Wednesday, July 29, 2015

16 Years!!!

Way back in 1998, I had to try to put into words why I wanted to be a mother for our first adoption home study.  It was so hard to explain that I just didn't want those sweet baby moments.  I longed for every single moment...first step, first day of school, first boyfriend, first prom dress, first heart break, first job.  Everything!!!  16 years ago, I met my absolute dream come true, my Mary Ashtyn.


I will never forget climbing into the van with her as we left the orphanage.  Our driver honking the horn as the three sets of new parents cheered.  As she snuggled against me, my cheers turned to tears.  The hardest journey of our lives was over, we were parents.  Answered prayers, dreams come true.

Happy Gotcha Day, Mary Ashtyn!





So thankful for all the firsts we've shared over the last 16 years.  I'm amazed at what God has done in her life and how she allows Him to lead her each and every day. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

God Knew








This beach wheelchair in the making has me thinking about God's plans.  When I was in Junior High, I needed a date to a last minute cheerleader party.  I called my best friend in a panic (it's Junior High...this is MAJOR) because I had no date and it's the day of the party.  My friend's brother happens to know that his best friend would be more than willing to go to this party with me.  So, they call him and ta-da!!!  I have a date.

My date meets me at the cheerleader sponsor's house (neither of us is old enough to drive).  We watch the original Karate Kid...I'm not sure Will Smith is born at this point, much less his son who starred in the re-make several years ago.  Anyway, within a few weeks, I have an official boyfriend!!  We are really serious...talking on the phone (it was connected by a plug in the wall, we didn't have cordless yet and we had NEVER heard of cell phones) and writing letters, real letters with paper and pens!!  We even folded them in that special 80's way:

 Image result for folding notes in the 90s

As I looked at the beginnings of this beach wheelchair, it amazed me to think how God knew even wwwwaaaayyyy back in Junior High where my life would go. That boy who I took to the Jr. High Cheerleader party and wrote 10 page letters to everyday...he was Trent!!!

As we dated through high school and college and made plans for our life, God knew where we were headed.  He knew that when crazy college Trent insisted that we have a son named Reece, after Kyle Reese in The Terminator (I swear this is true), that little boy would wait for us across the world in Kazahkstan.  God knew that it would take years and years before our dreams came true and that a tiny little girl in Russia would finally make us parents.

He absolutely knew that the boy I asked to that party a million years ago was meant for me. God always intended for him to be the one to literally pick me up off the floor every month as we struggled through infertility.  Through the ups and downs of 20 years of marriage, God knew that we'd make it through the rough times.  He knew that as we raised Mary Ashtyn and Reece, His plans were nowhere near finished.  I think God probably laughed through the years as Trent and I said over and over that our family was finished.  As we marveled at parents raising children with special needs or adopting older children and agreed that we could never do that.  God knew!

Only God would know that a first date watching The Karate Kid in 1987 would lead to a beach wheelchair built for 2 in 2015.  As I watched Trent measure and cut and make trips to the store to get more supplies for Lily and Ava's chair, it reminded me how meticulous God's plans are.  I watch my first date plan and build this wheelchair and my heart is full.  I am so very thankful that God knew who I needed right beside me through all the stops and starts in our crazy adventure.

Now, I've got to wake up my lazy husband who is sleeping in the chair as I type!  We have four kids going in 4 different directions tomorrow...there could be some screaming going on before we make it through the day, but God knows that too!

God knows nobody else could put up with him!!!  LOL





Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Remembering China

This time last year, we spent our last few days as BamFam5.  We spent the weekend in Hangzhou site seeing and waiting to meet Ava. 

Hangzhou Museum

So blessed we were able to take Lily back to China!


Shopping

Authentic Chinese Buffet...we skipped the fish :)

The Mall

Weiss Lake





The hotel breakfast buffet is always a favorite!


It's hard to describe our feelings as we toured Hangzhou waiting to get Ava.  We really tried to enjoy every minute, but we were also hoping the days would go quickly.  We were so anxious to meet our new daughter and sister.  God moved lots of mountains to get us to China and add this sweet girl to our family.  It was almost time to meet her!! 

June 3, 2014...Gotcha Day!!!

The child that we fell in love with through pictures and videos was almost in our arms!! 

Tomorrow, we celebrate a year that Ava Frances Fang has been ours.  What a year it has been!  God has proven over and over that His plans are perfect.  It is amazing that this little girl who is so much a part of us has only been with us for a year.


Friday, May 29, 2015

One Year!!

One year ago, our family of five flew out of the Birmingham Airport on our way to China!  Five became six!!  It still amazes me a year later how God led us to Ava and completed her adoption.  Many of you who follow our blog prayed for us and donated to our adoption fund.  YOU were a part of God's plan and we are forever grateful.

May 29, 2014...Airport Memories

So ready for our adventure to Ava!!!


Excited sisters!!

As we took off, Reece grabbed my hand.  The unknown was scary!

Beijing!! 

There is no way to describe how it feels to finally be in the same country as the child you've waited almost a year to meet.  Sweet memories tonight of our journey to Ningbo, China.  Amazed to see how far God has brought us in just one year!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Birthday Girl!!

Last year, we sent Ava a birthday cake and gift.  My heart ached when we got the pictures of her on her birthday.  Her little lips were chapped and she was serving the cake to her friends.  I wanted to put chapstick on those lips and cut her cake for her.  I wanted to so badly for her to be HOME.





What a difference a year makes!!  Six months of love and family.  It is such a blessing to watch Ava become just what God intended...a cherished daughter, His and ours!!



 Happy Birthday, sweet Ava!!!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Three Years

November 28, 2011...three years ago, the four of us sat in a hotel lobby in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia anxiously watching for our first glimpse of our little Lily.



The little girl that we had loved since that first video we saw in March was finally ours!!
If you've never read about Lily's Gotcha Day, CLICK HERE

God's plan for our family always included Lily.  Three years of loving her have been an absolute joy. Lily has taught us to savor every minute of life and take nothing for granted.  God used this tiny girl and her weak little muscles to change our lives in the most extraordinary ways.  Three years of learning to live with a progressive muscle disease,contractures, wheelchairs, surgeries and tears...three years of love, laughter, faith, hope, joy, and peace.  The only thing that I would change would be finding her sooner and loving her longer.  

Happy Gotcha Day, to the strongest little girl I will ever know...we are so glad that you are ours!!




Three years on November 28, 2011, as Lily joined our family, another sweet little girl turned 7 years old in an orphanage in Ningbo, China.  Three years ago, we had no idea that God would send us back to China to bring our Ava HOME.  Tomorrow, Ava will turn 10 years old and will have her first birthday celebration.  We'll spend the day celebrating our littles and praising God for making them ours.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Strength

Sometimes, I'm so tired I can't see straight.  Four kids is a full time job and I HAVE a full time job outside of our home, too.  Days like today, I am stretched so many ways... I'm not sure I can get it all done.  The bigs are on different ends of the county at majorette and football practice.  The littles get home and need to change clothes, snack, potty, and do homework.  For Lily and Ava, all of these things require a lot of assistance.  By the time we finish, it's time to go pick up Mary Ashtyn from practice while Trent waits for Reece to finish.   When the boys get home, it's time to eat, get baths, and go to bed.  Oh, yeah...there are grocery store trips and cooking somewhere in this hectic schedule.

Tonight, we had pizza rolls and I just started the first load of laundry.  I. am. so. tired!  I am not complaining, just stating a fact.  As busy as we are, I am thankful beyond words for my little (well, big) family.  As I drove home from church last night, I listened to all four of the kids laugh and joke with each other.  There is no doubt that these are the best times of my life.  My body is dragging, but my heart is so full.

After the littles finished homework this afternoon, Lily asked to snuggle in my lap and watch TV.  Ava quickly noticed and asked me to "holda" her too.  After we got situated, I wrapped an arm around each of them and they laid their heads against mine.  We sat that way for about an hour.  For this weary Mama, it was just what I needed to recharge and refocus.

 (Sorry for the pitiful selfie...just one of those moments I want to remember)
 He gives strength to the weary...  (Isaiah 40:29)


My strength definitely comes from the Lord!  My sweet miracles wear me out, but I know God gave us the four of them for specific purposes and I wouldn't change one second of our life.