Monday, November 28, 2011

Mark's Birthday

After we adopted Jaynie, Cassandra and Mark in September 2001, Mark was the first in the trio to celebrate a birthday. On November 28, he turned six... an amazingly cute six! He had never had a birthday celebration before. Nor had anyone showered him with gifts before. So when we brought him birthday gifts he tore into them with a gusto that made us both joyful and sad. Joyful because we had been able to give him a special celebration... sad because no one had ever done so before!

Orphans are often neglected in horrific ways. But even the mundane neglect they face is tragic. Simple things we take for granted with our biological children are often completely missed in the life of orphans. Besides missing birthday and Christmas celebrations, they often have no knowledge of the family history, medical conditions, traditions etc. And one of the saddest things we've noticed is their lack of baby pictures. We've had more than one tearful encounter with a former orphan who said, "I wish I knew what I looked like as a baby."

Mark's sixth birthday celebration was an occasion full of "photo ops"...his beautiful blue eyes shone as his new family introduced him to the birthday traditions of gift giving and birthday cake.
Mark, newly adopted, turns six

Today, ten years later, we celebrated his 16th birthday. Now Mark is growing into a fine young man, growing like a weed, and growing out of 'little boy' things.

Mark at 16


We love you. We pray for you multiple times each day. We're so glad that God has let us be your parents. We look forward to watching you grow into the young man the Lord has made you to be.

Mom and Dad

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chilly North Shore Hike

Mrs. Beaver:

We just returned from a few days in Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior. While there, we were refreshed by the opportunity to hike several times.
Sisters Natasha (11), Amy (9) and Oksana (7)
On the first day we were greeted by typically cold late November temperatures in the northern part of this northern state.

The frigid weather didn't phase Oksana. Mr. Beaver and I marvel at what a happy, trusting child she has grown into during this first year since her adoption from Russia. We've been privileged to watch as the Lord has done much healing in her shriveled soul since she joined our family. On this outing, Oksana skipped from rock to rock, her smile continuous.

Our oldest daughter, Anna, and her husband, Aaron, traveled about 16 hours to spend the week with us. We reveled in every moment we were able to be together!

We had heard from her that Aaron enjoys hiking, but this was our first chance to enjoy the great outdoors with our new son-by-marriage. His smile was as broad as Oksana's, but I suspect the reason was pleasure at having his first break in his position as a computer programmer since their honeymoon in March.

Just before we traveled, we shopped for warm clothing. Our silly Daria fell in love with a polar bear hat that extended all the way in to "mittens" with their own bear pattern. Natasha's choice in head ware was a lime-green-and-turquoise-striped polar bear.

On the day following this hike we celebrated the first anniversary of the adoption of Daria, Alexander and Oksana. All week Mr. Beaver and I experienced a heightened sense of how incredibly God has blessed us in allowing us to parent these three remarkable children, in addition to our other nine blessings.

As the hike neared its end, I caught Daria and her Dad as they paused during a deep conversation.

The end point of our hike was the town of Two Harbor's light house. We finished cold, but oh-so happy to have had fun and fellowship time with our favorite people--family!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Impossible Anniversary

Mr. Beaver:

This week we celebrated the one year anniversary of our adoption of Daria, Alexander and Oksana. For our family, we celebrate adoption anniversaries based on the day we land in America with our kids. As we celebrate this one year anniversary during Thanksgiving week, we recognize how much we have for which we need to be grateful to God. We can't imagine life without Daria, Alexander and Oksana. And we give thanks to God for the many miracles He performed to make this 'impossible' adoption (by human reckoning) happen. Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!

Note: In the photo, Alexander is carrying "his baby"--a giant snow ball he built on a hike the entire family took together.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our Adoption: Dad--On His Own

Mrs. Beaver:

A year ago I had the easy job. I was in Chicago with Lissie, Natasha and Joe who had each qualified locally to compete in the National Bible Bee Finals.

Opening ceremony -- Lissie receiving her medal for qualifying

Banquet on final evening -- Meggie, Bonnie Leigh, Natasha and Lissie (l-r)

Because of the need for me to be at the Bible Bee, Mr. Beaver was a world away, alone in Moscow, Russia. He was single-handily beginning to parent the three children who were finally ours at the end of a court-mandated 10-day wait, following the judge's "Yes," to our petition in late October to adopt Daria (15), Alexander (11) and Oksana (5).

Here's the link to Mr. Beaver's story of God's overwhelming goodness during the adventure of a lifetime: First Day with the Kids

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dinner for Three

Mrs. Beaver:

Last night Mr. Beaver and I took 16-year-old Daria to the nicest restaurant in town. It was just the three of us. Doing anything in a group that small is unusual in a family our size! Daria even got to shop for and don a brand new dress for the special occasion.

Why all the fuss?

Daria is the sixth of our teens to go through an important rite of passage in our family. We call it the Purity Promise Dinner. Our goal last night was to encourage Daria to commit to physical, emotional and spiritual purity in pursuit of Christ-like holiness while she waits to marry the right man at the right time according to God's plan for her life. We asked her to commit to sexual abstinence until marriage because we want God's very best for her and for her husband-to-be.

Mr. Beaver and I draw these convictions from the Bible. So after ordering our food last night, Mr. Beaver went over a number of scriptures with Daria showing her God's good plan for her life. He took her to Bible verses where the Lord articulates His insistence that His people save physical intimacy for the marriage bed. Daria's dad showed her that God wants more than mere physical purity. He wants purity of the mind and heart as well. The Lord wants young people to save all of themselves for their marriage partners.

Once Daria's dad had explained our plea for her to pursue purity, he asked her if she was willing to wait. Her response was an enthusiastic, "Yes!" She went on to tell us that while living in the orphanage in Russia and attending a community school, she'd had the opportunity to witness the devastation that not waiting can cause. She'd seen the brokenness that giving your heart and your body too soon can produce. She told us she wants something more like the love-filled magic she's seen between her sister, Anna, and her brother-in-law, Aaron.

We warned Daria that the promise she was making would be hard to keep. She'd be battling the world's ways and her own hormones. Daria's not naive, however. Living in an orphanage until she was nearly 16 opened her eyes to the very realities from which we've tried to shelter our other children. She knows life's hard edge, but now she also knows Christ. She wants to fight the good fight with His help. We promised we'd stand shoulder to shoulder with her, always ready to listen to her struggles. We promised we'd always be willing to pray with her. We promised we'd be available to counsel her and guide her. We promised her never-ending support and love.

Once Daria made her pledge to wait for the right man at the right time, as her dad likes to put it, he pulled out the visible reminder of her promise to walk the path of purity. He placed a ring on her left hand which will remain there until a man who has Mr. Beaver's approval replaces the band with an engagement ring.

Daria's hand and that of her daddy
Until Daria's forever man comes along, her dad will protect her and provide for her. He'll train her in the ways of God, and he'll intercede on her behalf in prayer before the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Then someday he'll stand at a wedding alter and pass those responsiblities to a young man who is prepared to be responsible for Daria for life.

 To God be the glory!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Russia's Equivalent

Mrs. Beaver:

Yesterday, on Veteran's Day, an annual tradition took place here in America; the President laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, outside Washington, D.C.

Russia has a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well, pictured here:

Our family had the opportunity to see this Russian monument this time last year when we spent several days in Moscow finalizing, Daria, Alexander and Oksana's adoptions. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is just outside Red Square and sits in the protecting shadow of the Kremlin wall.

Here's a bit more context for the Tomb:

While we stood and watched on the cold, cloudy November day, we were privileged to see the stately changing of the guard:

The solemn ceremony looked and sounded like this:

In the area near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a large fountain topped by four massive steeds.

That time of year the fountain was empty so our newest Russian horse lover, Daria, climbed on for a photo.

Next all twelve of our children, three of them brand-new to the mix, posed in front of the beautiful sculpture. If you've been a long-term reader, this picture may look familiar. We used it as the introduction to our blog for quite a while after we returned from Moscow.

The picture now qualifies as a favorite family photo because it brings back such sweet memories of our precious opportunity to explore Moscow together--as a FAMILY! What a generous gift the trip was from a glorious, loving God!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude for Service

On this Veterans' Day, our family sends the country's veterans, and those who are currently serving, our deep thanks for preserving our freedom. Your sacrifice, and that of your wives and children, is deeply appreciated!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Very Least of These

"Faith apart from works is dead."
(James 2:17 ESV)

Please take a look at the post titled Called to the Orphan . College student Natalie articulately urges us to look again at what we can do, for the sake of the Name, on behalf of the fatherless.

O, may the church of Christ die to self and live like Him, giving, serving, rendering assistance! He calls us to turn our backs on what is comfortable, convenient and predictable. He moved INTO people's pain, and we must also, if we're to imitate Him.

Would you please spend the month of November praying about whether God would have you adopt?

Jesus died for you. Are you willing to die to your fears and careful reasonings that keep you from caring for the least of these by adding them to your family? Our God is bigger than any roadblock you could come against.

Having adopted nine older children we can tell you you will be blessed a hundred fold, far beyond anything you'll sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jaynie on Her Way...

Mrs. Beaver:

Soon I hope we can carve out the time to fill in some details on how Jaynie is doing in her new home in Central Asia. For now, I'll just past on word that she absolutely loves the experience. Here are some photos from her trip there with her dad, brother (and dear friend), Joe.
Joe and Jaynie in their hotel in the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emerits

Outside the same hotel

Later in the day as dad, daughter and her brother traveled closer to her final destination, Jaynie would be required to wrap her head in the scarf, but Dubai is such a mix of cultures that she could leave the scarf down.
The Arabian cultures value horses deeply. This is one of the many beautiful statues on the hotel grounds.

As we get ready to commemerate National Orphan Sunday at church on this weedend, I can't help but be overwhelmed by the change to Jaynie's life. She was once confined to an orphanage with almost no opportunity for adventure and even less hope for a safe, thriving future as an adult. Now just look at this former orphan! Her life is full of purpose and the opportunity to make a difference for her King. Praise be to God!

More to come...