Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Unwrapping the Gift

Something felt different to me this Advent season and I couldn't pinpoint exactly what was missing. And then, as I searched my heart, I realized that many of our Advent seasons have not only been surrounded in our joyful expectation of Jesus' birth, but also in the joyful hope of waiting for our own "child births" through the gift of adoption. This is the first year of many that we were not--in one way or another--in the midst of adopting a child. 

There's something about the adoption process that puts your heart--your mind--into that same space--joyfully, hopefully, expectantly waiting for the arrival of something amazing--something that will change your very being and turn you upside down in a God way. Much like waiting for Jesus. It's a journey that feels uncomfortable and harder than almost anything at times, but in the end you walk out a different person, and your faith is galvanized. It's like this great, big gift that's unwrapped through the process. While I do acknowledge that our nest feels perfectly full right now with four little souls {five including our angel} whom I love with all my heart, I can honestly say that I miss unwrapping the gift. 

As I reflect upon our tremendous list of blessings {especially the fact that our five precious children have come home} and thank God for each of them, my gaze shifts focus to the future. Lord, how will I fill that space for the least of these this year and next without adoption? And I realize that the Holy Spirit's already set those wheels in motion. For, in 2016, our charitable ministry called Open Hearts for Orphans was born, and many little lives have already been blessed. That, friends, is where my energy for the orphan will be genuinely harnessed for now. Until we are called back for more, this is where and how we'll be unwrapping the gift.

Can't wait to see where God leads. Join me?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Breaking Light

Social media makes the world so much smaller, doesn't it? Just recently, I posted a comment in response to a Facebook post that Ann Voskamp had written about ministry. It said, "The size of your ministry isn't proof of the success of your ministry."

It resonated with me so deeply having dedicated so much energy to our labor of love in Daniel's memory over these past few years. And I had just written out our $50 donation for the new cardiac care center, called Dew Drops, for abandoned and medically fragile children. Our donation seemed small. But God...

A day later, I was contacted by a woman from the Netherlands who had seen my comment and wanted to inquire about our said ministry. Turns out, Anna and her friend, Wendy, have spent the summer writing a poignant and inspirational series of posts called Breaking Light on their faith-filled blogs called Joy of the Spirit Within and Widow's Manna. With their ministry of sharing, they hope to "open doors and expose the amazing light God shines from those who know pain and adversity and heartache."

Next thing you know, we were working on an interview together. The questions challenged me, and at times I felt a loss for words, but then I watched Anna and Wendy bring my words to life! And I realized how the Holy Spirit had worked within me-within us-as a team. Here are some fine examples of their inspirational creativity, and if you feel inclined to read the whole interview, you can get it here. If my words make an impact on just one, it would be a wonderful blessing to me. All Glory to God. I'm so thankful for these Spirit-led connections that allow us to break light!

{If you'd like to read more about Anna Smit and her book, Love Embraced, find it here.}


Saturday, June 25, 2016

I could never...

I could never adopt a boy.

I could never adopt a child with a serious medical condition.

I could never adopt an older child.

I could never adopt a child with unknowns.

I could never adopt a child with a neurological diagnosis.

I've written this post a million times in my head over the past ten years, as the list of  "I could nevers" has grown, and I'm ashamed to admit that these were all thoughts that, at some point, belonged to me.

I owned them all.

I stand amazed, as I reflect on each one, how God has used every one of our adoptions as a gateway... a gateway to a more open heart. Those were all limitations that I put on myself, and God's plans were obviously so much better than mine. He knew there was so much more in me. We now live with all of these  "I could nevers" in our home, and in our hearts. 

You see, alone--I couldn't. But with Jesus--we could.  

He is the source of our strength. He is the source of our courage to say yes to all of the fears and doubts and "I could nevers" that could have stopped us from embracing the biggest blessings of our lives...all five of them. We simply needed to trust and follow Him. And now--with confidence, an open heart, and over-brimming faith, I can say...

I could adopt a boy.

I could adopt a child with a serious medical condition.

I could adopt an older child.

 I could adopt a child with unknowns.

I could adopt a child with a neurological diagnosis.

Because I have. 

Maybe you could too. 

"But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace."
Galatians 1:15 NLT

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Printed or Paperless...

Somehow, in the hustle and bustle of our adoption to bring our Lulu home, I forgot to post that With an Open Heart is now available in Kindle edition! The price is only $5.99, which is almost half the cost of the original version's e-book and just another reason why I love publishing through CreateSpace! As an added bonus for those who've purchased a printed copy on Amazon, you can purchase the Kindle version for just $2.99!!

As a reminder, all proceeds of With an Open Heart are donated to orphan care ministries in Daniel's memory, so we thank you for your continued support!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

February proceeds - Morning Star Foundation

When a sweet Facebook friend, Jean, who writes a beautiful blog, decided to share a book review with others in February, I asked her to choose the charity for the month. And her choice? Morning Star Foundation. Since a very important part of our giving, in Daniel's memory, is for charities that care for babies and children with broken hearts like his, there was no question that Morning Star would be a future beneficiary of our proceeds--it was simply a matter of "when," and I was thrilled with Jean's perfect choice for CHD Awareness month. February also happens to be an extra-special month for us because Daniel's birthday was February 2.   

I first "met" Meredith, the Director of Morning Star, about two years ago on Facebook. This amazing young woman has made it her mission, along with other loving nannies, to foster some of the sweet orphans in China who need it most. These women pour out every ounce of their energy to these babies. Many times they blossom, sometimes they endure painful struggles, and sometimes, much to our sadness, Meredith watches them go home to Jesus. This young lady's probably seen more in her years than most of us will in our entire lifetime. She puts her heart out there on a daily basis for those babies, and I was honored to include Morning Star as a trusted Resource in the revised version of With an Open Heart.

When it came time to choose which child would receive the donation (not an easy choice at all), Jean chose a very special baby named Lilah Lu, one of their newest little gems. She arrived at the Morning Star home as a ten-month old baby, barely weighing seven pounds. Lilah has a complicated heart condition, and they have been working hard to pack some pounds on her, so she can receive the heart surgery necessary to heal her broken heart. As of the latest updates, Lilah Lu needs our fervent prayers. She is still on the ventilator in ICU fighting to breathe as the world waits and prays for her lungs to recover. She won't be a candidate for surgery until her lungs can heal, and her road ahead will not be easy.

We sold forty books in February and an anonymous Facebook friend with a very large heart stepped forward at the last minute with an unbelievable offer to match triple our donation! We are grateful for your purchases of the book, which raised almost $650 for Lilah Lu. If you feel led to help support the Morning Star babies, you can see them all here to let hope shine. And please keep them, and their amazing caregivers, in your prayers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Today, sweet son of mine, today my thoughts are drawn to the woman who carried you in her womb.

And I wonder...

I wonder how she felt, eight years ago today, when you took your first breath. I imagine her expression as she soaked in the depth of your beautiful soul and cradled you for the first time. It must've been so magical.

I wonder how she felt when she first discovered you were sick and realized that she couldn't possibly take care of your medical needs. Did panic set into her heart at the thoughts of giving you up? It hurts my heart to think about it.

My mind wanders to that point, seven months later, when she made what must've have been the most agonizing decision of her life--to leave you. Found at the gates of a residential community, I can only think she must've been hiding somewhere nearby to make sure you were safe in someone's arms.

I wonder, is she thinking about you right now? Does she recount each memory, in detail, of you in her arms and in her life? Does she cry each year on your birthday, or does she try to push the pain away...

And I wonder...does she know?

Does she somehow divinely know that you've taken a spot in Heaven?  Oh, son, I wish she could know how loved you are. I wish she could somehow know how your little light still shines in the world. Oh, how I pray your angel wings span over China and that she feels you. Like I feel you.

I was there for your last breaths, sweet son. And it was so very painful to watch you leave, but I know in my heart you were destined for bigger things. I can imagine you are a busy boy up there, and I love you for it. I love you, period. For all of eternity.

Daniel, you are such a precious gift. 

Today, I think of your beautiful birth mother. And I thank God for her, sweet son of mine.

Friday, January 29, 2016

What's New?

If you've read the original edition of With an Open Heart, you may be wondering what's new in the revised edition.

Well, the story in itself is not new, rest assured. The original version has not been reinvented or anything drastic like that. Daniel's story happened the way it happened, so most of the content has been preserved as it was.

With that said, some of the content has been rearranged, and a few more beautiful memories have actually been added!

Three years later, from a renewed perspective, a section called "Notes from the Author" has been added.

The book has a new endorsement from bestselling Author/Advocate, Kay Bratt.

Our list of Resources has grown.

This book's Dedication...yeah, that's new. It's been in my heart for a while, but now it's on paper.

The cover. THE BEAUTIFUL COVER. Need I say more?

Oh yes. Because the talented artist who designed the cover? She designed the interior, too. And it's perfect. You can read more about Anj Riffel and Kingdom Heart Publishing here.

Another favorite part of this new edition is the publishing piece. The book now costs the reader $5 less than the original, yet the royalties more than double for charity! And since our goal is to make a difference in Daniel's memory, that is a big deal.

We hope that you enjoy the revised version of the book. We are always grateful for your positive reviews, your social media shares, and your recommendations to family and friends.

And now, while you wait for your book to come from Amazon, I invite you to read Chapter One...for free...so you can get started right away. Once your book arrives, you might not want to put it down.