Monday, June 29, 2015

The Family's Newest Little One

Newborns might just be God's most marvelous creation.

Staying with Aaron and Anna gave me the perfect opportunity to capture these photos of Jillian.

At one point as I was adjusting my camera, Mocha came over to check out the newest family member.

This big smile was Jillian's immediate response. I think the two of them are going to be good friends!

The rest of these photos can speak for themselves.

To God be the glory!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Like William and Kate?

Anna, Aaron and Jillian the morning after she was born

Today I needed to pick up a few things at Target. While I was waiting in line, my eyes wandered to one of the magazines. Instead of being repulsed by the photo as I so often am, I was drawn to a photograph of a stunningly beautiful young family. The headline read "Will, Kate and their Little Princess". As I smiled at the charm of the the British royals, I couldn't help but think of a certain family in America. They, too, are young with a growing family. They, too, have a brand-new baby girl. If featured on a magazine cover this week, their headline could read in a very similar fashion, "Aaron, Anna and their Little Princess".

This family actually has royal aspirations, too. As they raise Jillian Ainsleigh (doesn't her name even sound regal?), they will teach her about God's love for her. They will help her grasp the concept that she is a sinner (as we all are). And, Aaron and Anna will teach Jillian about God's sacrifice of His own son to pay for her sins. The other thing they will do is pray. Oh, my, but will they PRAY! They will spend countless hours on their knees entreating God to open Jillian's heart to His saving grace and mercy. Because you see, Aaron and Anna's number one goal for their brand new daughter's life is that she will fully and completely surrender her heart to Jesus. Then she will be Royalty. She will be a daughter of the King -- forever.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Peaceful Close to a VERY Eventful Day

Dear reader, I'm eager to share the story of the addition of our newest family member, and I have begun work on the post.

While you wait, let us exult together in God's goodness. The birth process seems always to result in an exciting tale which often includes unplanned twists. Jillian's birth was no exception. She came so fast that the midwife, who had come for a routine visit earlier in the afternoon, hadn't had enough time to return!

And, yet, despite the speed of the home birth, the day ended with a deep sigh of peace. We were all resting in God's grace. Our hearts were filled with gratitude for the wonderful gift the Lord had placed in Aaron and Anna's arms. In these photos Aaron and Anna are reclining on their own bed just ready to settle in for a much-needed night's sleep.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dear Daddy {Repost}

This post was one of our first when we started blogging a little over five years ago. It has remained one of our most popular posts. Since Father's Day is upon us again, I thought I'd share it again. (Christina's blog name was Tatiana back then. Faith was Gigglebox and Hope was Princess Bink. ) Christina will be 18 this fall. We adopted the three of them a decade ago.

(The letter below was written by 12-year-old Tatiana to present to her daddy on Father's Day. With Tatiana's permission and without Mr. R's knowledge, I share her letter.

We adopted Tatiana and her biological sisters, Gigglebox and Princess Bink, from Russia five years ago. The photos on the left were taken in the older girls' orphanage on the day we met them in December 2004.

I will thank God for all eternity for the incredible man He has given me as a life partner. ~ Mrs. Beaver)

Dear Daddy,

I am the most blessed girl to have such a daddy like you! I love you very much! Down below I am going to write fifty reasons why I love you!

1. I love you because you love God

2. I love you because whatever you do, you do to the glory of God.

3. I love you because you take the time to read God’s word and to meditate on it like God commands.

4. I love you because you are gentle and patient when you correct me.

5. I love you because you are quick to forgive me.

6. I love you because you love Mommy and are keeping your promise to stay with her and love her all her life.

7. I love you because you write God’s word on your heart.

8. I love you because you think spending time with your family is important and you do spend family time with us!

9. I love you because you love orphans.

10. I love you because you do what God tells you to without complaining.

11. I love you because you are following God’s will to adopt three more kids even though you already have nine kids.

12. I love you because you parent us the way God’s word tells you to.

13. I love you because you give me advice that is for my good.

14. I love you because you set a standard and keep us to that standard.

15. I love you because you have a very funny sense of humor.

16. I love you because you take time to read to us.

17. I love you because you keep yourself pure and you keep your mind pure.

18. I love you because you walk in integrity.

19. I love you because you make sure your children are safe.

20. I love you because you look out for other people’s needs first before your own.

21. I love you because you don’t have any gods but the one true God.

22. I love you because you believe the truth that God made the earth and not a “big bang”.

23. I love you because you respect your mother.

24. I love you because you are merciful and yet just.

25. I love you because you do not cheat but do things fairly.

26. I love you because you always speak the truth.

27. I love you because you are mature and you are teaching my brothers how to be mature.

28. I love you because you help your children persevere through hard times.

29. I love you because you are kind enough to help your children with math when they need help.

30. I love you because you help those in need.

31. I love you because you are kind enough to take us on vacation.

32. I love you because you are a good steward of what God has given you.

33. I love you because you are compassionate when your children get hurt.

34. I love you because you never boast or praise yourself.

35. I love you because when you start a job you finish the job.

36. I love you because you are wise and not foolish in the way you drive.

37. I love you because you love your church family.

38. I love you because you are willing to help when help is needed.

39. I love you because you are slow to anger.

40. I love you because you keep no record of wrongs.

41. I love you because you don’t go around complaining about what you don’t have, but you are thankful for what the Lord has given you.

42. I love you because you set a good example for your children of what it looks like to truly follow Christ.

43. I love you because you never give glory to yourself but you always give glory to God.

44. I love you because you are slow to speak and never say anything rash before you think about it.

45. I love you because you show kindness to animals (like Grace [our dog]). Even if you don’t like some animals (like cats), you would never hurt them because God has said to be kind to all creatures.

46. I love you because you love your neighbors.

47. I love you because you don’t gossip.

48. I love you because you don’t have fear of man but you fear God.

49. I love you because you take responsibility when you sin.

50. I love you because when you sin you repent and are humble.

51. I love you because you adopted me!

Thank you, Dad, for being such a good dad to me! I love you very much and I am honored to be your daughter.

Love, Tatiana

Happy Father's Day to My Man

Grandpa with Jillian Ainsleigh yesterday, her fourth day of life

Oh, how I thank God for you, Jim Reynolds, as we celebrate the birth of our fourth grandchild.

You are truly the greatest father I know. Your commitment to Christ and your decades of dedicated study of the Bible have made you gentle and wise. You are like a magnet to our children. They love being with you, and what interests you interests them. This includes your love of Jesus. When you talk of your Savior, our kiddos are willing to listen because you are open and honest about your own failings and weaknesses.

Thank you for the time you invest in our twelve children and now their spouses as we're blessed with marriage after marriage. Thank you for turning your heart toward me and our kids when there are so many other things to draw your interest!

Most of all, I'm thankful to God that you are a man courageous enough to adopt. What an adventure we're traveling together! I can't begin to imagine our lives with out our tribe! I love you, and I love growing old together as we collect beautiful grandchildren. What an amazing story the Lord is writing in all these children and grandchildren after so many years of heart-rending infertility! Only God. He is so good!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Will Her Eyes Be Blue? Part 2

Jillian Ainsleigh is now 72 hours old. I believe we already have the answer to my earlier query about the eye color of Aaron and Anna's third daughter. Like her sisters, I believe she's going to have remarkably blues eyes. God is an amazing artist!

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Boy, dear readers, do I have a story to tell regarding the birth of Anna's baby, but life around here has been crazy -- caring for three little girls and doing everything we can to help momma rest and heal. Thus, for now I'll just share the details and follow soon with the tale.

With tremendous gratitude to God, we proudly announce the birth of:
Jillian Ainsleigh
Born 16 June 2015, 6:58 pm
Weight: 8 pounds even

Both mother and baby are doing great
God abounds in lovingkindness!

The photo was taken this afternoon when Jillian was just shy of 48 hours old.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Visit from the Midwife

Anna had just finished showering when her midwife came by for a routine visit. One of the beauties of a home birth is that the health care professional comes to your home. Anna is quite tender all over at nine days late. I'm pretty sure she's happy to not have to leave her nest to visit a doctor's office.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Crowded Lap...A Crowded Heart

Waiting is hard.
No one likes to wait.
Waiting tries one's patience.

All of these statements are true even if one is simply waiting for a doctor's appointment. The intensity of the wait increases exponentially when you're pregnant and your due date seems like nothing more than a foggy memory. Anna is now a full eight days late. She has had contractions off and on, sometimes even for a few hours at a time. However, each time the contractions simply fizzle out. Hope rises with each episode and then deflates like a balloon. Anna has so many questions right now:




How fast will this third little girl come?

Will my midwife, doula and birth photographer be able to get here in time?

Will I have the strength to do what I must do for the poetry of my daughter's life to begin?

Will there be complications?

Will our much-dreamed of baby girl be healthy?

What is she doing with these questions and many more rummaging around in her soul trying to disquiet her spirit? She's tells us she fighting as she waits. She is fighting uncertainty with Truth. She is preaching to herself:
God is good and He does good. God loves me. In fact, He loves me so much that He sacrificed His son on the cross in order to pay the penalty for my sins. Through this act, God forever demonstrated that He is for me. This baby is His creation and her little life is in His hands. The timing of her birth is in His hands. He alone is in control -- just as it should be. I know her life is in God's hands. The safety of both of me and this baby I love so much is up to Him. He is ever-faithful. His is worthy of our trust, even when I don't understand His ways...especially when I don't understand His ways. That is, after all, is the very essence of faith. O, Lord, please increase my faith.
I will update you, dear readers, as this story continues to unfold. We would be grateful for your prayers. Although this has been a wonderfully "routine" pregnancy, there really is no such thing. Each pregnancy is its own journey...and the stakes are high every time.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Our Wait

On Monday morning after several hours of contractions, Anna sent a text to her dad and me saying, "This is definitely it." So, we found a remarkably low same-day fare, thanked the Lord, and booked flights for Zhenya and me to travel to Ohio to help following their baby's birth.

As it turned out, before the first flight took off (after a four hour delay), Anna's contractions had stopped. The tickets were nonrefundable so we continued the journey thinking that surely the baby had to come soon since Anna was already past her due date. This post is a photo log of our week of waiting.

On my first morning there, I heard 3-year-old Brielle and 21-month-old Evelyn making plenty of noise in the kitchen.

The rest of the house still seemed to be asleep so I wandered into the kitchen, and Brielle proudly proclaimed, "I did it!", motioning to them eating their dry Cheerios in bowls with spoons. She had also peeled a very ripe banana and given each of them a big chunk of it. Amazing what a motivated 3-year-old can accomplish!

I sat down at the table to join the girls in eating some Cheerios. When they saw me pour milk on my cereal, they asked for some, too. Little did I know that this was the first time for them to have milk on their cereal. I learned that later after Anna woke.

Evelyn has just started using a spoon and fork on her own and hasn't yet mastered holding the dish steady with the other hand. Thus it wasn't long before, Evelyn's bowl took a tumble onto her chair.

Their dog, Mocha, came to my rescue immediately and cleaned up most of the mess.

By the time the girls had meandered their way through the meal (as only toddlers can), Anna and Zhenya had both gotten up and made themselves ready for the day. I urged the two of them to go our for breakfast while I babysat the little girls. When I had wiped up the girls, I took them to the master bedroom. Aaron and Anna have a white duvet cover. In addition, wonderful light pours into their room in the morning.

I was eager to get some pictures of Brielle and Evelyn in this situation that was a photographer's dream. Brielle was wonderfully cooperative. I was able to snap all these shots in just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, Evelyn was sitting at the head of the bed doing this....

Finally, Brielle could stand it no longer, and she joined her sister near the pillows.

Immediately, silliness ensued. The following photos don't need any commentary.

Once the wrestling match was over, we went back out to the kitchen.

There, the girls helped me empty the dishwasher.

After lunch and a nap, it was time for a swim in the kiddie pool on the deck in the back yard.

Well, actually the girls had more fun transferring water back and forth between the pool and their water table.

We were all enjoying the shade on a very warm afternoon when Aaron arrived home from work. It just so happened to be his 25th birthday. Again, I offered babysitting services so that Aaron and Anna could go our together to celebrate.

I caught this picture just before they left on their date. I have always loved the way Aaron's dry sense of humor keeps Anna laughing!

By the next evening, Anna still hadn't had any more serious contractions. After dinner, we loaded everyone in their min van hoping that a trip our for ice cream might encourage Baby "J" (their third girl) to make her entrance into the world.

As Evelyn was waiting for her ice cream, she did some serious people watching at this popular hangout that is only open during the summer.

Brielle was also fascinated by the crowd.

Before long, Anna had a tall, cool cone of peanut butter ice cream.

When we returned home, the girls played in the family's long driveway for a bit before their bedtime. Evelyn has an especially expressive face, and I've enjoyed trying to capture some of those special looks this week.

Both girls were racing up and down the driveway pushing grocery carts filled with boxes of pretend food.

Zhenya was watching the bustle, resting on the front steps. All week Zhenya has been a tremendous help; she is such a natural with children!

This morning, the two girls took turns being fussy. I can't say that I was surprised. Although Anna has maintained their routine this week, the girls have to sense that their lives as they now know them are about to be turned inside out by the newcomer to the family!

Thankfully after rest time this afternoon, both girls were in much better spirits. While Brielle was watching her momma make a wonderful dinner of salmon, rice and fresh fruit, Evelyn was sitting on the sofa "reading" the picture Bible.

She's had the this Children's Bible read to her enough times that she is keenly aware of the details in the pictures and was pointing them out. Although she's less that two years old, she has quite a vocabulary.

Dinner was scrumptious! As we finished eating, Brielle asked her daddy if he would read the Bible. She even ran and got his copy of the Bible from his nightstand. Aaron then read Genesis 5 to all of us.

When he was finished with that, Brielle asked him if he would read to us from the children's Bible. Again, she eagerly ran and retrieved the book.

Aaron then read the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den to us as Brielle studied the pictures from just behind him.

Anna had steady contractions from a good part of the night last night, but they tapered off as the Lord ushered in the morning. All day she kept hoping the contractions would return, and this time last long enough for the birth of their baby. However, although she continued to have intermittent contractions throughout the day, they never increased in strength or became regular again. Capping off the evening with time spent in God's word was just what we needed. The Bible gave us the reminder we needed that God is in control of when this baby comes. He is faithful. He is good. He is worthy of our trust. Thus, we finished the day resting in His grace, thankful for a beautiful week together waiting on Him as we wait for Baby J.