Monday, November 19, 2007

Chatty Girls Reunion in Florida

This past weekend was a memorable weekend for two of the Minot girls and all I can say is WOW WOW WOW! Emily and I traveled to Disney where we joined 8 of our "chatty sisters" for a reunion of "The Chatty Girls". It was just a little over a year ago that a group of women who were awaiting the blessing of receiving their Chinese daughters connected via an online group. We chatted our way through all of the different waiting periods of the adoption process and during that time grew to know and love each other like sisters. Our chatting has continued as we have each returned from China with our daughters and the bonds that we have have grown deeper through time and we love and support each other through the mountains and valleys of being wives and mothers. What a treat it was for me and Emily to finally meet these incredible women and their daughters whom until this weekend I only knew through the computer. As we shared time throughout the weekend I was in awe of just how precious we are to the Lord. He loves us so much that He would so orchestrate not only the beautiful gift of a child through adoption but in the process grant the added blessing of incredible friends. I delighted in each moment spent with "my chatty girlfriends" and seeing Emily enjoy other little girls who have a common beginning to their life was absolutely beautiful.

We began our weekend at the home of one of the chatty girls where Emily was somewhat apprehensive of all the new faces. Her clingliness continued throughout the weekend but she as well as all of the other little girls did amazingly well for being in an over-stimulating environment, on the go constantly and very little sleep. Not to mention lots of aunties loving on them constantly. By the end of the weekend she had relaxed somewhat and enjoyed a final afternoon of tossing acorns in a park fountain with a new friend from North Carolina. One of the highlights of the weekend was sharing dinner with all of the girls and one dad in Cinderella's castle. What a joy it was to see some of the girls one of which included my Emily bask in the Disney magic of the Cinderella story as she met Cinderella along with a couple of mice and the fairy godmother. Emily was eager to engage the characters and was quite the princess all dolled up in her Snow White costume. Despite our frequent trips to Disney, I continue to have new and exciting experiences as I see the parks through the eyes of my children and what a joy it was to experience it through the eyes of 8 precious little girls who just one year ago were a world away without the knowledge of these families who love and adore them. It was such a treat to see how unique each little girl is and how perfect she was for the family with whom God created her to be. There were many similarities between the girls yet each had a specialness that made them so beautiful.

I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving that I have been blessed with these wonderful women. My life is richer simply because I know them. I am confident that the relationship with these women and their daughters will follow me ALL the days of my life.

And now we enter into a season of Thanksgiving I am filled with excitment. I just LOVE Thanksgiving. I find that Thanksgiving has not fallen victim to the commercialism that has taken over other holidays and for that reason I love to soak up the beauty of the holiday. We will be spending a few days at the beach and then have the pleasure of a visit from my best friend and her husband. I can't wait for Emily to experience an American Thanksgiving for the first time. I wish for you a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope that you are surrounded by all those special people who make your holiday's special.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

October 31

October 31 marked the 4 year anniversary of the day that our Connor made his journey to Heaven. Since we lost him, that day as well as his birthday have always been very difficult for our family. As the day approached this year I found myself at a different place emotionally than I had been in previous years. My sadness wasn't as heavy and I found that my mind did not dwell continually on what I had experienced on that day 4 years ago. I recalled shortly after Connor died many people reassuring us that the Lord would heal our hurts in time if we would just remain close to Him. The healing process was something that I did not rush. I simply grieved for my precious son while walking each day clinging to the promises of my Lord and knowing that one day I would have the joy of seeing Connor again. Healing has come in many different ways over these 4 years and although I still miss Connor every single day I have found that the inner joy that was so far removed from my life for many years after he died has been restored. It is a joy that I truly believe in my heart that Connor would want. Connor possessed a love and a joy that was beyond words. I could never begin to adequately describe how beautiful he was and what a treasure he was to me and to experience those emotions that were so much a part of him makes the joy so much sweeter.
Our family decided to mark this anniversary with a trip to Disney. We traveled to Animal Kingdom Lodge and spent two nights. It truly was a nice get-away and Cody, Grace and Emily absolutely loved the experience of staying in a hotel where they were able to see giraffes, zebras, wart hogs and many other African animals right outside our hotel room. We spent the day at Animal Kingdom where we enjoyed more animal sightings with Emily loving every minute. We were amazed at how much she loved the animals and how there was no fear. We ate dinner one night at China in Epcot and Emily ate more food than we've seen her eat in a long time. Seems that she hasn't lost her love for her homeland food. Watching and enjoying Emily during this time reminded me of the significance of Emily's presence in our family. The restoration of joy is something that has been encouraged through our receiving her into our family. Seeing life new and afresh through her eyes has brought about so much happiness and somehow I am confident that her big brother is viewing from Heaven with a smile. Overall it was a pleasant mid-week excursion as we remembered our beautiful son and brother.
Thanks to so many of you who called and wrote to us. Each of your notes, emails and phone messages and hugs were precious and I am so touched that so many of you continue to remember our family each year at this time. Your thoughtfulness truly helps us through this day and I am grateful to you for thinking of us and of Connor. The Lord has used so many of you to help us heal and I thank you for allowing yourself to be used by Him in our lives. Also, for all of the birthday wishes...many thanks. Again, I am touched that so many of you remembered my birthday. Despite what a difficult day October 31 is, it is still my birthday and I so much appreciate the wishes. We will officially celebrate as a family next weekend but I was delighted to receive the emails and phone calls with well-wishes. I share my birthday with my best friend, Lissa and want to post a special Happy Birthday wish to her as well as a huge hug from all of us.
I will try to post a few pictures of our Disney Trip soon.

Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

On Tuesday, October 30 as we were leaving for 2 days at Disney we dropped by a local pumpkin patch to take our annual pictures. Florida pumpkin patches are not exactly like those in other areas which have more of a "farm type atmosphere". Most of our "patches" are offered by churches but still give us Florida residents a place to purchase pumpkins and other fall decorations as well as spots to pretend we are in a real pumpkin patch and take photos. Not sure whether we would get our picture taken or not due to Tropical Storm Noel we dressed the girls in their pumpkin dress and treked through the mud at the nearest church parking lot to the best looking crate of pumpkins for the picture. It was windy and rainy but we manage to snap a few shots. Cody wasn't very enthusastic about taking a picture so we settled for just the girls. I really love these pictures because they really remind me of my love of Fall. I simply enjoy everything about this season and always have. Of course in Florida it really never feels like Fall but nevertheless I still love the way the sun sets in the sky and even in Florida we do get an ocassional briskness that lets me know that there has been a change of season. I truly believe that God gives us a change of weather to refresh our spirits through the newness of a season and I hope you all are enjoying the beauty of God's refreshment of Autumn.