Friday, August 26, 2011

Almost, But Not Quite

Okay, it's getting closer and closer.  LOA that is.  We received word today that finally all of our paperwork is in one location in China, and they plan on issuing approval within the next two weeks.  If you recall, China asked for more information from us in June, and when that happened what I did not anticipate ever was the lengthy, arduous and EXCRUTIATING wait on our hands.

Had I known what to expect in the first place, perhaps i wouldn't have suffered so much. But really, it doesn't help knowing that Cassie Mei is struggling.   Please pray for our beautiful Cassie Mei who unfortunately will not be united with her family during her birthday month which is September.  I know, I know...only God knows why.  But... we will be sending our little darling a birthday cake and a present and a letter translated into Mandarin. 

And soon, very, very soon, I am going to plaster Cassie's pics all over this blog anywhere they will fit!  And oh, how I wish i could somehow paste Sonya's and Cassie's pictures together so that they look like they really are already together.  Sonya tells me they do visit in dreams.  She has even dreamt that they speak English/Mandarin to one another, where they start a conversation in one language and finish it in the other.  How cute and ADORABLE is that?!

Okay, i'm feeling so much better!  Did you know i've been walking around with shackles on my ankles for about two months now dragging behind me a big ball and chain?  Now with news that LOA is on it's way which translates -there really is light at the end of the tunnel- i am free!  Thank you, Lord Jesus! 

On to other news.  Check out the picture of Sonya and her beloved art teacher, Miss Sharon:

Very soon i will share with you a project Sonya is involved in to bring help to orphans in China.  As a prelude, i will tell you that when i first shared with Sonya an opportunity which presented itself to help raise funds to pay for medical procedures involving children from her home country, Sonya did not hesitate to support the cause with her own efforts.  Stay tuned to find out more.

Now on to even more news...Do you remember when Sonya was raising money to pay her own way to China?  Do you remember also that Sonya did indeed raise her full amount with the generous support of her dentist friend?

Well...Sonya now wants to host a fund raiser on Saturday, September 17, 2011 to raise the rest of the money for her little sister's airline ticket!  So far, Sonya has managed to raise $155.00 towards Cassie's $1,000.00 ticket by selling her art work, but friends let's face it, it would be rather difficult for Sonya at this juncture to raise the rest of the money utilizing only this method... 

So, Sonya has suggested doing a lemonade stand which has now grown into the idea of a carnival with prizes, a chinese auction and of course (can we get a drum roll, please) more of Sonya's fabulous art work!  

More details to come.  Stop back soon, and find out what Sonya plans on doing with the first $100.00 raised at her lemonade stand on Saturday, September 17! 

Once again, and i know its' been awhile since i've said this, but thank you thank you thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement!  People the process to adopt internationally, especially a child who is considered  "special needs"  is emotionally draining and yes, even painful (try getting through a church service without crying!) but oh so worth it!  Please pray for us that our wait can now speed up again, and that we travel at God's anointed and appointed time!  Thank you so much!

P.S. The pink ink is in honor of Sonya!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

When God's Plans Look Different than Ours

The society we live in today is no doubt results-based.  Further, the way Christians often approach the topic of faith is works-based.  Now combine the two ideologies and what do you come up with?  I say a whole lot of measuring of a person's worth or merit by outward signs or appearances. 

For instance, do we ever try to gain God's favor by doing everything "right"?  Or do we give ourselves a pat on the back when we pray, and our prayer is answered speedily without hindrance?  And might we measure ourselves up against another whose "luck" seems to have run out, thinking to ourselves, "Whew!  Thank God that's not me!" 

Of course, in the Christian world, we might venture to guess that this person in question must lack sufficent faith or else God would have answered their prayer as readily and as proficently as He has answered ours.  Maybe we even go so far as to guess that this person must be standing completely outside of God's good and perfect will, and that is why things have gone so awry for them.

With our adoption of beautiful Mei Mei, sometimes God has answered our prayers in an instant, and sometimes He has made us wait...  During the wait, thoughts will at times creep into my waking state and accuse me of having done something wrong or not "right" enough, so in turn i conclude... God must be making me wait because of it...

I cry out to the Lord in anguish and say, Lord, haven't I been faithful?  Haven't i done all that you've asked me to do?  Lord, do you love some of your children more than you love others?  Is that why you are answering their prayers right now but not answering mine?! 

I realized this morning before i left for work that when i question God in this way concerning our journey to Mei Mei, i might as well ask Him point-blank,  Lord, do you love some of your orphans more than you love others?  Because, really that's what I'm saying, isn't it?  And the bible tells us in Romans 2:11 the Father is "no respecter of persons", meaning he has no favorites.  No favorite moms, no favorite orphans, no favorite families, no favorites period.  God loves His children equally, and He wants to bless them equally

As a matter of fact, as disciples of Christ Jesus, the Holy Bible not only promises us God's blessings, but it promises us that our lives will not be a "bed of roses" and not to expect it.  A fellow mom-to-be reminded me just the other day in James 1:2-4 it tells us, My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

As a Christian, I am called to be joyful when things don't go my way, or i should say when things don't "appear" to go my way. It's in these hard times that my faith is inevitably tested because i am a Christian and for that i am called to a greater purpose, meaning even when matters look their bleakest will i still hang on to the Truth of God's promise?  Will I be faithful to my end of the deal?  Will I?  

Through this "struggle", a true and everlasting patience will have a chance to work itself out in me, and for me i think the last part (perfect and complete, lacking nothing) means once i get to the other side of this struggle within- which threatens to rip me limb for limb- the dawn will break and the Truth will shine forth unadulterated and unobscured from the lies of the enemy, and in my own eyes i can see for myself God's good and perfect will manifesting, RIGHT ON TIME.  Because He loves me, and He promised, and God always keeps His promises.
And His promises when fulfilled are perfect , lacking nothing.

I've had a rough couple of days.  I heard of a family who got their LOA in a relatively short period of time,  and within seconds the "accuser of the brethern" did what he does best - he accused me of screwing something up telling me that is why i can't seem to get to my little girl.  In a matter of seconds i went from confusion to fear, and then fear escalated into anger.  I became first angry at myself and then at my Father for making me wait and wait and wait.  Why, Lord? Why?!  

I woke up yesterday morning having gotten on the other side of it, asking God to forgive me for my outburst.  As i checked emails, I found pictures of a family's visit to my daughter's orphanage.  I had asked in an email for them to give Mei Mei a little attention and take special pictures of her while there, and apparently they never got my email because there were no special pics of Mei Mei.  Instead, what was captured in an incidental picture containing my little girl was a look of complete and utter distress covering her tiny face, and really, it was almost more than i could bare to see at that moment. I had to completely put it out of my mind, and go on with my day or else become a blubbering, forlorn idiot until i went to bed. 

This morning when i awoke, my heart hurt so badly in my chest i asked for the Lord to comfort and soothe me somehow because i really didn't feel at that moment i could take much more. 
Not long following, i felt my first tiny glimpse of reality in the past few days, and what had once posed as reality but was really an imposter started to lose its grip over me.

It wasn't long before i had a revelation!  I thought to myself,  if it's true that if God gives speedy LOAs only to families who deserve it and lengthy and torturous waits to families who have somehow done something "wrong", haven't had enough faith for instance, what then do we say to our children who have lived in orphanages their entire lives who have waited and waited and waited forever, and no one has come for them?  Leaving them with tortured, distressed looks on their precious little faces when they think no one is looking and no one cares!!!! 

What will we say to them if they ask, But mommy, if i matter so much to you, if you love me so much, why did you not come for me sooner?!  Why did He make me wait and watch while all the other children were adopted before me?!  What do we say especially to the older children who have been passed up time and again ostensibly by the younger, "cuter" ones, about why they had to wait so long? Do we tell them God only answers prayers of the faithful?!  Do we tell them if only they would have had more faith, then maybe He would have sent someone sooner and not have made them wait and wait and wait?!  Of course not!  Then why do we tell ourselves that?! 

But wait a minute, if we tell ourselves that, then inadvertently our children will be forced to abide by the very same measuring stick no matter what we say to the contrary.  If I say to God, Tell me what more can i do? What more can i say?  What more can i learn?  Lord, show me how to pray the right way!  There must be a certain formula to it that i am not aware of!  Lord, show me what i can do so can get to my baby! 

It's not what we do or don't do that will get us to our children any faster.  It's simply God working everything out so His promise will be made complete at His fulfillment, not lacking anything.  Remember,  I tell myself, God doesn't choose favoritesGod is not punishing me in this wait.  He is growing me and maturing me, and making me more pliable to love others the way He loves me!

For most of Sonya's life, i have considered it a blessing that we brought her home at only seven months of age.  I have felt favored by the Lord in receiving a baby mostly free of institutional memories.  What do I say about that now?  How can i continue to perceive a baby being more of a blessing than an older child when my second baby girl is soon to turn seven years old, having never had parents or anyone to call her own!  How could i ever possibly explain to this precious child that the Lord intends to bless her just as richly as her big sister when her life has started out so differently if i still remotely believe (when it comes to myself) He blesses some more than others? 

In some ways, i know how Mei Mei feels only because i started my life off in an environment where there was virtually no love, belonging or acceptance, and i have the mental and emotional scars to prove it.  i know abandonment, i know rejection, i know what it feels like to not matter to anyone special...and i know God is allowing me to wait right now to feel the sting of Mei Mei's wait.  Oh Lord, please from now on let me carry her burden until I can hold her in my arms and never ever let her go!

I've said more times than i can possibly count that i believe God's Hand is all the way in our journey to Mei Mei.  That doesn't just mean when things go smoothly and quickly and without incident.   That means even when things seem slower than i think i can bare, God is blessing every step of the way, and He loves us just as much as the families who get LOA in a seeming flash.   God knows what's best for us.  And he hasn't forgotten about His promises...

Please pray for Mei Mei. Pray for all the children waiting for their forever families, and pray for the children already united with their moms and dads, brothers and sisters to begin to believe they really are loved and they really are safe and that it really is forever!

Thank you so much for allowing me to once again share my heart with you!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tears in a Bottle

...put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? Psalms 56:8

When we first started our journey to Mei Mei, it was not without concerns and questions....
Our second China-born daughter, considered Special Focus, has a heart condition.  Not understanding medical jargon we sought the counsel of a doctor, but before we did that, I went to my Father lamenting, "Father God, I don't understand.  Are you asking us to adopt a child who doesn't have long to live?  Are you asking us to adopt a daughter who will leave Sonya after we promised her a sister and a friend to grow old with?" 
Immediately came His response, "She has a broken heart, and your love will heal her.  I will heal her."
With those words tucked securely in my heart, I initially sought the help of this aforementioned doctor to look over Mei Mei's medical records so i could have a firm handle on what I might be asking my husband to do.  For those of you have been following our journey, you will remember that Randy was not "on board"  with this idea of a second adoption at this juncture.  I thought that by procuring the help of a doctor to better understand Mei Mei's condition, it would serve to keep me from glossing over with Randy in any way her physical state just so i could get my way in this matter because, friends, let me just say for the record, I knew I was staring at the face of my little girl the minute, no, the second, I laid my eyes on her. That feeling, that knowing, that revelation of who she was and who she is to me has never left me, not ever.   
But the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, showed me that we needed to trust Him and in order to follow Him in obedience, we needed to make a decision as a married couple on Mei Mei's behalf without gaining any further medical knowledge of her condition.   On a Friday night, only four days after seeing her sweet baby face for the very first time, I decided to pour out my deep love for this child to my husband.  Randy did not feel the same way as I did, although he had a great deal of compassion for me and for Sonya who said from the very start, "I want her to be my little sister".  
Hence, moved by said compassion, Randy called out to the Lord in prayer, our hands interlaced with one another, our heads bowed, and as he spoke came this plea from Randy's lips, "Father, if it be your will, move on my spirit so that I feel it too."  And i thought to myself, "Perfect" because you see, it really doesn't get any better than that.  i knew because Randy was sincerely seeking the Lord's will, then Randy would obey the Lord when called.  You know, it takes a real man to humble himself before the Lord and call out in perfect submission and obedience, seeking not to deny the existence and sovereignty of his Father in Heaven, but rather making known in both word and in deed his allegiance to his Father's good and perfect will for him
Within twenty four hours of that prayer, Randy was completely on board with bringing this beautiful child home!  Praise the Lord forever and ever.  Praise His Holy Name forever and ever!  It was only after filling out the initial paperwork to adopt this precious one and putting down our application fee that we received an email by the doctor who offered to help translate into common english Mei Mei's records.  In the email, the doctor addressed the various conditions assigned her.  While i read this report to Randy, i kept revisiting in my mind my  Father's promise to me that He would heal our child!   
Through the months, choosing not to look at Mei Mei's records again, a battle waged inside of me, threatening to engulf and enslave any evidence of hope or joy.  All i could think about was how far Mei Mei was from us, and how desperate I felt to get her home and get her to a doctor!  Because i didn't know... I couldn't see her.  i couldn't touch her. I couldn't minister to her needs, and this thought was plaguing me, causing me to cry every day for my daughter, filling me with such anguish and fear, thinking the worst because i chose to remain in the dark.  
Then one day not so long ago, as i sat at the computer, silent tears streaming down my face for my girl, the Lord encouraged and coaxed me to review her medical records for myself - so that i could arm myself with knowledge about Mei Mei's overall physical condition and state of health.  So i listened.  I obeyed, and it wasn't hard to do.  He waited until I could listen and obey Him, so that it wouldn't take courage to do it. 
What I found as i researched the various conditions assigned her in matters of the heart, my ever-present fear vanished and was replaced with hope again.  Because you see, everything i read about is fixable!  It's operable!  And her prognosis is most favorable!  
Still, I will tell you, I kept returning to my Father's promise and i started wondering if it would be wise to pray to the Father about our very specific need for our daughter, and that is namely to heal the hole in her heart and restore fully her heart and her health.   I sought the wise counsel of a deacon at our church one Sunday afternoon following service, and he confirmed that even though the Lord knows what we need, He still wants us to come to Him and ask Him specifically for what we need, reminding me further the Lord will then go about answering our prayers in His good and perfect time.  
That night following the Invitation as Randy and I stood before the congregation at Waynedale Baptist Church, I explained to everyone Mei Mei's situation and our need as parents for her.  I shared with them the Father's promise to me, and I proceeded to ask them to pray with us to the Father for the hole in Mei Mei's heart to be closed up and for her full recovery.
As the deacons surrounded us, laying their hands on us, Randy and I stood in the center of them with our hands firmly clasped in one anothers, with heads bowed as I wept silent tears.  One of the deacons was asked to pray on behalf of Mei Mei and as he began his prayer, I sensed, i felt as though the words leaving his lips floated in the air directly in front of us as the complete prayer formed and took on shape and substance, and i felt God's ministering angels swoop down, collecting the prayer in their wings as they carried it directly to the Throne Room of God Almighty, and within an instant, the Holy Spirit was sent to our little girl and He touched her!   He touched her on her heart!  And i could only stand there and cry silent tears.  

It took me a couple of hours before i finally understood or could even begin to articulate what had actually transpired in the midst of that healing prayer.  I am sure, as sure as i need oxygen to breathe, that the story I just conveyed to you is REAL.  It really happened, and whether our God has just begun a healing in Cassie or completed a healing in her through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can rest in the calm assurance that our God always keeps His promises. 

Since that night, I have had the great privilege of asking another mother whom I'd never before met to please check on my girl while she was visiting Mei Mei's orphanage the week following.  This mother, Caroline, was scheduled for a final goodbye visit with her four year old son whom she and her husband adopted from this very same orphanage only a few days prior.  In an email, beautiful Caroline took the time to share with me at length her impressions of my beautiful girl while visitng that day at the orphanage.  I will be forever grateful to her for the kindness she demonstrated to this momma's waiting heart.  Please allow me to share with you now some of what she penned on Mei Mei's behalf:
Hi Cheryl,
I feel strongly in my heart that Cassie's heart problem will be mild when you get her. I wanted to tell you this in person, but I do not want to make it difficult to get together, so here it goes.
The night before we went I got your picture of her. Honestly I thought to myself (and bear with me on this) this lady must be crazy. How in the world am I going to recognize her daughter amongst all of the children that must be in the orphanage?

We met Ms. Zhong and sat down for a while in the meeting room and just talked. I was itching to get into the place, but I was patient. She was very gracious and acted like she had all the time the world. We went first into the dining hall. Some children were starting to eat lunch. My Jack ran across the room straight to "his" empty seat and wanted to eat, so they let him. Well, as I walked up Cassie was the very first child I saw!!!!!! I immediately told my guide I had to check on her. I got several pictures. What a cutie. I was drawn to her. I totally left Jack to eat his lunch. He and Cassie are in the same class. They go to school, eat, and sleep (right next to each other) together. So, I moved on and checked on two other girls and took pictures. They were in Jack's class too. If you notice from the picture the table that Cassie is sitting at and the table where Jack is sitting. There are a total of 8 children, 4 at each table. All 8 of them will be adopted. Isn't that awesome.

As we started to leave the dining hall Cassie started silently crying. I went over to comfort her and touched her head. OK, this is the one part that makes me sad. Cheryl, she knew why I was there. I don't care if I don't speak Chinese. I saw in her eyes how much she wanted her family to come for her. I knew she was sad that it was not her day. There was just something about "her". She touched my heart. She had a spark, something special about her. Her eyes to me indicate that she is an old soul. Not sure how to explain it, it seems like she may be older and wiser than her years.

We went on and toured the orphanage. We ended up later in the room where our children slept. Cassie was standing in Jack's bed. He did not like that and climbed in. She went back to her bed, right beside his. We looked around a while. Jack got very emotional in his bed and I scooped him up and comforted him. I think he thought that I was going to leave him. He broke down a couple of times. As we were leaving the room, Cassie again started to silently cry. Not crying really, just silent tears ran down her face. It was hard for the guide and I both. We both held back tears. It was like everyone in that room was unaware of what was taking place...but not her. I wish that I could have scooped her up that very second, but of course I had to walk away. She is longing for you. She is waiting patiently. She knows. I feel all of this with total certainty. No one translated this to me, I saw it in her eyes. I know she will have open arms for you.

I was meant to see her, above each and every other child in that place. He put her right in my path, and put her first so I could deliver this message to you. That is why you needed to send me her picture. Crazy lady??? Never! It was just part of His plan. I am reminded to be still and see what he wants me to see.

Even though meeting and spending only a short amount of time with her I now know that she wants a family as much as you want her, who knows maybe even more. I know this too, she is very bright and wise and she has an open heart to love.
I will never forget this story.

Oh, how I love my girl in China!  I love both of my girls!!  Before Sonya was ever born, God showed me what she would be like, from her character and demeanor all the way down to her physical features.  Whenever i look back at God's revelation to me about Sonya, I never worry about her future because i know he is holding her future in His Hands.  Well, the same goes for sweet and precious little Cassie Mei.  The Lord had already revealed to this waiting momma her character, demeanor and gentle nature, so when I read what was written about Cassie by this sweet mother, it only served to confirm in me where her future lays, and that is in the loving, gracious and ever-merciful Hands of God her Father!   

A few months back, as i was reading various forum updates, a mother posted a narrative about one of her precious daughters.  and. i. wept.  It was as though she was describing my girl!  Immediately, I contacted her and asked for permission to someday post her narrative on our blog, and she readily agreed.  Well, dear readers, here it is in its entirety.  Please enjoy! 

We have adopted three beautiful girls in the last year - Elli (now 7 yrs) adopted last May (2010) from Anhui; Enya Li(7 yrs) -adopted this April from Heilongjiang; and Xiaoyun (now 14 yrs)- adopted this April from Guizhou. Elli and Xiaoyun were in foster care and Enya was in an orphanage.

This morning I realized I had neglected the plants around the fish pond and set about pulling the weeds. Enya, my early bird, immediately started helping me. She sang, laughed or talked the entire time. As we pulled weeds, she came to a clump of clover and said, "Ooh, beautiful!" She picked the clover, and instead of putting it in the pile with the other weeds, she said "Lili de" meaning they were now hers.

As we continued to pull the weeds, I listened to her humming and thought about what a joyful child she is. Everything is like Christmas to her. She appreciates every little thing given to her, and is always quick to say "Thank you, Mama" even if I'm only washing off her hands or giving her a glass of water. To be blessed with the opportunity to see life through the eyes of someone who has never had anything of her own, who has lived in an orphanage all her life, who has done without so many things we call necessities, is a gift for me.

She has given me an appreciation for things I never stopped to consider before. I remember last year, when we brought Elli home, becoming more aware of what I take for granted, but Enya has deepened that awareness. Every night I say her prayers, and when we come to the end she always says amen with me.

Then she wraps her arms around me and pulls me down and gives me a huge kiss and hug. And every night, as she embraces me, I think what a miracle this is that a little girl who, for years, had neither father nor mother, is now part of a large family who loves her very much.

Today, as we pulled those weeds, I thought of how some consider her (and other orphans) just weeds. The first picture we saw of Enya was shortly after her surgery for cleft lip. Her face was swollen and it made the ptosis of her right eye even more pronounced. Her file had been on the Waiting Children's list for several years and had not been updated. When we looked at her picture we knew she was the one who needed us, the child whose file people kept passing over.

Their loss has been our gain. Some people fail to see the beauty that is waiting there waiting to be picked.  Waiting for someone to pick them up and say, "Ooh, beautiful!" Waiting to blossom before the eyes of those who will shower them with love.

Written by Cindy Willoughby

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quilting During Summer Camp and Job Training

First off, let me just say that for two whole days this week , I had the house completely to myself.   While Sonya was away at camp and Randy was training in Indy for his job, i was a busy little bee here in my home all alone working on the girls' quilts in preparation for  Cassandra's homecoming this Fall.  It's virtually impossible, you see, for me to do this kind of detailed work with any kind of interruptions, so I basically waited for an opportune time to present itself in order to continue the project I started way back in January.

For those of you who do not know, I made a baby quilt for Sonya before she came home from China at seven months of age.  At that season in my life, i had no idea that the inordinate amount of time I had on my hands to do such things without cessation was an absolute luxury I soooo took for granted.  For you see, I had not yet become a mother.

Then six years ago, when Sonya was a little over one year old, I got the idea that we should adopt another baby girl from China.  So...I went to the fabric shop and purchased everything I would need to make a second quilt for my second China-born daughter.  When things didn't work out as I had wanted and dreamed, I grieved hard.  For. quite. a. while.  And held on to that fabric.  Hoping and Praying that just maybe Randy would change his mind...  Time passed, and before long, the fabric got stuck up in the closet all but forgotten about, for a little while anyway. 

Then one day, I finally resigned myself to the reality that Sonya was destined to be raised as an only child, and i pulled the fabric from the closet.  I showed it to Sonya and promised her when she gave birth to her first child (either through adoption or naturally, and of course let me qualify this by saying after she's married), i would make a very special quilt for my very first grandchild and it would be filled (heaping) with love, just the way I had done for her when she was a baby.  Sonya seemed to like the idea, although because she was only four years old at the time of our conversation she couldn't fathom living away from home, so she asked me if she and her husband and children could live with daddy and me. 

Of course, i told her that would be alright with me knowing full well when the time comes, she will not want to live with her mother and father.  Try explaining that reality to a four year old, though.  As you may glean, i didn't even bother to try.

Anyhow, here we are six years later, and i am using this very same fabric to make a second quilt for my second China-born daughter.  Btw, Sonya knows we will be purchasing new fabric when the time comes for that baby of hers...

As I started sewing the squares together for Cassandra's quilt, never thinking for a moment that Sonya would need a new one until Sonya commented that when her little sister comes home i would need to take a picture of them together holding their quilts.  I took a good, hard look at Sonya's tattered and worn baby quilt that she's been sleeping with and dragging around for seven years and i shuddered.  Consider the implications.

How might that make Cassandra feel, knowing that the reason Sonya's quilt is falling apart is because it's been loved on for years by a child who has been home with her family since babyhood?  And to see her newly made quilt which could end up in the end reminding her of all the years spent in the orphanage, with no family and no one in sight seeming to really want her enough to call her "daughter".   Now, look at the flip side, from Sonya's point of view.  Soon, very soon, that old tattered quilt she's been loving on and dragging around and getting caught in car doors will be nothing but a pile of shredded fabric, and she may just look over at her little sister with her new shiny quilt and think how absolutely unfair her life has turned out to be that she too did not get a new quilt.   

Now, i must say Sonya's supposed future point of view garners very little sympathy from me, but i also don't want to cause some sort of unnecessary friction and distance between these two girls if i can help it.  So...I told Sonya not too long ago that I would make her a new quilt as well.   And her reply,  "Oh good, now we can have a new start together!"  So you see?  Perfect!!!!

I am finished with Cassandra's quilt, thankful for that very needed time on my hands this week:
The butterfly fabric you see is a remnant from Sonya's baby quilt,
my motherly way of binding these two girls' hearts together. 
 (Btw, please do your best to ignore my toes that somehow
managed to get in the picture as well.) 

Next, I laid out the squares for Sonya's quilt before I started sewing them together, all of which i am doing by hand in case you are wondering.  I do have half of the front of Sonya's quilt sewn together at this juncture, but i do not have an up-to-date picture of the completed work.  In any event, you can still get the idea of what it will look like when finished:

The fabric squares close to the middle that have an almost white background with a
 blue design are also from Sonya's original quilt.  If you compare the two quilts,
you will also find I used many of the same fabrics in both of them, yet they both have
 some patterns of their very own to reflect their uniqueness one from another.   

I feel compelled to show you Sonya's old quilt.  Notice, if you will, that I did originally try to replace some of Sonya's old quilt squares with some new ones in a feeble attempt to hold off for a few more years the inevitable.  My attempt in the end proved pointless and useless.  Judge for yourself: 
A fresh start it will be then!  I like it!

Now onto other news. 

Do you remember me mentioning that Sonya went away to summer camp?  Well, this was a very special summer camp because at this camp she got to learn about Jesus from none other than missionaries, and you know how much Sonya loves missionaries don't you?
So I dropped her off on Monday, six hours round-trip and picked her up by noon on Thursday. 
And did that little girl ever have a good time, receiving so much genuine, Jesus-filled love from so many adults and other children! 

When I dropped Sonya off on Monday, I hadn't stepped out of the room for more than a few minutes to run to the car and upon returning Sonya had already shared with her camp counselor that she too wants to be a missionary.  When asked where she would like to go, she said China.  Pulling out of the drive at Highland Lakes Baptist Camp that Monday afternoon I immediately called Randy and told him, We made the right decision.  Sonya is right where she belongs.

The following are pictures I took on Thursday when I went to pick Sonya up:

When I first arrived on Thursday, Sonya found a friend she had made during the week
and nestled right up to her.  This is Betty Heacock.  She is involved in children's
ministries at her church and finds herself often volunteering for such events
 as this.  How lucky the children are to find such a friend in Betty!

Check out Sonya's new tie-dye t-shirt!  AWESOME!

Do they look like they had a good time together, or what?! 

Somehow I don't think Sonya was starved for attention this week!

What do you think?  Do you think I may be right?

Sonya, with her two camp counselors and missionaries - Rachel Fairlery
of Mississippi, 20 years old; Anna Faulk of Alabama, 20 years old;
and volunteer Maddie Holdren of Muncie, 14 years old

Sonya did indeed receive a great deal of love this week while away from her family, and she did receive many compliments for her good behavior, smiley face and general happy disposition.  On the long drive home I reminded Sonya that the reason people liked being with her and the reason she made such a positive impression on them was because through her obedience to those in charge of her (namely her camp counselors), through her loving behavior, through her smiles and the sparkle in her eyes, she reflected Jesus to them, and that's really what it's all about when you get right down to it.  Dear Lord, let me learn a valuable lesson from my dear daughter by modeling Your Love, Joy and Kindness to others as well as she does.    

Moving on, you may recall me mentioning that Randy trained in Indy this week.  I called him while driving on the highway and found out he was only ten minutes ahead of us so we planned without Sonya's knowledge to meet at a Marathon station at Exit 78.  While taking the exit ramp, i told sonya I needed to use the restroom again and get another Mountain Dew. Just for the record, people, i normally do not drink Mountian Dew but it does seem to keep my brain alert when on the road for lengths of time. 

The next few pics are of Randy surprising Sonya as we rounded the corner at the Marathon station searching for the restrooms.  They say, A picture is worth a thousand words:


I am pleased as punch that God is affording me the opportunity to give to yet another little girl such a father as this!  While some may consider my daughters lucky, I consider them Blessed.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for providing these girls a loving, kind and giving father on this earth to model to them the love, kindness and generosity of their Heavenly Father!  No mortal words can ever convey my deepest and heart-felt gratitude to you for this!  thank you!  thank you!  thank you!  Amen! 

Can I get a witness?