Friday, October 12, 2012

Zài jiàn China

Its our last day in China and we are so ready to come home.  The Lord has truly been good to us, we have lived in close quarters for three weeks and all gotten along so well.  Vivienne has been the greatest help ever and such a sweetheart as always, I can't imagine this trip without her....BUT, we miss home.  We miss our beds, we miss our Ben and the rest of our family, we miss church and dear o dear, we miss BIG GIANT SALADS.

Henry is doing really great.  We went to Shamain Island today and he was SO good.  I was so prepared for him to burn out after a couple of hours but he is such a trooper.  He and I are bonding more and more every day, he craves affection and I am loving it.  He still prefers Charles but secretly, I am thrilled for them to be so close, it's really very cute:)
So as we spend our last day in China, our last day of this crazy exhausting trip, I praise our Lord for His provision, for His covering and for His lessons.  On to phase two...settling in.  We are hoping to see you all soon and introduce Henry.  Zài jiàn China!!

Monday, October 8, 2012


Henry with his friends Elizabeth and Joseph at dinner on our last night
Waiting for our luggage - this ones for you dad
On Sunday we said goodbye to our friends at Shepherd's Field and we are finally on our last leg of our trip...Guangzhou.  Everything here is really nice.  The city, our hotel and our guide are all really wonderful and we are feeling spoiled.  Vivienne caught my cold but is doing fine otherwise.
We got here on Sunday night and yesterday we went to get Henry's physical.  He was a champ as they attempted an eye exam and gave him a tb test.  Didn't cry a bit.  After a rest he and Charles went to the pool where he started to learn to swim.  He amazes us with his courage and resilience.  He is such a trooper and when our guide is with us he is full of questions.  He is picking up new English words every day but is very proud that daddy can speak Chinese;) too so he goes back and fourth, truly bilingual, truly amazing.

Today we went on a city tour of a Temple, the Chen House and an arts and crafts market.  Oh if I had money I would have had to buy another suitcase!  So much history, creativity and talent here!
We are all ready to come home though, every night Henry gets on my computer and looks at photos of family and friends and his bedroom.  He is really excited to meet everyone and to kiss his dogs.
Tomorrow we go back to the clinic to have his tb test read, Thursday is our consulate appt and then Friday we will hang out at the local park and pick up any last minute things we need to bring home and  pack.  We have to be at the airport at 6:30 am on Saturday because someone, I don't know who?, booked our flight home way too early.  But we get into Los Angeles at 11:30 am too so it will give us a full day of discovering before going to bed early.

 It has been a long three weeks.  Adoption trips are not for the faint at heart but I hope I remember every moment of it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Adoption is an amazing journey...I'm saying that with full knowledge that I am simply at the beginning...still in China, half way through our "Gotcha Trip".  But as I lay in bed sick, all I have to do is reflect on the journey so far and God has shown me a thing or two.  First of all, I thought I had given up control two years ago, only to realize that I only gave up the first layer.  The first one is the easy layer, the one that comes away quickly because it makes sense and you can rationalize it.  This past year, through the adoption process God has brought me to my knees, literally and figuratively.  The paperwork chase was just a shadow of things to come...waiting for your file to shuffle from one desk to another...the endless game of guessing when we would be traveling and where the finds would come from.

I feel like from day one God said, all you have to do is step out and I will do the rest....well that sounded great at the time...What a deal! right?  Except that He was speaking literally...He was in control every single step...when I thought, Oh, great!  Charles got a bonus, our car broke down.  When I scrimped and saved so that I could meet the next deadline payment, something else happened.  I would rush and stress over a notarized paper and it would get stuck on someone's desk.  Every step of the way, God provided...His way.  Every step of the way, He made me wait, taught me patience and told me to trust.
The most frustrating part?  We are here, and He is still teaching me.  Henry bonded instantly to Charles but as hard as I try, it is not coming easily with me.  Never in a million years did I expect this to be so hard, to love someone with as selfless a love as I can muster, and for it not to be reciprocated.

I look at Henry and it's hard not to draw the link between him and us as Christians.  God draws us to Himself, he "purchased" us with His blood, (sweat and tears) and we are still unsure about Him.  He proves Himself over and over and at the end of the day there is still doubt and fear.
It has only been two weeks that Henry has been our son and I know that time will bring trust and bonding but I feel the sadness that God must feel on a much deeper level, when after years of being His daughter I still act that way.  And all He can do is wait...and love, with his undying, never ending well of love.
I love this.  I love that He brings me to the end of myself to reveal things that I wouldn't otherwise sit still long enough to consider or feel.  I love it that when I look at Henry I see myself, a scared child who  has no idea how blessed his future is in the hands of our God.  I love it that He chose me to be His daughter in spite of my past, in spite of my rebellious nature.  I love it that God chose me to be Henry's mother and Charles to be his father and that every step from now on may not be easy but we will be gripping on to the hem of His garment.

But I have trusted in your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  Psalm 13:5

Monday, October 1, 2012

Back Home at Shepherd's Field

Hi there...It has been a crazy couple of days.  We arrived at Shepherd's Field on Saturday night just in time for a western dinner of cheeseburgers/chicken sandwiches and fries...then drove hours through BeiJing traffic to the village where we happily said goodnight and found our perfectly perfect room with two comfy beds.  We woke up to beautiful weather and coffee thanks to Starbucks via and Charles took Henry downstairs to check out the breakfast room, but from my window I could hear as Henry saw his friend Bai Bai (Elizabeth), they screamed and hugged and chatted up a storm and then his other friend Joseph came out too.  What sweet kids...we gave Joseph the gifts we brought from his family and although he loved the clothes he kept having me read the card that came with it that said he was loved and that he should keep up hope.  I told him his family loved him very much and would be there soon and he tucked the card safely inside the sweatshirt and smiled.

Sunday was a day of adjustment for Henry.  He didn't have the authority of the ayis so he had a lot of freedom but without us knowing the language he definitely had the advantage.  He had a hard time figuring out the boundaries and because they had been so small and clearcut in the hotel in Zheng Zhou, by the end of day we were all spent.  After he fell into bed Charles and I regrouped and came up with a new strategy for today, Monday.  Today was much better, he is still confused some of the time but is learning who has the authority and he hates for Charles to be upset with him.  Bonding with me is still the challenge but I am patient and today we found a copy of a children's Bible so tonight at bed time I got to read him a story...He loves the story of Jonah and the whale.
Its so sweet, they only two things he keeps saying that he wants are a watch and a bible.  We finally got him an Angry Birds watch today for $2, but you can't buy Bibles in China so we are so blessed to have found one here this morning.

Anyway, we are doing well.  I'm starting to ache for home and for church but am happy to be here...the playground is such a blessing and I'm thrilled to be spending time with Jamie and Sarah.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday in China

Today was a good day.  We are getting comfortable in this city and compared to yesterday it was a dream. We walked this morning, went to the park and then went swimming this afternoon. 

Yesterday we went to visit Henry’s founding place and to apply for his passport.  The city was an hour and 40 minute drive, we left a little late, got completely lost trying to find the passport office...Henry was very squirrly in the car, so by we were done with that and with the Public Notary, we decided not to visit the orphanage.  We were all exhausted and Henry was done.  The orphanage that he was originally at closed and turned into a children’s hospital, so we were going to visit a different one in the area anyway but I was still a little disappointed.  Anyway, we got home, ate dinner and went to bed. 

I did realize that Henry must be a little confused with the language difference because he talks to the guide a lot and often asks her what we are saying.  
We seem to be doing fine though, as long as we understand, “hungry” and “swinning” we make it though the day, but he does say much more than that and seems to understand almost everything.
I can’t believe what a trooper he is.  We have been walking a lot, and he doesn’t complain at all.  His biggest flaw is that he gets so excited sometimes and talks incessantly to everyone around him or simply to himself...but he is ALWAYS happy.  Today while we were walking he was singing, “Crazy the Lord, Hallelujah! Crazy, the Lord, Hallelujah!  Crazy the Lord, Hallelujah, Crazy the Lord”.  You might recognize the song as saying “Praise ye the Lord”, and we are gonna have to tell him eventually but it was really cute.  Tonight Charles and I walked to Pizza Hut to get pizza, it was really good...after we started eating Henry said, “STOP!  We forgot to pray!  Thank you Jesus for the pizza, and for my family, and for swinning.  Amen!”  I’m pretty sure this kid is practically perfect in every way:)

So we are taking turns, trading off as each wears out.  I know that once we get home the energy will subside some, he is so overstimulated and I’m sure a little unsure still, but we are laughing constantly and really thrilled to be here.

Please pray for us that we don’t get sick, we have all been doing really great..but Viv’s joints started hurting today.  She is going to start swimming in the afternoons, hopefully that will help but please pray for her.  Also that when we return to Shepherd’s Field on Saturday that Henry does ok.  He is really looking forward to seeing his friends again and we are excited to see Jamie.  Three weeks is a long time to stay anywhere though so please pray that we are patient and that we see opportunities that we might be used for the Lord.

This is the wonderful park next to our hotel where we spend a lot of time:)

Tai Chi

Henry's founding place

Henry getting his passport photo taken

More Park Photos

We are so excited to come home and introduce this guy to all of you.  We are very blessed.   Will update more soon.

Love love,
the hills:)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday in China

We have been in China for 5 days and today was the first day I didn't feel like I would fall asleep in my noodles.  Vivienne and I got here on Friday morning and Charles arrived Sunday morning, then we met Henry around 1:00 pm on Sunday.  He is a complete joy...he seemed comfortable from the first moment and hasn't stopped talking since.  We have to stay on our toes because he has so much energy but we are all so happy that he does.  There is a beautiful park next door to the hotel where we can go walk and play soccer and a huge pool where he loves to go in the afternoons after his nap.
He is very good natured and when he gets too hyper or does something he shouldn't he responds quickly with redirection or a stern word.  We are hoping this lasts:)

We all LOVE the city where we are staying...Zheng Zhou.  Like I said there is a beautiful park just next to the hotel where the older people go to "play" Tai Chi and dance.  The men play cards and smoke and there are a ton of people with kids walking around.  Vivienne and I had a young boy follow us for a long time and after getting his courage up he ran up to us and said "So happy to meet you" and then "What nationality are you?"  So cute.

The food is really good too.  The hotel has a free buffet for breakfast.  There is everything from waffles to chow mein....omelets and fruit to pastries and toast.  Next door is a restaurant where we have figured out how to order our beans, eggplant, beef and rice...and of course noodles.  Henry LOVES noodles.  Tonight Vivienne and I walked about 15 minutes in the rain to get McDonalds which was an experience.  The cars have the right of way, then the scooters which ride on the sidewalk then the pedestrians.  So you have to pay attention...we very nearly got hit by a bus on the way.  McDonalds taste the same in China as it does in US, not very good, but Henry thought he was in heaven.

I am pretty sure that Henry loves being with us but I am also sure that he already misses his friends at Shepherd's Field.  We are going back there for a week on Saturday and I can see why the Lord worked it out that way.  He talks a lot about his friend Joseph and Bei Bei.  I am really glad that he will get to see them one more time.

Ok so thats all I have for now.  I will try to be more creative tomorrow...we are having a blast!  We skyped with Ben today and can't wait to get home so he can meet his brother in person.

This is the photo that was taken at the Civil Affairs office where we got our official guardianship certificate.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Night Before China

Its the night before we leave.  I have everything I can think of packed, and every piece of paper I think I might need printed.  I can't believe it is happening....FINALLY!  It seems like a lifetime, but I can see now why the Lord had us wait.  We are ready.  Mentally, spiritually, physically ready.  It makes me think about my very first post....the well watered Isaiah 58
"Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke?

"Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  

"Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 

"Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, 

And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.

"And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

He has gone before us...He has been in every detailThere is no way I can look back at this past year and doubt His plan.  He has worked in our lives, tearing down walls and building us up.  So all we can do is look forward, with such crazy excitement, knowing that He has been there.  That He has prepared a path that we could only walk down if we were following Him.  

And then, as if that wasn't enough, His glory will be our rear guard!  In the months and years to come, as that little guy grows, God will be glorified...and us?  Charles and I?  We get to be like a well watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail:)  What more could a girl ask for?

We covet your prayers, they have made a world of difference already....Tonight there is no stress, no nerves...just complete excitement and a feeling of being blessed beyond belief.  So thank you...

We will never be the same.

Monday, September 10, 2012

We are going to China!!

We got our Travel Approval on Friday!  What a relief to finally have that piece of paper.  So that meant that Sara and Jamie could tell Henry he had a family, and then we got to Skype with him...I'll let the photos tell the story...

Henry's Buddies at House of Love
This is from our side of the screen...Notice us in the corner:)

What a wonderful experience...We can not wait to get that boy home!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

And the WINNER is....

OK, so before I announce the winner, I want to say thank you to all of you who donated/entered...I know that winning an iPad for $10 is a good deal but I also know that most of you wanted to bless us by helping and that so many of you have been praying which is so important!  We appreciate you so much...and if I could buy 52 prizes so everyone could win, I totally would.  Charles won't let me:/  We prayed for each of you as we got ready to choose a winner this morning....

Thank you Thank you Thank You Thank You

So Here is the part you have been waiting for........

iPad Winner:               Brian and Lupe Lee
2nd Prize:                              James and Rebecca Caggegi
3rd Prize:                               Dani Bacon
4th Prize:                               Nancy Tumbas
5th Prize:                               Lori Sterling
6th Prize:                               Miray Jaska
7th Prize:                               Meg Schneider 

Congratulations to all of you....I will be contacting you in order, so that you can choose from the available prizes.

Here are the stats for those of you who are stat me.

51           People Played
300         Total Votes (including shares)
$2,420    Total Raised 

44 people donated $50 or less
7 people donated over $50
5 of our 7 winners donated $100 or more

Again..Thank you...This has been really SO fun and has helped us get ever so close to our we come!

We are set to leave on September 13th and covet your prayers that our Travel Approval will come this week so that can work out for us....But we know that if it doesn't that ALL things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes....and we will leave the first part of October.  Either way, God is Good, All the Time.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Amazing God

Ok...I am SO excited!  If you have been following, you know I have met so many wonderful people along this journey.  I have found it SO difficult to fund raise and ask people for donations...Its completely humbling but if I put aside my pride for only a second I am encouraged, thrilled, completely amazed at the generosity of God's people.  

Last Sunday our study was about how during Jesus' ministry he washed the feet of His disciples and even though they were reluctant, it was necessary.  But also, in the last days Jesus will be again washing our feet! (Luke 12:37)  And we have to be humble enough to accept that.  Well, as I sat there listening the Lord spoke to my heart, "That is what is happening right now," He said, "I am using my people to wash your feet.   Accept it humbly."

I'll tell you what, it doesn't make it any more comfortable, accepting money from people, but if I look at it from the perspective that I am accepting it from my makes it easier.

So, check this out!  Stacy from Jubilee's Jewels made this necklace especially for us!  The verse on it is the verse that God gave me a couple of weeks ago, when I was fretting...are you ready?

Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

That is what we ultimately want for these sweet kids right?  That is what HE ultimately wants for all of His kids, that they be redeemed from darkness and despair and that they will be like the oaks of righteousness, His planting, and that we might all glorify Him! 

So this is the on this link to order, then $14 of every necklace will go towards Henry's adoption.  We only have about three weeks left if all goes as planned so get yours now!  And look around at her other jewelry....its pretty amazing:)

Just had to add a little Henry love...Got this unexpectedly tonight..I might have to start fundraising for my grocery money...jk....hahahahhahaha!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Toast

James and Karla got married.  After a whirlwind summer living knee deep in burlap...its over, just like that.  

I met Karla about 6 years ago when Charles and I started ministering in the high school group.  She had just moved to the Mora's house and was tender and vulnerable.  I immediately adored her for so many reasons but mostly because she was genuine....when Karla is sad you know she's sad, and when she's happy everyone around her is affected.  In fact, she is a person that you can not be around and be unaffected.  
2007 High School Retreat when Karla was a high schooler
2009 England Team
I got to know James well in 2009 during our Missions trip to England.  He was impressive and bold for the Lord yet so super funny and also seemed to have a positive effect on everyone in the group.  When I realized the two of them were getting close there in England, one night I took Karla out to the High Street sitting area to have a talk.  I told her to knock it off:) and that when she remembered England I wanted her to remember falling in love with the Lord, not with James.  Although the "special moments" and silly flirting stopped the "falling" continued, they were both gonners.
Me, Karla and Melissa in England

2012 High School Retreat
Since England they have stood beside us in the high school group bringing their infectious personalities and adding the energy that Charles and I just don't have anymore.  James is a gifted teacher and his commitment is so much appreciated as Charles has to travel for work and knows he can always count on James to cover him.  They love the kids deeply and go out of their way to connect with them.  The bottom line is that the high schoolers love them and trust them and on Friday night it was evident in their willingness to work so hard making the day special.

Team Henry 1/2 Marathon - Feb 2012
I will miss Karla.  I will miss the late night chatting, the endless juicing and smoothies.  I am thrilled to have spent the last year watching her mature and grow.  God is so good.  When He took Karla's mom at 16, He didn't leave her without.  He gave her Jessica, who at such a young age herself rolled up her sleeves and tackled raising Karla with strength and courage.  He gave her Sheila, who is consistent and godly with so much wisdom for the years to come, and He gave her me. During this last year I was thrilled to help her, talk to her, give her opportunities to remember and that she could leave what was and cleave to her husband.  I like to think I mothered her, however much the Lord used me over the past 6 years, I was blessed and honored for every second of it.

Congratulations James and Karla, I can't wait to see what the Lord does with two of the most impressive young people I've ever met.

We love you.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Win an iPad!!

UPDATE 8/24!!!!!  We are on our way!!  We got our Article 5 which is the last official step before our Travel Approval that should come in the next 10 days.  We are so thrilled, excited, nervous, uncontrollably antsy, AND only $3000 short of our goal!  Please consider donating just $10 and get a chance to win that iPad you have wanted for so long:)

Some very wonderful people have donated items to give away for second, third, fourth...etc, places!  Please check them out, if your name is drawn second you will get to choose which of the donated items you want.

We are SO close!!We got I800 approval!!!! Now we are waiting for Article 5 and then final Travel Approval.  As many of you know we expect to travel in September and we are so thrilled to finally bring Henry home!!  We have been so blessed by the generosity of all of our friends and family and truly there will never be any way to repay you.  

With everything moving along quite quickly and now that we have a date to travel, we have come to the realization that we are still short about $4000.  I know it seems like so much but truly if you consider where we started, we are SO close!!  Please consider helping out and get an opportunity to win.

For the month of August we are offering an 
iPad 2 - 16GB!

Heres how it works....$10 per ticket or $40 for 5 tickets....PLUS, if you share this link on your facebook page you will get an additional ticket free!  Just click on the donate button on the right side of your screen and we will notify the winner by email on August 31st.

Additional Donated items for runner ups:

This is truly the cutest thing!  It is a travel bag for your under zips at the top and has a compartment for clean and laundry.  My super talented sister makes them:)  Check out her etsy store: Plum Cozy Cottage

My sister will also donate a percentage of any Memory Quilts ordered in the next two weeks.  These quilts are truly amazing, she takes special clothing, jerseys, etc and turns them into a special keepsake.  Check them out!

This adorable "thirty-one" overnight bag was donated by a dear friend:) It is just big enough to hold all your necessities but not too big that it won't fit into your luggage!  Thank you Chrissy!    You can also visit her website for other super fun choices:  

 I am SO excited! The wonderful Kara from has been such a sweet support to us as this last year.  She donated 25% of the sales of her amazing child sized fedora over the past 6 months and today she donated these two hats to add to our raffle gifts. What a complete blessing...Thank you Kara:)

Kisses from Katie is a story of what God can accomplish through one willing heart.  At 18, Katie moved to Africa to teach the children and has now adopted 13 Ugandan girls.  This is another one that I am going to be sure to buy for my trip to China!  Thank you Willette Family, you are the best!

 I am thrilled thrilled thrilled to have one of these to give away as well.  Made by Jubilee's Jewels you can go to her website and buy one as well...she is amazingly talented and creates the most amazing pieces for fundraisers for families who are adopting.

OR...You may choose one of my custom made quilts...a perfect gift for a loved one or for yourself!   

Word on the street is that there are several more items coming soon so don't fret boys...and come back often to see what there is to win:)
Good Luck!!