Tuesday, October 29, 2013


On Eric and Lissie's wedding day, I had the joy of being allowed to follow the photographers around as they took the couple's pictures following the Eric's "First Sight" of his bride before the wedding.

At one point we were all up on the church's second level that overlooks the beautiful sanctuary. Both  photographers were turned away making adjustments to their equipment. I looked up from changing a setting on my camera and caught sight of Eric kneeling before his bride. Does romance get any sweeter than this? Ahhh...the overflowing kindness of the Lord on our lives!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Yet Another Courtship

(Until this post, we've called our fourth daughter "Cassandra" on this blog for safety reasons. Now that she is an adult, we're making the switch to her real name, Sarah.)


Mr. Beaver and I continue to marvel at God's goodness to us as our children are reaching adulthood. He is providing advanced education, internships, great jobs, promising careers and...

...godly young people interested in entering into courtships with our children. God is faithful!

Not long before Lissie and Eric's courtship culminated in marriage, another young man contacted Mr. Beaver to asked if he might court one of our seven unmarried daughters, 19-year-old Sarah. After a series of phone calls and emails between Samuel and Sarah's dad, Mr. Beaver and I sat met with Sarah to ascertain Sarah's interest in the young man who was so interested in her. Unbeknownst to us, God had gone ahead of us! Sarah had been praying and praying, asking the Lord to help her sort through feelings for Samuel. When we broke the news to her that Samuel had been in contact with her dad, she burst into tears of joy! Since mid August, the two have been seeking God's will for their future through prayer and Bible study, while getting to know one another well enough to discern whether they should pursue marriage.

Samuel and Sarah first met three years ago when Samuel stayed in our home when our family hosted a gathering of CollegePlus! students from across the nation. This was the same event at which Eric and Lissie met. About a month after that gathering, our family was traveling south to Texas. We were able to make a quick stop at Samuel's home in central Kansas, about six hours from our home. Last summer that group of peers gathered again--this time in Minnesota--for another CollegePlus! gathering. Since that first meeting in 2010, Samuel has been a good friend of all of Sarah's older siblings. As a result, Samuel and Sarah have had the chance to watch each other mature. They've also had the chance to observe each other's growth in the Lord. They're friendship has blossomed in the protective hot house of a shared group of friends.

While Samuel and Sarah's courtship began in August, her sister's wedding created the perfect first opportunity to see one another once their courtship had begun. Samuel spent an entire week with us. And the entire family loved every minute of it.

As with the suitors of Anna and Lissie, there was no "guest room" for Samuel. The young three suitors have immediately gotten folded into the routine of the family; this includes bunking with the "boys," John, Mark and Alexander.

The lead up to the big day was consumed with wedding preparations. In our family weddings are truly a milestone made personal by the touch of each and every family member. This meant Sarah was B.U.S.Y! After all, she made the wedding cake the week of the ceremony. Sarah also played a key role in helping Anna, the matron of honor, care for her two little ones.

In addition to setting up the cake at the site of the reception on the morning of  the wedding, Sarah, and Jaynie, took on a task that seemed to be...well...a bit beyond the matron of honor...

...the lacing of the bride's gown!

It wasn't until the wedding was over that we were able to turn attention to Sarah and Samuel. Thankfully both were patient and understanding, and thankfully Samuel was able to stay until Wednesday. Mr. Beaver took off the Monday following the Saturday wedding and the two of us took Samuel and Sarah out for a double date at lunch time. The plan was for me to take the first pictures of the duo following the meal.

However not long after the food had arrived, we got an urgent call from Anna. She'd learned that a young adoptive family from our church was due to go to court in just 45 minutes to finalize their two-year-old son's. Anna had called knowing this family's commitment to orphan care was dear to our hearts. She knew we'd want to attend the hearing, if at all possible. 

We immediately jumped up from the table telling Samuel he was about to get a picture of what it meant to be part of our family. Mr. Beaver declared he'd drop Samuel, Sarah and me at the courthouse. He would dash home to get the rest of the children, but at least we'd be there to sit in on the hearing if he couldn't get back in with the rest of the tribe in time.

First we had to figure out which particular building we were looking for amongst those on the downtown block. I caught my very first picture of our newest courting pair as Sarah hurriedly texted her dad to tell him where to come when he returned while Samuel looked on.

Once Sarah finished, we got our first "official" photo with the courthouse as a backdrop.

We then went inside to find the courtroom. As we climbed the stairs in the beautiful atrium of this classic example of art-deco architecture built in the 1920s, I saw another great setting for pictures. The couple posed willingly...

...but got to laughing at the awkwardness of being the subjects of a photo shoot in a public building.

We continued on up the stairs and found the family waiting for their turn in court to come.
Jenny and Matt's kids flew into Sarah's arms.

This serendipitous change in the day's plans provided an unexpected opportunity to observe the other interact with children.

 As the family waited for their adoption attorney to meet them and provide instructions before the hearing, I was able to snap a few more photos of Samuel and Sarah.

As we were entering the courtroom to mark the huge milestone of finalization, I asked the attorney if our family could come in when they arrived. She looked about, trying to figure out a solution to my dilemma since the courtroom door was supposed to be locked during the hearing. As she stood there debating with herself, Mr. Beaver and the eight of our children who'd been at home appeared and were ushered in.

We then all sat hushed, waiting for the judge to make his appearance. He entered shortly and all of us had the remarkable privilege of watching a "birthing" of sorts. When an adoption takes place a family is changed forever by the addition of a new family member. The day is a sacred one for those who walk the long and emotionally-trying path to growing their family by adopting. For this family the journey was one taken out of love for their Savior after having been adopted themselves by God through Jesus redemption of them. We were all swept up in the shear joy of watching Matt and Jenny's efforts to provide a home and a family and parents to a little boy from Korea who had none of these come to such a happy conclusion!

Our family has often found that the best way to serve others is to "stop, drop what we're doing and GO!" to where we offer support. Even on this first visit to Sarah, Samuel had been swept up into the fun of one of these unexpected opportunities. He did an admirable job of flexing with the unknown and jumping in to help!

Mr. Beaver and I thanked all the our willing helpers with a trip to a neighbor's cookie store just a few blocks away.

Anticipating his departure the following day, by Tuesday night, Samuel had approached Mr. Beaver for permission to hold Sarah's hand. The next morning, Mr. Beaver said, "Yes!" Samuel and Sarah's first grasp, while standing in our bedroom, was electric. They both just quivered with impact of touching one another for the first time in this way. Samuel was so excited he snapped a picture of their locked hands with his phone and immediately texted the photo to his family.

Yet another of our daughter's has entered into a courtship in which both she and the young man are committed to physical, emotional and spiritual purity all the way to the end of the courtship whether in marriage or a mutual parting of their ways. We can do nothing but sing the praises of our faithful God!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Newborn Wonder

So many reasons to stand in awe of God.
Evelyn Rose, four days old.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


We had the joy today of having Eric and Lissie stop by on their travels from their honeymoon to their home in the Boston area.

We went on a hike with the newlyweds.

Lissie and her youngest sister, Oksana, have enjoyed an especially close relationship since we added the little Russian through adoption nearly three years ago.

Oh, how we love the times we can be together!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Bride Adorned

A couple of weeks before her wedding, Lissie visited the hairdresser for a practice run on the hairdo she would wear on her special day. Her sister, Natasha, accompanied her to take photos.

Before long, the hairstylist had arranged Lissie's locks just as the bride-to-be had dreamed.

 When she returned home, her sister, Daria, was ready to practice the wedding day makeup. As Daria worked, the rest of Lissie's sisters and I stood in wonder as a radiant bride emerged.

We clamored for Lissie to don her gown and the transformation was complete. Daria then put on the finishing touch...

I couldn't miss that my little girl was all grown up, ready to be a wife.

We shifted the beautiful bride-to-be to another room for different lighting and continued to marvel at what God had prepared for Eric.

...and then Natasha suggested we take some photos outside.

Her sisters gathered her gown and we stepped into the warm glow of autumn sunshine.

During this family event, even Lissie's beloved pooch, Sunshine, got to join in on the joy!

We put the dog back inside and Lissie moved into the beauty of the afternoon. 
We were captivated by how her veil moved poetically in the light breeze.

We finished this practice confident that Lissie was ready for her wedding day.

I finished the afternoon stunned yet again by my great God. I couldn't get over the the wonder of a mother having the opportunity to fellowship with her daughters in this setting. The shared hours had been magical. We'd laughed together as we relished Lissie's joy at this final step in the preparation to marry the man of her dreams. 

The bride was radiant that afternoon as she anticipated her wedding day. Her radiance emanated from love of her savior Jesus Christ. This devotion to Christ had fueled impassioned purity as she had waited in faith for marriage. Lissie was ready now for her first kiss.