Happy, happy day!!

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband!! He is 37 years old today. This year has been life-changing and I am so proud of how much he’s grown this year.

Happy anniversary!! Today marks 10 years of marriage. It’s been a beautiful 10 years and I hope for many, many more!

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Nightstand – Taiwan style!

I really wanted to participate in this month’s Nightstand post, even if my reading plans are a bit unorthodox. I am a die-hard library user, preferring to lose myself in the stacks and smell all the books. I love being surrounded by hardcovers and paperbacks and shelves and shelves of books.

Well… I’m headed to Taiwan tonight to pick up my daughter. I have a luggage weight limit and cannot afford to take a bunch of books. So, I have bit the bullet, pulled up my big girl panties, and succumbed to an e-reader. If I have to be honest and admit that there are positive aspects to an e-reader, I suppose I can do that. The biggest advantage is that I can take as many books as I want. So, I borrowed the max that my library will allow and took screenshots of what is loaded on my Nook.

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I also downloaded a few public domain books from Project Gutenberg. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Pygmalion, A Woman of No Importance, Around the World in Eighty Days…

I am under no delusions that I will read all of these books, much less finish more than one or two. Traveling to Taiwan to pick up your child is not a vacation. However, there are two VERY LONG flights and I desperately need something to read. With all of these options, I can try a book and ditch if it isn’t engaging on a 12 hour long flight or sitting in a hotel room. Most of these books have been on my to-read list for a long time so I will revisit them at some other time if I don’t get to them on this trip. However, I love having options!

Happy reading!!

Taken – A Book Review

Earlier this week I received a rather interesting email from Goodreads.

Goodreads Challenge

According to my logs, I have read:
76 books
18,348 pages
with a 2.88 average rating

That rating is not very good. I’ve read a few amazing books this year but a slew of books that I determined weren’t really worth reading. The second half of the year will be better than the first half, right?

One of the books I accepted for review has slightly boosted that average rating.

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Anything by Dee Henderson is almost guaranteed to be a four star read and this book was no exception. I believe I have read all of Henderson’s books and this one was fantastic. What makes it so unique is that the entire book takes place after Shannon escapes from her kidnappers. She seeks out Matthew, a private investigator, and slowly shares her story with him as they both attempt to right wrongs that have taken place over the last twenty or thirty years. I really appreciated how this story unfolded as Shannon and Matthew use the information she provides to track down the kidnappers so that justice can be served.

As I read the story, I was surprised to find something that may help with my parenting. We are traveling next week to adopt a 13 year old girl who has had a history of loss. She lost both her parents at an early age and now she’s losing her birth country, her caretakers, her language, and everything else that is familiar to her. We will be doing our best to help her feel safe and loved from day one but I am sure she will eventually share stories with us that will break our hearts. In the novel, Matthew is offered some advice about how to best help Shannon as she shares her very emotional history. He is told, “But I’d stay with the basic three rules – listen, try not to react, and keep your reply at the same emotional tone she sets” (59).

This advice really makes sense to me. When my daughter shares something emotional from her history, I have to first listen to her. Truly listen. I have to try not to react to the story she shares because otherwise I may unintentionally discourage her from sharing more details. And I need to respond with the same emotional tone she uses to share. I don’t want to burst into tears if she matter of factly drops an alarming detail while we’re playing a game. If that happens, she may feel that she’s a burden or that I cannot handle what she’s sharing.

In a later section of the book, Shannon shares some of how she feels about God. She attempts to answer the age old question of why God allows suffering. I thought her explanation was rather insightful.

He did [allow the kidnapping]. And I wondered for a time if God still loved me… I’d like a featherbed world where falling out of a tree didn’t break a bone, where a guy couldn’t land a blow on someone smaller than himself, where no one ever got to touch me without my consent. That’s the world I would have created. But God decided to create a world where free will was more important than no one ever getting hurt. There must be something stunningly beautiful and remarkable about free will that only God can truly grasp, because God hates, literally abhors, evil, yet He created a world where evil could happen if people chose it. God sees something in free will and choice that’s worth tolerating the horrifying blackness that would appear if evil was chosen rather than good. I find that utterly remarkable…

God gave Adam and Eve that free will and a choice. He gave them one warning: eat of any tree that is here, including the wonderful tree of life, but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I wish Adam and Eve had thought more about what knowledge meant. … But how do you really know something? You experience it. … The sad thing about evil, we did this to ourselves. It wasn’t God’s plan. God expected, fully intended, for Adam and Eve to obey what He had said, to leave the tree of good and evil alone. We’re Adam and Eve’s children, reaping their decision. We chose the knowlege – the experience of good and evil – and we found out just how bitter and dark evil really is. We experience it now. That’s our reality. There’s probably not a person alive who wouldn’t want to go back and see that decision changed, now that we have tasted how bad it turned out to be. My faith survived because I realized God didn’t want this for us, He never had (107-109).

Definitely a thought provoking summary of free will.

I am so glad that I accepted this book for review. My only complaint with the novel, and it’s a flaw that I feel runs throughout Henderson’s books, is that the characters are too perfect. They have challenges, yes. Bad things happen to them. But overall, they handle life perfectly. Even when they make a mistake, they bounce back immediately and learn deep, valuable life lessons that they are able to apply from that moment forward.

Still, it was a fantastic read and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to read and review Taken. Many thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity. All thoughts are my own!

A fresh start

Since we’re headed to Taiwan in just a couple of weeks, I wanted to redo my blog with a fresh look and a new domain name. My wonderful, ever-so-patient husband spent most of this weekend helping me with the back end updates since I have a lot to learn about the technical side of things.

We could not figure out a way to install Google Friend Connect, so I apologize to those who have been following me using that app.

If you cannot comment or see some other glaring error, please feel free to email me! I look forward to connecting with you!

17 days until we leave for Taiwan.
22 days until we meet our daughter!

Paperwork galore

20 days until travel! 25 days until we meet our daughter!!


Today I finished gathering and copying and printing all of the paperwork we need for our visa appointment. I find it very ironic that she’s already legally our daughter and yet we have to bring almost an inch of paperwork to Taiwan.

This packet is on top of all of the court paperwork, her birth certificate and family registry, passports, etc. How many trees does it take to complete an adoption? Many, I am sure!

We get paid tomorrow and I have to make a copy of our pay stub to include in this packet. Once that’s done, we are ready for Taiwan! I can’t wait!

Three weeks to go!

In exactly three weeks from this moment in time, we will be approaching the tiny island of Taiwan. I am excited about finally meeting my daughter. I am nervous about the first meeting with her. And I’m mildly panicked about all of the things left on my to-do list.

My husband has reminded me that as long as we have clean clothes, a passport, and the paperwork needed to get her visa, we’ll be ok. The rest of the list can be left undone and our world will still move forward. He’s right! I keep reminding myself of that even as I keep cleaning.

Today I am going to fill out one last form that’s required for our girl’s visa and gather the rest of the paperwork we have to take to the visa appointment. I’m also going to keep working on our kitchen. The top half of the kitchen is decluttered, scrubbed down, and organized. Now to tackle the bottom cupboards, the fridge, and the floor.

Three more weeks until we arrive in Taiwan! 26 days until we meet our daughter!

Shopping, shopping, and a travel meeting

This week has gone so quickly because we’ve been able to accomplish so much. Yesterday was our travel meeting with our agency. We had a phone conference to go over the flight, touring in Taiwan, meeting our daughter, the AIT appointment to get our daughter’s visa, and the flight home. We covered a lot of information and I am VERY excited about traveling.

We also accomplished a lot of shopping this week. We are officially done shopping for our daughter! Her wardrobe is now complete. Amazon sent us the cutest box! I think the minions are really cute.

We ordered a backpack from one website but they ran out of stock and refunded our money. So we had to order another backpack through Amazon. The first one was really cute but I like this one too. We’re giving her the backpack at our first meeting. We haven’t decided yet what to put in it. I was thinking a coloring book with colored pencils, a manga in Mandarin, and… not sure what else! We have a couple of weeks to figure it out.

We also found a lightweight jacket to take to Taiwan in case we get hit with a bunch of rain. It took some searching, but I finally located a blue one.

Last but not least, we found a swimming suit for our girl. Both hotels in Taiwan have a pool and we want to go swimming every evening. It was really hard to find cute one piece bathing suits!

I’m relieved to have the shopping done. Our budget was taking a hit and now we can go back to saving for the trip instead of spending.

26 days until we leave for Taiwan!
31 days until we meet our daughter!!

Hotels and Skype and clothes shopping

It has been an eventful few days! This weekend went incredibly fast. Sabbath was all about church and naps and resting up for the upcoming busy week.

The other highlight of Sabbath was a Skype call with our daughter, the first one after the adoption has been finalized. It was so amazing sitting there and talking with a child who I know is legally our daughter and that we finally get to meet in only a month. We showed her the suitcase we have for her and all of the clothes we’re bringing to Taiwan. She asked if we could bring her entire wardrobe to Taiwan! Sorry, sweetie, but we don’t have a suitcase big enough for that!

On Sunday, I spent hours researching hotels in Taiwan and getting our reservations made. I am so relieved that we have both flights and hotels for our trip! Only 29 days until we leave for Taiwan and 34 days until we meet our daughter!!

We also went to the mall Sunday afternoon and found another pair of shorts for me. Taiwan is HOT and there was no way that I could survive a week in 90 degree heat with jeans. We stumbled across a sale at North Face and found a pretty blue jacket for my daughter. I also scoured the shoe websites and found a pair of blue sneakers at half price. Now all we need is a swimming suit for her and she’ll be ready to go.

We had a beautiful surprise this morning. I had been hoping that we would receive just one more Skype call before we travel. God is generous and gave us two! We have one scheduled on the 14th and another on the 27th, just two days before we leave for Taiwan. I am so excited!

Liftoff!

We have liftoff! We are now the proud owners of two tickets to Taiwan and THREE tickets for the return flight.

I am exhausted but elated. Between the heat and a personal issue and the stress of trying to make travel arrangements, I am exhausted. I don’t know how people do this with little ones already home. My hat is off to mothers who go through this entire adoption process and parent at the same time!

My email inbox is getting really full and my kitchen table is a mess and my Chinese flashcards are piling up. But I was able to clean 2/3 of a kitchen cupboard today! Yippee!!

Tomorrow we’re going to start researching hotels. We also want to come up with several ideas of things we can do or see with our daughter while still in Taiwan. The Hello Kitty Cafe is already on our list. We’ll ask her on Sabbath’s Skype call which of the ideas she’s interested in. Hopefully that will give her a better idea of what will happen when the three of us meet. I cannot wait!