Tuesday, May 28, 2013


This weekend was my family's very first homeschool conference which happened to be in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms (Fl homeschoolers know how to roll). :)  The entire weekend was fantastic and served as our first real family vacation with Meisi. :) 

The weekend started with kids having fun in the lobby of the hotel...
Aili and Ian were sword fighting with some free posters but here it looks like she is listening to his heart??
 Next Shrek characters appeared...funny moment...when we first walked in I saw a red haired character in green dress and I kept calling her Merida...when I saw Puss in Boots I realized, "OH...that is Feona (Sp?) - NOT Merida!" lol... I apologized to the character!  haha

Ian enjoys characters...Meisi was pretty scared of them.  I'm sure she'd never seen anything like them!

Next we were surprised with an upgrade to our room!  A nice benefit of spending many, many nights in Marriott hotels in China. :) 

To be completely honest... My prayer and goal for going to the homeschool conference was to either figure out that homeschooling really wasn't for our family after all or learn how to thrive at homeschooling rather than survive (secretly hoping I would hear the first option).  :) 

The outcome -
So. Much. More.
So much more than just information about homeschooling...

Isn't that how God works? 
We ask for something we think we need or want and He gives us -
So. Much. More!

I learned so much I don't think it is possible to elaborate fully in a blog.  Here are just a few highlights. :)

Don't worry - I'm not going to try to talk you into homeschooling...certainly not what this is about! 

I would never want you to try that if God hadn't called you to it! It is hard enough when He has! 

One of the speakers said, "If God has told you to homeschool you should know -Homeschooling is HARD but it is the hardest, best thing you will ever do!"

That alone was something I needed to hear (even though I didn't know I needed or wanted to hear that) over and over from the speakers (and these are people who love homeschooling)...

When I read blogs about people who are blissfully happy homeschooling and can't imagine doing anything other than that... I feel I must be doing the wrong thing because I'm not sure I could describe any day like some homeschoolers do on their blogs....

So to hear these speakers speak openly about how some days they sit and cry with their kids, that they frequently make calls to their husbands for help because the day has been so hard, how homeschooling has brought them to their knees more than anything else...

Hearing them say that homeschooling is
So. Much. More than just education...

I thought.. 
Wow!  My feelings/fears/distress might be more normal than I believed! 

Many of the same messages (like that one) resonated with me through different speakers on totally different topics.  The key message for me was:
- Investing in what matters most - my relationship with God, nurturing my marriage, discipling my kids... 

What I learned about Myself - as I mentioned in this previous blog about homeschooling -
  • I am selfish! I'm missing out on my life and my relationships by spending way too much of "my time" on email or facebook and not with my people.
  • I love exhibit halls - the conversations, the choices... it is like intelligently deciding which product is best for which patient  (pharmacy mind not too far gone yet). Only this time it is which product is best for my children - really enjoyed it (was very intrigued by all the families with wheeled carts though pulling around all their purchases) which leads to...
  • I don't like spending money (aka tightwad)... but super excited and at peace about the purchases I made (which are being mailed to me because I like nice boxed sets that tell me what to do when). :)

What I learned about my husband- he is an amazing multi tasker! 
  • He can keep Meisi entertained (drawing with her, playing on ipad with her...) while still listening completely to speaker, taking notes on phone and pictures of lecture screen - ALL at the SAME time! 
  • He actually enjoys taking all the kids to the pool at once and it doesn't stress him! 
  • He exemplifies the foot washing servant leader of Christ as he will step in and do whatever is needed at any moment for our kids or me. 
  • He is amazing ( I already knew that but sometimes good to be reminded) ;)

What I learned about my kids - they are EACH masterpieces. 
  • They want  Brian and I to be their parents. 
  • They long to have our undivided attention (ahemm...put down the phone), and
  • They long for us to actively listen and engage in conversation. 
  • They actually like being homeschooled. 
  • They each want to be the teacher's pet (and it is possible to allow them each to be).

What I learned about my relationship with God - this one is the most critical and while much of it isn't new to me - it renewed me this weekend...

  • God loves me and knows me better than anyone (even knows my thoughts).. AND... He still likes me - He enjoys my attention and our time together.  John 13:34-15: Love one another as I have loved you.... How/when did he love me?  Only when I am good?  Only when I am living life for Him and following Him immediately?  Nope - when I was living in darkness, a sinner, ungodly - that is when He died for me...and you. 
  • Even with all my baggage and special needs - he adopted me into his family which has no biological children.  Even still I struggle with attachment... even though I KNOW He loves me the same today as yesterday and forever (He is unchanging)... I STILL try to work to please Him... I still try to do it my way, even though I know He could do it better His way....I try to do more instead of letting Him just love me and pour His grace out on me...

What was Heartbreaking??!!
the realization that my kids also struggle with the same things...from ME

Transforming to realize
  • that more than any subject we may be trying to work thorough (math worksheets or writing assignments) or more than any task we are trying to complete (think doing dishes, cleaning rooms)..their hearts and our relationship is most important (don't ruin the relationship over school or chores!)
  • That EACH of my children are masterpieces - hand crafted by God Himself! (so treat them as such).
Transforming to remember
Before anything or anyone else - I MUST continue to grow in my relationship with Christ. That means
  • coming to Christ daily (continuing to sit in my special place, reading His word and praying to Him then listening for Him)
  • taking His yoke (asking Him what He wants me to carry instead of being burdened by what I think I should carry) and
  • then learning from Him on my knees (because I certainly need new wisdom and mercies daily...ahemm.... I have 3 kids ,24 hours a day, 7 days a week !).
Transforming to be reminded -

Before my relationship with my children - I must nurture my relationship with my hubby...This is HARD!  So So hard when kids are young.  And even harder when you are a tightwad like me (paying for sitters then going on a date - are you kidding me??) 

But it is imperative...

If Satan gets a foothold in our marriage....it makes it easier for him to get to our kids...
That makes this mama's hearts beat a little faster just thinking about it...

Brian and I must make sure Jesus is the center of everything ( "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.") Ephesians 4:12
We must -
  • share our interests (verbally) - not just the "fluff", surface talk we do about our days,
  • spend time together (without children) and
  • be intimate (physically, spiritually and intellectually).

All these things I have known and at some point I have lived but how quick I am to turn away...
How quick I am to respond angrily when I've repeated myself 10 times to the kids (feel I must have an invisible cloak on or something)...how quickly I am to rush around to get from point A to B yelling "Hurry - get your shoes on!"..
Then I wonder why my kids so quickly snap at each other??  hmmm....

Throughout our adoption process we've focused on the verse,
1 Corinthians 13:13  "Faith, Hope and love but the greatest of these is love." 
LOVE!!  1 Corinthians 13 expounds upon how our Heavenly Father loves us... Which should also be my model for how I love my children...
"love is patient, (oh patient...hmmm)
love is kind... (usually doesn't mean yelling about getting shoes on or counting to three)..
...love is not easily angered,  (yep, struggle with that one when my invisible cloak is on)
it keeps no record of wrongs... (yep, gotta work on that one...)
...always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres...
love never fails..

So thankful He loves me this much.  So thankful He is refining me and not done with me yet.. So thankful tomorrow is a new day and we can start fresh!

He gives us So. Much. More
He loves us So. Much. More

Today I'm "running to his arms"... One of my favorite praise songs ("Forever Reign").. Listen to it here:

My spirit has been renewed.  I'm sure I will slip and will fall but praise the Lord He is going to still be there to embrace me and  love me through it. I hope and pray I can pour out that same grace to my children.   Loving them, truly LOVING - even when it is hard.  Liking them even when it is harder.  Waving and smiling at them instead of looking at my cell phone checking facebook....

So I came to this conference hoping to hear something like, "Yes, Deidra - you are right - you aren't cut out for homeschooling and you should quit."  But instead I heard,
"Education is Discipleship.
This is the best thing for your kids. 
You are the best teacher for your kids.
Above academics is your relationship with them and
Homeschooling WILL be hard but it will be the hardest, best thing you will ever do!" 

Now - please hear me that I am not saying I heard it is the best for ALL kids... God doesn't usually talk to me about your kids... He only told me it is the best for mine.  Will we homeschool through high school?  I have no idea! I just know that for now we are continuing to be a homeschooling family. And for the first time I am excited about it and eager to see how God uses this to grow us.  While realizing, just as a farmer doesn't see oranges growing in a few days or months from his newly planted orange tree... it will take time to see the fruit of this calling in my children...

Today I feel transformed from where I was just a couple days ago... renewed and at peace with where God has us right now.

Still amazed how He continues to give us 

And when those cloudy days come (and they will come), when I am tired and weak and I'm again questioning my sanity... I will come back here to remind myself, "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so...Little ones to Him belong - they are weak but He is strong..." and that "My heart will sing, no other name...Jesus...Jesus"

Onto a lighter note...PICTURES!!!

The kids really enjoyed the convention as well!
The last night in the hotel, Aili and I sat and talked in the bed about how much fun she had and how she was sad to leave.  When I asked if she was surprised at how fun a homeschooling conference could be she said, "What?  I thought it was a church thing!"  :)  Love it -granted - not all homeschoolers are Christian but love that there was such a great faith based group there! 

Meisi enjoyed all the free stuff she got (candy from the Wycliffe folks, Mickey ears from another booth and then loads of attention from the lifesong for orphans booth - yes, this was all at the homeschooling exhibit hall). :)
All the kids were excited to get Krispy Kreme for dinner one night!  Yep, this kinda goes back to my tightwad issues...  eating at the Gaylord is more expensive than eating at Disney!  So KK for dinner it was - judge me not - the kids were elated! 
We did splurge the next night and went to Logan's Roadhouse - our favorite steakhouse (so many great Kentucky memories)!!!  Turns out Meisi loves it too (she had a baked potato) and kept saying, "yummy" over and over. I think our guide in Anhui was right - Anhui girls do like ANY kind of potato!  :)

We spent one evening at Downtown Disney with our friends.  Wonderful how our kids just enjoy being together running in circles and playing silly made up games.  These were a couple of my favorite pics - her little Asian squat! 
 Being silly with Jie Jie (big sister). :)

Meisi was super proud of herself to pull her own luggage out of the hotel. :)  When she got to the van she cheered, "Yay" and gave high fives to each of us. :)  I continue to be amazed by our precious little gift!  Have I mentioned the ONLY show she will watch from start to finish is, "Yo Gabba Gabba!"  She loves to dance and sing! :)  Was super stoked to find this shirt for her!  She points and says, "Gabba Gabbaaaaa - yay!"   :)
On the way home from Orlando we stopped off at LEGOLAND (yes I know...living in this area is really tough for families with kids - lol.  We will certainly miss all this fun when the military moves us again)...
 How cute that she picked up the pandas out of all the options?! :) 

We really enjoyed our weekend and first family vacation! :)  I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend as well.  Please take a moment to pray for the families of those who have lost a loved one who gave their life for our freedoms.  As a military wife this is very close to my heart...  I'm very proud of my Airman and his service and thankful he is home with us this year.  I am praying for all those whose spouses, sons, daughters, moms and dads are not. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

3 months and some days. :)

Wow time flies!!  I totally agree with the saying, 'days are long but the years are short."  I think I could add to that "the months are short!" 

Can't believe we have only been with our precious little Meisi for 3 months!  Before dinner on the18th (the 3 month date), we asked the kids if they knew what today was...  Of course, they had no idea.  When we told them "3 months ago today we got Meisi."  Aili said, "It seems like she has been with us since she was born!"  Totally agree! 

Her transition into our family has been nothing short of amazing!  We prepared for hard times.  We prayed we wouldn't have those but realized it was highly possible. 

Many people ask why I think each families transition is different after adoption.  I really have no idea.  I am certainly not an expert on that subject.  I think our transition has gone incredibly smooth for many reasons... I think a big part is personality.  She is such an easy going child with a sweet, joyful spirit, almost always greeting people with a ready smile.  Obviously, she doesn't have our genes so we can take absolutely no credit for that.  :)  When we got back to the states with her, Love Without Boundaries sent us so many precious pictures and updates on her that they had sent supporters in their medical/nutrition/foster homes... Within each one they talked about how sweet she was and how the nannies said she was such an easy baby.  :)  Absolute truth!  She still is an easy baby. :)

Now don't get me wrong here.... she is a two year old.   She isn't happy when a sibling takes her toy or if they have something she wants.  Her first instinct is to scratch and poor Ian has a few marks to prove it!  Yet, she is always quick to say she is sorry and give hugs for forgiveness as she says "sorry."  Hard not to forgive that. :) 

Back to transition... I do think some other things could've helped our transition as well or at least didn't hurt. 
  • We LOVED China, the people, the culture, the food and would love to go back.  
  • We are doing all we can to help her keep as much of her heritage as we can... a dear Chinese friend (who happens to also be from Anhui where Meisi is from) is coming over to speak Chinese with her and teach us some too.
  • We eat more Asian food than we do American - always have.  Seaweed, rice and kimchee have been a family favorite and served at least weekly for over a decade. :)
  • We still buy her snacks from the Asian market which causes a cute little shrill of excitement when she sees them.
  • With homeschooling she bonded quickly with Aili and Ian since they are home ALL the TIME! 
  • While she was a daddy's girl in China she quickly became Mommy's after he went back to work as we hunkered down at home for what seemed like forever to meet all her needs (food, comfort, love). 
  • I think God knew what we could handle. :)  Between learning to be a stay at home mom and homeschooling two older kids who fight more than they love... I'm not sure I could've handled a difficult toddler.  :)  He is giving me plenty of trials through homeschooling that is refining me daily. :)
  • More than anything though - we prayed for her day and night for months before we got to her.  You, my precious prayer warrior friends, prayed for her too and prayed specifically while in China over every hurdle we faced...  We believe God is all powerful and will answer.  May not be today or tomorrow...but He will answer.  One of my favorite verses is "If you believe you will receive whatever you ask in prayer."  Matthew 21:22.  We believed, you prayed with us and God answered in a marvelous beyond amazing way!  Thank you!  Truly, thank you for standing in the gap for our family!  There is nothing material I could ever give you that would quantify the joy and peace brought through your prayers and support. 
New words for Meisi - "I luv oo.", "gen" (for again), "ready" (still learning set, go), "Come here, come on" (she hears that a lot!), "hold" (when she wants picked up), "yummy", "mommy look!", "yellow" (although she calls every color yellow),  "bounce" (she LOVES the trampoline). :)

We were busy as usual this month... our family never seems to sit still for very long (may be why homeschooling is SO SO HARD yet also makes it possible). :) 

Ready for some pictures?? 
We started off the month going to Ian's last tball game. :) I was sad to miss most of his season (we were staying home while he and Brian went) but glad we got to see the last game. Meisi really enjoyed the game....really I think she loves anything that involves being outside. :)

Next we had some family fun going blueberry picking at this yummy organic place near our house.  Kids probably ate as many off the bush as we bought...boy were they delish!!  I just love some of these sweet moments of Aili helping Meisi (Aili was worried about spiders since I got a terrible bite last year picking) and Ian holding her hand to make sure she didn't fall. :)  They truly adore her. :)

During the week after this we took our first road trip to visit our very dear friends in South Carolina. The kids did great (at least on the way there) and it was much needed time of fellowship for me. :)
We had our first hair salon! It was just a little painful!  My curly hair doesn't like being straightened but the hair stylists were the cutest!
Meisi seemed to really enjoy it. Anything we do that she likes she gives these precious super tight hugs (we called them "bear hugs" growing up) and the sweetest kisses. :)

This month was Meisi's first trip to the bookstore and also super special because the girls got their ears pierced!!  Meisi is not happy about having the cleaning done each morning or night but she likes to show off her pretty ear rings. (See bottom pics):)

Meisi really enjoys her new wagon and is just too cute in it. :)  She also was all smiles having lunch with Aili at the table! :)

A friend's daughter wanted to give Meisi some dress up clothes - Aili quickly wanted to put the Mulan outfit on her!  Look how cute!!! She looks like she is bowing!! 
 This little pose is also ALL her!  She frequently does cute little poses like this for the camera...  My goodness her sweet smile melts my heart. :)

Some other cute moments :)

On the 18th (the 3 month day) the kids and I went to LEGOLAND . It was all smiles at first but ended in two lost pair of sunglasses and two grumpy kiddos...guess which two??

We are so so blessed by our littlest Princess. :)  Aili calls her "our little Empress". :)  We feel so blessed that God chose to knit us together as a family.  Ian still prays daily, "Thank you God for my family and friends, thank you for letting us get Meisi and making our trip to China safe."  Such sweet joy to my heart...

Got love???  

Consider adoption...
 PRAY and ask God if He is calling your family to adopt - .
I can't promise you it will be an easy road (the journey was emotionally and spiritually draining)...
I can't promise you it will be an easy transition for you or your child....
But I can promise that your life and the life of a child will be changed forever....
I promise it will give you a whole new understanding of being adopted by Christ and the love He has for us...

and IF God has called you to it - He will get you through it -
through the finances, through the struggles, through the transition, through the trip to China or wherever else He leads you to adopt (who knows you may even LOVE it there - we did and can't wait to return) - you just have to lean on Him and not on your own understanding.  :)  Me and many other precious families are here to support you and love on you and pray with you through the process... 

Would you consider it? 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day

Hoping you had a great Mother's Day weekend. :)  Ours was busy but wonderful. We started the weekend with Aili and I getting a pedicure (it was my big girl's first one).  Isn't the chair just adorable??  It even gave a little massage.  :)

That evening Brian and I got child free time for two hours at a "Date Night" Event at church.  It was our first time leaving Meisi in the nursery but thankfully Aili was allowed to stay with her.  She did great and it was good for Brian and I too. 

A bit late but - Happy Belated Mother's Day to all the "mothers" out there - those who have children in their home, away at school, grown and married; those who have loved a child as their own and helped them when their mom was absent; and those who carried a child and loved them - choosing life but for whatever reason had to give them up...

I admit...the latter has had my heart the past couple months as I think often of  Meisi's "birth mother."

Someone asked, "What kind of monster would abandon their child on a cold wintry day outside?"
My response, "Not a monster - rather -A mother who loved their child enough to choose life, knowing she wasn't allowed to have her or maybe couldn't afford to care for her....but making sure she was placed in the only area of this incredibly small rural area so she would be found."

I will always tell Meisi her birth mother loved her.  I don't know her situation.  I don't know why she had to leave her  - whether it was the strict one child policy, whether it was because she did know of her heart condition and knew she could not afford to take care of her in the cash society (where they have no insurance and must pay for every medical need).  I know she cared enough to care for herself while pregnant.  Meisi's records indicate she was full term and weighed 8 lbs at birth - 8lbs!  She loved her and made the hardest decision a mother could ever make - to giver her up in hopes that she could live life and live it more abundantly.  Praise God she chose life!  Because this precious little girl has brought our family more life and joy than we could have imagined or prayed for. 

Yet, at the "Date Night" event at church we heard Mark Schultz recount that as an adopted child he always longed to meet a blood relative to see where he got his musical talent from, to see where his laugh comes from and loss of hair... But that has never happened and he realized it probably wouldn't... then he looked into the face of his own child (his blood relative) and saw his laugh in his son, his big eyes... 

I wept.  My heart aches for our sweet daughter that she most likely will never get to see where her beautiful brown eyes, silky black hair and sweet, sweet spirit has come from... I prayed that God will heal her heart as someday she will ask questions.  Someday she will wonder why.  Praying God fills her with love for this brave woman who gave her life and all her beautiful self inside and out. Pray that while we may never understand the circumstances her birth mother faced that God knew every day of her life before one came to be... and that includes knowing she was to be in our family (Psalm 139:16).

I pray for her birth mother.... I've prayed for her a lot... I pray that she somehow has peace to know that the beautiful baby girl she carried and delivered is loved beyond measure and that her heart is healed.  I pray that somehow she will come to know and have a personal relationship with Jesus who loves her unconditionally and will heal the brokenness.

After date night Meisi gave me one of her sweet kisses that Aili says always sounds like, "Mmmwaa!" Then for the first time she said in the sweetest voice, "I uv oo."  My heart melted!  Oh how I love our precious baby. :)  Then she looked at Brian and did the same to him. :)  LOVE LOVE LOVE how God gives us what we need at the very moment we need it.  How perfect and warming that was to my mommy heart. 

The next day was Mother's Day  It was the best Mother's Day yet.  :)  This time last year we had not even seen our precious Meisi's face and here we are one year later - enjoying each and every day WITH her. :)  It is a wonderful treat to be mommy to three precious children. :)  They showered me with love, cards and a gift.  We went to church and then to the beach with some friends. :)  This was Meisi's first time IN the water and she LOVED it! :)  Fearless she is!  I couldn't stop taking pictures of our littlest Princess. :) 


I truly hope you enjoyed your Mother's day.  I wish I had time to call each woman in my life who has mentored me and been a living example as to what a Godly mother should be.  :)  I truly thank my God each time I remember you. :) Phil 1:3.
"MMMWAA!!" :)