Monday, April 7, 2014

Life in the Fast Lane

So, so, so much to share I don't know where to begin so I think it will be that God is good, God is Great!  We are so thankful for God's provision and presence in our lives.  After 5 months of paperwork preparing for our adoption of "Levi"(Yes we have changed his name but this one is final) our dossier is Logged in with China and waiting the approval of our adoption.  Below is a picture of the paperwork in our dossier.  It may not look like much but I assure you it is hours of fingerprinting and more fingerprinting and then more.  Several trips to the Secretary of State, hours of filling out forms, mailing them and waiting for them to return so I can mail them somewhere else.  Of course it is worth every second because look at the sweet face waiting on the other end of the paperwork.  Sweet as can be.  We will probably travel late summer or early fall.  There is more paperwork and waiting and mailing and signing and you get the picture.

Joel finished off his high school basketball.  He had a great year.  We will really miss seeing him play.  He informed me tonight that he has 28 days of school left.  How in the world can this be?

The toughest thing we have been through over the past few weeks was MeiLi having spinal fusion surgery where she had 2 rods placed in her back.  It was painful and yucky.  Thank heavens my mom came and stayed with the kids because Scott and I really needed her help.  You see we live in what is called the orange zone.  That is the level right next to the red zone where everything falls apart.  This surgery felt like it pushed us into the read zone.  Stressful. Tiring. Stressful.  Oh yes I said that already.  We survived and more than that MeiLi is doing good.  She is still moving slow and having some pain but recovering nicely.  Now Scott and I need a nice long vacation.  

Leah was a wonderful big sister.  Right there through so much of MeiLi's time in the hospital.  Thank you sweet Leah for being there for her.  Your the best.

Now for the really fun news.  Through MeiLi's surgery and getting to know the staff on the spinal team really well they gave our names to Denver University's school of Construction.  They built a sweet little playhouse and gave it to our family.  We were able to share our families adoption story with many people and even get on channel 7 news for an interview.  It was a great time and we are so thankful to DU for treating our family in such a special way.

They are loving this little house.  We are imagining many summer campouts in it and hours of play.  Such a great time.

Like I said it is Life in the fast lane.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

So excited to share!!!!!!

Life has been really good these past few months.  The kids are enjoying school. Leah is loving her life in high school and her first season in marching band.  It was great fun to watch her perform.  Joel is having an amazing Sr. year so far.  He is becoming more independent and doing a great job with it.  Basketball season is about to begin and we all look forward to watching his every move.  Luke has adjusted to Jr high.  He has really taken on a lot of responsibility and  is now playing the saxophone and doing a wonderful job.  Our elementary kids are having so much fun and have such wonderful teachers.  I am homeschooling Katy who is in 5th grade.  It has been so much fun to spend the days teaching her and learning from her.  She is an amazing little girl.  Sam is in 8th grade finishing up his last year of Jr. high.  He has grown in many, many ways over the past few months.  He has become our funny guy.  We took the kids for breakfast the other morning.  He wanted a skillet that had fried eggs on the top in the picture.  When the waiter asked how he wanted his eggs he looked at him in all seriousness and said cooked.  We all lost it.  The eggs did appear to be raw in the photo.  He is great.  We celebrated his 14th birthday.  As we thought about this age we discussed how wonderful  that he was adopted because at age 14 children in China are no longer available for adoption.  Many, many will move to the streets, child trafficked, or prostitution.  Their hopes of ever having a family to call their own is gone.  We are thankful that we could prevent this from happening to the children we are able to adopt.  We can't save them all but we can sure make a difference in the lives of the ones we adopt.  Likewise they no doubt make a huge difference in the lives we live.  So.........on that note I want to introduce the newest Smith member who is waiting on his family to hurry with the paperwork and come get him.

Long Yake
12 years old
Living in LongGang, China

The Story of YaKe

Psalm 68:6
New International Version (NIV)
God sets the lonely in families.

“Are you going to adopt again?”  That is the most asked question.  Right behind the statement, “how do you manage 10 children?”  “ I can barely take care of my 2.”  Followed by, “you look really good for having 10 kids!”  Our answer to the first question used to be that this was our last adoption until the next one happened….and the next…..and then the next.  Now our answer has changed to we don’t really know.  It is in God’s hands because that is what our life really boils down to.  Right?  We tried to make it our decision but in the end after having many conversations with God, we give up our selfish desires and long for His will and direction for this is where we have found a tremendous peace and happiness.  Has it been hard?  You bet it has at times.  What we really thought we wanted in this life was a huge house in the neighborhood across the street, brand new cars every few years and many tropical vacations.  What we ended up receiving were 10 of the most precious blessings this life can possibly offer.  Which one would we have done without to have a few more worldly  treasures.   We cannot imagine having missed out on any of them.  That is why when we hear God’s voice to adopt it doesn’t take too much to convince us because we could have said “no” to them and well, I cannot even let my mind go to the place that they would still be in China without a family to love them.  Thank you God that you kept after us.  That is where number 11 comes into the picture.  His name is pronounced, YawKu.  Was he just a random child that we just up and decided to adopt.  Nope.  His little presence has been with us for a few years now.  The very first mention of him was in China while we were adopting Sam in Dec. 2010.  We were visiting the orphanage and talking with the director and showing her photos of our family.  She saw MeiLi and told us that there was a little boy living there that looked like her.  I’m sure I thought more about that statement than Scott did but not much more.  After returning home I was looking through orphanage photos that someone had given me looking for more photos of Sam and Katy because that is also the trip that we met sweet Katy.  That will have to be another story since this one is mostly about YaKe.  While looking at photos I saw several of YaKe.  I was a little interested in him just because he really did look like MeiLi but he really, really reminded me of DonLi.  I can’t remember exactly but I’m sure I showed Scott.  He probably said, wow, he does look like DonLi.  We both had no idea of the seeds of love being planted in our hearts for this child.  The time wasn’t right for us to adopt him because we had 2 others to get home first.  We later went on to adopt Katy and while waiting to travel to get her we received a photo of her with some of the kids that she lived with.  Standing in the background was YaKe looking on what was happening in the picture.  He grabbed my attention quite a bit more this time and really grabbed Scott’s.  Scott was so intrigued that he asked for me to find out more about him, and he even asked if it would be possible for us to bring him home with Katy.  I do most of the paperwork obviously because it takes months to process each individual adoption.  However, Scott with his never take no for an answer insisted there must be a way.  He finally realized it was true.  So off we went to China for the 5th time to bring spunky Katy home.  However while there we again visited the orphanage.  We specifically asked for them to bring YaKe to meet us.  We didn’t know if we were supposed to adopt but we didn’t want to be this close to what we thought could be our son and not see him and give him a gift.  We met him and spent a little time asking him questions about himself and took a few photos.  Katy had only been with us a few days and she was a bit overwhelming.  To get an idea about her, we called her “jungle girl.”  She had medical needs that we weren’t real sure how they would turn out and as I sat in that room with Yake God revealed his many needs to me.  I just knew what it would take to adopt him and frankly I had no energy left for that.  Leah was with us as we sat there with him.  We never told her what we were thinking so she had no idea why we asked to see him and she never really asked.  We left there that day overwhelmed.  We really didn’t speak about him again until we got home.  When Scott asked what I thought about him all I could say was, “Whew”.  He completely understood.  Nothing else needed to be said.  We spent the text 4 months deep in medical evaluations for Katy and then God dropped a complete surprise on us in the form of a 5 year old sweet heart, Jasmine.  Really?  How does this happen.  I think she was just that extra blessing that God gave us to say “your doing good, keep it up.”  Fast forward another year.  Jazzy and Katy are settled in.  We are all settled in.  That means we are at a good place where things feel good.  God starts filling my mind and heart with YaKe.  He is there when I fall asleep and there when I wake up.  Scott was very busy and stressed at work so I told God that Scott would flip out if I told him what I thought God was asking of us.  I couldn’t keep it in any longer so one night told Scott that God was wanting us to adopt him.  Scott is special.  Real special.  He said that he would start praying.  A week or so later he asked me when we were going to go bring that boy home.  Seriously!  I think I mentioned he was special.  Now I need to back up a little.  During the time that YaKe was constantly on my mind and God was speaking to my heart, Leah brings him up out of the blue one day.  She just asked about him and wondered if he had been adopted.  Hmmm.  I wondered what that was about.  A few days later after picking her up from band she told me that Scott had mentioned to her that we were praying about adopting Yake.  She then broke into tears.  She said that she had been praying for a long time that we would adopt him.  She wanted to mention it to us but didn’t know if she should.  Now what 14 year old girl prays about bringing home a 12 year old brother with obvious facial deformities.  Now I can say that Leah is much like her dad.  Very, very special.  We both sat there crying.  We were now sitting in the driveway and Scott comes and looks at us and has absolutely no clue about what his girls are sitting in the driveway crying about.  He looks concerned.  I later tell him.  It was my confirmation to move forward to bring this boy home where he belongs.  The excitement of the kids about the whole thing was amazing.  Well, Katy really wanted a baby and the girls all wanted another sister but after they understood that wasn’t happening now they were over excited.  Our younger boys were so happy and our older boys were hesitantly concerned about us being able to handle another child as well as what it would mean for college plans.  So with much excitement, we introduce our newest son, Long Yake.  He is 12 years old, living in the same home as Katy and Sam lived in.  He has wide set eyes, underdeveloped nose and cleft lip and palate.  He is pretty small in size also.   We have just received our pre approval from China to move forward with our adoption process.  We can now let him know that he has a family working hard to bring him home.  What will his reaction be to our huge tribe.  I will let you know.  Now the answers we give to the next two questions.  How do we handle 10 children?  I want to scream that I absolutely have no idea!  Ha! How is that for an answer.  It is such a God thing.  The only reasonable explanation is that in our weakness God is strong.  It just can’t be done without God.  The children are happy, and flourishing.  We are exhausted much of the time which brings me to the last question on how we look so good for having 10 children.  Scott might say when we look like we have 10 children we just don’t go out in public.  I just smile and say thank you.  Rest is key to keeping our joy and time alone for Scott and is top priority.  If you could please pray for us as we move through the process we would love that.  It can be a stressful time waiting and making sure the paperwork is done right and in a timely manner along with the expense of it all.  I am waiting and expectant for the wonderful works of God we are going to see and experience.

Matthew 25:40
New International Version (NIV)
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer, summer, and more summer

We have had such a wonderful, full summer.  Full of drama as you can see above.  It is amazing at how fast time goes.  It has been good....really good.  My goal for the summer was to read like crazy with the kids, swim a lot and sleep late as much as possible.  I think we did very well with all of it.  

One Sunday we slipped away just Scott and I with two older kiddos.  These are special times for us and they rarely happen.

Croquet and season passes to the amusement park helped keep everyone happy.

Four days a week we had two that swam for an hour on swim team.  This was Ellie's first year and she did amazing.  She has turned into quite the swimmer. I never got a picture of Luke.  Probably because he drug out of bed minutes before he jumped in the water.  It was a good way to wake up.

Leah, Sam, and DonLi also ran in a running league two mornings a week.  They would all ride their bikes so I didn't have to do the usual drop off and pick up.  Some mornings it would be up close to 90 degrees when they were running.  One day Sam told Leah he was leaving before it was over.  It must have been bad because Leah just followed him home without complaint of leaving early and not finishing and of course DonLi was happy to join them.

We live less than an hour away from this beauty.  Scott will load his hikers up and go hiking for the day.  They have done some pretty long hard climbs.  I am happy to stay back with the little less adventurers and look at the wonderful pictures when they return.

This picture in the snow was taken in June.  Crazy huh?

Sparky smiling for the camera.

Game nights.

Fun time with cousins in Texas.

Joel had the great opportunity to serve God using a talent that God blessed him with.  He traveled with a team to Pisek, Czech Republic and spent 12 days leading basketball camp and getting to play some ball with the local teams.  I think it made a huge impact on his life.  We were so proud of him.

I think one of the most exciting things that happened this summer was Jasmine finally had her birthday.  She joined our family last August right after her birthday.  She had to wait for every person in our family to have a birthday.  She was a little excited when hers finally came.  She is now our big 6 year old.

The final shabang of the summer was a trip to Ruidoso, NM.  That is where Scott's dad spends most of his summers.  This summer he got sick and had to go home.  He is doing much better but not up to traveling back to see us.  Scott's brother, Mike and his wife, Jan came to fill in for Popo.  We had a wonderful time with them.  The kids ate up all of their attention.  We really missed Popo like crazy but thanks to Mike and Jan we had an amazing time.

The highlight of the trip was driving the golf cart around.  They all had fun with that.

We really enjoyed the beauty of White Sands.   There isn't any better place for photos and sledding.

We all love you Mike and Jan.  You helped us make some great memories.

And here we are.  The crazy couple that still believes that God is a wonderful, great God.  We will follow Him to the ends of the earth.  We feel blessed beyond measure and so, so thankful for His amazing grace.  God truly loves each of us and has a beautiful plan for our lives.  He rescues the broken hearted and places the lonely in families.  He used two normal people to gather our children up and love them with all we have.  Please, please pray for those who don't yet have someone to love them and give them hope.  Let me know if you would like to give a child a chance at life.  As we wind down the last couple of weeks until school starts my goal is to savor the last few moments of us being all together.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And She is a Smith!!!!

We have waited 10 long months to be able to say those words.  Meet precious Jasmine.  The saying that "Good things come to those who least expect it" applies to us.  Last August, only being home from China adopting Katy for 4 months, we offered to be a respite family for her.  She was adopted from China in Nov. 2010.  Only one month before we traveled to bring Sam home.  I knew her family. As a matter of fact I saw her first photo that they had of her.  I was very excited because out of all the orphanage she could have been in it was Sam's and Katy's.  I helped celebrate her arrival and encouraged the family before they left for China.  One of Jasmines toys that she played with on the day they got her was a toy I had given to them.  After their return I was so excited to meet her and see the family.  Jasmine struggled quite a bit in her months home with her family.  Lots of tears and sadness for her and hard, hard days for the family.  When we said yes to bring her into our home I was so hoping we could be a place where Jasmine truly could let go of her sadness that she had held onto since being adopted and really her whole life.  Now many are quick to judge a family that can just hand over their child for a few weeks much less what has turned into a lifetime but I think we are thinking in human terms and not God's terms.  God had a different plan than what that family or our family could see.  Her first family was the family that stepped out in faith and brought her home and gave her the first taste of a family.  They loved her as much as Jasmine would allow them to and they had all of her medical needs attended to as well as teaching her so many new things.  Even with all of that Jasmine was unsettled.  She came to our family and miracles started happening in Jasmines life.  Having 3 Chinese girls just like her was huge for her.  She slept in the same room with them all which provided much comfort and allowed her to be able to sleep through the nights which she was rarely able to do.  She had several weeks of tears and tantrums and who wouldn't.  She slowly settled in and was able to relax and truly find some peace.  After a few weeks in our home the family decided it would be better for her to be in another family and they prayed it would  be us.  I tell you that out of all our adoptions we really struggled with saying yes to this.  Looking back over 10 months I wonder what that was all about.  She is the spark in our lives.  None of us had any idea how fun it would be to have a 5 yr old running around again.  Everyone has loved her from the beginning.  Right at first the kids would randomly ask if Jasmine was going home the next day.  They feared I would say yes.  When I said "no" they would cheer.  Joel, told us many times that she needed to stay with us.  As I look back over the yr I see a beautiful handprint of God right in the middle of it.  We can't imagine life without Jasmine.   She is beautiful, smart, funny, loving, gentle and very brave.  I just smile in happiness and the special gift God just laid at our feet and there was nothing we had to do but accept it.  Sounds a lot like the gift of salvation that God also lays right in front of us.  There is nothing we have to do but accept it either and when we do our lives will never be the same.  A lot like Jasmine.  Our lives will never be the same again.  She has left her mark on our hearts and she is now Jasmine Janelle Smith.  Janelle is Scott's mom's name that she would have been so proud to have shared with such a sweet little girl.