Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

2014 Year in Reviewfor those who want to join us in celebrating the goodness of God all over again.
January began with Kayla and AnneMarie returning from One Thing (International House of Prayer, Kansas City) full of joy.  Then Kayla took off for Bangkok, Thailand (YWAM Discipleship Training School) for 5 months.  Biggest praises:  Kayla’s excitement and Mommy and Daddy’s peace!  Mayana, Lia, and I continued to study Chinese history and culture, among many other things.

February brought Grace’s 14th birthday, beautiful photos and stories from Kayla from SE Asia, lots of cold and snow (of course) and the decision for Lia to attend Mariemont Schools for 7th grade.
March was filled with more cold and snow, scholarship applications, and the excitement of AnneMarie choosing Lee University for college.  

March also brought an unexpected blessing – being an unofficial foster family to our little 7 year old Miss J, originally from India, and needing some transitional loving care.

April began with a visit to Lee University for Lee Day – which was both inspiring and great fun, including hiking near the Smoky Mountains.  The thaw in Cincinnati finally came, and we relished our outdoor time with all the girls (including our very active Miss J!) – except Kayla, who was busy riding elephants and ministering to at risk children in Thailand before heading to India.  Miss J had a great birthday party with lots of friends!

May was filled with preparations for AnneMarie’s high school graduation (with PEP friends) and a very fun graduation party, plus the good news of her scholarships for fall.  Grace wound up her first year at Mariemont with good friends and great successs.  Kayla traveled from India to Malaysia.

June was packed with celebration, too:  Kayla’s homecoming party (!!) and Scott Amlung’s (and his lovely bride, Megan’s) wedding, which brought the whole family up for some great times of celebrating and hearing all about Kayla’s travels and ministry.  Meanwhile, AnneMarie was at Lee University for Summer Honors camp.

As June ended and July began, we said good-bye to our little Miss J, who by God’s blessing was welcomed into her forever family.  It was a tearful, but joyful day.

July brought us to Jamaica to build a house for a family and share with children about God’s love; in the process we made some great friends, praised God, and enjoyed some beautiful waterfalls and beaches.  (And oh, how we’d love to go back and do it all over again!)  When we returned, Kayla received an invitation to date her very first boyfriend – Adam Coupe!

August was crazy, celebrating Kayla and AnneMarie’s birthdays and then sending AnneMarie to school at Lee.  What a treat to meet AnneMarie’s roommate and the friends she’d already made!  Tom and Grace and Lia headed back to Mariemont Jr. High, and Tom and I celebrated our 28th anniversary (no kidding!)  Kayla started working at Vineyard Cincinnati church.

September always brings my and Lia’s birthdays and the beginning of homeschool co-ops.  Mayana and I being the only ones still “homeschooling” are enjoying a different pace this year.  Mayana loves Leaves of Learning, a new homeschool extension program for her.  We also got to visit Miss J at her new home.  So happy to know she’s doing well!

October’s big events were AnneMarie’s fall break (incl, carving pumpkins and roasting marshmallows with the fam and friends), Tom’s birthday, and Kayla and I attending an intense week of chaplaincy training.

November – Ah, Thanksgiving!  Can’t get enough of celebrating with friends and family how much the Lord has done!  This year we got to celebrate with friends and both sides of the family!  I also got to start working with a newer citywide prayer ministry, Roots and Branches, with my longtime friend, Susan Carson.

December.  Could it have just ended yesterday?  Wow!  AnneMarie is home from a super great semester at Lee; Kayla’s starting a new job and still looking forward to travel again; and Grace, Lia and Mayana are enjoying life as 7th and 8th graders (a feat in and of itself, if you think about it).  Tom and I are setting our faces forward – leaning into all God has for us in the coming years.

Today we await the arrival home of Kayla, AnneMarie, Adam, Samuel (our nephew), and others as they return again from One Thing in Kansas City, filled up and ready to embark on a New Year of blessing!

Happy New Year to all!
Pam, Tom, & girls

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Blossoming with Spring

People will say the 4th year after adoption is somehow "magic" -- that this is the turning point at which people rejoice and realize the true blessings of the now well-adjusted child.  Mayana is no exception.  Her confidence level is high, and she is willing to try hard to succeed in academic matters (quite a major shift from before!).  Her reading is starting to take off (and hopefully her desire to read will take off soon, too).   We are realizing what a hard worker Mayana is, now that she feels more confident.  Willing to take on many tasks, particularly anything that pays money, she has earned over $200.

Mayana is also growing to appreciate with new understanding the gift of family; she expresses her feelings well.  We are having a few health related difficulties in our extended family, and Mayana said yesterday, "Oh, I would love to take care of Grandma.  I LOVE Grandma so much!"   And this is the Grandma that she doesn't see as frequently.  Her eyes just sparkled with adoration and compassion.

I sure look forward to the rest of year #4... as we watch our beautiful flower continue to blossom!

Recently, Mayana, Lia and Grace all had the chance to learn wildlife drawing in a class taught by none other than John Ruthven.   What a treat!   I hope to post some of their work from that day.   Mr. Ruthven was duly impressed.  Which is saying a lot!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 .. and she is 12 !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Twelve:  a number that signifies the government of God in heaven .. perfect government  (unlike that which we have here on earth - so imperfect).  Twelve:  the number of tribes of Israel.  Twelve: twelve disciples.  Twelve, the number of gates of the New Jerusalem Temple in Revelation.  And more ...

And today our Mayana turns 12.  We have managed to allow the celebration to extend from 12-6 to 12-13.  Why not?   Last week was the birthday bash with a couple friends, a cousin, and sisters at Great Wolf Lodge (made possible by the precipitous "homeschool week special").  Tomorrow will be fudge brownies and raspberry chocolate chip ice cream after a dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes - M's special request!  (She's an American girl now for sure!  Mashed potatoes and gravy!!  Brownies!  Ice cream!!)

Needless to say, Mayana has been a very happy girl!   But she's happy most of the time :)

Today the big event was the ear piercing.  Now she's sporting two birthstone butterflies - blue topaz stones - that are quite adorable.  My little girl is growing up!!!

Lia, Mayana, and Charlie, the newest adopted member of the family.

And on Saturday - Gotcha Day!   How we will think of one more way to celebrate we don't know yet.

And Christmas is right around the corner, too!

We are so blessed by our Mayana Mei Xiang!!!!!

Happy Birthday to our sweetie!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Remembering Freedom Fighters in China!

Sometimes I hear people say, "I know that Christians used to have a lot of persecution in China, but all that is over now."  Tell that to the men and women featured in the following story.   Persecution of Christian leaders is a problem right now in China!   The only reason these individuals' stories are being told is that they have loved ones who have made it to the US to tell their stories.  Getting out of China isn't easy.  So, imagine how many others are suffering extreme persecution across China because they are brave enough to stand up for what they believe?

Who are the real Daniels of the Year?
@WORLD Magazine... Remembering those in the Den...

Add these families to your prayers!

Add to your reading list:  Brother Yun's  Heavenly Man.

Another very common misconception is that China no longer has many children available to adopt.  This is a major fallacy.  There are Chinese girls and Chinese boys of all ages eligible for adoption right now - literally thousands!  While the wait to adopt healthy, young babies has dramatically increased (mostly because Chinese citizens may now adopt), the time frame for adopting children who have an identified medical need is short.  Those with an identified need and those who are waiting because they are older can be adopted with one of shortest international adoption time frames -  10-18 months.  Many of these needs are ones that are readily medically handled in the USA or needs that most people would readily accept in their birth children without blinking an eye.  An adopted boy from China whom we know is missing one arm, but he is one of the brightest, most adorable young man I've ever met, and his family feels enormously blessed!

If you are considering adoption, consider China!   And be blessed!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mayana - the young writer!

The Young Writers for Adoption who won

AnneMarie and Mayana at the party.

Last night we celebrated Mayana's latest accomplishment - recognition from the group "Young Writer's for Adoption."   Mayana submitted an essay telling honestly about her feelings surrounding leaving China and joining her new family.  It was a moving piece, and the judges of the Young Writer's for Adoption recognized her achievement last night at the International Adoption Center (Cincinnati Children's Hospital) gala event.  Mayana enjoyed a very fancy dinner, together with her parents and her sister, AnneMarie, who was also recognized for her writing achievement - 1st place in her age group.  We enjoyed a fun evening and a very adorable international adoption fashion show.

We are so proud of Mayana's courage and her writing!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mayana is Turning 12 in December!!

June 2012 in the mountains, NC.
Nearly two years have passed since my last post.  I am truly finding it hard to believe that it has been 4 years since I was wringing my hands, going nuts because I couldn't get to China fast enough to embrace my new daughter!

On 12-12-12 ... in just a little more than one month ... Mayana turns 12.

In China in 2008
When we flew from America and traveled to China on 12-12-08, Mayana was celebrating a birthday party with her orphanage workers and friends.  She was scrawny, anemic, and apprehensive ... what would this new life in America be like?   On 12-15-08 we met Mayana for the first time and she was ours that very day.  In China there is no waiting period or time to get acclimated -- "Mei Xiang, these are your parents."  "Mr. and Mrs. Amlung, this is your daughter, Mao Mei Xiang."  "I know that neither of you speak each other's language, but we're sure you'll do fine.  Good luck!"

Our two weeks in China were a swirl of emotions - overwhelmed, perplexed at times, elated at other times.  With Christmas in the mild, warm air of Guangzhou -- English Christmas carols playing in our hotel lobbies and restaurants and the island dotted with Christmas trees and lights -- there was an indescribable magical quality where anything was possible, including opening the Word with a beautiful Chinese shopkeeper.

We danced beside the Pearl River, ate pizza at a cool Italian place, gobbled noodles, rice, and ice cream at Lucy's, and Skyped often with our girls back home, from our cute hotel room overlooking the local Starbucks.

Could it really have been four years ago that we brought Mayana home as our best Christmas present ever!

Mayana seems to have been with us forever, though.  Her English is great -- better than a lot of kids raised in Cincinnati.  And she lavishes love and affection on me just like my other children.  I am the only mommy she has known and she's jealous for my attention.

Mayana is growing in beauty, both inside and out.  Her eyes shine brightly as she talks of her Savior, Jesus.  When thinking of the future, she talks of going around the world as a missionary ... or living on a farm and raising lots of children, as well as animals.  Bold, friendly, and caring, Mayana is the first to offer to go around the neighborhood to fund-raise for her school, and the first to offer to care for a young child who needs assistance.  Hardworking and helpful, she is quick to offer a hand - for laundry or gardening or feeding the chickens -- though she still complains about chores and school work like all the rest of them.  Tall and thin, she is growing stronger and healthier with each passing year, taking ballet and loving her trampoline.

Mommy and Mayana ,June 2012 - the bamboo jungle at Cherokee NC.
Here's to Mayana's big 12-12-12 day coming up this coming month.  We look forward to another year of watching her grow in grace, strength, and wisdom.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mayana turns 10 !!

It is so hard to believe that two years have passed since we traveled to China to adopt Mayana who had just turned eight. Two years ago we were there, celebrating Christmas with our new daughter, Guangzhou style.

Now she is 10. She had a great birthday with her girl friends. And we are gearing up for Christmas #3 with her.

Mayana is such a wonderful blessing to us ... a loving daughter, excellent helper, great friend to her sisters, and a hard worker at school. This year she learned how to play soccer and really enjoys it.

Attached are some photos from her party.