Saturday, December 10, 2011

For the Glory of the King

My oh my - it's already Christmas time!  This year has surely flown by. 

Many of you know we are back at our "home" church - and were so blessed to make it back in time for our kiddos to help in the Christmas Play.  Chloe was an angel, Sam was a Sheep, and Jax was a Camel.  Annie was Jr. Director and Maddie ran the lights.  The play went off without a hitch and everyone had a great time.  Afterwards, one mom came up to me and said that when Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and Sam went up to the manger - she leaned over and asked her husband what kind of animal Sam was.  The husband replied that he thought he might be a Panda.  (hilarious!)  To which I replied - since "Joseph" was from Vietnam - maybe so!  Leave it to our crew to inspire an Asian Nativity right here in the Heartland.

As for the rest of the Month - we've been completely blown away again this year with Sheet sales through Lori's Linens.  I want to be careful to give thanks to God for blessing our little business - because it certainly is not due to our superb salesmanship.  It's a wonderful opportunity to be able to tell our adoption story over and over and to play a small role in helping other families bring their little ones home. By the end of December - we'll be close to the hitting the mark for 900 sets sold!

Thanks to all our friends and family for all your support this year.  It's been a CrAzY year (and that's putting it mildly :-)

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


It's been a weird week packed with lots of emotion.  Every once in a while weeks like this come along and help refine us and force us to truly decide where we stand on certain issues.  Even though in America, we do not face persecution as believers do in other countries - we do face opposition to our beliefs.  The opposition we've faced recently has been good.  It has made us own up to our decisions, back them up with Scripture, pray for Grace and gracious words, and to love on people despite the differences.  All that said - I'll be honest in saying that we have felt a little beat up.  As many of you know - especially if you've ever ridden in a car with Jay - music is very therapeutic for this family.  This week we have focused on 2 songs that we wanted to share with you.

This one puts a smile back on our face and we've decided this is our family's new Theme Song!

This one humbly reminds us that His grace is greater than all our sin.  Hallelujah!  We stand in awe of a Mighty God.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reading Kisses from Katie

If you read anything this year, first - let me recommend the Word.  Second - would be Kisses from  Katie.  You will not be disappointed (in either one!) Take a second to watch Katie's Video

In Christ Alone......Our hope is found

Thinking about our study of Ephesians during Wednesday night Family Class - isn't it amazing really that as Gentiles - apart from Christ - we had no hope.   But that - through His Son - God made a way.  Really - we should all stand in AWE of that fact.  Truly, truly amazing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Sneeze Review

Here's a long overdue Book Sneeze Review.....

Voices of the Faithful - Vol. 2 is as great as the first one.  This book gives insigtful accounts of Missionaries who are living out life in the trenches.  These servants share how their faith is put to the test as they rely on their knowledge that the One True God is mightier than any obstacle they may face on the field.  Their stories grip you and often leave you teary-eyed.  These books have been used as a supplement to my daily quiet time or read out loud during Family Devotionals.  You will enjoy each page as you witness the absolute miracles that are taking place around the world as people just like you and me are taking the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Azi Needs a Home

This post is a little profound - but I thought posting it on the blog was a great way to spread the news. 

Some friends of ours are working in East Asia and have co-workers a little further west in Central Asia.  This family has met some great locals who live "life" with them.  One local family has a little girl who was born with bowel issues and is in desperate need of surgery to correct the problem.  She has been sent to the US once for surgery - but after going home - her parents have realized how poor their medical care is.  She has been met with inconsistent care and several infections back in her home country.  Because of the dire straits this family is in, they have asked their American friends to help find a Forever Family for their 4 year old daughter - so she can move to the US and receive the care she needs.  As Americans - we can't even fathom giving up our children like this - but this is a selfless act of love these parents are facing.  I have contact info for the Americans involved in this family's life - if anyone has an interest in stepping in to be the family for little Azi - please contact us and we will help you get more information. 

At the very least - we are asking our readers to please PRAY that Azi remains healthy and that her parents will have perfect peace with this situation.

We Hope She Can Hear

 Lori had her first Cochlear Implant surgery on Sept 15.  Her surgeon is Dr. Hullar at St Louis Children's Hospital.  The 4 hour surgery went extremely well and she did great.  We spent 1 night at the hospital and then came home by supper time the next day.  She will heal for 2 weeks then on Sept 29 - She will have her first day of sound.  The audiologists have told us that about half of the kids have postive reactions to their first sound and other half respond by crying or getting upset.  So - we don't know what to expect and trying to be realists about the whole process.  We hope to video her first reaction and share it on the blog.  For now - here are a few pics of Lori during her stay at Children's - forgive us for her disheveled look - you can only do so much with a huge bandage around your head and a hospital gown!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Job Saga

For our faithful readers who have been following the MoDot saga,  for months now - we have known that Jay's job is changing and even possibly ending.  MoDot is making major changes and cutbacks are lurking around every corner.  It's simply math - when you only have $X in your budget - you can't spend $XXX on payroll.  It just doesn't work that way.  So, some jobs had to be cut.  Well, Praise and Glory to our God - He provided yesterday and Jay found out that he has a new job - it's stable and secure - and still with MoDot.  So we get to keep our same insurance - which is a biggy for us.  Yeah!

A few things I learned this summer.....

1. That it's easy to bite off more than you can chew.  That I need to learn to say "no" sometimes.  That it's ok not to do everything you're asked to do.

2. That all that glitters isn't gold.  A sweet friend of mine has one of those lives that people envy - myself included.  A great house, great kids, great husband, great furniture, great vacations, etc - you know what I'm talking about.   She got "real" this summer and admitted a few things that let me see behind the green curtian - like when Dorothy, the Lion, and the Tin Man saw that the Wizard wasn't who they thought he was - and I learned that not everything is as it appears......One more reason to be thankful for what I've been given and a nice reminder to quit comparing myself to others. 

3. That time flies.  Really?  Where did the summer go?  I didn't get to do all the fun "summery" things that were on my list.  Time really flew this summer.  I'm a tad bit sad about that.

4.  I learned a little bit more about what a "Heart friend" is.  Another sweet friend used this term once while she was going through some trials and I didn't quite understand what she meant.  I learned a little about "Heart friends" this summer.  I want to be one.

5.  I learned that I really do like homeschooling - even for High Schoolers! 

6.  I learned that I don't have to beat myself up over homeschooling - that the last several years have paid off - and that we don't have to reinvent the wheel.  I learned that I can back off a little and enjoy this journey and my kids are going to be ok.  Really - they are.

7.  I learned that not all advice is good advice - even when it comes from well-meaning sources.

8.  I learned that "there's no place like home".

9.  I learned that God apparently wants us to stay in Sikeston -at least for now.

10.  I learned that I really love our small group.  I love having 20 plus people in my house on Sunday nights.  And I love the 20 Somethings that let us pour our hearts into their lives.  Thank You 

11.  I learned that I need to be thankful.

12.  I learned that Grandmothers really do pass away - We lost our Mimi on July 4 our our Nona on Sept 3.  They will be missed.

13.  I learned that sometimes you can follow something -  but that it doesn't always lead you where you thought it would.  Sometimes you walk in a straight line - and sometimes you come around full circle.  Right back where you were to begin with - although a little thicker skinned and street wise because of the journey.

14.  I learned that I love some things about Jay - really, madly, truly love them.

15.  I learned that each and every day we love this sweet little Chinese girl more and more - and she seems to feel the same about us.

Up Up and Around We Go

Our sweet Papa George surprised us with a zooming tour of Sikeston on Jay's 40th birthday.  I learned it can be "fun" to fly the friendly skies.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Depraved Indifference

This is a short film by Eric Ludy hammering home the truth that we all have a calling to be a father to the fatherless.  This film is so moving.  We hope you enjoy it, and that it stirs your heart to consider being God's hands and feet rushing to rescue a child in need somewhere...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And Lori Makes 8

We are coming up on Lori's 6 month mark of being a Lancaster.  She has adjusted amazingly well and it's like she's always been here. 

For our faithful blog followers - I know we've taken several weeks off - but it's been a busy summer.  As school starts back - I promise to post more often!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Leg and 2 Fingers

Have you ever been put in your place?  Well, we had one of those moments tonight.  We went to St Louis Children's Hospital for a Parent Consultation visit with part of the Cochlear Implant team.  The purpose of the meeting was to pick out all the components of Lori's implant. 
As we were walking out of the hospital, we noticed a lady in a wheelchair and (we assume) her dad walking toward their car.  We felt sorry for the poor women and probably should have offered to help.  She only had 1 leg and 2 fingers - missing her entire left leg, her left forearm, and part of her right forearm and hand - with only 2 fingers attached to her elbow area - she was pushing herself backwards in a wheelchair with her only "normal" limb.  Our first thought is that she was a patient - but she was obviously  past the age of 21 and more like our same age.  As we neared the elevator - they did, too.  We quickly found ourselves boarding the tiny box toghether - making a great opportunity for quick chit-chat.  Long story short - after quite an extensive conversation in the parking garage - We found out that she is married with 10 children.  She has 2 birth children and 8 adopted kiddos.  One from Haiti is a patient at Children's having hip reconstruction surgery after laying for an extended time in a crib.  She also has a child who is both deaf and blind and another with Down Syndrome.  She recently adopted 4 at one time from Haiti.  She praised the technology of Cochlear Implants - saying it made a huge impact on her daughter's life.  She mentioned that God is good and we asked if she was a believer.  She gave a hearty "Yes" and said she'd have to either be a drinker or a Beliver to have 10 kids!
We left and walked to our car completely humbled.  We both said "Just when you think you've actually done something good - you meet someone like her!"  We were definately knocked down a few notches and asked ourselves - what's stopping us from opening our home for another child or 2 or 3.  I know it's crazy - but the whole message of the Gospel can sound a little (and a lot!) crazy at times.  Only God knows what our future holds - but if she can see past her circumstances and find a place in her home and her heart to be a mother to 10 kids - then why can't we?  Why can't you?  Really - it's a question worth asking. 

BTW - Lori's surgery is set for Aug 19 pending insurance approval.  Jax broke his arm 2 weeks ago and hopefully will not have to have surgery.  Jay's dear Mimi went home to her Savior on July 4 - a fitting day to find freedom from this life.  It's been a busy few weeks - sorry we haven't blogged lately. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Songs to Jam

We're waiting - and have been all weekend.  For that phone call to let us know that our dear, sweet Mimi has breathed her last breathe on this side of Heaven.  She has been such a blessing to us - her fiesty personality and her love for our children - including the one who looks like she spit her right out! are traits only someone like her could posess.  Jay has always said she's his favorite and I think she may feel the same about him.  They share a special bond and she will be missed.  But we know that she has brighter days in her future and have no doubt that soon she'll be walking with Our Lord. 

For some reason - these last few days have brought up several memories stored in the back of my mind from years gone by.  I'm usually not sentimental - almost to a fault.  I've even teared up a bit today - not over Mimi - these last 2 years have been horrible for her - so I'm glad she's made it to the end of her journey and rejoice with her that she has faithfully run her race.  But over other things - small moments in time - days long gone that can never be re-created.

I found a picture of my firstborn - taken around her 1st birthday with a big red bow in her curly locks - now in a few short weeks, she'll be entering High School.

I sat and talked with a precious, precicous friend as she battles Stage 4 Cancer talking about what could have been and what is.

I listened to an old CD entitled Songs to Jam - only a few out there will recognize that titled written in Black Sharpie around 10 years ago about this time of year.  A group of crazy guys who thought they could throw together a band to play for a bunch of camp kids.  Soulfire - sure do miss those days - more than I ever thought I would.  That was such a turning point in our spiritual life.....Grubby - You Rock!! and you made a permanent dent in ole' Jay Lancaster.  A deep heartfelt thank you.

I've thought about some upcoming events in the life of one near and dear - ones that might sting a bit - and I'm sorry for what isn't and for what might be. 

Maybe too much thinking - sometimes that's what happens on lazy holidays when work is forgotten and families get remembered.

"For everything there is a season......"

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Day in the Life of the Lancasters

Wednesday night, we went to St Louis and Pricelined a hotel room because we had to be at St. Louis Children's hospital by 8:30 am Thursday.  With all these trips to St Louis, I've become quite a Priceline junkie.  We typically like to stay at hotels we are familiar with - so Priceline definately takes us out of our comfort zone and each trip is a little adventure.

Now, most kids who live near St. L grow up with grand childhood memories of visiting the zoo, Six Flags, the Magic House - with the addition of Lori - I think our kids are going to treasure memories of St L  Children's Hospital.  It's such a neat place and they have gone above and beyond to make it family friendly.    While Lori was evaluated by members of the Cochlear Implant team (looks like her surgery will be mid-August if all goes well) - the other kiddos played in the Rooftop Garden and the ever-popular Sibling Playroom.  They also marveled at the Saltwater aquariums (who wouldn't!) that dot the landscape.  Eye Candy is everywhere!  Even the Parking Garage contains hidden treasures.

After we left the hospital, we needed a little pick-me-up and decided to search for a Starbucks.  Thanks to our handy-dandy GPS app - we discovered one super close.  Problem is - it's not such a great idea to manuver a Suburban through the swanky little area near the  hospital.  So, we circled the same block at least 4-5 times to find a parking spot big enough.  Brought flashbacks of the classic European Vacation movie where Chevy Chase gets stuck in the London round a bout and repeatedly points out  - "There's Big Ben, Kids, and Parliament".  Finally Jay just pulled up and I jumped out to go in.  He circled yet again to pick me up.

Our adventure continued as we searched out the local Social Security Office.  Our insurance had insisted that we submit Lori's social security number by close of day on June 23.  Guess what - it's June 23 and her number was applied for on June 22.  Not our fault - by the way.  That's just the way it happened.  To get her SS number, she had to have a birth cert.  To get a birth cert - we had to process the adoption through the Missouri court system.  To do that - we had to have a court date.  To get a court date - we had to have  a lawyer draw up the papers.  Etc.  You get the picture - there were quite a few hoops to jump through and even after overnighting some necessary paperwork - here we were on the very last day.  

As we neared the SS office - the neighbor hood "changed".  One of those "lock the doors" moments.   However, Jay jumped out and got the number without any issues - although he did have to check his trusty pocket knife at the door.   As we were leaving, we spotted a Hair shop - you know the ones with bars on the windows and grafitti on the wall that sells hair extensions, fake nails, and cheap jewelry.  I wanted to stop in and see if they had any toupee tape.  Lori's hearing aids don't fit well - and we use toupee tape to stick them behind her ears.  Jay pulled in and I jumped out.  I walked in to find the store owners were Asian.  I explained what I needed and through broken English and hand gestures - they figured out that they did indeed have the tape.  I struck up a conversation with the lady checking me out and asked if they were by any chance from China.  Now, pay attention, this was some interesting info she gave me....

She said they were from Korea - and that most Koreans operate Hair stores, then she broke it down even further.  According to her - Koreans sell hair products, Vietnamese do nails, Chinese open restaurants, and immigrants from India have gas stations and Dunkin' Donuts. 

So, there you have it.  A day in the life of the Lancasters.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sleepy and Cranky at VBS

This week is VBS at our church...and Camille and I are both active in different stations...Camille in crafts and me outside doing recreation...tonight, Matt was gone for work, and right before the first group came to us, Maddie brought me Lori.  She was cranky and sleepy and mad, and Camille told Maddie to bring her to me...So she stayed by me, crying and screaming, while I talked with the first group...we muddled through it with the help of Miss Sherrie who took Lori to the kitchen for a snack.  While the kids from the first group were still playing, I caught up with Lori and Miss Sherrie in the kitchen and carried Lori outside, where we sat down to watch the kids play.  I held her close and rocked while sitting in the grass, as she threw a little fit.  After a few minutes of rocking, though, she got still and quiet...she was OUT!

We knew she was tired.  And I got her asleep...but now what???...we have another group of kids coming soon...I couldn't take her to some room in the church...if she woke up by herself in a strange room, she would freak I asked someone closeby to grab a crib mattress I saw in a spare sunday school classroom.

I was able to move her to the mattress,  as it laid in the grass close to our games...and she slept there outside with me all night until VBS was over.  One nice thing about having a child with hearing loss is that the kids can be playing loudly all around her, and she can sleep perfectly.

It was funny to watch the kids and adults walk outside for our recreation station to see a 2 year old asleep outside on the crib mattress sitting on the grass.  I guess its something you just don't see everyday!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's Official...again!

(from Jay)

This morning, we started off the day at the County Courthouse. We sat down before court began with the Judge, our attorney, the guardian ad-litem, and a couple court clerks. Camille and I and Lori all attended, and Camille and I went through a number of official questions that we had to answer under oath. It was interesting, almost surreal, going through the details of our adoption of Lori…Do you love this child? Do you plan to care for and educate this child? Will this child be an heir along with your biological children? Did you go to China an officially adopt this child of your own will? It was like we were reliving the process of the last year and a half. It was a great time. And before we were dismissed, Camille jumped on the opportunity to share our story regarding Lori to those in attendance…and honestly, I think they were completely listening and taking note of every detail of Camille’s story-telling. It was great.

But everything passed and our ‘adoption of a child from a foreign country’ was officially recognized by the county and the state of Missouri. This now allows us to get Lori a birth certificate from the State of Missouri, and the birth certificate will allow us to get her a Social Security number and card…and then…well…we’re done! She’s official! She’s a US Citizen. She’s a Missouri Resident. She will have a birth certificate and a social security card. She’s our daughter. She has the same rights as our other five (biological) children. She has had her name officially changed from Wu Hao Yu to Lori Faith Lancaster.


That’s worth a moment of silence.

But then, as we traveled home this morning, my mind drifted to think about a young Chinese couple…living somewhere in Hebei Province…that loved their daughter enough not to abort her…that loved her enough to study when and where to leave her, and left her with a note and with clean clothes, a warm blanket, and some personal items…a couple that lie down in bed at night and wonder what happened to their daughter that they left in that cardboard box at about six weeks old…maybe because she was their 2nd child…and if found, she could have been killed…

I wish that we could send them a letter or call them and let them know that she’s doing great! That their plan worked! That she is living in the land of the free with a family that loves her and cares for her! That she has brothers and sisters that she plays and fights with. That she could be getting cochlear implants soon, and that by Christmas, she may be able to hear us sing Christmas carols about the newborn king. Oh MAN how I wish I could reassure them and put them at ease. I pray that God will let them know for us in His own sovereign way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Reading List

So, I took a really cute picture of all my Summer Reading books laid out on our hammock - and, well, I can't seem to find any adaptors that fit my camera and this laptop.   Bummer!

But, I do have a great list of summer reading books that I wanted to share with you - so I did a little cut and paste as a back-up plan.  Here they are - hope you can find some time to enjoy a few good books this summer, too!  If you have other books to recommend - please leave your titles in the comments section.  Thanks

I'm really excited about this book for the kids.  I think we'll use it with our family devos at night (which btw have suffered dearly due to ball season!)  If you've read Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Meade - you know how great she is at explaining the Scriptures in a hearty way for little minds.     Forty interactive readings introduce children ages 8–12 to God’s saving work and the priority of the gospel by creatively unpacking Paul’s teachings in Galatians.
Long before we reach adulthood, the gospel ought to be shaping our lives. Paul taught the core truths of the gospel in his letter to the Galatians, and this collection of interactive readings for preteens applies those truths in understandable ways.
Each reading begins with a key verse and then highlights one element of the gospel in everyday terms, followed by questions and activities that reinforce Paul’s teaching. Meade guides young readers to a full picture of God’s saving work, as well as a real understanding of other doctrinal concepts such as justification by faith alone, the priority of Scripture, the requirements for apostleship, and the relationship between the old and new covenants.
For parents and teachers who want to awaken young hearts to a lifelong commitment to the gospel, God’s Mighty Acts in Salvation is a great resource. This is a companion volume to God’s Mighty Acts in Creation.

Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. 'How,' Ann wondered, 'do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long---and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?' In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It's only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted ... a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved --- by God. Let Ann's beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!

This is an incredible story about an ordinary woman who saw incredible needs and decided to do something about it - not just talk about it, but actually put feet to her words. It's not ok with me either and I'm sure it won't be ok with you once you read the book. It challenges you to act on what you've just read in a powerful and moving way. So I challenge you to read it and then get out of your chair and do something!   This book came recommended by a dear friend at church.  Really looking forward to unpacking these pages!
"Noël Piper tells the stories of five women whose lives declare something we have almost forgotten-what it means to be a Christian. May the influence of this book cause that awareness to burn brightly again in our generation!"
Ray and Jani Ortlund, Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tenn.

Breakthrough author Francis Chan rips away paper and bows to get at the true source of the church’s power—the Holy Spirit. Chan contends that we’ve ignored the Spirit for far too long, and we are reaping the disastrous results. Thorough scriptural support and compelling narrative form Chan’s invitation to stop and remember the One we’ve forgotten, the Spirit of the living God.

"I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me."Matthew 25:42-43 ESV
In many Bibles, Christ's words are set apart with a red font. It should be obvious, but this distinction helps remind us that when God becomes Man and that Man speaks--it's probably something we cannot afford to miss.
So why doesn't the church take these " red letters" to heart? Why aren't we doing more to be Christ's hands and feet to the poor, the disenfranchised, the weary, the ill, the fatherless, the prisoners? It's all there--in red letters. Why has the Church shirked its responsibilities, leaving the work to be done by governments, rock stars, and celebrities?
The Gospel wasn't only meant to be read--it was meant to be lived. From the HIV crisis in Africa to a single abused and lonely child in Russia, the Church must seize the opportunity to serve with a radical, reckless abandon. Author Tom Davis offers both challenge and encouragement to get involved in an increasingly interconnected, desperate modern world.

Art critic John Ruskin enthusiastically proclaimed her potential as one of the best artists of the nineteenth century, but Lilias Trotter's devotion to Christ compelled her to surrender her life of art, privilege, and leisure. Leaving the home of her wealthy parents for a humble dwelling in Algeria, Lilias defied sterotypes and taboos that should have deterred any European woman from ministering in a Muslim country. Yet she stayed for nearly forty years, befriending Algerian Muslims with her appreciation for literature and art and winning them to Christ through her life of love.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Update on Lori

(from Jay)

For those new to our blog, we are blessed to have legally been the proud parents of Lori Faith for a little over three months now. And for a good portion of those three months, we have been working with doctors, nurses, audiologists, speech pathologists, radiologists, ENTs, and First Steps providers to determine the severity of Lori’s deafness, and to see if there is anything we can do about it.

Well, from a non-SLP perspective, we have learned that Lori is profoundly deaf, and that hearing aids do not help. We, then, started walking down the path of seeing if cochlear implants were an option that could help her. To determine eligibility, we have had to see about three doctors, several audiologists, a couple speech pathologists, get an EKG, get numerous hearing tests…but our most recent trip to St. Louis involved Lori getting an MRI of her head.

First and most important, let me say that when your child is about to be sedated and they tell you that you are not to let them eat ‘anything’…that they really mean it. And if you tell them that your child had one bite of bread because they were fussy and hungry, they will only make you sit there and wait an additional six hours until they feel comfortable proceeding. This past Wednesday, we experienced this exact event. Around 10:30, Lori was fussy, and Camille gave her a bite of a pastry we had from stopping in Perryville…at Hoeckle’s I might add…bad call on my part probably….but we thought nothing of a small bite of a pastry.

Turned out to be a big hairy deal, and they pushed our MRI from 12:30 back to 4:30 (6 hours from the 10:30 bread incident). So…we walked around a lot, and finally made a brief stop over at the Art Museum in Forest Park (which is across Kingshighway from Children’s Hospital). It was there that we learned that older, female, museum volunteers get very upset when an 8 year old starts touching very old, very expensive paintings. Apparently in the brief moment I wasn't watching Chloe, she decided to get a closer look at one of the paintings.  I thought they were gonna throw us out...

But we survived, and made it back to Children’s for the big MRI. Lori first had to get an IV inserted into her hand. She took it like a champ. I am often blown away by her lack of response to pain. I suppose that at an orphanage, there is no one right there to pick you up and make a big deal with you get hurt…combined with the fact that she doesn’t hear her own cries…she is amazingly tough, and doesn’t cry much when she gets hurt.

They wheeled her away, and we waited for them to page us on a restaurant style pager. She did great they said, but when we got to her she was out! She finally woke up, and we made our way home.

What we found out this past Friday, after all the smoke cleared, is that Lori IS a candidate for a cochlear implant, and they are hopeful that it would give her some level of hearing. (Stop and Clap or Shout or Praise God!)

There is one obstacle that remains…how to pay for it. Cochlear implants are very expensive, and for now, we are waiting to hear what our insurance will determine. If we get shot down, we won’t be done…we can then appeal to the insurance company and/or begin some fundraising efforts to pay for the implants.

For now, we ask that everyone join us in praying that insurance will approve the surgery. This will be life-changing for our little Lori.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


(from Jay)

Having a big family is sometimes like carrying a 200 pound backpack full of food for 50 miles to starving orphans.  You know its the right thing to do, but its tough!

Somedays, though, you just step back and take it in and smile!  For the last three Easter weekends, we have in some way celebrated with a family dinner to observe what I call a New Testament Passover.  We fix some traditional foods.  We discuss the Old Testament Passover, and then bring it forward by discussing how Jesus ties into it.  Twice we've done it at home, and last year we did it with other families at our church.  Its such a blessing to stand back and look at our crowded table.  I know some day I'll miss it!

For now, I pray that God shows us how blessed we are!  To remind myself that my big family is a blessing and not a burden, I recently ordered some new stickers for the back of my suburban.  Six arrows with my kid's names on them.  I plan to put them on my rear left windshield.  It represents my quiver.  So, when the bills are expensive, and the stress is high, and the house is trashed...I am reminded by Psalm 127:3-5 that says, "Children are a heritage from the arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

In today's day and time, two kids is the norm.  But despite this cultural norm, despite how tough it is, how expensive it is, and how you can be required to watch four kids play ball at the local ballfield complex on the same night from 5pm to 10pm...children are a blessing...fill your home with them!  I pray that we are intentional and raise up homes full of children that become Godly adults prepared to do battle for God's kingdom in the next generation.

Thoughts from Proverbs on Marriage

(from Jay)

Most of us have heard that Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. That being said, however, he didn’t seem too wise on his number or choice of all of his wives. I do think that he struggled with some of these decisions over time. This even comes across in one of his treasures that he left us, the book of Proverbs. It’s obvious that some of his wives were winners, and some were not.

In Proverbs, Solomon pours out his wealth of wisdom to his children. Advice to heed. As you read along most of us can glean so much from the words…and then, out of nowhere, you find these interesting statements that don’t always seem to fit.

It’s almost like you can see Solomon, sitting in his office or his chamber or a quiet room with a scroll and his quill…writing the most important lessons of life to the next generation. He’s focused…He’s deliberate…intentional…writing…writing…and then from behind him, one of his wives…in a loving, kind voice, encourages him or discusses something with him, and leaves him breathless…his train of thought now completely off-course…he finds some closure in writing about

Rain Day

(from Jay)

Lately, one thing we have had plenty of is rain...and lots of it.  One Sunday after church recently we were just finishing up another good rainstorm, and I noticed that the gutter outside our house was full and running strong.  So...we made lemonade out of lemons.  The kids put on swimsuits, grabbed their toy boats, and we had fun. 

They would go down two or three houses and release their boats,  and we would follow them back to the storm drain that is right in front of our house.  Oh, and Chloe decided to just lay in the thing, too.

Chinese Orphan to American Girl

(from Jay)

Just had to share this pic my sis took at the complex the other night while we were watching ballgames.  Lori was sporting sunglasses and enjoying a ring pop.  I'd say she's settling in fine...

Oh yeah, and nothing could be more American than this next pic we grabbed in St. Louis recently.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trying a new camera.......

I bought a new camera (but have since taken it back b/c it just wasn't what I was looking for) - but here are a few of the trial photos.  Enjoy!

If you're gonna stir the pot - be ready to get some on you

We just got off the phone with someone dear to us.  We'd been told that this couple was having trouble in paradise.  So, Jay called and decided to "get up in their business" and ask some tough questions.  Now, in our American culture - we totally understand that that's not the most acceptable approach.  But, as the child of divorced parents, Jay says it's not gonna do anybody any good by staying silent.  If we do that - we'll just hear about their impending divorce after it's too late and we'll think - "that's too bad - another family to add to the statistics".  Our question is - why do we stay silent?  Why don't we go knock on their door and say "We are not going to sit back and watch this happen.  What can we do to help?  Let's walk this road together."  Why do we hide behind our troubles and not seek help?  Why are we so embarrassed to admit that we are less than perfect?  Why are we, as the church, not fighting this fight for the family head on?  Why are our churches filled with "smiling, plastic people" whose lives are crumbling apart outside the stained glass walls?  I'm just venting a bit........seems like there has to be something we can do.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ancient Chinese Secrets

I have a million things I need to be doing right now other than typing a blog post - but I just did something so profound and had to write about it.

When we picked Lori up from her orphanage, she came with a few personal belongings.  Most of the items were things we had sent over to her - toys, clothing, pictures.  They also packed her toothbrush, an unopened travel size tube of toothpaste, a lidless sippee cup.......and a bag.   I just unzipped the bag. 

It contained 4 things plus a plethora of unknowns.  I had unzipped this bag twice before - but never really thought about the contents.  The first time was in the foyer of the orphanage and the Director quickly explained the contents.  The second time was during our presentation at church. 

Tonight was different. 

After bathing Lori, brushing her teeth, making faces in the bathroom mirror, and putting on her PJs - I headed downstairs to do some quick laundry.  In a house of 8 people - the laundry is NEVER caught up.  It gets better some days - but its never ending.   We can actually see the laundry room floor today - so its on the upswing.  While the piles are small, I thought it would be a good time to wash the contents of the bag - which has been sitting over on side of the laundry room for weeks, patiently waiting its turn.  I unzipped the bag and did a thorough search.  I found 1 small baby undershirt - sort of a faded teal color with little pictures on it. A soft cotton - with little cuffs on the sleeves that can be turned into mittens to keep a baby from scratching itself.  I found a puffy pink jacket - way too big for an infant - but perfectly good at keeping a baby warm and cuddled.  I found a handmade dark blue striped baby quilt with hand stitching in a coarse with embroidery-type thread.  It isn't a work of art by any means.  Maybe it was made quickly out of whatever materials the maker had on hand - or maybe the maker spent hours meticulously fashioning this beautiful quilt with the best sewing skills they could muster.  And I found a store bought bright orange and while polka dot baby bunting quilt - unlike anything I've seen in the US.  Sewn into the top is a little collar that ties around the baby's neck and forms a hood of sorts.  It's almost like a small sleeping bag that can worn on the mother's back or maybe it's made to fit a small cradle and surround the baby in softness and warmth.  

This is what Lori's parents left her in...............................How profound that here I stand putting it in my washing machine.  I stopped and prayed that the Lord would help me understand the depth of this moment.  I prayed that her parents would have some peace.  I want them to find closure.  To "know" that she's ok.  She's OK!  If I scream this loud enough - do you think they can hear me? 

Someone carried this sweet girl in their womb, brought her forth through pain and suffering, and then wrapped her up all warm and snuggly and found the perfect place to put her so that she would quickly be found by well-trained teachers.  This was their adoption plan.  They loved her enough to seek the best plans for her.  And now here I stand on the other side of the world stuffing their baby's quilts in my washing machine and making faces with this little girl in my bathroom mirror.  This may be the most profound thing I've ever done.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Hook on the Book

Yay!  The short version of the Lancaster adoption story and Lori's Linens fundraising idea have been chosen to be a part of author and adoptive mom - Julie Gumm's new book.  You can preorder starting May 1st.  We hope our story and the Gumm family tales can help encourage and inspire other families to adopt.  You can read more about Julie Gumm's book at