Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sciatic Blessing

Sometime in the year 2009 I (Brian) developed some bad pain in my back that was accompanied by pain down my left leg. I had never experienced anything like this, and it was a persistent pain. Trips to a chiropractor in Selma, a deep tissue massage specialist in Dinuba, and other stretches and exercises aimed at lower back pain had little to no effect. Oddly, during that time I achieved a mountain hike comparable to Yosemite's Half Dome hike. Later that year we flew to China to complete our long-awaited adoption. When we flew out I still had pain, but somehow managed to scale the Great Wall of China and walk through the entire Forbidden City with little to no trouble. Seemingly miraculously the pain subsided and life went on (though I have not to-date been able sit against a wall on the floor and stretch my left leg out in front of me completely straight).

Well this year (2012) the pain returned with a vengeance after digging several post holes in our back yard. And this time it was accompanied by numbness in my big toe. Scary! I tried to wait it out (it got better by itself last time, right!?), but finally succumbed. A visit to a chiropractor in Fresno led to a referral to an MRI company. The MRI revealed a bulging disc in my lower back. The chiropractor said he wouldn't even touch me, and referred me to a local neurosurgeon (not necessarily guaranteeing I'd need surgery, but to discuss the more in-depth option I'd need to consider). Needless to say, I was depressed over the thought, and I put it off for quite awhile.

Around the time that I was psyching myself up to call the neurosurgeon, my sister had arrived in town from Nicaragua with her husband for a rare but very welcome visit. On her first visit to town, we all rendezvoused at a Denny's restaurant in Clovis. My back was doing especially bad that night, and the conversation inevitably led to that topic. Turns out she had dealt with some pretty bad lower back and sciatic pain several years prior. Her healing was found in the treatments performed by Dr. Bill Cairns in Reedley, and she highly recommended I see him.

So, as one last effort to avoid seeing a neurosurgeon, I made an appointment. What a pivotal decision that was in my life! Not only was the doctor baffled at the non-treatment I received by the chiropractor in Fresno, but he assured me my condition could absolutely be addressed with chiropractic methods! Music to my ears! I started with visits to him 3 times a week, and also had strict instructions to swim daily. So I got a one-week trial membership at the gym (GB3) and was in the pool every work day that following week. Amazingly my pain was essentially gone within 2 weeks!

They say when you're recovering from an ailment (being sick, spraining an ankle, having a bulging disc in your lower back, etc.) to take it easy on the rebound. Well, I tried, but over Memorial Day weekend I overdid it renovating one of our kennels (we're starting a dog boarding business out of our house). By Tuesday the pain was back, and I was back in Dr. Cairns' office.

This time the recovery has taken much longer. I've been taking way more Ibuprofen than I should for over a month now. I've been swimming diligently every day (after I officially joined the gym) and seeing the doctor once a week since then. The pain has been unbearable at times, driving me out of bed and on to the floor, desperately trying any sleeping position I could think of to try to alleviate this pain! The Ibuprofen would get me partway through the night, and a second dose (once it kicked in after about forever!) would get me through the rest of the night. Most nights were sleep-interrupted for me, and consequently, for Sheryl. It's been rough.

But every day Sheryl and Kiana have prayed specifically that God would heal my back. And to my relief and joy, I've experienced the beginning of God's answer to those prayers. A week ago, I was suddenly able to go twice as long without dosing up on pain killers and my sleep improved dramatically! Praise God! Now I'm not totally off Ibuprofen like the first time around, there's still numbness in my toe, and occasionally I end up on the floor again trying to find a comfortable sleeping position without waking up my wife, but the improvement is there and I know it will continue to improve.

The blessing in all this is simply this: though my condition is painful and at times has been unbearable:

  1. The timing was uncanny with my sister coming to town just when I was preparing myself to call the neurosurgeon
  2. There was a chiropractor in my home town that uses a drop-table for adjusting his patients - no twisting at all - and after seeing my symptoms was confident he could help
  3. My condition is completely, 100% reversible
  4. I've always struggled to get enough exercise. Having a compelling reason to swim every day has literally been life changing! I'm losing weight and gaining endurance. Just yesterday I swam 10 laps in a row without stopping (compared to barely making 2 laps when I first started!)

So yes, at this point I see this sciatic pain as a blessing. Of course I hate the pain, but my life will be loads better as a result. I just have to be careful not to do any heavy lifting for the rest of the year. That's a tall order, but I can guarantee you it is well worth it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blessed on Thanksgiving! God is good?

Today is Thanksgiving Day and I had a really good time celebrating it with Sheryl's family! We rendezvoused at Ryan's Place in Los Banos, where we enjoyed a tasty traditional Thanksgiving meal. Lunch was followed by coffee and hot chocolate at Starbucks, where we also played Taboo (and Jessica and I opened birthday presents). Afterwards we went and saw the Muppets movie (which was a very fun movie!), had a simple dinner at Carl's Jr. (i.e., The Green Burrito), then came home to a warm house where we can settle in and enjoy a pleasant night together. I'm now all comforted-out in sweats on the couch with my laptop writing this blog, with Christmas music playing quietly in the background. I sit facing our Christmas tree, which we decorated earlier this week. I sit here knowing that God has been so good to me, and I feel blessed!

I've been reading through the book "Experiencing God," and one of the foundational principles this book requires that we accept is that God is by nature good and He desires the best for us. All my life I've easily accepted that God is good, as defined by my paradigm as a middle-class Christian white male in the United States. However, when I was presented with that principle and had to make a definite declaration that I believe God is always good, I had a hard time doing it. Sure, it's easy for me to say that God is good. But what about the woman sold into sex slavery? Or the boy who is forcibly made blind, then sent out by his "owners" to beg for money (who, being blind, will evoke a greater amount of generosity)? Or the children subject to slave labor so we can buy clothes and other items at bottom dollar? How is it I'm so lucky? Why is God looking so favorably on me? I wish I had a good answer. I can't declare that God is selectively good. He is either good, or He's not.

So what do you think? Is God good? Always? Really? Though I know the answer, my heart is unsettled about it, and I'm still wanting to be convinced. In my tiny mind, I can only say yes, I believe God is always good. I can't explain all the apparent inconsistencies and injustices in this world and will never understand why I was "selected" to be born to two wonderful Christian parents and live the privileged life I've lived, but I'm grateful for it and am full of THANKS today for it. And I can only be motivated to look beyond myself and use my good fortune to somehow reach out to help others. I guess I can't be content to just be thankful, but hope somehow I can provide a reason for others to be thankful, too.

I hope you're blessed today and have reason to be thankful. If you are, consider how you might pay that forward. Let's make life better for somebody today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Agility video

Here is the second Traditional Jackpot run for Cosette from last Sunday. She did the Teeter at a distance for the first time, this was a big accomplishment for her.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our Agility Victory weekend

Here are a couple videos of our weekend. We got our C-ATCH me and Cosette on our Jackpot run on Saturday. It was a non-traditional run where we had to complete a certain combination of obstacles for the Jackpot and if unsuccessful had to change it,I planned my course where I did the combination needed three different ways and grabbed enough extra points so that if I missed it the first time I had a backup plan without having to worry about changing anything and my plan worked :) It was a fun run too.It was 6 years to the exact day to achieve the C-ATCH. This is a big achievement for us that I have worked hard for and am so excited to finally get the C-ATCH, we are officially an Agility team Champion.

On Sunday we did another Jackpot traditional in level C and Cosette got the gamble and it even had a teeter in it. I will post that one once I get it too. Cosette got 46 points. I don't expect to go as far as the C-ATE but me and Cos will still run, she loves it so much.

Maiyah also got 5 Qs (qualifying runs) out of 6 runs. We have just 3 runs left to complete level 2 and have started on Level 3. The best part of her weekend is that at the end of the runs she was in control of herself and would even sit for her leash a couple times and didn't jump up crazy. in the past trials on the outside ring I would get help setting up a few people at the exit just in case she kept on going. That was a big victory for Maiyah even more then the Qs :)

Now that we have some time between trials I am going to be focusing on Maiyah's distance work so she too can Q in Jackpot. Also Maiyah has been dropping bars so need to work on strengthening her back end to make her stronger and better ready for the jumps. This has been Maiyah's first year of competition and I think she has done well for only running in trials for 8 months so far.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

More about heaven

So the book "Heaven" is pretty big. Honestly, had I not found it in audio format I'd never have gotten to it. So let me share a few specific "light bulbs" that went on for me as I listened to it:

This has always bothered me. The gospels describe a dialogue between the Sadducees and Jesus. To paraphrase, they asked Jesus, "Throughout her life, a woman is married seven times. In heaven, whose wife will she be?" Jesus' answer: "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage" (Matthew 22:30, Luke 20:35, Mark 12:25). Honestly, Jesus' answer almost makes me not want to go to heaven! I can't imagine being in heaven with Sheryl, but without the deep bond we have now, or with no deeper bond than we have with everybody else in heaven.

Randy explains Jesus' answer in a way that I found greatly comforting. First, we need to understand that marriage is something that God instituted, and that it is a deep symbol of His relationship with us. In heaven, and ultimately on the new earth, we (the Church) will be the "bride of Christ," and our relationship with Him and with each other will be made perfect. Ergo, marriage as we know it will no longer be necessary. However! We will still fully be ourselves - as fully as you can imagine - and there's no reason to think our relationships now won't carry on into heaven (and the new earth). So even though Sheryl & I may not be legally married, we'll still be as much together then as we are now. That bond will last (and deepen) for eternity, and I'm elated to know that!

Incidentally, this same explanation applies to other relationships as well. We won't arrive in heaven and completely forget everybody on the earth. There are several passages that describe people in heaven talking about or recollecting people, situations and relationships from their lives on the earth. So why shouldn't we expect the same for ourselves?

Heaven on earth
We talk about heaven as if it's our final destination - that we will spend eternity in heaven. After all, Jesus and the thief that was crucified alongside him were united in heaven (paradise) that very day. It is also right to say that that redeemed thief is still in heaven, as are all the saints. However, the Bible describes a day when the earth will be renewed (notice - not destroyed!) and the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven on to the "new" earth. Our final destination, then, is earth! Look around you. Do you see trees? Mountains? Birds? Water? Do you feel a breeze? See the sun? Stars? This will be our eternal home! Want to go camping? You can! Swim in the ocean? Go for it! Let your imagination run wild. The new earth will be the old earth - renewed. This makes eternity palpable, and to me, exhilarating!

The Bible describes the new earth as having animals - "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them" Isaiah 11:6 (interesting note/question - will there be children in heaven? If so, will they grow up?). The book "Heaven" doesn't say definitively that all animals will be resurrected, but it does seriously allow for the idea that God may choose to raise certain pets for us. I know Sheryl's passion for animals (which I believe is God-given) and her love for running agility with our dogs. Well, there's no reason to think God would deny her that desire on the new earth.

The concise answer: it seems very likely that we will wear clothing - and not just white robes, but unique, colorful, expressive clothes that express our individuality and creative nature. A relief, I'm sure, for many :)

I think Randy addressed this topic in his book just in case Lorelei Gilmore were to read it. His answer as to whether or not we'll drink coffee in heaven is, "why not?" Unless the Bible speaks directly on the topic (which it doesn't), we have to allow for the possibility. This will be the same earth as we know it, so there's no reason to think we won't have coffee in heaven.

The book "Heaven" is full of questions and answers, and as far as I could tell from listening to it, doesn't necessarily have to be read from cover to cover. The first few chapters are good for an overall depiction of heaven and the new earth, but a majority of the book is in the form of Q&A. So even though it's a large book, don't let the size deter you. Read the first few chapters, then look up the answers to the questions you may have. The next book I want to read on the topic is a book titled "Surprised by Joy" by C.S. Lewis.

NOTE: All references to the book "Heaven" are based on my recollection of the book and I've likely interjected some of my own interpretations. To know the exact answers as given by the book, you'll need to go to the source.

Friday, September 30, 2011

What's so great about heaven?

What is your vision of heaven? Maybe you picture people walking on streets of gold, singing nonstop worship to God. Maybe everybody's wearing pure white robes - or maybe everybody's wearing nothing!? If it's the robes, where's the fun in that? If it's the lack of robes, let's just say I'll be spending all my time in my mansion! Are we floating around, passing through walls? Do we remember our current lives? Is there much to do besides these things? If no, won't it get kind of boring? And what about my wife and children? I shudder at the thought of not being bonded together in the life to come!

To be honest, I've always reasoned it out to myself that it's too mysterious to really comprehend. That God has it figured out and I just have to trust that He has made it better than I could ever imagine. However, though I reasoned that out in my head and I still believe those statements, I've come to the realization that the Bible is full of descriptions of heaven, and while still mysterious, there is much we can know!

This new perspective came from listening to the book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn, and I have to say that it got me excited! I finally have a mental image of heaven and the new earth that is really appealing. It's not my purpose here to recap the book, but I do want to recommend it. Randy addresses almost every question about heaven you can think of (even whether or not we'll drink coffee in heaven!).

I was surprised to find that my faith and enthusiasm as a Christian has been bolstered by this new understanding of heaven. I hope you understand the reality of heaven and the new earth. How great our hope in eternity truly is as followers of Jesus the Christ!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Dad Honored

In my home as a child we had a cabinet above the dryer full of miscellanea (flashlights, mittens, snow hats, bug spray), and on the top-most shelf, almost too far back to reach, was a pilot's helmet. My brother and I would occasionally clamber up onto the dryer, reach back behind the knitted scarves, and pull out the helmet and take turns trying it on. I imagine now, perchance my dad was looking down at us from heaven, his heart swelled as his two boys tried on the helmet he used to wear.

My dad's ambition was to become an aeronautical engineer, pursuing a career just like any other college freshman might do. At the same time he was fostering a deepening relationship with Christ. And one day while reading the Bible and praying, he felt a divine "nudge," saying "I can use what you have to offer." Obediently, my dad followed that nudge, which led him on a path to being a pilot and airplane mechanic, serving God in Africa with his wife and growing family (of which I am the youngest).

My dad served hard, and touched a lot of people's lives, and I could write pages filled with stories I've head throughout my childhood of his adventures. Yet while in the middle of God's will, his service to God on the earth as we know it abruptly ended when his plane crashed into a mountainside. Shortly thereafter, my mom moved me and my 3 siblings to California to be with his family.

He was 38 - I was 2 1/2. I have no memories of him. How I wish I did.

Yesterday, Immanuel High School held a dinner, and at this event they had chosen four IHS graduates to be inducted into the IHS hall of fame, one of which was my dad. I was honored to attend as my mom proudly (in a good, humble way) represented my dad, and humbly accepted his recognition. I feel so privileged to have been raised by such a loving, big-hearted, steadfast single mother who cared more for her kids than herself, and to have the legacy of a father who served God faithfully - even dying in service to Him!

After the dinner I was playing with my youngest niece who recently turned 2, and it struck me tonight that she's about as old as I was when my dad died, and honestly that hit kind of hard. But then I remember just how much fun she and I were having, and it excites me to think of me and my dad laughing and playing just like that! I love that image.

So this post is in honor of my dad - I'm proud to be your son! I've worn my hero's helmet, and now I'll try to fill his shoes.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I really like that term - soul.break. I gleaned it from a blog by Adam Feldman (check it out here) and I recommend you take some time to read what he has to say on the topic of solitude. Much more articulate than something I'd write!

So I'm starting to get the itch to take another soul.break. My nephew was over tonight to watch a movie and he mentioned that he recently read my blog posts covering my first solitude trip in May 2010. That got me reminiscent, so I just went back and read those posts myself. I'm so glad I journaled that trip, and I hope it's encouraged others to consider the spiritual discipline of solitude. It is a very worthwhile endeavor.

Thanks, Joe, for the talk. And thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. It means a lot to me!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Agility trials

Had two Agility weekends recently and they went really well. My Irish Setter had her first trial in March and this past weekend was her second. It took two years to train Maiyah for it and now she really loves it, such a fun dog. Cosette also competes and has been for a few years now. We are actually now in the advanced and final level. She loves it too, she takes it pretty seriously sometimes. In March we Qualified and placed in all 12 runs for the weekend, and in April we Qd and placed in 10 out of 12 between Maiyah and Cosette. Here is a video from one of our runs. I will be posting more later from our latest trial last weekend.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adoption Day

We recently had Kiana's US Adoption Day this past Friday at the court. Many family and close friends were there. It was a special time for our family and we were happy to celebrate with so many important people in our lives. It was short and sweet but very significant.

Beforehand we had a special breakfast of Strawberry crepes, Kiana's first crepes and she loved it. Then off to the Adoption Day, and afterwords several of us celebrated with an early dinner at Olive Garden, yummy food. We ate a lot but we were celebrating so why not :)

Then after a day of celebrating we headed home for a movie and popcorn.

We are so happy to finally have had Kiana's adoption day, she still is talking about it and keeps wishing us all a Happy Adoption Day! She really loves celebrations.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Life has been keeping us so busy that I haven't been posting much on here, I hope to change that though starting now. I will give you a brief update on some of the happenings in the past several months.

In August Kiana had her 2nd Birthday. She had a Kailan party and she loved it. She loves parties because that usually means chocolate cake :)

In the summer and fall we took a Mommy and Me Little Gym class. It was really good for Kiana. She learned a lot of large motor skills, how to take turns, listening to a teacher and being in a classroom setting with other children her age. We plan to go back again this summer and she is always talking about it.

In the summer we got to go to Disneyworld and Universal in Florida with my brother Drew for a week. We had free miles saved up for China that we didn't end up being allowed to use for it so we got a free flight to Florida. It was a great vacation. I loved sharing it with Kiana and we all want to go again someday. My favorite part was seeing the Harry Potter area in Universal. The lines were the most extreme I have ever seen but I so would do it again, so worth it.The ride through the castle was amazing even though me and Drew got stuck for awhile with a Dragon breathing on us. We also were able to go to Disneyland during the holidays because we had free tickets from Give a Day Get a Day. I wish they would do that again. My favorite time of year to go to Disneyland is during the holidays.
Our second Christmas together as a family was a lot of fun. Now that Kiana is older we got to really start creating some fun holiday traditions. We made our first Christmas cookies this year and I think more flour ended up on us and the floor then in the cookies. We also saw many Christmas lights, walking is the best way to see them. Kiana enjoyed learning the true meaning of Christmas, about Baby Jesus but she also enjoyed meeting Santa Claus. Christmas wasn't all happy though this year, a dear and close friend I found out passed away and I got the news thru a Christmas card. We had our love of dogs especially Westies that we shared and I miss her so much.

For New Year's we had a fun game night with friends, its a great way to bring in the new year. This year we are in the process of a domestic adoption. All the paperwork is complete and we are just waiting to be matched. It could be any day or two years from now. We are again paper pregnant :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

I've been enjoying a relaxing evening at Starbucks with Sheryl & Kiana, but my coffee turned sour when I followed a facebook invitation to join a cause. The cause is to stop Chinese fur farms, and I made the mistake of watching a graphic video of the actual process. I can't get the images out of my head. I can't believe the cruelty being inflicted on these terrified animals!

I'm not one to promote causes liberally, but this practice must be stopped. When you see the raccoon dog, strung up, half skinned, and frantically snapping at its abusers, you can't help but seethe inside! The video then cuts to the dazed, dying, fully skinned animal, discarded on a pile of others. I couldn't watch anymore, and don't recommend you watch the video. My description is hopefully more than enough to well up passion in you against this practice!

If you didn't get a cause invitation from me on facebook, please join the cause using this link:

I can only hope those disturbing images one day fade from memory, while the passion remains.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Brian's Solitude - Part 5 - Monday, May 17

When I woke up this morning it looked overcast, and got me worrying that it might rain. Then I looked at the clock and saw it was only 6am, so the darkened sky was probably just because the sun hadn’t completely risen yet. I slept off and on until around 8am. It was still overcast and chilly. I got started on breakfast (strawberry crepes) and just as the butter started melting in the pan I started hearing water droplets hitting the ground! The first thing I did was put the rain canopy on the tent, just in case it got worse. So far, though, it was light enough that I went back to my breakfast.

Well, it ended up sprinkling enough to get things somewhat wet. I packed up the van as quickly as possible, saving the tent for last. Once most everything else was packed up, I started packing up my things in the tent (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, duffle bag, etc.). To my relief, as I was finishing up inside the tent, the rain ceased and blue sky emerged. Whew! I continued with the tent, and finished up camp with a good two buckets of water in the campfire plus a good stirring of the ashes. All packed up.

As I tried to get the tent back in its bag, I got the imagery of a butterfly trying to re-enter its cocoon! (except I finally managed to make it fit, whereas a butterfly wouldn’t be so lucky).

I had a little time left so I drove up to the end of the road and hiked a few hundred feet up a trail with my fishing pole and supplies. I figure I bought the fishing license so I should at least try to catch a fish! I wouldn’t eat it right away, but would probably clean it and bring it home. No luck, but had a good little hike nonetheless.

Cold Chicken Fiesta, celery and string cheese for lunch, and I’m now sitting in the car with the heater on, about to head home.

I must confess I’m torn about going home. I’m desperately eager to be with my family again, but don’t feel I got as much out of this trip spiritually as I had hoped. I finally have the whole place to myself and I have to leave. I have a 3 ½ hour drive ahead of me, so that will give me time to reflect as well, but wish I had more time to commune with God without others around. I think next time I’ll try to come up after work on Friday and come home on Tuesday.

The chief thing I feel I need to focus on right now (as I wrote yesterday) is repentance. To do that, I must seek God’s wisdom for knowing what to repent of. This trip has definitely been a time of renewal and refocus for me. I can only hope it is evident to others when I return home and that I pursue God in a more intentional way on a daily basis. I know I can’t expect to be transformed into the man I hope to be in one brief weekend, but my hope is that God honors my intentions and, over time, forms me into the Godly man He envisions me to be.

Brian's Solitude - Part 4 - Sunday, May 16

Today has been a day of recovery from yesterday’s hike. Still weak and slightly dehydrated, I chose to hang out around camp the whole day. I did take a couple of excursions to see where some roads lead and look for a proper fishing hole, but otherwise did very little that required much physical exertion (incidentally, I only found one place in the stream that potentially had fish, but probably not large enough to be worth the catch). Delicious French toast for breakfast, leftovers for lunch (campfire stew and chicken parmesan), and got dinner going in the solar oven. Unfortunately, when dinner came I still wasn’t very hungry so ate very little.

Pretty much all other campers had left by noon. There were just a few cars parked around that I assume represented day-hikers. By dinner time even they had left. As I was having dinner one more car came by asking me about the campground. Now they've left I am completely and absolutely alone. It’s wonderful! The frogs along the stream nearby are singing up a chorus and an owl in the distance chimes in occasionally. It’s peaceful. There’s something liberating about complete solitude! I feel like the whole forest is mine tonight!

Knowing I’d be alone from now on I made sure the car would start. How awful would it be to try to leave and the battery’s dead. No way!

So besides my cursory hikes and occasionally checking on dinner, I spent a good part of the day reading a book on the Kingdom of God titled “This Beautiful Mess.” Sheryl passed it on to me for the weekend. A very intriguing book! I really liked some of the perspectives presented, many of which specifically challenge the mentality of Western Christians. A lot of discussion on the Kingdom of God being present and active whether or not we’re aware of it. Other topics include the importance of relationship, stewardship of the earth, finances, and suffering for Christ. It all begins, however, with repentance. Repentance of attitudes, pre-conceptions, ignorance, selfishness, etc. It is only as we repent of these things will we start to see the Kingdom of God as it really is.

So my challenge today from this book was to start repenting. Regularly. And asking God to give me his perspective, his thoughts, his passions. It’s a tough thing to wait for God to tell you what you need to repent of. Not really the kind of thing you just happily do. It can be painful and forces you to make tough life changes. Like the rich young ruler who enthusiastically asked Jesus what he needed to do, and Jesus said to sell all his things, donate them to the poor, and follow him. The rich young ruler wasn’t prepared for that, and couldn’t do it. I pray God prepared me for whatever he reveals to me!

Brian's Solitude - Part 3 - Saturday, May 15

Today was both frustrating and exhilarating, and I’m glad it’s over. It started fine until I realized I had left the ham and cheese (and chicken and hot dogs) at home! Breakfast was okay, just no ham or cheese. But dinner was slated to be chicken parmesan! So I grumpily organized my campsite and drove to the grocery store for chicken and hot dogs (note this is equivalent to a drive to Fresno from Reedley!). On the way back with my prized chicken, I get a traffic ticket for doing a “California stop,” totaling $171. I told the officer this was the most expensive chicken I’ve ever bought!

My plan for today was to hike up to Junipero Serra (the tallest mountain in the Los Padres mountains). It seemed like a good opportunity for exercise and time alone with God, experiencing His creation. I wanted to be on the move between 7 and 8 - I got back to camp with my chicken (and traffic ticket) at 10am. Not a good start to the hike.

I put together my lunch (PB&J, apple and string cheese), then put together dinner. I had planned to cook it during my hike with the solar oven, so that’s what I did. When I started the actual hike I unknowingly followed the wrong tracks. There were several times I was guessing as to where the trail was, and somehow found brush that had been stepped on and/or pushed aside by somebody (or some thing!). There were several moments I thought, “maybe these are mountain lion tracks” and started to get very nervous. Some fervent prayer led me to the true trail (I found some hikers on the trail and asked them. I told them it was hard to follow the trail and they looked at me quizzically. This made sense on the hike back when I followed the true trail all the way back to camp!).

The hike was beautiful! And very pleasant. That is until I got so high there were no more trees. Then the switchbacks started, and I was convinced for the longest time I wouldn’t make it to the summit because it was getting late and I was getting tired. But there were other people hiking still, so I persisted. I was so excited when I emerged onto the summit – what a reward! It was sunny with a nice cool breeze so I crawled up on a rock, took my socks and shoes off (much to the chagrin of anybody downwind of me) and relished in the accomplishment! It was great! (this is the exhilarating part of the day).

Then the hike down. Hiking downhill isn’t as easy as you think. There are two things that make it difficult: 1) with each step your foot slides forward inside your shoe and your toes cram against the front of it, and 2) you’re using leg muscles you don’t normally use, and your legs are just plain tired from the hike up, so they complain and get wobbly the further you progress. A third thing that made the hike down difficult was caused by my own poor planning. The hike was more demanding than I expected, and I was very low on water and needing more than I had. It was awful! I tried to ration it, but before I even reached the tree line I emptied my Camelpak – no more water for the next 2+ hours. I was very dehydrated – I could tell. I could hardly swallow my trail mix because there wasn’t enough saliva, and if I’d try to sit and rest, my legs would start cramping something fierce! There was one moment I slipped a little and whatever I did made my left calf cramp painfully, and it took quite a bit of stretching and walking to get it to relax! It was truly a miserable hike back. I had my head down and my eyes on the path, and didn’t care at all to look around. I don’t think I verbalized it, but I know God knew I would have welcomed a miraculous transport back to camp! No such luck. I was desperate for relief, so much so I was terribly tempted to drink from the stream as I crossed it (over an hour after running out of water). I didn’t, but *did* dunk my hat in the cold water and slap it on my head, letting the cold water run down my neck and soak my hair. So refreshing, but not exactly what I really needed. I tried stopping occasionally but the mosquitoes were out and were relentless unless I was constantly moving. In all honesty, had there been any other alternative to walking all the way back to camp, I would have welcomed it. But I had no choice.

I got back to camp just after the sun set over the mountains (around 7pm would be my guess). I went right for the water! Unfortunately, I had gotten to the point of dehydration that I was mildly nauseous and couldn’t drink much at a time. That was frustrating! After a brief rest I went and got my chicken parmesan, which was well cooked but had cooled off. That was okay, because I had no appetite! I ended up heating it up again on the propane stove and forcing myself to eat one piece of chicken, but that’s all I could take. Water was what I really needed.

And so the evening progressed. I ended up making a fire, then went and filled my kettle with stream water and boiled it, then used it to wash the dishes. I made a smore and had a soda and just starred at the fire, reflecting on the day. I was also feeling dirty from the hike and all the sunscreen and bug repellant, so washed up a bit by the fire. It felt so good to get clean, man it felt good! Then I sat and reminisced about the day and pondered what God may have taught me today. Here’s a few things:

  1. It must have felt SO good in Jesus’ time to enter a home after a long travel and have your feet washed! I now have a new appreciate for the value of that custom!
  2. Never before have I been so aware of my human weakness. Here God made this 6,000 ft. mountain with little effort, and it takes all I have to climb up and down it (and not even all of it, since I started at 2,000 ft). I am weak! So weak!!! Yet God is strong.
  3. I don’t thirst for God like I thirsted for water today. My thirst for God is negligible at best. When David said in Psalm 65 that his thirst is for God, he was feeling thirsty to some degree like I was. I didn’t once tell God that I thirsted for Him; I was far more focused on worldly water. I want this to change!
  4. I haven’t yet determined if this is true as a general personal trait or if it’s somewhat isolated, but I’ve noticed in myself a bride-to-be wedding preoccupation. What I mean is, I live in the future putting great weight and value on a particular event. I know that was my mindset in preparation for camping, and I know it is my mindset in other things, too. I just need to remember to keep perspective.
I didn’t open my Bible once today nor did I read from a spiritual book, yet the lessons I learned during this hike were profound to me! So God was working in me all along. Tomorrow I’m not going anywhere – just spending time at camp and doing some study, meditation and prayer.

Incidentally, in hindsight I should have prepared a bit more for this hike. It was far more than a computer programmer of over 9 years with little more exercise than taking the stairs to the 2nd floor and keeping his yard in order. This was the first time I’ve felt my physical limitations as a result of my lifestyle. It will be a goal of mine from this point forward to stay in better physical shape.

So that was my day. I’m pooped! Goodnight!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brian's Solitude - Part 2 - Friday, May 14

Packing took approximately 3 hours this morning. I was eager to leave so I could get here in time to stake my claim and the best campsite. Ideally I would leave at 9am – realistically I left at 11am.

The drive was beautiful. My route took me straight through Coalinga – beautiful Coalinga! I’ve always disliked the drive to Coalinga – it’s so boring and mundane. But I’ve never continued past Coalinga into the mountains, and I have to say it’s an amazing drive! Absolutely beautiful! I may dare say it’s worth the drive to Coalinga – maybe.

The campground I chose is Santa Lucia Memorial Park campground (also known as “The Indians”). I chose it because it’s a lesser known camping location in Los Padres National Forest, yet still had some great reviews. I also learned that I can camp anywhere in the forest if I choose (just need a campfire permit if I want to use fire – which is as simple as printing out the permit from the internet and signing it!), so if it fills up and I can’t concentrate I could potentially retreat further. The last thing I want on my “solitude” is a bunch of people!

I must say, I’m impressed so far. And despite my late departure I still arrived early enough to stake my claim! As I was sitting down to write this, a car and two big white vans of (what looks like) college kids arrived, and it looked like they were going to claim the site right next to me. Ugh! The first thing they did was turn on their music and start looking for the beer. Luckily they moved to a different location and aren’t quite as loud from here. I don’t know, maybe God wants me to deal with my distaste for people who impose their noise on me? Could be. I hope not. Maybe He’s just showing His sense of humor? Even so, perhaps I should talk to him about that anyway. Maybe I’ll get some wisdom on that subject.

To get to the camp you have to enter through a military base (Fort Hunter Liggett). That was quite an experience. Camouflage Hum-V’s everywhere! Quite a few were equipped with a gun on the roof, and each of those had a soldier standing at the trigger as they drove by. It was impressive and scary, and I loved the experience!

So when I arrived I quickly set up camp and did a little exploring. There’s a creek right nearby (no fish that I can see). My campsite has two tables, a fire pit and a BBQ. It’s nice! The weather is great and it’s peaceful. I cooked dinner (campfire stew) and am doing great! I miss my family of course. I pray nobody else shows up. The mosquitoes could take a break, too. But all’s well; I’m happy.

Follow-up: all of the campsites are now occupied. There are only two campsites in my area, and the one next to me is taken by two nice, quietly talkative ladies. I can deal with that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Brian's Solitude - Part 1 - Preface

I recently retreated into the mountains for 3 nights for some time of solitude. I journalled during that time and will be posting my journal here in segments (so as not to overwhelm :) ).

I have to confess, I’ve been looking forward to this weekend of solitude for weeks now. I’m a very focused person, which is a trait that lends itself greatly to me being successful in my profession. However, it can also lead to restlessness, fatigue, and neglect on many different levels. The time comes when I realize I just need a break from the norm – a time to contemplate this short life I have and what I’m doing with it. A time to commune with the Creator, my Savior, to ask the questions I never think to ask, and to be able to wait and listen for an answer. It’s a time to refresh and to grow. And what I’ve recently learned, it’s a Biblical spiritual discipline that, as I understand it, is something God desires of us. It makes sense. After all, consider how many times Jesus retreated to a quite place to commune with his Father? As Christians, are we not co-heirs with Christ, and is God not our Father? If I am to mimic Christ, then I can only conclude that God would want me as well to escape to a quiet place and be with Him, alone. Granted, this doesn't necessarily mean a weekend retreat - it could mean a quiet lunch alone in the park, or a drive to work without the radio on, etc. But I've found great value in setting aside several days for the purpose of solitude with Christ and try to make it happen at least twice a year.

I must confess, I don’t see myself being very “disciplined” by taking time for solitude – I welcome the opportunity! I’m a bit of a loner – anti-social – and therefore enjoy having time alone. I’ll always miss my family when away – that part is difficult – but I can’t deny that I get great enjoyment building a campfire, sleeping under the stars, peace and quiet all around, surrounded by God’s creation. I love it!

So with that preface, let me describe my experience, and hopefully share some things God is teaching me through this experience.


My excitement about this trip led me to concoct an elaborate menu. Every meal has been planned and prepared ahead of time. From chicken parmesan to strawberry crepes! I think next time I’ll just have sandwiches and raw fruits and veggies, but it should be a fun experience this time around anyway.

I’ve also built a solar cooker in which I’ll be preparing several meals this weekend. I’m looking forward to testing it out. I brought hotdogs as backup :).

Monday, March 08, 2010

We have been enjoying being parents to Kiana and have had a great first few months with her. In December we took her to Disneyland for the first time, we went for my mom's birthday. It was a lot of fun and she loved going on the rides. This picture is on Its a Small World. Then her first Christmas home was so much fun. We just had a great time sharing the holidays with Kiana.
In January, we went to see Mary Poppins the Musical which was awesome, its one of my top favorite musicals now and got me started reading the books. Then I posted a couple pics from Warner Brothers Studio - One from Friends, the coffee shop and the other from Gilmore Girls, Lukes Diner. My two favorite parts of the tour. Kiana got to spend some good bonding time with her Grandma Wall while we went.
Kiana is growing more all the time and is now 22 lbs. She has twelve teeth and walks everywhere now. Her favorite things are books, music, and learning what everything is. And she still likes to go to Starbucks :)

Friday, November 06, 2009


Life as a family of Three has been awesome! Kiana is adjusting really well and we are all bonding to each other. We had fun celebrating her 1st Birthday with family and friends on August 30th. Kiana has learned a lot of sign language now and is starting to say a few words. Some of the words she has learned are Pooh, hi, bye, Juice, bear, and car. She isn't really walking yet but is getting very close. She has taken a couple steps but not confident enough to try any more, but we are in no hurry. We recently took Kiana to Pismo Beach, her first experience on the ocean and in the sand and she just loved it. She didn't want to leave.
She is also learning to know some of our friends and family. She spends time at her Grandpa and Grandma Lewis' every week. She is still bonding to us and close familiy and friends but she is definitely learning who her family is. She loves to play with the dogs especially Shane and Maiyah. From day one she was a dog lover so she fits right in with our family. We love being parents to Kiana and our love for her grows more and more everyday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We are adjusting well at home, here is a photo of our first BBQ together as a family of three, thanks Brian for a delicious dinner. And then a photo of Kiana enjoying her new Glider Chair from Grandma Wall - I don't know what we would do without it. And then for my Birthday I got to share my favorite restraunt with Kiana - PF Changs and we went Miniature golfing. It was a lot of fun. We are so happy to be home with Kiana. Only big issues we had were sleeping but finally sleep schedules are starting to exist and we are getting some sleep.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Here is a photo of father and daughter at the Chongqng zoo where we saw Pandas and Tigers, it was fun but very very hot. Then I posted pictures from the red couch day where we all got dressed up and also went to the Consulate. Kiana didn't like sittig on the couch and was eager for us to pick her back up but we got some good photos before she started crying, all the babies are so beautiful. Then the last picture is of mom and daughter at the Beijing airport, last day in China and getting ready to go home. We were very eager to go home though we had a great time in China too.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Home and Quarantined

Okay, we're not officially quarantined, but as good as. We took Kiana to the pediatrician yesterday because we thought she had a cold. He tested her for the flu as well and she was positive for Influenza A subtype H1N1. She's had symptoms long enough that there's really no treatment - it will just have to run it's course. The pediatrician didn't seem very concerned of any risk aside from typical flu symptoms. She seems to be responding to infant's Motrin, which is encouraging.

Sheryl has also been feeling under the weather and has developed a fever. Our assumption is H1N1 as well. So we're avoiding visiting people until the sicknesses subside. We're thankful that we're not all 3 sick at the same time, and I'm hoping and praying I don't get it at all!

How ever did people survive without the internet? Right now it's our main portal to the rest of the world! But we're still itching to get out and see all of our friends and family! Thank you to all for your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Short Clips from China

We will be home tomorrow but wanted to share with everybody some very short video clips we took while in China. First we start in Starbucks in Chongqing where Kiana first started coming out of her shell. Next we go to the Chongqing zoo where we saw some pandas.

See y'all real soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We're clear for take off!

We're so relieved to be back in our hotel room with Kiana's visa in hand! Thanks to all who were praying. Yesterday we were told we may not be able to get her visa because the US Consulate in Guangzhou was not notified of our change of address. It sounds like Shiyan did some serious intervention and persuaded them to issue the visa since this was something that was out of our control - the Fresno CIS office was supposed to take care of that for us. Thank you Shiyan!

So tomorrow we fly to Beijing early in the morning, then on Thursday we fly home. We're really looking forward to being home. Not sure how daily life with a little one will look, but it will be nice to start figuring it out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Taxis, Scams, and Police Reports

So it turns out my intuition about the taxi ride wasn't entirely wrong. Later this afternoon Sheryl and I were in the local shops and bought some things at the nearby 7-Eleven. I tried to pay with a 100¥ bill (approx. $15) and the cashier rejected my bill. I tried with another 100¥ and the same thing!

Then I remembered back to when the taxi dropped me off at the hotel. He rejected my 10¥ bills because they were torn (some had the bottom corners torn off). So I gave him one of my 100¥ bills for change. He didn't readily give me change, so I assumed he didn't have enough change (he spoke almost no English, and I couldn't speak Chinese, so communication was pretty difficult). There was more "discussion" about the money, with me in the back seat and him in the front, til finally he motioned me to come to the front seat. I did, and more confused "discussion" pursued. Over the course of the "discussion", I had offered him either of my 100¥ bills and he had given them back to me. In the end he accepted my five 10¥ bills I originally gave him, saying they would be okay. So that settled it and I left him for the hotel.

Well it turns out that the shuffling of money and all the confusion was contrived by a shady driver. While he was handling my 100¥ bills, he exchanged them for fake bills. So not only did I pay him 55¥ for the taxi ride, but he took another 200¥ from me :(

When Shiyan found out about it this evening she insisted that we tell the police. So she hailed an officer and told him the story. He gave us a ride to the police station and an hour-long report ensued. They actually pulled up the video from a nearby camera and we saw the whole event happen (albeit from a distance and without enough visual to prove anything). So now China has a police report with my name, address, passport number, and signature. I also had to fingerprint my signature and several other sections of the report!

So that's how our "free" day went. Not the best way to spend a day. But this evening we took Kiana down to the swimming pool (which is VERY cool, BTW). She *loved* it! She was kicking and splashing and smiling like crazy. That was a good way to end an otherwise discouraging day.

Tomorrow we go to the consulate to hopefully get Kiana's visa. I'll be calling our Bethany office before going to bed (since our 11:00pm is their 8:00am). Please pray we get the home address issue worked out. If we don't, we won't be able to get Kiana's visa, and therefore won't be able to fly home as scheduled. We SOOO do not want to be delayed (not to mention paying for more nights in a hotel, more eating out, and possible flight postponement fees)! We're all eager for home.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Free day and other business

Today is a free day for all the families. Unfortunately for me, I wrote Kiana's Chinese name incorrectly on a document I had notarized in the states. Shiyan is spending her day at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou taking care of our paperwork, and she needed me to go along with her to re-do the document and have it notarized there. While I was there, the consulate employee informed me that their paperwork has our old address on it and they cannot issue Kiana a visa unless their records match the U.S. records. Shiyan said she would take care of it. I hope and pray it can be done quickly because we're supposed to go to the consulate tomorrow to receive Kiana's visa!

Shiyan had more to do at the consulate and had prepared me to take a taxi back to the hotel. So I hailed a taxi and we drove off. A few blocks away the car stalled. The driver restarted the car, but it lurched and stalled again. So he let me out of the taxi and ushered me into the taxi behind him. This little passenger exchange really made me nervous! Could it be a coordinated kidnapping? Did the first driver fake the car trouble? Just before the car stalled the driver had received a phone call on his cell phone. Shortly after the new taxi was on the road, the driver received a phone call. Could this be some shady coordination that would turn out unfavorably for me? I was memorizing as many street signs and landmarks as I could on the way back to the hotel, just in case I needed to guide somebody to my rescue! Fortunately I arrived back safe and sound, so I don't need to remember anymore that somewhere on the way back we passed the Global International Trade Center or the Five Countries Shoe Market :)

So I'm back in the hotel, and Sheryl and Kiana just got back from bargaining in the local shops. Now it's time for lunch.

Tonight we go as a group to eat at a Cantonese restaurant. Otherwise the day is free. We do plan, however, to take Kiana swimming for the first time, and we're looking forward to it!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Kiana had her first airplane experience yesterday and did GREAT! She is a born traveller. She enjoyed looking out the window and playing on mama and baba's laps. She slept on the bus to the White Swan hotel in Guangzhou though so didn't go to bed till almost 1am. We had to get up early for today so needless to say not much sleep last night. This morning Kiana had her medical exam and she did an awesome job! We are proud of her. It was a busy clinic full of adopting parents and very loud. We had to go into three different rooms to complete her exam. She is healthy and weighs 18.2 lbs and is 27 inches long. Then we had lunch in our room while Kiana took a LOOONNNGGG nap. This afternoon Brian is doing some paperwork and me and Kiana are hanging out in the room. She is playing with her stacking cups. Kiana needs her bottle so I will post more later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Goodbye Chongqing, Hello Guangzhou

(I started this post days ago but didn't have time to finish it until today - 7-20-09. Sorry for the old news :)

Today was our last day in Chongqing. Shiyan took us on a short excursion to the Chongqing zoo so we could see the pandas. It was awfully hot and muggy so we didn't stay at the zoo long, but we did get to see a panda up close, feeding on bamboo leaves. It was very cool! It was a difficult trip for the children just because of the intense heat. Kiana did well for the most part, but the heat did take it's toll.

We were back in our room by 11:30am and had the room until 3pm. So we went down to the Chinese restaurant in the hotel (as opposed to the international buffet on a different floor) and tried to have a sit-down lunch. Kiana was tired and fussy so it was difficult, but we managed.

After lunch I went down and got a Chinese massage (my leg's been hurting and I thought it might help) Shiyan recommended the massage service offered by this hotel, and another couple got massages and really liked them, so I decided to give it a try. It was an interesting experience! At one point the massage therapist was completely on top of me, with her knees digging into my calves and her hands working my shoulders!

Our flight left Chongqing about 6:45pm. It was the first airplane flight for all of our babies, and there were several adoptive groups on the same flight. We were so proud of Kiana who showed no sign of disliking the flight or the change in cabin pressure. We heard later that one family from another group was not let on the flight due to some problem with their boarding pass. Shiyan told us after we landed that our group has been blessed this trip with smooth travels. I attribute that to God (and I believe Shiyan deserves credit, too - she has done an outstanding job guiding us on this journey and making all the necessary arrangements!)

We are staying at the White Swan hotel on Shamian Island in Guangzhou. It's a beautiful, relaxing place. We're really enjoying this part of the journey.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our first full day with Kiana (Xiu Huayin - pronounced Shoo Hwa-yeen, aka, yin-yin) has been great! Kiana got her first bath and liked it for the most part. We were so fortunate to be able to talk with friends and family back home (via Skype for some and by phone with others). The capabilities of communication over such distances is mind boggling!

Today was actually the day Kiana became legally ours. We went back to the adoption office and were sworn in as her legal parents. Here we are swearing that we love her and will never abandon nor abuse her - in good or difficult times.

After making the pledge, Sheryl, Brian, and Kiana were all fingerprinted (with red ink, of course) on the official documents. We were then given a certificate of adoption, displayed here.

After some time in the hotel room this afternoon, we ventured out to a nearby shopping mall where we had dinner and bought a pink Peter Rabbit hat for Kiana (which was more challenging than it sounds - nobody speaks much English in these parts!). We went to the nearby grocery store for diapers and baby food (she's not eating as much as she should, so we're trying alternative foods to find something she'll really take to).

Later this evening we walked a block from the hotel to introduce her to the most important family tradition.

And finally came back to the hotel. Sheryl walked her around the hotel coridors until she (Kiana) fell asleep. Then brought her back into the room and snuggled with her a bit.

The difference we see in Kiana is night and day from yesterday. She's getting playful and interacting tons more. There's been no sign of her reaching for others nearby (which would be a significant sign of bonding issues). She definitely knows she belongs with us and likes it. There's also no sign of a preference for either one of us.

Tomorrow is a totally free day, and we're looking forward to it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Baby Kiana

2:10pm and we're in the bus headed off to be united with our daughter. We arrive early and spend some time preparing some forms that need to be submitted for the adoption. As soon as we finish with the forms, we rush out to a waiting room where they start calling our names. There's plenting of shuffling of camera's to make sure each moment is properly captured. And finally we were called and matched with our beautiful baby girl.

We've had the rest of the evening free to spend time alone as a family and get to know our new little one. We went down to the hotel buffet for dinner, and as we were finishing our meal a caucasian woman made her way over to us to ask us where we were from. Turns out she is from Holland and 11 years ago the were in Chongqing adopting their baby girl. She's now nearly a teenager and this is their first time returning to China, along with their daughter!

Kiana has really been pretty good this first evening together. She hasn't eaten a whole lot and towards the end of the evening was getting fussy. We were told she's an introvert and does not smile willingly at strangers. We have yet to get a smile out of her, but she looks us in the eyes and enjoyed a musical toy we brought for her. She's now asleep in her crib, Sheryl's crashed in bed, and I'm ready to sign off as well. We'll post more pics in the next few days. 4 more days in Chongqing and then off to Guangzhou where we get her American visa.

Oh, Kiana's given name is Xiu Huayin (pronounced hoo-ah-yeen). Her nickname at the orphanage was yin-yin (pronounced yeen-yeen), so we're sticking with that for now, and as she bonds with us we'll transition her to Kiana.

Lots of love from Chongqing,
Brian & Sheryl

Travels to Chongqing

Well here we are in the Beijing airport, checking our luggage for the flight to Chongqing.

When we arrived in Chongqing we immediately noticed how green it is. There's also tons of construction going on to keep up with the growing population. Our guide (Shiyan) said Chongqing is becoming a cement forest, which is pretty accurate. Here we saw some people plucking the grass along the side of the freeway.

We arrived at our hotel, went to our room and settled in. Then went to the 9th floor where there is a very nice Chinese restaurant. At 1pm we met in the lobby and Shiyan walked us as a group to the supermarket where we bought supplies and some practical donations for the orphanage. Then back to our room to prepare to go get our little girls.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

We're off to Chongqing

Today's the day! We're nearly packed with 5 hours of sleep under our belts. In about 15 minutes we leave our room, meet downstairs and take the bus to the airport. The flight to Chongqing is close to 2 1/2 hours.

When we arrive in Chongqing, we'll go to our hotel and settle in. We'll then go to the Civil Affairs Office in Chongqing to receive our daughter at 3:00pm. There will be some paperwork to do here, but not much. After that is done, we head back to our hotel to try to figure out this whole parenting thing!

You'd think with it being this close it'd feel more real to me. But so far this has felt like a touring vacation and that this is just another one of those planned activities. There are moments of clarity when everything sinks in and almost overwhelms me. It's a mixture of anxiety and excitement! I know my world's going to be rocked, and it's incredible.

I can't say enough how much all of the support from home and around the world means to me. Sheryl & I are truly blessed to be surrounded by so many loving, caring people!

Not sure when we'll be able to post again, but we're eager to share photos of us and our daughter :)

Love to all,

The Great Wall of China

A photo from our room, the acrobat show and a river

Here are some pics from our flight here and one of Beijing out our hotel window. We had our temps taken on the plane and still have to have it taken twice a day because someone on the plane has a confirmed case of the virus, please pray we stay healthy.
We have been have a great time here in China. We are really enjoying being able to get to know all the other families in our group. Touring Beijing the past few days, been long days so not much resting up but very educational and fun. We went to the Acrobat show the first day and it was unlike anything I have seen but was really good. Then we did alot of other sightseeing like the Great Wall of China. What I liked the best about it was the cable cars even though I was afraid at first. One thing that I have noticed is there a lot of people and we end up being squeezed between many people we don't know but our group has done a great job staying together. Our meals haven't been too adventurous yet cause by the time we get back to the room for dinner we are so tired we just get pizza hut or eat at the hotel restraunt. We sure do love the breakfasts they serve, it amazing all the choices and some things are not what you would expect for breakfast like corn on the cob, rice, noodles, pasta salad, but then some other foods like fried breadsticks and dim sum. We did get one good Chinese meal though yesterday which was also connected to a shop with jade.

It hasn't been as hot as I expected for the first part of this trip but think it will get hotter at our other stops. Still hot and humid but bearable at least. We went to a Pearl shop today, it was fun to look around, never been to one before.

Most importantly is that tomorrow we fly to Chongqing and will get our Kiana in the afternoon around 3pm. I am still in disbelief that its tomorrow, finally we I get to hold our daughter. I am excited and a little nervous at the same time. Please pray that we have a safe flight and that all goes well with getting our little girl. We will be flying with several other families in our group tomorrow so will be nice not going alone.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

We are in China! Had a nice flight here though are very tired, haven't slept hardly any for two days so will be trying to go to be early tonight. Passed on going out tonight with others in our group but will meet everyone tomorrow after getting some good sleep hopefully. I think I am tired enough to sleep on the hard beds. ITs a nice hotel, still sinking in about where we are. Probably will more so tomorrow. Took a few pics and will try to load them soon. Saw two movies on the plane and got some good reading in. Now I am hungry so am very glad we packed so many snacks so will eat and go to bed early

Four more days till Kiana :)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Here are a couple pics of our preparation for China. Kiana's suitcase is all packed. And here is a pic of our dogs - Maiyah, Natisa, Cosette, and Shane and their very short hair cuts

We got our itinerary today, we are excited!!! We will have Kiana in our arms on Monday the 13th - in the afternoon. And they have alot of fun sight seeing planned for us too like the Chongqing zoo which I was really hoping to get to go to and a couple museums and of course the Great Wall of China.

Its been almost nonstop trying to get ready for traveling. We packed our suitcase finally and with help from friends got Kiana all packed - thanks Christie and Rebekah for your help. Today we are doing some last minute errands and trying to pack our carry ons. Then to weigh them to see if we end up with overweight luggage which we probably will. Then to decide what books to read on the plane, its hard to decide for me cause I am addicted to books. I think I got it pretty much figured out now though. Trying to take small paperback ones with lots of pages so don't need as many :)

Got the dogs groomed today too, they don't have much hair left. Wanted them to have easy to manage hair while we are on our trip since when I am home I have to brush them daily. They look different but seem very comfortable.

Now back to packing. Hopefully by the end of the day we will be packed. Brian is running a couple errands and bringing back Daniels for dinner :)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Nine more days till we get on a plane for China. WOW!!!! Its here, its happening, its so surreal that its hard to believe. We are busy with packing and preparation for travel. Should be booking our flight tomorrow and by Wednesday we will get our travel invitation. Well, I am off to get some packing done.


Friday, June 26, 2009

We were just told yesterday that we should be leaving for China on July 8th. Wow, we are excited but surprised how soon because not long ago they thought beginning of August. Now we are stepping up the preparation and going to be very busy getting ready the next two weeks but won't be long now before Kiana will be in our arms :) So I am off to work on our many 'to do' lists

Friday, May 22, 2009

This is Kiana, almost 9 months old. She was born August 30,2008. She is quiet and weighs 14 lbs according to her referral. We are proud parents. We are just in love with our daughter.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We got the CALL!!!!

We are getting our referral tomorrow!!! Her name is Xin Hua Yin from Chongqing and her birthdate is 8-30-08 She is almost 9 months old. I will post pics once we have them. WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Friday, April 03, 2009

Adoption Update

Referral Update:

The next batch of referrals are being sent out today. Looks like referrals are for March 7th and 8th of 2006. Its not officially posted but heard from families that have gotten their referrals for the 8th and our agency says that the 9th hasn't gotten them so I am certain this is accurate. There was fear that they would only get thru the 7th this month so two days is progress considering that the 7th is a HUGE day  of Log ins for families. There are only 6 days left until our LID so we are still pretty excited. We could get the call as early as May but if not I think we should at least get the call before the end of summer so either way its almost here. YAY!!!!!



Tuesday, March 03, 2009

March referrals

Referrals for March have started arriving and they got thru March 6, 06. Only 8 more days until our day will come up and that is including a weekend. Its coming up soon. Even if they did one referral a day we still would be going to China before Christmas. More likely would be that we will be getting our referral (matched with our daughter) this summer and then traveling 6-10 weeks after that. There is a small chance we could get a referral however in April so we are starting to get some of the items we will need to travel. Any of you who have traveled with a small baby before have any advice on the most essential things I should pack I would be happy for the advice. It is hard to pack for a baby before I even meet her.


Monday, February 23, 2009


Just wanted to give a quick update on the adoption. The referrals are thru March 2nd, 2006 and in the next couple weeks another batch should arrive so we are getting closer to our date. We have registered now at three places. We had a lot of fun finally being able to take that step. There are families from our Yahoo March adoption group that received their referrals and are in the process of preparing to bring home their baby. This is very exciting because we have been taking this journey together and finally seeing families beginning this exciting step.

We recently had a meeting with our social worker and received our first travel packet preparing us for our trip to China. The next step is beginning to prepare our packing list and getting the items needed. We are told to pack 'light' but are also given a HUGE list of recommended items. Once the referral comes we will be extremely busy preparing for our journey. We will be packing, doing more paperwork, and getting visas, etc. This is really happening and is finally becoming a reality rather then just a dream to us. Thank you to everyone whose supporting us thru this exciting time. Don't know what we would do without you. 


"Why, somtimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast"- Through the looking Glass

Monday, December 29, 2008

Adoption update

I am so excited that I can't hardly stand it. Referrals made it thru February 28th, 2006. Only 14 days left till our LID. We will see Kiana soon now. Finally a light at the end of the tunnel is getting quite bright. We are going  to celebrate by registering in January. Woo Hoo!!!!!  Our baby is coming home soon 2009 is our year :)


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Referral update

They have already sent out the batch of referrals for September and finally have some good news to report. They matched thru Febuary 9th, 2006. Our date is finally starting to be closer. There is a month and 5 days worth till they get to our LID date. I believe there will be a few more months of waiting for the referral but we are definitely nearing the end of this LONG wait. And once we get the referral (matched with a child) there is about a two month wait before going to China to bring her home. I am fairly certain that sometime next year we will be going to China to bring Kiana home.

Please pray for our daughter and for the birthmom for I am certain that her birthmom is at least pregnant with her if she isn't already born.

Thank you,



Monday, August 04, 2008


Referrals have been made thru January 25th, 2006 so they are getting closer to our LID date. We should get another update anytime this week. Please be praying that they get thru at least February 1st or farther. It is looking like our travel will be sometime in the first part of 2009. We are getting closer to bringing home our daughter.


Friday, October 19, 2007

An Answered Prayer

We have an awesome God!!!! Yesterday we received a check in the mail that covers the rest of the main adoption expenses so NO MORE FUNDRAISING!!!! YAY!!! You can't see me now but I am jumping up and down for joy. We have been fundraising for 2 years and 5 months so I am very thankful for this part of the adoption process to be completed. We do still have some adoption expenses we will have to pay that may come up, but the bulk of it is taken care of and what is left we feel we can handle without doing any more fundraising. Thank you to everyone who has helped us make it to to this place, for the donations, prayer, and support. THANKS!!! Now we wait.......and wait..... and bring home Kiana. The wait is hard but I know that God's timing is perfect and that once we have Kiana in our arms we will be thankful that God made us wait for Him because otherwise the little girl wouldn't have been the one God has waiting for us. Please continue to pray for the waiting process and for our precious Kiana.

So again to all who have helped us with the fundraising THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU


(those who are not subscribed to our adoption blog please take time to check it out, once we go to China we may not be sending emails out too, just posting on our blog, plus thats where you will also be able to see pictures of us with Kiana when we are over there, Thanks)
"Be assured that if God waits longer then you could wish, it is only to make the blessing doubly precious. " Andrew Murray