of footage cropped down into a few minutes of story, so I have no idea what will be in it and what will be cropped out but I trust their creative expertise completely.  It's their project, I'm just excited that some of our story and homecoming will be captured by something other than a phone camera.

  It was REALLY awkward to be in front of a video camera, under hot lights, being asked deep theological  questions.  At least they can edit out the parts where I looked like a deer in the head lights.  

I love this technological age we, by the providence of God, live in.   There are so many ways to use the Church's talents, resources, gifts, and voice for God's glory and to bear witness His faithfulness.   There is so much goodness to proclaim as we are humbled continually by God's amazing grace!  This God who takes a wretch like me, entitled to nothing that belongs to him, and makes me his own treasure.  
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished  upon us , in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.   In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will..."  Ephesians 1: 3-11

Adoption was always part of God's good plan.   Our adopting of orphaned and abandoned children only just mirrors in a small way what God has done for us.  Simply the overflow of a transformed and thankful heart!

{we all had fun sharing a couple meals, and some play time together }

In just two weeks we'll be hanging out with this little guy in our hotel room in China.  
In just 9 days we'll be leaving home with all our suitcases in tow.

"Shout for joy, O heavens; 
rejoice, O earth;
burst into song, O mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people 
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones." Isaiah 49:13

"I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you" John 14: 18



The count down has officially begun.   In two weeks we will be on the road, dropping off kids, and then flying out.

Only a couple weeks until I will hold my sweet boy in my arms.  He will be our son for always.

The last few days I've been swinging between nagging fear and giddy excitement.  My fears have mostly consisted of all the "what ifs" , feeling inadequate, and pondering all the things that could go wrong.  It's been pretty ugly actually.   I needed a good Holy Spirit smack upside the head.  Seriously.   I'm not a worrier or prone to anxiety but I was kind of derailed for a couple days.
"What if I lose all the documents?"  "What if I can't handle another child?"  "What if he hates me?"   "What if all my kids hate me?" "What if I end up hating everyone?"  "What if I ruin my family?".....I told you it was getting ugly.

I have read enough about the realities of older child adoptions to know that this will be no cake walk.  It will be a challenge.  I know nothing about raising a child with significant disabilities...especially one that comes as a 6 year old.

So there you have it.  Fear.  Paralyzing.  Crippling.  Shaking in my marching boots, even as I keep walking forward.

Thankfully, after much prayer, and preaching the gospel to myself, and allowing some truths to sink in....I got that Holy Spirit smack down I needed.  So thankful for God's grace, and invitation to repent of trying to take back the reigns.

I feel much more at peace....and very super excited to go and meet my son.  I CANNOT WAIT!

I know this trip, and every day after, is not going to be all sunshine and cupcakes.

There will be beauty in witnessing a life being restored and amazing blessings in our own life...but I know that what the Lord calls us to is never easy, never without sacrifice...but in that struggle is joy.   A joy and peace that comes with being completely dependent on God's mercies and sustenance.
 I know that I am weak.   I have no doubts that this will be "more than I can handle".
BUT  I know the One who is strong. This is his work because this is his little boy.

Where we so painfully lack, God will be filling in the cracks with his grace and sufficiency.

As we work through our "to-do" lists of preparation and packing I have a few specifics that you can join in prayer with us for, if you desire to.

- That God would continue to prepare Elijah's heart for the big change (=trauma) that lies ahead for him.  I hurt just to think of how hard it will be for him to be uprooted again.  He has bonded well with his most recent foster parents, and although that is a very good sign, there will be grief involved.  Poor guy has had too many moves already.

-  Leaving our kids for two weeks is really hard.  We've never left them for that long before.  We are very happy with the arrangements we have for them and know without a doubt they'll be well cared for...but it will still be hard for them and us I suspect.

- We are waiting on a final document from China.  It sounds crazy but actually a good number of our agency's Jan. travel group is also waiting on the same final travel document....so I guess it's not that unusual. Our agency has our tickets booked and everything.  I will just breath a LOT easier when I have that "TA" in my hands. I'm trying not to freak out.  We have our final approval but this is the travel invitation from China that we must take to exchange for our son.  No TA no child. Kind of a big deal.

- That all the little final details would come together without massive stress (melt downs, bleeding ulcers, psychotic episodes etc).  Peace...I need to keep peace, and rest in God's faithfulness.

- Health for our family.  We are on the home stretch, sprinting into the finish of this process...and a house full of sickies would really suck.

- Our marriage.  All that lies ahead is going to be taxing for us, and this month hasn't been our strongest in the marriage area.

This whole process has been a series of crazy miracles, and unlikely circumstances.  It has been a struggle and it has been an amazing victory.  It has been a battle grounded in fervent prayer....and we really need prayers to continue on our behalf.   The battle for this little boy is far from over.

We are trusting that in just a couple weeks we will be on our way!  I can hardly believe that we're at this point.  After so much dreaming and waiting....we get to go and bring him home.

We're coming little man.   You are so very very loved already.



Yesterday was my Grandpa's memorial service.  I really wasn't looking forward to it but 
 the day came anyway.  
As I rushed to get kids dressed, ironed little boy shirts and dug through drawers for little girl tights, 
I tried to stuff it down.
As I looked over the pictures posted on the walls, and sung "Great is Thy Faithfulness" ...I fought to keep it in.  Little bits overflowed into my eyes  and dripped out my nose, it stung my throat, and it made me feel like my heart was in a lime squeeze...but I breathe deep.  In and out.  Blink it back.  Hold it in until my head hurts from the effort.  A gentle socially acceptable dabbing of the eyes while deep inside me broke a keening wail.  Sack cloth and ashes.  A flood of tears that if unleashed would be entirely embarrassing and just might never end. 

My Grandpa was a lot of things to a lot of people.  A son, a brother, a husband, a dad, a grandpa and great grandpa.  An uncle, a cousin and a friend.  They all new him as a man who was full of charisma, and life, and ambition.  He worked the land, he loved to sing, he loved his family, and he loves Jesus.  

I just knew him as Grandpa.
Larger than life, throwing me up to the sky, arms wrapped around me making me feel safe Grandpa.

{Violet and Lawrence Wallis - married for 64 years.}

{I think my Grandpa and Grandma look like 1940's movie stars in this picture}

He had five strapping brothers and one little sister, and was the last one living.  My grandpa is the boy furthest to the right in the above photo.  One of his brothers, the one closest to him in age and his childhood playmate, was killed by lightening as a young boy while out working in the field.    

This is my absolute favorite picture of them.  I like it because this is exactly how I knew them.  My Grandpa in his greasy coveralls, my Grandma in her flowered dress and the striped sweater she wore for years.  This is the house that I spent so much of my childhood in.  In fact my husband and I even lived in their basement for the first year of our marriage. 

Growing up I lived only a few miles from them, close enough I could ride my bike to their house at the farm.   My Dad spent his days feeding cows in this farm yard, as a teenager I joined the seasonal work crew, and later my husband joined the Wallis farm as well.  So much of my life is here...with them. 

I loved to stay over and spend the night, and sometimes even go on little trips with them.  I remember being a tiny little girl and crawling into their bed..squeezing myself right in between them.  They never kicked me out.  When I woke up I would always find Grandpa sitting at the breakfast table with his bowl of steaming cooked grain porridge, and the smell of toast in the air, reading his worn edged Bible.  I can picture his gigantic farmer hands, permanently marred and scarred by years of hard work, folded in prayer.   
That left it's mark on me.
I loved his hands.  I even love that he was missing two of his fingers.  As a little girl, he would let me play with the "tree stumps" left where his fingers once were before grain auger got to them. 

One time when I had been too mischievous I felt that giant hand across my rear end.  

He was as strong as an oak, and nearly as tall.  

 I used to pretend I liked watching hockey on the TV just so I could curl up on his lap in his big armchair. 

A couple months before his death, I scooted a metal hospital chair up next to his wheelchair and sat knee to knee with him.  I held his frail hands in mine and ran my hands over his fingers  like I have since I was a child.  He could no longer walk, or hear my words, but he smiled and told me how happy he was that I was there to sit with him...so we sat, for hours we sat.  He ate cherries, and I caught the pits. He ate his lunch on the tray.  I assured him that I didn't need any of his potatoes or jello and that I would eat later.  Before I left he folded my hands into his and we prayed.   He struggled to hear my words, and he struggled to find his words...but Jesus heard us both.   

As he lay dying, after yet another stroke, I held his hand in mine once again and said goodbye.  His eyes opened and he knew.  He couldn't make words, but he looked at me and said goodbye with his eyes.  I knew better things were coming very soon for him.  

In the last years of his life he talked a lot about wanting a "legacy".  Maybe because he had spent so much of his life working, building up the farm, and saving money... and then realized that those things are ultimately temporal.   I'm not quite sure what sparked legacy obsession toward the end of his life.  I guess looming mortality puts things into perspective.

Beyond working a farm that is now 100 years old, and that is still being worked by his son and grand son-in-law....he has another legacy that will last.

He has 3 children,  12 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren. 

He has passed on his love of music and singing.  
He has passed on his physical features, height and strength.  

Even buttermilk.

{Roman taking part in a "buttermilk toast" in honor of Grandpa's regular consumption of buttermilk.} 

He passed on his love of Jesus, and a life lived joyfully embracing God's amazing grace.  

He may have even passed on his over-zealous ambition and accident prone-ness.

Grandpa your legacy lives on. 
I see your life and humor in these two little boys.

and their future looks bright.

As hard as the day was, it really was great to get together with so many extended family, and friends and all my siblings and their kids.

My Mom and Dad (Lawrence's only son) and their 6 "kids".  

One branch of grandpa's family tree...with lots of new little twigs.

I'm really going to miss you Grandpa.  
You were a blessing to so many people and I am so thankful to have had a Grandpa like you.  You have taught me so much through your humble, God fearing, hard working, church singing, friend embracing, family-man life.  
I smile when I think of you singing with the angels and saints before the throne of our King Jesus. 

Until we meet again...
I love you. 

"When I go, don't cry for me

In my Father's arms I'll be

The wounds this world left on my soul

Will all be healed and I'll be whole.

Sun and moon will be replaced

With the light of Jesus' face

And I will not be ashamed

For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,

I'll be home and I'll be free.

It don't matter where I lay,

All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye

Temporary riches lie

Come and eat from heaven's store,

Come and drink, and thirst no more

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again."