Thursday, September 17, 2015


Fall at our house can be painful.  10 years ago, I was completely oblivious to the depth of pain a tiny heart can hold.  When we first saw this little man…


…we were so na├»ve!  We had taken the classes and read the books, but there’s nothing that can prepare you for the hurt of a small child’s heart, and their inability to verbalize that pain.  After a while (again naively), we thought that love and security would be enough, and that he would simply be ‘healed’ from the pain of loss.  Uh huh.  Not sure what we were smoking. 

It’s been almost 10 years since that baby boy was placed in our arms in a hotel room in China.  He was sad and afraid then.


One of the best things we did was take his big brother along when we traveled to bring him home.  Brent was 16 at the time, but not so cool that he wouldn’t spend time with Ryan.  The two of them forged a bond that was amazing to see.

Brent left home for college when Ryan was 2.  Every time he came home to visit, though, Ryan would tear through the house yelling “Brent!  BRENT!!” and LAUNCH himself at his big brother.  Then he’d snuggle in, with his face nestled in Brent’s shoulder and heave a huge sigh of contentment.

That adoration of his big brother has never changed.  Ryan’s changed some, in that he doesn’t always launch himself at Brent any more.  The contentment at being around big brother though?  It’s never wavered.

When we were home in August, we had the privilege of seeing Brent for a few days.  (He lives in one state, we currently live in another, and home is in a 3rd state.)  This was a common scene any time Brent was seated…

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…with Ryan tucked on his lap, and Brent’s dog Maximus feeling a bit displaced!  Smile    The hardest part of not seeing Brent often is Ryan’s sense of loss.  The first week he and Brent were apart after this visit, Ryan did some sleepwalking (with his bedding in his arms) looking for Brent.  Broke this mama’s heart!  He’s finally settled from that, but with October quickly approaching, we are back to night terrors and sleepwalking and horrible nights.  Does he know he is loved?  Of course!  Is he securely attached to us as his family?  Sure.  Is the sense of loss as great now as it was 10 years ago?  Yes.  And so, as we feel our way through the hurt and the agony, we continue to pray for healing in his heart.  And for his China mom and China dad—they also lost out when Ryan was left at the orphanage.  There’s just not much else we can do except cling to the promise

“Who breaks the power of sin and darkness         Whose love is mighty, and so much stronger              The King of Glory, the King above all kings…

Who rules the whole earth with awe and wonder      Who makes the orphan a son and daughter…

This is amazing grace                                                This is unfailing love                                                     That You would take my place                                         That You would bear my cross                                    You would lay down Your life                                       That I would be set free…”

~This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham

Thursday, July 23, 2015


6 months.

180 days.


That’s how long we’ve been gone.  I wish I could say it’s been fun and easy.  It hasn’t, always.  I wish I could say that I LOVE it here.  I don’t.  I don’t dislike it, but it’s not ‘home’ yet.  We’ve had some great visits:

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In February, this crew came to visit when they were at Disneyland.  We checked out the Aquarium of the Pacific with them.

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And in June, these 4 goofballs played together for 3 days, while their mom and I enjoyed spending time together for the first time in way too long.

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July brought my nephew on a quick stop-over between baseball camp in Palo Alto and a tournament in Atlanta.  We’re excited with Sam to see where he ends up playing next!

We also had visits from others—my brother in law, a friend from Indiana, a family from church at home, and one of our girls.  But I spent more time enjoying their visits than getting pictures, it seems.  Sad smile

Two lessons in the last 6 months really stand out.  Some new friends at the church we’re attending have done many temporary assignments over the years, often overseas.  They shared that the first 6 months are always the hardest.  You spend the first month simply trying to get things put away, learn where to shop, and basically getting settled in.  It’s hard work, but it’s mostly physical and exhausting.  Months 2-5 are harder in many ways.  The loneliness and frustration set it.  You don’t fit anywhere.  You don’t necessarily have friends yet.  You miss home terribly, but can’t go back.  Basically, it just plain old sucks.  By the time you get to 6 months, things start to feel more normal.  Comfortable, even.  And yesterday was 6 months here for us.  Do I feel comfortable?  Sure.  Is it home?  Not yet, but it’s definitely more ‘okay’ than it was!  We’re no longer the newest people at church.  We’ve been involved in a few things there and are starting to feel like we fit in.  We have been invited to teach an adult Sunday School class this fall, which is equal parts exciting and terrifying.

The other lesson came from a dear friend when we were in Seattle last month.  She used words I hadn’t considered:  grief.  loss.  mourning.  As she spoke them, I could recognize them in my life.  As we talked, she gave me a second gift.  She simply listened.  She didn’t remind me that I should feel fortunate to be living near the beach.  (I do, usually.)  She didn’t tell me that everything would be fine.  (I know that, most of the time.)  She didn’t say that I needed to ‘man up’ because it wasn’t that bad. (I know that too)  She didn’t try to top my stories with her own.  She just listened.  She heard me, and she still loves me.  She identified with great accuracy my mental state, and assured me of the only thing she could:  through all this, God is growing us and maturing us, and He had not left us.

In the last 6 months, the still, small voice during devotions and prayer would ask:  “Am I enough?”  “Do you trust Me?”  In my head, the answer to both is always yes, but over the last 6 months, my heart has not been in the same place.  I am excited to see what happens now, as my heart has (mostly) caught up with my head!  Those questions no longer bring me to tears.  Instead, they bring joy and anticipation as I look forward to what God will do next in my life.

Even if this isn’t home yet, it’s a much better place than it was!  And I’ll happily take that.  Smile

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere… Ps 84:10

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Why is that waiting is so hard in some areas of our lives, but so easy in others?  Yesterday, we spent the day here:

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and it was great fun.  Good weather, great company…what’s not to like?

As I stood in yet another line, though, I pondered something:  Why is it that we willing shell out hundreds of dollars and patiently stand in (long!—often an hour or more) lines for the temporal thrill of 3 minutes of entertainment, but when God asks us to wait, we are often unwilling and impatient?

Call it the Disney phenomena.  The “happiest place on earth” casts a spell on people.  No one is immune.  I enjoy Disneyland as much as the next person.  And, I have enjoyed it more since we’ve lived here BECAUSE there’s no pressure to see it all and do it all in just a few days. 

What if our willingness to wait on the Lord was even greater than our willingness to stand in line at Disney?  What if we were more patient with God than we are at Disneyland?  What if we employed our “Disneyland patience” with those around us? Aren’t the rewards from waiting on God worth more than a 3 minute thrill ride?  I would think so!  And yet…I am as impatient as the next guy in my non-Disney life.

waiting in line

(Waiting in line.  What else?)

Right now, we are finishing up our school year.  It’s been a bit of a challenge, but we’ve survived.  As the boys do their standardized testing, I am struck anew by how much one of my boys doesn’t know.  My fault? Nope.  He has significant academic challenges that wouldn’t be any better served in a school setting.  I know that.  Even though I know it, I am still impatient with God.  “When is this going to click with him?  Why do we all struggle every day with his issues?  Please God!  It is HARD.  I don’t think I can do this any more.”  Some days it angers me when God’s answer is “Patience, child.”  I. WANT. IT. NOW!!!  Yes…the same person who will stand in line for 50 minutes to ride Space Mountain cannot wait another second for God’s perfect timing in the life of her child.  What’s wrong with me?!? 

For now, I think I’ll hang on to this thought, for me and for my guy who struggles

“…I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will  bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  ~Philippians 1:6

because you know what?  He DID begin a good work in me. And in that child.  And even though I’m impatient, God is not.  He IS faithful and He WILL complete His work in us.

Good thing.  Smile

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Friday, May 22, 2015


Earlier this week we headed east to explore the deserts—both the Colorado and the Mojave.  I had planned the days as days off from school; instead, we counted them all!  The boys had a blast and learned lots.  Or, more accurately, we all did.  What more could you ask? 

Checking out Joshua Tree National Park


Entering the park




California Fan Palms at Cottonwood Springs

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Ocotillo….nature’s fence.

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Creosote bush.  Smells like a campfire!


The “man’ rock on the way to the Lost Mine

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The view near the Lost Mine.  The Salton Sea is in the distance.  IT would be easier to see if it hadn’t been so smoggy. 


Cholla cactus garden.


Skull rock.


Trailhead at Ryan Mountain


A Joshua tree!  They look like a Dr. Seuss creation…or perhaps his inspiration.


The view from Keys View.

Then, we spent part of a day exploring the (absolutely FABULOUS!) Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert.  The boys—all 3—loved it.  Mazes. Puzzles.  Laser harp music.  Weaving.  Motorcycles.  And building race cars.  Oh my.  I think we spent 2 hours just putting together K’nex race cars and racing them.  Such a great day!

The last day we headed up to Mount San Jacinto State Park.  The only way to get there is up the Palm Springs Aerial Tram.  SO cool!!  The tram ride is 10 minutes, and goes from an elevation of 2500’ to a elevation of 8500’.  And…the tram rotates on the way!  The views were astounding.  The hiking was amazing.  The snow was a fun bonus. The day was beautiful, and we had a great time.

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Heading up.  On the cable, just at the edge of the rocks toward the top of the picture is the other tram, heading down.


Taking in the view




Snow means snowballs.  Always.


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Heading back down.

Incredible days.  So amazing to see God’s handiwork, and to wonder at how different it is from what we are used to.  Creativity?  I think God’s got it covered!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

out of the blue

Sometimes these boys of our astound me.  The other morning they blew me away.

Mornings here are slow and peaceful.  I’m enjoying the change of pace, and they are too.  Our normal routine includes some snuggle time before we start our day.  Monday was no different.  As we were discussing the agenda for the day, one of the boys abruptly changed topics on me.  “Mom,” he said, “We need another baby.  There are lots and LOTS of boys in China who need moms and dads.  You and Dad are the best.  We’ll share.  We’d love to, right?”

After recovering from the initial shock, I tried to defuse the situation.  I said with a grin, “Um…no more blue.  Mom’s already outnumbered.”  Immediately, both boys shouted that pink would be fine, that they’d love a baby sister.  “Well, you wouldn’t be able to have your own rooms any more,” I replied.  Having their own rooms here has been a BIG DEAL, and I was certain that would be a deal-breaker.  “And….babies are a LOT of work.”

Wrong again.  The sweet little man who first brought it up didn’t even hesitate.  “Momma, I will share my room.  I will take are of her in the night. I want to do like Hailey did with me when I was a baby.   I will make her feel safe and loved.  I know how.  You and Dad do it every day.  Hailey learned—she did it for me.  I can do it.”

When I finally recovered (and quit crying!), I pointed out that while adopting a baby girl sounds like lots of fun, they needed to keep in mind that Daddy was OLD and would be WAAAYYY old when this desired baby turned 18.  Not a problem—the dynamic duo has that issue solved too.  “We’ll all be older then, Mom.  It’s fine.  Brent can help.  Hailey and Alec can help take care of her. They’re MARRIED!  Emily and Tori would love her.  Even I will be old enough—she can come live with me.  She’ll have a family, Mom.  That’s what matters!”

Speechless.  These boys.  Their hearts.  Such love.  And old parents.  Pray for us.

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”  ~James 1:23-24

“God sets the lonely in families…”  ~Psalm 68:6a

Sunday, May 3, 2015

creative gardening

With the glorious weather that comes with life in southern California, I really want a garden.  I love growing vegetables and fruit and miss the sight of my fruit trees, raspberries, and roses from my kitchen window.  Here, though, we have no yard—just a brick patio. 

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It’s a nice brick patio, but not exactly conducive to a garden.  Sometimes, though, being married to a creative engineer has its benefits.  Smile

We had discussed various options for a container garden before the boys and I headed to Seattle at the beginning of April.  Jim researched some and showed me an idea on Saturday.  Because Logan wasn’t feeling well, instead of exploring the area we headed to Home Depot for supplies for my new garden.  Check out what we did!

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First, we picked up some cedar stair risers.  You know, the kind that you put on a deck?  Yep.  Those.  Then we attached them to the pergola posts.

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We added cedar fence boards (and cedar trim boards to stiffen the fence boards over the 6’ span).

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Add some plastic window box liners and soil, and you’ve got a great container garden!

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I LOVE IT!!!   The drip  irrigation will be expanded for the garden tomorrow evening.  The seeds (beets, carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, and cantaloupe, all heirloom) will be here Wednesday.  The bell peppers will be planted tomorrow.  Small pots for herbs will go on the top shelf and will be added later in the week.  (Note:  that’s rosemary in the pot by the fence, visible in the previous picture as well.  It’s HUGE!  Smells heavenly too…)  The heirloom tomato pot is on the other side of the pergola, under an existing drip line.

I’ve told Jim many times that while I love the fact that we’re not tied at home with yard work, I miss my garden fiercely.  This should help. 


On April 1, the boys and I flew back to Seattle so that Logan could have surgery at Seattle Children’s, with the plastic surgeon and craniofacial team that’s been providing his care for the last almost 7 years.  Pre-op was April 6; surgery was April 17.  Seattle was wonderful and we loved every minute of being there. 

Surgery day was a Friday, and Logan has his last meal at 5:50am.  Then, at 9:55am he has his last drink of clear liquid—a large glass of apple juice.  We arrived at the hospital at 1pm to check in, as requested.  Then, we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, at 4pm they were ready to take him back for surgery.  For a child with trauma triggers around access to food, this was excruciating!  But we survived.  Surgery took just over 2 hours, and the dr. was very pleased with the results..  (Logan was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate.  This surgery was to repair the alveolar cleft—the gap in his upper jaw—so that he can retain the permanent teeth waiting to erupt.  They use bone from his hip for the graft.)

Around 8:15pm they finally moved Logan to a room.  He was a bit loopy…
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Although we loved everything about the nursing care we received at the hospital, being a post-surgery patient on a medical unit was challenging.  The nurses didn’t have a good handle on Logan’s surgery or the level of pain associated with it.  They didn’t know the procedure for his oral medications.  And they didn’t treat his pain adequately.  It’s not their fault—they followed the orders as given.  They simply don’t have post-surgery patients on their floor very often, and the particular surgery Logan had, with 2 incision sites, is extremely painful.  We left the hospital Saturday morning without appropriate pain medication, because he ‘hadn’t needed any, so you probably don’t need it.’  Not having done this before, I was clueless and went along with it.  BIG mistake!  Saturday was tolerable, Sunday was mostly manageable, but Monday was a nightmare!!  6 hours of crying, 4 phone calls, and a trip to our (amazing, incredible) pediatrician finally brought the right meds and relief. 

Now 15 days post surgery (and back in California since the 28th), Logan’s doing awesome!  His post-op appointment went very well, and the nurse practitioner we saw thought his recovery was coming along quite well.  Everything looked excellent and we were cleared to return to California and the sun.  He’s still moving a bit slow—his hip hurts still if he overdoes the activity—but he’s pretty free to do as he pleases.  No contact sports for sure, but swimming and bike riding and body boarding and Disneyland are all cleared activities.  He’s one happy boy with that.  And, because his jaw looked so good, his only food restriction is on hard, sharp things like carrot sticks, apple slices, crackers,  and tortilla chips.  Works for him! 

Thank you all for your prayers and support.  They were much needed and much appreciated!  We are truly blessed to have friends and family like all of you.  Smile

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

life in God’s creation

Beauty all around us…







And under the sea as well…

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Our next adventure is on Saturday.  Hopefully there will be some good pics…  Winking smile