Thursday, May 24, 2012

One Hump or Two?

Mrs. Beaver:

Jaynie will be returning home from living amongst a people she's grown to love in early June. Today she a had an adventure worthy of finishing eight months of living in Central Asia. Jaynie got to visit a camel farm.

Not only did Jaynie get to see camels, she got to ride one! Here she is in the burka she wears whenever she is outside the walls of the "compound" in which she lives. A compound is a high-walled enclosure of a building or several buildings in which a family, extended family or multiple families live, cook, etc. (think outdoor plumbing).

"That's my baby on that camel!!!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Milestone Celebration

Mrs. Beaver:

Today is our 18-month anniversary, and looking back can be so healthy. The Lord has brought us so far! His faithfulness is unfathomable! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to those of you who have cried out to God on our behalf! We're more grateful for your prayers than we could ever express!

Here are some random photos of the sculpting God has done on the 15 of us (I'm including our beloved son-in-law, Aaron) to turn us into a family utterly committed to one another:



Monday, May 21, 2012

Alexander's 13th

Early on in the celebration of his birthday, Alexander received a Lego set. He eagerly reached over to hug the giver.

One of the first bridges that Mark and Alexander shared--long before they could speak the same language--was building with Legos.

Alexander's next gift puzzled him... he pulled a small skillet out of Christmas wrapping paper.

He was unsure what to make of the unusual gift...

...until Amy (10) piped up and happily said, "Oksana (8) and I want to give you a bed and breakfast."

Once the older folks in the family stopped guffawing behind our hands, we explained to Amy that the term she was looking for was "breakfast in bed."

Another of Alexander's gifts came in the form of a hand-drawn card from Cassandra. Even as Alexander was taking the card out of it's envelope, he was repeatedly complimenting Cassandra on her artwork. One of the many ways Alexander blesses us is through encouragement. He's always on the look-out for opportunities to build us up.

By the end of Alexander's gift opening ceremony, he'd migrated to the place where he seems happiest and most secure--right at John's side.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pregnancy Update: Too Puffy!

Mrs. Beaver:

Minnesota's North Shore -- November 2011

We aren't just expanding our family through adoption. Our oldest daughter, Anna, and her husband, Aaron, are expecting their first child in mid June -- just 3-1/2 weeks from now!

Anna visited her doctor today, and he was concerned with just how swollen she is. She says she's puffy all over. Anna's also been suffering from on-going headaches which have been growing worse. Both of these symptoms can be indicators of preeclampsia. Following more tests, Anna and Aaron will learn early next week if she has developed the preeclampsia--a jump in blood pressure during pregnancy. None of  us will be too surprised if Anna is diagnosed with preeclampsia; Anna's birthmother also suffered from the condition during the last five weeks she carried Anna. The disorder, although usually not life-threatening, at its worst can lead to seizure, stroke or multiple organ failure and even the death of the mother and baby.

Until the test results come in, Anna's been ordered to be a "couch potato." Her doctor told her if she doesn't comply, he'll order full bed rest when he sees her again on Tuesday.

We would, of course, be more than grateful for your prayers for Anna and our granddaughter! Both are so precious to us! For now, we rest in the Lord, knowing well His faithfulness.

May God be glorified in all of this!

November 2011

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Adoption Update: Testing Our Resolve

Tomorrow afternoon Mr. Beaver and I will take an extensive psychiatric test called the MMPI. The MMPI is required by Russian law.

If I remember correctly from when we tackled the test for our 2010 adoption, the personality exam has more that 500 questions. That's a whole lot of circles to fill in! In all honesty, this test is probably one of our least favorite of the many adoption requirements. The soul-searching required to answer the questions is exhausting. Two years ago, when we reached the 567th question and shaded in that last oval we experienced a real sense of triumph!

Once we complete the test tomorrow, a trained psychiatrist will evaluate our answers. She will then submit her report to both our social worker here in Iowa and to the woman with the Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project who works with parents to turn piles of paperwork into official dossiers that get submitted to the both the U.S. and Russian governments for approval. The step we take tomorrow is one of the big steps required along the way, and will take us one step closer to being the parents of four more beautiful children.

If you're wondering who the four children in the photo are, they are our motivation for wading through the many requirements of an international adoption. We're not allowed to post identifying photos until the children are legally ours, but we thought you'd enjoy this glimpse.

Recently the "Fab Four" (as we're affectionately calling them) had the opportunity to go on one of the Lighthouse Project's trips and thus go swimming--a rare opportunity for kids living in an orphanage! The Lighthouse Project's trips bring together orphans with adults who have a heart for orphan care and may even be interested in adopting one or more of the children. The adults are called hosts. Not every child ends up having a host, even though that is always Becky's goal as she coordinates the trips.

The Fab Four didn't have a host, but God used their presence on this trip anyway. When Becky returned from Russia after spending four days with the children, she sent us an email saying, "Would you have any interest in these four siblings? They are amazing kids." Those few words stirred us to seek God as we have few times in our lives. We prayed. We searched God's word, "listening" for His direction through Scripture. We spent hours discussing this gynormous decision with each other, and we prayed some more. Joy-filled hearts have been God's gift to the two of us since we made the decision to enlarge our family by four. Tomorrow evening after shading many ovals we will be one step closer to bringing the Fab Four home!

Daring to Trust

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Was that Post Right?

Mrs. Beaver:

Two years ago we were immersed in our last adoption. In September of 2010, Mr. Beaver and I wrote a post about our reasons for being willing to adopt a teen.

At the time our words were really just a statement of faith in God's trustworthiness. We hadn't experienced that about which we wrote. Now, however, we're 1-1/2 years into parenting a girl adopted just four months before she turned 16. Now, we can unabashedly say that we were right in what we wrote. It is truly do-able to add a teenager through adoption. There's a special magic about it, in fact. A orphaned teen has suffered for years. As a result, when ensconced in a the safety of a family, a teenager who is a former orphan really "gets" the blessing of being set free from orphanage life and loved by parents and siblings. Daria overflows with gratitude to us for making her part of our family. She is deeply and openly affectionate. She tells us many times a day that she loves us. She loves to kiss and hug and cuddle.

The challenges of adopting a teen are real, but the rewards rewarding. Daria has brought fun, creativity, and humor into our home. We daily thank God that He challenged us to step beyond what was comfortable (adopting children ages 3 to 11) and trust Him by adding a much older child.

For her 17th we surprised our horse-loving birthday girl with four horseback riding lessons.

Her are some photos from her last lesson:

Daria learned how to sit on "Pinches" while Pinches sits

Both Daria and Pinches were willing to smile for the camera!

Daria and Pinches balanced on a small red platform. The horse trainer standing nearby insisted that Pinches pull her ears forward for the final touch.

Here Pinches and Daria are causing a teeter-tauter to flop forward and back just by a slight movement of one of Pinches' front legs at Daria's signal

Not surprisingly, Daria fell in love with this cooperative, amiable horse that has trained about 2,000  beginning riders in her 15 years.

Also, not surprisingly, Daria's parent's were deeply gratified to see their daughter so happy, as a simple birthday gift fulfilled a life-long-dream! God is good and does good!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Continuing to Learn Love

Mr. & Mrs. Beaver:

Our family's guiding definition of love is, of course, drawn from Scripture. But we also appreciate the way that Paul David Tripp unpacks the God's word in ways that help us really grasp God's vision for love. He pulls from many Scripture passages in coming up with a summary definition as follows:
"Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving...
 Tripp goes on to unpack love at an even deeper level:
"Love calls you beyond the borders of your own wants, needs, and feelings. Love calls you to be willing to invest time, energy, money, resources, personal ability, and gifts for the good of another. Love calls you to lay down your life in ways that are concrete and specific. Love calls you to serve, to wait, to give, to suffer, to forgive, and to do all these things again and again. (Emphasis ours)
"Love calls you to be silent when you want to speak, and to speak when you would like to be silent. Love calls you to act when you would really like to wait, and to wait when you would really like to act. Love calls you to stop when you really want to continue, and it calls you to continue when you feel like stopping...Love again and again calls you away from your instincts and your comfort. Love requires personal sacrifice. Love calls you to give up your life." What Did You Expect??: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, pg. 188
Although Tripp's book is intended to help couples grasp God's ways in marriage, the same concepts apply to all our interactions as a family. After all, where better to love than within the family?

So, as we prepare to enlarge our family again through adoption, this reminder from Tripp's marriage book is also helping us to prepare our hearts for the sacrificial kind of love that makes adoption... and family in general... work. It's the kind of love that makes adoption work, even when the world says it's impossible. It's the kind of love that makes adoption work, even when the world says it's too scary. It's the kind of love that makes adoption work, even when we're too exhausted to answer another question or wipe another messy face or solve another sibling conflict. It's the kind of love that only He can raise up in our hearts.