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More than just our toes are wet…

Sooo…today we started our day by heading over to my dear friend Susan Hillis’s home. (That is AFTER we had our now usual–scrambled eggs and toast!) Susan is my dear friend who speaks fluent Russian–so I knew we’d get knee deep today spending the day really getting to know one another. AND we were planning to literally get wet by taking the kids to the creek behind their house and swimming country-style. It was SUCH fun skipping rocks with the kids, getting mud between our toes and sharing our hearts.

The really cool thing is several of Susan’s kids joined us AND Beth Templeton’s daughter–cool because they were all adopted from Russia and speak fluent Russian. SO–spending the day all together and having them all share their hearts…we had the opportunity that many host families don’t always have and we learned a lifetime about our sweet girl as they all shared their hearts. It was good. It was hard. And much of it–this momma’s heart just has to process. It was heavy. Much of it confusing even for me. Yet in a lot of it came some clarity on what our role may be in our sweet girl’s life. It might look different than we thought. But regardless we are here. And we are so honored and thankful that the Lord chose us to love her this summer.

We had SO MUCH fun being with Susan. We shared all the fun we had already learned–and Susan ran right upstairs to get her piano for us so T could play!

I was QUITE certain that Beethoven was about to break loose. She started banging away on the piano–and I *do* mean banging. She LOVED it…but I think we need to have lessons before we do that again. I do not think the calluses are from piano playing:) Not sure if we will ever figure that one out–but it’s not from piano practice. Susan so kindly offered for us to take her keyboard home. I thought it was best though for her to keep it for now:)

THEN we had lunch together. Oh my heart seeing these in pecking order at lunch…

And if you are a Created for Care retreat momma–you know Susan makes the most of every opportunity to teach the children the meaning behind her children’s paintings…

Such a sweet and amazing momma! If you haven’t met Susan she has 10 amazing children…really 11–as 1 precious son is with Jesus. Six of her crew are adopted from Russia, and it was such a gift being with them today!!!

Many wouldn’t learn what we learned today for YEARS with the language barrier–so we definitely went more than toe deep and dove right in as T had so much she WANTED to share. Sweet girl talks 90 to nothing–and she had A LOT to say! I mean, can you imagine living with a family who you can’t communicate with and having this opportunity to share?? She definitely took advantage of it. I feel much of her story needs to stay tucked in my heart–so much none of us or our children will never be able to even grasp. We also learned that she is pretty certain she is already 16 and will be 17 this summer. Many times kiddos in orphanages don’t even know how old they are–so we are going to try and find this out for sure because we have a birthday to celebrate next month. Can’t wait to give her a party that makes her feel special and loved!!!

We got home from Susan’s at about 3pm. Momma was WIPED. I typed in google translate that everyone needed a rest:). And momma CRASHED! I think Isaac and I were the only ones that really napped, but sweet girl was brave enough to go in her room and rest (she is usually 5 inches from my hip–so this was good!)

THEN after nap time, Susan called to check in on us and we had a great conversation…all 3 of us and even got to pray together. It was so sweet and special!!!

I made a Russian potato dumpling dish for dinner + biscuits + green beans + chicken fingers for anyone not brave enough to try it. NO one wanted the Russian dish–our Ukraine princess included. I tried:-)! THEN…we loaded up to go the New Horizons welcome party at Roswell spray ground! All of the families hosting through New Horizons in our area were there–and it was really good for the children to get to just PLAY and at the same time for T to see some of her friends from the orphanage! Laney and Parker had a blast running through the water arch…

Is Frankie baby NOT the most precious thing?! Oh…I could just gobble him right UP!

Here’s Rico Suave, Me and princess T!

She was introducing us to her friends as “her family” and she was on CLOUD 9 getting to see all those she traveled with!

She LOOOOVES the kids and has a hug-a-meter that wants constant touch with them! They love T too–and although I was worried at first fearing she might not like being in a home with young children for the summer–you can see God’s perfect hand in it and His love for her as it’s what makes her tick and how she thrives!

We got home WAY past normal bed time. It took me 45 minutes to get Laney’s hair out of the 16 hair rubber bands T had put her hair in playing with it. Oh my. That wasn’t pretty. Then I saw T unstock her purse. She went to the frig and started unloading Caprisun’s from her purse into the fridge. Apparently she loves Caprisun’s and they were at the party tonight. She stocked up as we were leaving I guess;). (My apologies to whoever’s cooler that was!) Looks like Caprisun’s will now be on our grocery list.

I have MORE thoughts and emotions and feelings than I have in months on this whole journey today–but I’m truly still processing today. One thing I know about myself is I like for everything to make sense. I like to understand WHY things are the way they are–and then to fly in like supermom and do my best to kiss it, make it better and tie a bow around it and make it pretty. My role this summer isn’t to do that…and that makes me really, really, REALLY far out of my comfort zone. I’m supposed to be available to love outside of my comfort zone–and not to fix anything but rather love through it. I’m supposed to die to myself…a lot–and pour love out into all 5 of these precious children under my roof. Some days there will be adventures–and some days…we will just sit right here…playing games, picking berries, telling stories of God’s faithfulness in the past and reminding them how much they are loved today by us and by Him. And that will be enough.

I’m learning how important it is for our children to KNOW–to really know how much they are loved. Each of them–need to know this and they have this longing to be told…and I’m seeing this even in my little ones in this time.

It was another wonderful (good, but hard) day. I just went upstairs to make sure all were asleep, and T had gone to bed with the light on. I went in and woke her to make sure it was okay to turn off the light–and as big as you might think a 16 or 17 year old should be…it can be scary for some in her shoes…and she smiled and said yes–the light can go off. I ran my fingers through her hair and kissed her forehead goodnight. Thankful for another beautiful day.

Carissa - July 1, 2012 - 12:32 am

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!! So excited for her and the opportunity that she has to be with Christ-followers. And what a joy to be able to sit and share and pray with Susan. Blessings abounded today! Thank you for sharing.

Jodi - July 1, 2012 - 1:38 am

I feel your supermom pain!!! Love the journey you are on and thank you for letting us all be a part of it! What a valuable lesson for all! I see the touch of God all over this!!

Amber - July 1, 2012 - 7:43 am

Each one of these entries has brought me to tears! What a precious girl! So amazing that you have Susan there to help all of you through this. Praying for you as you love on sweet t!

Beth Templeton - July 1, 2012 - 9:20 am

Andrea, what a FULL day! In every way. This is an adventure of a life time in God– and you haven’t even had to leave your home! I just love this because I see that God is busy blessing and impacting Tatyana for eternity, but He is also clearly doing a really great work in your family as well. Think of how this summer will inform the way your children think about life– I just love that! So glad Kristina could join you all. She really enjoyed it and said that Tatyana is a very nice girl and that she is really happy being with you all. I pray now that all of God’s Good Purposes for your family and T this summer come to pass!

Sara - July 1, 2012 - 4:57 pm

I am loving the updates! And, by the way, as a piano teacher, I was a little miffed by the idea that her calluses would be from playing the piano. hehehe.