Friday, July 11, 2014

A Story of Adoption- by Esther

"Now there’s that money issue. Mom gave us the idea of selling dog treats and toys. I checked the numbers and my jaw dropped. We would have to sell 600 bags of dog treats for $5 each in order to make 3,000 dollars. Then I saw his little face in my mind… Something in me seemed to say, “Let’s get baking!” And we started that afternoon, and went until 7:00 that evening. We haven’t stopped. We’ve got lots of dog treats and tug toys. So, who wants some?"

A Story of Adoption-by Esther

So, when I was four my parents decided to go to China. Well, God decided. My parents were going to move there and share Jesus with the people in our city. So Micah and I were brought into this crazy new world of bikes, pollution, and dumplings. We lived in a little apartment in Zaozhuang, which wasn’t a rich city, but they could make some mean Chinese food. The people there were open to God’s Word and I believe that we changed a lot of lives. They then, in turn, are probably changing the lives of others to this day. When we returned home Micah and I felt out of place. Now we understood everyone, were living in what we believed was a mansion, and had to eat American cuisine. Around that time God gave us a new brother, Luke, who is Micah’s companion and the family cuddler.

Okay, so 6 years later we are all finally getting adjusted to life in this odd place called the U.S., and suddenly God decides it’s time to add a new little one to our family-of course from China! We all wanted a girl, that would even things out for us, and our parents felt that we should adopt a child who had a disability. Then, at the start of my middle school year, we hop on a plane to the place I only had small memories of. I was so excited to finally have a sister. We took around three airplanes to get to Zaozhuang, and as soon as I was on the street I felt… well… at home. The stinky smell, the bikes all around with three people on them, and the sealed bags of chicken feet just felt normal to me. It felt like as soon as we got there we had to leave to get our sister.

Fortunately, China is China anywhere you are. As soon as we got to Zhengzhou, where our little sister is from, we were taken to a room in a large building. There were some toys on the floor, including a giant blow-up horse. The other parents started receiving their little children. We were all just sitting, waiting for little YinHuan to come through those doors. It seemed as if we were the last people, and then we saw her. She had on an outfit we had sent her and was holding a picture of us. She looked terrified as mom picked her up. She cried a lot, but we knew she understood what was going on. She just seemed to fit in perfectly to our family.

A few days later we drove to Swallow’s Nest, the foster home Anna had grown up in. The apartment buildings were old, and had peeling paint. Anna clung to us tightly, perhaps worried we were taking her back. As I walked across the threshold we were greeted by one of the nannies. Kids were being fed some noodles by the nannies. I paid attention mostly to Anna being fed, but my mom was holding a little boy while she was talking to the nannies. She told me about him and I thought that he was cute and all, but Anna and her friends were being cute so I wasn’t really paying attention to him. We left to the sound of one of Anna’s friends crying for her. She knew Anna wasn’t coming back. 

After another week in China we left to go back to America. Life continued on, and we all knew another kid was going to be adopted in a few years. My mom definitely wasn’t going to stop with just one Chinese orphan. I hoped for a sister my age, but my mom was still thinking about that little boy. I only noticed what was going on around Christmas time the next year. I walked in on Mom crying for little Xiaofu. I had no idea that she was so serious about the whole thing. I never thought we’d get him, honestly. A couple months later I started really getting attached to him too, and then the call from Mom came. I was at rehearsal for a play when I heard my phone ring. She told me that I had a new little brother. I felt so excited, and basically told everyone about my new brother, Xiaofu.

Then I faced a huge decision. I was going to either begin my freshman year with a trip to China, or stay at home and go on with life. For a while I decided I wouldn’t go. It was too much work, too much stress, I couldn’t do it. Then a teacher of mine told me not to skip things I would regret my whole life. That’s when I realized, I can’t imagine not being in that room when he walks in. I just can’t. Pictures, and videos, skype, and Facebook posts are nothing compared to being in that room. There’s no missing a moment like that.

Now there’s that money issue. Mom gave us the idea of selling dog treats and toys. I checked the numbers and my jaw dropped. We would have to sell 600 bags of dog treats for $5 each in order to make 3,000 dollars. Then I saw his little face in my mind… Something in me seemed to say, “Let’s get baking!” And we started that afternoon, and went until 7:00 that evening. We haven’t stopped. We’ve got lots of dog treats and tug toys. So who wants some?

There are several ways to order and help us get the word out. 
First we are on Facebook under Xiao Chow Doggie Treats 
You can order there and share our page with your friends. 

Second, we can take credit card orders through Square Up. Just click on the link and order away 

If you don't have dogs, don't like dogs, or just would like to donate we have a tax-deductible site set up at
The total cost of our trip to China will be around $15,000 so any and all help is great!

Thank you so much- Esther, Micah, Luke, Anna and Samuel

Order Online Order Online

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Power of Prayer

Many years ago, while living in China, we sent out monthly newsletters with specific prayer requests on them to hundreds of people who had agreed to join us in our mission to share the story of Jesus with the people living in our city. Each day had many difficulties, life was very different, and often very hard. What I learned through that time was that there is truly a spiritual realm of darkness that works tirelessly to keep us from the joy, peace, and purpose the Lord has for us. I also learned, that through the power of prayer from believers all over the world, those dark powers could be defeated. Through those monthly newsletters I have a real and complete record of the victories accomplished through prayer. Several years ago my husband gave me a bound book of all of those newsletters. It is one of the most priceless material possessions I own. Because in those pages I can see that prayer is powerful, that God is powerful, and that evil can be overcome.

"Another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the 
golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." Revelation 8:3-4

My last post, by far, has been the most read post for this blog to date. I know that people all over the world love Anna and are so excited to see her amazing victories over the past year and a half, but mostly what I had shared had been from the positive angle. I didn't share a lot about the daily struggles of toddler adoption, caring for a child with spina bifida, or the exhaustion from all the therapy, doctors appoinments and surgery. She was home, she was amazing, and I didn't think that you needed or wanted to hear that part. What I have learned though is that life is hard for all of us. No matter who you are or what decisions you make in life. This life is just hard. We were made for something better, something holy. We were made for heaven, but right now we have to live on a fallen earth. We are humanity. And people relate to humanity. Don't worry. I'll definitely keep most of my posts on the upbeat side. It's who I am. But I am also human. I hope that through reading my struggles I have been able to show you a side of me that you haven't seen before. Your prayers have been answered so richly. Our 4th of July weekend was so relaxing and refreshing to my spirit, and we even got the added bonus of a spontaneous reunion of old friends last night. But of course, just as I the enemy would have it, I woke up in the middle of the night with a sore neck and sleep did not come after. So thank you dear prayer warriors. Keep it up! I'm not going to let the enemy keep me down, and I am so very thankful that through your prayers and focusing on the Truth I know that even on the hard days. I can have victory.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." Proverbs 2:5-6 NLT

Thursday, July 3, 2014

And some days it's hard to just get out of bed

It's difficult for me to even see the computer screen clearly as the tears come frequently right now. I know this will pass and that at some point I will be able to get out of bed, hug my kids, and proceed to cleaning the house and buying groceries for our July 4th festivities. Right now, though, I sit in my bed, wishing I could just go back to blissful sleep and forget that life is sometimes very hard.

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

My thoughts are not there yet. I am overwhelmed and scared. The enemy has me right where he wants me, down in the depths. Please pray for my spirit to be lightened, that I can fix my eyes on things above not on earthly hardships. For my hope is in the Lord.

Anna's condition continues to remain stable, positive news. But the fact is that her spinal condition is just plain bad. As I looked at the images Monday night I could clearly see that nothing had changed, what I also saw was that her nerves are being pushed to the brink. I knew going into our appointment yesterday that even if the doctor didn't see any sign of things getting worse he was probably going to recommend surgery. That surgery is not an easy one, it is not without risk now or even in the future. She needs to have a shunt put in. Our neurosurgeon is recommending that it be put into her spinal column directly and drain the fluid into a different space away from her nerves. He feels that we could see a great deal of improvement in her physical abilities by getting her nerves under less distress. He is right.

The most difficult part is knowing if his particular remedy is the right one for our child. This is a very big and weighty decision. There are several types of shunts and all come with their own pluses and minuses. Some are less risky to put in but carry more risk for the future. Most will have to be monitored closely and possibly replaced several times. Because of all of these factors we feel that it is wise to get more opinions. That isn't very easy since there are only a few pediatric neurosurgeons in each large city. Thankfully, the Lord knew about this long before we did and placed a person in our life who can help us. In fact we traveled in China together to receive our daughters and are on the same timeline to travel together again to receive our sons this fall. We serve a truly amazing God. He knows what we need and He helps us every step of the way. So instead of travelling to several different cities and trying to get appointments with different specialists, our friend, a neurosurgeon in Michigan is going to help us get some opinions from the pediatric neurosurgeons he works with. If they agree that the procedure our surgeon is suggesting is the best option for Anna's situation then we will most likely do the surgery in mid-August. This is actually great timing since we will most likely be travelling to China in mid-October to bring Samuel home. If the other neurosurgeons feel that this procedure is not the best one for Anna we will have to decide what the best way to proceed is.

As I mentioned before, her condition continues to remain stable. There is no rush except for the fact that it would definitely be easier to get all of this done before we add another little one to our family. I am working on resigning myself to the idea of mid-October travel to China, as late September seems impossible at this time. Due to Chinese holidays in September and the first week in October it looks like our earliest "Gotcha day" will be October 8th.  You know what is crazy? October 8th is Anna's Gotcha day! We were hoping it would be earlier because of much higher hotel rates starting October 15th. We are trusting that God, working through the generosity of friends and family will help us raise the money to cover these increased travel costs. I will post more on how you can help with that next week.

For now, please continue to pray for my heart. Pray that I would be able to focus on what is before me each day and not feel overwhelmed. Pray that I would offer grace and peace to my husband and children even as I feel stretched and weary physically and emotionally. Pray that God would give all of the doctors wisdom as they view Anna's information, and that God would give us peace regarding the timing of the procedure and which procedure will give Anna the best outcome.

I am so thankful to have all of you with me on this journey. When we adopted Anna it was through many tears and much fear. The Lord has blessed us beyond compare by bringing Anna into our lives. Her life has and will be filled with many trials, but also many victories. Our faith will be strengthened and above all, no matter what, we will glorify the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I want to close today's post with a something I have learned from my brother in law, Travis VandeNoord, a two time cancer survivor. I always enjoy being at his home for prayer before meals because He closes his prayers with a different ending than our typical, "In Jesus name Amen." He knows what means to face a difficult illness, even death, at a very young age.  This is his benediction-

"God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good"

I believe this with all of my heart and I hope that you do too. I'm getting out of bed now. I'm going to hug my kids, and start my day. Because-"Today is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!"