Monday, July 30, 2012

A Blessed Woman

Mrs. Beaver:

Our oldest daughter is a blessed woman.

 She has a husband who dotes on her...

...a beautiful baby...

...and, she has the opportunity to stay home and serve both in the name of Christ.

Our oldest daughter is indeed a blessed woman!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

For My New Friend, Alyson

Mrs. Beaver:

Two of the primary questions of those considering adopting older children is: "Can older adoptees bond with others? Is attachment possible for such emotionally-scared children?"

Mr. Beaver and I  are nearly eleven years down the wild-but-amazingly-wonderful path of older-child adoption. We would answer these pressing questions with a resounding, "Yes!"--with an crucial qualifier.

As we've parented our twelve children, we've learned (sometimes the hard way!) that Biblical standards for loving one another must be consistenly and humbly enforced and modeled by parents. A favorite Bible passage that we use as a moment-by-moment thermometer for all hearts in the house is: "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others." (Philippians 2:3,4 NASB) The first four words are usually all the gentle reminder that is needed!

In our family God has used His ways to mold hearts, creating healthy sibling relationships. His good hand has been on our kiddos, most of whom either didn't know each other as young children or had been separated by the wreckage of their original families. He is a great God who is making beautiful things out of dust!

Yesterday the Lord allowed me to capture "on film" a couple of the family's many sibling relationships as the kids worked to clean up the remains of one of our favorite fair-weather outings--a breakfast picnic.

As we've shared here before, Natasha (left) and Tatiana (right) are biological sisters. However, when they were little Natasha lived with their mom, while Tatiana was cared for by a grandmother who lived six hours away. Their reunion came when both were placed in the same orphanage. When we met them 11 months after their placement in the children's home, their closeness was unmistakable. Each girl's willingness to obey the Bible's commands to forgive one another and overlook the other's shortcomings (Ephesians 4:32--a family must) has helped insure a lasting friendship.

Daria (left) and Lissie (right) are not biological siblings. They didn't become sisters until Lissie was nearly 19 and Daria was close to 16. Despite this seemingly late start, the roommates are now sisters in every conceivable way. Their loyalty to each other is strong. And Mr. Beaver and I have hope that their friendship will last a lifetime because their relationship is now based on a shared love of Christ. The gospel is their tie. They've each had to die to self a thousand times, but the Lord has provided the grace they've needed to do just that.

God makes beautiful things out of dust!

(My title for this post is in honor of a woman I've only met by email. She shared her older-child adoption story with me this week. What a great reminder of just how great--and gracious--our God is! Thanks, Alyson!)

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Mrs. Reynolds:

"Who can deny the miracle of a newborn baby? Perhaps at no other time in a child's life do stunning changes take place on almost an hourly basis."
Ginny Felch, Photographing Children, Pg. 168

We thank God every day for blessing our family with "the miracle of a newborn." Our granddaughter, Brielle, at four weeks old:

Glory be to God!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Love Lessons

Mrs. Beaver:

We're approaching the 11th anniversary of our adoption of Russian siblings Jaynie, Cassandra and Mark. Each year as we reach mid summer, memories of the time surrounding the addition of the three of them crowd out other thoughts. Not only do recollections resurface, but this time of year inevitably brings reflection. This year our rumination has revolved around what we have learned about loving others.

Interestingly, God has used His more-recent placement of Daria and Alexander in our family as a grace-filled teaching tool for both of us. Daria and Alexander were older than any of the children we'd preciously added through adoption. When we adopted them in late 2010, Daria was nearly 16, and Alexander was going on 12. We knew enough about both adoption and parenting teens to understand that if we lost their hearts initially, we'd most likely never win them back. Unlike the children we'd parented from infancy, they had no long history with us to look back on to remember that we could be trusted. So, we were gentler, more patient, more long-suffering, more understanding, more forgiving, and better listeners. The result? Daria and Alexander have willingly poured their hearts into our hands, demonstrating confidence in our trustworthiness.

As a parent of kiddos in their early twenties, my pride wishes that I didn't have to admit its taken us this long to "get" a clearer picture of how we're to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1,2) as we parent. But that very pride has been a problem all along. It's pride that drives the thought, "I deserve better." And any focus on "me" or "my rights" gets in the way of sacrificial love. Period.

So, in a nutshell, here's a glimpse of where the Lord is taking us:
  • No stingy grace!
  • No miserly forgiveness!
  • No *scrimpy love!
Our affection must be unselfish, ungrudging, unfaltering. After all, love never fails. Our kindhearted, giving God has sacrificially lavished grace, forgiveness and love on us. We must do no less! (I Cor. 13:8; Psalm 86:5; John 3:16; Eph. 1:3-8)

With brokenness over how we've parented in the past, the two of us are fervently studying our Bibles and working to write His word on our hearts as we cry out for the Spirit to change us. Not only do we want to do a better job of parenting all our current children, the Lord still has one more set of siblings for us to love on. The Lord has been perfectly patient with these two sinners. He is so good!


*Scrimpy: (Yes--this really is a word!) It means scanty, meager; barely adequate.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adoption Update: Rushing to Meet a Deadline

Mrs. Beaver:

Inside the Kremlin walls--Moscow, November 2010

Between my surgery and the birth of our first grandchild, we haven't posted any news about our adoption effort for some time. However, the blog silence doesn't mean we've slowed down or backed off from our pursuit of the "Fab Four," as we're fond of calling them. Faith at work in our hearts tells us God has a plan for rescuing the four siblings from their status as orphans, and the family He has targeted is us! A legal transfer--called adoption--just needs to happen to make it possible for them to come join our tribe.

As I write this, Mr. Beaver is hard at work proofing a rough draft of our home study forwarded to us yesterday by our social worker, Janette. Those of you familiar with the labyrinth that adoption inherently is know this is an exciting development. We're now oh-so close to a completed home study!

This week we learned that there is urgency for completing the first critical stage of paperwork for the adoption by July 23. Our agency contact here in the U.S. will go on vacation soon, and was gracious enough to give us notice that we need to get our documents to her so she can forward them to Russia and keep the process moving in her absence.

Thus, we're scurrying! Mr. Beaver and I are exceedingly eager to travel to Russia to spend time with our three boys and little girl on the required "first trip." (We'll later return to Russia to go to court and bring the kiddos HOME.)

Last night I posted a general plea for our readers to be praying for the orphaned children of our world. If you'd be willing to turn some of those prayers to the liberating of three adorable brothers and their remarkably darling little sister (yes--I'm already terribly biased!), we'd be grateful. Here are some specific requests:
  • that our fingerprint crime-check results would return from the FBI early this week. Normally, the results come back in about 6 weeks, but an unnoticed mistake on the cards has caused a significant delay. Already about 12 weeks have passed. The homestudy can't be considered finished until the fingerprint results return so this is a biggie right now.
  • that we would be able to finish the paper chase before our U.S. worker goes on vacation. Adoptions are notorious for the surprises that pop up, so we need to target finishing even earlier than July 23. Please pray for protection from the unexpected and efficiency in our efforts to tie up any loose ends.
  • that we will be allowed to travel to see the children SOON. We're beseeching the Lord for late August or early September. Its an audacious request; there's no human way everything could come togther this soon. But He is the Lord God Almighty. We've watched Him do stunning things in our four prior adoptions, and we eagerly await the chance to sing His praises for what He does this time.
Well, Mr. Beaver has finished proofing the 11-page home study draft and has asked me to be a "second set of eyes." Each seemingly baby step takes us closer to being able to bring those kids home to their waiting family. Glory be to God!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Brielle's Sweet Dreams - A Heartrending Contrast

Mrs. Beaver:

Brielle doesn't yet smile voluntarily, but she must be having some sweet dreams.

I caught her deep-in-sleep grin as she reclined in her Uncle John's lap during dinner tonight. I'm thankful to God that my granddaughter's first month of life has been so pleasant and secure that her naps are filled with happy thoughts. Oh, that all the world's children were so blessed!

In a way that has caught me off guard, Brielle's short life has touched my heart not only with great joy, but ironically, with moments of powerful pain. This very loved newborn has already received more affection in her five weeks of life than many of the world's 147 million orphans will in their entire childhood. The equally precious lives of these orphans are mared by neglect, loneliness and fear. They have seemingly nowhere to turn for security, safety and love.

This momma of many broken young lives has spent too much time in orphanages to forget the pain on the faces of vulnerable, forgotten little ones. So I watch Brielle and thank God for His goodness in her life, as I pray for fatherless children to be rescued from their neglect.

Please... won't you pray with me?

For Aaron

Mrs. Beaver:

Dear Aaron,

Thank you so very much for the gift of Anna and Brielle's extra week with us. We know you love them deeply and miss them dearly. Rest assured, Anna and Brielle have both been a remarkable blessing to our family!

Hope these photos help you through the separation. It won't be long now until your girls are back in your arms!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Waking Up to the World

Mrs. Beaver:

When I visited Aaron and Anna just after Brielle was born in early June, I told my son-in-law that I love seeing God's world through a camera lens because I see things I would miss otherwise. The nuances of creation are opened up to me in a whole new way when I have a camera in front of my face. I'm much more careful to note the finely-tuned details of the glorious work of our Creator when I'm taking--or then reviewing--pictures.

As you well know if you're a regular reader, I have a favorite new photography subject--my first grandchild. Last night her mommy, Anna, spent some time out with a friend while our second oldest daughter, Lissie, and I tried our hand at babysitting a one month old. (Grandpa was out of town and the many others in our household were at Bible study.)

Little did we know what a treat we were in for! Brielle was ready to show off her emerging personality for my camera as her auntie held her. With her deep-blue eyes full of life, she gave us a private showing of a little girl who, while sleeping less and less, has begun to investigate--and comment on--the world around her.

In the end, Brielle's focused spurt of energy required yet another...

...nap. She is after all only five weeks old!

Who but God could create such a wonder as a human baby?
Who but God could weave such poetry into such a small frame?
Who but God could love Brielle enough that He would sacrifice His own child to make eternal life possible for her?
Who, but God?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Another "I'd Like to Kiss the Inventor" Post

Mrs. Beaver:

In June I posted about my fondness for the invention of Skype. Just now I found myself thanking God for another fairly recent (all things are relative--I'm 50 years old!) technical development.

Texting can be a great blessing to a marriage! Yes, texting! Mr. Beaver and I have fallen into the habit of sending each other a few little love notes throughout the workday. We still use texting for the mundane necessary task of keeping in touch to help keep the family functioning, but we also use the communication tool for ROMANCE!

What an encouragement it is to receive a note of adoration from your spouse! And, for me, purposing to be creative in sending "sweet little nothings" to Mr. Beaver requires that I rehearse in my own heart and mind the countless ways in which I am deeply blessed to be his wife. Boy, is that a good exercise in midst of the demanding daily-ness of life!

Sending tender words a few times a day helps beautify our 28-year-old marriage, and the state of our marriage matters. It matters a great deal, in fact. First, the strength and beauty of our marriage is our children's primary source of security. Some day we pray Christ will take that place in their hearts, but until that time our union is that to which they look to know that they can successfully face their struggles in this life. We have 12 (soon to be 16) children watching us.

Second, the state of our marriage is either going to encourage our children to marry someday or drive them to another option. And I don't just mean being single. Living with someone? Developing a relationship with a person of the same gender? As I said, the state of our marriage matters a great deal.

Finally, our culture is watching. Our culture has written off the marriage of one-man-to-one-woman-for-a-lifetime as an out-dated institution. But that's NOT what the Bible says! So, our job as Christians is to show the world that matrimony, which was designed BY God to be a picture of the relationship between His Son, Jesus, and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33), is a wonderful place to spend a lifetime. The state of our marriages will either endorse or mock our witness for Christ. The health of our marriages matters a great deal.

Now I realize as I write this that romantic texting won't be for everyone. Not every husband will want his pocket to vibrate that many more times each day. However, can I please encourage you, wives, to try a bit of romantic texting before guessing at your hubby's preference. You just might be surprised at his response. He may just be hungering to know that you're glad you married him. And, I know, that the principle for lovey-dovey texting is biblical. In Ephesians 5:33 (NASB) Paul emphatically states:
"...the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."

So, wives, if your husband would prefer that you express your ardor for him in some way other than texting, pray for the Lord's wisdom. Ask Him to show you other methods or tools you can use to encourage and build up your man. I know God will answer your plea. He was the one who issued the command that we respect our men. And what He commands, He enables, if we'll only ask Him for the help.

All that said, I'm off to text a few words of admiration to my beloved! If you run into the inventor of texting, give him my heartfelt thanks!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Do You Think?

Mrs. Beaver:

Doesn't this photo capture the very essence of a father's protection?
...the nearness...
...the encircling arm...
...the touch...
...the watchfulness...
...the focus...
...the willingness to wait...
...the sacrifice of self.

Amazingly, we have a God who is a perfect Father.
Through the sacrifice of his own Beloved Son, Jesus,
this Father has seen to it that our every need is met
 both temporal and eternal.
In Him, we are perfectly protected from all that is not good for us.
What love!

"He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered Him over for us all,
how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?"
Romans 8:32, NASB

What love!
He is all we need.

God's Little Blessing

Mrs. Beaver:

Yesterday morning the Lord brought two things (for lack of a better word) together at just the perfect time. I was feeling strong enough to pick up a camera for the first time since my surgery a little over a week ago. In addition, my granddaughter, Brielle, was wide awake.  I thank God for His gift of "coincidence." Here is the result:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Grandpa's Beard

Mrs. Beaver:

This morning Grandpa and month-old Brielle spent some time together.

This gave her the opportunity for a new sensory experience: touching Grandpa's beard!

At first, she wasn't sure she cared for his bristles.

But in the end...

...she decided Grandpa's beard wasn't so bad after all.

Getting the chance to cuddle with him was worth any sacrifice his furry face might require!

She even got to be Grandpa's doll baby as he joined in the play of her Aunt Amy (L) and Aunt Oksana!