Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Strangely enough, this out-of-focus picture of our daughter Anna's family speaks volumes to me as an adoptive mother. So many of my children's lives have been seared by the acid drip of neglect.

This snapshot captures such a brief bit of life on planet earth and yet there's so much here...a vulnerable baby being cradled in her father's arms...a mother's kiss lovingly planted...unity between husband and wife. This is family as God intended it. Thank You, Lord, for Your loving protection of little Brielle.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TOGETHER--What a Glorious Word!

Today we had the opportunity to enjoy being together with the stunning scenery of Lake Superior as the back drop for a hike.
We have a new family member since we gathered together at Thanksgiving last year so the preps for our hike were a bit more involved. First, Brielle's snowsuit had to be put on her. Several of her aunties helped with the task, including Jaynie.
Next, Anna wedged the precious bundle into her carrier.

The five-month-old wasn't too sure about all the attention she was getting...
...but almost immediately she settled in beautifully.
The hike gave me the opportunity to get some up-to-date photos of our kids. I've had our camera out less than usual as I've struggled to get healthy following surgery in June.
I especially appreciated the chance to photograph Jaynie. Last year Jaynie was serving in a Central Asian country while we were on our annual trip to the North Shore. We're glad to have her with us again!
However, all of our kiddos have changed a great deal in the past 12 months!
As our hike began, the guys climbed straight up a rock face, but the girls stuck together and stuck to the path. By the time we rounded the corner, Daria had talked Anna into letting her carry Brielle.

It's pure delight to spend time with our oldest daughter, Anna, who lives several states away.

About halfway through the hike we came to a large waterfall.

Oksana was mesmerized by the falls and stood watching for quite some time.

We were overwhelmed by the beauty of the white and silver birches against a vivid blue sky.

Anna's husband, Aaron, enjoyed the birch trees from a different viewpoint--high in the air!
Aaron's little one slept through his tree-climbing escapade.
Aaron had good reason to descend from the heights--an embrace from his wife!
And with that, the hike continued.
In true "Amy fashion," she spent much of the hike in her own little world. She informed us she was collecting flowers for her wedding.
John is enjoying time off from his job. He graduated from college in May, immediately started an internship and before the internship was completed was offered a position in the same company. All of this has been a tremendous blessing, but he was ready for vacation!
We had a glorious time being together today! Our hearts were full of thanksgiving to God. All that was missing from our perfect day was our 20-year-old daughter, Lissie, who is taking her turn serving in a Central Asian country for the school year.
We send you our love, Lissie! We're so eager to see you next month!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just Can't Help Myself

Mrs. Beaver:

I knowing I'm breaking every blog posting "rule" by posting almost identical content on the same evening, but here's yet another photo on the same evening of our granddaughter:

First Family Reunion - for Brielle

Mrs. Beaver:

So much catching up to do, but for now a photo of our 5-1/2 month old granddaughter, Brielle. We're in the midst of our annual family reunion. Boy, are we grateful to the Lord!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"First-Time Voting" Tradition

Mrs. Beaver:

In our family we consider ourselves utterly blessed to live in a nation where we're allowed to vote. Our awareness of this wonder is probably heightened by the many ways in which our lives are intertwined with Russia. In fact, nine of our children's birth grandparents lived through communism's repression of rights in the former Soviet Union. Having a voice in our political system is an amazing privilege!

When our children vote for the first time, it is our family tradition that I take them out for coffee immediately afterwards. Today, Jaynie (19) and Cassandra (18) cast their votes alongside their mom and dad just after 7 a.m. Then we headed to Le Mars for a breakfast indulgence.

Jaynie (left) and Cassandra just after voting. Ready to mark an important milestone with early morning coffee!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Remembering as We Look Forward

Mrs. Beaver...

In some ways we're at a daunting point in the adoption process. We're close...oh-so adding new children to our family. Being close is wonderful, something prayed for and worked toward for a long time. And, yet, while close is wonderful, there's also an element of the nearness that could easily promote a descent into anxiety. After all, we're close to adding new members to the family. Everything will change. Some of the changes...okay...many of the changes will be hard.

Today, however, the Lord has helped me to remember. He's helped me to remember that bringing children into a family brings amazing rewards. This photo taken two years ago on our first full day together as a family shouts to my heart, "THE HARD IS WORTH IT!"

Just look at the pure joy on these brand-new sisters' faces as our family explored the streets of Moscow. Anna (left) and Lissie (right) had been stretched outside of their comfort zone as God added a teenager to our number. Yet their faces radiate with the pleasure of doing something that is pleasing to the Father. And Daria? Her countenance beams with the soul-deep satisfaction of inclusion. For the first time, she had siblings. Isn't God good? The hard is worth it! Jesus is worth it! Adoption has been and is good for our family. In fact, I love our life and our calling! Russia here we come!

Friday, November 2, 2012

PLEASE Watch and Be Blessed!

Mr. & Mrs. Beaver:

If you've followed our blog for any length of time, you've read how God has created a family from two continents, bringing together under one roof two nations which were bitter enemies during the Cold War. Our family represents so many birthparents we've lost track of the count. Even our nine (soon-to-be thirteen) children from Russia represent a diversity of regions and ethnicities. And yet, in Him, we ARE a family.

When we launched into orphan care in 2001, we felt so alone. Little did we suspect that God was at work all over the globe. He was stirring hearts in amazing ways. He is so great. He is so mighty. He is so good! Please spend 33 minutes watching the film below at some point this weekend. Please watch and be blessed! We promise you will be encouraged. Consider this 33 minutes an early Christmas gift from our family to yours!

This Sunday, November 4th, is Orphan Sunday in America. May our understanding of God's majesty and our love of the least of these grow this weekend.

Jim and Denise

"Zambia's Gift to the World" by the Christian Alliance for Orphans

To God be the glory!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Minnesota Moments

Mrs. Beaver:

I was sorting through photos this evening and came across some pictures taken by our kiddos on a walk in a park near the home of our friends, the Nisius, in August. I wasn't on the jaunt, but judging from the pictures that were taken, fun must have been had by all.

As soon as Daria could speak enough English to communicate the thought, she told us that she'd like to own a German Shepherd some day. She gave us the impression that the breed is revered in the part of Russia in which she grew up. While she's waiting for the puppy of her dreams, Daria has taken a shine to the Nisius' one-year-old, Sasha. Perhaps Daria is especially drawn to a canine that is her favorite breed which also happens to have a Russian name!
If I were handing out awards, I would give Elizabeth Nisius the prize for "Least Likely to Get In Trouble with the Law". However, just in case my instincts are wrong, Elizabeth's friends got a mug shot of her on this particular outing.
 Elizabeth seems to have had a hard time keeping a straight face for this particular photo shoot!
The final triumph that day was the discovery of a tiny turtle, pictured here by Natasha's hand. Our 12-year-old burst back into the Nisius' home happily retelling the tale of the teeny treasure, that was the size of a small acorn.
All photo credits for this post go to Lissie

I enjoyed stumbling upon these pictures. Getting a peek of what went on that day made my "Mama's heart" happy. Sometimes the little things are loaded with joy!
However, my greatest joy in putting together this post was to come across the picture below of Elizabeth and Daria.
You see, the photo reminds me of a staggering blessing in our lives. Elizabeth and both her siblings, Andrew and Katherine, have loved, loved, LOVED on our adoptive children each time we've brought home a trio from Russia over the past decade. What a gift it has been to our new kiddos to have instant friends in the Nisius children! The three Nisius kiddos have been involved in orphan care in a very real sense most of their lives already. They have visited orphans (or at least newly-adopted former orphans) in their distress; God calls this "pure and undefiled religion." (James 1:27 NASB) Thanks, Elizabeth, Andrew and Katherine! We love you deeply!