Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Wonderful Christmas Surprise

This Christmas Eve day seemed to be like most others- we celebrated Shelby's 13th birthday, prepared for Christmas lunch since we were hosting this year, and other typical activities for the day before Christmas. However, this Christmas Eve ended up being a day that I will never forget and not just because I became a mom to my first teenager :) I share this story in hopes that you will be encouraged and inspired.

The doorbell rang around 3:30, and I couldn't imagine who it was since grandparents and aunts and uncles had already visited Shelby on her special day. I opened the door to find a friend, her parents, and her sister-n-law along with their husbands and children. I asked if they were carolers, and her mom began to sing but then explained that they did not come as carolers. Feeling very curious at that point, I listened carefully as my friend's sister-n-law began to speak. She explained that each year they forgo giving gifts to each other so that they can bless someone in need. She proceeded to say that after reading our blog and learning of our fundraising efforts to help bring Hudson home, the 3 families decided that they wanted to bless us this Christmas with a monetary gift for "Hudson's Adoption Fund". I was in tears by this point as were all 3 of the women. I was . . . speechless. . shocked. . .amazed. . could this really be happening to me??? I have read where other adoptive families have been blessed in similar ways, but I truly never expected it to happen to our family. Quickly I began to offer my sincere gratitude for their kindness and generosity. What a blessing. . . what a wonderful feeling to be the recipient of such love- the love of Christ displayed through the thoughtfulness of others. I truly felt God's presence at my front door.

David was inside as his brother and family were visiting Shelby for her birthday. We all met inside our foyer and began to open the envelopes. There were 3 beautiful Christmas cards with such encouraging sentiments written inside. The children were doing the math as I was trying to compose myself. . .as the children said the total out loud, I began to cry joyful tears again. How could this be? I honestly do not recall another time in my life where I have received such a wonderful gift in a most unexpected and surprising way. A gift given from the hearts of 3 families who love the Lord and who obviously believe that it is truly better to give than to receive. Praise His name.

As I reflected on this gift and its perfect timing- the day before Christmas, I thought of a baby in a manger. . . another gift that was undeserved, a gift that took many by surprise although it had been prophesied for thousands of years, a gift that could not be repaid. I'm so thankful to call Him my Lord and my Saviour and so thankful that He chose to lay our family on the hearts of these 3 families this Christmas. I am so thankful to have truly seen the love of Christ right here on this earth. . .in fact right at my own front door. Thank you to 3 very special families who touched our lives this Christmas in a most unforgettable way. Thank you for encouraging me when I desperately needed it. . .thank you for loving and giving straight from your hearts. . . thank you for following your hearts as you heard Him call. . .thank you for inspiring me.

Inspired, yes, David and I are inspired to "do" Christmas differently next year. I know what a difference this gift made in my heart, in my life, and in the hearts of my husband and children. We want to ring some one's doorbell next Christmas season and truly touch a life in a most unexpected and unforgettable way. Would you join us in prayerfully considering how God would want you to "do" Christmas next year? There has to be a better way than giving "stuff" to people who really have enough "stuff" and who have enough $$$$ to buy the "stuff" they want in the first place. How about a family pooling their resources together, giving a gift, and showing the love of Christ to someone in need. . . a single mother, a widow, an adoptive family, a family struggling to make ends meet. The needs are plentiful, but I am afraid that the workers are few.

"What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him '"Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, " but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:14-17

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve: 6 kiddos (and a kitty) with much anticipation for Christmas Day
We hope you and your family have had a beautiful Christmas Day rejoicing over the Savior whose birth we celebrate on this special day! Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Remembering Wags

This past Monday, our family lost a cherished member. Our dog, Wags, was hit by a car and killed. Wags came to our family in August of 2005 as a stray pup who had recently had pups herself although we never found them. She was a loving and faithful friend. Wags, named not after the Wiggles dog, but simply because she was always happy and thus always wagging her tail. She was our family's first dog, and she was so good with the children.

Wags' only bad habit was that she loved to roam which is how she came to us in the first place. On Monday morning, we let her and her friend, Lucky, out of their pen to get some exercise while the children were out playing. Before we knew it, they left our yard as they have done countless times before. We live on acreage, but they still loved to cross the surrounding highways running after who knows what. Sadly, Lucky came back home, but dear Wags did not. A friend found her on the road and told us. David picked her up and brought her home for the last time. It was so very sad and still is. We all miss her.

Shelby loved the fact that Wags would ride on the golf cart with her. Our other dog Lucky seldom would, but since Wags died, Shelby has been teaching Lucky to ride too.

In May, the girls dressed Wags in their old clothes. Wags was a good sport!

Lilly and Katie with Wags on a hot summer day in 2008.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Adoption Fundraising

We are trying many different ways to earn money for Hudson's adoption. As many of you know, international adoption is unfortunately very expensive and cost alone is a deterrent for many families. I'm so excited to announce that we now have an on-line store set up just for our family's fundraising efforts. This fundraising venture is through Adoption Bug. Our web site is www.adoptionbug.com/bryant . There you will find 4 t-shirts which we have chosen for our family to sell. These shirts come in children's, youth, and adult sizes. They are not specifically related to adoption, but 3 of the shirts do have scripture verses printed on them. For each shirt we sell through our website, we will receive a commission which will go towards our adoption expenses. Please take a look and help spread the word. Feel free to copy and paste the button in the sidebar to put on your blog. These shirts will make great gifts for birthdays, Valentine's Day and even Christmas- if you hurry!!! We will be selling these shirts for at least the next 6 months so if you don't need one now, save our website under your "favorites" and consider one the next time you need to purchase a gift for someone or to purchase one just for yourself.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas T-shirts for Sale

My good friend Sharon at "Make it Mine Monograms" (MakeItMineMonograms.com) donated these shirts for me to sell at our homeschool co-op today. Unfortunately, the turnout was not so great, and only 1 shirt sold. However, the girls and I had also taken homemade bread and fudge to sell so we did make a good little bit to add to our adoption fund. And a few sweet souls made a couple of donations too! Now, since the Christmas season is here, I thought some of you may want a cute appliqued shirt for your favorite little person! The shirts are $15.00 plus $5 for shipping. Please spread the word if you know of someone who might be interested. Sharon may be able to custom- make a shirt for you if you need a different size. Just leave a comment with your e-mail and I'll get back with you promptly.

"Ho Ho Ho" shirt size 3T

"Elf" shirt size 6-6x

"Candy Cane" shirt size 24 months

"Truck and Tree" shirt size 4T
Thanks for looking and spreading the word! Oh, a quick update on our paperchase. All of our dossier documents are in Washington being authenticated. Well, that is all but that one little piece of paper from US Immigration that we are still waiting on. We were fingerprinted on Monday, and we hope and pray the folks at immigration will get to our file sooner rather than later. After we get that precious approval letter, we should be DTC (dossier to China) in a matter of days. Praying this all comes together by the end of the year. What a wonderful Christmas gift that would be.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Here He is!

How exciting it is to introduce our soon-to-be 7th child, and our first adopted son from China. We first saw his adorable face on October 23, and our LOI was sent in on October 24. We received PA on October 29. We have decided to name him Hudson after the missionary Hudson Taylor who served in China during the mid to late 1800's. I read his biography to the older children a year or so ago. He lived for the Lord and for telling others the Good News of Jesus. His life story is amazing so if you have never heard of him, read his biography. As I read the book, I knew if we ever adopted a boy, his name would be Hudson. (David agreed although he was a bit hesitant at first :) ) This little fellow will turn 2, sadly without us, on February 20, 2010. In his original file, he was described as "quiet and introverted". I thought that would even out our family as we have several strong-willed children. They shall remain nameless, but if you know us well, you know exactly who I am referring to!

We are in the midst of the paperwork madness. Our homestudy should be in the hands of the US immigration folks next week, and we hope and pray to receive our fingerprint appointment next week as well. Our dossier, minus the immigration approval, will be sent next week to DC for authentication at the US Consulate and the Chinese Embassy. We are praying for God's timing which is perfect. God's timing is usually not early and many times late- by our standards, but always perfect because He knows exactly what we need and when! I keep telling myself that over and over. Hopefully Hudson will be home sometime next summer.
Look at who has grown up quite a bit. We received this new picture and an update last week. Not only has he changed physically, but guess who is no longer "quiet and introverted"? Yep, God has quite a sense of humor. The opening sentence of Hudson's update was . . .is a very strong willed child." No! Can't be! What happened to "quiet and introverted"? Hopefully, this is typical personality for an almost 2 year, and this "strong willed" phase will pass- before next summer- please!!!

There you have it! We are all so excited to be on this journey again. Ellie wants a sister, but other than that, the children are thrilled to be gaining a new sibling. God has placed adoption on our hearts and called us especially to the plight of the orphans in China. Many may think we are "crazy or sick" (yes, we have been told that), but we are not here on this earth to please man. We are here to follow God's commands and to be like Christ. Caring for orphans is commanded in scripture so we feel we are doing exactly what God would have us do. So many may ask us "Why?", but we feel God will ask "Why not?"
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Too Funny Not to Share

Ethan and Lilly were outside playing- in their clothes- and then came in, went upstairs, and came back down looking like this. The older children and I decided that Ethan definitely needs a little brother. Good thing we are going back for a BOY! More on our little one soon! Back to Ethan and Lilly as the story gets even better. They went outside in their swimsuits with the strict instruction of not getting wet. As they were playing outdoors, Katie overheard Lilly say. "Ethan, we can be naked like Adam and Eve in the garden." Thankfully, Ethan knew better, and the bathing suits stayed on :) I am impressed with Lilly's recollection of the Bible story, but a mom can only let imaginative play go so far!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Smocked Clothes For Sale

Rosalina "United Nations" jumper size 3T. Great for all year: short-sleeved blouse in warmer weather and turtleneck or long-sleeve blouse in winter. Price:$25 plus approximately $5 shipping.

Rosalina Christmas bishop size 3T. Beautiful! I found our older daughter's Christmas bishop in a box in the attic- size 3T so I only need one of these dresses. Don't you need the other one???? Price $30 plus approximately $5 shipping.
These are brand new dresses with tags. I purchased them this summer before looking in my hand-me-down box in my attic. And, now that we are ******* again, I need $$$$ much more than my daughters need these dresses. They are size 3T.
Leave a comment with your e-mail if you are interested or have questions. And tell a friend if you are not. Thanks :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Reformation Day

Do you recognize any of these precious little ones? Tonight they were Laura Ingalls, a cowgirl, Obi Wan Kanobi (sure I butchered that spelling, I can hardly say it much less spell it :), spiderman, a ballerina who decided half way through the night that she was in fact a princess, not a ballerina, and last but not least a Chinese princess. We visited grandmoms and grandad, an aunt and uncle, and ended the night at our old church where we had great fun visiting with old friends, playing games, and eating delicious speghatti. Oh and I forgot the kids' favorite part- trunk or treat!
We have discussed a more important reason than "Halloween" to remember October 31 and that is the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On that date in 1517, Martin Luther hung the 95 theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to protest the abuses of the Catholic Church. Martin Luther was the "Father of the Protestant Reformation" and helped secure much of what we enjoy today as Christians in terms of our theology and having the scriptures to read rather than depending on the priest to read and interpret them for us.

Also wanted to say, I haven't had a lot of time to blog lately as we have been rather busy here. I am not able to say exactly what we've been busy doing, but it is all for a good reason. I'll share more soon :) By the way, I did leave a little clue!

We seldom take a silly shot, but mom called for one - after so much sugar, it seemed fitting. Our little characters manage "silly" quite well! That is except for Ellie who is more of the serious type (like her mother) and was too busy noticing her crazy siblings.

This is only after 2 stops- both at grandmoms' houses. Can you sense the sugar-high that Ethan already has? We were predicting he would be the first to complain of a stomach ache. He very wisely chose to pass on dinner and thus was not the one with the stomach ache by the end of the night. That would be Ellie. She tried to eat supper, but she too made a wise decision and stopped after only eating a third of her food. And if you know Ellie, she does not normally leave any food on her plate. I just knew she was going to be sick. Thankfully, she fell asleep quickly and slept all night. I say this in jest, but yet it does concern me at how little self-control my younger children have. And we were trying to limit their intake of candy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

3 Less Orphans

Just had to share some great news. In just a few short months, there will be 3 less orphans. No, we are not adopting 3 at one time :) But, we do have several close friends who are all in the adoption process. It's so exciting- maybe it will be contagious! Actually it already is. I think I left part of my heart in China, and I long to go back again and witness the miracle of adoption. One night as my sister Michelle and I were discussing the plight of orphans and my desire to adopt again, she said, "Adoption must be addictive." In some ways, I guess you could say it is. When you witness a miracle of God, you do long for more. It's difficult for me to put into words.

Jen and her family who are the proud parents of Lainie (adopted with Lilly) are adopting their second daughter, Mia, from China. Mia will be 7 in January. To learn more and see Mia's beautiful picture, check out their blog at: thebarbeebunch.blogspot.com

Elaine and her family who adopted Sarah Mei back in 2007 from the same orphanage as Lilly are adopting their third daughter from China. Isabel is in the same city where Ellie lived for her first 2 years of life, Kunming City in Yunnan province. Isabel has several complex congenital heart defects so please pray that God would protect her until Elaine and her family are able to travel to adopt her. To find out more, visit their family blog at: thehortonhome.blogspot.com

Last but not least, my good friend Kim who adopted Cate last September, is heading back to adopt a precious little girl who will soon be 2 years old. Kim is in the thick of the paperwork madness. She should have some pictures up soon of Cate's mei mei. Check it out at:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ellie's 1st Gotcha Day!

Ellie's first Gotcha Day Anniversary was very special for all of us. We are on a break from homeschooling so it was a pretty laidback day, if there is such a thing in our household : ) Ellie and I took time for a photo shoot. She enjoyed dressing up and being in the spotlight all by herself. Shelby managed to get a few good shots of Ellie and me which I am excited about! Ellie is such an observant child as she goes about her daily life. She stops and notices everything- unlike her mother who is always too busy. I should take some notes and learn a few things from this child. Today during our picture taking, she delighted in the butterflies and the yellow flowers. Later, we continued the celebrationwith Chinese food for dinner. We also gave Ellie a panda bear puppet that we purchased in China. She loved it! Speaking of gifts, Ellie is a gift, and I am so grateful that out of all the women in the world, God chose me to be her mother. I definitely don't deserve it, but she is my daughter by God's grace for which I am forever grateful.

Happy 1st Gotcha Day Ellie!

In a previous post, I mentioned how Shelby loves to bake. Today was no exception. She decided to pull out that Williams and Sonoma kids cookbook and bake Ellie a "Gotcha Day Cake". It turned out very cute and more importantly, it was most delicious! Of course, all the children were happy for Ellie on her special day and thrilled to help her eat her "Gotcha Day Cake".

September 16, 2008 Kunming, China

Life is much different for all of us today, September 16, 2009 compared to a year ago. However, Ellie's life certainly changed in amazing and dramatic ways. She sure has blossomed over these last 12 months, and my heart is full of love for this precious child given to us by God.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Chenzhou Trio

We recently had a wonderful reunion with the Hortons and the Barbees who adopted their daughters Sarah Mei and Lainie from the same orphanage as Lilly. These three precious girls were listed on the same special needs list with Christian World Adoption back in December 2006. All three girls were heart babies who resided at Chenzhou Social Welfare Institute until they joined their forever families in May and June of 2007. What a blessing it is that we live within a few hours of one another so that these little girls can grow up as friends who share a very special bond.
Enjoy the pictures.

Sarah Mei, Lainie, and Lilly

Trey Barbee carried Lilly around for a greater part of the day. At one point the children were playing tag in our front yard and Trey was still toting Lilly as he was running around. When they came to the steps to take a break, Lilly said something to the effect of "Whoo! That was hard work!" Then she sat down like she was so tired. We all laughed because it was actually Trey that had done all the work!

Isn't Will Barbee just the cutest? My apologies to Fulton, Katie, Jillian, Anna Grace, and Michaela for not having any pictures of you all. It was such a busy day that I didn't get near the number of pictures that I should have :(

The Chenzhou Trio pretending to be horses as the older kids rode Oreo.

Lainie having a ride on Oreo with Shelby.

Ethan had a blast playing with Will, Trey and Fulton. He and Fulton have been spending a lot of time climbing trees lately. This day was no exception, and Will joined them in the fun. This picture was taken at the end of the day. Do you see all the dirt on this boy's face? A sure sign that he had great fun!

Ellie had fun too with the Chenzhou trio. Here the girls were finishing up their banana pudding so they could head back out to play.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shelby's Cafe

Shelby loves to cook and bake. She has spoiled us many times with her homemade, from scratch, blueberry muffins which are so delicious. (Beats the box muffins her mom makes:) ) A few weeks ago, she made a complete meal all on her own. Again, no boxes involved! She treated us to "Crunchy coated chicken breasts" and "Oven baked carrot fries" . Both recipes were from her Williams and Sonoma: The Kid's Cookbook. She also included a side dish of creamed corn which tasted better than mine! Seriously, it did, and I told her so. She combined frozen yellow corn with a can of creamed corn and added some secret ingredients. Yummy! You know how some people simply just have a special touch when it comes to cooking? Well, I do declare that my Shelby has it, and it was most likely an inherited trait from her great-grandmother, "Granny". Thanks, Shelby and when will you be cooking again?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Special Father - Daughter Evening

The Purity Ball:

I was very thankful that the girls were able to wear the dresses from my sister's wedding to the Purity Ball. I was afraid that they might complain that they looked like "twins", but they didn't mention it! The ball was held in a hotel not too far from home. We found out about it through our homeschooling accountability group. Shelby and Katie were very excited to go to a ball with their daddy!
David and the girls just arrived home as I was posting this. They had a wonderful evening and said they each felt a little like a princess. They signed a pledge to remain pure until marriage which David also signed. They each received a tiarra and a framed picture with the signed pledge. Oh, and 2 people asked them if they were twins! They actually get asked that pretty frequently even when they aren't dressed alike! What a special evening and one that I hope Shelby and Katie will always remember.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's Homeschooling Time Again!

We started school on July 13 so that we could do "year round schooling" and take weeks off during the year. I have found that I am a "sprinter homeschooler". I work very hard and then I simply run out of steam and border on burnout. So when I am about to pull my hair out, we'll just take a few weeks off, regroup, and then start another sprint!

Our 7th grader: (Junior High- oh my!)

Our 5th grader:

Our 3rd grader:
As I was doing this post, I realized I did not ever take an "official" 1st day of school picture of Fulton. Having 6 children has definitely caused me to forget things I never have before. I have forgotten family and friends birthdays, forgotten dates of doctor's appointments until the last hour, etc. Oh well, I'll get the official picture later. This is a silly picture of Fulton hard at work on some school work. (Note the green headband in his hair)
Our kindergarten student:
We decided to bring Ethan home this year as he had been attending a half-day church kindergarten as his older siblings did. In the past, the children have graduated 5K from there and then came home for 1st grade. It was a tough decision, but I am so happy that God led us to bring Ethan home. He is doing fabulous in school, and we have seen positive changes in his behavior- praise God for that! I am really enjoying teaching him using My Father's World curriculum (mfwbooks.com).
Our cute preschoolers:
Last bit of fun before school started:

This picture simply does not do justice to the hilarious event that took place in my kitchen back in July! We had 2 friends come stay with Shelby and Fulton for a weekend in July while our Katie went to stay at their house with the rest of their family. Fulton was on kitchen duty and had to sweep after dinner. His friend, Luke, was ready to go play so he offerred to help Fulton. Well, Fulton works at the speed of a turtle - on a good day. Luke grabbed the broom and swept so fast that the rest of us started rolling with laughter. I've never seen anyone sweep quite like that. Then Ethan joined in, and it became more of a show than a chore. I don't know how many crumbs those 3 boys managed to actually get off the floor, but they sure gave us a good laugh. I wish you could have seen it- hysterical!

Laundry day always ends up with the little girls playing in the "boats". They have such fun! Oh and that's marker on their faces. Their big sister Katie practiced her face painting skills earlier in the day :)


My cousin's daughter, Kylene, also came to stay with us for a few days in July. She and Katie are only a few weeks apart in age and have always been close. Kylene loves horses so she had a wonderful time with Oreo. It was alot of fun, and we hardly noticed she was there. I pointed that out to David saying maybe we could adopt just one more! I wonder how many comments that will generate. I am beginning to think no one is reading this blog anymore :)