Monday, October 13, 2014

3 months home....

How hard it is to believe we've been a family for three months.  In ways, it seems like so much longer!

Lots of full days lately--and a full heart.  Such a blessing to see the girls growing and blossoming.

Sima loves finding bugs---a caterpillar this day.... 

Going to check the chickens (in their pajamas)...

Running barefoot across the gravel driveway....such a joy to see Vaida running!

So many thoughts I want to share about "love" and a child who was institutionalized...
soon hopefully....

Sima loves helping with leaves....

Vaida was pushing her baby around for a ride and decided to try out the doll stroller.....

Sima was so proud to make her own plate of "chips and cheese"...

Sima loved spending time with Baba...the true joy of a Grandma!

How blessed we are to call Sima and Vaida our girls...God is good!

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Love to see our girls beginning to understand more and more what a family is--

Shoulder rides--

Playing games together--

Dancing and singing..

We are still cocooning and seeing the importance of it.  So many thoughts about how children from hard places need that time at home--hoping to do a post on it soon.

Adoption is about loss--loss of so much for our two precious girls.  They have been hurt through relationships and their healing will come through relationships.  We have seen that loss shown in many different ways in the last three months--many of the ways not things most people would see as an expression of fear or trauma/neglect.

So thankful that we serve a God of restoration.  We are so blessed to see first hand the beginning of understanding of family and forever--seeing our girls beginning to work through their coping strategies and learn so many new things.

Grateful that as we continue on this journey, God will continue to provide all we need--that what we are doing will be done through His strength and with His wisdom.  Praying for healing.  Thanking Him for the continuing to help us see what is important and keeping us on our knees.  Thankful for His adoption of us and seeing so many similarities.

Asking Him to help us throw off those things that hinder and recognize the sin that is entangling us.  Asking Him to help us keep our eyes fixed on Him and His desires and to run with perserverance--

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, 
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.... 
Hebrews 12:1-2

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our idea of "heavy work"...

Many adoptive children struggle in one way or another with their sensory system.   One (of many) suggestions for activities to help a child regulate is to have them do "heavy work"--to push, pull, or carry heavy items.

At our house, this was our "heavy work" last week--

Yup, got three of the kids' sensory work in.  Vaida was just along for the ride.  Don't worry, the engine was off, and we were watching carefully:)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What we've been up to....

We've been busy starting school and trying to get into a routine during our days.  Truly, Sima and Vaida's school for this year is Family 101---learning so much about trusting and feeling safe.

Our first day of school we have always had a treasure hunt for the kids' backpacks with clues and surprises in the backpacks.  I never thought it would be tradition that the kids would look forward to--but they do so each year I try to stump them with clues and have some fun surprises.

Another day we went for a nature color walk (with backpacks!)--

And some painting after reading Mouse Paint to Sima and Vaida-

We are starting to get into a groove with school.  It is fun to see how the girls are liking different things and great to see them continue to grow and change before our eyes.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The beauty of a family.....

This week was an interesting one.  The day after I posted my last post was one of the most challenging ones I've had since we got home.  We can see the girls attaching more and more and with that, testing us in ways.  And Wednesday was a day full of struggles for one of our treasures.

We knew from our reading and preparation before we adopted that living in an orphanage can result in certain behaviors--but to see them acted out is very different from reading a book.  And seeing actors on a video act out how to correct can be very different than "doing it" in real life:)  Let's just say the lines don't always go as planned!

Bill and I discuss things that come up, turn to friends and family for prayer, and spend time praying over our current approach and if we should change it.  On Thursday we decided to try a new approach with one issue that has become a real stumbling block in our house.  And we have seen changes happening--praise God!  Not at all the way we had planned it but so thankful to see some progress.

Saturday morning I was in the midst of a struggle over bubble gum and eating toast with one of our girls and could see things escalating quickly.  The volcano was close to erupting!  And in walks Jenny on her way to work.  She asked what was going on and said to her sister in a very matter-of-fact way, "What are you doing?  Just eat your toast.  Mom is letting you have a piece of gum after--why would you be so silly about eating your toast first?"

Her sister bounced out of the chair, grabbed her toast, ate it and smiled. Then she proceeded to chat with Jenny before she left (while enjoying her bubble gum).   I was sitting with my jaw on my lap trying to process what had just happened.  I had been trying for almost twenty minutes to diffuse the situation through playful engagement and even a compromise--and Jenny eliminated the problem within a minute (I had prayed earlier when things were ramping up).  The power of an older sister--what an answer to prayer!

Such a blessing to have so many different personalities in this place we call home.  As our precious Sima and Vaida begin to grasp what a family is and how people in a family interact, love, forgive, share, play, cheer each other on, and comfort each other, I am thrilled to see how God has prepared each of us for this journey.  I am filled with a sense of peace seeing our teenagers interact and seeing their tenderness and playfulness.  My heart rejoices seeing their realization of the true worth of their new sisters---discussions of what their lives were like and would have been like if they weren't adopted and our hopes and dreams for them.  Giggles and laughs over cute things the girls say or do (we all love to hear Vaida humming when eating food she likes and truly get a kick out of Sima's dancing and singing--she is learning more and more English through song!)

And to see how each day the younger four grow closer and closer.  How they are becoming not only siblings but friends.  To hear prayers from Nate and Ellie for their younger sisters, thanking Him for their new sisters.  And to hear sweet Sima pray too---we can understand the "Dear God" and "Amen" and "chocolate", "ice cream", "coffee":)--says that for Mom's sake,   "gum", "banana" and "apple"--our girl likes sweets!

A year ago when we told people that we were adopting, we had some question us about our other children.  I think every family has to look at their own situations, their children and their needs, and spend time in prayer to see if adoption is right for them--and the time is right.   I had written up a post last fall called something like "what about your other kids?" but decided not to post.  I know some may feel that adding two more children, especially children who will need time and attention to learn things, may not be the best for a family.  Bill and I felt adoption was the right decision for our family, all of our family.  We have all had to stretch ourselves at times and put what we would like to do aside--something that will prepare our children for "real life" with a spouse and family.

We are so thankful that our children are able to try to empathize with Sima and Vaida as they adjust to a new life, everything in their lives having changed.  We are thankful for an opportunity to help them learn compassion and service, two things that truly only grow through action. One can read all kinds of books to your children about compassion and service and talk until you are blue in the face but doing is learning. We are very thankful for all of our kids' support with our decision.

 Thanking God today for every person He has in this family and what each ones bring to the beautiful tapestry called family.  And how He can answer prayer through a big sister's words!

The night we got home.....

Sima loves going for rides with Joe!

Sisters forever...

Waiting for Dad to come home from work...

First time on a slip and slide:)

Fun to walk down a slip and slide...

And giving it a try with Dad's help...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

They are worth being loved like crazy....

Bill and I are so thankful that we attended the Empowered to Connect conference with Dr. Karyn Purvis.  I guess you could say we are groupies!  Our church's orphan ministry has all of her teaching materials, and we now see just how important it was to spend time reading and studying before we added the girls to our family.  The Connected Child and our study workbooks from the ETC conference can be found by our bedsides with sticky notes and bookmarks in them--often read in three minute increments.  As we walk through this journey of parenting two "children from hard places", we are grateful to have such terrific resources.  Even though we studied it all before we left,  "real life" presents a much different picture.

She LOVES the water in any form!

And we are all loving Aldi's ice cream treats!

Just as reading all the books on parenting and babies before we had Jenny prepared us in some ways, so often, real people are much different that what books describe.  Although we had ideas of what our girls would be dealing with (things that all adoptive children do), we didn't know some of the things they have experienced and some of their personality traits that have developed with years of being institutionalized.  All the reading in the world can give us much knowledge, but Bill and I have truly learned with parenting all of our children that wisdom comes from God (and not always in our timeframe).

There are many things we know about our girls past, some we knew from the beginning, some we learned in country, some we learned in court, and some we have learned since we have had them home.   And there will always be things we will never, ever know---things that have affected them in deep ways within their hearts and souls.  But God.....He knows.  He knows all they have experienced and endured.  And He will show us what we need to do to help them heal--He is faithful and His love for the fatherless is so much more than our love for Sima and Vaida.

They are "painting"with water--next summer we'll use the real thing!

One thing that Dr. Purvis stated again and again is to look at the belief behind the behavior.  So often it is fear driving behavior, fear of things we have no concept of in our lives---lives in which we have both have parents who loved, protected and cared for us.  God has opened our eyes in so many ways, and the eyes of our other children.  They have seen and heard things that we don't usually allow in our home and have seen two little girls become much gentler and two girls beginning to realize, even just in a very small way, what "forever" and "family" means.  We have seen our girls "soothe" themselves in ways that make me want to weep---thinking of all the times they were alone comforting themselves.  We have seen what a caring sister Sima has been for Vaida, something that God put deep within her as this wasn't modeled to her---how she has looked out for Vaida.  Thanking Him for that as we know it has helped Vaida in ways we can't imagine.

Our Lithuanians love potatoes!  

Vaida peeled the skin off this cold leftover baked potato and started snacking!

And they love pancakes!  And big spoons!

Praying daily and hourly that our love in action may be a dim reflection of the love of Jesus
 and that every day Sima and Vaida feel they have worth.

Below is a quote from the Empowered to Connect site that I love--

If our children are to believe that Jesus is crazy in love with them, 
then I suspect they will need to first understand 
that they are worth being loved like crazy. 

Yet we know that what they have experienced in life-- 
in terms of trauma, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and relinquishment -- 
often whispers...
no shouts to them a very different message. 
So, by God's grace we as adoptive and foster parents are given
 the indescribable privilege of showing our kids, 
day-by-day and moment-by-moment, 
that they are valuable and deserving of love. 
Not because they are worthy, 
but because they have worth
As parents may our love in action be even a dim reflection of the love of Jesus
 and send the inescapable message to our children: 
you are worth being loved like crazy.