I'm amazed at how my Savior can take any and every circumstance around me to show me more about him. My prayer has always been that this journey of life I'm on would continually bring honor and glory to him, so by using every opportunity; my mistakes, my successes, and my day-to-day adventures, he teaches me how to use it for his glory. This life he blessed me with is ALL about him! So, these are my thoughts, my heart cries, and my lessons from his glorious Word. These are the teachable moments from my Savior!

Psalm 25:4-5 "Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

He Really is all We Need!

How do you rightfully sum up a year that changed your life in just one front porch pondering session with Jesus?

Well, I don't think I can...

I was thankful to come out to the porch this morning and dry off the rocker to spend time with Jesus. Even more thankful the temperature was still in the 60s and the humidity was so low at only 95%. Lol! 😬 There is always such calm after a storm. The gentle breeze is delightful and goes right along with my reflections. 

I guess I've been reflecting a lot this week. Remembering where I was just a little over a year ago walking a path that had nothing on it yet, except a lot of dreams, prayers and, to be honest, many fears. There's a lot of questions on an empty path and loneliness too. But as God keeps reminding you that He sees the whole path and that my job is to just trust Him and walk forward, you realize so many things you never knew and see more of the heart of God! He really is all we need!

I looked out in the auditorium the other night into the faces of the families of Seacoast and God gave me a gentle squeeze and said,

"Look what I did!" 

These were not just faces of random people. These were families that I remembered every tour, meeting, and phone call. Hearing their story and being honored and entrusted to pour into their precious children. These were families that have become part of my family. A bond through a beginning year where it took great faith to entrust their child to us, a new school, and where it took great faith in us that God would do as He promised and bring them in. 

Great is HIS faithfulness!

I love our growing family!

So today, I'll finish this time of reflection and my cup of coffee and head in to work to tie up loose ends. Still hard to believe I'm wrapping it up when its been front and center for all these months. Then I'll take the weekend off with my family as we take this thankful living venture with great intentionality. 

Yes, I'll take a deep sigh and probably even cry some more at the goodness of God through some really hard days and some even greater days. But then I'll hit the ground running next week, continuing on to what God has in store, trusting Him with every step as He lights the way. Lots to do! Lots to pray over! But knowing He's got this! It's ALL His!

He is amazing God and the best is yet to come!

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:9‬


Monday, May 22, 2017

There's No Place Like Home!

There are so many things I love about my home! 🏡❤️

I love the people that inhabit it with me. I love the location away from the chaos of city life. I love the view from my front porch. I love the marks in the kitchen doorframe that measure how my precious kiddos have grown. I love the voices I hear going from room to room as my once little kids with little voices are now big kids with teenage/young adult voices. I love the family dinners around the kitchen table where laughter is abundant but etiquette is not. I love waiting at the door and seeing my husband pull into the driveway at the end of the day. I love being the first to hug him tightly when he comes in our home. I love my crazy dog and how he gets excited when I grab my coffee and Bible because he knows its front porch time for us. I love the late night Nerf gun fights by the kids (and sometimes their dad 😉) when I'm tired and ready for bed but they are wound up and ready to keep going. I love the prayers I hear lifted throughout each room to our awesome God and the Bibles opened for guidance. I love watching my daughter continually dance and sing around the house or hearing her laugh with her cousin as they constantly FaceTime each other. I love marveling at Caleb's latest Lego creations and listening to the story behind it. I love seeing Ben and his girlfriend sit on the floor as they work on crafts for her preschool class. I love watching Ben and Matt walk down the street with their fishing poles and backpacks headed to the neighborhood pond together. I love hearing the dog start barking out of jealousy when Matt hugs on me in the kitchen. I love our frequent dance breaks in the kitchen because sometimes you just gotta. I love seeing the kids in deep conversations with their dad as he shares wisdom and encouragement with them. I love hearing Ben head out the door in the early mornings headed to work because he's taking responsibility and growing into an incredible young man. I love the sweet notes we all leave for each other whether handwritten or by text. I love walking through the fog of Axe men's body spray from the upstairs boys section then to enter the fog of cotton candy body spray from Callie's bedroom. Yes, yes as crazy as some of it is, I love it all! ❤️

The list could go on and on so I won't bore you anymore with my revelations of our "glamorous" life. But waking up this morning beside my wonderful husband, God so tenderly reminded me that even though life is hard sometimes (ok, a lot of times. Ha!), it is still amazing! We cry together, laugh together, sometimes get annoyed with one another but it's the together that makes it all work out. At every turn in this home I see God's blessings. Even though I also see lots of work that needs to be done throughout the "house"...our "home" is a priceless masterpiece that God has been building since Matt and I said "I do" over 25 years ago. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Some days it is downright imperfect and a big mess. But it is my mess...my home...with my tribe...and together we grow. 

Christ has been and will continue to be the center of our home. Through Him we love and live and grow and this morning I am so grateful for each and every part of it. The overflowing sink of dirty dishes, laundry piles, and dust bunnies are just part of its character. Lol! But the main attraction is the awesome work of God that He continues through us all. Living, learning, loving.....

Thank you, Father, for my home and all the dear souls with whom I have the honor to do life with. I am blessed and, today, so eternally grateful! I don't take a second of it for granted. Sweet, sweet blessings!

Look around your home today. Look past the mess and thank God for the blessings that inhabit your home. Hug each loved one tightly and realize that each day is a gift! Tuck the memories inside and continue making new ones and live life to the fullest. Thankful living! Gratitude and praise on this Monday!

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15b


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Our Journey to Caleb 2007 - "Gotcha Day" Recap


Looking back 10 years ago as finally, all three of my children were together! What a blessed day and we praise God for the miracle of adoption! Today we celebrate 10 years !! God is so good!

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There is only one word to describe today, AMAZING! It is now 9:30 pm on "gotcha day" and all three of our children are asleep. That's right THREE! I can't believe we finally have Caleb! Matt and I have been saying that it seems surreal. We have waited so long and now he is here! It truly has been a remarkable day! I thought I would back up to the beginning and tell you how the day went.

We got the bags unpacked and somewhat settled and then I headed upstairs to where the other families were doing their paperwork. We will do ours after we have Caleb. After the meeting we were to get our money together and copies of our passports. We already had copies of our passports, but they wanted them on their paper since the paper size is different here. So we headed down to the front desk to exchange our money. They only let you do a certain amount per day. So now we are off to find a bank to do the exchange. We ended up down the road at the China Agricultural Bank. Long lines in the US are nothing. We got there at 11:15 and 1 1/2 hours later were leaving. There were five of us and you take a number. They were on 63 when we arrived and our first number was 73. Okay here comes the fun part. The first in our group went to the teller and 30 minutes later had their money exchanged. It is not even that much to exchange. We were supposed to have everything to Rosa by 12:00 but that didn't happen. It was taking so long for us that the Chinese people waiting were getting a little irate. One man started screaming at the teller because it was taking so long. Needless to say, we were glad to get out of there. That is the only time we had to do that. Everything was to Rosa by 1:15 and then we relaxed and had lunch, KFC!

We gathered on the bed and had prayer time together and then got all our things together; travel approval letter, gifts for the orphanage workers, and Caleb's backpack and headed down to the lobby at 3:30. By this time the butterflies were flying 747s in our stomachs! Even Ben said he had butterflies. As all the families gathered in the lobby you could feel the excitement! On to the bus! It was supposed to be a 15 minute ride, but with the traffic, more like 40 minutes. We went into the building, took the elevator to the 9th floor, walked out and heard them call our name. As soon as we turned around, there he was! Our little man! You could tell he was trying to be brave but soon the tears flowed. My heart was breaking for him. He settled down very soon and let me and Matt both hold him. In the meantime, everyone else is getting their babies. It was so exciting! The orphanage director answered some questions and then gave us a picture of Caleb's orphanage and a sheep statue since he was born in the year of the sheep. We said our goodbyes (we'll see her again tomorrow) took pictures and were back on the bus. He started warming up to Ben and Callie on the bus, but when we got to our room, he was already one of the family. He was laughing and smiling, he has even given me kisses!

Matt and I did our paperwork and then we decided to go eat - McDonalds! We walked in and got lots of stares. Caleb enjoyed his first chicken nugget and fries. The whole time he ate, he would just stare at Matt and smile. He loves him already! We got back to the room and it was bath time. He loved it! He had so much fun in the tub, blowing the bubbles and he wasn't scared a bit. Callie showed him how to brush his teeth and then we gathered and said bedtime prayers and it was hugs and kisses. It was funny, we heard they are very protective of their shoes. He didn't mind taking them off to get in the tub, but when he got his pajamas on, he put his shoes right back on. He is sleeping in them now. He laid there and I rubbed his sweet face and sang "Jesus loves me" and he drifted off to sleep. No tears! I pray he sleeps peacefully!

I thought about Moses today before we left. How his mother loved him so much and put him in a basket to save his life. I wonder if Caleb's birth mother was watching today from around the corner to see his "forever family" come to take him to safety. I pray that God gives her a peace to know that he is safe and loved and where he is supposed to be.

As I sit here now, watching all three of my beautiful children sleep, I am so overcome with emotion. God is so awesome! He knew before I was born that this was to come and He put it all in place. He is the Living God, and we sense His presence to strong! God has indeed blessed us with this miracle of adoption and I give him total praise!

Thank you for your prayers! We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow!

In His Mighty Grip!

Matt, Allison, Ben, Callie, and Caleb!

Ready to go meet our children!

Big brother and big sister ready to meet their little brother!

Look at these beautiful children!! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
First family meal....McDonald's


First bath was a hit!


Precious boy sleeping soundly with his mommy and daddy!

Our Journey to Caleb 2007 - GOTCHA!!


Our Journey to Caleb 2007 - GOTCHA!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

God is so good! It has been an amazing day! We have Caleb! We got to the Civil Affairs building at about 4:20 and Rosa told us we would get our children in alphabetical order. That means we would be about 5th. We thought we would have time to get our camera out but we all walked in and they said "Jordan family". As soon as we turned around, there he was! He was carrying the bear we sent him four months ago. At first he was very hesitant and not looking at me. He was holding back the tears. The director kept telling him "Mama" and he said it and then started to cry. He was so scared. We talked to him and showed him his bag and then he let me pick him up. He still was very hesitant. We talked to the director for a few minutes, in the mean time everyone else was getting their babies. It was a lot going on.
We stayed there for about 45 minutes and then loaded up on the bus for the hotel. We are now in the hotel and as soon as we walked in the door he motioned that he needed to go potty. He did very well! He immediately started playing with the toys and Ben and Callie and he is now laughing and smiling. He is very at ease with us now and he is a joy! That is a little recap but we will post more after everyone is in bed. Right now I am going to go enjoy my whole family!

Thank you for your prayers! Please keep them up as we begin as a family of 5!

Love to all,

Matt, Allison, Ben, Callie and NOW....Caleb!


Here he comes!
Introductions
A little scared

GOTCHA!!! He fit perfectly in my arms!
Add caption





Looking at pictures!


Meeting his "baba" aka daddy!
Finally have all my babies! :)
Family picture with the orphanage director




Having fun with his forever family!

He was fascinated with Ben's gameboy!



He has the BEST smile! :)



Our Journey To Caleb 2007 - Waking up on "Gotcha Day"

Happy 10th Gotcha Day Caleb!!



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good Morning!  It's "GOTCHA DAY"!  I can hardly believe that we have made it to this day!  Only by the grace of God did we sleep so well last night.  We are all just waking up (it is 7:00 am here) and the butterflies are multiplying in our stomachs.  We are now 9 hours and counting till we have our son!  It really does feel like I'm in labor!  I remember those last few hours before Ben and Callie were born and all the emotion we had.  We were nervous, excited, and overjoyed all at the same time and it is no different this time.  All I can think of is Caleb is just waking up and I guess they are giving him breakfast and getting him ready to meet his "forever family".  I can't imagine what is going on in his sweet little head.  We pray that God will cover him with peace today.  It is going to be a long 9 hours.  7 of the families in our group are adopting baby girls from the same orphanage which is about 3 hours away and they will all fill out their paperwork at 10:00 this morning, us and the other family are adopting from different orphanages and we will fill out our paperwork after we have our children.  We are the only family in our group adopting a boy.  Rosa said that in all her years of helping adopting families, she has only witnessed about 20 boys being adopted.  We will all get our children together at the Civil Affairs Office this afternoon.  We have all been given permission to visit our children's orphanages, but that won't be set up till after "Gotcha Day".  I will let you know when that will be as soon as I know.

It was funny as we touched down in Guangzhou last night, everyone erupted into cheers!  We have gone from "vacationers" to expecting parents.  We are all on the same floor of the hotel, floor 31, and checking in our rooms and seeing the cribs set up brought tears to our eyes.  It is almost here!  After we got checked in, we headed down to Pizza Hut!  We have KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and Starbucks right next to our hotel.  Yeah!  American food!  Our hotel is beautiful!  We are staying at the Asia International Hotel, which is the tallest hotel in Guangzhou.  There is a revolving restaurant on the 45th floor and the view is amazing.  Guangzhou is a huge city, but compared to Beijing, it seems much cleaner, more westernized.  We are also very relieved to know that they don't cut the air conditioner off at night here.  We slept in a nice cool room!  Maggie and Rosa told us that the Chinese like to be warm. Thank God for the USA!  Even our flight yesterday seemed like an oven.  That was a long 3-hour flight!

Thank you all for your encouraging messages and especially your prayers!  It means so much to us to know that everyone is praying for our family!  I do know how you feel being on that side of the computer.  When all my friends were here adopting, I think I checked the computer 100 times a day just waiting for information.  I promise that I will post pictures as soon as I can.  We get him at 4:00 (if anything changes, I will let you know) and then I don't know how long it will take to get back to the hotel, but we should have pictures posted by the time you wake up.  We miss you all so much and can't wait to share the joy of our new son with you!  Stay tuned and we'll post those long awaited pictures soon!

In His Mighty Grip!
Matt, Allison, Ben, and Callie (very soon Caleb!)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Our Journey to Caleb 2007 - Day 6 "Gotcha Day Eve"


Our Journey to Caleb, May 8, 2007 - Gotcha Day Eve!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ni Hao!  Well it is our last and final post from Beijing and we are so excited to be traveling to Guangzhou today.  It is about 6:30 am here and Matt and I were sharing our thoughts about "Gotcha Day" tomorrow.  We are so overwhelmed with God's peace and grateful that He has given us this wonderful opportunity.  Thank you for your prayers.  We are definitely feeling every one of them.  We serve an awesome God and ultimately we want him glorified through our journey.  Please pray that Caleb will transition easily and that we will keep our focus on our God first and foremost.  Without him,  we are nothing.  It has been an incredible adventure, learning all about China.  Amy, the history that we are learning is great.  You would love it.  We will bring you back some things about their history.
Thank you again for all your kind words of encouragement.  Mia, Callie is missing you and your class too!  She has enjoyed reading your posts and sends her love.  Miss Scmigg and Miss Hostetter, the kids say "Ni Hao" to the class and that they are learning A LOT!  We miss you all, cousins, grandparents, friends!  We will see you all in about 11 days as a family of 5!
Well, we are signing off from Beijing, we will post tonight when we arrive in Guangzhou.  Please pray for safe travel and that all our luggage gets there at one time!
In His Mighty Hand,
Matt, Allison, Ben, and Callie (and tomorrow Caleb!)

(Part 2)

Well, we are finally here in Caleb's city!  We can hardly believe it!  It has been a long day but we are here.  The flight went well and all our luggage is here and accounted for.  The hotel is spectacular!  We are in a suite and it is beautiful.  The kids are in cots in the sitting room and there is a large master suite.  They even had a crib set up for Caleb.  Of course he is going to be too big for it, but it was a nice touch.  We did find out that we will not get our children till 4:00 tomorrow.  We were a little bummed about that but the Guangdong province only allows 30 adoptions a day and they scheduled us for 4:00 tomorrow.  So we are going to try to get a good night's sleep because we are extremely tired and tomorrow we will get everything unpacked and ready to meet our son!  Everyone is starting to get butterflies! 
Just knowing that this is the last night Caleb will sleep in that orphanage, the last night he goes to bed without a hug and kiss from mommy and daddy, the last morning he will wake up without someone telling him "I love you".  It is a very emotional time for us!  We can't wait to tuck him in tomorrow night, say prayers with him, tell him about Jesus for the first time in his sweet little life!  It is finally here!  Please pray!  Pray for him and this huge transition; pray for Ben and Callie as they welcome a new sibling; pray for Matt and me as we become parents for the third time; and pray that God will be glorified tomorrow in this union that he has been preparing our family for.
We love you all and can't wait to post pictures of our "gotcha" moment!
Goodnight from Guangzhou!
Matt, Allison, Ben, and Callie (tomorrow - Caleb!) 
McDonald's never tasted so good!


Maggie and Callie


2008 Olympic Mascots
Matt & Ben had a serious Big Mac attack!


Last night as a mom of 2!

The beautiful Asia International Hotel

Master suite with a crib!!

Callie settling into the hotel




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Our Journey to Caleb 2007 - Day 5


Continuing Our Journey to Caleb - Day 5 - May 7, 2007
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Good Morning to all! It is about 5:30 am and this is our last full day in Beijing. It will be a very full day but as I awoke this morning, all I could think is that tomorrow we fly to Guangzhou, Caleb's city! We are now 2 days and counting till we get our son! They have kept us so busy these last couple of days and now it is almost time! We were talking at dinner last night about "Gotcha Day". All 9 families will get their children at the same time so we will all experience the joy together. We have become very close with all these families in just this short amount of time. I am so in awe of our Lord how he knew what families to place us with. The kids have had a blast and Matt and I are forming great friendships with these families. Three of the couples are getting their first child, one family is adopting their second daughter, and four families are adopting for the first time although they have other children. We are trying to plan out how we can take turns filming each others "gotcha" moment. We are all so excited! Most of these families have been logged in to the CCAA since October 2005. This has been over a 2 year process for them. But now the moment is about to arrive! Please pray for all of us getting ready to be united with our children. Some of these children will have to travel several hours to get to Guangzhou to be with thier families. I am so thankful that Caleb is in the same town and will not have to endure a long trip to get there.
As I spent my time in prayer this morning, I thanked God so much for giving us this opportunity. My heart is so full of gratitude and praise for blessing me with this wonderful family I already have and now to be adding another precious soul to it. He is my strength and I give him total praise and honor!
Have a wonderful day and we will update tonight after our big day at the Great Wall and shopping!
Love to you all!
Allison

(Part 2)
Today was our last full day in Beijing so we went out with a bang! We took a long bus ride to the Great Wall! It is incredible! First we took our group picture and then we had a choice to go two directions; the easy way or the steep, more difficult way. Guess which way we went? That's right, the steep, more difficult way. The easy way had so many people on it, so we decided to try the other way. Most of us got about half way up and enjoyed the view from there but the other half made it all the way to the top. Matt and Ben were among the brave souls who trekked all the way up. I was so worried that Matt was having to drag Ben up there but Matt said it was the other way around! I know they will sleep good tonight. It is so funny that at different stages of the Wall, the street vendors are there trying to get that sale. One of them followed me all the way to the bus, trying to get me to buy some hats. "50 yuan, 2 for 50 yuan, 4 for 50 yuan." Even after we got on the bus, we saw him out the window trying to get my attention. I guess if we stayed there any longer, he would have paid me to take the hats! Well, we finally headed to the Cloisonne Factory and that was amazing how intricately they design those beautiful pieces of art. Everything is done by hand and is spectacular! We ate lunch at the restaurant in the factory. Guess what was for lunch? CHINESE! We are really getting tired of the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We are ready for some good 'ole American food. When we get to Guangzhou, we will have more options!!!!
Next on the agenda, the Jade Factory. We were given a lesson on jade, how to decipher real from fake, carving and design. These are very talented people. After the lesson, we were given the chance to shop. These are also persistent sales people. They don't let you shop alone, oh no! They follow you around. It is so funny! After the final purchases, we boarded the bus and headed back to the hotel. They took us by the site of the 2008 Olympic games and we were able to get some pictures. They are very proud be hosting the games and are working hard to make it happen. During our long bus rides today, Rosa and Maggie gave us lessons on Chinese money, flowers, Olympic mascots, and Maggie even sang us the Chinese national anthem and the US national anthem in Chinese. That was wonderful!
We got back to the hotel and had about an hour before we were to leave for dinner...you guessed it, more CHINESE! Okay, I love Chinese food, but enough is enough. One more spoonful of rice was going to make me scream. Callie and I opted to stay in the hotel, watch a movie and order Pizza Hut. Praise God! Pizza Hut delivers right to your room! Tears of joy overwhelmed me! Ben and Matt wanted more Chinese, so we wished them well and enjoyed our pizza! It was very good!
Tomorrow we fly to Guangzhou and we cannot wait! We get to sleep in and take our time packing up. We will leave the hotel at 12:30 and our flight is at 3:00. We will do paperwork Wednesday morning and get our children in the afternoon. It is almost time! Please keep us in your prayers! It has been a wonderful time and we praise God that we have all been well.
Thank you for all the prayers, we sure do feel them! God is so good and we are in awe of our journey so far! Good night one more time from Beijing, we love and miss you all very much!
Matt,  Allison, Ben, and Callie
The group picture at the Great Wall!


My handsome son on top of the Great Wall of China


Amazing!


One tired group! ;)

They were scared to get too close! lol!
The Jade Factory

The cloisonné factory

Aaahhh....Pizza Hut!

Callie enjoying a taste of home!