happy gotcha day, my love

it's been a busy few weeks around here. lots of fun things happening and new jobs and lots of regular old typical days...the kind that summer is supposed to include with popsicles and last minuet play dates and lazy mornings.

today was another typical day...except it's also a special day. it's emery's Gotcha Day, marking 2 years together. i can't quite wrap my head around all that has happened in the past two years, but honestly it feels like she didn't have a start date. i can't remember my first thoughts about her...my first prayers...they have been there as long as i can remember. i think it was around the time that foster was born, 7 years ago, that i started dreaming of my far off daughter...the one that wouldn't come from me, but would be meant for me.

we spent a long afternoon outside today, playing and swinging and finding earth worms. and it feels like any other day...thankfully.

today is not the only day that we talk about her story, because each of our stories is unique and beautiful and it would be silly to only talk about them once a year. we are making emery's favorite meal tonight...the one that we make all the time, because it's her favorite. we are making brownies and watching the kids dance to alvin and the chipmunks after dinner becasuse that's what we do every night. and we will marvel at her, just like always. we will marvel at the tiny little girl we met 2 years ago who has stolen our hearts in the best of ways and who we cherish and delight in because of who she is, not just because we adopted her.
she is magnificent because that's how her Creator intended her to be and i'm so very thankful to have the honor of living life with such a grand creation. 


in honor of today, a few videos from our first days together in china...


Visiting Orphans & Keeping Families Together

I am so excited to share a video with you from the amazing organization, Visiting Orphans. One of my favorite things about this team is that their missions is to not only love children but to partner with communities to prevent children from becoming orphans and help families stay together. Visiting Orphans is all about relationships...they focus on real people and strive to meet their emotional, spiritual and physical needs.

Please take a few moments to watch and perhaps be inspired to join in with this amazing ministry.

They send people to build relationships and love on children in places such as Africa, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Ukraine, Ecuador, Haiti, India and China.
Here is a quote from their website describing their work in China:
"Visiting Orphans works with government run Social Welfare Institutes (SWI) to bring love and assistance to some of those 20 million children without families. Since 2005 we have sent over 30 teams from the US to visit these SWI's. Although the SWI's do all that they can to provide the best life for the children living there, assistance and help is still needed. Our missions teams don't go in with an agenda, they go in to serve and to love. Oftentimes on our trips all you will do for hours on end is hold infants who need the love and attention they deserve or play hide-n-go-seek with a group of six year old boys. It will truly be a life-changing and unforgettable experience. "

They also have adoption fundraising opportunities...

I so love organizations who catch the vision of not only the beauty of adoption, but the importance of preventing children from loosing their birth family.


Bring Me Hope - Youth Camps in China

I'm partnering with the Bring Me Hope organization this week, who host camps in china for at risk kids. I love their passion to reach out to youth who might otherwise go un-noticed. Please take a moment to hear from one of the awesome Bring Me Hope volunteers and her experiences in China and perhaps you will feel led to be a part of this awesome organization.


"I knew that traveling to China to be part of the Bring Me Hope summer camps would change my life, but I had no idea how deeply and permanently it would wreck my heart. 

It was only five days that I spent with those three orphans, but I still remember it like yesterday.  We ate our meals together, sang the silly camps songs, hiked the Great Wall and pasted and glued our hearts out at craft time.  As they opened up and shared their stories, I felt myself coming undone from the inside out.  How do you not when a gorgeous, twelve-year-old girl tells you that she was orphaned after her parents died in a murder/suicide?!  

Shock.  Then heartbreak.  Then the tears.  

Fast forward six years.  My trips to China have continued, my new dream in life is to get to 30 years old so I can bring our own son or daughter home.  From that first week at camp, I saw what a difference five days at a summer camp could make in the lives of chinese orphans, as well as their foreign camp buddies; I never wanted to stop being a part of this mission. Bring Me Hope is dedicated to improving the lives and futures of Chinese orphans. It begins at summer camp and continues with year-round programs to meet the ongoing needs of orphans in China.
We are currently in the middle of four weeks of summer camps in five chinese cities.  A great need right now is raising the rest of the camp sponsorships to make the fourth week of camp possible.  As a sponsor, you will become part of the team that makes camp happen for the kids. Sponsorships of $125 or more will receive a phone call and letter from one of the children attending camp.

Your camp sponsorship will provide Chinese orphans with a safe place to experience healing, be assured of their value, and be given opportunities to explore fun, new things like swimming, art, music and field trips. Camp also connects orphans with people who can advocate for them year-round. 
We would love to invite you to partner with us.  Would you help make these last weeks of camp happen with a camp sponsorship?!  {You can do this on our website here}  We also hope you would consider about joining us at the 2014 camps.  It is an adventure that will change your life.  Most of all, please pray with us that these children's lives could be changed through the power of love and family."
“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” -David Platt


vacay week {obx}

we are in the outer banks this week, on vacation with clint's family.
the weather has been bizarre to say the least, storming one minuet and sunny the next. we no sooner get to the beach, and torrential rains drive us away within a matter of minuets.
but honestly, the rain hasn't kept the fun away, as we have been spending the days swimming and enjoying the hot tub in the rain.
i love that kids can make fun out of anything, and seeing them enjoying time with their cousins they haven't seen in years.

i haven't picked up my big camera in a long time. i've been devistated to find that i've reached the shutter limit and it's starting to fail to focus and really give me a hard time. it will be a while before i can afford to buy my dream camera, so i've resolved to shoot this camera into the ground...and not to care as much about it getting wet or sandy. it been well used over the years and i'm so thankful that it still helps me capture our little family.

i forgot my computer this week, so taking a picture of the back of my camera is the best i've got :)
this is one of my favorite shots from today when the uncles created a wave pool for the kids today. if only this had audio...the laughter was pure joy.


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