Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Sweet day Day to Celebrate

Today was a very happy one for our family. Anna, who's in a wedding here this weekend, flew in for a long weekend.

She couldn't bring the whole family, but she brought the newest member of our tribe, six-week-old Jillian. The little one had quite a fan club meet her at the airport!

And here was Jillian's reaction to meeting her many aunties and uncles as her Uncle Matthew held her still tiny hand.

Jillian's Auntie Zhenya (on the left), who held her so often during her first week of life when the two of us flew out to help Anna and her family, was immediately able to coax smiles out of her niece.

Uncle Matthew was the first to get to hold this precious gift from God.

As soon as Jillian was born I felt certain that this third girl in Aaron and Anna's family was going to have blue eyes like her sisters. Getting to see this grandtreasure again served only to confirm my suspicion. Such blue eyes, just like her daddy!

Not all of us were able to make the two-hour trip to the airport. Sarah, who has her own cake making business, is supplying cupcakes for the wedding of the family friend who is getting married this weekend. Here she's creating the candy ornaments with which she'll decorate each of the cupcakes.

These aren't just any cupcakes, however. These are cupcakes with a sweet purpose. The money Sarah earns from this job will go straight into the fund she is building to return to Zambia, Lord willing. She hopes to go back to the Kazembe orphanage in 2016 to work for a couple of years this time around.

I just want to finish this post by saying that this day was overflowing with yummy family time, including the joy of watching our children meet their newest niece. The day was extra sweet because 32 years ago today, Mr R proposed to me (and I immediately said YES!!!). We are both profoundly grateful to God for allowing us the wonder of walking the narrow road TOGETHER. There have been so many twists we never expected on July 30, 1983 when we agreed to marry one another.

The first upheaval to our dream life was not just infertility but barrenness. Multiple fertility specialists told us we would NEVER get pregnant. That news turned us toward adoption. And God blessed us above and beyond anything we would have dared to hope for by placing Anna in our arms within a few hours of her birth. Oh, how we thank God for the courage of her birthmother to go through with her pregnancy rather than aborting Anna! And, as it turns out, Anna has been the perfect leader of her 11 siblings. She loves Jesus deeply and seeks to serve Him. She is a blessed influence on the rest of her sisters and brothers. God's plan was so much better than our dream! What a glorious 32 years our journey has been, and today was a sweet day to celebrate.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy 21st, Sarah!

Sarah, who has her own cake-baking business, specifically asked to have ice cream instead of cake for her birthday celebration. The Blue Bunny ice cream parlor in LeMars was the perfect setting in which to celebrate her 21st birthday.

We were blessed that our dear friend, Kali Moores (Alison's sister-in-law), was visiting from Boston. We love having her visit her second home... our home!

The evening wasn't just about gifts. It was also a opportunity to enjoy great ice cream and great laughs together.  

We thank God for placing Sarah in our family 14 years ago! We can't imagine life without our sunshine girl.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Curious William

Our grandson is oh-so loved! This is childhood as God intended. This tender care is what millions fatherless children around the world completely miss out on. They are profoundly scarred as a result, but their lives CAN be redeemed when they have a loving home, are taught the gospel, and, by God's grace, eventually find their identity in Christ. Orphans must not be considered castaways! Please, dear friends, would you pray about entering the orphan care fray through adoption or foster care? All we ask is that you seek the Lord. Please go to His word and ask Him to show you His heart for the most vulnerable. If you take the step into orphan care, your life will be raw, hard and more blessed than you could ever have imagined!!! God cares for and leads those who care for the orphaned! We've experienced this 10 times over! He is so good!

(If you'd like to talk to me about adoption, my email is -- Please be aware, I'm not always quick to respond, life continues to be wonderfully crazy in our home with 10 children still living with us.)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Eager to Reread a Book that Changed my Life

A great woman of God recently passed form this world of pain into the permanent beauty of heaven. Elisabeth Elliot first caught the world's attention when her husband, Jim Elliot, and four other men were brutally murdered by the Ecuadorian Indian tribe they were gently and lovingly trying to reach with the great good news of Jesus' life and death and resurrection on their behalf.

Jim Elliot's life shed light on what it means to live all-out for Jesus Christ. Amazingly, Elisabeth Elliot, was able to write Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, not long after his death. She took on this task while living among and ministering to the very tribe who had killed her husband.

If you haven't read Shadow of the Almighty, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the book. I've decided to revisit the amazing biography after ten years. The last time I read it, we were in the throes of adoption our middle trio of Russian orphans, Christina, Faith and Hope, in 2005. The book ministered to me deeply during that challenging time of adding three more children to our family!

Tonight I'd only read a few pages before something Elisabeth Elliot penned about the foundation of an intimate relationship with the living God caught my eye:
"The relationship between man and God is a very practical one. It finds its sphere of operation in the common life. Let us not forget that any relationship whatever between God and man rests today on the fact that God lived the life of a common man--was born in a stable, sweated in a carpenter shop, preached from a little fishing boat, sat down tired by a well...ate and drank with ordinary men, and submitted to an ignoble death--in order that we could recognized Him. Nobody called a Him a hero or a martyr. He was simply doing what His Father told Him to do, and doing it with delight." 
I don't know about you, friend, but I want to do what my Father tells me to do, and I want to do it with delight. I'm eager to read on in this profound book and be challenged by it all over again, just as I was a decade ago. Any chance you want to grab a copy and join me?

Worth the Pain -- Mommy and Baby Finally "Meet"

Very soon I'll share the story of the remarkable events -- showered in God's loving grace -- that led to the birth of little Jillian.While you wait, dear reader, I wanted to offer this preview of the glorious gift of a third child that God has granted our oldest daughter, Anna, and her husband, Aaron.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Love, Joy, and Bubbles

Eliana (11) and Hope (13)

Last summer I shared some "just us" time with our two youngest children. The evening of laughter over the girls' antics with summertime toys was so filled with joy, that I've anticipated repeating the fun for a year. This week that opportunity presented itself. Once again, we had the sweetest time!

God is faithful. God is glorious. God is the Father to the fatherless, and His hand is on the lives of these two who were castaways. Bit-by-bit, He is healing the trauma of their early years. We find that their love of others brightens the lives of everyone in our extra-large family.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Less than Two Months Now

Before we know it, I'll have Josh and Zhenya's wedding photographs to share with you, dear reader. The wedding date is set, the dress purchased and the reception venue booked. With Zhenya's wedding fast approaching, I wanted to share some photos of the couple that I was blessed to be able to take not long after they got engaged. Our location for was beautiful Franklin, Tennessee. Franklin is just south of Nashville.

Before we left the parking garage to meet Josh when he got off work, Sarah freshened up Zhenya's make-up.

When Josh arrived, we were ready!

I was delighted to have such beautiful architecture as the backdrop!

Once we'd spent enough time in front of this grand old building, we began a walk down one of the main streets in the downtown Franklin. We stopped in front of a restaurant with a magnificent dark wooden door that sat perpendicular to a wonderfully old red brick wall. All this texture and color was a photographer's dream come true!

After I'd taken a few shots, Zhenya suggested that they should ask if the restaurant would be willing to let us put the couple's names and wedding date on their advertising sign that stood on the sidewalk. Honestly, I thought it was a long shot. However, Zhenya reminded me that it never hurts to ask as long as you're gracious. She marched right in and made the request.

Not only did the management say yes, the hostess, Ally, came out and created a work of art for the couple with her chalk. We were overwhelmed by the kindness!

When Ally finished, I took some more photos.

Josh demonstrated his creativity by suggesting that the two of them crawl under the sign.

Following an afternoon of fun together...

...I took one last shot that left me with no doubt that the wedding just can't come soon enough for these love birds!