The Family

The Family

Friday, December 31, 2010

Counting Our Blessings-- The Year 2010 in Review

Well folks, today is the last day of 2010.  Yet another year has come and gone so quickly, but I would be lying if I said I was completely sad to see it go!  It has been a year of blessings for our family for sure, unfortunately many of those blessings were received into our lives because of some great struggle we were enduring at the time!  Still, our family is grateful for all we have experienced this year because it was through these struggles that God's love for us shone the brightest.  He has helped us power through, and through His mercy and everlasting grace we have made it to the end of another year, and honestly come out of it better and stronger and more faithful than before.  You know how preachers always tell you that when you ask for something, God's answer might be yes, it might be no or it might be later?  And how they tell you that He might very well fulfill your wishes in ways you have not planned for?  Well we certainly got to experience all of that first hand this year, and boy was it a doozie!

Well, where to start?  Most of our friends and family members know that Tim lost his job this past year.  It was a struggle to say the least, but we are so thankful for the love support of family and friends through that time.  Something like a job loss really helps in teaching you humility.  God's lesson #1.  When you have to pull out a Medicaid card at the doctor's office for your child's appointment because you don't have regular insurance anymore, it will knock you down a few notches to say the least.  But you know what, that's ok.  It reminded me to be even more grateful for the privileges I have when things are going well-- like insurance-- something many do not have or can't afford and something we all take for granted.

And I think I have posted on here about how Tim's unemployment came to an end right?  It was when we decided to take a leap of faith and try to commit to adopting a new son from China-- our soon-to-be son Gideon.  Tim was thinking right about that time that he might just have to be self-employed for awhile, but 4 days after we called the agency and told them we would like to try and move forward with an adoption, Tim received a call offering him the job he had really wanted, but had applied for FOUR months prior.  Coincidence?  I personally don't think so.  After seeing clearly how the hand of God has continued to work in this adoption since that time, I think that was just the first of many divine interventions with God showing us clearly that He was in control and that He was laying out the path before us.

Jump back to the summertime-- we were on our way to visit my husband's parents at the beach for our annual Jersey Shore vacation.  NC to NJ is a llllloooooooonnnnnngggggg trip.... about 12 hours with stops.  Well, our Suburban picks THIS time to decide to quit.  Not just run poorly.  Not blow a tire.  Not just run out of gas, no.  It out and out quit.  Something was wrong with the electrical system and the car just shut down.  But you know what the miracle was??  We didn't break down on the highway, we didn't break down halfway there.  We broke down on a small road in Jersey only about an hour from the beach house, and right across the street from a pizza parlor!  The Chevy dealer, as it turned out, was only about 10 minutes away and thanks to Tim's mom's annual gift of AAA we were able to get our car towed there for free.  To top all this off, the guy who owned the pizza place was a Christian who let us stay at his restaurant way past closing time-- like until midnight!!-- until Tim's brother and father could get there to get us.  He said he just couldn't go to church the next day (it was Saturday night when this happened) and have a clear conscience if he left us alone out in the parking lot.  Again, praise God for His grace and mercy!

Then of course, we have my husband's little softball mishap.  Poor Tim ended up breaking his leg while playing softball this past September with our church's team.  He slid into home plate but unfortunately his foot did not slide with him the way it should have do to muddy conditions on the field.  He ended up breaking his tibia and fibula and having to have surgery where they placed a metal rod the length of the bones into his lower leg.  That turned out to be a blessing too though in comparison to him having to have worn a full leg cast for the next three months.  He ended up recovering much more quickly I think than he would have with the cast and is now back to walking 3 miles a day at a good speed and contemplating another marathon in about a year.

God blessed us in this situation, and abundantly so again.  He gave us friends who brought us meals, and showed us the love of Christian brethren through people we did not even know-- some from other churches softball teams-- sending him cards with well wishes, and some even with money because they found out that his new insurance from his new job had not kicked in yet.  People we had never met sent him hundreds of dollars to help out with his medical bills!  And thankfully most of those bills ended up being covered in the end.  God was watching out for us.  In the middle of this crisis, He had it all covered for our sake.

Of course, we have also been in the midst of two adoptions this year, the finalization of Kierstyn's and the start of Gideon's.  Neither one of these have been easy peasy.  Kierstyn was adopted through the foster care system, and anyone who has dealt with that knows the ups and downs of how all that works.  There were troubles to take care of with her biological family, court appointments to attend and appeals to be heard.  But in the end, it all worked out as we had hoped and we were allowed to finalize her adoption.  We feel so blessed to be her family!

Gideon's adoption from China was something that I think most people thought we could never accomplish... we had so many strikes against us!  First Tim's unemployment, then the lack of time because Gideon is aging out in January when he turns 14, then the general lack of money to start, let alone complete, an adoption.  But God has proved them wrong.  He put this overwhelming desire to help this specific child in my heart and would not let it go.  Others tried to keep us from moving forward, but we would not give in.  We weren't just going to roll over and die because some person said it couldn't be done.  I knew deep in my heart that God wanted us to do this.  And it is only through Him that it has been made possible.  After our first social worker did not work out, we went and found a social worker who has been an absolute angel and got our homestudy done in a matter of weeks! In addition, our agency has also been excellent working their fingers to the bone to power through and get the paperwork done, our USCIS officer Nina has been an INCREDIBLE blessing helping us move forward faster than we though possible and encouraging us every step of the way, two different grant agencies awarded us grants to help us fund the adoption, countless people-- both friends and those unknown-- have donated to our adoption to enable us to continue to move forward, some friends from our church bought our plane tickets for us outright as their part in helping bring our son home, I could go on and on and on and on! 

And yesterday, we received our Letter Seeking Confirmation from China!!!!  China has approved us, and so we take another baby step forward!!  I cannot believe it is just TWO WEEKS until we travel to get the newest member of our family.  I know I sound like a broken record, but we really are so blessed.

God has shown His face to us in each of these trials.  And you might be thinking.... whew, what a year it has been for them!  Well you know what, that isn't even all.

The day after Christmas, at 1:30 am, there was a fire in our home.  Luckily I woke..... silly me, it wasn't luck!  Again, God was watching out for our family and I woke to the faint smell of smoke.  I was almost tempted to ignore it and go back to sleep.  I was so comfy and so tired from the past couple days of festivities.  But this smoke smelled different.  And we had burned a fire in the fireplace the night before, so what if an ember had shot out and lit the carpet on fire??  So I got out of bed, walked to the living room and looked around.  Nothing.  Then I walked to the office where the fireplace is.  Still I saw nothing in the dark, but the smell was stronger.  I saw my 7 year old still lying on the daybed next to the fireplace where he had fallen asleep the night before while we had all hung out in there reading and playing with Christmas toys.  I thought, I better turn on the light just to be sure, and boy am I glad that I did.  What I saw was thick dark smoke billowing out from the chimney and heading straight up to the ceiling.  There is a peaked ceiling in that room and the smoke was filling the top third of the room.  I rushed back to our bedroom and told my husband he better come take a look.  By the time we got back the smoke was down about another 3 feet.  I scooped up our son and moved him to the living room while Tim tried shooting the fire extinguisher up the chimney.  We thought the chimney had caught on fire inside.  The extinguisher did nothing so I called up to our eldest son and told him to gather the girls together and get shoes and coats on, (it was about 16 degrees out) and I called 911.  Everything that happened from the time I got out of bed until then took only about 3 minutes and by that time the entire room was filled with smoke.  Praise God that I woke when I did and that our youngest son did not inhale any of the smoke.  Who knows what might have happened to him if I had been even a few minutes later!  I shudder to think about it.

The kids were awesome, including my friend's little girl who had slept over the previous night.  They followed our practiced drill perfectly and got themselves, and all our animals, out of the home and to the top of the driveway.  I grabbed a jacket and our firesafe box as well as my adoption file folder and jetted out of there.  I for sure was not going to leave our passports and all our adoption info in the house!

Neighbors up the drive from us took us in out of the cold.  The poor kids were freezing out there, and even though we were allowed to sit in a police officer's car, it would have been hard to keep them and the dogs in there for the next 4 hours until all the fire crew left.  And even then we could not have gone back in because all the power to the house was cut and it smelled horribly!  Those people were so kind to us, bringing Tim coffee outside while he watched the firefighters and waited.  They made cocoa for the kids and set up sleeping bags for them in their bonus room.  They stayed up all night with us and then had to go into work in the morning!!  And again, these were people we had only ever waved to before, not friends.  They were just doing what God would have them to do as they said, and loving their neighbor.  We are so thankful to them!!

Luckily, to make a long story short, the firefighters found that it was an electrical fire under the crawlspace that had caused all the smoke.  They were able to put it out without much damage to our home, with the exception of that office.  Our fireplace had to be torn apart and the floor and carpet will have to be replaced, but that is so minimal in comparison to what could have happened, and most importantly our family all survived.

So what is the blessing from this latest catastrophe you ask?  Well, because of smoke damage our entire house is getting a good cleaning.  Everything, and I mean everything, in the house is being washed, scrubbed, mopped or vacuumed.  All the clothes, shoes, blankets, purses, etc were brought out for specially cleaning.  All the furniture, rugs and drapes are being cleaned.  My house will be cleaner now than the day we moved in and if that is not a blessing then I don't know what is!!  Gideon will come home to a supremely clean and fresh home in a few weeks.  Boy I hope he doesn't get any funny ideas and think it is that way ALL the time!  :)

We have to be out of our home for about the next week or so while they do all this, which is a blessing in disguise as well.  We are getting a little mini-vacation at a local hotel.  We are all enjoying a scrumptious breakfast buffet every morning and the kids are loving the pool (and not having to make their own beds).  I am enjoying a break from cooking and cleaning as well and using this time to rest up before our long trip to China.  And luckily for us, all this is covered under our insurance.  We have also had some loving friends sign up to cook us meals or take us out for dinner.

So what is the over all lesson from this terribly long rant about our family's last year of life??  God's blessings oftentimes come disguised in the craziest of ways-- turmoil, trials, tribulations, accidents..... they all offer a way for Him to show us that He indeed will provide.  That He is the master of all things, not us.  That He will take care of us and carry us through the darkest of storms.  That He will use his people to bring His blessings to us.  That He is an Awesome God!

So here is to a more uneventful 2011, but yet another year filled with God's love!!

"Be still and know that I am God" 
Psalm 46 vs 10

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Family Update and Birthday Wishes

Wow-- so much going on and so much to be thankful for!  I just wanted to put up a quick post today to give everyone some updates on our family and our pending adoption.

First off I want to make sure I send out some birthday wishes to my wonderful hubby Tim......

Where would I be without him?  He has been my love and my support for the past 19 years and my husband for the last 15.  He is such a sweet and giving man, someone who steps in to help without even being asked.  He is a devoted family man-- a caring husband and father who tries his hardest to please his wife and dotes on his children.  Every single one of them have a special place in his heart, and I am sure that will be true for the children to follow.  Happy Birthday Tim!  Thank you for being the loving, hard working man that you are and for your place by my side as we go through this next adoption together adding to the blessing which is our family.  We all love you!!

And now for an update on our adoption of Gideon.  We have our plane tickets!!!!!!
We are so excited that they are finally booked!!  A HUGE thank you to our friends David and Christine Gilley who helped make this big step possible by their awesome and generous donation of their airline miles as well as extra money to cover Gideon's trip home.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  We are so blessed to have such amazing and loving friends who are willing to help us with this adoption and its funding.  God has been and continues to be SO GOOD to us!

Evan and I will be traveling to get our new son and his new brother on January 13th.  Please pray that we have a safe flight and that everything goes well while we are in China.  Tim will be staying at home to be with the children and also so that he can continue to work since he just began his new job a few months ago.

And last but not least, for another update in our family.......
We would like to warn the people of NC to be extra careful on the roads from now on now that our son Evan is officially out on the road!!  Our oldest son Evan completed his Driver's Ed course today and will now have his permit to learn to drive!  Watch out everyone!!  Haha!

We are excited of course and proud of him.  This is just one more step in his life on his road to becoming an adult.  He is growing into such a wonderful young man who loves his family and strives to please the Lord.  We couldn't be more thankful and we pray that he is safe now and always while out on the road.  A momma has to worry you know!

We have so many blessings to reflect on during this Christmas season-- good health, a home, beautiful children, a loving family, a wonderful church family, the list goes on and on.  We hope that each of you take time during these last days of hustle and bustle before the big day arrives to take a quiet moment alone with your Creator and thank Him for all He has blessed you with as well.  Life is so precious and it can be over in the blink of an eye.  Let us be grateful all of our days here on this earth and always be looking for ways to help others and do good.

In the words of Tiny Tim from Dickens' A Christmas Carol.......

"Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one!!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lean Not on Your Own Understanding

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
and He shall direct your path.
Proverbs 3: 5-6

I think we as human beings find it so terribly hard to give up our control.  We want so badly to be the ones in charge of our own lives, forging our own paths, heading down our own road, deciding on our own direction.  Usually not until much later in life do we realize how little control that we actually have.  Plan as you might, you never truly know what tomorrow may bring, you never know what twists and turns your life-path might take until that day when you are confronted with a specific situation or decision.  The question is.... when that day comes will you follow God?  Will you trust Him and not only yourself and your earthly brain?  Will you give it all over to He who knows what is best for you?

So many times when we do make the decisions God calls us to make, people deem them as unwise.  They tell us we have poor judgement.  People are even called crazy.  Why?  Because our decisions are not made with earthly logic?  Because they are not made with earthly gain in mind?  Because they are not the "norm"?  Yep. 

When a family steps out and says they are going to travel halfway across the world, leaving most of their possessions behind, to be missionaries in a foreign land-- some say "oh I could never do that!" 

When others decide they want to step out and adopt that special needs child people think "Well how will that impact their other children??" 

When a family feels lead to adopt their 10th child people say "My goodness, don't they have enough?"

Our earthly mindset is what drives each of us to respond in this way, our "logic" is kicking in.  But do you think this is how God would respond? My opinion is that He wants us to follow His guidelines, not the world's.  His guidelines as stated in the Bible, tell us to be selfless.  They tell us not to look for earthly gain.  They tell us to put others first in all things and to be humble.  They tell us to care for the little children of the world, the orphans and the widows especially.  They tell us to go out to all the world and spread His Word.

"Whatever you do for the least of these you do for Me"

Perhaps when the time comes to make a decision this is why we feel a little flustered or debate on which way to go or what we should do. We wonder, do we want to be considered outside the "norm"?  Do we want to go against the grain as to what society tells us is right and OK?  Or do we have more concern with fitting in, caring more about what others think than about what God thinks?

 That is when we need Proverbs 3 vs 5-6 the most.  We only need to look to God's word to know that He has a plan for every one of us, it is simply our choice as to whether we follow what He would have us to do.  If we trust in Him, if we pray and listen to Him, He will guide us.  He will help direct our lives in the way they should go.

In addition, the part about leaning not on our own understanding is what really makes me think, especially at this time of the year.  It is Christmastime and the stores are bustling with shoppers and families like ours are having fun continuing our annual traditions like going out to see the beautiful light-filled villages, baking cookies, reading Christmas stories before bed.  Yet all around us and all over the world, there are grown-ups and children alike who are suffering.  Some have never heard of the joys of Christmas, let alone been able to celebrate its fun.  Why?

This is something I find so hard to understand, but as the verse above says, we are not to lean on our own understanding.  There are many things in life that are not for us to figure out.... the whole "why do bad things happen to good people" saying fits right in here.  Proverbs does say though that He will direct our path, and to trust in Him with all our heart.  That is what we CAN do even when we don't understand the why of it all. 

My heart and the hearts of my husband and children have been opened to the plight of the poor and defenseless children around the world.  We may not be able to understand why they are in the situations they are in, but God has directed the paths of our lives in the direction of going to help them. 

So if you and your family are like ours, and during this holiday season you think about and pray for the many people out there, especially the children, who find themselves without a warm loving home, without food, without family to surround them........ ask yourself what path God has in mind for you.  Is it the path of adoption?  Is it stepping out to help through a monetary donation?  Is it going out and spreading the Word?  Is it simply praying for or advocating for those who need a home and a family? 

Whatever it is, don't be afraid to follow the path you feel lead to travel.  And please remember to encourage those who are trying to follow God's will in their lives too.  Build them up don't tear them down.  Offer encouragement and prayers so that the path they are following might be a smooth one. Don't allow your own understanding or lack thereof be a deterrent to the good work others are trying to do.  Support them, love them, encourage them and pray for them.  You might not understand why they are following the paths in life that they are, but they do, and that is what is truly important. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fingerprints.... and a NEW NAME!!

God continues to move mountains for us in this journey!  Oh how grateful we are!

On Friday we got the wonderful news from our USCIS officer that our actual I800A documents had been received!  They were sent in before Thanksgiving, and usually end up sitting in a lockbox for awhile before they are received and processed.  We had seen that our check had been cashed, and on Thursday received the receipt in the mail so we knew they had them, but they had not been logged in yet.  Finally, on Friday morning, they were there!  Our USCIS officer continues to be so gracious and helpful towards us.  She knows that we are in a race against time and is truly sympathetic towards the plight of this child who needs to be rescued before it is too late.

So, on Friday, after she saw the I800A was finally there, she faxed us our fingerprint letter and off we went, with only moments to spare before their office closed for the day at 4pm!  Tim had an appointment downtown at 3pm and we knew we were cutting it close, but we made it!  Fingerprints are DONE!

There is still more paperwork... an I800 to process, other papers to get verified and authenticated, but things are moving.  Our agency is speeding ahead for us and we are so grateful for their help.  According to them we should be planning to travel on January 15th, and we will get our son on the 16th.  I am beside myself excited as well as very nervous.  Are we really doing this??  We are!

Please pray that things continue to go well and that we don't hit any proverbial bumps in this already treacherous road.  We still have lots of fundraising to do to get all our travel expenses together.  Please pray that the funds for that come together in time.

Also pray that we can get one of the two consulate appointments we are requesting for the end of January so that we can return home the 29th.  If we are not granted one of these appointments we will have to stay in China for an extra week because of Chinese New Year being on February 2nd.  If that is the case, we would not return home until Feb 10th.  This would be a long time for me to be away from my children, as well as adding more expense to the trip.

But God is mighty and He has shown us in so many ways and through so many people that He is here with us, helping us every step in the way.  I have no doubt that He will provide for the remainder of our needs.  What a great story this will be for us to tell of His provision and His glory when all is said and done.  It already IS a great testament to what God can do if His people just have a little faith.  We could have accomplished NONE of this so far without His help and His guidance and the love and generosity of His people. 

Lastly, but definitely not least, I wanted to share with you that our son also has a new name!!  One of the other forms that had to be filled out and sent in was the visa form for our son.  On it they ask for his given name and the new name by which he will be called if it is different.  We have been talking for awhile now about what this name should be and have finally come to a decision.  Zou Lie will be officially named.....

Gideon Sage Lie Rowe

Gideon is from the Bible and means warrior, and Sage means wise, so he will be our "Wise Warrior".  I really felt strongly that he should have a Biblical name considering the path to this child is completely one that God has designed for us.  It is only because of Him that this boy will be part of our family.  "To God be the glory, great things He hath done."

Please continue to pray for our family and for our son Gideon as we work very hard this next month to finally bring him home!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kierstyn is now OFFICIALLY a Rowe!

This precious little girl is now officially:
 Bridget Kierstyn Faith Rowe! 

It has been a LONG two years to get here, but the adpotion decree has finally come through.  She has been the child of our hearts for all this time, but we can now say that she is our daughter! 
Thank you God for the blessing of adoption.  Thank you for bringing this child into our lives.  She is sweet and sensitive, good natured and fast to forgive.  She is silly, funny and dramatic.  Most importantly, she is ours!!  Our daughter.

Psalm 127 v3 and 5
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord."
"Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Preach on!

I just wanted to post a big THANK YOU to our church's wonderful preacher Mr. Tommy Poarch for preaching an excellent sermon on helping the orphan today!  I have been asking him to do this since about October when I realized that Orphan Sunday was coming up and, as he told our congregation today so emphatically, I loaded him down with tons of information!  But today was finally the day he chose to preach on this topic and he did a great job. 

There are 40-something verses in the Bible, most in the Old Testament, that talk about the widow and the orphan and the way God wants us to treat them and care for them.  That is a lot of verses, and he went through quite a few to emphasize his point that God does not take the plight of the orphan lightly.  He wants us to be His hands and feet on this earth, taking care of His children and being physical fathers and mothers to them since He cannot be here in the physical form.  He expects them to be looked after by His people, and Tommy did a great job of expressing that.  I am very grateful to him for speaking on this subject today and making others in our church more aware of the needs of so many across this world who do not have a loving family!

As a result, I have had others ask me about how to donate to our Lifesong matching grant, so I wanted to put the physical address in this post.  You may mail checks to this address below or use Pay-pal as I mentioned before on their website by  going to their donate page and putting Rowe family in their purpose line.

The physical address is:

Lifesong for Orphans

PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St
Gridley, IL 61744

You can put Rowe Family Grant in your memo line of your check.

Thank you again to everyone who is supporting us, physically and emotionally on this journey!!!!  And thank you to our wonderful preacher for trying to further open the eyes of Christians to this incredible need across our world!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Matching Grant!!

I wanted to share some more wonderful news!  Our family has gotten approved for a MATCHING GRANT from Lifesong for Orphans!!!  Woooohoooo!  This is bringing us one step closer to being able to get our son!

What does this matching grant mean you ask??  Well it means that Lifesong is willing to match ANY DONATION given to our family up to $2000!  This means if someone donates $100, it will turn into $200.  If you give $1000 it turns into $2000!  This is such an incredible blessing to our family and will help move us ever closer to our fundraising goal. 

We are really working on getting together the $5000 to $7000 needed to travel, and this money will be so instrumental to getting us most of the way there!

But it can't be done without your help.  Lifesong will only donate to us when another donation is given.  They won't just give us the money, they will only match the incoming donations.

This grant is also tax deductible to the giver, so this is an added benefit!

To donate, please visit and click on their donate button towards the bottom.  It will pull up the Pay Pal screen (you do not need a Pay Pal account to donate, only a credit or debit card). 

In the area where it asks "purpose" please type in that it is for the Rowe Family adoption fund.  This way the funds will be deposited directly to our grant fund and matched accordingly.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to this cause and continues to keep us in your prayers.  And if you have any cause to wonder why our family feels so strongly about adopting orphans and this road we are on, please click on the You Tube video below.  It is amazingly moving!!