Monday, April 30, 2012

Yet Another April Reason to Celebrate

Mrs. Beaver:

Saturday was an important day for two reasons. First, it was Oksana's birthday. (See most recent post). Second, that day was also the 7th anniversary of the adoption of biological sisters, Tatiana, Natasha and Amy. As I've commented here before, anniversaries are very special to adoptive families. They give us the chance to look back and appreciate all God's done for us.

What an unspeakably precious gift our Heavenly Father has given us in these three girl! Children truly are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127)!

These three girls add the color to our world. Here are some favorite photos of them:

Natasha (left) (5), Amy (3) and Tatiana (7) dressed to go to church for the first time, four days after arriving from Russia - 2005

The girls on their first trip to one of our favorite vacation spots, the North Shore of Lake Superior.
They'd been part of the family for about four months - 2005

Near their first anniversary, the trio were making "cakes" for the celebration - 2006

A happy swimmer - 2006

Baking buddies sharing the same stool while "helping" an older sister bake - 2007

Our family was blessed with the opportunity to return to England where the first five of us had lived for a couple of years -- 2008

Feeding swans on England's Thames River - 2008

Tatiana at "Odds Farm Park" in rural England - 2008

Yet another bug hunt - 2008

A tired 8-year-old after a long walk through the Cincinnati Zoo - 2010

On vacation in Cincinnati in 2010

Tatiana's first roommate was Lissie. The two share a special bond.

Amy has been Oksana's closest friend since we adopted Oksana in late 2010. Amy has truly been a life saver.
Despite Oksana's speech delay, Amy has learned Oksana's language -- a mixture of Russian and English.
The two of them play together beautifully (well, okay... most of the time).

Oksana's best pal!

Cuddling a pup we "met" at a rest stop - 2011
If you're aware that we've just started the process of adopting a sibling group of four, you may wonder WHY we would be willing to increase our tribe from 12 to 16 children. A portion of the answer is captured in the pictures above. When we look back of over the past seven years we see many truths about God. Our God is a living God. Our God is good. Our God answers prayers. He has proven Himself perfectly faithful through the adoption of and our raising of "The Three Little Girls."

We know we can depend upon that faithfulness in the adopting and parenting of yet another four kiddos. In fact, we eagerly look forward to seeing the Lord move mountains on behalf of the four orphans awaiting a family in an orphanage in Russia.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April Birthday Number Two

We celebrated another birthday today.

Exactly one week after Amy turned 10, Oksana reached her 8th birthday.

A few weeks ago, Oksana told us she was hoping for a big stuffed dog.

A great God-given joy for these adoptive parents is being able to grant the often simple wishes of our former orphans. From our perspective, life just doesn't get much better than this!

As soon as Oksana had unwrapped her giant bull dog and pulled him into an embrace, Mr. Beaver asked her what name she was going to give him. She stretched out her arms to study her new toy's face and said decidedly, "Daddy." Mr. Beaver was a bit unsure of the implications of having a giant stuffed bull dog named after him. However, upon seeing her affection for the pup, Mr. Beaver has chosen to see Oksana's naming choice as an effort to express her love for him.

We've had a number of ups and downs with Oksana over the past year. The suffering she experienced as a very young child has evidenced itself in number of ways that have touched the whole family. She's learning now what most kids learn at two or three. Despite the hard times and challenges, God has showered us with his grace, and we all treasure and deeply love this dark eyed beauty who is now eight years old. We cannot imagine life without her! We thank the Lord for the unspeakably good gift of Oksana. His love and goodness never cease to amaze us.
Picture credits go to Daria, Cassandra and Tatiana 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Amy's 10th

Mrs. Beaver:

On Saturday, Amy hit double digits. Of the nine children we've adopted from Russia, she was the youngest as she became a family member. When we met her on the required "first trip," Amy was only 2-1/2. Here she is in December 2004:

That day we were allowed to spend 45 minutes with her and then asked whether we were ready to sign a document committing to her adoption. As we'd sat on the sofa in the orphanage director's office, Amy had been as passive as we'd ever seen a toddler. She barely moved, didn't smile and never made a sound. Despite her listlessness, when our short stint with Amy came to a close we were already in love with her button-nose (and the rest of her!) and didn't hesitate to sign the document declaring we were willing to be her parents. 

Four months later we were allowed to return. Amy had turned three just days before we picked her up at the baby  and toddler orphanage. This time Amy was anything but silent. As she was taken from the familiarity of her care-taker's arms and placed in the arms of two people who were strangers, she began a truly pathetic whimpering, moaning sob that would continue for about two hours through the experience of traveling with us to the orphanage in which her sisters, Tatiana (7) and Natasha (5) resided to pick them up.

Before we'd even left Russia, we discovered that Amy was not at all what we'd expected after our first visit with her. Instead, she was a happy, spunky, exuberant child who quickly captured the hearts of all in her new family.

Amy's love of life made her happy to try out new experiences, like running the small pebbles on Lake Superior's shore through her fingers.

Amy was sickly when she first joined the family, and her weight dropped from 21 pounds to 19. At 3-1/2 years old she was wearing 12 month clothing! A couple of minor surgeries early on following her adoption made Amy more resilient to infection.

In one of the operations, Amy had to have all but eight teeth removed. Our pediatric dentist pieced together that her teeth had rotted as a result of being left with a bottle in her crib during long hours of neglect by her birth mother. We felt grateful to the Lord to be able to provide the health care and nutrition she desperately needed!

As she grew stronger and healthier, Amy's zest for life made her creative...

...and many times her creativity has left her family laughing!

We're certain Amy will always remember her 10th birthday. That very morning Mr. Beaver and I gathered our children in our great room and shared our decision to add a sibling group of four to our gang. True to character, Amy burst into ecstatic tears of joy and flew across the room into the arms of her daddy, tightly hugging his neck. In her special way, she enthusiastically signaled her approval of our decision.

We were in such a celebratory mood, having both an a birthday and an adoption for which to rejoice, that we did something we've never done before for one of our children's birthdays. We went to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza and games.

Many of Amy's siblings gave her the tickets they'd earned. Mark was the first to demonstrate selflessness to his sister.

Amy asked Natasha to help her decide how to "spend" her new-found wealth.

Amy's choose as her largest prize a bag of very pink cotton candy. Lissie read us the list of ingredients. It went something like this: air, sugar, red food coloring, sugar, sugar sugar...

Amy's antics continue. She brought our Chuck E. Cheese experience to an end by giving her family a reason to laugh--yet again--as she exited in giant purple-slat eyeglasses. Amy remains wonderfully unaware of self, willing to just enjoy life as it comes to her. Amy loves others with an open-hearted abandon that has blessed many, starting with her family.

We thank God for packing so much joy into such a small package. We thank God for giving us the grace to say, "Yes!" to a toddler who seemed so lifeless. We thank God for the gift of Amy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Mr. & Mrs. Beaver:

Musical put on for us by the preschoolers when we visited the orphanage in October 2010.
Our Oksana is in the back in the pink.

To our dear family and friends,

After much prayer, lengthy review of many relevant scriptures and hours of discussion with each other, we believe the Lord is leading us to another adoption. Lord willing, we hope to adopt a sibling group of four older orphans, 3 brothers and their little sister. We want to share more, but also need to respect the system which has some constraints about how much is shared for the safety of the children. We will seek more counsel about what we can share and when. In the mean time, we would love to have your prayer support for these kids.

God is so good in granting us the joy and privilege of adopting again. Please pray for His abundant grace to be ours. Please also pray that we navigate these waters in a way that brings Him glory and brings four orphans HOME as soon as possible.

Yielding = Joy

Mrs. Beaver:

One of things Mr. Beaver and I have observed in our daughter, Jaynie, as she lives and serves in a Muslim culture in a central Asian country is a blossoming of deep joy in her life.

This week I moved a number of books in our home, and as I did so I ran across a quote I'd underlined 11 years ago. At that time the two of us were in the throes of wrestling with the decision of whether to adopt three older siblings from Russia, Jaynie, Cassandra and Mark:
"When we trust God and exercise our faith, then we can yield ourselves completely and experience the by-product of joy. The ability to surrender our whole selves to God with complete trust and childlike faith is the key to possessing the abundant life filled with the fruit and gift of the joy of the Lord." (Lindsey O'Connor, If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy, 115)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Song

Mrs. Beaver:

As I prepare to worship the King of Kings tomorrow, this song from Matt Redman's newest CD 10,0000 Reasons is getting my heart ready to bow before Him in gratitude and praise.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Video: To Kill a Misconception

So many children around the world NEED families. Fear is perhaps the primary barrier to Christian adoption.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Think Right to Live Right...

Mr. Beaver:

Our beloved pastor has been preaching from 2 Corinthians now for several months. This morning, his sermon included a quote from a book by Sam Storms that really struck home. And although the quote was rendered in the context of church behavior, I believe application in the context of personal behavior is also merited. Here's what we heard:

"...we must be governed not by pragmatism, but by biblical principle; not by self-promotion but by a Christ-centered passion; not by greed but contentment with what we have; not by a concern for quantity but a commitment to quality and spiritual excellence; not by what enhances our comfort but by a willingness to suffer for Christ's sake; not by a hunger for power but a recognition that in our weakness the glory of God is most seen; not by a hankering after fame but a willingness to labor in anonymity if only Christ is known; not on the best ideas that men can conjure up but in conformity with the wisdom that comes from above; not by the preferences of a world that denigrates revelatory truth but in accordance with the moral values of God's Word; and not as if physcial reality is all there is but in recognition of the power of the unseen spiritual realm."

In short, we must remember that, by nature, our thoughts do not match God's thoughts. To make matters worse, our sinful nature is urged on toward wrong thinking by our surroundings. We are surrounded by worldly thinking and worldly ways.

 Paul and John caution us in this matter as follows:

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Rom 12:2
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." 1 John 2:15-16

Unless we are vigilant about taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, we will start to look less and less like Him and more and more like our world, quenching the power of our testimony for Him.

Indeed, we are to think on... or rather dwell on "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute... on anything excellent or praise worthy." Philippians 4:8

Fight the fight of faith! Think right to live right!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Daddy and Daughters

Mrs. Beaver:

I'm still reveling in the beauty and wonder of our family's celebration of Easter last weekend. Just as we were gathering at our large dining room table for a mid-day meal of ham and Daria's amazing mashed potatoes, I saw Cassandra and her dad enjoying a snuggle:

When Oksana saw the cuddle going on she chirped, "Me, too! Me, Too!" and ran to her daddy's end of the table with her arms lifted high:

There isn't a day that goes by that our family doesn't thank God for making us a family. There isn't a day that goes by that Mr. Beaver and I don't marvel at God's goodness, His kindness, His love in using both pregnancy and adoption to breath abundant, vibrant life, in the form of children, into the home of an utterly barren couple. We revel in his resurrecting power, displayed in our lives as redemptive love.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Orphanage Life

Van in which we traveled from the capital city in the region to our children's orphanage in October 2010

Daria just after our arrival at her orphanage begging her new parents to hurry so she can give us a tour

Some of our regular readers may have wondered what life was like for Daria, Alexander and Oksana during their years in the orphanage. We adopted the three of them through the Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project. The Lighthouse Project's Becky De Nooy is author of the group's blog. In January, Becky interviewed a recent adoptee from their orphanage about her life in the Children's Home.  Becky's post, titled Orphanage Life, offers insight to our children's former lives. The details which Becky shares closely match the many stories they have shared with us since becoming part of our family.

Our children were well cared for in a very good orphanage. However, it was still an orphanage, not a family. What a merciful God we have who places the lonely in families! (Psalm 68:6)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Perfectly Suited

After church on Easter, the family's four men, who only don suits for Resurrection Sunday and sibling's weddings, were hamming it up a bit for the camera.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Video: Great Post-Easter Song

Mrs. Beaver:

Our church's children's/youth choir sang Andy Cherry's "Our God's Alive" yesterday morning to open the Easter service. Wow! What perfect and powerful lyrics! His is risen, just as He said!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

And They Lived Happily Ever After

Mrs. Beaver:

Day after day we're assailed in the news by stories that make us cringe and sometimes even cry. Our souls long for a happy ending. Our hearts want a reason to rejoice.

This past weekend our family traveled to Kansas City to celebrate a remarkable turn of events that has left us jumping for joy. Earlier in the week, Mr. Beaver's Uncle John and Aunt Carol announced that they plan to remarry 27 years after divorcing.

We have been pleading with the Lord in prayer for this very news for years. We've remained close to both of them since they separated. We love each of them dearly! And, individually they've been among our greatest supporters as we've added trio after trio after trio of older children to our number through adoption. What a great God to answer our many prayers and make the seemingly impossible possible!

With the news so fresh, our desire last Saturday was to take the newly engaged couple out to dinner to rejoice with them. As soon as we arrived at Uncle John's, I asked for a photo of the two of them. There was no need to tell them to "smile" when I was ready to snap the picture! These two can't stop smiling!

When we got to the restaurant, I asked for one more picture of the duo, knowing it would be dark when we came out.

Then over delicious food, we enjoyed laughter and fellowship.

We then returned to Uncle John's place for ice cream (Blue Bunny, of course) and strawberries. First though, we gave Uncle John and Aunt Carol a small gift. The two of us shared our all-time favorite book on marriage, Paul David Tripp's What Did You Expect??: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.

Our John helped his uncle dish up dessert...

...while Aunt Carol shared some family history with the girls.

Her tales prompted Uncle John, the family's genealogist, to pull out the extensive records he's collected.

Here he was showing us his ancestor's letter requesting a medical release during the Civil War.

We were fascinated to see the documents,

although the girls quickly decided they don't want the beard which their great-great-great-great grandfather sported to come back into fashion!

While the older kids were getting a very personal history lesson, the little girls were getting loved on by Aunt Carol.

 All too soon, our wonderful evening was over.

On Sunday morning we went to church with the soon-to-be-marrieds. Then following a group photo...

...we had to get started on the five-hour journey home. So we said our good-byes and climbed into the van.

As we backed out of the driveway, the beaming couple gave us something to hoot happily about...

May God bless and keep these two as they reunite in July!
May He cause His face to shine upon them as they begin again!
May He guide them and enable each of them to live in selfless service to the other!
May His way be their way.
And, may they live happily ever after!