What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Fields of Snow

First the good news.  There will be a give-away this Christmas.  Now the bad news.  It's not finished yet.

I just didn't start it early enough to get it finished for a drawing on Thanksgiving.  In fact, I just started it yesterday!  I think you'll like it though.  If you've known me a while, you won't be surprised to discover that there is a snowman involved in this little project.

It started while I was at the beach a couple weeks ago.  I found this adorable itty-bitty stacking salt and pepper shaker set at my favorite gift shop and knew I had to grab it up for one of you.  The snowman is the salt shaker; his hat is the pepper shaker.  It was love at first sight.  Then I found this little homespun tea towel to coordinate.

Last night I pulled some fun prints and designed a simple patchwork table runner to complete the give-away.  It will be finished at each end with some hand embroidery before I hand quilt and bind it.  I wanted to give you a sneak peek so you'd have a general idea, but the finished product will remain a mystery a few more days.

Sorry.  Blame my crazy-busy life right now.

How about I draw early next week?  To enter, just leave a comment here or on FB or email me.  Tell me your favorite memory or aspect of the Christmas season--really anything you want.  Don't worry, you won't be graded.  Just share your heart.


He Ain't Heavy. He's My Brother.

Bao and Shen

Did you know that November is National Adoption Month?  While remembering our children's stories, I am reminded of one of my favorite adoption stories ever.  If you love a great story with a happy ending, you're in for a treat.

This is the story of Bao and Shen, sons of friends we met ten years ago through our adoption agency.  Todd, a pastor, and Henriann live with their family in Texas.  Henriann and I became email buddies as we chased paper, sought approvals, and waited out the SARS outbreak in China (severe acute respiratory syndrome) some days wondering if we would ever even get to meet the precious children we knew were waiting for us.

By God's grace, we did eventually make it through that horrible SARS wait and travel to China in the same group to get our children, Holly and Bao. Meeting Bao in China was an experience I'll never forget.  He had only been with his new family for less than a week when I first made his aquaintence.  Yet, Bao, age five, was already picking up English at lightning speed and delighting all of us with his adorable antics.  Undeniably very intelligent, Bao is also extremely determined.

I'll hush now and let Henriann tell you their story herself, as written back in 2004.   Then I'll be back to update on how their boys are doing today.


There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend
 who sticks closer than a brother.
~ Proverbs 18:24~ 

Oh, what a story I have to tell of God's faithfulness! I have been waiting and waiting to share this news with all of you. I hope it encourages you wherever you are on your adoption journey! 

In August, 2003, our family brought home a beautiful little five year old boy named Bao from Shenzhen, China. [We have two bio daughters, Melanie (12) and Cina (10)].  Bao is a precious child and he has truly blessed our family.

As soon as he could speak English, he began talking about his best friend in China, Shen Bao Long. We had seen this child in Shenzhen and even taken his picture to have for Bao. Bao began to ask if we could bring Shen Bao Long to our house.  Bao has a trundle bed and he was always pointing out that Shen Bao Long could sleep in the extra bed.  He saved clothes, toys, and candy for him.  Every time he talked about him, I had an ache in my heart.  Bao missed his best friend so much!

In November, some dear friends received a baby referral from Shenzhen.  I was thrilled!  We translated a letter from Bao to Shen Bao Long and sent him a gift.  Our friends actually met SBL, and took a video of him opening Bao's gift.  I cannot tell you how many times Bao watched that video.  We all fell in love with that sweet boy on our TV screen.

In December, I began looking for the family who must be adopting him.  In August, the SWI [orphanage] had told us he was "paper-ready" and I assumed someone must have snatched him up.  I thought it would be wonderful to get the boys together again.  I emailed different lists looking for him, but no luck.  In January, I emailed my adoption agency and told her our story. She offered to talk to their contact in China, who was leaving for Beijing shortly.  Within days, we heard from her.  The CCAA [China Center for Adoption Affairs] had just received Shen Bao Long's file!

I don't know exactly how it all happened, but I love the mental picture of our adoption agency’s representative standing in the CCAA, surrounded by thousands of Chinese children's files and holding up Shen Bao Long's file and saying "I have got to have this one"! I believe God used her in such a powerful way. Everyone in the "China adoption community" says it's impossible to pre-identify a child. Let me tell you - "ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE" (Mark 9:23).

The CCAA was still "processing" his file, so although Shen Bao Long's name appeared on Christian World Adoption's latest Special Needs listing, the file wasn't ready. Also, the question of who was going to adopt him was biggest in my mind. Of course I wanted him, but my husband was very sure that there was no way we could do it - financially we were drained from Bao's adoption and surgery.
I considered my sister as a possibility, but it wasn’t the right time for her. Then some very dear friends expressed an interest. They watched the video, looked at his pictures, and read all my books on older child adoption. This went on for about six weeks. They were so interested that at one point I think I emailed our adoption agency and told her I was almost certain that they would adopt him. I was excited about the possibility of the two boys being the same town, but sad that we weren't taking him. Still his paperwork sat in the CCAA.

I could go on and on about various things that happened, but I'll try to keep this short. At the end of March, I was pretty low. Our friends had decided not to adopt Shen Bao Long. I was sure God wanted us to have him, but had no idea how we could do it. Todd was still unsure and there is nothing worse than not being on the same page as your husband. My travel mates from Bao’s adoption were a constant source of encouragement. They prayed for our family to make the right decision and sent me so many encouraging emails. One Friday night, I prayed very hard for confirmation that this was indeed the path God wanted us to take.

The next day, Todd went to get the mail. There was a letter and an EXTREMELY generous check from my dad. This was amazing for several reasons. My dad didn't even know we were considering adoption, he hardly ever gives us money except for at Christmas, plus he mailed it after the mail pick-up time on Friday night! I sat at the table and bawled! Todd was choked up and said "Will you stop praying so hard!" but agreed that this was the sign he had been waiting for!

I emailed our adoption agency on Monday with the news that we were going to adopt SBL as soon as the CCAA released his paperwork! She emailed me on Tuesday that guess what - on Monday, in China, the CCAA released his paperwork! Glory! So, we start this wonderful process again and hope to bring Shen Bao Long home to his brother by Christmas. We will call him Shen, which means "Spiritual Thinker."

Bao was so excited when we told him! He wanted to go buy the bunk beds that day! He said, "Mom, did you know Shen Bao Long is my best friend?" Yes, Bao, we know! And my sweet, wonderful daughters are so excited about their new brother! Thank you, Lord!

I think back of standing over Shen Bao Long's bed (he was napping) last August and taking his picture. How God must have secretly smiled that I was taking a picture of my son and didn't know it! It so reminds of the verse in Ephesians 3:20 - "To Him who is able to do exceedingly more than WE ASK OR THINK". I could have never imagined that we would be doubly blessed!!

We can't wait to bring him home! Thanks for letting me share my story! Glory to God!

Love to all,
Henriann, Todd, Melanie, Cina, Bao, and now Shen, waiting in Shenzhen

Best friends, now brothers, Bao and Shen at home in Texas 2005


Fast Forward to 2012.  Recently Henriann and I caught up on Facebook.  She gave me permission to share how her boys are doing today.

Shen started high school this year and Bao is in his last year of middle school.  Shen loves the social aspects of school, but is a strong A/B student.  Bao loves learning and does very well in school (as we both knew he would!) I still remember your amazement in the China airport on how fast he picked up the English words for colors.

Both boys play on their respective tennis teams.  Todd takes them out several evenings a week to hit around; great father/son bonding. They both played baseball in the Spring, but I think it was Shen's last year.  Bao is in band and Shen has been in a couple of drama productions.  Bao is a thinker and Shen is a doer!!  Both the boys love God and are great about inviting friends to church activities.  

I'm so proud of them both.  I still can't believe that God blessed us by letting us be a part of their story. 

My hope is that this adoption story blessed your heart as it has mine and so many others'.  Has God spoken to you about adoption?  It has been our experience, and that of our friends, that He makes the call very clear.  If you have any questions about adoption, I'll do my best to answer them for you.  If I can't, I can put you in contact with someone who can.  

God bless you today!