missionaries serving with Campus Crusade for Christ and FamilyLife

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunshine Girl

We made it to Children's Hospital before the sun was up this morning. We had so many people praying with us. We prayed that Jesus would bring sight to the blind. We believe with all of our hearts that He is able.

Our girlie is such a bright light. She is joyful, cheerful, gentle and so, so sweet! To say that we are completely smitten would be an understatement. We are so in love with this little girl. She did great with exams, eye drops, shots and surgery prep this morning.

The hardest part for her and for us was watching her get wheeled away with the doctors. She cried and we did, too. The doctor expected to remove the cataracts and attempt one lens transplant this morning. He also planned to evaluate her corneas for future transplant. He did ultra sounds of both eyes, as well as, several necessary measurements. He let us know it would take about 1.5 hours. He said he would call us from the OR to let us know prognosis. That is not how the morning unfolded, however.

20 minutes into the procedure, the doctor was approaching us in the waiting area. Our hearts sank and it caught us off guard. He lead us back to a private room and explained the scenario.

Our little lady has a complex case. She has very high pressures in both eyes- called glaucoma. This is a serious concern and an urgent medical need. It was too dangerous to proceed. Change of plans. Surgery is rescheduled for 1 month. We have begun a regimen of beta blocker eye drops in hopes of reducing the pressure in both eyes. The doctor explained that Sunshine has very little iris in either eye. It is not likely she will be candidate for lens transplant. He indicated that we will still try to remove cataracts in one month. We may try contact lenses or even glasses. He said it is not likely that we will gain any significant vision. All of this felt sad and unexpected to us.


We are praying. Many are praying. We were reminded of some of what our Pastor shared just yesterday in church. We recalled the story of Lazarus and the fact that God is never late. He is on time and operates in His ways to bring His glory. We don't know His plans for our girlie's vision, but we do know He is able to restore her sight. We are praying He would give her vision, BUT we also know He might be most glorified in the beauty of blindness & her dependence on Him. We are praying for His perfect will. We trust Him with all of our hearts.

Thank you to so many who continue to faithfully pray for our family. We are filled with joy and overwhelmed by your kindness.

Praising Jesus!! Art & Jen

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Growing Together

Oh, I have written 73 blog posts since my last post. I have written them in my head, of course. I write as I rock a restless baby in the middle of the night. I giggle, drive and write while I recall all the delights of the day. I choke back tears and write as I drift off to sleep after an exhausting day of kneading out of the rough spots adoption parenting seems to expose. I look forward to sharing a couple of the very beautiful and holy things Jesus is teaching us along this path.

Older adoption is surprising. There is so much lost time and so many conversations to share. There is a lot of history to uncover. We have experienced grief for loss. It's loss of birthdays and holidays together. We feel sorrow over not being able to comfort them during thunder storms or illnesses. We didn't get to celebrate early achievements or many first experiences together. We have felt sadness in the reality that we were not "there" to meet so many needs. Many of the needs went unmet.

We feel very blessed that Mercy is so willing to share her past with us. She is pretty open. It's so amazing to experience such powerful moments as they creep into everyday situations.

Recently, we started out scrubbing toilets together and ended up sharing the truth of Jesus' great love. Mercy shared some really hard to hear realities about her caregivers over the years. She talked about the injustices that she and other children experienced at their hands. Heart breaking, gut wrenching, painful and real life for so many children in orphanages. 

Something strange happened. Tears started flowing in this Mama. I was overcome with compassion for the wrong-doers. I felt compelled to tell Mercy about my own sin and the tremendous forgiveness Jesus has shown me. I told Mercy all about Jesus and the Cross. He cleared the way for me to tell her that the only way all of these people will know TRUE love, kindness, integrity and selflessness is for them to know HIS love and forgiveness for each of them personally. We explained that we could pray for them to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Mercy listened intently. She asked if we could pray right then and there. So, yes, in the middle of the kitchen with work gloves and scrub brushes, we interceded for all the caregivers Mercy had known over the years.

We ended that day by cutting open and scooping out the seeds of a pumpkin together. We were able to share with our kiddos the story once again about becoming a light for Jesus. We talked about how He comes in and takes out all the yucky stuff. He puts His light in us so we can shine brightly in this dark world. Oh how that is our prayer.... Lord, may YOU be glorified in our marriage and family. Teach us to walk in YOUR ways. Lead us in YOUR paths.

Thank you to those of you praying for our family. Zoey will have eye surgery on Monday, Nov 18th. Drs. will remove cataracts and try to do a lens transplant. We are praying she would gain vision. Jacob will have testing under anesthesia on Thursday, Nov 21. Our calendar is covered with doctor appointments. We are trusting Him to be our strength and our endurance. We are trusting Him to help us juggle all the needs and honor Him with all of our lives.
With joy,
Art, Jen, & kiddos

Sunday, October 6, 2013

It just happened so fast ....

 Hi Friends- Here are a few recent pictures of our new normal. Many people are asking if the girls are settled in. It is a complicated answer. It brings smiles to our face and a thousands words rush to our minds. The answer is yes AND no. They are doing well in many ways. We have many ups and downs. We have heard it said that adoption is a marathon and not a sprint. We are in the race, huffing, puffing, wiping our brows and pressing forward with GREAT joy. It is a long, winding and holy road. We are very grateful to be on it!
We are learning to celebrate moments of victory in PRAISE to GOD! We are learning to CALL on HIS power in moments of fear, worry or stress. We are learning to live moment by moment.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-8
We have so many funny stories to share with you. We are working at building touch in our group. We do backrub "trains". Just picture us in a line with giggles, smiles and lots of fun. Everybody rubs/scratches the back of the person in front of them. The person in the very front gets a brake until they run to the very back and start the train again. Mercy loves it. We do, too.
Recently, we had a funny incident while at a doctor appointment for Jacob. It just happened so fast. The doctor was working with Jacob and talking with Mama. Mercy ran behind the doctor to start the "backrub train." She enthusiastically started scratching his back and nearly caused the man to have a heart attack. Ha! It was REALLY awkward, inappropriate and hilarious. Wow, we realized she has so much to learn about social interactions, safe boundaries and family relationships. The doctor was flustered, but able to pull himself together to finish the exam. Mama held it together, too. We had some great laughs and conversations (via the translator) in the car on the way home. Wish we could have captured his face and Mama's face on film. What a moment!
What a privilege to watch God work in our family. We see it moment by moment.
While in China during this last trip, we had an opportunity to leave some food/water for a homeless women. Mercy was pretty shocked and scared to see us try to help this woman. We didn't have a lot of connection at the time but she witnessed the event. Fast forward to her first week home.... we were out in town and stopped at a light when we saw a homeless woman. We rolled down our window to offer her an extra bottled water. Again, Mercy was shocked, but we had more relationship now. We explained (via translator) that we wanted to be kind and show love like JESUS! She watched. Just this week, we pulled up to a light in Little Rock to see a homeless person nearby. Mercy screamed, "Mama, help." We looked for an extra bottle of water in the van but we didn't have any. We told Mercy we were sorry, but we were out. We didn't have anything. It just happened so fast. Mercy reminded me that she had picked a granola bar snack for later in our errands. She handed it to me and gestured for me to help the person. Wow, we realized how much she is learning, watching and growing. Zoey caught on pretty quick with what was happening and yelled at Mercy in Mandarin to make sure she didn't give any of her food! :) Mercy told Zoey very directly that she is showing kindness and love like JESUS! Ha!!! Amazing!
Isn't GOD AMAZING?!?!?! We are in awe. Every day is filled with steps forward and steps backward- and that's just Art & Jen! :) We have so much to learn. We are being stretched, loved, comforted, trained and encouraged by our Savior- JESUS CHRIST!
We are clinging to the truths of HIS WORD-
We put all of our HOPE & TRUST in HIM!
Art & Jen
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
My grocery buddies.

These girls are quickly becoming precious friends.
Learning some things in the kitchen.

Zoey supporting Jacob as he waits for the prosthetic eye doctor.

Zachary is a great big brother. He is the favorite for silly, loud, crazy fun. He's a pretty good buddy for evening walks, too!

Fall temps, fall decorations and some of our favorite pumpkins here!

Mercy found Jacob's sunglasses and Bethany's little keyboard. She was making a music show for the family!

Silly girls waiting in the doctor's office.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Making up for lost time....

There is so much joy in the smallest of moments right now. We are experiencing first everything moments.... first bike rides, first peanut butter & jelly, first group hug, and so much more....
Our hearts are filled with gratitude to God for this journey.

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
 Psalm 9:1
Such joyful moments today.
Grateful Baba & Mama tonight.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Minor Details?

We don't typically blog on a regular basis. God is growing us in this area. We have had several folks ask us to keep up with the blog if we felt comfortable. We are not eloquent communicators, but we are praying that He would be glorified as we share His work in our family and our ministry. Thanks for your love, patience and encouragement! We are going to give it a shot with His help.

So, here is the latest..... We will officially be home from China 1 month this Thursday. Time is flying as we press into Him and work at our "new normal" as a family of 8.

Google translate continues to provide ample comic relief and confusion! We learned this week that all this time Mercy thought we lived in ALASKA! She asked us when the snow was coming. We explained that we don't get a lot of snow here and it usually isn't until January or February. She had a confused look on her face and asked for confirmation regarding our location. "We live in Alaska, right?" What?? Somehow... somewhere in the communication.... Mercy thought we lived in Alaska. Ha?!?! She explained that she is not a big fan of cold. OK, well, welcome to Arkansas, sweet girl. Welcome to heat, humidity and just a little bit of cold!

She is getting a little bit more confident with her English. It is so much fun to see her interact with friends and the public. For example, she ventured to the store with Mama today. She often hears Jen call the kids, "baby" or "sissy". She told the clerk today, "thank you, baby!" and then told another clerk, "thank you, sissy!" We have to really control our laughter so as not to stifle her desire to try. She is learning very quickly and we are truly enjoying her. God is at work in her life. She is precious and so loved. We cannot imagine our lives without either of our two new daughters. What a joy and a privilege to love them with HIS heart. He is growing us in so many beautiful ways. We are learning so very much about HIS patience, kindness, tenderness and love for us personally! HE has put so much love in our hearts for these kiddos.

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

We continue to work hard at playing, eating, laughing, loving and growing together. We are praying for attachment, trust, security and unity in our family. Here are some of our recent activities...

Playtime in the backyard is great fun for all! It doesn't matter what the temperature. Baba and Mama are pretty happy to see some fall temps this week!

Allie dusted off all of her boxed up doll stuff to play with Mercy. This is her favorite thing to do right now. As is true with many children from orphanages, they miss typical periods of a "normal" childhood. Mercy probably hasn't had a lot of simple toys and playtimes like this. It is a true joy to watch her enjoy this doll playtime and give her a small piece of childhood.

Play-doh is another big hit these days.
This is Mercy working on Rosetta Stone- English and Allie working on Rosetta Stone- Mandarin. Both have personal tutors! Incredible!

We are also working really hard to make sure each kiddo has had some one-on-one time this week. Whew- it is hard to accomplish but so very important. We are finding that it is a great help with keeping tabs on everyone! Baba and Zach did a 10 mile bike ride.

The kids would say this was the highlight of the week for them. We found a park nearby where you can "sled" down the hills on boxes. We surprised the crew and spent some time sledding (Alaska has nothing on us)!

Aren't these cute little PJ snuggle bugs?

We are continuing our weekly meeting with our dear friends. We are so grateful for their help with translation. They are an incredible answer to prayer for our family.

Just the girlies!


We sure tried to get sister pictures of Zoey and Bethany Joy. We could not get our BJ to cooperate. Zoey was so sweet and really wanted to help. We tried and tried. In the end, we got some beautiful shots of Zoey. We will keep trying for our BJ- hopefully before she outgrows her pretty dress!


We are filled with praise for God. He is meeting us in our needs. We feel a little like a duck family right now. Baba and Mama are pressing forward and watching out for 6 ducklings following behind. We are mindful of each child and their individual needs. We are aware that we are not able to do all of this in our own power. We feel messy, awkward, chaotic and totally desperate for God. We are reaching out to Him and asking Him to help us find our way in all of this.
We have had folks drop groceries. We have had meals delivered by precious friends on just the right days. We have experienced kindness, love and prayers from people we barely know. Dear friends here offered to come to our house and watch the kids this week so we could go on a date. We did it (huge step for us). Everyone did well. We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of other dear friends offering to host a welcome home party for our girls.
It is humbling to receive help. We are grateful for all the ways God has ministered hope and encouragement to us through the body of Christ.
Thank you to everyone who continues to pray for our family. We have some critical doctor appointments for Jacob and Bethany Joy this week.
Praising Him and trusting Him with all of our hearts,
Art & Jen