Monday, December 31, 2012

Good Bye 2012!

2012 is coming to a close ... tonight at Midnight we will welcome 2013 with a celebration with friends! Just a quick look back at our year ... and what a year it has been. {pictured above - February week long vacation at Disney World}

{June - Lexi spends a month in summer dance intensive and Devin spends the month doing All-Star baseball}

{August brought a family vacation with our friends, The Hanback's, to the beach in Florida}

{Christmas this year was spent with an orphan from Latvia in our home}

God has blessed us in so many ways this year ... love seeing how He works in all of our hearts. Looking forward to 2013 ... my word for the year- PEACE. I will find peace in whatever plans God has for me and my family.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2 Weeks with Miranda

So hard to believe ... it has been 2 weeks since we met Miranda and brought her into our home. This past week was filled with more fun adventures. We visited the World of Coca Cola with Miranda and her chaperone, Dace. Dace is amazing and it was so nice to spend a whole day with her. She was able to fill in a lot of blanks we had in regard to Miranda's life {so many things Miranda has attempted to tell me in Google Translate just have not come through - words do not always translate and I was left guessing many times what she meant}

Dace and Miranda both loved the World of Coca Cola and we were so thankful for the sweet blessing Coca Cola gave us by donating tickets for our family to visit.

Lexi and Ava Mae loved sitting on the couch used in the 2009 season of American Idol.

We have also enjoyed more shopping {thank you sweet friends for all the gift card donations!}... lots of gifts for kids at Miranda's orphanage and her director and the workers. Miranda's favorite thing - "Hello Kitty"!!

And, this was the message I received a few days ago on my phone from Miranda via Google Translate. It is going to be hard to say good bye in two weeks. No matter what ... I was reminded today of God's promise - there is hope in Him. So happy to be able to expose Miranda to the love of Jesus for the first time in her life.  Praying we have planted seeds that will continue to grow!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve and Christms Day with Miranda

It seemed we blinked and Christmas was over this year ... it was a very different Christmas for all of us. We had an amazing celebration of our Savior's birth though, not without some difficult moments with Miranda. Anytime I would begin to feel a little selfish and think I was missing some tradition we normally had around our home I remembered that we are doing Kingdom work this Christmas and God's hand was in our day. Does Jesus really need us to bake a particular dessert to remember his birthday or would He rather have us pouring our love into an orphan who was having a rough patch in her stay with us.

Chrismas Eve had us at church by 11:40 so that Lexi could practice lighting the Advent wreath before the service and meet Pastor Bryant Wright for a photo op. Our whole family was able to enjoy a quick minute with our Pastor before the Noon service and Miranda practiced hard the night before so she was ready and it was so sweet to hear her say "So nice to meet you - my name is Miranda" in her adorable accent.

I was not prepared for Miranda to begin sobbing as the orchestra and choir began to play ... she was unconsolable and we had to just comfort her with hugs. Lexi did a great job lighting the candle and as the service went on Miranda seemed to settle. After church it was on to a very late brunch ... Miranda was still visibly upset and Devin, being the sweet soul he is, begin crying in the restaurant as he felt horrible how bad Miranda was feeling. At one point my selfish heart almost threw in the towel and went home without brunch but, we hung in there and I had a sweet conversation with our waitress who had lost her son a few years ago at Christmas and we discussed our hosting Miranda and her own heart for adopting. {all while Miranda and the girls were in the restroom} One thing I have found is having Miranda here has given us so many opportunities to witness to others - everyone always has tons of questions about hosting and how we came to do such a thing. I am always up front with everyone in letting them know this is not about our family blessing an orphan but, about God showing His love to a sweet girl through us. We have been blessed a hundred times over from this experience ...

After brunch, we headed home to prepare for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Miranda prepared a "chopped salad" the night before that is traditional in Russian culture. I was completely taken back by how well she knew her way around a kitchen. Her expert use of utensils and her ability to prepare a dish without any recipe. Our dinner consisted of filet mignon, company potatoes, chopped salad, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls and a tray of sweets.

The girls had made sugar cookies for Santa earlier in the day so those were ready to go.

After dinner it was time for opening our traditional Christmas Eve gifts of new pajamas and blankets - Miranda squealed with delight when we gave her the items. She could not wait to race upstairs and change - then it was time for some pictures and off to bed after reading more from our Advent study. All the kids, including Miranda, chose to sleep in the girls' room. This is a tradition around our home and Miranda was so happy to be included.

Thankfully, the kids let us sleep until 8am. We had a wonderful breakfast of eggs and cinnamon rolls after the kids opened their stockings. It was so fun to see the excitement in Miranda's eyes ... I don't think she could believe all the items she received in her stocking.

We gave the kids a little break after breakfast - read some more from our Advent study and then let them open gifts. Miranda did not only enjoy opening her own gifts but, seeing our kids open theirs. She laughed along with Ava Mae when she opened her new American Girl Doll. And, I loved that Miranda could not contain her excitement when she received an MP3 player ... she jumped up and hugged both my husband and I so hard. {later in the day we sat and put music on it for her ... some Christian artists and, of course, Justin Bieber and Hannah Montanta - so funny to me that kids in Latvia who do not speak English can sing all these songs}

Christmas night was wonderful ... our good friends, The Holcomb's, joined us for a night of fellowship, snacking, singing "Happy Birthday Jesus", and opening gifts. They were so generous with Miranda and gave her gifts that she absolutely loved!

It seemed all to soon the night was over ... my husband and I both fell into bed declaring one of the best Christmas' ever - while hosting is not for the faint of heart it truly brings the true meaning of Christmas into your home when you "Give Christmas Away" - making it about Jesus and loving others more than loving yourself. 

At bed, we were met with notes from Miranda to each of us saying "I love you" ... what an amazing ending to an amazing day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

3 Days ... {day 6 with Miranda}

Six Days now with Miranda ... she is fitting in like one of the family. Today it was haircut, ice skating {thanks to our friends - The Reid's}, baking, and Lights of Life followed by dinner at Steak and Shake. Also, figured out Miranda loves taking photographs. And though, I have to say it freaked me out a little bit - we let her take our camera onto the ice to capture photographs. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

4 Days ... {day 5 with Miranda}

Love seeing Miranda's personality emerge more each day ... today it was a trip to a Russian grocery store and a "Welcome" pool party hosted by New Horizons at an aquatic center. 

I really like that I was able to catch these playful moments ... my kids love playing with Miranda and she is so sweet with them. She is patient with Ava Mae and loves joking with Lexi. When Ava Mae tried to blame her sister for something - Miranda corrected her {"No, no, no Ava Mae. Not Lexi, you."}. I think she understands more English than we are giving her credit for.

Pictured below ... an impromptu photograph taken by a Waffle House worker.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

5 Days ... {day 4 with Miranda}

Today we were so blessed to be able to take Miranda to the Atlanta Ballet's performance of "The Nutcracker" - especially nice was the fact that Atlanta's version is Russian based so Miranda had some familiarity with the costumes and set decoration. She loved at the funny parts and seemed engaged the whole time. She said she had never been to a theater. Normally, taking a family of six to the Nutcracker for Christmas would require a major cash outlay but, one of Lexi's ballet teachers dances with the Atlanta Ballet and we were able to get "friend/family tickets" for just $18/each. Less than 1/2 of what we normally would pay. :)

Lexi's friend, Ellie, who dances at the same ballet school as the girls came along and there was lots of giggles and fun to be had during the ride down and back. We also had fun running from the parking garage to the theater in 30+ mph winds.

Only a little negotiating on the outfit and I finally broke down and just let her wear the outfit we had purchased for Christmas service.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

6 Days ... {day 3 with Miranda}

Day 3 ... Miranda continues to emerge and become more and more outgoing. The kids are having so much fun!

Miranda loves all of our pets ... their names are some of the first words she spoke here at our home. She also has learned to communicate with them and tell them to come or our dog to sit. She even said "Maggie I love you".

It is exhausting, as Miranda is having so much fun she jumps from one activity to the next with lightning speed - it is hard, I won't lie about that but, remembering this is a mission experience for my family. Keeping it all in perspective and having good friend I can talk to when I am at the point of needing a break really helps.  

Miranda took it upon herself yesterday to show the kids how to make tons of bubbles with dish soap and a straw.

In the afternoon, she made 3D snowflakes with expert technique ... I am going to have her make some more with the girls tomorrow.

We also found she loves jumping on trampolines!! Thankful today for the Pearson family who brought us dinner and breakfast for tomorrow morning. For one of my very best friends, Tammy, who came to my rescue and allowed so much needed - energy to be expended on their new trampoline. Also, so thankful to my husband who at the end of the day helps me keep things in perspective and took all the kids to the McDonald's play area so that I could have a few moments of quiet in the house!

Keep praying everyone as our journey continues ...