Monday, December 13, 2010

Catching up with Ashlyn

Ashlyn is a Senior.

Let that sit a minute.

She is a Senior in High School.

She is looking at colleges.

Colleges are looking at her.

I am looking at locks and chains for her bedroom door.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

I am in utter disbelief that this child of mine that I've begged to stay little forever is very much indeed growing up.  But I am in awe of how she has grown in the last 6 months.  She is growing into a beautiful young woman.  She is a compassionate, kind and crazy person who can speak her mind against you and still have you liking her. 

She is completing her final year of high school and finishing up her high school athletic career.  She is considering trying to play volleyball for colleges, contemplating trying out for a few. 

She is thoroughly loving her final year in school with her friends.  They are such a fun bunch of kids and I have loved watching them grow up together.  They have won our local Fall Festival every year except one.  They are so goofy and funny and able to laugh at themselves.  I cannot imagine them not being together.  This year Ashlyn was retiring queen and she got to crown one of her best friends, RayVen, as the new queen.  Trivial in the grand scheme of things?  Yes.  But I still got a little misty....

I am so proud of the example Ashlyn is setting for her little sisters.  And she has made it pretty easy on her parents too.  So far. 

She has such a sweet faith in Jesus.  She just knows that He loves her and has a plan for her.  I am sure she will have a lot of struggles and challenges as she embarks on this next season of life and tries to find her place in this big crazy world.

But I've got to tell you.....

I just cannot wait to watch.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

So.......what's new?

So, as you can see, I've been working on a new blog design with Nikki at Blogs for a Cause. 
She is seriously talented and a joy to work with.  If you need a little spruce-up (and who doesn't from time to time) head on over to her site and see all her gorgeous designs.  If she can clean up the mess that I made of my own blog than she can do just about anything. 

And she's running a special right now on a Christmas look and a another design to be applied after the holidays for one low price. 

I'm tellin' ya, she knows her stuff.  And such a huge heart for God and the orphan!

Now I just need to clean up my side-bars......

I want to give an update on each of the girls, as much for my documentation as well as for you.  I'll begin with Abbey since she has changed the most.

So the Woods family has settled in nicely to life with another teenager in the house.  Abbey has meshed into our lives and hearts so perfectly that you know only our gracious Father could have written this story.  Not that it has always been easy, but we have always known that she was born to be our daughter. 

Abbey spent her summer adjusting and learning all about her new home.  The transition went much smoother that we anticipated.  We prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best and I think we got through the first few months pretty easily.  There was the unavoidable awkwardness and hesitation.  But playing together helped.  We rode four-wheelers, went to ball games, and went swimming in the pool.  Basically we just took it easy and melted into a family.

(playing ninja)
Abbey is now in the 8th grade at school.  She is attending regular classes with the other 8th graders except for last hour, when she meets for one-on-one tutoring to make sure she is doing well and getting all her assignments.  She is graded in the ESOL program, which means that she is not responsible for getting everything perfectly correct.  But she is responsible to participate and cooperate and learn the English that is associated with each subject.  As she is tested, we moniter her progress and as long as she is progressing steadily, we will keep her in this program until she tests at a proficient level. 

(First day of school)

It is unreal how much she has grown in the last 6 months.  She talks all the time now and we can understand her almost always.  She has such a good time at school and school activities.  She has such a nice humor about herself, which helps when we can just laugh at what we are trying to figure out.  She has friends here and still has her friends from China.  She loves talking to them on the phone and it has been such a blessing to watch her freinds follow her into America.  These Luoyang kids are amazing!

Abbey still misses China from time to time.  I think that is normal and healthy for her to be able to express, but it is still hard to hear.  I think I just want her to love it here so much that it is hard to think about her wishing for there.  She was talking about something in China the other day and said, "I want to go there!"  I was really in a sad mood that day anyway, so I asked her if she really wanted to go there.  She replied an excited, "yes!".  I said, "Do you want to go there to stay or visit?"  She told me, "No no no!  My home is here!  I just want to see it then come back here."  Oh my heart!  

She celebrated her 14th birthday on Sept 4th.  This was a day that was to be a celebration of her being with her forever family and not losing her hope of a famiy's love.  However, Wayne's dad died unexpectedly at 12:04am on that day and so her birthday celebration had to be postponed for awhile.  We were not even able to do gifts on that day.  We did run to a store and grab a quick cake to give her that evening at Wayne's parent's house, but it was just a sad day.  Abbey was her usual sweet compliant self, but I know that it must have bothered her.  She had only met her grandfather about 4 times so she wasn't close to him.  It was really difficult.

We did celebrate at a later date: 

Abbey is a beautiful girl on the inside and out.  I am sure that we still have a long way to go in our journey of getting to know her.  But I also know that it is a journey that God called us to take.  I hurt to think of some of the things that she has endured in her life and I am not sure I can handle hearing about it from her.  But I will, when she's ready.  God will show us what she needs and we will faithfully be that for her. 

And to answer the question:  Yes.

Even knowing how hard it's been and knowing that more hardships are to come.....

I would adopt Abbey again in a heartbeat.