Friday, December 26, 2014

It's been a while

We said goodbye to our home of 14 years in Denver.  We built this house and planted every tree and bush.  The memories here were too many to count.  It was a great house that we really thought might be the house we would live in for the rest of our lives.  We started out with 3 children and added 8 more while living here.  The neighbors were the best and the friends around us were like family.  What might cause us to ever consider leaving this beautiful place that we called home?  It was all in God's plan.  It may have felt a little uncomfortable in how it all played out but it is what we needed to make a change as big as this one had to be.  After returning from China we sold our house within two weeks and packed the family up in a large moving truck and 2 cars and we headed to Tyler, Texas.  A wonderful job was waiting on Scott at Trinity Mother Frances.  We saw God's hand all over everything.  He was mindful of us and very patient as we sorted through all of the losses we were going to have and the changes that were ahead of us.  Our children never complained.  With heavy hearts we saw Josh off to Korea for a few months and left Joel at CSU for his Freshman year of college.......but with extremely happy hearts we were greeted by Scott's beautiful family who were overjoyed to have us move right into their town.  Well, actually we moved right into their houses for a month before we closed on our new home.  The girls lived at Scott's brother's house and Scott, Wendi, and the boys lived with Popo, Scott's dad.   The kids started at new schools and adjusted really quickly.  Oh yes, have I mentioned our newest addition, Levi, who joined our family in the most chaotic time in our families lives.  He came to us bravely and hasn't missed a beat.  He has done amazingly well and seems to really love his family, and we all love  him so much.  He is gentle and kind.  Playful and funny.  Perfect for a Smith.

After a month we were able to move into our new home that is quite a bit larger than our old home.  We quickly filled it up and it became home to us.  The pool in the back is just beautiful.  We only had a few warm days after moving in for the kids to swim so we will be looking forward to warmer weather for many fun times at the pool.  We are so, so thankful that we have the much needed space for a large family in such a beautiful place.  Near so many people that we love so much.  Feeling Blessed doesn't really describe what we have been feeling over the past few months.

We hosted Scott's whole family for Thanksgiving and it was great.  We don't pass up many chances to gather together and spend hours talking and laughing.  

There is a small lake across the street that was totally beautiful with fall colors.  I can't wait until next year to see it again.  

Levi, being the newest Smith member, placed the angel on the tree.  He loved every minute of the attention.  It was fun decorating some place new and different to celebrate our Saviors birth.

During the last few months we celebrated many Gotcha Days.
Ellie, Jasmine, Sam and DonLi.  What special precious times those days were.  Sam told Scott after a fun day a Six Flags recently that it was his 4th best day.  When asked what his first day best day was  he replied, "The day I got my family".  Whew, that is so beautiful.  

Did I mention that we have 5 pre teens in our family now.  Yep, it gets interesting sometimes.  They seem to like to take pictures of themselves looking all cool or something.

Josh returned from Korea in Oct and we have loved having him home with us.  He has been a huge help and has been so good for all of the kids.  He will return to Denver in January and will be missed so much.  I think by me the most.

This is after one of the many medical evaluations that Levi has already had.  He enjoys the one on one time even if it is to see the Dr.  We will have many more to come

There are many things we miss like crazy.  The snow and cold days, the beautiful mountains, the super special friends, Scott's co workers that meant the world to him, wonderful schools and teachers, and our old familiar house.  But God has provided new journeys for us all.  New friends, a great job for Scott with amazing co workers, amazing wooded forests around us, warmer weather, smaller town, family, and reconnecting with our old friends from seasons past.  Both Scott and I have a college room mate that live here.  We have more than usual to be thankful for this Christmas.  We look forward to seeing what God is going to do in our lives.  God Bless each and every one of you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's great to be an American....and Goodbye to Guangzhou

We have our travel visa for Levi, so we are all set to head back to the States tomorrow!
It's been a great trip and we are so happy to have our family complete with our newest son.  He's an amazing young man who is full of courage, curiosity, fun and love.

The day we went to the U.S. Consulate, because we are American citizens, we queued in a different line than foreigners (Chinese citizens) seeking U.S. visas.   I'll attach a photo of the long line people stood in to apply.  I heard there were at least 1,000 applicants per day, every day...M-F.   And, only about 1/3 of those who apply are granted visas.  En route to China, I met a Chinese man who's pregnant wife was in Los Angeles with friends waiting to deliver his first child....a girl.   Why? I ask.  "So she can be an American," he says with broken English.  "If she is an American citizen, she can become anything she wants."

After spending 2 weeks in China -- a wonderful country with very kind people, I did get to see what the absence of infrastructure (heat, water, sanitation, etc.) can mean for those living in this country.   Though, honestly, the thought did cross my mind...."have you seen what's been happening in America lately?"  While it may not be the place it use to be, it certainly can be the place where freedom rings.  Is it always?  No.  Not for many...but the ideals are right and the hope is, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...the freedom to worship without government persecution (though there are many instances where the Government's support of religious institutions has faded,) we can still worship and congregate freely.

I was encouraged by other's view of America and it reinvigorated my view and perspective of America and our responsibility to keep our country great, kind and just.

                                             Line queueing for U.S. visa application.

                                             Our wonderful guide while in China, Jocelyn

                                             Watching a late night movie on the laptop

                                 Levi's choice for breakfast.  (Honey, I don't think a poptart or bowl of cereal is going to cut it.)
                                                        Fun in the lobby.
                                           All of our travel group & kids with new families!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Great days with my boys...

What a privilege it has been to have been able to spend the last few days with two of the sweetest young men I know.  If you know DonLi, then you know just hangin' out with him makes you a better person.  He has the most optimistic outlook on life you have ever seen and he sees the best in things and people.  Helpful, kind, courteous, thoughtful all with a servant's heart are just a few words that come to mind when I think of him.   And, it looks like Levi is going to be a lot like him.  They laugh together watching movies, wrestle around the bed having pillow fights and play games together.  They are quickly becoming best friends.  We also discovered a McDonald's within a few steps of us and on the ground floor they have a special window just for ice cream treats....we've treated ourselves to a sundae or ice cream float each afternoon.
Today we went to the park and drove the motor boat again and this evening our entire adoption group (about 8 other families) went on the Pearl River boat cruise.  The Pearl River is the 3rd largest river in China and it goes to the sea, so it is very important for commerce in the city of Guangzhou.  We floated right by the 3rd tallest structure in the world.  It has multicolored LED lights that change in neat patterns.  It was a wonderful cruise and the boys had a great time (and their dad did too!)  We apply for our Visa tomorrow, then 2 more days until we start our travel home!
Thank you everyone for your prayers.