Photos Taken Today

So why don't I look like this when I first get up?

Doing our Redneck roots proud!

Well, mom has the camera out, why not look gorgeous?

Sad things happen even on the best of days!


Meeting Ava

You might think it would take something truly remarkable to cause me to break my blog silence, and you would be correct!

You see this little sweetheart? I first met her when she was just under 1 year old. She wasn't overly happy to meet any of us on the Superkids team, if I remember correctly! I met her two more times in that orphanage in Changsha, China as time moved on.

Just over a year ago I followed along on Facebook as she met her family and continued to love each update as she has adjusted to life in a family.

Last week her family was traveling through our area and stopped here overnight. Her mom is a wonderful lady who is a strong advocate for all of our little Superkids, so I loved meet her! The rest of the family is just as sweet as can be and we enjoyed an evening of adults visiting while the children played outside.

Words fail me in attempting o relate my feelings as I watched Ava running around in our yard chasing fireflies with my kids. Somehow them sharing this simple summertime activity was so iconic to me. How many generations of children have experienced this carefree activity? And here they were, our children, their children, some from orphanages, some not, laughing and sharing this joy of the darkening summertime evening together.

Casper happened to be Ava's favorite. She called him Captain and had him wrapped around her little finger in no time! "Captain, can you take me to the bouncy house (trampoline)? "Captain, you are my best friend!" It's no wonder he adored her!

The time spent with Ava and her family is pretty much at the top of my favorite things that happened this summer!


Vacation and Oasis Tour Time!

Tomorrow morning the children and I plan to leave bright and early to drive to Texas. Since I can't drive right now we will be relying on Douglas to do all of the driving. We are hoping to arrive at my parents' house by Sunday evening, but if that is pushing it we may end up getting a hotel Sunday night and finishing the trip Monday morning.

I'm planning to spend a few days there before flying up to Baltimore to meet Keith so that I can accompany him on the Oasis Chorale summer tour. We will be traveling from Virginia to South Carolina this time. You can see our calendar of events here. If you are along the route holler and maybe we can meet! I would love to see any and all of you at one of the concerts!

The children will be staying in Texas while we are on the tour. They are pretty excited about that. I wonder if they will be excited when they are hauling hay in 100+ temperatures? They always have such a wonderful time there, so I'm not worried.

I have to admit that all of this looks pretty overwhelming to me in my current physical condition. We are trying to build as much cushion and time to relax into the schedule as we can, but your prayers are much appreciated.


Decisions, Decisions

We are making some big decisions around here. Most of them relate in one way or another to my health issues because they have become a factor that must be considered. We are making concrete steps to make things work better for all of us.

Some of these things are small and it means a mere minor adjustment in life, like working around the issue of me not being able to drive right now. So grocery shopping happens in the evenings or on Saturday. Other shopping is done online as much as possible. You know, things like that.

Other decisions are complex, like deciding that we need to send our children to school and looking for a school that meets our children's needs and our family values. Thankfully there are good options in our area and we feel comfortable with enrolling our children in a nearby Christian school. I still feel a little like I'm going to cry when I think of them not being here during the day next year, but we know that managing stress and busyness is important for me, so it is the best decision for now.

We also decided to try a new medication in spite of its prohibitive cost and, though it is too soon to tell for sure, it seems to be giving me more relief from pain than anything else has. I'm very hopeful!

I try to spend some time outside each day. I take a short walk and then lie in my chair and look at the sky and listen to the breeze blowing through the trees. It is so relaxing and beautiful.

We recently started attending a different church. It was a difficult decision, but we have been attending for a little while now and feel comfortable there.

One thing remains a constant. God is still good. Through the changes and the decisions, He is there, and He is good.


Birthday, New Car, and Picnic

Some exciting things going on around here!

Douglas turned 17 and bought a car. Needless to say he's pretty pleased! He also started a new job recently. He is working for Clean Books. They provide book keeping support for companies. He is training right now. It is a good job and I'm excited that it worked out for him.

 On Saturday the girls and I, along with my friend, Liz, and her daughter, went to New York City to attend a picnic hosted by the Kazakhstan Embassy. This is an annual event and Annika loves to go! The whole family couldn't make it this year, so I was very thankful when Liz said she could go. It was great day, but it was so very taxing physically! So taxing that I came home and started looking for a wheelchair or electric scooter!

Two Kazakh cuties at the picnic

My doctor recently told me I can't drive until I get on an effective treatment. This really makes a lot of things difficult. I can understand why he put this restriction on me, but it sure is hard to work around!

My willing chauffeur 

I am planning to be the director of our local Classical Conversations homeschool group that meets in Annville this year. So I need to attend a practicum for training Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. If anyone wants more information about Classical Conversations please contact me!

I have another appointment with my rhuematologist tomorrow. I have had an x-ray, a bone scan, and a lot of bloodwork done since I was there 2 weeks ago. I'm hoping some answers showed up in some of this testing! It is difficult, because I get my hopes up before a visit like this and then I get extremely nervous when I go. That makes all of my symptoms so much worse! Then I'm crushed when there are no answers. I'm really trying to tell myself to have no expectations, but it is impossible. So I'm praying for peace tomorrow regardless of what the test do or don't show.

I've been through some difficult times physically in my life, but I think this last month has been the most difficult I've ever experienced. The pain is so relentless! Mostly, I think, because of coming off of some medications I've been on for a long time without really replacing them with effective medications since we are uncertain of what we are treating.

We are otherwise doing well, thankful. The children are healthy and happy. They are enjoying the warm weather and time outside. They are spending hours on the trampoline with the water hose right now! (We have a safety net, don't worry!) They constant squealing and laughing from outside makes me so happy!


Where To Even Begin?

I went to China and then pretty much dropped off the face of the earth as far as blog land is concerned. Let me explain just a bit.

The Friday after I arrived home I went to Delaware to take pictures at a wedding. It was so fun but so exhausting just after getting home. And I really wasn't feeling well, so just extra tiring.

The next Wednesday we held the fundraising dinner for Oasis Chorale. We were very involved in the planning, so it was a l-o-n-g day. But it was a fun, successful evening.

The next morning I had a lumbar puncture then we left to attend the Why Jesus? Conference in Maine. By this time I was so exhausted that I stayed at the hotel most of the time. I did go for the evening service and I was so thankful that I did! Ravi Zacharius spoke on the topic Why Jesus? and I don't remember a lot of the service, but I do remember the part where he spoke about the place of pain in a Christian's life. He used illustrations that related directly to me. He talked about the intense back pain he has experienced and also used an illustration of a women who had rheumatoid arthritis and experienced severe joint pain. He talked about how pain makes us rely on God more and the testimony of a person who lives with pain can bring so much glory to God. It was amazing!

Since then my life has been a whirl of doctor's appointments and tests. The new rhuematologist I started going to in January has really questioned the lupus diagnosis I was given a few years ago. I've had a brain MRI, which came back slightly abnormal, so we followed that with a spinal tap. The spinal tap showed no abnormalities in my spinal fluid, which is good since they were testing for things like MS and cancer. But it left us with more questions than answers!

Just this week I had an appointment with the rheumatologist on Monday. He ordered several more tests so I had X-rays done that day. Then I went to the neurologist on Wednesday, had a radioactive bone scan yesterday, and need to get bloodwork done tomorrow or Monday. I'm very hopeful that all of this is going to give us a diagnosis so that we can figure out a treatment plan and hopefully I can begin to feel functional again!

Oh yeah, And I'm not allowed drive per doctor's orders right now. So someone has to take me everywhere I go!

Will you please pray with me that we will have answers to my health issues very soon?


Happy Birthday, Annika!

Happy birthday, beautiful girl! I know you are going to have so much fun today! Daddy has some really great stuff planned and I can't wait to hear you tell me all about it when we talk tonight.

In Kazakhstan 1 year old

I hope you love your gift! Do you see what I mean that it is a gift that you will get several times? Tell Daddy that I need pictures and videos of you opening it.

Age 5

Did you get a special breakfast today? I think I know what you ordered! (That is an easy one to guess, isn't it?)

I can't believe you are 9! I love watching you grow and mature into an independent, confident, polite girl. You have grown up so much in the last year and I can't wait to see what this year brings!

Almost 7

Sweet girl, I want you to know and never forget how thankful I am that I get to be your mommy! I know that your Kazakhstan mommy is probably thinking about you today and your mommy (me) who is in China is thinking about you today. You have family in Pennsylvania and in Texas who all love you. You are so loved all the way around the world!

Almost 9

Lots and lots of kisses and hugs,
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