Wednesday, July 31, 2013

But GOD...

I've just returned home from Maria's Big House of Hope and to say it has been an adventure would be an understatement!  

After a fourteen hour flight, a twelve hour flip flop time change, and a night stay over in Beijing we finally arrived at Maria's. The staff heroes who deal with the heartbreak of orphan care day in and day out greeted us with such warmth and enthusiasm. We took a quick tour during which I could not keep my leaky eyes off the sweet babies in all the colorful Disney-themed rooms. 

We familiarized ourselves with the facility and its workings, loved on big and little babies, and searched our hearts in an attempt to understand what God was beginning in us at Maria's. Brokenness is the recurring theme in us, in China, and yes, even at a place as wonderful as Maria's. The effects of the fall, sin, and death are simply overwhelming and oppressive. "BUT GOD", two of my favorite words (learned from painful trials in my own life)... 

But God is here.  And God SEES and knows each of these children and has a life, a purpose, and a hope for them. 


Opening my daughters bible, which was brought with me because its smaller than mine, I saw psalm ten highlighted with a pink marker. Psalm ten is somewhat obscure, and I don't ever recall reading it with her.  But because it caught my eye, I read it and the following verse just jumped off the page  at me. 

Psalm 10:14 says, "But you oh God do see trouble and grief, you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you, you are the helper of the fatherless." 

Did you see that?! "BUT GOD!"  He is the helper of the fatherless!

His word is true.  God is their help.  The cute ones, the strong ones, the frail and the weak, we all need a savior. And thankfully that savior is not me.  It's Him and Him alone.  God alone can do the massive work needed to bring relief and love to the orphans of China.  And I'm so glad He will. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

In Country now!

What a surreal day! 

First of all, today 7/19/2013 is my Caleb's first birthday.  He is such a precious gift. He loves playing with balls, splashing in water, and listening to music. Although he's not a good sleeper (yet) he is a sweet boy and is growing up so fast. We celebrated his birthday with Birthday Cake Oreos and all singing to him.  He was throwing a fit until we started singing and giving him chocolate. He got glad very quickly, turns out birthdays aren't so bad. 

After Caleb's little birthday hoo-ha my friend Rafye picked me up, and about five minutes down the road Doug called saying i forgot a few things, so she then brought me back to the campsite for the few forgotten items, took me to lunch at The Silo for delicious pizza, then dropped me off at Chicago OHare airport.  Where I met the TWENTY fabulous people I will be traveling with to China. 

Huge thank yous to my friend Rafye!!

I had barely arrived at the airport when I saw a young lady, probably mid 20s crying and quite distraught. She got in line behind me at ticketing and had just realized she was dropped off at the airport a day early!  Her ride was gone and she could not reach them by phone. She explained to the ticketing agent her situation and the agent said she could stay the night in the airport and fly out the next day, like it was no big deal.  I felt so bad for her. I helped her figure out the US country code and offered my cell phone and I gave her a pen and wished her the best. I was so nervous about my flight and running a few minutes late for the team meeting that that's all I did.  I so wish I could have done more.  I am praying for the lady from Manchester, England today though. 

After that little encounter my phone rang as i was going through security. It was our team leader so i bombed the call. Lol.  I got through security without any trouble, but they did pat down my hair, maybe because she saw my Texas address and figured Texans hide stuff in our big hair!  

Our team is great!  From young college students to moms and Grandmas, we all are excited to embark on this adventure to see what God has in store for us.  There is really a sense of expectation as person after person has told me, " I'm not sure what God is doing, but I know it will be good."

Our flight was delayed first for a late meal cart, then for rerouting around a storm. We flew out of Chicago east over Lake Michigan, then north all the way up through Canada over the North Pole and over a portion of the Arctic Circle before we turn south and land in Beijing.  We will stay the night Beijing then fly again to Luoyang mid day Saturday. 

We will be 13 hours ahead of central time and our flight coincidentally is approximately 13 hours long!  

Prayers for the family, for health, for travels, and for God to move are sincerely appreciated. 

1:46am CST nearly everyone is asleep on the plane or pretending to be... I can't sleep, I'm so uncomfortable. My Tylenol pm is in the overhead bin and I'd have to disturb too many people to get to it. Additionally, my headphones are missing. I had them when I first got on the plane. I tested them, they worked and I stashed them somewhere. Now they're gone. Five and a half hours down only eight to go! . 

It's dark and cozy in the plane, but bright as noonday outside!  It's a White Night, we are so far north it never gets dark. 

3:09am. CST. Just got up for a walk about, I cannot sit for this many hours. Those who know me know I'm not a sitter, I'm a figitter and my poor seat mates must wish I would just sit still!  I got up and was standing near a bathroom when this poor mama came out and apologized for being in there so long. She said she was looking for an outlet to pump but none was available. I told her I had a manual pump with me and she was sooooo thankful!  Hopefully I will get to talk to her more about her baby.  

We landed in Bejing at 10am CST it's 1:30am Bejing time and I have an 8am breakfast.  I should get to bed. More later... Love y'all. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On a Positive Note...

We changed parks today and I'm so glad we did.  I leave in three days for China and a move was not scheduled for this week, but the kids were miserable and bored at the last site.  So we decided that rather than tough it out 

the week before I leave, we'd move on.  

This park has water hookups close by, so we have essentially unlimited use.  It has a BEACH! Huge plus in the kids eyes, especially.  And  the dump station is close enough we can drain our tanks if they get full, into the doody wagon.  The showers are a little hike, but it's all doable.  Oh and the camp hosts here are really nice.

There were good things about the last park and just to practice gratitude we listed them off at dinner tonight. 

1. The campsite had a good climbing tree. 
2. The bathrooms were very close by. 
3. There were lots of geocaches in the park which we logged. 
4. We had good Internet  and cell service
 And last, but not least, 

5. The Nature Center had an AMAZING butterfly room


How cool is that?!

On the Move, Unexpectedly!

Well, here's a first. The park we ended up at in Wisconsin had a lake, past tense... HAD. Apparently a dam failed and the lake is no more. Further, the former lake is now a swamp, a breeding ground for mosquitoes!  They were so bad that we HOUSTONIANS couldn't stand it!  My poor babies are all bit up. So,  It's 10:30am and we are on the move.  We found a park in Illinois on Lake Michigan. I'm pretty sure we can count on that lake not being dried up.  The park is in Zion, how bad can a park be in ZION?!  

Bye bye Richard Bong Park, we won't miss you.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Go Big or GO HOME!

Four days...

I was talking with someone today expressing my feelings of excitement and outright panic about my upcoming China trip.  
The last time I left my kids I went to San Antonio with my husband for 2 nights.  It was at least three years ago.  

I just don't leave them... ever.  

I laughingly said, "It's not like a weekend get away across town But I am going to  China,  for NINE DAYS!!!

and she sweetly said to me, "Well...



When God does something where HE gets the glory it's bigger and more and harder and yes, even impossible.  He is sending me.  He has provided all the funds.  And imagine, He even has a plan for my family while I'm gone! 

I am going to TRUST HIM!  

Logistically, I am so thankful God has provided a friend who lives in Chicago who will take me to the airport so the kids will be able to say "see you soon" without rushing or being shooed away by security.  

Doug and the kids plan to move to a new campsite in Wisconsin, maybe up north while I'm out of the country.  

For those keeping score, Caleb is still nursing but I've cut back.  I've been able to pump a little for him to have while I'm gone, but mostly he will drink milk from a bottle and eat regular food.  He continues to grow so quickly.  His first birthday is July 19, the day I leave.  I have to believe God orchestrated it that way for his reasons.  

I'm really not terribly concerned for his eating, it's his sleeping (or lack thereof) that I worry about.  I have worked the night shift, and the day shift for a year.  I guess it ends now. Or at least I get an extended break!  If you'd make this a matter of prayer I'd be grateful. 

Everyone else will manage fine.  Doug took the week off work and Emily is already planning meals... mostly what junk food they'll eat while I'm gone. 

The sweet fruit of training children to work is paying off big time now.  I couldn't go on this trip if they're weren't as capable as they are.  With Doug at the helm, and Emily as his first mate, I know things will go swimmingly.  Ok, maybe not swimmingly, but the boat won't sink ;)

I am told there is wifi at Maria's Big House, so I plan on using it to keep you all updated.  Doug and Emily also can access my blog and facebook to update in my stead.  


Prayers are always coveted.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Moving On to Wisconsin

"Many hands make light work," is a phrase we use often at our house.  And we saw it in action last night. Everyone pitched in to pack up and in about one hour the entire campsite and trailer were packed and ready to go!  Today we are moving back into Central time, to south eastern Wisconsin, about 60 miles north of Chicago. Some of the us like moving frequently and some like staying put longer.  

I saw this beautiful pillow in a shop in Nashville, IN (which was very much like Old Town Spring). This store had artwork that was simply inspiring! I loved it.  I took lots of pics, but the butterfly "Embrace Change" pillow was my favorite.  I almost bought it.  Seriously.  

In New Carlisle we did end up enjoying the second half of our week at this campsite a little more than we first expected.  The first few days we had a creepy neighbor that really made us uncomfortable after he left, we seemed to relax and enjoy "Mini Mountain" for what it is. This was our first experience of feeling that red flag and caution about someone we met on the road.  For the most part we have had such a great time meeting sweet families and making new friends. 

The parks up north here have limited hook ups with electricity being the only thing available on most campsites.  So we use our on board water for necessities, buy drinking water, and use the campground showers and sinks.  It's not most convenient, but it works for a week at a time.  We will be at our next site until Friday when a high school friend who lives near Chicago will take me to the airport where I will fly a world away for nine days. 

God is going to do a good work in us all  while I am gone, I am certain.  I am praying for spiritual renewal, new vision, perspective, and his will to be accomplished.  Please pray for my family as they endure and grow, and for goodness sake, even have some fun while I am gone!  And pray for me that I may spread the good news, hug some tiny souls, and hear clearly what God has in store. 

Have a blessed Sunday, enjoy fellowshipping with the saints, and LOVE those people God outs in your path today!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Yesterday we spent the day at Indiana Dunes State Park.  We decided that the name of Lake Michigan should actually be The Michigan Sea.  


We were on the southeastern side of the beach and could see the Chicago skyline faintly in the distance.

After they got used to the clear, cold water, the kids splashed and played all day.  
Caleb mostly ate sand and watermelon

The water Lily Anne is standing in, is from a creek that flows down from the oak forest above the beach.  The oak trees drop acorns, branches and leaves which have tannins in them which make the water the orangy color you see in this pic.  The lake water was very blue and clean. 

Sarah got cold, so we buried her in the sand with a monkey floatie for a pillow... if only we had some peeled grapes to feed her!

Abbie being too cool for this floatie!

My Biggest Boy and my Baby Boy 

We left for home sleepy, sandy, sunburned, and happy. 

Love, love, love the beach.

p.s. there are ALOT of rules at this beach. For the amount of time and man power spent enforcing these rules they could have had enough life guards to open the other parts of the beach and let people use whatever floaties they want.  I kept feeling like, You have got to be kidding me!  This is a BEACH, PEOPLE! Lighten up!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Learning Curve

We went to Walmart this afternoon and met the nicest family, we nicknamed them "the Blondies" because they all had blonde hair.  With five children, older teens down to babies, we saw them first at Chick fil A then at Walmart, I told them we were stalking them ;-).  They were vacationing at the State Park which made me wish we would have stayed there.

Part of the learning curve of living on the road is finding our style, what we like, what we don't; what we can afford, what we can't and figuring out what makes one place feel like home and another feel like yeah-lets-get-outta-here-asap!  Since we scheduled a mailing here we have to stay, but I think we are going to leave as soon as it arrives.  The state parks have bigger spaces, more families, and a fun feel to them and the current park feels like we are living in someone else's yard.

In other news, I bought a couple of the important things I need for my trip. 


So now that my priorities are straight I can go :-)

Thank you all so much for your prayers.  I truly have felt a release of the fear and have begun to try to focus on the heart on why I'm going.  

God needs to sell our house and provide us a new one so we can fill it up with whoever he has for us.  

I think I'm going on a fact finding mission.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Prayers Requested Please

The countdown is on...

Ten Days.... 240 hours... that's it until I leave.

And (can I be really honest here) I am feeling a little bit terrified.

What ifs play over and over in my head.  The news of the crashed flight in San Francisco didn't help at all either.

And the babies... I dreamed about being in a facility with so many crying babies last night.

My heart is going to break and I feel myself steeling against it.

Can ya'll pray please?

Words of encouragement and prayers are so, so, so appreciated.

Friday, July 5, 2013

WHY am I Going to CHINA?

It's one of the most frequent questions that comes up.

In short the answer to this is:

James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: 
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, 
and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

The deeper answer to the WHY question is:

My heart has been stirred over and over through the years following the adoption journeys of my friends Jen Johnson and Susanna Musser , and the very courageous Katie in Uganda as they have followed the Lord by adopting children with special needs from (or in) foreign countries.  

Their faith, persistence, hope, and compassion are truly inspiring.  If you want to know Jesus, get to know these women. 

The need is great, but our SAVIOR is even greater! He moves in all kinds of ways to accomplish His work in this fallen world, a world where parents die or can't or won't care for their children.  

Not everyone is called to adopt.  But everyone is called to DO SOMETHING.  One of the very clear commands in scripture is to "visit orphans and widows in their distress." and that is what this trip is all about for me. 

What are you doing to fulfill that command? What is God calling you to do? 


There are literally thousands of organizations you can work with to "visit orphans and widows in their distress."  Ask the Lord what HE wants you to do and JUST DO IT! 

If God can send me, a mom of nine children, living in a RV, traveling the U.S. He can send ANYONE! 

It's His work, be a part of it. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Death March...

I took the kids on a death march short hike, through the woods today.  

We figured out that the half mile label must really be as the bird flies, and the bird they used must have flown over the cuckoos nest because this was more like two miles. Uphill. Both ways.  Not to say it wasn't lovely, we were just a tad unprepared for a long hike.  

Hannah carried someone (and for a little bit two someones) for the entire hike.  She was a trooper!

Emily took care of Lily Anne for much of the journey, encouraging, helping, and carrying her when necessary.  

See, it really was a pretty hike.

Sarah, my five year old, brought water, so she was the most prepared.  I forgot to eat breakfast and was about ready to start eating leaves and bark by the end.  Thank goodness I had a Luna bar in the van or we may still be sitting there.