Family picture

Family picture

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Never had a vacation quite like this one!

What do you think of when you think of vacationing in the Smokey Mountains and staying in Gatlinburg?

Breathtaking and beautiful scenic views . . .

Excitement at seeing the carnival-like atmosphere of Gatlinburg . . .

Calm, refreshing, lovely moments to rejuvenate your soul . . .

Oh, I could list so many other things really; things that are pleasant, peaceful,  and memory-making . . .

The beautiful scenery of Cade's Cove

At times it has been calm and refreshing, like when we have been swimming in our hotel pool.

The views have been spectacular, too.

And the fun and exciting atmosphere of Gatlinburg is there as well.

A family vacation picture

But stopping there in the telling would not provide you with the real, total picture of this first momentous vacation Sophia has had with her forever family.  I had so hoped before we came that this would be something she would remember for the rest of her life, and I think so far it has lived up to it!

Because you see,

The spectacular, take your breath away breathtaking views of the mountains happened shortly after we got to Gatlinburg and happily turned to head way, way up up to our condo.  The views were especially breathtaking when we made those hairpin turns a couple of times (without the benefit of any guardrails).  Or when we could just peak out of the car window to see the earth falling away at dizzying heights just a few inches away, or the sick feeling I got (and a couple of our children did, too) when we realized that even though we finally made it to the condo and it was quite nice, we had to travel back down and then up again each and every stinkin time we wanted to tour the area, go out to eat, or go to the store! 

Oh my!  There was a reason we had everyone take everthing to the car as we headed back down to town to go out to eat. 

And on the way down? 

Kevin and I kept smelling something BURNING.  Ha, ha.  Silly us.  We thought someone was having a fire. 

But no.  It was our car.  Our brakes.  Our smell.

When I stepped out of the car to just check with the condo office about another way up, perhaps a slightly safer and less steep way up, I noticed how very HOT the underside of our car was!

Yes, it was our brakes.  And yes, it sealed the deal for me to cancel our condo (good thing we had everything back in the car), and forfeit our deposit.  Kevin kept saying he was fine making the drive up, but if I wanted to cancel and find someplace else, he would be fine with that,too.

Whew! That felt like such a relief until I realized we didn't have any place to stay and it was close to 5 P.M.

We prayed, and the first place we stopped had an opening, right on the main drag, right on level footing, and even had a free breakfast.  It didn't matter at all that we had given up the spaciousness of a condo for the tight-fitting quarters of one hotel room!  Not in the least was I bothered!

And the exciting atmosphere of the town? 

Well, we enjoyed it.  All of us have except for Sophia (and Eli a couple of times when he talks of the SCARY haunted house things that dot the main drag). 

Sophia has spent a great deal of time clutching our hands and starring wide-eyed around as she tries to take in the sights and sounds. 

It isn't that wild and frenzied.  But when you are still very new to a culture and country and family, it is a little unsettling to experience at first.   Poor darling girl.  :(

Sophia is still not so sure about this vacation.

Just this morning Sophia began to loosen up and started to enjoy walking the town, when all of the sudden she flinched big time.  I looked down and saw this humongous splinter from the wooden railing she had been handling that had entered her already injured and sore hand from her psorisis.  Big ouch!

The rest of the walk to our hotel seemed like to took hours!  Really it was probably 15 or 20 minutes tops, but the look on her face was so hurt and frightened that it broke our hearts. 

We had to make a trip to a med-check for splinter removal after I tried unsucessfully to remove it back at our room.  It was just too big to leave in.  Finally, after about an hour of waiting, the razor sharp log splinter was removed.  And to top it off, Sophia had to get her tetnus shot because she was due to get it back home once we returned!

A hurting little girl at the Med Check

Well, with Tylenol in her, we trudged on to get a pizza lunch and a big, big ice cream afterwards because we had some serious sight-seeing to do at Cade's Cove.  That seemed to cheer her up a little. 

Cade's Cove is one of my most favorite spots in America - very serene, beautiful, and calm, and the road there isn't too bad in daylight.  Just a large-ish small drop-off to a rock-filled stream on a rather narrow road.  Not many guardrails on this road either, but it didn't seem bad going at all.

A much happier Sophia at Cade's Cove

Coming back, however, was a much different story!  By the time we left the cove, it was approaching dusk.

The drive was beautiful, listening to Steven Curis Chapman, watching the road gently curve in front of us, being on the alert for any bears we might see.

Then suddenly lightening flashed in the distance, and then the rain began. 

And the hail,

And the ferocious wind that bent the trees at a pretty significant slant and sent trees limbs falling down on the road around us,

And the fog that came up in patches to obscure the yellow line that Kevin was trying gallantly to follow because he just couldn't see right or left of him at times.

The right or left that had the fairly significant drop offs without any guardrails!

And we prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and trusted Jesus to get us out of the storm safely.

And that is just what He did.

On one of the stops we made in Cade's Cove, we took a picture of a page in an old church hymnal because it reminded us of what we need to be doing daily.

Trusting in Jesus.

The hymnal page

Actually, we were not going to stop at that particular church because daylight was slipping away and bugs were beginning to come out.  We only stopped because Philip made the comment that he loved going into the churches in the cove better than anything else there.  So how could we say no to that?  It was a good thing we did stop and see those priceless words upon the altar. . .

Because we would need to remember them a short time later.

Little did we know that a few short minutes later, we would be depending upon our God to deliver us from peril.

We are back safely in our hotel room.  As I type this post, our littles and my husband are sleeping soundly. 

I think we have gotten my wish for Sophia to remember this vacation the rest of her life, her first family vacation with us.

I don't think she will ever really forgot the exciting and adventuresome times had thus far.  I keep trying to tell her that usually our vacations are not so action packed! 

I don't think she believes me.

And I don't think she will soon forget this one!

During our family prayer time tonight, we all prayed for a calm and uneventful day tomorrow!

And I am thanking our Lord for giving me a very brave and courageous husband and for giving him the ability to get us home safely.  In actuality, we all know where our help came from on that long ride back in the stormy mountains.  And I am thanking God for giving our little children praying hearts as well.  They were praying silently as I was praying aloud during that dangerous ride back.

God surely answered their prayers and ours tonight in a big way.

"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart . . ."  That is the comment I wrote in the notebook upon the altar at that last church where we stopped.  That thought came from the song we saw opened there!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A sweet, sweet visit

About five years ago, Kevin and I were LID to Ch*na (logged into their adoption agency) and waiting to adopt our "healthy baby girl."

I had been following a couple of adoption blogs for a few months, and both families had just adopted little boys with special needs from Ch*na. 

In June or July (can't remember which) of 2007, Kevin, Ted, and I ventured up to the western and northwestern part of Michigan for a fun summer vacation.  I remember vividly sitting in a laundromat in Traverse City reading those two blogs as we did our laundry one evening.  I showed Kevin the blogs and mentioned that maybe we should think about getting on the special needs list and also think about adoptiong a little boy instead of a baby girl.  We even chose a boy's name that very night in case we were to adopt a little boy.  

The following summer Kevin and I found ourselves in Ch*na receiving one precious little boy (our Philip) from the Waiting Children's List and remembering the night, just a year before, that our hearts first turned to thinking about adopting a little boy with special needs during our Michigan trip.

I continued to follow that blog, and eventually that blog author and I e-mailed each other as we discovered we were both, ahem, "older, I mean more mature" adoptive moms.  Our husbands were a wee bit older, too, than most adoptive dads.  E-mails turned into phone calls, and this husband and wife team would become some of our best supporters, praying and cheering us on as we continued to adopt at our "older" ages.  In fact, this particular family has been advocates for so many other families adopting all over the world and have become champions for the orphan full-time.

Two "older" moms with one sweet little baby girl

DW, Linny, and me - just three youngsters!

Well, my littles and I had the pleasure of meeting this beautiful family a few days ago and personally hugging them. What a treat it was to talk face to face with Linny and DW and their wonderful family.  Poor Kevin had to work, but we took plenty of pictures to share with him later.

Seven treasures brought home by the miracle of adoption
(Sophia is absent in this picture because she became ill during their visit)

It turned out that our Philip and their Jubliee once lived at the same foster village.  So getting the two of them together was a sweet, sweet moment as well. 

We just love how our God connects adoptive families here and there through "red thread" sort of happenings.  Five years ago Kevin and I were just living our ordinary lives, longing for another child to join our family.  We hardly even gave "orphans" a thought except for the longing we felt in our hearts for our one child.

Now here it is five short years later, and our world has changed completely!  We have been blessed with three more beautiful children instead of just one more, our hearts are totally open to the plight of orphaned children everywhere, and we have met so many amazing, Christ-filled, orphan loving adoptive families along the way.  Orphans and the miracle of adoption fill our hearts and minds most of the time now. 

Visiting with one such Christ-filled, orphan loving adoptive family a couple of days ago warmed our hearts and brightened our day. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Praying for Maggie

Since coming home from Ch*na, I simply cannot get this little girl out of my mind and heart.  She desperately needs to get a forever family someday soon.  Won't you pray for Maggie?

It is so much easier to not think about the orphaned children at Shepherd's Field before you meet them.

After meeting them, hugging them, falling in love with them, it is impossible to stop thinking about them!

Meeting them face to face changes everything!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A matched pair

Aren't they cute?

One has two good eyes and only one working leg at the moment.

The other has two good legs and only one working eye!

Jennie is recovering from knee surgery, and Ted was stung by two bees last night.  One got his eye!

Oh my!  A perfectly matched pair!

Argh!  Pirate Teddy with the swollen eye!

Here Ted's little sister and brothers are showing him some sympathy.  Or maybe not!  Maybe they just wanted to be pirates, too!  :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Independence Day

Remembering our fore fathers,

Remembering all of the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces,

Happy Independence Day!

This is what happens when our kids decorate their papa. 

Don't you think he looks festive for the 4th?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Beautiful Maggie

All of the children at Shepherd's Field touched me deeply.

But, there was one particular little girl who absolutely stole my heart.

Maggie has a complex heart condition and needs to be adopted outside of Ch*na to receive more surgery. 

Please pray for God to clear the way for this little one to find her forever family and come home soon.