Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hats knit with love

Recently we received two large boxes from a knitting club in Colorado. Our grandparents are friends with some of the knitters and had mentioned our newest adoption to them. Their response was one of eager, self-sacrificing love. The group asked if they could knit hats for us to take as a donation to our new siblings' orphanage. The combination of their skill, love, and generosity resulted in over 150 beautiful handmade hats.

Cassandra, ready to open the boxes.

Tatiana watching the unveiling process.

Behold, the hats!

It must be admitted, we had some fun looking through the boxes.

The hats came in so many colors--bright and happy colors that will warm and cheer many little ones through the long bleak days of winter.

Tatiana, the actress of the family, paraded around the room announcing to all (in her best French accent) that she was a candelabra.

Poochita wanted to join in the fun....

We thought she looked rather like a Dr. Suess character in the adorable blue and purple stocking cap, but Poochita was not amused.

Even Princess Bink's beloved stuffed pig modeled for the camera. The variety in the hats was amazing! There were striped hats, solid hats and speckled hats. Some had ear flaps; others, a pom-pom at the top or a tiny flower at the base. Rib stitch, seed stitch, and stockinette stitch added individuality to the caps. The thought and love that went into each hat was unmistakeable.

We are grateful for friends like these knitters, who not only support us in our journey of adoption , but join us in our mission to care for the needy. Thank you, knitters!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Go Forth

An ever-present challenge of being the mother of nine is to look for the best in my children and to be busy watching for opportunities to encourage them, rather than roaming about our home waiting to pounce on anyone who strays.

I am struggling today with being a "pouncer" as we settle into routine at home after a wonderful week of vacation. I share this favorite quote while reminding myself of the nature of God's extravagant love. ~ Mrs. Beaver

"Go forth and be loving, even as your Father in heaven is loving. Let your heart be as large in its creature capacity as God's heart is in its divine. If He has a large heart for you, beware of a small heart for your fellow man. If his heart is open, see that yours is not closed. And since He does not depart at our sinfulness, ingratitude, injury, or unworthiness, be imitators of God. 'Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good' (Romans 12:21). God has so dealt with you, overcoming and winning your evil heart with goodness and love of His own. Go and do likewise towards all who have injured you, wounded you, and despitefully used you..."
Octavius Winslow, Our God, pg. 16

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Day at the Zoo

While traveling this week, we visited the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens and had a magical--albeit hot--day amid the menagerie of wild beasts.

The zoo trip renewed our awe for God’s creativity in both flora and fauna. We not only enjoyed seeing the animals but also the variety of beautiful flowers that is the setting for the zoo’s exhibits.

For our family, travel is far more than a break from routine.

We have found family trips to be one of God’s tools for healing developmental delays in our former orphans.

As we have purposed to see new sights and explore new environments, we have watched a delight in learning blossom. Their curiosity has been kindled. Their intellects have been stimulated.

And what a grateful heart our six Russian adoptees have for the opportunity to travel! Despite the years that have passed since they were adopted, the six of them have retained their wonder at being able to do that which orphanage life would never have allowed. They express their gratitude over and over.

Almost nothing is sweeter to us as adoptive parents than the privilege of seeing the world through the eyes of children who had so few opportunities in their early lives. Their wonder makes our world new. Their joy is such an effective defense against growing jaded as we age that it’s one of our motivations for adopting yet again.

We thank God for the gift of travel.
~Mrs. Beaver

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We Love Cincinnati!

Our family is visiting Cincinnati this week to meet the family of the young man who is courting Tessa and to allow the two, who are conducting their courtship mostly through phone calls and email, to spend some "in person" time together.

As we arrived in town on Sunday, our very first stop was at Skyline Chili. We learned to love this Cincinnati-specific cuisine when we lived in the city more than a decade age.

Skyline chili is specially spiced with a touch of cinnamon and even a hint of chocolate. It is served in a shallow bowl over spaghetti and topped with cheddar cheese. Eating this stuff is so messy that each order comes with a bib!

We've even taught our Russian adoptees to love Skyline Chili!

~ Mrs. Beaver

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Daddy...

(The letter below was written by 12-year-old Tatiana to present to her daddy on Father's Day.

With Tatiana's permission and without Mr. Beaver's knowledge, I share her letter.

We adopted Tatiana and her biological sisters, Gigglebox and Princess Bink, from Russia five years ago. The photos on the left were taken in the older girls' orphanage on the day we met them in December 2004.

I will thank God for all eternity for the incredible man He has given me as a life partner. ~ Mrs. Beaver)

Dear Daddy,

I am the most blessed girl to have such a daddy like you! I love you very much! Down below I am going to write fifty reasons why I love you!

1. I love you because you love God

2. I love you because whatever you do, you do to the glory of God.

3. I love you because you take the time to read God’s word and to meditate on it like God commands.

4. I love you because you are gentle and patient when you correct me.

5. I love you because you are quick to forgive me.

6. I love you because you love Mommy and are keeping your promise to stay with her and love her all her life.

7. I love you because you write God’s word on your heart.

8. I love you because you think spending time with your family is important and you do spend family time with us!

9. I love you because you love orphans.

10. I love you because you do what God tells you to without complaining.

11. I love you because you are following God’s will to adopt three more kids even though you already have nine kids.

12. I love you because you parent us the way God’s word tells you to.

13. I love you because you give me advice that is for my good.

14. I love you because you set a standard and keep us to that standard.

15. I love you because you have a very funny sense of humor.

16. I love you because you take time to read to us.

17. I love you because you keep yourself pure and you keep your mind pure.

18. I love you because you walk in integrity.

19. I love you because you make sure your children are safe.

20. I love you because you look out for other people’s needs first before your own.

21. I love you because you don’t have any gods but the one true God.

22. I love you because you believe the truth that God made the earth and not a “big bang”.

23. I love you because you respect your mother.

24. I love you because you are merciful and yet just.

25. I love you because you do not cheat but do things fairly.

26. I love you because you always speak the truth.

27. I love you because you are mature and you are teaching my brothers how to be mature.

28. I love you because you help your children persevere through hard times.

29. I love you because you are kind enough to help your children with math when they need help.

30. I love you because you help those in need.

31. I love you because you are kind enough to take us on vacation.

32. I love you because you are a good steward of what God has given you.

33. I love you because you are compassionate when your children get hurt.

34. I love you because you never boast or praise yourself.

35. I love you because when you start a job you finish the job.

36. I love you because you are wise and not foolish in the way you drive.

37. I love you because you love your church family.

38. I love you because you are willing to help when help is needed.

39. I love you because you are slow to anger.

40. I love you because you keep no record of wrongs.

41. I love you because you don’t go around complaining about what you don’t have, but you are thankful for what the Lord has given you.

42. I love you because you set a good example for your children of what it looks like to truly follow Christ.

43. I love you because you never give glory to yourself but you always give glory to God.

44. I love you because you are slow to speak and never say anything rash before you think about it.

45. I love you because you show kindness to animals (like Grace [our dog]). Even if you don’t like some animals (like cats), you would never hurt them because God has said to be kind to all creatures.

46. I love you because you love your neighbors.

47. I love you because you don’t gossip.

48. I love you because you don’t have fear of man but you fear God.

49. I love you because you take responsibility when you sin.

50. I love you because when you sin you repent and are humble.

51. I love you because you adopted me!

Thank you, Dad, for being such a good dad to me! I love you very much and I am honored to be your daughter.

Love, Tatiana

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Day We Long For....

Our dear friends the Nordstroms, who are also adopting, posted a video on their blog about a family from the same adoption agency that they are adopting through. They are waiting for a little girl from Ethiopia and they are hoping every day to hear they can go to meet her. You can visit their blog here: http://nordstromsadopt.blogspot.com/

Mom and I watched this video and cried through it, thinking first of all about the day we long for, when we can bring our three precious orphans home. We also thought of the Nordstroms and the day when they will be able to go to their orphanage to meet their precious little girl and then finally bring her home. The verse that kept coming to my mind while I watched the faces of the happy parents and the beautiful baby girl was John 14:18: "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Oh, I just want our precious Russians to know that, in their orphanages, waiting, always waiting. I pray that they will cling to the hope that we will come for them, that they are loved and a place is being prepared for them.

Here is the video. Consider yourself forewarned: grab the tissue box.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Battle Cry

This is a video our family watches over and over. We hope it blesses you too!

(Make sure you go down and pause the music!)

~ Tessa and Mrs. Beaver

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Multiple Milestones for a Dynamic Duo!

Twins, Joe and Lissie, our "dynamic duo" started their education journey as a team, drawing strength from each other to face their first day of preschool.

They reached a culminating milestone on the third Saturday in May, 2010, as they graduated from high school in a ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, along with 124 other home schoolers.

On the Saturday following commencement, Joe and Lissie reached another great milestone... their senior recital!

This recital was the culmination of more than 12 years of lessons and one solid year of dedicated rehearsal for the major event.

The many hours of rehearsal included both solo practice time and group practice time with Tessa and Jaynie who play with Joe and Lissie in the family's string quartet (which also played in the recital).

Finally, when the big day arrived, it started with a very serious dress rehearsal...

... well, serious for Joe, anyway!

Just minutes before the recital... once again, the dynamic duo faces a challenge together!

We are grateful to Joe and Lissie's talented, dedicated music teachers who coached, encouraged, helped, and instructed them to this important milestone.

Joe Shufro, pictured here with his wife, Hanh, is the conductor of the Sioux City Youth Symphony and Principal Cellist of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra.

Lissie has been a member of Mr. Shufro's youth symphony for 2-1/2 years along with Tessa (the concert master). Mr. Shufro also teaches Jaynie cello.

Mr. Shufro is also a patient encourager, with a keen sense of humor that all his students enjoy. He inspires Sioux City's youth to make great music.

Michele Grossman (below) is a remarkably accomplished pianist. She has raised Joe's piano skills to a whole new level in the short time she has been teaching him.

She has also blessed our family by accompanying both Lissie, Tessa and Jaynie in a number of their strings recitals.

Michele has even shared her dear mother, Marlene, with us. Marlene has been a real champion of the musical efforts of Joe, Lissie and all of our children. She's like family to us!

For the last 3 years, Dr. Eunho Kim has patiently trained up both Lissie and Tessa in their study of the violin. Dr. Kim is an accomplished musician herself, playing the role of Concert Master in the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra. Under her skilled teaching and gentle encourgement, both Lissie and Tessa have learned more than they ever dreamed possible. They love Dr. Kim!

The events of these two consecutive Saturdays brought a great sense of completion to Joe and Lissie's education here at home. They began as a team and they've finished as a team. We thank God for the blessing that they've been to each other and for the blessing that they've been to the rest of us.

~Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More Than Just "Relative"-ly Important

(All of the following photographs are from the celebration of Joe and Lissie's high school graduation... more about that in a post to come...)

God "places the lonely in families." (Ps. 68:9)

For orphaned children who are adopted this means you not only get the dream-come-true of immediate family, but you also get God's gift of extended family.

You get...

...aunts, uncles and cousins and...

...more cousins.

You get...

...aunts from Kansas and aunts from Texas...

...aunts willing to carve out time for you.

You get...

...a grandpa who teaches you important things--
like how to tie a tie
and how to oil squeaky doors,
who notices how much taller you are
and how much deeper your voice is
since you were last together.

You get...

...a nana who models what it looks like to love others by serving them (and we love that she always brings pumpkin bread when she visits).

You get...

...a grandma whose marriage to Grandpa Charley set the tone for what it means to be family.

You get...

...Aunt Jean, who is always FOR you.

You get...

...Uncle John, who brags about you to his friends.

You get...

...a place to belong and people to belong to.

Extended family:
Never underestimate what a blessing you are to our former orphans.

Never underestimate your role in the healing taking place in their lives following the neglect and abandonment they've experienced. Your love is powerful! Thank you for so readily opening your hearts to our adoptees.

You are more than just 'relative'-ly important! You are a gift from God!

We love you!

~Mr. and Mrs. Beaver