Monday, December 25, 2006

A Blessed Christmas

This has indeed been a blessed Christmas season for our family, and perhaps the last one we will all spend together (Ollie was not here, but all of the kids were).

Yesterday our pastor quoted someone who posed the question, "Where would we be without Jesus Christ?" The answers were along the lines of cultural and societal differences and they were certainly massive considerations. However, Bob posed the same question to our family, on a more personal level.

But for the love of Jesus Christ, we would probably be a family of three, with one very spoiled biological child. Not that this would be Tessa's fault, though. Rather, we would not have been good parents if we lacked the love, patience and perserverance which comes through tbe love of our Lord. We would not have adopted any children from Russia, nor from the disruptions, if the love of Jesus was not in our hearts. Without the love of Him, our lives would be lived selfishly and that would most likely not include having a dozen kids in our home!

Of course, this subject can even begin to be a selfish one, as we tend to think how not having Jesus would affect our own lives. It is because of Him that we can live to serve others and not ourselves.

On another note, this is also a season of beginnings for some in our family. One of our favorite gifts came from a daughter who has been with us for three years, yet has not been able to bring herself to call us Mom and Dad. Due to prior heart commitments she made in this area which were broken by the adults in her life, she found it very difficult to say those words that had previously broken her heart.

God has done amazing works in this child's heart recently and it has been joyous to watch and participate in. She wrote letters to Bob and I and asked that we open them last, after all of the other gifts. In these letters, she thanked us for all of the love we had given her and asked us to forgive her for not always being the best daughter in the world. She also stated that her Christmas gift to us will be to call us Mom and Dad from now on. God has given her the courage to make this commitment once again and we are eternally grateful to Him! Indeed, she came to us this morning to thank us for the stocking stuffers and her exact words were, "Thanks Mom and Dad!"

To top it all off, another child wrote us a note thanking us for our love and promising to be more forthcoming with expressions of love to us. When I hugged her and wished her a Merry Christmas this morning she returned the comment with an "I love you!" What more could a parent want than to see their children walking with the Lord?

I hope you all have a blessed and merry Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Dinner Menu

Here is something I posted on our website:

OK, all of this talk about food brings me to our Christmas Dinner menu. It may make Ollie shudder, but remember - she will be in Maryland! As we were talking about the biblical meaning of Christmas one evening, I pointed out that feasting indeed had a biblical basis and asked the kids what they would like for our Christmas dinner. Here is what we have come up with so far:

Ham (my choice)
Cranberry sauce (an overall fave)
Hashbrown Casserole (requested by Kathryn and Zhenya)
Green Beans (Shawn)
Oriental Salad (Irina is making this)
Hot and Sour Soup (Kathryn)
Kim Chi (Naomi and Bob)
Rolls (Me)

Dessert -
Russian pancakes (Jennifer is making these)
MS Mud Cake (Bob)
Pumpkin Pie (Tessa)
Other suggestions that we may or may not take - Angel food cake with Strawberries (Shawn), NY Cheesecake (Kathryn) and Oreo Cookie Dessert (Trey)

There is a bit of a story behind the Kim Chi. It is made locally and sold at an Asian Market by a Korean woman who speaks limited English. I was there earlier this week looking for the Thai peppers Naomi needed for spring rolls and I bought some of her Kim Chi. She kept pointing to one jar and saying something like, "Squee," over and over. I thought she was saying "squid" but that just didn't seem to make sense to me. So, I acted like I knew what I was doing and made the purchase.

Today I returned to buy our Christmas Kim Chi. I asked her the difference between the two kinds and she started saying the same thing. Thankfully, another customer knew what she was saying, though, and told me that the large jar was made with fish sauce. Apparently that Kim Chi did indeed have squid in it, along with oysters and other fishy foods. I bought the gallon jar of that and the smaller jar of vegetarian Kim Chi for Nikki. It goes fast around here - the last batch was gone in only a couple of days!

Ahhhh, culinary diversity....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

December Birthday Celebrations

Jennifer and I had the privilege of celebrating our birthdays together today. She will be 20 on Tuesday and I was 45 yesterday. With our hectic schedules, today was the only day we could find when everyone was home at the same time.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Poem

Bright green wreaths
Deck the halls
With their shining splendor
Little silver bells
Toll in curious wonder
Once upon a Christmas.

Deep red bows
Grace the table
Bringing Christmas cheer
The vines of lights
Say joy is here
Once upon a Christmas.

Little starry eyes
Bright with wonder
A hand is reaching out
It touches gifts
Moving all about
Once upon a Christmas.

Yet long ago
On one dark night
Sat shepherds with their sheep
They looked up
And saw the angels
Once upon a Christmas

A little babe
Of lowly heart
Was lying in a manger
He came to save
Us from God's anger
Once upon a Christmas.

He comes again
Thought near or far
Or now the time may be
He comes to save
And set all free
Once upon a Savior.

By Tessa Edwards, Christmas 2006

Tessa, age almost 16, continues to enjoy honing her writing skills. She has recently started a part time job at an animal hospital also, which suits her quite well. In or around Feburary she will most likely be getting her driver's license, which she is very much looking forward to. Mom wonders, "Where in the world have the last 16 years gone?!!"

Three Whole Different Lives

I suppose not many folks are still checking in here, since it has been so long since we have posted! Sorry about that - life just keeps happening. ;-) I did want to post this short essay that Anna wrote for school, though. She has changed so much in the past three years - all for the better. Her middle name rings true these days - Joy! Here is what she wrote:

I had three whole different lives. My first was eight years of orphanage life. My second was three years of misery. And my third is a forever life.

While living in the orphanage my mind was lost. I didn't know anything except anger, attitudes, selfishness and that I was in an orphanage. Actually, it felt more like jail.

My second life was in a family that had good and bad people. I got along with three and got in fights with the other three. I was stuck in the middle. I, of course, constantly got in trouble. I knew more things and I started knowing God, but not enough.

And, my third life is a forever life. There's no more anger, I suppose. Honestly, I feel more freedom and relaxation in my third life. I am also meeting a bunch of kids. Of course I still get in fights and all. And I also know much more about God. This God gave me three whole different lives. He gave me those lives for a purpose. I was in an orphanage, then He gave me a family that didn't work, so He gave me a different family so that I can hear more about Him. How great! It's a puzzle.

Anna is 14 years old and has been our daughter for three years. We have seen her mature a great deal and she has recently come to know the Lord as her Savior! She is currently writing her testimony to share with our church when she is baptized.

She asked me if the word "forever"was the correct word to use in regards to being in our family and I assured her that she would indeed forever be a part of our family while we are on this earth, even after she becomes an adult and leaves home.

Her hunger for things of the Lord is so refreshing and exciting. She strives to truly understand what she reads in her Bible each day and how she can apply it in her own life.