Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to School

We had an amazing summer of golf, swimming, VBS, mission trips and travel.  I am so thankful to be home and enjoy my children and be able to be the one to drive them where they need to go even though some days I feel like my car should be yellow :).
In May we decided that Lizzie would go to school.  John Reese and Ellie attended a Christian school here in Decatur and had precious teachers there prior to homeschooling.
One of those same teachers has my Lizzie in her class right now, and it is just the perfect fit.  God had to really work on my heart about this, but Reese led us to the decision, and I know it was the right one!
I miss having those snuggles during the day and watching Lizzie interact with her brother and sister throughout the day as well as the many other privileges of homeschooling, but I am so thankful for the progress she is already making in first grade and also some quiet home time with my other two!  AND... I get lots of sweet Lizzie love when she gets in the car after school!
We now have a high schooler, middle schooler and a first grader!  I love these seasons!  Watching my older two grow into young people is  truly a joy!  Every day is not easy, but we really do enjoy each other alot!
We have had Lizzie home for a year and 5 months.  It feels like she has been with us forever!  It is truly amazing to see how she has progressed in this short time.
Some of this blog is a journal for us and some is info for other adoptive moms reading.  I know I read every word of other mom's blogs when in the process and now for encouragement and information on transition, adjustments, bonding and more!
So here is the general update...
I feel great about where Lizzie is emotionally.  She is very loving, sensitive and kind.  She is very open with her emotions and communicates everything she is feeling.  She responds well to discipline, great to praise and truly wants to please us.  She is thoughtful with John Reese and Ellie and has a wonderful relationship with them. They do "baby" her some, but they also just play, too.  Last night she orchestrated a "talent/sing long" show before bed time.  She had a toy microphone and sang and son and passed it around for us all to have a turn.  I love how her young and funny spirit keeps the other two young and silly!  I love how they go along with her plans!
Lizzie has a great relationship with Reese's parents who live near us and loves to spend time with them and have special nights to spend the night.  She acts just like the other two when it is time to come home - a little happy and a little sad and a little spoiled :).  Nana and Papa adore her, and we are so thankful to see that sweet relationship!
Lizzie has progressed so much physically with being able to ride her bike without training wheels on the trails, skipping, balancing and ballet.  Her fine motor was so delayed.  She is drawing detailed pictures and writing her letters and numbers.  This didn't happen quite as quickly as I would have liked, but it has happened in God's timing and it has been fun for all of us to watch and to praise her as she has progressed.
Lizzie's overall health is very good.  She has had so many tests run and blood drawn, and everything has come back normal.  She is very small and is not gaining too much weight, but all of her tests are normal, so we are praising God for normal and praying for her to GROW!  She is growing taller, but is still very small.
Lizzie does miss her foster family very much and talks about them often.  Sometimes she will go days or weeks without talking about them, and then something will trigger a memory.  We are so thankful that she has such happy memories of being with them.  She really wants me to text or email them, but she usually lets it go.  We just let her talk and ask lots of questions.  I always tell her that they love and miss her so much.  Sometimes she is pretty funny because she will mention them when she doesn't want to do something like... "Gingi didn't floss my teeth.  Gingi didn't pull my hair trying to get out tangles."  Recently she was recalling some stories and saying "My mom did this or that" and she was clearly not referring to me.  So I listened and went with it and a few minutes later asked her "Who am I"  She said "My mommy!"  I LOVE it!  I really think as hard as it is to hear sometimes when she says "I want to go to Hungary."  "I miss my mom and dad"  I think it is soooo healthy for her to be able to communicate all of that that I am truly thankful.  AND, what a huge blessing it is that she was loved and adored!  An answer to prayer!   God is good.  All the time!

Monday, May 6, 2013

End of the School Year

We have reached the end of our first homeschooling year with Lizzie.  It has been amazing to watch her grow and learn.  She is a fun student!  She absolutely LOVES to learn everything she can about animals.  Our newest reward system involves her picking several animals to watch videos of on Youtube after she completes her work.
She is playing soccer and last week learned to tie during her soccer game!  Her shorts have a very long string, so... while she was not playing she learned to tie.  She was SO excited!  She immediately learned to tie her shoes the same night.
She will have her first dance recital in a few weeks.  I am not really sure what she will LOVE to do, but she is really happy doing everything!  Her teachers and coaches have been so kind and patient with her as she is learning how to behave, be on a team, be in a dance class - so many brand new things for her still.
We are filled with thanksgiving daily that she is ours!  We have been blessed beyond measure!  I love the joy that Lizzie brings to others, too - she is a special, special girl!
Recently, a friend commented on how smooth the transition seemed for our family to go from two children to three and how kind and helpful John Reese and Ellie are.
God is good!  He has worked in all of us to make this a peaceful time of transition.  There are many days and moments where it is not easy and we are all still adjusting, but I am so proud of John Reese for the big brother he is to Ellie and Lizzie and for handling change so gracefully - this is a boy that does not LOVE change!  I am so proud of Ellie for being so kind and thoughtful with Lizzie and for helping me so much with her.  Sunday morning I went to wake them for church and found Lizzie snuggled close to Ellie in Ellie's bed - this was a first, and it was a precious sight to this Mama!
A few more doctors and tests of different kinds are in Lizzie's future.  We continue to see her grow and thrive, but I would ask you to pray that she would GROW!!! and amaze the next set of doctors!

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Home One Year

We returned home from Hungary with Lizzie on March 1, 2012.  It is still unbelievable that we have been home a year. In some ways it seems like yesterday, and in some ways it seems like Lizzie has always been with us.
We are forever changed by this process.  I love looking back and seeing how God worked through so many things.
John Reese and Ellie couldn't be better with her.  Of course, I feared how their relationship would be affected and if they would really feel like true siblings for a while, and it is really amazing how God just makes that happen.  They love her fiercely as she does them!
I am thankful:
Lizzie is growing and maturing
She is progressing in her school work
She loves to learn new things
She trusts us
She makes friends
She constantly communicates her emotions
She has a heart that wants to please
She is a beautiful, precious child and I cannot wait to see how God works in and through her life and her story

We are still struggling though...
Discipline is hard - I am constantly struggling with how firm to be with her, and I daily fail
We want her to obey and we want to have the same expectations of her behavior as we have for John Reese and Ellie - but she is different
She is so active... she has sooo many words
It is very difficult as a mother to determine if her actions are just plain sin or if there are insecurities because of adoption
I fear hurting our bond by being too harsh - but it takes a pretty intense change in my voice to get her attention
Some days are easier than others
We have started a sticker chart to reward immediate obedience - and she loves that - mostly!
Some days she says "I don't want a sticker!"

She daily makes us laugh!
Some new words/sayings:
"I am serious!"
"Mom, are you serious?"
"Mom, do you know who loves you?"  "Me"
"That is so gross!"
And her favorite to everybody and anybody in the family who will listen and play this game... "Hey, let's talk animals."  Then we have to name our favorite big or small animals or ocean animals or African animals - talk about if they are nice or mean  - what they eat, etc...  And she NEVER gets tired of this game.
I am honored to be her mother.  I am thankful for how far we have come in one year.  I pray I will look at the positives and be encouraged and not get overwhelmed with how far we still have to go...
I am thankful that this is how God looks at me - that Jesus saves, but that He knows I am still being molded to be more like Him.  Thankful that He doesn't give up on me or focus on the negative when I stomp my feet and want my own way!  He keeps on loving, full of grace and mercy and compassion - please Lord help me do the same with my sweet children.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gotcha Day!

Saturday was Lizzie's Gotcha Day.  On that day, one year ago, we had visited with her for 3 days and she was finally released to us to spend our next 30 days bonding before officially adopting her.  Though our visitation time was short, it was still difficult to leave her each day.  But, I believe it was healthiest for her as she transitioned and am thankful for the way the process is completed in Hungary.
Lizzie enjoyed us from the beginning; we were fun and exciting.  She had not spent much time outside of her foster home in those three years.  She was kind and affectionate and began calling us Mommy and Daddy and saying "I love you" immediately.  This is also how she was coached by the social workers and facilitators.  "Here are your new mommy and daddy and brother and sister - say I love you."  And she did.
On that Gotcha Day, though a new season began for me and my sweet girl.  While I was constantly thankful that she was always kind to John Reese and Ellie and mostly Reese - we went through some quite difficult days.
Our mornings would begin with having to wake her by opening the curtains at 8:30 or 9.  She prefers to wake up on her own - we get that now :).  I would begin a morning routine of trying to rub her back or give her a good morning hug and she would push me away, turn her face, wipe my kisses off and choose not to look at me.  Then she would give good morning hugs and kisses to everybody else.    She would avoid talking to me, not answer questions, push away food I gave her and probably more that I, thankfully, don't remember.
The days would progress this way with us having some break throughs throughout the day.  When every one else was tired in the afternoons, I would let her ride my back around the apartment pretending I was a dog or I would race her up and down the halls outside of our room.  Encouragingly, she did always want me to take her potty and read her books at night.  She grew very attached to our night time routine, although when all books were read and prayers and songs were finished, she usually wanted me to sit in a chair beside her while she fell asleep refusing hugs, snuggles, rocking.
And this is pretty much the way things were for 30 days.  We had lots of breakthroughs throughout those days -but we were all a little worried.
God provided such peace for all of us, and I was constantly comforted and reminding Reese and John Reese and Ellie that she was resisting me because I was number 3 Mommy and she had to see if I was going to hang around even she was pushing me away.
I still remember the day that we had been home a week, and Ellie and I ran to Target and she asked for me the entire time and was close to tears.  I got big hugs and kisses when I got home.  We were all so excited.  It was such big news for us "Yay, Lizzie missed Mommy today and almost cried!"  Not a conversation I expected to have as a Mama, but that's where we were and we celebrated!
Lizzie has come so far in a year. Her language is amazing.  Her abilities to try new things impress us daily.  She is learning to read.  She loves to travel.  She makes friends easily.  She loves church.  She constantly talks with us about coming to get her in Hungary, her foster family and how she misses them  and is just really open with her emotions - which I think is so healthy.  And now she really does "love" her Mommy and Daddy and brother and sister - and all of her family!
Physically, she has grown 4 inches and gained 6 lbs in a year.  She has lost 4 more teeth and her small bowel is really not a significant issue.
God is good and faithful and true!  I am reminded of this constantly and again so thankful and privileged to have been called on this journey!
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, to Him be the glory."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Christmas and more

We are so thankful for an amazing Christmas with our Lizzie.  Last year we had gifts out for her including a suitcase and a Bitty Baby, but what a joy to watch her this year.  We were all so excited for her.  She enjoyed shopping and choosing gifts for her brother and sister - and me and Reese, too and even used her own money to buy one gift.
We packed in all we could in a month including the Botanical Garden lights, baking and decorating cookies, lots of Christmas books, traveling to see family and friends, shopping, Church Christmas programs, wrapping gifts and movies.
I wish I would have used a video camera while driving through the lights at the Botanical Gardens - oh my - Lizzie was hilarious "Look, look - pretty, pretty - wow!"  All at a very loud and high volume :)

We have begun our second semester of homeschooling, and Lizzie amazes me each day with all she is able to learn.  She is sounding out words, identifying some sight words, great with math and loves to sing and play games.  I didn't homeschool John Reese and Ellie for kindergarten - so this is really fun - and also challenging at times - mostly to get her to sit still and pay attention.  But - oh - how rewarding to be the one with her when things "click."  It is a precious blessing that I am able to do this and I am truly thankful.

There are a few new people checking in on this blog as more and more people are becoming interested in Hungarian adoption - some due to the recent (and sad) ban on Russian adoptions.

I am so thankful that God led us to Hungary because that is where our daughter was.  We loved our time in Budapest and miss it every day.  At this time last year we were packing our suitcases to leave - what an exciting time for our family.  I am glad we went to Hungary, but I am mostly glad that we obeyed.

I cannot imagine our life without Lizzie.
It is not the same, and it is not easy -but God is good and our days are filled with much laughter and joy and peace!

Every day is not easy and there are things I never have had to deal with and don't always know how including:

"I already had a mom.  I miss Gingi.  I want to go back."  Now, that may sound alarming, and it is not anything you can prepare yourself to hear as a mom, but the truth is I am thankful she has happy memories and misses her foster family.  And, when she says she wants to go back, she doesn't mean without us, she is just homesick for the home she had for three years.  We talk and pray and she moves on.

It is not always easy for me to deal with her "delays."  Though it is so clear she is very bright and capable and her delays are caused from lack of exposure - I still am weak at times and compare her to other seven year olds or remember what John Reese and Ellie were able to do at these ages and I kind of panic wanting to "catch her up."  But that is not her story or her journey, and I know that God will use this time in her life to teach us both many lessons.

I am older!  She is very energetic and talkative, and, at times, I am worn out!

She is so tiny, and, at times, I have fear about wanting her to be a "normal size." But God constantly reminds me that he took care of her for six years - He's got this!

And that's the biggest lesson I have learned over this year - I am here to be used by God - not to fit Him into MY plans!  I pray I learn to live like this more each day.

Friday, November 30, 2012


Prayer Journal Entry Nov. 2011

Please, please Lord let her love her brother and sister equally.  Please let her immediately accept them and adore them as they already do her.  Please let her not be MEAN to them as she adjusts.

Prayer Journal Entry Nov. 2012

Thank you Lord that it seems like they have always been siblings.  Thank you so much for these sweet bonds that exist between all three of our children. It is amazing to watch.  Thank you Lord that Lizzie loves them equally and enjoys different activities and special times with John Reese and Ellie.

God is so good!  I do not always prayer journal.  As a matter of fact, from the time we got Lizzie home until recently my prayer life has been more of survival/thanks/and please remember so and so. And every time I think of someone I need to pray for, I just do it right then because I know the thought might not come back to me for a while.  I want to go back deeper with God, and this season of bringing Lizzie home has filled me with peace and contentment and a truly thankful heart.  But I just haven't had a lot of words, and those I have had have not made it on paper.
So... I am journaling this to remind myself of His goodness and faithfulness, not mine!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Reflecting on God's Amazing Grace

As I sit here and watch Reese work in the yard and see the changing colors of the leaves and pumpkins on the front porch, I remember so vividly the way I felt at this time last year. I was beyond ready for our Lizzie, and we were not receiving any news that led us to believe that we would have a referral soon.
I so badly wanted to take in the moments with our family of 4 and not wish any moments away, but I was just desperate to get to our girl!
Two years ago this month, I had a conversation with a friend about their family adopting a little girl from China with special needs. (Also thinking in my mind, "Wow that they could do special needs - no way could I and especially not Reese - and our Lizzie does have some medical needs that cause her to be labeled "Special Needs") - God is amazing and so much bigger than we can imagine.
She shared that God placed this on her heart before he did her husband's and she just began to pray for him and within months they were pursuing adoption.
I was standing in my church parking lot and was totally overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions.
From the moment we were told Ellie would be Ellie - Reese just knew our family was complete.  There were days that I was totally overwhelmed with having two children two years apart, but there were soooo many days that I felt like we were not finished and that somehow we would have another child.
I would walk by our guest room (that room is now Ellie's and the "guest room" became Lizzie's) and pray that if God didn't want it to be empty that somehow He would show me His plan and why I had these desires for a third child, when Reese was so sure.
I prayed for a submissive heart and spirit and God was faithful.
It never dawned on me to pray for Reese's heart to be opened to adoption.  He said "no" and I certainly didn't want to manipulate him.  He was (and is) such an active Daddy that I didn't want him to feel stretched.
But that afternoon in the parking lot - it was like God whispered - "It's time to pray."  Within weeks of that day, I knew we would adopt a daughter.  I prayed beside my bed one Saturday morning (after finishing Mary Beth Chapman's book - Choosing Joy) and as I was praying God gave me a vision of our Lizzie.  It was the back of her and she had dark curly hair and was in pajamas and I thought she looked about 3 or 4.  On that day - she was 4.
This vision was crucial to us following His plan because in all the years that I had discussed adoption with friends or with Reese - I would say "If we adopt (Reese shaking his head - no, no, no) then I would want to get the tiniest baby - I want to go somewhere to get a baby."  I LOVE babies!  I love everything about a newborn - the smells, the wrinkles, the toes, the yawns!!! LOVE IT!!!
But, God showed me a little girl that I would mother - and I knew it was from Him.
I was concerned that I was a bit emotional after reading Mary Beth's story - but I just knew it was HIM.
So... when I went to Reese with all of this that was going on in my heart and mind - I said, "And the biggest reason that I know this is God, not me - is that she is not a baby - I think she will be older."
Last November 23, we received the referral pictures of our Lizzie, then 5 almost 6 - and for about a month, everyone around me rejoiced.  Ellie's first words were "Oh Mom, 6 is better, then it's like we can be friends!"  Precious girl.  But I must admit that while I KNEW she was ours, I was completely OVERCOME with FEAR!  Fear about her past and how much of it was spent NOT in our family, fear that she would be old enough to NOT like us, fear about all she could have been exposed to, fear she would not like homeschooling (she was in kindergarten) and really alot of FEAR that I couldn't love her like I needed to because I wouldn't have those years to "baby" her and carry her around and hold her.
Well this precious, independent daughter of ours has spent many hours in my arms and on my hip, she loves to play "baby" and even asks me to feed her sometimes.  She is thankful for everything we give her, she is happy and considerate AND she is active enough to keep up with the big kids without a nap, and can take long hikes and bike rides and stay up late for movie night!
She has won my heart and I am so thankful! And, I know that I am able to love her like this because and through the love of Christ.
And.... wow, that He loves me like this - and so much more!  That He adopted me into his family as a 12 year old with some pretty special needs - I can't imagine my bio information if He were to have been emailed....  She is moody, picky, can be rude, very selfish, from a dysfunctional home, allergies, acne, needs braces... :)
I am so thankful for the beautiful gift of adoption ... of His grace.
"For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves. It is a gift of God." Ephesians 2:8