Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today...

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver:

For days we've struggled with writing a post that could capture the essence of adding Jaynie, Cassandra and Mark to our family a decade ago today. After all, as we've mentioned on this blog before, anniversary's are a really BIG deal to adoptive families.

But, try as we might, we can't begin to capture how important this event was (and is) in our lives. No words seem equal to the task of capturing the highs and the lows, the laughter and the tears, and the stretching and the growth that have all been a part of our experience together.

Upon reflection, we are most struck by God's never-failing faithfulness. The last ten years have been both the hardest and the best since our family's beginning, and God in all His loving power and wisdom has seen us through every moment. He has never left us. He has never failed to sustain us.

We are also amazed how God has used the least of these to change us. He's opened our eyes to our own desperate need for Him. And He has opened our hearts to the suffering experienced by children all over the world. We must confess (to our shame) that we had been oblivious to their need. He's opened our eyes to His heart for these silent sufferers. And He's given us a deep wonder for His adoption of us through the sacrifice of his beloved Son, Jesus.

Here are some photos from their last few days at their orphanage:

In the apartment in which we stayed on the orphanage when we went to court

Cassandra and her new daddy as he fills out the last of the adoption paperwork

Cassandra was so naughty this day.
The orphanage workers wanted her to wear a sweater,
but she refused, giggling all the time.

Headed to Moscow, set to start our life as a family

Leaving orphanage life ten years ago

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mrs. Beaver:

A beautiful autumn day called for a dinner picnic for the kids and I (while Mr. Beaver is flying home from San Francisco).

The little girls brought their strollers and dolls...

...and the boys brought the football.

We had to take the two dogs, of course. In fact, we could have called the event a birthday party for Poochita who will be twelve tomorrow. I'm not sure she was feeling the party spirt at this point though. The pups were tied up several yards from the food as we ate.

A sure sign of fall in the upper midwest--migrating Canadian Geese

Our picnic consisted of $5 pizzas that were being sold at a stand outside the local HyVee grocery story, Honey Crisp apples and store-bought chocolate chip cookies--easy fare for mom when Dad has been away from home for a couple of days.

Alexander is still a bit unsure of himself with an American football, but who can blame the Russian-born 12-year-old? When we adopted him it was already early winter here. Where he comes from balls are round!

Cassandra stepped through the cattails to take a look at the lake.

Lissie is a "dog person" through and through. Here the two of them sat cuddling as they relished the sun's last rays.

Our little Oksana is such a good "mommy" to her baby, even though she never experienced this kind of care when she was an infant.

As the mother of nine daughters, I felt the impulse to stop Mark and Alexander as they wrestled for the football. I spend my days trying to civilize young people. However, the boys' sisters reassured me this is routine behavior for guys.

While the boys played tug-a-war, the girls strolled on, chatting away.

The photo below is NOT a posed picture. The girls got way ahead of me on a walk after dinner. When I caught up, I found them perched atop the hill taking in the beauty of the lake at sunset. they told me the only thing that kept the moment from being perfect was the absence of Anna and Jaynie.

Before long, Oksana and Amy were rolling down the steep slope giggling all the way. Natasha is in the background pushing one of her younger sisters' "babies."

We're so thankful to the Lord to be a family! A night like tonight reminds us how blessed we are!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sometimes "At the Last Minute" is Best

Mrs. Beaver:

As an extra-large family, sometimes spontenaity works better than investing all the normal energy that planning a "troop movement" takes. Last weekend, we surprised ourselves and made a day trip to Minneapolis, five hours away.

As crazy as it sounds, our reason for traveling 10 hours in one day was...well...a new dog. No, that's not quite it. Our reason for making the last-minute journey was a very special friendship. The Nisius family have loved us through three international adoptions during the past decade. They've supported us in every way imaginable through many ups and downs. They've been loyal and wise and generous. And, most recently, they met our many needs during Anna's wedding week with such grace and selflessness that our family could simply enjoy the special time. We are deeply grateful to the Lord for the Nisius' love.

Therefore, when we learned on Saturday evening that earlier in the day they'd become the owners of a bitsy German Shepherd puppy, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to rejoice with them and meet their new "family member on her second day in their home. This was especially important to us because only a few months ago they'd had to say they're last good-bye to a German Shepherd named, Kendra, who'd truly been part of the family. We woke our kids on Sunday to the surprise we were traveling in an hour.

Katherine was the first to introduce us to seven-week-old Sasha.

I love Sasha's deep concentration on the leaf as she prepared for a pounce.
What did the puppy do after 15 minutes of play in the grass? Sleep, of course!

Sasha's nap freed us to fellowship.

Our very short visit was soon over and good-byes were said.

However, before we left town we stopped at the Russian grocery store we'd found in January. Daria happily collected foods for her cooking from her home land that are unavailable in our town. Meanwhile, the rest of us sought out Russian treats we've come to relish.

Here I'm wearing one of my Russian favorites, Syooshkee (completely unsure of the spelling of this transliteration). They're a bit like bread sticks, although more flavorful and a tad bit sweet. Yum! When I opened the plastic bag when we returned to the car, we were surprised to find them strung together. Mr. Beaver shook lose the celephane and adorned me with my first Syooshkee necklace.
We finished the day grateful to God for a few hours with our dear friends. Not only had we fellowshipped with the Nisius, we'd also strengthened the friendships within our family--lots of laughing and singing together. The goodness of our God is endless. He is a Father who gives good gifts!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gifts from God... Again

Mrs. Beaver:

Daria and Alexander saw the eye doctor today for the first time since we adopted them last November. Each time we've adopted trios of kids from Russia, this is the last of the health care checkups that we do. It's just so much easier once the kids are conversational in English. Having gained a good handle on their new language prevents fear since the procedures can be explained to them. In addition, they can tell the eye doctor how well they're seeing the letters or pictures he uses.

Even though this is the third time we've adopted children from Russia, the speed with which our adoptees pick up their new language still floors me. Today I was amazed by how readily our 12-year-old and 16-year-old could name letters during the exam in an alphabet they've only known for 10 months. I just can't imagine being able to do the same thing with Cyrillic letters with less than a year's exposure. What a good God we have that He built children to be able to adjust to new environments and new mental challenges with stunning speed!

Daria and Alexander finished the eye doctor visit with seriously dilated pupils, a new understanding of how the eye works, and the great news that neither of them need glasses or contacts. Thank You, Lord!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thank You from Daria

Thank you for your comments. They have given me encouragement for taking pictures in the future.

God bless you,

Friday, September 16, 2011


I took this picture last week when  my family visited Minnesota. Seeing the waterfall made me think about all I have learned about God since I came to America.

"Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, You are very great;
You are Clothed with splendor and majesty..."
                                                  (Psalm 104:1)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happiness in a Hosptial Room

Mrs. Beaver:

What joy we experienced tonight. We visited the day-old baby of dear friends who are part of our church family. Baby Will's size when he was born early yesterday morning shocked the doctor and nurses. They thought his mom was carrying a seven-pounder. Instead, she gave birth to a son who weighed 9 pounds, 12 ounces and was 23 inches long!

Will is a beautiful testimony to God's abundant lovingkindness. He is our friends' fourth child, the baby they were certain they would never be able to have. He is a living, breathing reminder that, "Nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Renew, Refresh...RETREAT!

Mrs. Beaver:

This weekend our church celebrated our annual all-church, family retreat. I'm deliciously tired following the event, and my writing may be suspect. However, I did purpose to use the verb "celebrate" in that last sentence.

This was the fifth year that our faith family has escaped to an idyllic setting in rural Iowa, Twin Lakes Christian Center.

Over the years, our church body has discovered that on this special weekend we're able to renew our love of Christ through worship and great teaching. We also have the time and opportunity to refresh old friendships. And, we can invest in making new friends.

The fun and the fellowship during the abundant free time fuel our ability to live out God's call to love one another the rest of the year. Each retreat is like glue that holds our body together, enabling us to then hold one another up throughout the year when hard times come. The annual retreats help us function like a first-century church. We're able to function as family.

Again this year, the retreat proved to be all that we would have hoped for and so much more--truly a gift from God.

She had the help of some of her cousins and friends (all girls!) Here our Natasha is showing off her prize toad frog:

Our church's newest newlyweds enjoyed moments of solitude amidst the crowd.

We enjoyed wonderful music before each teaching session.

All of us left retreat feeling as though we'd had a glimpse of heaven, having learned a lot...and laughed a lot. (If you hear a rumor that the Silly String fight was started by one of the church's elders, believe it! :))

We'd been renewed, refreshed, and revitalized in our desire to become more and more like Christ--the theme of the weekend.

To God be the glory!