Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Finally, Truly Alive

Two weeks ago on a Monday, my helper arrived distraught.  One of her closest friends passed away a few days earlier.  She woke up with Jesus, the same morning that her daughter and husband woke up with headaches in bed next to her abandoned tent....  there had been an accident with the gas heating.  The Lord knew.  He called this young mom home.  
Zhun Fang, who helps me clean and watch kiddos two mornings a week when I study, told me of her friend’s love for the Lord, her happy marriage, and her previously bright-eyed four year old daughter.  She told me how this friend came weekly to her house to sit with her and the two foster boys that she had cared for for years.  Jie Cong, whose name means smart (even years of severe Cerebal Palsy could never mask his sharp mind)...Jie Cong, who could barely speak, understood everything, and he wept that this friend of his too was gone from them.   It was a sorrowful but glad time for Zhun Fang to know and see this son of her heart grieve with hope as he too trusted in the Lord for forgiveness and for life eternal. 

And then came Friday, the next time I saw her.  She was not suffering from week old grief.  Zhun Fang arrived more distraught than I’d ever seen her before.  I asked her to sit down as soon as she came in the door.  Death had struck again.  Jie Cong this time, was home with the Lord.  Died in his sleep in their home one day before.  She knew she could have called and not come to work that morning, but she wanted to get out of the house, have a diversion from the grief.  

I wish I had recorded her sharing with me, the tears, the memories of this young man that her whole family loved.  They had him in their home for only three years.  She knew that people with CP rarely live to 20 (she told me) but she just wished she could have cared for him for another year... at least.  He was only 16.

ZF and her husband, their two biological sons and two disabled foster sons (Jie Cong is in the red shirt)
Caring for him meant incredible vigilance around the clock to simply keep him warm enough to live and not to freeze to death, in the winter months in their home, and to change his bed rags and hold up a bottle for him to pee every hour or two 24/7.  As for feeding, every single bite he swallowed was a severe difficulty.  “If only there had been one more year...”
They would have had one more year of his delight to see them when they came home.  One more year of his help to care for the younger kids (a foster brother who was also disabled and Zhun Fang’s biological son):  he would cry out for help to come if anything got out of hand.  One more year of his consideration for others:  he would nod ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions always affirming his affection and care for others.
Greg Lucas, a father who has been transformed by the Lord’s grace in his life as he and his wife have raised their own son with severe disabilities, has recently written Wrestling with an Angel:  A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace.  The first three of his lessons learned are this:  God is still sovereign and good, God has good purpose to bring out of this, and disability magnifies our vision for joy in the smallest things.  Three lessons well worth learning and living well.  
And Zhun Fang did just that.   Of course parents boast about their kids, and I've done it too, but rarely, if ever, have I seen such a humble love and true affection and delight in children like Zhun Fang has.  There seems to be no selfish boasting in her love....   Her intense love for her boys is a glad, grateful love:  “God has given us really good gifts in these boys and we are honored and delighted to get to know and serve and love and be loved by them.”

This is all stirring in me so powerfully because I just finished Eric Metaxas’ biography on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   (A million lines I wish I could write of my gladness and gratitude to be introduced to this life through this biography.)  Bonhoeffer fought against the Nazi’s for the sake of the Jews, but there, in his masterful storytelling, Metaxas, also highlighted the disabled people who fell under a similar Nazi shadow.   The Hell-drenched Nazi reasoning was this:  that disabled people are “useless eaters....” and "life unworthy of life"  (Metaxas, 184.)

These men, who villainously chose death for millions, were the ones who were most blinded to life.  With their nasty disguises of falsified Christianity they were totally blind to the True Life Giver, to goodness and beauty in this world that all comes from him.    And as for the Third Reich, killers of Jews, Poles, disabled, and whoever they didn't like, as Metaxas says... in their deaths, they "fell in to the hands of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."  (p 404.)
I wish Jie Cong could have lived healthy, but in his sickness and weakness, he left a beautiful mark of love in how he gave all he could to others and in what he inspired in their lives too.    And now he is alive.  Living fuller than any of us here have dared imagine.  As Dwight Moody once told a reporter a few months before his death (paraphrase):  "Soon, you'll hear it said that Dwight Moody is dead.  Don't you believe it for a second.  When this body is done I will be more alive than I have ever been, and I will be with Life Himself."  

Well done Zhun Fang, in loving Jie Cong so well.  And well done Jie Cong... you made it!  Into the arms of the God who sent Christ into our mire after you; the Father who breathed life into you and has now unwrapped you from the grave clothes and washed clean death's stains from the tent that you lived in in our fallen land.    

Praise be to the God who saves and loves us so.  

Photos by Jake Bell.  August 2011.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

sweet new find

A few friends have mentioned to me recently this fantastic site for cooking in China.  I am so delighted that this Sara Beth is out there- across this wide country- stirring up such deliciousness in her home and sharing it so far beyond her own table.   What a gift to get to pick up on her tips and great finds!

Hearing about it is one thing but tasting it.... oh my....is another.  One friend shared these quick biscuits:  pretty super and doable here, with no crisco or butter needed!  Then, last week a friend gifted me with a jar of Homemade Peppermint Patties.  I am not a York fan and now that I've tasted these, I would say that York is a very poor knock-off of these fantastic treats.  And I'm one to favor keeping the best words for the best things and food is just not one of the best things in the world.... but I will say this, this time:  Count me in.... I'm a fan! I super enjoy these peppermint patties... Oh the creamy, minty chocolateness! Thus, this post.

Here it is friends...  This terrific, simple site for anyone interested in cooking from scratch or cooking overseas:
Tips and recipes for making MORE 
in a place where LESS is available

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We Are Here

(Warning:  this post got out of hand.  It's waaayyyy too long for probably anyone but the grandparents.  The pics are cute if you just want to scroll through for a quick look!)

I feel like we are, just like every family, on this wild-paced road trip through the land of Childhood, and our trail is fast vanishing behind us.  The territory of babyhood is nearly gone.  Soon our little ones will all be walking, talking and finishing high school.... At least, it feels like we're going about that fast some days.  It's crazy the speed we've picked up to now, and our family hasn't yet finished our fifth years with kiddos.

So here's a little journal entry on recent events on our road trip... this grand privilege of parenting these four.   We are so grateful to the Lord for their precious lives, grateful to be mother and father to them together, so grateful for these sweet pieces of our journey as family...

Vivian Hope

"Vivi Treasure".   She has the sweetest little pose .... crawls over to a sibling and then sits beside them with her toes pointed back and her knees in front of her, then she bounces up on her knees when she's glad and my heart melts with her bright eyes smiling.

And since Lego battles are a regular at our house, Vivi has needed to solidify her role in this family play.  Daddy recently named her "Giant Baby" for her skill at swooping onto the battle field and leveling an entire army with one drooly move.  Her siblings all love this name for her, although her destruction on the battlefield is much less loved.   Vivi is just delighted with her rise to fame in this important part of our family life.

She's launched into communication too... I think she really means her little lip smacks like I mean the kisses that I give her all day long and I love how she "kisses" me  by her own initiative too...  You leave me awestruck darling.   

And during meal times, sometimes John or May have instigated a "on three, everyone do Vivi hands, ok!?" or "Let's all say KhhhhKhhh for Vivi, ok?".  Vivi lights up when she see that we're all talking with her or waving our hands around like she loves to do.  (This has been her signature move and I remember talking about it with Isaiah on the day that she was born, how Vivi waves her hands around like a Uyghur dancer.....  such a little beauty!)  

She Lit Up last week when we had guests with us for dinner.  She was really showing off.  All the big kids vying for their audiences applause and Vivi too pulled out all her stuff for them....  smacking her lips, blowing spit bubbles, and her latest (picked up from John) a goofy puckered lips face that is quickly followed by big laughs.

She's got a fantastic sense of humor and, (we just LOVE this age!) her giggly laugh for nibbly tickles....  a true foretaste of heaven.  She also goes by nicknames like "Vivi Heavens Treasure Love, Snuggly Cuddly Darling" but I'm sure I should skip going into all the names we've ever called our kids.... it could get simply way. too. embarrassing.  

John Timothy

Still a cuddler, to the exquisite delight of his mom and dad.  He makes fantastic funny faces and sang himself to sleep tonight with his own version of the Christmas classic:  "Wo.....wo....wooo.....ria," repeated to infinity...

As for potty skills, he's still fairly leaky, but he has started to very proudly and stubbornly pull his own undies up sometimes.  My favorite thing for him recently is that he's begun to pray aloud.  He's confident and content with usually one sentence like "Dear God, thank you for this house" or "Dear God, thank you that our friends come here" and it always ends like this: "and say, AAAA men."

He's slow... and it's becoming an issue we're needing to seriously work on!  Buddy, it doesn't need to take 30 min to put on shoes!

He loves to play boat or car between my feet... especially while I'm nursing Vivi.  Often, he won't let me put my legs up because it ruins his car. 

Matt nicknamed him Verbal....  and sometimes it gets completely out of control how he loves words, even still being a bit limited with his vocab. At the breakfast table recently he found a sentence that just struck him silly:  Kill the dragon on my bike! (Said like a soldier marching to battle, sword raised and pointed toward the door.)  After he repeated this mantra at least 79 times..... his words slipped and became a whole new sentence.  He and Marian share the love for this battle cry:  they pat their bellies and howl like pirates laughing as they raise their swords and shout:  Peel the dragon, eat my bike!

There was a time in Nov and Dec that just can't be forgotten either...  Matt and I started joking about John as our "Goodnight Gorrilla."  Almost every night for this stretch he woke up around 3 or 4 AM, came silently into our room and stared at me.  I woke up with eyes laid on me so heavily and then all I needed to do was to get up and take his hand and walk him back to bed, exactly like the zookeeper's wife walked the gorilla back to bed in the kids' book.  It was cute to have such a funny name for this sweet, sleepy face on our boy, but I'm glad that stage is done.  

He really loves to take care of and play tenderly with Vivi and he's getting a bit too brave with some stunt crazy riding on his "big" bike.   And he's also the most obsessed  with "Mama, see me.... (do whatever it is)".  Another favorite of John's is to repeat what someone has just said and then ask for confirmation:  "this is yummy, right Isaiah?"  or "we don't like bananas, right Mayin?"  He's the champion of all Good-byers.

Marian Lynn

"May Love".  She makes the best mush in town (Vivi's food: cereal, veggie puree, formula powder, water).  She's loud.  She's the best bike rider of our big two but is its been months since she's ridden and for now she's completely refusing to ride her bike or try her new roller blades (and she'll be as fearless as she sounds soon I hope!)  She's the sweetest little server...  loves to take a plate of treats around to our guests or her sibilings.  She also loves to be served, usually in the form of band-aids or tissues.  She picks her nails and scratches her back- by her shoulders- hard sometimes (the later, a habit while she's sleeping?)

Her hair is past the middle of her back and she loves it and we both enjoy when I can sit long to brush her hair and try to do it up special (try is the key word.)  She's learning to cook and learning to truly help me in the kitchen (for a long time her helping was just not very helpful.... but it's becoming more so!)

She likes to keep her bed neat and to have long sleeves rolled up so they don't go past her wrist.  She knows where almost everything is in the house... as in "yes we do have rubber bands Mom, there's some in your desk drawer."  Or... "Daddy has some bubble gum on the top shelf of his closet."  (Bubble gum is imported from America and has to be rationed.)  

Right now, she's giving me my best opportunity for soul scrubbing-refining and driving me to more prayer as I'm desperate for wisdom to serve her well.  How can I love and train and bless our sometimes incredibly defiant and always intensely emotional girl?!  Oh God give wisdom!   We are trying to be even more stubborn than she is to love her firm and fair and gracious and gentle.

Marian is loads of fun and as Matt always calls her, she's the "straw that stirs the drink."  She's very committed to our friends, the guests that we have in our home, and almost every time they have to leave, Marian insists, "Mama please tell them they have to come again."

Isaiah Dale

I'm so super grateful for a new friend JR, with Book Ends, who mailed us 100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Child to Read.  This guy is tearing it up!  I love how he's reading words all over our daily lives now.  

I've been excited for homeschooling for a long time, but I'm really getting all the more eager for next year when we start more full time, formal learning together as I see how this sweet guy is growing to love to learn about the world.  And I just love to cuddle him to read and chat together.  He never asks to cuddle but he's usually glad to when I invite.  

He's a roller blade warrior.  Loves a good back scratch and a battle story and recently has become quite the story teller himself at bedtime.  

Isaiah's far more inclined to stay inside and work around a table on legos or drawing or looking at books than he is to play outside... unless it's roller blades or sandbox time.  Besides these two, it usually takes quite a bit of urging to get him outdoors.  (Sadly, it takes a lot of mental momentum for me to be eager to go too...  it's awfully ugly industrial around here.)   Indoors, he would probably play for 2-3 hours a day all alone, if I let him, and if he could find the quiet space in our home!  

We've just started playing chess:  the battle story-line perfectly scratches our battle-itchy boy. He's almost always our "Charlie Award" winner, which means he's usually the first one ready and waiting to get out the door when it's time to go.  I love this boy and I'm so grateful for our firstborn to usually demonstrate some sweet concern for obeying and being helpful to others and sometimes, (sometimes) even being kind to to his siblings.  Yesterday he built a lego tower as a surprise for Marian and he even planned "a surprise party" to unveil it for her.  

And here's a few more moments together....  

John found "the spot" that he was sure was the unbeatable hiding place: under the covers on our bed.  (Don't all kids love this place!?)  It soon turned into a progressive hiding game where, once found, the finder had to jump under the covers with him and then they'd call out for the next seeker to come and eventually join them too.   Nothing could have thrilled this boy more.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

more train pics

Daddy is so easy to impress...
they both love to cuddle

a quick moment of stillness
factory town.... view from the train
nestled up near the mountains.... view from the train
and here's more goofiness.... not on the train

the boys have enjoyed fun discovering with static electricity
oh this girl...
What do I say?  I love these boys.
John got it in his head that he needs to rollerblade now... even though he can't stay upright 2 seconds, Daddy indulged him and Marian let him wear her blades that were closest to his size.  Doesn't he look stylish?
wonky, ridiculous, darling boy
oh the goofiness of this fun, wonderful girl!
taking in the world

sister love.... coming home from the fountain
simple... but I just love her delicate hand, her sweetness even in book-looking

Sunday, February 12, 2012

fountain photos

Longsuffering {Mama Love}

I thought I must be crazy, but no.... it's right there in internet ink.  This sweet mama explaining plainly how she disciplined her kids....  her kids each had only one tantrum because they expected their kids to obey the first time, so they did.  Her key is consistent follow through.   

If that was all I ever read, I'd be left with no option but to admit that it is simply my own imperfect follow through that has resulted in our home so plainly proving the doctrine of depravity.   Perhaps in more Edenic gardens, mothers and children hear a thing once and remember it forever, but at our place we need long practice at life, in the gritty real stuff of growing in godliness.

Are there really kids out there that have only had one tantrum?  Perhaps there are some personalities that are just so easy going?  Not in our home.   At our place none of us have heard a thing once and remembered it perfectly, obeyed it all just right from there on out.  I sure yearn to, and pray for that, but it's not the real world we live in.

Perfectly obedient people also don't seem to be the audience that Sciprute was written for.  I'm greatly comforted by the sweet, strong theme through the Bible that we are to persevere through trials to be refined more into the image of Christ, we are to bear each others burdens and cover over one another's sins, serve humbly and love patiently as we grow towards, grow in Christ...  Apparently this is our Savior's way for us and for our children to come to him.   Trusting nothing but him...

It seems plain to me that longing for perfect obedience, perfect children, is just part of what it means to live longing for the victory that Christ has accomplished for us but has not yet completely delivered.  He hasn't come again and brought his final perfect rule.  Praise be that he will do this!  But until then, we live waiting, yearning, sinning, and repenting, forgiving, and accepting each other over and over again.  And yes, I trust that there will be fruit to show for our training.... we are training our children as consistently as any human parents can.  But still, this daily hammering out of our sanctification together comes with loud clashes of iron sharpening iron.  

And it is a wondrous gift that we can live together, so sharpening and loving-serving each other.  That the Lord redeems us at all and lets us mirror and model his lavish forgiveness and acceptance to each other.... a family all growing in the grace of Christ, it is a stunning, awesome thing.

As for discipline, you can bet our bottom paddle that we spank our kids for defiance but sadly, it hasn't meant that we're done with discipline yet.    Oh how I wish it did!  (Damned Defiance!  I wish I never had to spank our kids, but for this, we've found no alternative.)  

This is a long road... and I am convinced (though I'm still desperate for living encouragement!) that serving our kids with the humble love of Christ means being authority and providing structure and security for them.  It means firmly disciplining disobedience to give them the blessing and safety and rewards of obedience.  And it also means forgiving them like the prodigal's father... before they've even vocalized their repentance, affirming our acceptance and commitment to them to continue in relationship together.... which, in our very human case, will probably mean the same lessons, the same discipline, the same learning over and over again.  

Motherhood is HARD and it is so because we are sinners and at least in our non-Eden neck of the woods, we are still deep in the trenches of training our four little loves five and under.   This is exactly why motherhood is so transforming to me.  Not because I've been so consistently firm that my kids usually all obey the first time, but because I know they're going to need longsuffering service from their mama to help them really learn deeply this knowing, understanding, loving, obeying.... in all of life.    I think if I somehow finagle a way to have my kids jump just right when I say jump and everything and everyone goes just my way, I would miss out on perhaps the most important piece of motherhood for me.

Motherhood transforms.   I need to be transformed into more of the image of Christ and I think that is one of the great ugly-beautiful blessings that the Lord has tucked into this motherhood package.    I need to be refined.....  the tears, the stripping away of fleshly weapons and reasoning, the defiance that drives me to desperate prayer.  This is grace.  

And too since our children are children and not soldiers, I'm trying not to bark orders at them but to humble myself, bear patiently when I need to take up the basin and towel and serve them and train them again towards obedience.

I'm quite sure our kids know clearly that we expect first time obedience from them:  "Yes Mama" from their hearts, from their mouths, with their actions....  obeying "immediately, willingly, completely" (like CJ Mahaney taught).   But I don't want Spanks and Consistent Follow-Through to be a chariot that I trust in to bring about perfect obedience in my kids.  

Far more than perfect (outward) obedience, I want to aim my mother love at leading my kids to repentance and trusting in Christ for grace to live for his praise.  For now there are some most trying times when I've got to patiently require and take sheer obedience for the sake of getting our family through 'til the next hour.... but even in these exception moments I want my eyes on their heart, on repentance, and not only on the paddle and their obligation to outwardly obey.  

And truly, repentance leads a heart to obedience.  Romans 2:4 tells us exactly how God leads us to repentance:  with his kindness, forbearance, and patience.  For sure discipline is a mercy that won't be withheld in our home... but may it be given with the kindness, forbearance and patience of God.  And too, may I keep my eyes focused on repentance in their hearts even before outward obedience as I serve and train these precious little ones to know and love and live all for the Lord. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I've already written about how much fun we had visiting our friends for vacation recently... how fantastically our kids all played together and how the mamas and papas got to enjoy some great longs talks and prayer time and fun.  Well, I'm so eager to share with you my favorite parenting gem gleaned from these wise parents!

Bedtime for us used to involve multiple instructions (oh so many words needed from us!) sometimes sending one kid with a task from dad and a task from mom in two different directions at once!  Get a drink!  Get your PJs on!   Did you go potty, darling?  

Laura said they had the same difficulty until recently when she posted her own scrapped photo "Jobs Chart" on the kids' door.  We saw Matt and Laura tell their kiddos one thing:  "JOBS!" and their cherubs scurried off knowing exactly what they needed to do...     

Here's how it works:

The kiddos know that when we say it's time for Jobs, they are responsible to finish the seven tasks on the photo chart in their room.    

1-  Serve Each Other.  (This is my favorite!)  As Laura said, this isn't about "but those aren't my toys,"  this is our chance to serve and bless each other as a family.  We pick up together.  Sometimes mom or dad will assign a certain Serve Each Other for the night.  

2-  Dirty Clothes, PJs, Drawers.  Bet you can figure this one out.

3-  Milk - Water.  I love to be together as much as I can with our kids so if we can catch a moment drinking milk at the table all together....  I'm all the more glad!  And then our kids know they need to bring a cup of water to the bookshelf if they want a sip at night.  Their responsibility.  

4-  Potty.  5- Brush Teeth.   Clear enough.

6-  Sleep Stuff.  Our kiddos love to have their favorite toy of the day, a blanket, a sleep toy or book with them on their beds.... and for us, they can have any of it so long as they get it to their beds before the lights go out.  

7-  Bed!   The earlier they get to their beds, the more time there is for rewards:  cuddling, hymns, praying together, grateful things, back scratches, flashlight books and shadow hands, silly songs and.... whatever else they can come up with for the night!

Quick Tips:  
1) Start early with jobs- no need to rush them!!  
2) Allow even more time to checking thoroughly that their jobs are all done.  
3) Sometimes, depending on timing, jobs can even be done before dinner if need be!  (usually the Serve Each Other job)

We're just about a week into this new bedtime routine and I think in another week or two we'll start seeing even more pay-off for this wise plan for bedtime, once they speak the language of JOBS more fluently, so to speak.  So far our kids enjoy it like a game and really take pride in completing their jobs well.  And when they do, there is time for such joy rewards!  

We are So Grateful to the Lord for you dear Matt and Laura!  For you and your kids, and for letting us pick up on this great plan of yours!  Thanks guys!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Grandma and Grandpa sent a snuggly owl toy for John for Christmas and right away it was very important to our boy that his owl be named.   Sweet John moved on quickly (he's far more easy to convince or to agree with mama than his big sister!) when I told him that Poo Poo Owl was not aacceptable.  He went with James Owl instead and I'm quite sure James Owl will be a keeper for the long haul.

But another James is ringing in my heart today.  In recent months, James has been the book the Lord is using to nail me down, pierce me through, and lay me in the light of his Son, in regards to my life as a mama.

2010 began a stretch of 1 Peter being the book that challenged me sharp and deep on my difficulty with submitting to culture battles here.  "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution.... be subject to your masters with all respect not only to the good and the gentle but also to the unjust" (1 Peter 2:13-25)....  I applied this in my heart to be:  Be subject for the Lord's sake to this human culture, not only when it's comfortable but even when it grates hard against all that I think is wise and decent and considerate and tolerable.

Back at that time, I tried to memorize 1 Peter.... then it became 1 Peter 1-3.... then 1 Peter 1..... and then, after meditating on the verses and soaking my brain and heart in it for months (no friends with me, I might add)  I still didn't know the words secure and firm by heart.  Meditating on it had been sweet indeed but I really did/do want the words locked down deep like seeds (Receive with meekness the implanted word).  Embarrassed and discouraged.... I moved on and no plan since (and there have been several) has been completed either.

Now, my dear Ann  is inviting others to join with her in Memorizing the Mount.  As I looked over her memory booklet I realized that a definitive plan was completely absent from my memory plan.  And so, again I'm beginning this journey that I still hope will become a fixed anchor in my life to hold me under the shaping, transforming truth-light of the Word of God.

1)  Memorizing James.  1 chapter a month Feb - June..... end of June, James is in there.

2)  Keep a notebook.  Exactly which verses this week?  Say it weekly to a friend.   Emily, thank you for your partnership in this!  I praise the Lord for you..... I'm eager to share verses, applications, prayer spots with you and others along the way too.

3)  Ann writes a bit about the A.R.T. of memorizing scripture and for now I'm just fixed on the Attending...  The Word in the morning, in the kitchen, at the table, while nursing, for a water break, before class, during their nap.... Her encouragement is so sweet, and Piper's challenge, and the recap of Dr. Andrew Davis' seven tips for memorizing (all at the post of Ann's).

I'm aiming for a pace of 7 (+/-) verses per week.... that way in 2012 I might be able to tuck James and the Sermon on the Mount into my heart for fruitbearing?  May it be Lord, by your grace, for your praise!

I'm a huge hungerer for community (most of us are, right?) and my community on the ground is very limited so please consider this the warmest invitation I can possibly deliver via blogger:  I would love if any of you dear friends want to join me on this journey?  Please come along.... Please let me know... it would be such a joy to journey with you.  (Your pace for the journey is just fine...)

Oh may our days be filled with and revolve around and be anchored deep in the truth of God's word..... without it I'll be that double-minded man unstable, unsteady, unsturdy driven by and towards whatever waves of the day happen to bring my way.  Lord steady me in you, your truth, your love, your promises.  

Ann ends her Mount Memory Cards with these words... and I echo them now:

"So this commitment...  
Committing our hearts to Him and His Word to our hearts."

the bears

walking into the Panda Research Base 
 (Bet you can guess The Color of Chinese New Year, right?)

 We had five full days of fun with these dear friends... but I think the one outing that left the biggest impression on our kiddos was seeing the Pandas.  Matt pulled out the ipod on the way there and we listened to Andrew Petersons'  "Bears" song...

Oh Panda bears aren't so scary they're eating up China bamboo
But if you don't mind your mama, they just might come and eat you.

The tune was hummed/whistled throughout the morning there and most every time 
the "eat you" was a cue for some sort of tickley-muncheroo on a little giggler.  
Such a fun time!

As it turned out, I got to hold the camera and my little love, John's hand for most of the morning.... Walking with my sweetheart, slow pokey boy meant for lots of shots of John and everyone else's behind.  Such a nice morning for me to go slow and soak in all the joy that I could find from that perspective!
(How often am I telling our kids to receive what they are given, be grateful, be glad?
It is a sweet thing to do!)

The best way to get the kids to the finish line when they're dragging 
near the end of a long journey?  Red light, green light.  

Friday, February 3, 2012


 Here's a few views from my seat on the train....

I really, really tried to get more shots of our surroundings, the people, the scenery, the tracks and stations.... but somehow my hands are always full of something about these great treasures in my life..

 16 hours southwest in our comfy though smoky (coming in through the seems) sleeper berth to see dear friends that stood with us at our wedding (Matt was a groomsmen for Matt).   

their little princess Lydia
our precious Marian

We are so grateful for you dear friends!  
What do you say we join forces as the K2 team for some grand adventure one day!?  
another Matt daddy with his boy Isaac

Endless fun every waking hour for all 7 kids (under 6).  Fantastic fellowship and great talks for us with Matt and Laura once our off the wall goofballs were asleep... or on their beds at least.  This was the perfect encouragment, perfect vacation for us.  What a Good Gift from our Gracious God to give us this time away with you...

We praise the Lord for these days with you and for each one of you:  Matt, Laura, Julianna, Lydia, Isaac, sweet baby K inside, and precious little K waiting to be adopted into your love.   (The Lord knows, sees, you dear little waiter, and precious friends, he knows your waiting too...)

this fantastic group of kids ate lunch in their pjs and princess dress-up clothes at least one of our days together
Isaiah and Julianna
(another post coming soon with more pics of the fun... 
and with the super tips we picked up- and hope to put into practice!- from these wise parents)