Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gotcha Day Anniversary

Well, I apologize for the dealy in posting but here are the pictures to commemorate our 1 year anniversary with MacKenzie. She has blessed our lives in so many ways. She is a gift and we are grateful that God saw fit to ordain us as her parents and forever family. Enjoy a quick trip through the year in the photos below.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

May 2007 Update - Kenzie's Birthday

Wow! Has it really been 5+ months since we walked into the Civil Affairs office in Hangzhou China and met our beautiful daughter? In many ways it seems like only yesterday and yet at the same time it seems as though she has been with us forever. It has been a wonderful time full of growth and testing for all of us. Will share a lot more details in our 6 month post in a few weeks. Now I wanted to take a minute to recap Kenzie's 5th birthday and very first birthday party.
Kenzie awoke on Saturday May 19th and walked into our kitchen to find that mom had just finished her Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake. It was at that moment that Kenzie said "Is my bursday?" And upon confirmation from Mom and Dad said "Oh yeah! I cited!" It was hard to get things done for the party and to feel the typical sense of urgency becuase there was no anticipation on Kenzie's part until that morning when she saw her cake. It was just a reminder of the difference between her first 4 birthdays and the ones to come.
We got a giant Strawberry Shortcake balloon and all the coordinating party accessories. She had a Strawberry Shortcake cake and a coordinating strawberry party dress. We even had some special hair bows made to match her dress. Pulled out all the stops for our little princess's first party. When the guests started arriving Kenzie's excitement hit a new level. Kenzie had a blast playing outside on a beautiful spring day with her friends. We did a foamies craft and made picture frames, then it was on to the presents and cake. Kenzie now has presents figured out and like a pro went from gift to gift and we barely saw cards to determine who the gifts were from . The highlight of the birthday party (at least for the parents) was a wonderful DVD that was created by our friend Jonathan. The DVD held video and pictures of Kenzie's first 5 months home, set to Martina McBride's "Happy Girl" and the worship song "Everlasting God". It was a teary moment for Mom to be sure.
After the guests left Kenzie took a nap and then we all went to dinner with our good friends Connie, Jonathan, & Lydia. Then it was back to the house for family presents and the special gift from Connie, Jonathan, & Lydia.
All in all it was a blessed day and as special as any "first birthday" could have been. Enjoy the pictures and please check back soon for our next update. We will be completing our first post placement report - again it's hard to believe that it has been 6 months - we are truly blessed to be able to share life with this very special little girl! Kenzie we LOVE you!!

March 2007 Update

It has been 3 months since we returned home with MacKenzie and we are continually amazed at the ease of the transition for all of us. It has been seamless for the most part. We continue to be blessed by Kenzie's addition to our family.March saw a visit to the Topeka St. Patty's Day Parade which the kids both enjoyed. We also had Nate's Spring Break and enjoyed lots of time with our dear friends the Workmans.From a health stand point Kenzie continues to do extremely well. We are looking forward to the appointments in April when the doctor will begin weaning her off of the heart medicine. That will help us to know how well her heart is really doing. From her activity level and energy we are pretty sure everything is going well. :o) She loves so much to sing and dance and jump around. She has learned how to jump off of the bottom step and is working on running. It is so much fun to watch and celebrate with her these "firsts" that we thought we had missed.Nate and Kenzie both are beginning to realize that the "honeymoon" is over. They are acting more and more like siblings. They pick on one another and argue some - they play well together too. While the picking and fussing gets frustrating at times it is a wonderful sign that all is progressing well getting back to whatever is "normal". We longed for another child for so long and were concerned that Nate would be too much older to enjoy a sibling relationship but God in his great plans knew that our daughter would be a perfect age for Nate to enjoy and relate to. When I think about it even the fussing and picking is a blessing.Next year for school Nate will enter 3rd grade and more likely than not Kenzie will start Kindergarten. We will see how it goes this summer. As we continue to adjust to life as a family of 4 we are excited to see where the next stage takes us.Just wanted to say quick hello and give you an update. There are a bunch of new pictures posted below. Have a wonderful weekend!Glen, Tammy, Nate & KenziePS: If you can't copy a picture off of this page you can visit our Yahoo! group by clicking this button and get the pictures from there. ~T

February 2007 Update

Wow!! It is hard to believe that we have been home with MacKenziefor 2 months already. So much has happened and it feels as though wehave just stepped off of some crazy carnival ride. We are enjoyingthe quite of home and the lack of doctors and nurses. As a finalloop de loop on our roller coaster I (Tammy) turned in my resignationfrom my job on Friday 2/16. It was a difficult decision on manylevels but needed for a time anyway. Both kids have reallybenefitted from my being home - and as a Mom it has been wonderful tohave this opportunity even if it is only temporary - though my hopeand prayer is that we can make it work for the long term.Kenzie and Nate are fairly typical brother and sister. When they getalong they get along and when they don't - well look out. In thatway they are typical. They love each other very much and Kenziereally misses Nate when he is at school. Nate is an awesome bigbrother and it has been fun to watch him blossom in that role. Justthis morning Kenzie wanted him to play with her and he was rightthere with the dolls and the tea set dressing cabbage patch kids andfeeding them. It was a priceless moment for me to watch.Kenzie has just come alive since her surgery. This child did notlack in personality before the surgery, and it has come out in spadesnow that she is fully oxygenated. She has the most awesome bubblylaugh that is contagious and once people hear it they keep doingthings to make her laugh. She is no longer speaking any Chinese andcan communicate with English pretty much anything she wants. We aresad that she seems to already have completely lost her Chinese.MacKenzie has become a total love bug and is big time into hugs. Shewill come up and say hug please and then give the biggest snugglyhug. Her hugs are often accompanied by a "lub ooo too". It isheavenly. She seems to be thriving in our family and we as a familywould be so incomplete without her.Who would have known just over a year ago when we started the processof adoption from China that we would have arrived home with a 4 yearold with a severe heart condition? After all we were going the non-special needs route for a daughter under 2 years old. God knewthough and he worked out each detail and as we took the steps towardthis precious child we were blessed in ways that cannot be measured.Our daughter is now on her way to being a healthy 4 1/2 year old.She is able to do the things that any other child her age can do andnow here with us we hope and pray that she too will come to know thatGod loves her even more than we do and what God did in sending hisson to the cross for her.We have posted some new pictures below.Enjoy!Love,Tammy

China Travel Log December 10-19

Well, the website we have is not accessable from China. Please go to our Yahoo! group for the remainder of our travel journal and for the pictures.

Glen & Tammy

December9, 2006 - to Nate

Hey Nate-Nate!
Hope you are having a great Saturday! We are going to Kenzie's city tomorrow night and hopefully we will meet her on Monday morning. We will call you as soon as we can. Sorry the computer hung up on us and we could not get the connection back. We love you and miss you so very much!! Have a great Sunday bud!
Love you!
Mommy & Daddy

December 9, 2006

Really all I can say about today is Wow! Talk about busy! God blessed us first of all with most wonderfully clear, fog free, smog free and cloudless day. It was amazing. There was also a cold wind that would take your ears and nose off. But Beijing was awesome today with the cold crisp weather - my (Tammy's) favorite. We started the morning with a schedule change from our published itineraries (pretty par for Glen and I - he he he). It has been decided that we will fly to our children's provinces tomorrow! Because of that we had a mega busy schedule today. Breakfast was interesting. I am so sensitive to smells and textures when it comes to food ... gonna be light eating for the next several days. I did manage to find a croissant and some potatoes for breakfast. I heard that there was a pan of chicken feet (claws and all) I'm going to try to take a picture tomorrow. Glen, who is much more adventurous, dove in and found several things to eat. Immediately after breakfast (8:30 am) we met with our group in the hotel lobby and boarded our bus. We started our day at Tiannanmen square. It was awesome to see and stand in that square - knowing its place in history. The street vendors are incredibly persistent there. Within the first few minutes I was very good an "No" with a head shake and a wave of the hand. It was necesary but I could not help but wonder about those people and their families. Was that their only income? For all of what appeared in many ways to be any city in the US - the reality of poverty in China was glaring to me. It touched me on a level no news story ever could. We then walked across the square with the wind biting at our noses and ears and headed over to the Forbidden City, named so because it was home only to the Emperor and his Emperess the public was not allowed. The Forbidden City was extremely ornate and the vibrant colors of the sections already restored were amazing. The ornate detail and intracacy of the buildings was like nothing I had seen before. Even the parts not yet restored held a splendor that captured my attention. Every single detail of the Forbidden City was thought out and done with a purpose as is so much in China. There is neither time nor space to share all of the information.After the Forbidden City (we did warm up a bit as the wind died down) we boarded the bus and headed to the Friendship Store. It was here that I was able to purchase the one thing I wanted to bring home for our daughter. The generational gift of a jadite bracelet. The jadite is a much higher quality than jade and the piece that we purchased came with a government certificate of guaranteed quality. I cried as they slipped it onto my wrist, realizing that for the next several years as I watched our daughter grow I would wear this bracelet and on her wedding day - hand it down to her. Okay - getting teary eyed again ... Because of our altered schedule we were unable to visit the Jade Factory which is where I had hoped to buy the bracelet, but our wonderful guid Rosa assured me that since we could not go to the factory the Friendship store was the best place to get the quality pieces.Here at the Friendship store we also toured the Cloisone workshop - absolutely amazing - and saw how they made those beautiful vases and pieces of art. What those people do with an ugly copper pot, some copper wire and enamel is incredible. Had we not gotten the bracelet we got I certainly would have picked up a few pieces. Considering that we have another 10 days in China though we decided to forego that purchase.We also had luch at the friendship store. Another light meal for me. There were an astounding number of dishes and one would expect that I could find something to eat. Well it ended up being some rice and a piece of watermelon. Again it was smells and textures that I could not get past. There was a pork dish (similar to sweet & sour) that I did eat as well. I did try several of the dishes which is more than I thought I would do. My drink was the best part though - Coke Light (like diet coke only better) with a pull tab! I took a picture of the pull tab since I can't remember the last time I saw one. After lunch I was still feeling hungry - big surprise. Thank goodness for the peanut butter crackers and the fruit snacks that were in my bag on the bus! Without them I would have never made it through our next event of the day.The Great Wall! Is more magnificent than I could ever begin to describe. Knowing the history and the human lives lost building it made it all the more incredible. I do want to say that the wind at the Wall gave a new meaning to cold biting wind. I wanted so badly to make it all the way to the top to tower #7. We were glad when the guides gave us an hour and 45 minutes. So we headed off. We got to tower 1 and were feeling pretty good. The street vendors were relentless there too. "One dolla, buy hat?" "Five dolla buy postcard?" Our stay at that tower was short. On we went to tower #2. Again the vendors swarmed us when we got there. No rest for the weary here. On we went to tower #3. That was a tough one. We stopped there and until I caught my breath and my legs quit burning I did not even notice the hats, carvings, scarves, postcards, pictures, magnets, and on and on that the street vendors were pushing at us. This was decision time - go back now or push on? I'm a stubborn one and so I grabbed Glen and we pushed on. This trek to the 4th tower gave a new meaning to burning muscles. We trudged up step after step after uneven step. Then we rested a bit half way to the next tower - no vendors here ... we looked up and then at eachother and Glen sang "Keep going, keep going" (that was for you Jonathan & Connie). So we did. My legs were shaking, my recently healed foot was protesting loudly, and I felt like my lungs were going to burst. It was the most incredibly steep climb I have ever made (without a rope and harness!) We were greeted at tower #4 by a camel and a guy selling medals (which could be engraved) and certificates. We almost bought those. We attempted recovery there for about 10 minutes. There were surprisingly few vedors at this point - but there were some. It was here as my legs were shaking like crazy that we made the ever so sad decision to go back down. We had plenty of time, even at our slow pace to get to the remaining 3 towers, but the lungs and legs were very clear that it was not in our best interest.And so we began our descent. This proved to be no easier ... it was almost terrifying to look nearly vertically down the stairs and know that one wrong step and you'd go down and not stop for a while ... By the time we got back to tower #1 I could hardly walk - Glen was not much better. We did not make it to the top as we had planned but we are OK with that. We did get better than half way there and it was incredible nonetheless. I am still (at 1:30am) in awe of the Wall. I do believe that our visit to the Great Wall will be the highlight of the Beijing tour for me.From the Great Wall we got back on our bus and headed to dinner. We had Beijing Duck Dinner. Hmmm - and me out of peanut butter crackers. I was praying we could go instead to the McDonalds next door. But no, down some back alley way we walked to a very authentic Chinese Restaraunt. We all got seated and out came bowl after bowl, plate after plate of food. Many were similar to what we had for lunch. Then out came the rice, plain old steamed white sticky rice - my lifesaver!! After the rice came what appeared to be slices of breaded chicken strips - yahoo! Tammy gets to eat! Oh I forgot to mention the size (or lack there of ) of the plates. They are the size of tea cup saucers. Anyway I put rice on 1/2 of my plate and a few of the chicken strips and was a happy girl. Exhausted and done for the night, but I finally got to eat more than a couple of bites that I could not choke down. Glen of course in his laid back manner was game to try pretty much everything. He even ate the duck and the sauces and the really spicy stuff - CRAZY! We got back to our hotel at 8pm completely exhausted. Our guide got our room changed to one that has internet access, so I am catching up our posts and then going to bed! Tomorrow we have the International Church service, the Summer Palace, the pearl factory and then we fly to Hangzhou. We may actually get Kenzie Monday morning instead of Monday afternoon. Oh I hope, I hope! Please keep us in your prayers and our beautiful daughter too. We are praying that her transition to us won't be too traumatic. We love and miss everyone!
Glen & Tammy

December 7 & 8, 2006 - to Nate

Hey buddy! We hope that your Christmas program went awesome! We cannot wait to get home so that we can see the video. We had a very long flight here to China and are very tired. We will call you soon. We love you all the way from China and back and we are counting the days until we can come home and give you tons of hugs!
Love you Bud!
Mommy & Daddy

December 8 & 9

Wow! Where to start ... first of all we did make it to Beijing - FINALLY. We left home at 4:20am and upon our arrival at the KC airport found that we were being re-routed because the flight we were supposed to catch to Newark was delayed and we were going to miss our Beijing connection. After 30 minutes of "issues" trying to rebook our tickets we were finally re-routed to Houston then on to Tokyo and finally to Beijing. No big deal. Well we get to Houston and they tell us that the flight going to Tokyo has been delayed 1 hour and 15 minutes. We only had a layover of an hour and a half in Tokyo. They are telling us that if we miss the flight to Beijing in Tokyo they will put us up in a hotel etc. Any other time a night in Tokyo would sound fun. Thursday though I was starting to panic that we might miss the Beijing portion of this trip. Now we are 0 for 2 flights. The bright side of this situation is we met up with another couple in our travel group Keri and James Martin. It was fun being able to spend time with them. The Houston to Tokyo flight finaly takes off and we have an ETA into Tokyo for 20 minutes before our Beijing flight leaves. After a VERY long 14.5 hours we arrive in Tokyo and are doing serious speed walking through the airport. We get to the gate only to be told - yep the flight going to Beijing was not going to get out and they had to route us on a different airline. We are now 0 for 3 flights. They get us re-routed on Japan Airlines and we meet up with Keri and James again. The flight from Tokyo to Beijing was only 4 hours, but seemed like an eternity. They served dinner and asked if we wanted Japanese or Western style. I (Tammy) being not at all adventurous with food chose western. Ended up eating only the steamed rice. There was potato salad with fish type stuff next to it and then the chicken was cooked with shrimp and the salad was - well odd ... By this time I was really hungry - thank goodness for good ol peanut butter crackers. ;o)We finally got to our hotel about 11:30pm (instead of the original 3:15pm). We got our computer set up and - no internet access. I wanted to cry. Not only could we not post, but neither could we call anyone because we are calling from our computer. After I recovered and began to think again we decided to just call it a night and go to bed. We were exhausted!! In our hotel we were greeted by a beautiful boquet of flowers from our guides and a run down of today's events. Then we tumbled into bed and were surprised to find that our bed was little more than a low diningroom table with a table cloth, pillows and comforter. I have never slept on such a hard bed before. Tired as we were it did not matter. We laid down and in short order were sound asleep.So the travels were definitely an adventure. We will certainly not forget this trip to Beijing. We have a few pictures from the travel side of things. The post for Day 2 (12/9/06) covers our antics for today! We are so close to our daughter! I so cannot wait to see her. See pictures at our Yahoo! group

Glen & Tammy

December 4, 2006

It is so exciting to realize that with just 3 more sleeps and a wake up we will be on a plane headed to Beijing. One week from today our precious MacKenzie will be in our arms forever more. We are very busy packing and sorting and repacking these next couple of days. Rather than the end of our adoption journey, this trip to China is the beginning of the next chapter of our family's story. God has blessed us in so many ways through this adoption. We have been stretched and grown in so many areas. With each potential road block God has shown us an alternate path and provided everything for us. Now we are counting down the days until gotcha. MacKenzie will be in our arms less than a week from today. It is an overwhelming thought. She will be home for Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Cannot think of a better Christmas gift - not unlike December 19, 1998 when our son was born. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!
Love and blessings to you all!

November 21, 2006

Flights are booked and everything. We are definitely leaving on December 7th and coming home to Kansas on December 20th. Wow, what anamazing 24 hours! I am so overwhelmed by how much has happened and how real the whole process has become - overnight! Thanks foreveryone's prayers. We have much to do in the next 14 days . . .Take care!


WE have TA!!!! November20, 2006

With humble and greatful hearts we announce that we have our TA!! Weare tentatively scheduled to leave for China on 12/7. We will beholding Mackenzie in our arms 3 weeks from today!! I get chills justthinking about it. Thank you for all of the prayers that have been sent up on our behalf! We will keep you all posted on our progress and our confirmed itinerary.



November 16, 2006

Well a disappointing week has now come to an end. No news regarding atravel approval yet. We were hoping to spend Thanksgiving in China,but it does not look that that will be the case. We will certainlypost as soon as we hear something. If I don't post again before have a wonderful Turkey Day!



November 7, 2006

Pictures are posted! It was so much fun. I cannot wait to see her face when she sees it for the first time. Still praying for our TA to come very soon.

October30, 2006

Well Kenzie - it is the morning of Halloween (at least in China where you are) and you are probably at school right now. Daddy and your big brother carved pumpkins tonight. They had a lot of fun and your brother is looking forward to tomorrow night when we will go to the trunk-or-treat at our church. There will be lots of cars with their trunks decorated and full of candy. There will be carnival games and lots of yommy food too. Once we are all good and cold and full of candy we will end the night with a fun concert. Nate is really excited for tomorrow night as are Mommy and Daddy.You don't know it yet sweetie, but Mommy and Daddy are planning to come and get you in just 17 days. We have been told to plan on traveling to China on 11/16. Mommy and Daddy are praying it happens that way. We are so ready to come and get you. We are missing you so very much every day. I find myself at many times every day wondering what you are doing at that given moment. In those times I do the one thing I can for you right now. I pray. I pray you are healthy and that your heart is doing well. We have been blessed to get some information from your doctor which put Mommy's heart a little more at ease. I just want to bring you home and get your heart fixed.Oh, little one, we have your suitcases packed and most of what we need for our trip has been purchased and is sitting in bags just waiting to be put in our suitcases. Sweetheart, we are checking into options for a care package. We want for you to get some pictures of us and to have a few days anyway to begin processing the idea of a mommy and daddy. We love you so much and cannot wait for November 20 which is the day we hope we will get to see you in person for the first time and give you the hugs and kisses we have been saving up for you.There are so very many of our family and friends praying that we would get our TA in time to depart with the 11/16 group. We are greatful for all of their prayers and support. These same people are so eager to meet you too. As we approach these holidays it is hard to believe that only 11 months ago we began this journey and now we are only weeks (maybe even days) from holding you. We are almost finished with your room too. It is coming together just as I envisioned it. I am so excited. It will be the perfect place for you to stand in front of a mirror and twiirl around in your pretty new dresses. I cannot wait to see your beautiful smile every day. We love you sweet heart and we truly are coming soon! Many prayers, hugs and kisses are being sent your way. WE LOVE YOU!! Mommy ~T

October 30, 2006 - from Nate

Dear Kenzie - I hope you have a fun time waiting for me your brother and my parents to come and get you. I hope that you will be healthy and I hope that your heart will feel better. From your brother Nate.

October 16, 2006

Hello! What an exciting week we have had. It started off with Nate's play at school. Nate was a penguin in Noah's Ark (as told by Noah's wife). It was very cute. There are pictures on his webpage. The biggest event this week though was Nate's baptism on Sunday! What a celebration it was. He shared his testimony and then was baptised by the children's pastor, Pastor Brian. It was awesome! Nate did so well, we were very excited for him.It has been quite a while since there was a journal entry and I wish there was some fantastic news to report regarding our travel approval, but there is not. We are still waiting. We are only 3 weeks into our wait, so I need to be patient, as the days go on it does get harder and harder though. I look at the pictures of our sweet girl and I want so much to hold her. I want to see her smile and hear her laugh. We are all struggling with the wait. Even Nate has begun to ask more and more how soon his sissy is coming home.As hard as it is to wait we are trusting that God's timing is perfect. He has worked miracles to bring her to us and to get us this far this quickly, we are confident in His timing for our trip. We are praying that we will be able to go with the November 23 travel group from our agency. We will keep everyone posted.Oh Kenzie, we are coming. Very soon we will be there. I wish so much that you could have been here to see your big brother be baptised. I am so excited for the day when you are finally home with us! We have started your room. It is coming together nicely. It will be a room fit for a princess. A specific princess - YOU!!We are missing you so much and feeling your absence so keenly. Soon sweetie, soon! WE LOVE YOU!!

We're DTC!!! September 19, 2006

Wow! We made it. We are DTC this Friday. God has blessed us beyond anything we could have imagined. We had hoped that we would make DTC on 9/15/06. We were very disappointed when our dossier (pictured at left in it's entirety) was completed and the funds were not there to send it in. Devastated does not quite cover my feelings. We were so delighted though when last week God saw fit to provide for us a miracle. Nothing short of the hand of God could possibly have made DTC this week possible. We are beyond excited. We have now reached that wonderful though difficult point of waiting on our travel approval. Once the CCAA gets our dossier (9/25) they will begin the log in process. It could be a few days or a few weeks before we have a log in date. Once we have a log in date our agency will petition, based on Mackenzie's medical needs, for an expedited TA, 30-90 days. Please join us as we pray for that TA to come in the 30 day time frame. Once we receive that TA we will travel in the next 2-4 weeks after that. It is hard to believe that we have reached this point. WE COULD BE IN CHINA IN 8-9 WEEKS!!! My mother's heart and arms ache to hold our precious daughter even more now than ever. We are so close and yet still 1/2 a world away. Kenzie, my precious girl, I think of you many times, every day. I wonder what you are doing at a given time and if you know yet that you have a family. Right now it is almost 11am tomorrow for you (it's almost 10pm here in Kansas). Are you getting ready for lunch? What did you play with this morning? Was it the blocks and the little stuffed animal from your pictures? Is your hair in pigtails or down with the waves tucked behind your ears? The day is coming soon little one when we will finally be with you and I cannot even begin to express what that day will mean to me. This process has been one of much learning. God has used this to teach me patience, humility, trust, and love in a way that nothing else could. Beautiful daughter, as you continue to go about your days, I pray that God would begin speaking to your heart about us. I pray that your dreams will be filled with visions of Mommy, Daddy and a big brother and that the faces will be ours. You are in our prayers EVERY morning and EVERY night. Mackenzie - we love you so very much! We are praying for a super fast travel approval so that we can be with you in record time. While we wait we are praying for you. We pray that the Lord would watch over and keep you safe and that his hands would hold your heart and keep everything working and strong so that you will be ready for your surgery. We are praying protection for your lungs and pulmonary arteries that they would stay healthy and not overstressed. We love you so very much dear daughter and we will be there in Hangzhou as soon as we possibly can! Good night princess. Mommy ~T

September 5, 2006

Oh Kenzie! Words cannot describe what a joyful day today has become. We received our completed dossier back today from the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. We are too late to make the packet going to China this Friday 9-8-06 but sweet girl that paperwork will be on its way to China next Friday 9-15-06. What a wonderful day that will be. Daddy will be home for the weekend from North Carolina and our dossier will be headed to China. Oh my precious daughter, my heart has been aching for you. I have missed so much of your life already and it is so very hard to wait and continue to miss even more. I ache to hold you and tell you that everything is going to be alright and that soon the doctors will make you feel so much better. I want so very much to brush back your bangs, kiss your forehead and let you know that you will never be alone again. Mackenzie, you have so very many people praying for your health and safety until we are able to come and get you and we are praying that the time will be early November. Princess - the part of this process over which Mommy and Daddy have some control is now over. Now we have to wait for the CCAA to review our dossier and issue the coveted travel approval. Daughter, you do not yet know this God to whom we pray and who has ordained your placement in our family but it is my hope and prayer that you will. God has blessed us beyond belief already by giving us the honor of loving you and raising you. We give him all of the thanks for the blessings yet to come.Kenzie - there are no words to express how much I long to have you home and in my arms. I love you so much dear one! Mommy

August 15, 2006

What a day!! I am so over the top excited to have received our PA. By issuing the PA China has said that yes we can pursue the adoption of Wang Cong. I cannot adequately describe the emotions that have come with the PA. (PA is pre-approval) We have done so much paperwork over the last several months and now the reality has set in. We have been looking at our Kenzie's pictures for several weeks now and until today it all still felt a bit surreal. Kind of like I was watching from afar. Now though an official document from the Chinese government is on it's way giving us permission not only to adopt a child from China, but to adopt a specific child from China. Wang Cong (pronounced chong) now has a family (that's us)! We have been so blessed. Yes we are going to make a difference in her life. I can only imagine the blessing that she will be to our family. Oh precious daughter - the day cannot come soon enough when we can wrap our arms around you and tell you that you are no longer an orphan. You are our daughter. Sweet girl - there is half a world separating us, but you have become an essential part of our family's heart already. Your Daddy and I along with your big brother Nate are counting down the days until we can be united with you in person. Soon we will send you a package with some pictures of us so that you can begin to get familiar with our faces. It is our hope that the pictures will help us to be less scary to you when that beautiful day comes and we meet face to face. Dear daughter - there are so very many people praying for you. Our church family has been praying for your health and for a speedy process. Soon you will feel the love not only of our family but of your new church family. Daddy and I have been humbled to know how many people have taken to heart our process of bringing you home - where you belong. We are coming princess. We are going to be there soon. We love you so much! ~T

August 13, 2006

My punkin is home!!!! After 7 weeks in California with Gramma and Grampa Nate is finally back home. We have missed him so very much! It was treat to have had some time for just Glen and I to connect and yet it was so quiet in our home. We missed our Nate more than we would have thought possible. Needless to say we are so happy to have him home. Gramma brought Nate back so we will have a full day with Gramma too. Glen and I are both taking a much needed vacation day. I cannot believe how much he has grown in just these few short weeks. He has outgrown all of his pants. Good thing we did not buy school uniforms before he left. :o)On the way home from the airport we stopped at the very cool T-Rex cafe. Talk about sensory overload!! It was great food and a lot of fun - probably too much fun for a 7 year old boy who had been flying all day. We will spend our Monday with Gramma shopping for schools supplies and all the goodies that are needed for school. Wednesday is enrollment, and then it's back to school on Monday 8-21. This year has flown by. My baby is going to be in 2nd grade. That is hard to believe. Busy day tomorrow. So long for the evening! ~T

July 26, 2006

Hello! Hello!Well, we are nearing the 4 week mark from when we sent in our LOI for our beautiful Kenzie. We are hoping that we will get that all important (at least to us) PA early next week . . . we will see. We have been so blessed of late and received so many confirmations that we are on the right track for our family. As much as we wanted to have Kenzie's surgery here in KC we have been unable to get any response from the KC facility. We have decided that we will be going to Boston. Today after talking at length with our insurance company we found out that not only do we have a great medical plan - but we have an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, UNBEATABLE, OUTSTANDING, medical plan. We are not required to get a referral and our out of pocket maximum for a given calendar year is a very doable amount for us. We are also ok to go out of network - so Boston will not be a problem. That is an answer to prayer big time.We talked with doctors at both Boston and Vanderbilt - and we have received so much assistance from the doctor in MA and we just really feel like Boston is the best choice for us. We were concerned about the insurance and to hear today that we can go where ever we want and the out of pocket is the same - well I cannot express what a relief that is to us. We are sending off all of our documents (except the all important immigration paperwork - which we don't have yet) for certification at the US State Department tomorrow. We should have them back by the end of next week and will be able to send them all off to the Chinese Embassy for Authentication. It is so exciting to see how God has orchestrated each and every detail of this adoption process so far. We are looking forward to being another step closer to travelling to pick up our beautiful little girl. Please be in prayer that the financials and the documents all come together so that we can travel to China to get our sweetie in early November. Our hope is that our little princes will be home and recovered from her open heart surgery before Christmas. That would mean the world to us. Beautiful daughter - your Mommy and Daddy and big brother are plodding through paperwork as quickly as possible. We are hoping that within the next couple of weeks we will get our PA and be able to contact you with pictures and a letter. Eclipsed only by the moment they place you in our arms, the moment we are most looking forward to is the one when we can tell you that you are no longer alone. You will be forever part of a family that loves you - the Howard family. Sweet girl we are coming and we love you!!

July 20, 2006

What Now?
Steven Curtis Chapman: all things new album
I saw the face of Jesus
In a litte orphan girl
She was standing in a corner
On the other side of the world
And I heard the voice of Jesus
Gently whisper to my heart
Didn't you say you wanted to find me
Well, here I am Here you are.
chorus: So what now
What will you do now that you've found me
What now
What will you do with this treasure you've found
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you'll remember
This is right where I said I would beYou found me
What now?
I really wanted to share the song above. This hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I heard it which was quite a while ago. In this adoption process as we bring home our little girl - we also are living out what Jesus called us to do. I realized that bringing our little girl home has become more to us than simply adding to our family. We dearly love our precious Mackenzie already - all we have are pictures and a medical file, and yet the love is fierce. We love this daughter we are adopting every bit as much as we love our wonderful son Nate who was born to us. When I heard this song though just recently, I really HEARD it. In providing a home of love and faith and the medical care that our sweet girl needs, we are living out as closely as we can on earth what Jesus has done for us. We have been adopted into His eternal family - his death on the cross was for us because he loved us - even before we were known. As if that blessed gotcha day is not going to be emotional enough - I forsee a strong spiritual element that day as well. Wow! We are almost 3 weeks into the wait for our PA - not that I am counting. :o)We have been so blessed as we trust God in this process. We were wondering how we were going to pay for Nate's tuition at CPLS this year considering that the adoption process got so expedited. I talked with the financial office at the school about an ammended payment schedule - and about the adoption process and how quickly things had changed. Just today she emailed to tell me that an anonymous donor had offered to pay a portion of our tuition and the balance is an amount that is doable for us. We are humbled to say the least and feeling as though we are in fact on the right track. We have questioned our "timing" (I guess I should say I not we) and each time I do God confirms for us that we are on the right track. A dear friend has said to us "If God leads you to it He will lead you through it." I've got to tattoo that on my forehead or something. :o)We do have some good news on the doctor/hospital front. We had been a bit concerned over a lack of response from our "local" (60 minutes away) hospital. I had sent some emails with quesitons and concerns, expecting some sort of response, and gotten nothing. I sent the same emails to a Boston doctor and heard back almost immediately. I was a bit put off by our local unit. That was a HUGE disappointment as we were looking forward to being able to have Kenzie's surgery done here in Kansas with friends and church family close by for support; and it was looking more and more like Boston was going to be the place. That brought up all sorts of other travel issues and left Nate out (again) because of school. Well I called the local doctor again and found out he had never received my emails, which I believe because I did not have a direct email for him. Long story short, I talked quite a bit on the phone with him and then resent my emails. He assured me he would review and respond to the emails. He also told me that the only surgery they were unable to do here is a transplant - fortunately we are not in need of that. We are still praying for a miracle, that when Kenzie gets home the doctors would say - is this really the same child? Her heart is healed! What glory to God and rejoicing would be going on in that doctor's office!!!! If God does not choose to heal our little one before we return home, we are greatful that it looks like her open heart surgery will be able to be done here. That is a great relief for us as we look at her surgery needing to happen within a couple of weeks of our return (hopefully late November or early December.Beautiful Kenzie - we are praying for you every day! We are praying that your heart stays strong and that your lungs are protected from harm. We are also praying that God will be preparing you to meet us and join our family. I cannot wait until we get our PA. As soon as we do sweet girl, Mommy is going to send you pictures so that you can get to know our faces - maybe then we will be just a little bit less scary. I cannot wait to hold you little one. You are in our thoughts and prayers every day! We love you.Hey Nate-man!! Hope you are having a hopping good time! (pun absolutely intended!) Mommy and Daddy are missing you so much. Our house is so quiet with you gone. I know you are having so much fun with Uncle Tommy and Gramma and Grampa. We are praying for you every day too. We are praying that you have a wonderful time and that you are safe. We are really looking forward to August 14 when you get home. We have pretty much finished your room. You are going to LOVE it!! We still have not gotten to see pictures of your cool new flat top hair cut . . . Gramma's in trouble for that one. Anyway, we love you so much! Hugs and kisses. Mommy.

July 13, 2006

Well, here we are at the end of another week. This has been a week of nothing but waiting, and of course praying. Monday though we get to take yet another step toward bringing our little sweetie home! Monday we go to KC to be fingerprinted for USCIS. This is the homeland security/immigration deal that will allow us to bring Mackenzie into the states. Once we get that done we will then be back to a waiting stage. We will however in the meantime be sending our dossier documents (except for the I-171H off to D.C. to be certified and then off to the Chinese Embassy for Authentication. After we have the documents sent off for certification/authentication we will begin working on the photo pages of our home and life that we have to send with our dossier. That will at least be a fun part of the "paper chase". Once we get that I-171H back we will get that certified and authenticated and then our entire dossier packet will be ready to send off to China. We are hoping and praying that the process above will be complete and the finances in place so that we will be able to send our dossier off to our agency to go in the China packet on August 11, the 18th at the latest. If that happens we will very likely travel in early November. Imagine Kenzie, you could be home for us in time for Thanksgiving - and Wow! would we have something to give thanks about. Hey Nate man! How are you doing? Mommy and Daddy miss you so much! We know you are having a really good time though and we are very happy for that. I can't wait to hear all about your trip to the Peach Festival this weekend - make sure Gramma takes LOTS of pictures!! I think Mommy and Daddy are going to finish up your room this weekend. Once we are done with your room we will be able to get started on Kenzie's. We are going to have so much fun finishing up both of the rooms!! I love you so much buddy! Talk to you soon. Love, Mommy.It sure has been quiet around the house without our little boy at home. I cannot wait for him to get back home.Kenzie, wait until you meet your big brother. He is a character and has been praying for you and waiting for you for a long time. I am excited to see how much fun you two will have together. Kenzie, we are so excited fo you to join our family. We have found such love and support from all of our family and friends. Everyone is excited to meet you. I could probably ramble for pages, just to feel like somehow I am connecting to you - but I won't. Sweet girl, as we get ready for bed tonight you are just starting your day - I pray that you will be safe and healthy today and that you would somehow feel our love from way over here in Kansas. We are so excited to meet you in person little princess! We love you. Mommy ~T

July 4, 2006

Happy Independance day!! I hope everyone is safe lighting off their fireworks. We opted out of the fireworks this year since our kiddo is off in California. Hi Nate-man. Hope you are having a good time . . . Mommy and Daddy miss you very much. Today we had a lazy do nothing sort of day. We ate junk food and watched Starwars. The movie was Daddy's choice. We are going to finish up your room this weekend. I cannot wait for you to see it. I think you are really going to like it. We are going to paint the walls a lovely shade of pink and light blue. There will be princess pictures on the walls and a beautiful pink ruffly canopy over your bed. Just kidding. I was talking about Kenzie's room. We are going to finish your room in the army colors you love. I'm not going to tell you any more than that though. Have a great evening watching fireworks. Mommy and Daddy will see you soon.We have enjoyed having some time to ourselves but it is awful quiet without our active boy. Who would have thought that we would not know what to do with the time to ourselves. Hey Kenzie girl. For this wondeful holiday next year you will be home with us. Mommy cannot wait! We are looking forward to this coming weekend. Saturday is Daddy's birthday. Sunday is the birthday party for our dear friend Lydia. Lydia is a sister from China and she turned 2 on July 2. You are older than she is but I know you will be good friends. Lyida's Mommy & Daddy; Miss Connie and Mr. Jonathan are some of Mommy's and Daddy's very good friends. We have a special present for Lyida and Mommy is hoping that it will arrive in time for the birthday party.Princess, we are hoping to come and get you in October - before the tradeshows in China. Mommy is praying very hard that we will in fact get to travel then. You would be home for the holidays and that would mean more to Mommy and Daddy and your big brother than anything else.China has our LOI for you my princess and we should receive a Pre-Approval within the next 4-6 weeks. As soon as we get that PA from the CCAA we will be able to contact you. What a wonderful blessing that will be. Kenzie dear, we love you and we are coming for you. ~T

July 2, 2006 - Poem

The Waiting Child
by Debbie Bodie
I saw you meet your child today
You kissed your baby joyfully
And as you walked away with her
I played pretend you'd chosen me.
I'm happy for the baby, yet
Inside I'm aching miserably
I want to plead as you go by,
"Does no-one want a child of three?"

I saw you meet your child today
In love with her before you met
And as I watched you take her out
I knew it wasn't my turn yet.
I recognize you from last year!
I knew I'd seen your face before!
But you came for a second babe.
"Does no-one want a child of four?"

I saw you meet your child today
But this time there was something new
A nurse came in and took MY hand
And then she gave my hand to you.
Can this be true? I'm almost six!
And there are infants here you see?
But then you kissed me and I knew
The child you chose this time was me.

Copyright 1997 DEBBIE BODIE

July 3, 2006

Hello again. Well I am grooving on the froggies. We are sitting at home tonight watching the thunder storms roll through. Right now there is a break and folks are out in full force shooting off their fire works. I gotta tell ya Kenzie that Topeka is the place to be on the 4th if you like fireworks. It is a week long display. It is very fun actually - last year we spent way too much money on fireworks - something I'm sure we will do again. We did not get any this year though because we have no kiddos at home this year with whom to share them. We are really missing your big brother tonight. Nate really loves the fireworks. We had a lot of fun with them last year. Nate-man Mommy hopes you are having a great time with Gramma & Grampa. Mommy and Daddy are thinking it is pretty quite here at the house without you. We cannot wait for you to get home. Daddy is putting on Star Wars - woo hoo . . . Are you having fun swimming? I hope so. I am still waiting for pictures of the new do! That would be your flat top. Mommy misses and loves you.Well Kenzie girl - we have set up a Yahoo! group so we can post pictures and updates there too. We have been blessed that several of our friends and family have already joined us. Sweet heart - everyone thinks you are so beautiful - and Mommy of course agrees. I know that when we see you and meet you that first time you will probably be scared silly - I know I will, but I am so looking forward to that day. I cannot wait to hold you in my arms and comfort you and know that you will be with us forever. Sweetheart, we love you so much. You are our princess and we are so ready to come and get you.I received the most blessed note Kenzie from someone your life has touched very closely. Her name is Amy. The note she sent me was a "peek" into your life. I have included it below.

Wangchong has a nick name Cong Cong. She is lovelyand open little girl. She is easy to get on with herteacher, baby sitter and fellows in her kindergartenand orphanage. She goes to kindergarten in theorphanage every day. Now she can tell a lot of storiesand sing some baby sangs. She likes play with otherchildren especially in outside playground. She likesto be a ¡°baby sitter¡± to take care other children . She likes to watch carton and gives some good postureof carton frequently making other people laugh suddenly. As a littler girl she likes pretty clothesand can put on and take off her dresses by herself.She usually gets up at 6:30 in the morning and goes tobed at 8. She need an hour nap on noon. She had verygood sleep all the time. She likes to eat meals aswell as vegetables. Snakes are also her favourites. She now still cyanotic and sometimes will have alittle puffy. Not very often but still will happenoccasionally hypo oxygen spells. She needs diureticintermittently. Anyway she is a cute girl.
This note was sent to Amy by you Chinese doctor - Dr. Li. As I read this I picture you here at home with us - in you beautiful new Cinderella room and putting on one of the beautiful pretty dresses that Gramma bought for you. Oh Kenzie, I am praying for miraculous speed for the remainder of our paperwork. Mommy wants to come NOW to pick you up!! I love you princess. ~T

July1, 2006

Hello again! Hopefully I will be better at posting now. It was hard to post when there were so many things in the works - but the time was not right to share. It was better to stay away from the computer than to post too early.Well - my little boy is on a very big boy trip. My "baby" is 2100 miles away in California with Gramma & Grampa Spiess.Nate buddy - Mom really, really misses you!! I do hope that you are having a great time and remembering to be good for Gramma & Grampa (and Uncle Tommy).Well, today I woke up and decided that it was time to get the good wishes done for the quilt group I joined. I got up a little before 9am and have worked on them all day. It is fun to be a part of this group and see such lovely squares and wonderful wishes coming in the mail. I am looking forward to receiving all of the squares for "Kenzie's" quilt. Gramma Spiess has offered to sew them together - yippee! I know she will do a much better job than I ever could. Thanks Mom!Many have asked - why an older child? Why not a baby? Why a special needs child (and especially a complex heart defect) and not a healthy child? The answer to both is hard to explain. Why would we choose a child with a medical need? Why would we risk heart ache? The only answer I can give is that from the moment I laid eyes on this little girl - I felt and knew in my heart of hearts that she was our daughter. There were times I doubted, like when other families committed to her - but somewhere deep down I just knew. Glen knew too. We knew that Wang Cong was our Mackenzie the same as we knew the child I gave birth to was our Nathanael. We had a very real scare in that Nate was classified as "high risk" for Down's and Spina Bifida. We consented to the amnio so we could be prepared - regardless of the outcome we knew that child was our son - there would have been no "terminating" him. It has been the same with Kenzie. From the moment we saw her we knew she was ours - when we found out the extent of her heart defect - she was still ours. It hurts my heart to know she will have to continue to wait for us another 3-4 months. When the time is right though we will be in China being united with this daughter of our hearts.Kenzie - my sweet girl, Mommy and Daddy are coming very soon. Stay healthy, we love you!! ~T

June 29, 2006

Well, so much has happened since my last post. We have sent in our LOI (letter of intent) for Wang Cong who is waiting for us in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. I cannot even begin to express the joy and excitement that knowing the face of our daughter brings me. I had not even dared dream that we would know without a doubt who you our beautiful Mackenzie would be this early in our process.I want to share the story of miracles that led us to you sweet Wang Cong - soon to be Mackenzie Eilene Cong.Way back in late February or early March Daddy and I began considering our choices in adopting. Our original thoughts like those of many other families were for a healthy baby girl under 2 years old. When you begin the adoption process that is what you hear about most. We truly wanted a daughter and we knew that unlike many families we had the resources (a fabulous health insurance plan) to care for a variety of medical needs. As we considered this option I began to watch our agency's Waiting Child list. It was there and then that I saw your beautiful face for the first time. I committed then and there to pray for you until you found your forever family. Before we had come to any conclusions regarding adopting a child with medical needs a family announced that they were adopting you. I was so happy for you. God had answered my prayers for a precious child and she had found a family. My sweet Kenzie, it was shortly after that that Daddy and I realized that we really did want to adopt a child with medical needs. We had no doubt about this. We did not yet know who you were but we knew you would come from our agency's WC list. A little girl came available and we requested her file, but another family had already requested her file and shortly chose to adopt her. And so we waited and prayed for you Mackenzie, still not knowing who you were. Early in May I saw a post stating that the family that was going to adopt you was unable to adopt at this time. There was a situation with the husbands job that caused them to put adoption on hold. That family was very sad to return your referral to the agency. I saw you back on our agency's list and prayed, then I talked to your Daddy on Mother's Day and we both knew that you were our daughter. I called our agency on Monday and asked to see your file. I was once again told that another family was reviewing your file. I was not worried though because I knew you were our daughter. Ten days later I got a call from the agency. I was sure they were going to tell me that your file was available. Instead of joy though I was devastated when I was told the family wanted to adopt you. Of course I was happy that you had a family, but I really felt like you were our daughter. We continued to pray for you and for your new family. Two weeks later on June 15 our agency called me again and told me that this family too was unable to adopt and asked if we wanted your file. Of course we did!! I was so happy I cried and was a complete basket case all the remainder of that day. Now my dear Kenzie please know that the families that could not adopt were both saddened by that. They wanted you very much. God knew though who your Mommy, Daddy and big brother were. He knew you were our Mackenzie. Dear one, even as Mommy was getting the joyous news your Gramma Spiess was in a store in DC and a beautiful magnet jumped out at her. The verse on the magnet is 1Samuel 1:27 "I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him." Your truly are the answer to all of our prayers. You have touched the lives of so many families that have been praying for you - and God chose us to be your parents. Out of all of the people in this world God chose us! We are so blessed that you will be joining our family.Your big brother has prayed for you every night since we first asked about you. He is so excited for us to come and get you and bring you home. Your Nannie and Gampie in MA are so excited and eager to meet you. Gramma & Grampa Spiess in CA are just as eager. Then there are your aunts and uncles - and our dear friends Connie, Jonathan & Lyida - and so many others - you just cannot imagine how your arrival is being anticipated. I hope sweet girl that you understand how unlikely it is that two different families would commit to adopting a child and then be unable to adopt any child. God orchestrated miracles to bring you to us. We know that your heart condition is serious - we know that the same God that worked miracles to bring you home will also work through the hands of the surgeons to repair the defects in your heart. We cannot wait to see what He has in store for your life. I did pray for you dear daughter and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him - YOU!!

The Referral! June 15, 2006

The Referral!

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him. 1Sam 1:27

Referral Date: June 15, 2006
Chinese Name: Wang Cong
Date of Birth: May 19, 2002
Height: 95.5cm / 37.6 inches
Weight: 13 kg / 28.6 lbs
Orphanage: Hangzhou City CWI
Province: Zhejiang
Agency: America World Adoption Assoc.

Prayer Request: Mackenzie has a complex heart defect. The doctors we have consulted agree that from the information in her file she would be a candidate for surgery. We ask your prayers for her continued health and strength - as well as successful surgery. Thank you!

June 11, 2006

They say that time flies when you're having fun. I am convinced though that it flies at supersonic speeds when you have a little one growing up. In no time at all my precious baby has grown into a little boy. He is done with first grade and just last week had his very first baseball game. The baseball game was so much fun. He is playing in a coach pitch league. They get 4 pitches from the coach and if they don't hit it then they bring out the tee. Nate's first at bat was great. He got a good pitch and made quite the connection; the ball landed in right center field. He also got to field the ball from the pitchers mound that inning. The second inning he played 1st base and ended up taking a pretty hard hit ball to the face (it left the imprint of the stitches on his cheek). At the end of the inning he ended up in a three way collision at home plate. That one resulted in a cleat to the head/ear and some tears. His last at bat was a dribbler down the first base line, which he beat out. Way to go Nate! You can see some more pictures on Nate's page and in the photo albums.We do have a busy next couple of weeks ahead. We had the pleasure of a surprise visit yesterday 6/10 from my Aunt & Uncle from Ohio along with my cousin and her husband. They are on a road trip and passed through Topeka. We had a great visit and enjoyed seeing them. Pictures can be seen in the photo album.Monday and Tuesday this week will bring our friends Boyd, Cassandra and Natalie from Oregon. We are so looking forward to reconnecting with them. Of course as soon as we get them pictures will be posted in the photo albums.Friday this week Grandpa Spiess comes into town and we will spend Father's Day weekend with him. Then on Monday Grandma Spiess and Uncle Tommy will join us after their trip to D.C. and Ohio. After that Nate will join Grandma & Grandpa on their trip back to California - he will spend 5 weeks there (as long as Mommy can let him be gone that long . . . ) Daddy and Mommy will have some time alone and the big question right now is what will we do?!?!What is happening with our adoption? Right now we are waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting. Our home study is being written up and we are waiting for the first draft of that to come through for proofing. We are hopeful that we will have the documents certified and authenticated, the I-171 in hand and the finances in place to submit our dossier at the end of August . . . we will see. Our agency will hopefully be receiving a new set of special needs referrals at the end of this month and making some calls early in July. We are hopeful that our sweet daughter will be in this next group. If she is in this next group our dream of being home from China before Christmas could actually come true!! What a special Christmas blessing that would be - not unlike another Christmas blessing we received in 1998 (that would be the birth of Nate). Mackenzie my dear - we are working hard to get to you soon. We cannot wait to see your beautiful face and hold you in our arms. Hold tight little one and before you know it we will all be together. We are praying for you every night! We love you!~T

May 16, 2006

Dear Mackenzie -
I am writing you in pink because I know girls like pink. I hope you have a great time waiting for our mom and dad to come and pick you up. I will be at my Uncle's house and mom an dad will bring you to your new Uncle's house after they pick you up. And I am making up songs to sing to you when you get here.

April 25, 2006

Hello friends. My daughter to be is very much on my heart this evening - more so than usual. Somewhere in China our little girl is in an orphanage waiting for us because of her birth mother's love. As a mother I cannot imagine what circumstances lead to that mother's decision to choose adoption for her sweet daughter - I will be forever greatful to her though. The daughter of her womb - half a world away is the daughter of my heart and dreams here in Kansas. Today that hit me and I realized the connection that I will have with the biological mother of our beautiful daughter. The end of the paperchase and our trip to China cannot come soon enough for me! I read the poem below and wanted to share it with you. Enjoy and please keep us in your prayers as we wait to see what God already knows - the identity of our precious Mackenzie. ~T

“Until Forever”
This morning in China a mother cries
She’ll never forget her daughter’s eyes
Her heart is broken and filled with pain
The tears run down like the falling rain.
She has no choice but to leave her there
The cost of keeping is too much to bear
She hopes her daughter will one day know
True love can be found in letting her go.
This morning in China a baby cries
Hungry and scared as tears fill her eyes
Her mother has left her in this public place
Another lost daughter of the Chinese race.
Someone passing by has heard her soft moan
She’s soon quickly taken to a foster home
It’s here she’ll reside in the care of another
Until she’s adopted by a brand new mother.
That very same moment, in the U.S.A.
A woman cries as she starts to pray
Her heart is heavy but filled with much love
She prays for a daughter she thinks the world of.
“Dear Jesus”, I ask that your arms would be
Wrapped tightly around the one picked for me
Guard her in China till I make my way
And then in my arms forever she’ll stay.
-Tom Fisher-

April 20, 2006

Being the music type very often a song will strike a chord (no pun intended) in me. Recently there has been a song on the radio station I listen to that sends me to the kleenex box every time I hear it. I look at my handsom son as he is growing up so quickly and I think of the daughter we will soon have. This song reminds me of what an honor it is to be a parent and what my ultimate task is - difficult though it may be; I am here to give roots to my child(ren) in order that they might find their wings. I hope that the words touch you as they did me. ~T

Find Your Wings
It's only for a moment that you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I'll pray for all that you might do
But most of all I'll want to know you're walking in the truth
And if I've never told you I want you to know that as I watch you grow
I pray that God will fill your heart with dreams
and that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
so let my love give you roots and help you find your wings
May passion be the wind that moves you through your days
and may convictions keep you strong guide you on your way
May there be many moments that make your life so sweet
but more then memories
I pray that God will fill your heart with dreams
and that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
so let my love give you roots and help you find your wings
It's not living if you don't reach for the sky
I'll have tears as you take off
But I'll cheer you as you fly
I will give you roots and help you find your wings.

Happy Easter! April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for HE IS RISEN!! Matthew 25:5 & 6

Happy Easter little girl! We missed you very much on this special holiday. Today is the day when we celebrate Jesus' resurrection through which we are forgiven. I know that left in China the chances of you hearing and having an opportunity to respond to the message of the Gosple would be very slim. What an exciting truth that not only will you be coming home to America to be with your forever family on earth, but you will also have the opportunity to become a part of God's eternal family. Every day we are a little bit closer to the end of the paper chase. We missed you this Easter sweet girl and cannot wait to come and bring you home. We love you so much even though we have never seen your face. It is hard to explain, but very similar to the way that Daddy and I fell in love with your big brother Nate while he was in Mommy's tummy, where we could not see him, we have all fallen in love with you - even though you are 1/2 way around the world. We pray a special blessing on you today princess. Hold on little one, we are coming! We love you! ~T

April 10, 2006

Well, we were not able to get our home study submitted this week like I had hoped we would. I have to say that this process is giving patience a whole new meaning. I know though that when the time is right everything will fall into place. Our agency received 26 new referrals a couple of weeks ago for the waiting child program. There were 13 girls and 13 boys. They are in the process of translation and soon our agency will be calling families on the interested families list for the waiting child program. Our application was submitted and approved very recently so we are doubtful that we will get a call in this group. Who knows though. I am working really hard at not obsessing over it. When the time is right... I do know that a couple of families have already received calls. One family received a call about a little girl 4 1/2 years old and another family a little boy 2 1/2 years old. I was so happy for those families - the joy with which they announced their acceptance of referrals was so evident even via email. Glen and I are more and more certain that our sweet Mackenzie will be a waiting child. These precious children have special needs. Most of them are correctable. In China they have no hope for a future. Here with some medical care they have hope for a normal life with a family that loves them. We are of course not sure what will transpire over the next several months, but we are comfortable with our choice to open our application to consider these special needs children as well as our decision to request a child 0-4 years instead of the "typical" 0-2 years or AYAP (as young as possible). Glen and I have talked so much about the situation and really gone over and over the pros and cons. We are not monetarily rich by any stretch of the imagination. We do have exceptional healthcare benefits though and more importantly a stable and loving family. We are blessed to also have extended family that supports and is excited for our adoption. We are eager to meet our daughter and are amazed that we are already so in love with a little girl whose face we don't know and who is 1/2 way around the world. It is fun for us to speculate as to whether she (Mackenzie) will be 10 months old at referral or whether she will be 3 years old at referral. We have talked about what she will look like and what kind of personality she will have. In any case we are sure she will be the perfect little "princess" for our family. After submitting our application for the waiting child program we found out that there is the possibility that we would get a referral sooner than through the normal process. We also found out that our application stays in line for the normal China referral process until we accept a referral from the waiting child program. If we do not accept a referral from the waiting child program we will still receive a referral from the normal program in the normal timeframe.Lots of boring facts I know, but they are important to our process and I wanted to make sure that they were included. We continue to pray every night for our precious daughter. Sweet Mackenzie - we are coming. Every day we are a little bit closer to that coveted "gotcha" day! Can't wait to meet you princess! ~T

April 7, 2006

I saw the story below on another website today and it absolutely blew me away. I wanted to share with you. Whatever the circumstance - I don't want to miss God working in and blessing my life. Hopefully this will bless you as much as it did me! ~T

By Sandra Clifton, D.Min.
"Wait, wait—look!" I exclaimed to my husband, Terry, on our morning walk. "Where did that come from?"There, before our eyes was a flower, purple and pink with long soft petals. After a particularly long, cold winter, the flower was a miraculous reminder of spring!But there was something else that was even more amazing than the first spring flower emerging after winter. This extraordinary, colorful flower had pushed through the least likely place—a dirty, ragged crack to the side of the cement sidewalk. Snug and secure out of the flow of foot traffic, it looked as though this tiny flower had been placed there by a loving hand, for a reason—to simply grow and blossom, despite all odds.Terry scratched his head and remarked, "God at work!"That spring morning, I became suddenly aware of God at work—His ways of working behind the scenes. I was reminded of His Word that establishes Him as our Creator, "the Creator of the ends of the earth" (Is. 40:28, NKJV), "the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Ps. 121:1-2), "the Lord, the God of all flesh" (Jer. 32:27).It was on that spring morning, while looking at the tiny miracle flower growing through the crack of cement that I shuddered to think that if we are not sensitive to God at work, we might miss what He is doing! For instance, we might miss God at work mending a marriage because we can't see His instant results. We might miss God at work healing a parent and teen relationship because our impatience might corrode His timing. We might miss God at work blessing our finances because we can't see or get beyond our current debts. If we are not careful, we might end up bitterly stuck, seeing life through the failures and limitations of yesterday, when God is quietly at work attempting to get us to move on to the victories that await us tomorrow.If you know that God has called you to a great future, but you feel stuck in a mediocre or discouraging present, be of good cheer. God the Creator is working things out, whether you can see it or not. His Word calls you to walk by faith, not by sight (see 2 Cor. 5:7), and His Word even tells you to look not at the seen, but the unseen (see 2 Cor. 4:18). God never calls perfect people, only obedient ones. He calls people, plants seeds of His plans and purposes for them, then He gives them opportunities to blossom and to do great things (see Heb. 11, "the faith chapter").The next time you wonder if God is at work in your life, remember the tiny miracle flower that was discovered growing beautifully in the least likely place. Read Matthew 6:28-30 and remember what Jesus said about the lilies and the grass of the field—and how much more your heavenly Father loves and cares for you and is at work in your life, even this very second,"growing miracles that are destined to blossom."

April 4, 2006

Hey Mackenzie girl! Well just wanted to let you know that today Mommy and Daddy have been married for 8 years. I am so thankful that I can say that your daddy is my very best friend. We are so blessed to be able to celebrate 8 years together today. The very first year of our marriage brought the wonderful blessing of your big brother Nate. We were so surprised and excited to have a baby boy! We are just as excited that in this eighth year of our marriage we may very well be blessed with a beautiful daughter! Sweet girl we think of you often and wonder where you are, how old you are, are you safe, are you being held and cuddled? We hope that you are safe and warm and cared for. I know that 13 referrals were received by our agency this week. We don't know where we are in line and can only hope that once the information is translated maybe our sweet Mackenzie is in this batch. We will have to wait and see though until the translations are done and calls are made. Well, Daddy and I are looking forward to going out and doing something special this weekend to celebrate our anniversary. Well little princess, Mommy, Daddy and big brother Nate love you very much. We pray for you every night and we cannot wait for the day you get to come home to Kansas and be with us forever. ~T

March 22, 2006 - NEW INFO

Our information packet for the waiting children's program came today. After much talking and prayer we have decided that we wanted to open our hearts, family and home to the possibility that one of these beauthiful children with a correctable "special need" could be our precious Mackenzie. We submitted our application to be on the interested families list and should hear back sometime this week regarding the approval. This was a big decision for us to make and we did not make it lightly. We are very confident and comfortable with the decision and are eager to meet whomever God has chosen as our little daughter. We did hear through our agency's weekly update that they are expecting a new batch of SN referrals in the next few weeks. It is very possible that we could look on the face of our sweet baby girl by the end of April. That moment when we get that first glipse of her photo will be eclipsed only by the moment when they place her in my arms. I can hardly wait ... but wait I will. Of course we do not know for certain if Mackenzie will be in this next batch of referrals or if she will even be a child from the waiting child program. If Mackenzie is not in the waiting child program it will likely be early next year before we see her face. God knows though and as much as I desperately want to hold my little girl, I know that His timing is perfect and will bring the perfect daughter to us. We are ready to submit our homestudy paperwork. We have made the needed revisions and are simply waiting for the adoption fund/savings account to be replenshed. That is the difficult thing. Waiting on something over which we have no control. Nate will be on spring break next week. It is hard to believe that there are only 8 weeks left of school. My how time has flown. It really does seem like only recently we were looking for an infant daycare ... I guess it was 6+ years and 1800 miles ago now though. What a funny and confident young boy Nate has become. He is sure that everyone loves him and does not seem to be overly concerned about their opion if they don't. We were very pleased with his grade card from school for the third quarter. The work that they are doing in first grade at this school is far more advanced and intense than anything I remember doing in first grade ... of course I realize that was a few years ago but still ... Nate too is excited for this little sister and faithfully puts a shiny star sticker on each day of the calendar to mark the time that passes until he is a big brother. To hear the plans he has for his baby sister crack me up. If only he knew ... little sitsters don't often play by big brothers rules. I guess he will have to learn that one first hand. It is baseball season now and Nate came home with flyer all excited about playing baseball. We are going to start him out at the Y and go from there. Some of the leagues around here are pretty competitive - even at the coach pitch level. Not sure I'm ready for that at 7 years old. 17 maybe but 7??? Nope ... not yet. Well, I am sure I have rambled enough for tonight. Mackenzie, our sweet princess, we are so ready for you! We pray you are safe, warm and healthy. We also pray that you are getting the hugs and kisses we send you each night! We love you baby girl! ~T

March 22, 2006 - from Nate

Dear Mackenzie. I hope you will have a great time at your new home with the Howard Family. And that I would read my favorite stories to you. I will tuck you in. And I will just play with you and you will be my best baby sister I ever had in my whole life. And I will show you where your room is and read you stories that you will be able to enjoy before bed. And you will have a great time in your whole life and I will be your best big brother. Love Nate.

Well little princess, big brother pretty much said it all. We cannot wait to see you. We love you and are praying for you. Hugs and kisses sweetheart! Love you. Mommy ~T

Dear Mackenzie.I wanted to write two letters to you like Mommy does in her journal. I am going to love you and hold you in my arms all day. And cuddle you until you fall asleep. And I love you so much that I'll take care of you like a big brother. And I will just hold you and take you to Mom and Dad when you are crying in the middle of the night because you will have someone to cuddle with. I love you so much and you will just be my favorite baby sister. And you will just be the greatest sister I ever had. Love Nathanael (I wanted Nate on my other letter and Nathanael on this one)

March 22, 2006

Good morning Princess! It is 8:30pm here but in China it is 9:30am. I do hope that you are safe and warm this morning wherever you are. It has been quite cold here. We even had snow a couple days this week. We are all ready for the warmth of spring and the heat of summer. Big brother is getting ready for bed now so I wanted to take a minute to let you know that I am thinking about you and praying for you. Daddy is away this week. He is traveling and will be back on Friday night. Nate and Mommy cannot wait. We are ready for him to be home. We are really hoping that we will get to see that first picture of you in the next 2-3 months. As much as we are hoping for that we do also know that it could be another 10-12 months before we finally get to see your sweet face. I have to keep reminding myself that if it is in fact longer; it is because you are not quite ready for us. Mommy has waited a lot of years for a daughter so you would think that another year is no big deal ... well it has been. I am so ready to meet you. Your big brother too is ready to meet you. We wonder whether or not you have yet been born. We don't know but try to take comfort knowing that God is watching out for you and that when the time is right our paths will cross and you will become Mackenzie Eilene ??? Howard. We have the question marks because we want to incorporate your Chinese name as well. We have been so blessed by the support of our family and friends. It is overwhelming sometimes for me to think of all of the people that are praying for you and for us through this process.Gramma & Grampa Spiess are going to come to Kansas to visit us at the end of June. We are really looking forward to that visit. Nate get's to fly back to California with them and stay for a few weeks. I was thinking about this and how for sure by next summer there will be 2 little Howard children, Nate AND Mackenzie! I am teary just thinking about it.Nate has something he would like to say.

March 16, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day Mackenzie! Well, we are now 3 full months into the paper chase for you my little princess. We are waiting. I understand there will be a lot of that over the next several months. Patience has never been one of mommy's strong points. I guess I will either have to figure it out or go crazy through this process though. I just cannot wait to hold you! Hopefully next St. Patrick's day you will be with us all dressed in green.This week marked the beginning of the 4th quarter of school for your big brother Nate. I just cannot believe my little baby boy is almost done with first grade. Nate is such a big boy now. Gone is the baby face and the toddler mannerisms. Nate's personality is really coming through these days and he is so indepentent. Last quarter he earned an academic achievement award for excellence in math. Daddy and I were so proud!!Both your Nannie (Grandma Howard) and Gramma (Grandma Spiess) are working on special things for you. Just like they did for your big brother. Daddy and Mommy are pretty sure that you, our little princess, will have a beautiful Cinderella Room. Your big brother saw some pink camoflage and thought that would be cool so your room could match his . . . I think Mommy is going to over rule that one. You have lots of family and friends here in America that are eager to meet you and begin life with you. We cannot wait!We are hoping and praying that we will be able to have you here at home with us for this Christmas. It is a long shot sweet baby, but we are still hopeful. Big brother faithfully puts a sticker on the calendar for each day that goes by, counting down the many days until we bring you from China to your forever home and family. I hope that you are somewhere safe and warm. I hope that you are being held and cuddled the way I long to hold and cuddle you. Mackenzie my sweet girl Mommy & Daddy & big brother Nate love you very much. ~T

March 7, 2006

A new day. We are sitting in a very frustrating place right now with regards to our adoption. We are paperwork ready to send in our home study, but just about the time we think we are going to get it sent in something else comes up that needs money. Extremely frustrating. I am working on remembering that it is not about my timing, but about God's. Not an easy task for this Mom. We are hoping that, barring any more unforseen issues, we will get our home study submitted by mid May and then be able to get our Dossier sent off to China by early September. At the current rates, that would mean we get Mackenzie's referral in the ball park of mid to late June next year. We would then probably travel end of July early August . . . hot & humid, my favorite! Oh well a small price to pay to hold that precious baby for the first time. I think it is beginning to sink in with Nate how far away we are from actually bringing Mackenzie home. He has begun to mention that it is taking a long time and he is sad that it will take an even longer time still. It does my heart good to see him so excited to be a big brother; at the same time I feel is sadness over the length of the process. We have not decided yet for sure whether or not Nate will travel to China with us. We see both pros and cons to both options and will just have to wait and see what works out closer to travel time. I have a confession. I have done a bit of shopping. There are so many adorable little girl outfits out there I could not help myself. I purchased 12 month size figuring I would be pretty close. I have had to pretty much stay away from the baby section now that the Easter dresses are out. They are a bit pricey, but oh so adorable, I just know I would end up buying something. What can I say, I'm a bit excited about my little girl.Another couple from our church is in China right now getting to know their new son. They were united as a family on Monday, what a blessing! We cannot wait to meet Benjamin face to face. Well so long for today. Please pray for us as we wait on the Lord's timing and provision in our adotpion. ~T

March2, 2006

Well, I thought I would make this page something of a journal. We are 3 months into our adoption process and boy am I getting a bit of a lesson. For all of my planning and budgeting things are not working out according to MY plans and timing. I am learning that "life" will happen and that if I am depending on and counting on my own timeline, I am likely to be really frustrated and angry. As of right now we are ready with our paperwork to turn in our home study, and be a step closer to our daughter in China. "Life" however got in the way and after some car repairs and income tax issues we find ourselves without enough money on hand to submit said paperwork. I of course had a timeline set up in my mind and spent several angry days fuming that things got in my way. Over the past few days though, God has reminded me through various people as well as my Bible study that He is the one in control. God has a plan for our lives, which include the adoption of our little girl. God chose Mackenzie (and He knows who and where she is) to be our daughter long before we were even born. He has a plan and a timeline to ensure that we are matched up with the little girl who will become Mackenzie, and not a different little girl. The other lesson God is teaching me is that I need to concern myself with only today's needs and concerns. I am focusing my energies on coming up with funds and chasing down paperwork that are not "today's" issues. Before I can focus on tomorrow or 3 months from now or a year from now, I have to get through today. So my prayers now focus on God's grace and provision for today. Oh there is still planning. Not to plan would show a lack of responsibility and stewardship. Rather, planning is ok, so long as my focus and energy is on today. Wow. Ok. So as we wait, we save, as we save we learn patience and the Lord prepares us and our daughter to become a family. What a blessing! ~T