Happy Easter

Eleven baskets all in a row.


Easter cookies all ready to go.


Eleven happy children with their eggs to show.








This weekend we celebrate the cross. The horrid seemingly senseless death of a God/man who’s only crime was that He came from Heaven to live among His own, those He created and loved so deeply that He left His throne above to become one of us, to walk among us and feel our pain.

We celebrate Jesus and the miracles He did. We celebrate His love, His humble birth, His sinless life, but we forget that He came for the sole purpose of going to the cross, to pay the price for our sins, to do what we could not, to unite us forever with a Holy God.

Nothing stands between us now, except our unbelief.

We live in a world where we have grown too wise for God. We make our own gods; but God isn’t who we believe Him to be, or even who we want Him to be. We don’t get to create our version of God. He is real and personable and can be known and longs for us to come to Him and know Him as He is.

We must come to Him on His terms, we come through His son Jesus, through the Cross. There is no other way.

When Eliza and Evangeline were first home, we immediately began sharing the gospel with them. We prayed with them, used the translator to tell the story of a God who loved us so much that He sent His only son to die on the cross so that we might live in flawless union with Him forever.

I remember one night, Eliza’s eyes were wide with understanding. She asked if Jesus had come for all the world. We said, “Yes. He came for everyone in every country across the world.”

With a clarity that took our breath away, she typed in the translator, “Does every nation know it?”

No, sweet Eliza. Every nation doesn’t know it.

But they will.

5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature of God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. ~Phillipians 2;5-11

The joy of Easter is that God became man to make us one with Himself, forever.

He willingly went to the cross for us. He didn’t have to go. All of Heaven would have come to His rescue, but he went willingly, for you and for me.

And He didn’t stay there.

He rose. He lives.

Tomorrow we celebrate, not His death, but His life, His life that made us one with Himself, and offers us eternal life.

Do you know Him? Have you come to Him on His terms?

He is waiting with open arms. Come as you are.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. ~ John 3:16,17

Happy Easter!


My Dream To Fund Your Adoptions

My Facebook is full of faces.

There are faces of children who have come home to their families. There are faces of children laughing and playing with their siblings. There are faces of children going off to school, faces of children celebrating birthdays and holidays with those who love them.


There are many happy faces, and I am blessed by each one.

But there are far too many faces of children longing, children longing for food, longing for warmth, longing for safety, and to belong, longing for the one thing we all take for granted.


There are far too many children longing for a family.

So many question God, and wonder why He has allowed all this pain, and I could write about that if I chose to. And perhaps I will someday.

But those words aren’t for today.


Today I want us to see that we are the living breathing body of Christ. He lives in us. His power, His strength, His peace, His unity with the Father, He, in His entirety lives within each one of us.

Everything we need to rescue every one of these children is available to us. All of Heaven is available to us if we would but choose to believe.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. ~Matt. 11:24

And yet the children wait.


Families wait for funds. They wait for a sign. They wait for God to move first, but God’s word says the just shall live by faith. (Galatians 3:10-14, Habakkuk-2-4, Hebrews 10:38) We are called to go and trust God for the provision we need. God made that so clear to us as we trusted Him for the means to bring Eliza and Evangeline home.

for we walk by faith, not by sight ~2 Cortinthians 5:7

Even so, wondering how we would come up with the money for their adoptions was by far for us the most daunting aspect of adopting the girls.

They had significant special needs, they were teenagers, and had lived all of their lives as orphans, and none of that mattered to us. All we needed were the funds.


And all these precious children need are families who are willing to go and bring them home.

Frequently, it is established parents who know they can meet the needs of these older children, who know they can parent kids with special needs and who have the experience necessary to parent these kids. And yet, it is those same families whose budgets are already spread thin meeting the needs of their already established families.


And that’s what this post is all about.

I want to fund adoptions.


I want to develop an income stream that will fund your adoptions.

That’s my dream.

I get the trusting God to provide part. I watched Him provide every penny we needed to bring our girls home.

And I also know we are called to work not only for ourselves and for our own. We’re not here to be idle, or to merely trust God for the means to support our own families and pay our own bills. We’re here to do His work. We’re here to care for the fatherless, for those less fortunate than ourselves, to work hard, and earn the money to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves.

As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. John 9;4

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Matthew 9:37-38

Not only must we work, we must be aggressive about it.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24

I have had a desire to build a business that would be relatively easy for families in the adoption community to support, that would not cost families more each month than they are already spending at their local grocery store, and that would have the potential to grow into something substantial and renewable monthly in a short amount of time, and also have the ability to provide significant funds each month to adoptive families.


So that’s my dream.

I’ve been praying about this for a couple of years as we have travelled our own journey of adopting the girls.

Mark and I have been involved in various network marketing opportunities over the years with varying degrees of success. In each opportunity though, we felt we were asking families to spend money each month that they were not already spending. We also frequently found ourselves in the position of trying to create in people a desire to begin a home based business that in reality, many just weren’t interested in.

We also had an online store, CribsAndBibsBoutique.com where we sold Pedipeds children’s shoes and several high end toys. Our business grew, and we ended up moving a lot of shoes. But it was difficult to stock the number of shoes we needed to really produce an income. We also found we were needing to order many of the shoes people were ordering from us, which provided a longer turn around time in a world that wants their orders to arrive in a couple days. We kept our prices low, and moved a lot of shoes, but didn’t make a profit.

Then, in March, the day before Evangeline was to have her spinal surgery, we were introduced to an opportunity, a sort of buying club, that really piqued our interest.

The products we were introduced to were products we were already using each month, AND they were green products, making them better for ourselves and for the environment.

There was a onetime fee to become a lifetime member of $25, but we ended up joining during a special for one dollar.

I immediately thought of my blog, and began thinking about setting up my blog as a non-profit organization, signing up my blog and growing the business through MyLifeInGodGarden.com, and giving 100% of the profits to adopting families each month.

It boils down to asking people to change where they shop each month for about $50 -$75 worth of items they are already spending.

Over the past several months, I have done nothing toward building the business because my life has been consumed with caring for our eleven children and Evangeline’s and Eliza’s significant special needs.

But during that time, we have found that we really love using the products. They are not over priced, are friendly to nature, gentle on septic systems, and all natural and safe for our bodies. So I feel completely comfortable offering them to the adoption community.

It will take me a while to set up a non-profit status on my blog or to partner with another ministry who already has non-profit status, so I would like to begin by building the business under my name, and giving you, 100% of the profits.

So what I would like to do to get started is begin by asking people in the adoption community who are either fundraising, or looking to support families who are, to listen to the opportunity here, and leave a comment on my blog if you are either interested in becoming a member to use the products or to begin a business, and if you would be like to be considered as one of the families to receive the profits raised.  You may be prompted to enter a username and password.  If so, enter the following:

username: story
password: story

It is my desire and prayer that this would grow quickly and infuse the adoption community with significant funds needed to bring the children home.

A new family will be chosen each month to be the recipient of the monies raised that month, and 100% of the funds earned will be donated to that family’s adoption.

Just to give you an idea how quickly this can grow, I’d like to share that the chiropractor who introduced us to this opportunity had been working the business for eighteen months, and had already built up a residual income for his family of $27,000 a month.

I think we could do better than that.

What if we all just changed where we shopped each month for about $75 of the products we are already buying?

It is conceivable that we could fund a new adoption each month, or even more.

Will you join me in bringing the children home?


Livi Lou Who

My husband, Mark, wrote this and put it on his Facebook page yesterday. I thought it was so precious that I’d share it here today too.

Inspiration hit me at 6:00 this morning, coincidentally after Olivia had hit me several times, and I wrote a poem for everyone out there who has experienced sharing a bed with a child.

With apologies to Dr. Seuss, I offer you:

An Ode to Livi-Lou Who


Late every night, please don’t ask me when,
Our bed is visited by an elf-like friend.
It’s tiny and sweet, and makes hardly a noise,
Which is how I can tell it’s not one of the boys.
But this is no elf, no it is not,
But rather a Who, the tiniest tot.
Livi-Lou Who, who is twice more than two,
Wakes up every night knowing just what to do.
She slips from her cot and climbs up on our bed,
Crawling her way to lie close to my head.


With knees in my back and hands in my face,
This tiniest of Whos is all over the place.
Tossing and turning, she never lies still,
She is the answer to, “Why, why a sleeping pill?”
Her dad kissed her forehead and laughed as he spoke,
“Why, child, I wish to survive your kicks and your poke!
The smacks on my face, which you never announce,
Come every night, waiting to pounce.”
She giggles and laughs and snuggles in close,
And THAT is the part that I love the most.


Happy Christmas Everyone! May all your Whos be Merry!



The Lost Years

“Every one knows that!” David retorted in a snarly tone.

The dogs barked repeatedly, upset by the angry din of the children’s quarreling. Livi whined, “Mommy, I’m full.” And Jon tirelessly insisted that he, “definitely did not need to eat any protein at breakfast time.”

“No, David. You’re wrong. She does not know that. She wasn’t here then.” Sophia calmly answered David.

I saw the sadness fill Eliza’s eyes, and she pushed her face firmly into my chest. “Oh sweety, you were in China then. Let’s see, you would have been about eleven years old.” I struggled for the words that would somehow unite our pasts into one story, a story that was different for each of us, but one story, none the less, that led us to each other, that brought us together, as mother and daughter, as family.

My words seemed to offer no comfort to my sweet daughter who had spent her first fourteen years on the other side of the world. She rubbed her hands against my stomach.

“David was in your tummy, Mommy?” She asked with sadness in her eyes.

“Yes.” I said, wishing I could ease her pain and fill the void that I struggle daily to satiate.

“And the others too, mommy? Everyone except Evangeline and me?”

“Yes, Lovey. They grew deep inside of me. And you grew deep inside your China mommy.” And there I floundered. How could I find the words to help my daughter reconcile the wrongs that characterized her story, her life, and had made her who she is today. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say, that I knew her mother loved her, that I knew she longed for her daughter just as sweet Eliza had craved her all those years she waited for her mommy in China. How could I have said that? I know nothing of her mother or the reasons she made the decisions she made.


She groaned and stomped her feet as she pressed herself into me with the tenacity of a child much younger than her fifteen years.

“I want to be in Mommy’s tummy! I want to be your baby!” The tears began to fill her dark almond eyes.

I felt it too, that deep yearning for the years we had lost. I longed for the days when someone else had held her. I ached for the tears she had cried when I wasn’t there to wipe them.


I longed, too, for the smiles that had spread across her childish face that I never got to see. I wished I had heard her baby giggle and been there to kiss her chubby little fingers. I wished I could have been the one to put the bandaid on her little knee that I know she must have scraped.

But this was not about me. It was about my daughter, about her pain, and about me looking for a way to merge our stories together, to join our lives into one. It was about my desire to help her come to terms with a life that wasn’t fair, and with all the loss she felt at that very moment.


So instead of repeating some hackneyed phrase like, “You grew in my heart, Eliza,” I opted for something a bit less eloquent, but something I hoped would begin to heal the ache she felt. “I wish you could have been in my tummy too, Eliza. I wish you could have been here all the years you were in China. I wish we could have brought you home sooner. I wish you could have grown up here with me and all of your brothers and sisters. I wish I could have held you all the days you grew without me there. I’m so sorry for all the years we lost.”

Tears rolled down her precious cheeks, and I held her as she cried for all that we had missed.

“I wish it could have been different too,” I said through my own tears, standing in the middle of all the bustle and noise of the kitchen. “And I am so thankful that you’re here now in my arms, that God has brought you all the way from China to me, and that He’s chosen me to be your mommy, that our lives are forever entwined, that our stories are now conjoined, and that every day, we’re writing a new story together.


That seemed to soothe her for the moment. I kissed her forehead, and in my mind, I wanted to promise her that I would be here with her for far more years than we had been apart. I wanted to promise I’d be at her wedding, and hold her babies, and love her well into adulthood.

But I knew, those were promises that I couldn’t make, they were commitments that weren’t mine to give. And that all I really had to offer my dear daughter who lived so much of her childhood with out me, was myself, at that very moment.

As the tears streamed down my cheeks, I made a deep commitment inside my heart to make every single day count with my dear children. Some I’ve held close since their conception, and two I’ve only had the ability to hold close for fifteen months. Whatever hurts or joys their lives held, and whatever the future holds, isn’t mine to alter, but today, I can love them.


I can pause and rest my eyes on theirs and smile at each one today. I can hold them tight. I can bless them with my words. I can instill in each one the conviction that no matter how I falter as a mother, I believe in them and know that they can do what ever they want to in their lives.

And I can introduce them to the Saviour, to the one who has promised never to leave them or forsake them, to the one who is faithful, even when we are faithless.


Blessings All!

I Didn’t know

I lay there under the covers, daylight streaming in the windows, shivering. My five daughters gathered around me dressed in yoga pants and tee shirts. Our tiny four year old snuggled close, giggling at the idea that she was keeping her mommy warm. Sophia sat stoically on the edge of the bed, wordless. Victoria flitted through momentarily and was gone as quickly as she had come, but not before she had left us with a witty comment about how it was long past time to be lying in the bed.

Eliza and Evangeline leaned across the bed against me. They couldn’t have been closer if they had climbed inside of me. Their raven black hair provided a striking contrast to the chestnut brown hair of Victoria and Sophia and the honey blond of little Livi.

Yet there I was amidst my very own daughters, strikingly different from each other, and yet so much more alike than they were different, and united by a common bond of deep love for their mommy.

Eliza held a mug of warm milk she’d fixed for me, and Evangeline tucked the covers tighter and tighter around my body, that seemed to have melted away before their very eyes over the past several months.

Little Livi slipped a cashew in my mouth, and said, “Eat another, mommy.”

Merely a year ago, I was traveling to China to become the mother of two young ladies who’d lived as orphans far too long. I didn’t know them. They were nothing more than a fantasy to me, a fantasy of two super young teenage girls who’d never known the love of a mommy.


I went to give that love. I went to answer a call in my life to love two little girls less fortunate than the children i already loved. I went to change their lives, to offer them a home, and a family, i went to introduce them to the Savior.

I went to give them myself.


I remember the days I met them. They were precious and timid and afraid and so much different than I’d imagined them. They were lovely, but couldn’t have been more foreign to me than if I had bumped into them on a crowded street in a large city. I had gone to China to get them on a paragraph of information written by someone in another country who claimed they knew them.

And perhaps they did. But nothing in those paragraphs enabled me to know these dear girls who were now my daughters.

The first ten months I weathered long hospital stays, severe surgeries, near death illnesses, and daunting diagnosis that I hadn’t expected, and I did so with a grace and a strength that was not my own.


I was carried along on a current of God’s grace and power, and my life exuded that verse that has become my own.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is staid on thee, because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

But then I took my eyes off of the One who called me, the One who parted the waters and provided every single penny I needed to bring the girls home. I began to look at the enormity of what I had done, or rather, what God had done through me. And more importantly, all the enormous needs that had now become my own. The needs of our eleven children grew bigger and my strength diminished.


Fatigue and weakness and anxiety overtook me. And with those new emotions, the desire to eat left me. For months, the weight loss was rewarding and I gloried in the smaller and smaller clothing I required. The girls flourished and while our biological children had adjustments and feelings to deal with, they weathered the enormous change in our lives with an ease and a matter of fact ability that was rather remarkable.

Then I became the one who needed. I became the one who was hurting and needed the grace and strength that only God can give.

And I didn’t know.

On this day when exhaustion and deep weariness had overtaken me, and I lay there on my bed with all five of my daughters close beside me, shivering and needy, I remembered how I’d held them all, each one at varying stages of their development, how I’d nursed them to health and loved them until security began to replace insecurity and neediness began to disappear into a sense of belonging and a confidence of their role within our family.


And I realized that in the giving and the loving, in the striving and the failing, in the believing and the questioning, I had become the one who had been given the biggest gift.

I didn’t know that I would become the one who would receive the greatest blessing.

In giving my life away, God had brought two lovely young ladies from across the world to love me, care for me, and bless me on my lowest days.

And I’d be dishonest to say that all is well and I’m managing all of the new responsibilities with ease, but I am aware of the incredible gift adoption has given me.

We did change their lives. We gave them a family and a home and opportunities that they never would have known had we not travelled to China back in September of 2012.

But we are the ones who are richer for having chosen to love them. We have chosen to pick up their heavy crosses and carry them on backs, and with that decision has come an incredible amount of hard work that has been exhausting. But in the midst of all the striving and working and loving and hoping and trusting, we’ve been given an eternal gift of two precious daughters of our very own.


There aren’t words to express the incredible joy that fills our hearts as we have allowed ourselves to receive God’s very precious blessings in our lives.


Evan And Livi

Mark had off yesterday for Election Day, and ended up taking Victoria to her piano lesson. As he was rushing out the door, Evan and Olivia decided to go with him, and they spent their time at the church playground while Victoria had her lesson.


Mark took theses pictures with his phone. I love them for several reasons. Perhaps mostly because my bigs so rarely let me photograph them.


But I also love these pictures because they provide a glimpse into the tenderness siblings can share, a comfort and familiarity that spans the ages and enriches all of us.


And I love these pics too, for the deep love that fills me when I look at them.


His Faithfulness Shines

Fall has arrived here in New Jersey in full force.

The air is cooler, the leaves are failing, and the lovely autumn weather seems to be beckoning us to come and play among its splendor and be refreshed.

And we are.

Both of the girls are now fifteen.

It’s seems so hard to believe that Eliza and Evangeline have been home thirteen months. In some ways the time flew by as we plunged into loving our newest blessings. In other ways it seemed like time crawled while we pressed through huge medical issues with Evangeline and sought answers for Eliza’s very difficult adjustment.

I remember the first week we were home. We were at our first appointment with the adoption clinic at CHOP, and I recall the social worker explaining to us that things become so much more comfortable after a year for these older children and for their new families.

With amazing punctuality, I notice that happening for all of us.

We’re heading into our second autumn, our second Thanksgiving together, and unlike last year when everything was so new, this year the girls have memories of a previous fall we shared. They have happy associations and memories that are familiar to them now. And their smiles speak of a common history that has now become their own.

The change a family has made in Eliza and Evangeline’s lives is indescribable really.

Where once there was uncertainty, there is now the confidence and peace of knowing they are loved and not alone anymore.



I think one of the most amazing things for me, as a mother, has been the ability to watch the girls become siblings, to see them share their strengths and personalities, to carve out a place for themselves that is worthwhile and meaningful amongst all their brothers and sisters, and finally to become intricately woven into the fabric of their new family.




I’ve also been amazed at the ability of our biological children to welcome their two newest sisters with an ease and a natural acceptance that has been rather remarkable.


As we move into our second year with the girls, I am aware of God’s miraculous hand in our lives.

Merely fourteen months ago,we were still $30,000 from having the money to go and get the girls.

Today, we are completely on the other side of God’s enormous miracle. He not only provided every single penny we needed to bring the girls home, but He has faithfully carried us through this year and blended our family together in a way only He could have.

In spite of all the struggles and the tears we’ve cried, we’re here, a year into this amazing journey with the girls, and through it all. God is writing His story of power and redemption in our lives.

If you are stepping out in faith today, to make a difference in someone’s else’s life, or walking through a valley that seems to have no end, know that you can trust God to be faithful to see you through.

He will not forsake you.


A Deep Valley

Today I thought I’d share a funny story with you.

Victoria was planning a trip to a concert with her cousin, and Mark was in the midst of telling Victoria that he didn’t want them to go alone. Either he or Andrew would go with them.

Then he added, “I can’t have you getting abducted!”

And in the sweetest, most confident little voice, David announced, “Actually Daddy, aliens don’t exist.”

Sweet boy.



This morning as I was knee deep in homeschooling and serving up various mid-morning mugs of hot cocoa and hot tea with milk and sugar to my precious students, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of how blessed I am to have the privilege of teaching my children.

The morning had gone exceptionally well, and all of the children were enjoying each other. They were chatting about books they were reading and helping the little ones with things like hopscotch and writing their letters.



Olivia and Jonathan were having great fun with the glue, and wonderfully demonstrating that amazing ability children possess of making something wonderful out of nothing.


All out of craft supplies?

No problem!

Just glue toys, and the glue bottle.



It’s great fun!


It was one of those surreal moments for me when all of the sudden I realized we had made it through, and we were okay. We were really okay. We had walked through the hard and finally come to a place where things had begun to feel more comfortable again.

Many of you have followed our first year at home with the girls.

It’s been a very demanding year. Evangeline had six significant hospital stays with enormous medical issues, and through it all, we struggled to understand and meet Eliza’s needs.

I’ve written some about my concerns for Eliza, but I’ve held a lot back too out of a desire to protect her.

At first we were told that Eliza had Autism. There certainly were behaviors that supported that diagnosis, and yet there were still so many unanswered questions.

A few weeks ago, we were finally able to have a neuro-psyche evaluation completed for Eliza, which gave us a much clearer picture of our sweet girl’s strengths and weaknesses. The results indicated that she is functioning at the borderline MR level, with an extremely low attention span and a real weakness in reasoning ability.

As much as we suspected issues like this with Eliza even while we were still in China, it helps so much to have a clearer understanding of why we’ve been seeing the behaviors we have.

During the winter, I just kept going, kept pressing on with a calm resolve and an expectation that we’d get through this first year and be okay. It felt like I was a horse with blinders on. I saw the path before me, and kept moving forward, and nothing else really had much effect on me.

But this summer I lost that focus.

I lost the belief that we would really be okay.

I forgot that this was God’s work and that we could do this only because of His strength, only because of His presence in our lives, only because of His grace.

I took my eyes off of what God could do and became overwhelmingly aware of what I could not do.

The girls needs weighed so heavily that I began to feel like I couldn’t leave my bedroom, let alone face the needs and constant demands of all eleven of our children.

It truly was a deep low for me, a valley in my life that I am only now beginning to get through.

Today I could see that great light at the end of the tunnel. I was filled with an amazing peace that we had indeed chosen to walk the path to which God had called us to walk, and I felt deep inside that amazing blessing that we can only know when we have pressed on and walked through the valley with God.

If you are walking through a valley in your life as well, know that God is faithful to bring you through.

Even the darkness is light to Him.

I believe there is a special lesson for all of us to learn as we walk through the valleys of our lives. And for me, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness to us, even when we are faith-less.

if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. ~2 Timothy 2:13


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