Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Undetected - A Book Review

Have you read any of Dee Henderon's novels? Bethany House gave me the opportunity to read and review one of her latest books, titled Undetected.

From the back cover: Gina Gray would love to be married. She has always envisioned her life that way. A breakup she didn't see coming, though, has her focusing all her attention on what she does best--ocean science research. She's on the cusp of a major breakthrough, and she needs Mark Bishop's perspective and help. Because what she told the Navy she's figured out is only the beginning. If she's right, submarine warfare is about to enter a new and dangerous chapter.

What I expected: A classic Dee Henderson novel with strong characters, a fast-paced plot, and the opportunity to learn something about ocean science research.

What I found: Fairly perfect characters with few flaws, a slow moving plot, and a ton of information about ocean science research.

I love reading Henderson's early books about the O'Malley family. That series is about a family of cops, paramedics, firefighters, etc. The stories are very fast-paced as the characters face life-threatening situations while going about their jobs. The last couple of Henderson books I've read have been more character driven than plot driven. I miss the earlier stories, even as I recognize the strong writing that characterizes all of her novels.

This might not have been a favorite, but I did enjoy reading it. There was one particular paragraph that I loved:
I love listening to people. A book is someone taking time to develop a thought - create a hypothesis, present evidence, argue a point, draw a conclusion, make their case. Some do it primarily in mathematics, others in lecture format, while others present ideas and build reasons for their conclusion. Books are enjoyable hours of listening to experts on various subjects. I might not agree with everything, but that's a minor point to why I read what they've written. I like the fact they make me think (213).
I especially loved this line - "Books are enjoyable hours of listening to experts on various subjects." Yes! Books are enjoyable hours of listening!

If you like Dee Henderson or are interested in oceanography, this is an interesting read. Much thanks to Bethany House for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Note - there is an Amazon affiliate link in this review. If you buy anything from Amazon after clicking on the link, all proceeds support our adoption. Thanks!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

15 months

Today marks 15 months since we found our girl's photo on Rainbow Kids.

We still have not received any news from our agency. We don't know if she has agreed to be our daughter or if our adoption will end any day now. It's a hard place to be but I'm trying to hold tight to God. Only He knows what will happen.

Every day I pray for my daughter. I know she's not legally my daughter, but she holds a special place in my heart. I pray that she will accept our offer of a family. If she says no, I pray that she'll be able to find her way to a happy life in Taiwan.

I'm hoping and praying for news this week. I'm ready to know what's going to happen!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

He shall sustain you!

I found another wonderful Bible promise this morning.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the
righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22

I'm so glad that I have a God who can sustain me. Without Him, I'd feel so hopeless right now.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pumkin season has begun!

I am so excited that pumpkin season is here! Last week I bought two pie pumpkins; today my husband bought me two more. I have a very long list of pumpkin dishes that I want to try this fall. Last week I asked my husband what he wanted me to make first. "Pumpkin pie, of course!"

My beautiful pumpkin

Scooping the seeds

Ready to bake

Pie ready for the oven

Ta-Da! First pie of the year

Beautiful pumpkin pie!

This was the very best vegan pumpkin pie I've ever baked. I love that the recipe did not use tofu. Quite honestly, I usually have issues with the consistency of vegan pumpkin pies. However, this one was already firming up an hour after I pulled it out of the oven. Leaving it in the refrigerator overnight gave it an even better texture.

I want to play around with the recipe to see if I can reduce the sugar. 3/4 of a cup is a lot! Any ideas? I also think it needs more cinnamon. I'm looking forward to making a second pie soon. Does anybody want to come over and help us eat it?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Psalm 128

This was my Bible reading this morning. I wanted to read something from Psalms so flipped through until I found the correct book and started reading at the top of the page. Oh, I do so hope that this is a promise that my daughter will come home.

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants
Around your table.
Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion,
And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
Indeed, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!
Psalm 128

Thursday, September 18, 2014


After a crazy weekend and a stress-filled couple of weekdays, my husband convinced me to take Thursday and Friday as vacation days. I know, it sounds weird to take vacation days as a homemaker. But the long period of waiting and wondering and praying about our adoption is very draining. I spent the first couple days this week trying desperately to be productive, failing at most of my attempts, and then beating myself up over my failures. That's not a very healthy attitude.

So, my husband convinced me to take two days off, followed by the Sabbath. I'm doing a couple needed things, like staying on top of the dishes and running one load of laundry today. Other than that, I'm relaxing. I'm an introvert and recharge by being at home so it's nice to be home and not busy with housework or other things. My husband even offered to go grocery shopping for me tomorrow and I'm taking him up on his offer. It should be a quick trip as we just need produce for the weekend and then I'll go shopping again on Monday.

What am I doing? Well, I finished two books that I had been reading. I've made a lot of progress on my current puzzle. I wrote letters to a couple of our sponsored kids. And I've been studying Chinese. All things I enjoy doing that are low pressure. I'm so grateful to have a husband who sees my stress and encourages me to slow down and relax.

I'm also trying to spend more time in God's Word. This period of waiting is so hard for me. There's nothing that can be done. No paperwork, no appointments. Just wait. I checked in with our agency this morning to see if there's been any news. Nothing yet. Just wait. So I will continue to do that.

Tomorrow I will study some more Chinese, finish my puzzle and hopefully start another. I may even bake my first pumpkin of the fall season, just because I can and because my husband loves pumpkin pie. Ah, sweet relaxation.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Thoughts as we wait

We received no adoption news this week, other than speculation from our coordinator that the Taiwan agency will not grant our request for a visit. So we sit and wait and pray.

Last week I purposed to pray unceasingly. I wanted to be the woman who wore out the judge. And for two days, I did just that. But as time passed with no news, my prayers slowed. I still prayed at mealtimes. I still prayed while laying in bed waiting to fall asleep. But I would forget during the day. All of a sudden I would realize that I hadn't prayed for two hours. I'm not in the habit of praying frequently and it showed.

The past few days, I have been much more intentional with my prayers, even if they are not as frequent as I would like. I've been asking God to forgive me for my wavering faith. It's hard to stay positive that God will bring my daughter home when the signs point toward her saying No. I want to believe that she will come home. I am committed to pursuing her adoption until someone tells me that they have closed our file. But my emotions do not always match my commitment. I pray that God understands just how human and frail I am and that He will move my daughter's heart regardless of my lack of faith.

Prayer. It's all that I can do. I pray that my daughter comes home. I pray that she says Yes to adoption. I pray that we are able to build faith until God shows us His plan.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Chinese studies

I have been working very hard lately at my Chinese lessons. I lost a bit of motivation in mid-August as we prepared for the Skype call and then anxiously awaited the results of that call. But toward the end of the month, my motivation and momentum picked up speed. Over the past week, I've been studying over an hour almost every single day (including weekends!).

This morning I decided to take a look at my learning logs to see how far I've come. I started the Beginner Conversational Course at Yoyo Chinese on February 4th. Due to an extended family emergency in April and May, I finished the six month course on September 6th. Not bad for missing an entire month in the middle of the course.

I started the Yoyo Chinese Intermediate Course on September 7th and have already finished the first week of assignments. I have an ambitious goal to finish the class by the end of the year but we'll see how well that works out. The Intermediate Course is definitely harder and more involved than the Beginner Course!

This week I also started trying to read materials written in Mandarin for native Mandarin speakers. Whew. I'm in way over my head but it's still encouraging to recognize words and very basic grammar. Unfortunately, most of what I've found to read uses very complicated grammar so I am completely lost.

Once we find out if we will be allowed to travel to Taiwan to meet our girl, I will order some grader readers in Chinese. This should, theoretically, allow me to start reading Chinese materials at my beginner level. I found one website that carries a Chinese version of The Secret Garden that is written specifically for beginners, as well as one of Sherlock Holmes' cases. I am loathe to order my first ever e-book but I will sacrifice my "hard copy only" policy so that I can learn to communicate more effectively with my future daughter!

I'm also hoping to start writing (typing) in Chinese! When I was learning Japanese, I used the website Lang-8 to exchange writing assignments with Japanese speakers. They would correct my Japanese and I would correct their English. I hope to soon start doing the same with Chinese.

Onward and upward! 加油!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mid-autumn festival

Happy mid-autumn festival!

Tonight my hubby and I went for a walk to eat moon cakes and admire the moon. We enjoyed our moon cakes but it was too rainy to see the moon! We are hoping and praying that next year our girl will be home to enjoy this holiday with us.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"By continually coming she will wear me out."

I am this woman.
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’

For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’”

And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
We received an update today. Our girl has still not agreed to the adoption. Our Skype call was successful in that she thought we were kind and "not scary" (love that!). However, she still wants to stay in Taiwan. She is comfortable in Taiwan.

I responded to my agency with two requests.

1 - That they will request permission for us to visit Taiwan and spend time with our girl.
2 - That they will translate and pass along a letter I wrote for her. In my letter, I told her that I want to be her mother and how much I love her. I told her that I will love her forever, long after she grows up and leaves our home. I explained that families offer a lifetime of love and support and that we want to give that to her.

Like the woman in the above passage, I will beg and beg and beg that my daughter will come home until God brings about justice and fulfills His promise to us. I will hold fast to my faith.

Lord, please bring my daughter home. Please change her heart. Please let her say yes.

Monday, September 1, 2014

8 days

It's been eight days since our Skype call. And yes, I am counting. I miss my girl. I know she's not sure what to think of us but we love her. I want to spend more time with her.

Both my husband and I are having a hard time with this particular period of waiting. We're both holding on to faith that God will bring our girl home. We stepped out in faith to adopt a child this old. I was scared and wanted to adopt a younger child, a girl around five or six. But God laid a 10 year old girl on our heart and asked us to have faith in Him. We did. She's now almost 12 and our adoption is at a standstill. But we're still trusting that God will finish what He started.

In the meantime, we try (and fail) not to stress. We have not heard anything from our agency, other than that they have no news to give us. At the end of July, the Taiwan agency contacted us and said our girl is still not on board, do we want to cancel the adoption? NO! They said that they would meet with her again at the end of August and discuss adoption with her. At that point, they might decide to cancel our adoption if she's not on board.

Is she wanting a family now? We don't know. Is she going to agree to being our daughter? We don't know. We can only pray. And wait. I wish I could say "patiently wait" but it's hard to be patient and not stress. Is our adoption moving forward? We believe it will. But no official word yet. Wait and pray. Pray and wait.