January 24, 2017

We're Thrilled to Introduce the Newest Little Philpot

Five years ago we began the adoption process with Lifeline Children's Services. Our oldest children were two years old then. At the time, we were thinking we would adopt two children from The Democratic Republic of Congo. Eventually, we had to switch our application to Ethiopia. We adopted our now 3 year old daughter through another agency while we were on the Ethiopia waiting list. Then the Lord redirected our plans, and we ultimately switched our Lifeline application to pursue a domestic adoption. I shared more details about the reasons behind those changes here. But to make a long story short, God was directing our steps all along the way to add this little boy to our family:

God taught us so much during the time of waiting. I hope to share more about that sometime.

We're thankful for many friends and family that have prayed for us. And we're thankful for the Lord's grace and kindness to us and our newborn son.

May 26, 2016

Two Weeks Later - A Testimony of God's Grace

I remember reading once about a man whose wife had died. At her funeral, friends were amazed at his composure. Though he grieved, he grieved as one with hope. He was sad, but also full of peace and trust in the Lord. They asked him how he was handling it so well, and he replied that years of studying the Bible had prepared him for her passing. He had spent a lifetime reading, memorizing, and believing the Word of God, and he knew his heavenly Father well. Even at a time of pain and loss, he had deep roots in the truth of God's character and ways that grounded him. This man's testimony has stuck with me through the years as an example of the kind of faith I aspire to. These past couple of weeks, his story has come to mind, and by God's grace I'm thankful to say that I've experienced his words to be true.

It's been a little more than two weeks since I handed a baby girl back to our adoption case worker. And God has been so gracious to us since then. Grieving was the hardest for me since I'd spent the most time with the baby, but God has truly been "near to the brokenhearted," as it says in Psalm 34:18.

There are several passages from the Bible that have helped my heart. One is Isaiah 58:10-11. The Lord brought it to my attention in When I Don't Desire God by John Piper, which I'd been reading with a friend, and in my daily Bible reading plan.
"...if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."
John Piper uses the passage in a chapter called "When the Darkness Does Not Lift," which you can read on page 226 here. One way to avoid self absorption and self pity is to focus on others, to love and serve them as unto the Lord. And God can certainly provide new opportunities during a time of loss to comfort and empathize with others that are also suffering in various ways.

Along those lines, enjoying and caring for these precious people has been a help to my heart too. We have much to be thankful for.

Sunday morning before church I was thinking about one aspect of all this that had been troubling to me. I kept telling myself that the arm of the Lord is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1), but it was difficult for me to think about a child I'd set my love upon growing up in a home where she may or may not hear the gospel. I tried to think of a Biblical example that would be an encouragement to me, and Moses came to mind. In Exodus 2, Moses's parents gave him to Pharaoh's daughter in order to spare his life. Though they would have taught him about the one true God, they trusted the Lord with his soul even though they knew he would grow up in a home where he would not be taught about Him. And God's arm was not too short to save! Moses grew up to be a man God would "speak to... face to face...as a man speaks to a friend" (Exodus 33:11). He was the one God raised as a shepherd over all His people. That encouraged me a lot. And then, our pastor preached that evening from Hebrews 11:23-31. The beginning of the passage specifically talks about Moses' parents' faith in hiding him, and then Moses "refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward." I feel certain that the Lord ordained the timing of the sermon to encourage me, and help me entrust the baby's soul to Him.

Many people have been praying for us, and I believe what James 5:16 says - "the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." I am confident that we are doing so well in great part because of family and friends that have been praying for us. The Lord is showing grace and sustaining our joy, peace, hope and focus on Jesus.

We would love to be chosen by another birth mother soon, but I'm working at not setting my hope on that. I want to treasure Jesus and be satisfied in Him, and trust that the Lord will direct our lives in His perfect way and timing for His glory.

May 14, 2016

We had a baby for a week

On Thursday, April 28 my phone rang with the call we'd been waiting to receive for a year. A birth mom had chosen our family to adopt her baby girl. She was due on May 15, only two short weeks away. We rejoiced, we told family and friends the exciting news, and we started to get ready for baby girl's arrival.

On Monday, May 2, only four days later, we got another call saying that the birth mom had preeclampsia and high blood pressure. She was being induced and we needed to get to the hospital right away. So we picked the kids up from school, scrambled to pack our bags, and within two hours we were on the road. We made the 12 hour trip through the night and got to the hospital 45 minutes after she was born.

The next week was wonderful. I was given a room in the hospital, and the baby was with me day and night. She was so tiny, only 5 lbs 11 oz at birth. Our whole family adored her. We spent time with the birth mom each day we were in the hospital, and it was a good, comfortable relationship.

When the baby was discharged, we stayed in the home of friends of a friend. We couldn't have asked for a more thoughtful, generous, kind family to spend those precious days with. My husband and two oldest kids drove back home while my two year old and the baby and I stayed behind to wait for the baby to be cleared to leave the state.

On Tuesday morning, May 10 we got another call. But this one was much harder to receive. The birth mother was considering parenting, and she was going to be meeting with her counselor that afternoon. The next five hours were very difficult. I read the Bible and prayed a lot. I spent time in Psalm 107 and James 5:10-11, which says "As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful."

At 2:50 pm I got one last phone call. The birth mother had decided to parent. An hour and a half later the adoption counselor came to get the baby. That final phone call and handing the baby to our adoption counselor are moments that I've replayed in my mind many times since.

Tuesday was a really hard, very sad day. I cried a lot. After they drove away with the baby, one of my first thoughts was that God will make all things new. Things will not always be this way. Revelation 21:3-5 says:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 
What a glorious hope.

We had named her Gabrielle. The birth mother had given her the middle name Laila. Gabrielle means "God is my might," and Laila means "night." So her name kind of meant something like "God is my might even in the night." And we have found that to be true.

Tuesday was hard. But even as I was walking toward the adoption counselor's car with the baby in my arms for the last time, I knew God was with me. And I've been amazed at how well we've been doing since then. We are full of peace and joy, hope and gratefulness. I know that's because of God's grace toward us, and because the prayers of God's people on our behalf have great power (James 5:16).

We would have loved to be this sweet girl's parents. But we trust that the Lord's ways are higher than ours, and His plans are good and right.

So now we're praying for this birth mom and her daughter, especially that they would put their faith in Christ and be saved. And we're also praying that another birth mother will choose our family soon.

May 2, 2016

Summer Reading

We've enjoyed a lot of good read-aloud books together over the past couple of years, and with summer approaching I thought I'd share some of our favorites. For a much longer list of books we like, you can check out this page. We'd love to hear your recommendations too!

Chapter books:
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
The Black Star of Kingston by S.D. Smith
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
North! Or Be Eaten! by Andrew Peterson
Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson
The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson
Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John (unabridged, original version)
The Tanglewood's Secret by Patricia St. John (unabridged, original version)
The Gold Thread by Norman Macleod
Teddy's Button by Amy Le Feuvre
A Basket of Flowers by Christoph Von Schmid
Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim's Progress by Oliver Hunkin
Fanny Crosby: Queen of Gospel Songs by Rebecca Davis
George Mueller: A Father to the Fatherless by Rebecca Davis
Freedom Fighter: The Story of William Wilberforce by Betty Everett
Tammy and Jake Learn about Friendship and Bullying by Catherine MacKenzie
Keeping Holiday by Starr Meade
The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterson by Nancy Brown
The Tower Treasure (Hardy Boys) by Franklin Dixon
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

Picture books:
Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World by Paul Maier
The Prince's Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul
The Priest with Dirty Clothes by R.C. Sproul
The Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus by John Hendrix
Polycarp of Smyrna by Sinclair Ferguson
St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
Nick Plays Baseball by Rachel Isadora

Books for mom and dad:
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
God Took Me By the Hand: A Story of God's Unusual Providence by Jerry Bridges
Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash
Holding on to Hope by Nancie Guthrie
One with the Shepherd by Mary Somerville

September 12, 2015

Waiting on the Lord

Hi friends! We wanted to share a quick update about our adoption process since many of you have prayed and given to our matching grant (which ended back in April).

The short story is that we're waiting.

When there's a birth mother that's ready to choose a family for her child, our agency sends us an email with information about her social and medical history, the baby's due date and gender, any possible legal issues, etc., and we let them know if we'd like our profile to be shown to her or not. We've been open to be shown to any birth mother that we're able to.

A birth mother is shown 10 family profiles at a time. If more than 10 families express an interest in being shown to a particular birth mom, the agency tries to show her 10 families that have been waiting the longest and best meet any criteria that she has expressed are important to her.

Right now, we've gone almost 8 weeks without receiving an email about a birth mother. That makes me a little sad since our agency works with Christian crisis pregnancy centers in 7 states. I'm hopeful that these agencies are supporting the women to parent in such an excellent way that adoption is not a needed option for them. But still, knowing how rampant abortion is in our country, it's sad that we are waiting so long to welcome a much desired child into our family. So far, we think our profile has been shown to one birth mother since April.

Ultimately though, we know that God is sovereign. He is orchestrating every detail of the timing of this. We know that He will do what is right in His perfect timing. So we are waiting on Him and enjoying the three wonderful children that He has already blessed us with!

April 22, 2015

Matching Grant Update - Thank You!

We're humbled and grateful to report that the Lord has provided every penny we needed to meet our matching grant goal! In the meantime, we've been awarded three other smaller grants toward our adoption as well. We continue to be amazed at the ways God has faithfully provided for every one of our adoptions. THANK YOU for praying for us, and for helping and encouraging us as we welcome these precious little ones into our family!

March 13, 2015

A Matching Grant!

Beloved family and friends,

We write to put before you a praise and a need. As many of you know, we're in the domestic adoption process to add a fourth child to our family. We’re very excited to provide a "forever family" for another little one within the next six to twelve months, Lord willing!

Adoption is full of joys and challenges, with one of the greater challenges being finances. The costs to adopt include a home study, agency fees, a lawyer, and travel expenses, with the total ending up somewhere around $30,000. We thank the Lord for the many ways He has always provided for us and trust that He will continue to do so!

One of the ways we've seen God's provision is that we were recently awarded a matching funds grant through Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. for $2,500 to help with the expenses of our adoption. Praise the Lord for His amazing provision! What that means is that if we receive $2,500 in donations through our friends and family toward our adoption, Hand in Hand will match them to make $5000 total. If you feel the Lord is directing you to give, this is a wonderful opportunity for your gift to be doubled.

You can find out more about Hand in Hand, a non-profit private operating foundation, through their website at handinhandadopt.org. If you have questions about their matching grant program please feel free to ask. You can also contact Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. with any questions you may have at 913-248-5015 or handinhandadopt@gmail.com.

For the grant to work, people would have to donate directly to the organization. Checks would need to be made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” and all donations need to be received or postmarked by April 21, 2015. Donations would need to be mailed directly to Hand in Hand at:

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
18318 Mimosa Court
Gardner, KS 66030

**Please include our name on the outside of the envelope only… do not put our name on the check itself**

Your gifts do not go unnoticed by the Greatest Giver! In fact, your giving is an act of obedience to the Lord, in addition to your generosity toward us. "Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)

Thank you for your love for our family! We’re grateful for your encouragement and prayers as the Lord expands our family and provides a loving Christian home for a child in need.

February 22, 2015

More Music

I posted once before with links to worship music I love listening to, and thought I'd share a few more recent favorites, all excellent songs!

Behold the Christ - Sojourn
New Again - Sojourn
Romans 11 (Doxology) - Andrew Peterson
Canaan Bound - Andrew Peterson
He Who is Mighty - Sovereign Grace
Nothing But the Blood - The Journey Collective
What a Friend We Have in Jesus - David Potter
Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus - Chelsea Moon
Be Still My Soul - Leigh Nash
Our Father - Hillsong
Psalm 126 - Bifrost Arts

November 20, 2014

Noel and Talitha Piper on adoption

I just listened to Noel Piper and her daughter Talitha speak about adoption from The Gospel Coalition women's conference this past summer. So encouraging. We've been helped for years by their family's example. Oh how I pray that as our children grow they'll understand and love the beautiful picture that their adoption is of God's adoption of each of us that are His children!


November 18, 2014

Do Good and Do Not Fear Anything that is Frightening

I have a strong impression that in adoption, God has been calling me to do something a little more intimidating each time. And each time I find that He equips me for the task, and that the task is not as difficult as it looked from a distance.

Our first adoption was of two infants from Africa. Some fears came into my mind as we were considering the idea, but after we started the process God filled my heart with joy and anticipation. And raising our children has been an absolute blessing.

So I tried to replicate the same thing with our second adoption. We signed on to adopt two children from Africa again. But this time the Lord redirected us. In the long run, we could only adopt one child from Africa, and it would take years. If we wanted children anytime soon, we would have to pursue domestic adoption. And domestic adoption was a little more intimidating to me.

I wasn't overly concerned about waiting to be selected by a birth mother or whether she would change her mind and decide to keep the baby. I felt sure that God would sustain us emotionally if those things happened. I blogged about that here. My intimidation about domestic adoption had to do with the birth parents being nearby. Since our older children came from an orphanage, we haven't been able to have a relationship with their birth parents. But in domestic adoption, that's totally different.

To make a long story short, we moved forward and adopted domestically and God has been gracious - we've had a beautiful relationship with our daughter's birth mother. We were able to skype with her through the agency when she selected our family. We spent several hours with her in the hospital when the baby was born. We've sent letters and pictures to the agency for her every other month and we skyped again around the baby's first birthday. She has been so loving and comfortable with our family from the start. We truly care for her and admire the sacrificially loving choice she made for her daughter. We're grateful for the way the Lord has put our families together.

We're finishing up our home study now to do one more domestic adoption, and we know that it might look very different from our first one. Every birth mother and her circumstances are unique. But it's less intimidating now, like most things are when they're more familiar. And we know that God has a plan for His own glory in the way that He matches us with another birth mother and her baby, however easy or difficult the circumstances might be.

But now for the main reason I wrote this blog post...

As I think long term (and my husband emphasizes the word long) to what may come after this next adoption, fostering to adopt has been on my mind. And that's intimidating on a whole new level! Not only are the birth parents in this country, they're in our state and probably live fairly close to us. We would know that CPS or some other authority has intervened and taken the children from the parents for their well-being, which is a different scenario than a birth mother choosing your family for her baby. I'd imagine that it's very traumatic for the children, birth parents and other family members on a whole different scale. The children will probably have lived through difficult things, and their behavior might reflect that and influence your other children. And there would be months, maybe years of uncertainly as we love children we've welcomed into our home and hope we would be able to adopt them... and probably go through a roller coaster of emotions along with the children as we wait.

Good friends of ours at church were recently able to adopt two little boys they were fostering, and a conversation I had with the wife has stuck in my head. When it comes down to it, am I willing to suffer in that way for the sake of the children? Think of the pain and suffering they've been through in their short lives. Surely I can endure what would probably be a comparatively smaller amount of suffering for their sake. Especially considering the fact that God has given me a greater capacity to endure suffering because I am His child. His Holy Spirit dwells within me, and I have the treasure of His Word as a source of wisdom, encouragement and strength. I have His people as brothers and sisters in Christ, who help me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.

It's the difference between a self-focused, self-protecting perspective and preferring others above myself, which is what the Lord calls us to do. As our friends would say, that's what love looks like.

Yesterday, Dr. Russell Moore published a blog post called "Don't Adopt." I so appreciate his wise perspective that not everyone should adopt, and also his comments for those of us that God does call to welcome children into our family through adoption:
Adoption is about taking on risk as cross-bearing love.

Every adoption, every orphan, represents a tragedy. Someone was killed, someone left, someone was impoverished, or someone was diseased. Wrapped up in each situation is some kind of hurt, and all that accompanies that. That’s the reason there really is no adoption that is not a “special needs” adoption; you just might not know on the front end what those special needs are.

We need a battalion of Christians ready to adopt, foster, and minister to orphans. But that means we need Christians ready to care for real orphans, with all the brokenness and risk that comes with it. We need Christians who can reflect the adopting power of the gospel.
Three years ago I was encouraged by a friend's blog post called Faith Forbids Fear, and I was encouraged again as I re-read it today. Like 1 Peter 3:6 says, I want to "do good and not fear anything that is frightening." The verse implies there are things we will face that are genuinely frightening. But though they are frightening, we don't need to be afraid of them. Instead we can be freed to do good and trust that the Lord will continue to direct and equip us as He always has.

June 26, 2014

Baby Girl

Just a few photos of sweet girl from her birth on, since we can share them on the blog now!

It's hard to stop myself at a few when there are months of cuteness to catch up on! Our sweet girl is a perfect fit in our family. We all adore and enjoy her so much, and thank the Lord for giving her to us!

She's a Philpot!

We stood before a judge today with hearts full of joy and thanks to the Lord as our daughter's adoption process was finalized and her last name was changed to Philpot.

Tears came to my eyes as I thought about how God chose her for us out of every child in the world that needed a family. He determined before time began to put her in our home, where she would hear the gospel and, Lord willing, put her faith in Jesus. Her birth mother gave her a middle name which means "He Who God Helps." That is indeed true of our precious girl.

There was a striking contrast in the case right before ours, which was a divorce with children involved. It made me all the more thankful for the good gift of family that God has lavished upon us, and a loving, stable home where our children will see in their daddy and mommy an example of the faithfulness of Christ to His church.

Thank you for rejoicing with us in God's redeeming work in the life of our precious daughter! We love her and we love life with her. All praise and glory to our great God!

May 27, 2014

Adoption Update and Answer to Prayer

Life is so unpredictable.

Two and a half years ago, we started the adoption process for a second time. It had been a year and a half since we'd brought our son and daughter home from Ethiopia, and our hope was to bring two more children into our family, this time from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We were thrilled to have found a Christian adoption agency called Lifeline Children's Services, whose integrity is above reproach. They were kind enough to allow us into their Congo pilot program, even though they had closed it to any more families. Congo was the only country they did adoptions in that would have allowed us to bring home two children that were both younger than our kids.

It was such a blessing to see up close the level of integrity that Lifeline operates with. Throughout our time in their Congo program, they kept us well informed of what was going on with adoption and their contacts in the country. We were so impressed with their concern for ethical adoptions and pleasing the Lord with their choices. Ultimately, they felt that the level of corruption in Congo was difficult to overcome, and they encouraged families to consider other country options. They graciously allowed us to transfer every penny we had paid them to any other country they did adoptions in. Ethiopia was the next closest country to what we were looking for, so in December 2012 we switched our application there. It was a hard decision, because if we wanted our oldest children to remain the oldest in our family, it meant we could only adopt one child through Lifeline instead of two. It also added a lot of waiting time, since the adoption process in Ethiopia had been slowing down.

The Lord used all these things to direct us to domestic adoption, and we're thankful that He did! While we were in the Congo program, we'd heard about a family that adopted domestically while they were in process with a long international adoption. We figured we had 2+ years left in the Ethiopia process, so we thought this sounded like a good option for us too.

Through some friends, we heard about a fantastic Christian crisis pregnancy center and adoption agency in Memphis called Life Choices. The more we talked to them, the more we loved them. The way they care for birth mothers is exemplary. And the opportunity for us to partner with them in life affirming work was exciting. We sent in an application in January 2013, and after completing our paperwork and family profile, we were selected by a birth mother in July to be the family for her daughter, due in August. We brought her home from the hospital, and have been loving every minute of being her forever family since.

After completing a domestic adoption, it looks like we still have 2+ years left before we'd be able to bring a child home from Ethiopia. We're currently #70 on the waiting list for a referral. And while I used to hope that maybe we'd be the exception, now it seems certain that if we adopted from Ethiopia and wanted our oldest kids to remain the oldest, we could only adopt one child. We couldn't take our three children with us when we travel (two one-week long trips are required). And the cost to adopt one child from Ethiopia would be about the same as it would have been to adopt two children from Congo.

The past number of months we've talked and prayed, comparing the cost between domestic and international adoption and thinking about the travel differences.

We eventually decided that it would be best to call Lifeline and ask them about our options if we wanted to pull out of the Ethiopia program, considering the fact that we had originally come from the Congo program. We hoped maybe they would refund us so we could use the money we'd paid so far toward a domestic adoption. Well, God has done more than we hoped for.

Although we do not live in one of the seven states that Lifeline normally does domestic adoptions in, they have decided to allow us to transfer most of the money we've paid so far to their domestic adoption program. We're so excited! Their domestic adoption program is absolutely wonderful and perfectly matches what we'd be looking for in an agency. They are very gospel centered, and the way they care for birth mothers reflects that. They have a neat birthmother section on their blog that's been an encouragement to read.

It's been awesome to see the Lord's hand in all this, beginning years ago on a path that we had no idea would eventually lead us to adopting a child domestically through an agency that we would not have normally been able to use.

I've been thinking about Acts 17:24-27: "The God who made the world and everything in it ... He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us."

He has determined exactly when and where we would live. And He has determined that for the children that He will bring into our family too. Oh, may they seek God and find Him as a result!

So we'll slowly begin the process of updating our home study from Ethiopia to domestic and putting together a family profile and other paperwork. God has been very very kind to us!

March 11, 2014

Four Years Home

We just celebrated the fourth anniversary of meeting our two older children and bringing them home. In adoption circles, it's often called gotcha day. Four years! Time definitely flies when you're having fun (and when you're really busy, as a friend of mine says).

It's so sweet for us to think back to our trip to Ethiopia. We'd been loving and praying for our babies from a distance, and we were eager to have them in our arms. Our life has been characterized by raising children ever since, and we absolutely love it. God has been very kind to our family. Children are a gift, not a guarantee, and and we don't take for granted how much our heavenly Father has blessed us.

I thought that since I love reading about the personalities of dear friends' children, I'd share a little about these two little ones that bring us so much joy.

This sweet boy is full of energy. He talks all day long, and has always had great diction and a good vocabulary. The other week he was sick, and by mid-morning his sister said "it's quiet." Little man is very observant and thoughtful. He's great with directions and has long been able to let us know which way to go to get to certain places. He takes initiative to be a helper around the house when he notices something that could be done, and he's genuinely good at the chores that he does. He has a great singing voice, and he tells us he'd like to play the drums when he grows up (we're in no rush on that!). He's fascinated with good guys triumphing over bad guys lately - he loves a story with adventure. And he loves to have sword fights with people, especially daddy, to act out the battles! For how active he is, he can also sit still for a long time if he's interested in something. He went through two maze books in the last couple of months, and he likes building things. He's a creative and detail oriented guy, coordinated and good at most things he puts his hands to. It seems to me like he has really good reasoning skills for his age.

He also sits through the church services quietly and can tell us what the pastor preached about afterwards. He has a tender conscience and is eager to please. His Sunday School teachers tell us that they think he has leadership qualities among his peers, and that's something we've definitely seen too. He enjoys being around older kids a lot. He seems to be very bright. He picks up on things like letter sounds, letter and number recognition and tracing, and days of the week very quickly.

He loves to laugh and loves to eat. We're so thankful he's our son!

This girl is a people person through and through. It's hard to find a picture of her by herself because most of the pictures I have are of her with other people. When we check in at the nursery and walk down the nursery hallway on Sunday mornings and Sunday and Wednesday evenings, she stops all along the way to give people hugs and wave and say hello. She's our little social butterfly, and it gives me joy to see her spreading joy all around her. She's a generous girl, frequently giving gifts to her friends. She especially adores her little sister. And baby sister loves her too - she lights up for her like no one else. Our sweet oldest daughter is full of silliness too. She loves to be goofy and make people laugh. And I've never met anyone that likes to be tickled like she does!

She is a compassionate girl, truly concerned and quick to comfort and help when someone is hurt or sad. And she's affectionate. She loves to snuggle, hug, kiss, hold hands, and sit close by.

She has an expressive face and mannerisms. Her daddy says she gets it from me, but it seems to me like she's always been an emotional girl! When we read or watch a story together, you can basically follow the story line by watching her facial expressions and arm movements. She likes to play dress up and to dance. She's a carefree, lighthearted girl that runs into things and forgets why she went into a room sometimes. But she has a seriously remarkable long term memory, sometimes talking about specific things that happened a full year and a half ago when there's been no mention of it since. She brings a lot of laughter into our home and we love her so much!

Here are some of my favorite pictures lately of our two crazy kids. They love life, and we love life with them. We thank the Lord for His goodness!