Ringing in a New Year!

Happy New Year! Today, we ring in 2017, it’s John’s brother’s birthday, and we celebrate Mia being home for 8 months! Wow!

Since the last update, we have experienced quite a lot, so I will try to summarize here.

At the beginning of November, we were able to have a short visit with Memaw, John’s mom for a weekend. John and I were both busy with other activities, and I know the kids LOVED having her here, even if it was brief.

This was the first year to begin holiday traditions, so Operation Christmas Child was the first one we do each season. The boys picked out gifts for boys their own ages, and Mia picked out for a girl her age. It was fun to go to the Dollar Tree and help them each pick out their treasures. I pray this act of giving continues and they all grow to understand how we give because of how much has been given to us.

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Mia’s first Thanksgiving was spent with my cousin, April, and her family in St. Louis, Missouri. We had a great time cooking, relaxing, and letting the kiddos play together for a few days. Because April and I have always been close, we hope our children will also enjoy a close relationship with one another. They are all exactly one year apart (8, 7, 5, 4, 3, and 2). We took them for a special adventure day at City Museum while we were there.

December 1st brought Mia’s six-month visit to Cincinnati Children’s. She had to get labs and an ultrasound and see her specialist there. It was a long day, but all good reports and we don’t have to travel up there again for another year. Praise the Lord! Right before leaving, Mia was able to meet Cinderella, who was there visiting children that day. She wasn’t sure at first, but she LOVED Cinderella’s “parkly” dress! Finally, she let us get a picture if I was holding her. We are so incredibly grateful to have such wonderful doctors within a driveable distance. While I am glad we don’t have to drive to Cincinnati regularly, it is a blessing to have some of the best specialists there to help monitor our little princess. The bottom line is that we had a great day, and Mia is doing very very well.

The second weekend of December, we went to Charlotte, North Carolina, as John’s brother, Nate, graduated as a detention officer–a job and schooling he had been working towards most of this year. All of us are very proud of his work and were honored to be there. The kids got to spend time with their cousins, which of course, they enjoyed most!

The month of December was filled with Christmas decorating, cookie baking, special outfits, our first family-of-five Christmas card, Christmas plays, lots of firsts, and pure JOY.

Mia continued to be the shining star of the social media world with her “training” videos with Momma, and we have just had a blast. I love that she gets so into workouts and jumping around, simply enjoying life, like any 3-year-old does! In December, there was a kind of “talent” skit show at church, and our family created a Christmas workout with audience participation. I think everyone enjoyed it!

Christmas Day in our house came on December 23rd. We did this so we could have a free day to truly enjoy the kids and not have to rush anywhere else. Mia loved opening her gifts, of course, and received several “Sofia the First” things, among other toys.

It’s amazing to see how much has changed in a year. One year ago, we were just wishing for the day we would hold her in our arms. Now, she is ours forever! The second picture was from the Christmas Eve service at Life Point Church in Portsmouth. What a wonderful night it was!

Christmas Day, we traveled up to Pennsylvania, to John’s parents’ house. We stayed there for several days. Sunday, we spent at my Aunt and Uncle’s house just across the border in Ohio, and again, the kids were able to visit with cousins and they all had a wonderful time.

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The next day, we had a relaxing Christmas with Memaw and Grandad. The kids opened gifts, we had traditional Christmas brunch, and then enjoyed a peaceful day together. That night, we went out to dinner together. These days are so precious! When you live far from family, every moment together is a blessing!

Before returning home, we celebrated my Aunt Cindy with a surprise party for her birthday. I can’t tell you how much my kiddos love Aunt Cindy! She is the one who has always been there for me, and I know she always will. It’s a special relationship I can’t fully explain. But, somehow, my kids get it, and ask to go to her house often. On our way home, we stopped and saw John’s Grandad Harvey. Going to his house is a fun blast from the past for John, as the kids play with the old toys like they are the newest things! It gives Grandad such joy to watch them play, and makes my heart so happy.

Over this month, I was able to be in touch with a couple of other adopted moms who are getting their kiddos from the same orphanage in Luoning, Henan, China. What a blessing to have that connection and share our story! In return, we have also received a few more pictures of Mia’s past. A few recent ones, and then these special glimpses into 11-month-old Mia!! Thank you, LORD!

Today, we celebrate 8 months HOME. Amazing, isn’t it? The updates may be more infrequent, but that is because we are busy just living life! I just beg of you, if you have EVER considered adoption, it is truly a blessing from God. I can’t explain it, but we BELONG together. Our daughter may not look like us, but she is definitely ours. Her feisty attitude and angel-sweet grin can make you exasperated and giggle all at the same time. Yes, we took a “risk” in adopting a child with “special needs,” but look at her! You would never know! Don’t fear the unknown. If you hear God calling you, step out in FAITH. There are so many children wearing labels when they just need to be clothed in LOVE. If we had the money to do it again, I would in a heartbeat. God knows what is best for us right now, and so we are enjoying each moment with our party of five.

Many blessings to our family and friends in 2017. Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say, “rejoice!”

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