Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baking Cookies

It has been such a busy December that I decided Saturday we wouldn't leave the house. We didn't have any commitments and I was determined to spend some time with the girls. We had a great day. They made cookies and I let them "have at it". Originally we were going to make a gingerbread tree I found at A.C. Moore's but Gracie decided she rather decorate the individual cookies instead. I'm sure I cleaned more icing off Laurie Alice than were on the cookies but I didn't care. My mom came over and later that afternoon we ALL took naps. It was the perfect lazy day. I'm also posting a few pictures of the girls dressed up before church this morning. I just have to post about my great deal. I got LA's dress off ebay for $8.00. It's a Kelly's Kid but had a pen mark on it so got it super cheap. I haven't found the mark yet. Also, there's a cute picture of LA in a red tutu. She had a fit to wear it after cleaned her off from the cooking making.

Friday, December 12, 2008

All I Really Want for Christmas

I heard this song for the first time two years ago and can hardly listen to it without crying. I am so thankful that Gracie and Laurie Alice have a family to celebrate with. Please pray for and remember the orphans here and overseas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Phillips Family

We meet this wonderful family in Chongqing in May when we adopted Laurie Alice. They have the most amazing testimony about their adoption for their daughter Hope. Please take about 13 minutes and watch this video. Also, check out their blog. You will see their blog listed under "My Favorites" on the right side.

tustin river from t phillips on Vimeo.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Favorite Aunt

It is a known fact that my sister Laurie is the favorite Aunt on my side of the family. My sister Alice and I are totally okay with her title. I mean please, how could we ever compete with this........

My girls spent the night with Aunt Laurie on Friday and for breakfast they had green and red pancakes with red syrup and sprinkles and green sprite with green bubble gum. You can see she even had red candles lit.
Actually, my girls have three very wonderful Aunts who are super good to them although you gotta admit red & green pancakes are a little hard to beat!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy 7 month Gotcha!

This was our trip to the Panda Zoo in Chongqing
I can't get over how much both of my girls have changed in just 7 months.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pray for this family

Please pray for this family. They are in China now and have had to make the heartbreaking decision to decline their referral. My heart goes out to them and I can't imagine what they must be going through. They really need our prayers.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Six Months

I'm a day late with this but here is a photo of the girls eating ice cream in Guanzhou. This was Laurie Alice's first ice cream experience and she loved every minute of it. Looks like Gracie did too! Her hair has really grown and she has put on at least 5 lbs. since this picture was taken.

I meet with our Social Worker on Monday for our six month post placement report. I can't beleive it's only been six months. This child feels like she has always been a part of our lives.

Good news, I found my camera so check back this weekend and I should have Halloween pictures posted.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God Is Still In Control

I'm not going to lie, I was feeling pretty bummed out this morning. My guy didn't win and to say I'm extremely concerned about the new president is an understatment. A friend from my church sent me an email and I decided to post it here because it reminds me that no President wether Republican or Democrate controls or rules the United States. There is only one person who does and I serve Him!!!! I'll continue to lick my wounds today but just reading this makes me feel so much better.

Our Sovereign God

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!" Revelation 19:6

Now that we have most of the results from yesterday's election, some of you may be happy and some may be saddened. Either way, let me remind you that no politician will bring in the Kingdom of God. Our government is not the tool that God will use…it is the church that God is going to use…it is the lives and testimonies of believers. Therefore, whether you are rejoicing or mourning this morning, let me share with you part of a letter that John Newton (the author of Amazing Grace).

He who once bore our sins, and carried our sorrows--is seated upon a throne of glory, and exercises all power in heaven and on earth! Thrones, principalities, and powers, bow before Him! His providence pervades and manages the whole universe, and is as minutely attentive to every part--as if there were only a single object in His view! From the tallest archangel--to the smallest ant or fly--all depend on Him for their being, their preservation, and their powers. He directs the sparrows where to build their nests, and where to find their food. He over-rules the rise and fall of nations; and bends, with an invincible power, and unerring wisdom--all events to His sovereign will! So that while many intend other outcomes--their designs all concur and coincide in the accomplishment of His holy will.

Jesus restrains with an almighty hand--the still more formidable efforts of the powers of darkness. Satan with all his hosts cannot exert their malice a hair's-breadth beyond the limits of His permission!

This omnipotent Savior is the head and husband of His believing people. How happy are those whom it is His good pleasure to bless! How safe are those whom He has engaged to protect! How honored and privileged are those to whom He is pleased to manifest Himself, and whom He enables and warrants to claim Him as their Friend and eternal potion!

Having redeemed them by His own blood--He esteems them as His treasure, His jewels; and protects them as the pupil of His eye! They shall not lack any good thing. They need not fear. His unerring eye is upon them in every situation; His ear is always open to their prayers; and His everlasting arms are under them for their sure support! On earth He guides their steps, controls their enemies, and directs all His dispensations for their spiritual good. While in heaven He is pleading their cause, preparing a glorious home for them, and communicating down to them reviving foretastes of the glory which they shall shortly enter into!

We sinful worms were once blind to His beauty, and insensible to His love, and would have remained so to the last--had He not revealed His goodness and grace to us!

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!" Revelation 19:6

Monday, November 3, 2008

No pictures yet

I wanted to post Halloween pictures but I have misplaced my camera!!! Actually, I haven't looked too hard for it yet because I assumed it was in a particular spot but when I looked last night to download the pictures I couldn't find it. Hopefully I will find my camera when I get home and have them posted by tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I saw Toby Mac & Jeremy Camp Baby!!!!!!!

I am so excited because I got to see Mr. Toby Mac AND Mr. Jeremy Camp Friday night at the State Fair FOR FREE!!! My sister Laurie volunteered this past week at our local Christian radio station so she got a ticket (very clever of her). My sister Alice had been trying all day to win tickets from another station and finally won two and asked if I wanted to go. Heck yeah and It was AWESOME!!!! I don’t know if it was because I haven’t been to a concert since Rusty was a youth pastor or I was just so excited to be out with the girls but probably because both guys put on a great show. It was raining like crazy and I was soak and wet but I couldn’t have cared less. I was a little concerned at first that maybe I was too old to be rocking out with the Mac but as it turned out there were lot’s of us “old” people there and we were keeping up just as well as the younguns. I’m actually surprised that I like Toby Mac’s music because his style is not what I’m used to but I’m so drawn to his lyrics and you just can’t help but bop your head when you are listening to him. My sister’s and I even did this crazy rapper thingy with our hands to one of the songs. If only Gracie had been there I’m sure she would have thought me to be real cool! I’m so going to name drop right now, my cousins husband and Toby Mac are friends and they actually played golf together earlier that day and if my sisters and I had not been so preoccupied with eating fair food and stuck a little tighter to my cousin we might have just been able to meet the guy in person. Beth and Carl if you are reading this how about hook us up at Winter Jam in February.

If you would like to see a little bit of both these guys then check out their videos.

My favorite

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Would you like to win!

Please go visit this blog and contribute to win some really great gifts and help a family bring home their son from China.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Carrie's New Glasses

My super cute niece Carrie just got super cool glasses yesterday. Doesn't she look great in them? As soon as Gracie see's this picture she's probably going to want a pair herself. She really looks up to her cousin.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today is my birthday!!! I should have scanned a baby picture of myself but I didn’t get around to it. I had a Women’s Ministry Meeting last night and when I got home at 10:00 Rusty and Gracie were waiting up for me. They had decorated the kitchen table and had a cake with a 39 candle burning. Notice I didn’t say 39 individual candles that would have been a fire hazard. Laurie Alice had fallen asleep an hour before I got home so she missed the festivities last night. We ate cake and ice cream and they gave gifts. Wednesdays are very busy for us with church and work so Rusty decided to have the little celebration last night because he was afraid my birthday might get overlooked today. We did the cake thing again this morning so Laurie Alice could participate. I wish I had a picture of her face when Rusty brought the cake out. She didn’t know what to make of the flaming cake. She had the most puzzled look but then was quickly impressed when I blew the fire out. She got so excited when she presented me with the gift that she had picked out for me. I can’t wait until we get to celebrate her birthday in December. I hope she isn’t too overwhelmed by it all. Anyway, it was a sweet evening and morning

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cardboard Testimonies

Very Moving!!! Warning: You will need tissue.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy 5 Months!!!

Happy 5 month Gotcha Day!!!
The girls in Chongqing. Sisters for only 2 days.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beautiful Poem

Gracie has been talking alot lately about her looks and how they differe from the rest of her family. She will make comments that she wished she had eyes like us and has even mentioned wanting blonde hair so she can look like a "real" American. I remind her that American's come in all shapes and sizes and colors and that she is indeed as real as American as anyone else and she even has a letter from the President of the USA to prove it. I also tell her that her eyes are my favorite thing about her face and that I'm even envious I don't have eyes like her.

A couple years ago my sister had this poem framed for Gracie's birthday. It's in the girls room and we read quite often. I just love it and thought I would post it here.

Why do I look different, Mom?
My daughter will ask one day.
How come I don't resemble all
the kids with whom I play?
My hair is inky black and straight,
my skin's a different hue,
so would you tell me, Mom,
why don't I look like you?
You're an Oriental flower,
I'll tell my darling girl,
Your skin and hair and eyes all come
from halfway 'round the world.
The sun of China warmed your skin
to that exquisite shade.
Your eyes are China's beauty marks,
your hair a silk cascade
the color of a midnight sky
unlighted by a star.
So don't think you look different, dear,
you look like who you are.
author unknown

Friday, September 19, 2008

Letter from Rusty

Since this blog is in lieu of a scrapbook I like to post things that I find related to both girls adoptions. I was cleaning out my documents and found a couple paragraphs Rusty wrote when we were applying for an adoption grant from Shaohanah's Hope (which we did receive). The question was asked on the form what we feel to be the most important thing we can impart to our child upon adoption. Here is Rusty's response:

As for what Leslie and I believe to be the most important things we can impart to our girls, we feel that we can offer them a home and a place of belonging. We believe strongly that we can give them a Godly sense of value and worth that they might not receive in their Chinese environment. We believe we can meet their material needs to the best of our ability. But ultimately, the most important thing that we can offer is a Christian environment where they will have a chance to learn about the love and grace of Jesus Christ and have opportunity to make Him their Lord.

Our greatest desires for Laurie Alice and Gracie are that they will choose to serve the Lord and that in the grace and freedom of the Spirit they will find their divine gifts and callings. We want to see them excel in life. We pray that they will be wildly successful in whatever they put their hands to, but ultimately we would love to see them excel in charity and compassion for others.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Go Tigers!!

The girls supporting the team.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We did it again.....

We completed Gracie’s first project of the year. She was given an assignment on Monday to complete a family time line due today. Before we knew it, bam, Thursday was upon us. We did what any good parents would do we “assisted” her on the project (the note that came home did say we could help) We asked her what would be some events she would like to include on our, I mean her time line. She went through about 15 things and then we, I mean she narrowed it down to seven items. We looked through some pictures together (she sat and snacked on Doritos while Rusty and I debated on the best photos to print) and then at 9:30 we sent her on to bed. I would have loved to have been of more help but I was so tired and had to go to bed myself. When we woke up, voila`, timeline completed! It was beautiful, colorful captions, pictures aesthetically laid out. I slapped Rusty on the back, another job well done!

Last year in kindergarten Gracie had to complete an “All about Me” collage (we were allowed to help) and I’m not exactly sure what happened but Rusty and I took over the project with fever and determination. We cut, we pasted, we argued over the best placement of the pictures. Gracie’s “All about Me” would be THE NUMBER ONE collage of all the kindergarten classes. Oh yes, she was there and I even gave her a magazine and a pair of scissors and let her cut pictures although I had NO intention of letting her use them. It also came out beautifully and I think Rusty and I even high fived.

For thanksgiving Gracie and I had to decorate a cut out turkey her teacher sent home. The turkey sported a pink tutu with matching accessories along with a wand and to finish her off I added pink and silver glitter to her outfit. I think Gracie was there with me although I vaguely remember some tears being shed because just maybe she mentioned wanting to pick out what her turkey would be dressed in….. I don’t know it’s all a haze now. At the end of the year we received a scrapbook with Gracie’s work and there they were, the “All about Me” page the turkey. I have never been so proud.

I admit, I’m awful when it comes to projects like this. I am NOT competitive at all but when it comes to school projects both Rusty and I get a little crazy. Please pray for us!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that Laurie Alice starts speech therapy today!!! I can’t wait to see how her vocabulary progresses over the next weeks and months. On a side note her speech therapist graduated from the college where I work.

I am thankful that Gracie really likes school and doesn’t mind getting up in the mornings as much as she did last year. She of course loved her kindergarten teacher but every morning was a battle getting her ready for the day.

I know I mention my husband a good bit whenever I post Thankful Thursday’s but I just can’t not mention him (is that even a proper sentence, LOL). He is such a good man and I am always amazed at the way he handles adversity in his life. He will not let it get him down nor does it hinder him in his ministry. He stays positive. I have a friend who refers to him as an “oak” and he really is.

I am thankful for our missionaries. I have always had a burden for missionaries and even as a child wanted to be one. I’ve never made it to a foreign mission field but I guess being a pastor’s wife and supporting my husband as he pastors our congregation is a mission field of sorts. I have recently started reading this blog and I love it. I posted on her blog and she responded back to my message and I just thought I would post it here.

From Me:
Your blog has now become one of my favorite to read. I found it through your daughter-in-laws blog "Bring the Rain". I've added your blog under My Favorites on my own blog.

I have always had a passion for our missionaries and I have cried after reading each of your post. I am a pastor’s wife and one of my favorite things is to be able to fellowship with our missionaries when they are on furlough and they speak at our church. I never grow weary of their stories and hang on to every word that they say just as I do with your blog. It is like a breathe of fresh air AND I love that you are so human and express so well how you felt when your husband said it was time to go to Africa. I laughed at your response. I sure wish this blog had been around when my husband and I planted our first church. WOW, did I need some encouragement in those days :)

I look forward to reading every day. You are an answer to a prayer and MANY, MANY souls are going to be blessed through this blog.

September 10, 2008 3:28 PM
Congo Hope said...

Hi Leslie,
I really appreciate your taking time out of your ministry life to comment. You are so on the front lines. I have a special place in my heart for ministry wives. God lift you up today with the Right Hand of His Righteousness. Beth Moore once said, "Easy lives do not make for good stories." But who wants to go through what does make for a good story? Not me! Not anyone. But how else can we feel, talk, walk and practice the grace of God without His stretching us taught until we either break and choose to run away or break and fall into His lap? You pastors' wives are such precious commodities. And I must thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of all missionaries for LOVING MISSIONARIES. Many generations do not even know what a missionary is because missions has taken such a back seat in the local church at large. Thank God that is not the case in your church. Malachi 3:16, 17 Amplified version

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ruth Bell Graham Video

Rusty and I were watching a special Saturday night on the life of Ruth Bell Graham and I was so moved by the show, so much so that over the past few days I’ve been reevaluating my life as a Christian wife and mother and my roll as a pastors wife. I’m afraid that in my analysis I find myself coming up short. I desperately want to be better. I recommitted myself this past Sunday after Rusty’s message to take the steps necessary to be the woman that I know God has called me to be. I want to have a love for people that burns within my soul.

I love this tribute video to Ruth Graham, and if I can be half the woman that she was then I’ll be doing alright. Just give me Jesus!!!!

I hope you are as blessed by this video as I was.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fist Day of School

Gracie started first grade on August 27. Where does the time go!! Here are a few pictures taken that morning and then after the pictures is my letter to Gracie.

On the phone with MeMa who was wishing her a happy first day of school.
Ready to go in
With her buddy Danielle who will be Valedictorian of the class of 2020. She is smart as a whip.
With her sweet teacher.

Dear Gracie,

You had some concerns about starting first grade this year because daddy has moved up with Ryan to the middle school and is no longer down the hall from you. You were also worried that you wouldn’t be able to go to the restroom whenever you needed to. Well, you have a wonderful teacher who is pregnant and therefore very much in favor of bathroom breaks. Daddy still gets to take you to school and you seem to be handling the fact that he isn’t there very well.

You are super smart and an excellent reader. I am always amazed at your wide range of vocabulary. You have been and always are very eager to learn new things. You ask us tons of questions about everything.

Your best buddy is our neighboor Logan who unforantley has moved. You are pretty bummed out about it but he only moved about three miles away so hopefully you guys can still play some together over the weekend. You have an active imagination and you and Logan play outside together for HOURS with almost no toys. A couple weeks ago it was raining and you and daddy had just come home from the grocery store and you were so upset when you walked in the door. We had this conversation:

You: “well, this is just great, it’s raining which means daddy can’t grill our supper and this was supposed to be my marrying day”

Me: “your’e marrying day, what do you mean”?

You: “this is the day I was supposed to marry Logan and now it is ruined because of the rain”.

Me: “wow, I didn’t know you and Logan were supposed to marry today”

You: “well yes, we’ve been talking about it all weekend and today was supposed to be the day and now we can’t get married and I know tomorrow he isn’t going to want to get married and I’m going to have to talk him in too it again”.
You cracked me up with this one!

You want to be a babysitter and an artist and live in Saluda, SC when you grow up. I honestly think though you will either be an attorney because you do love a good argument or a missionary because you always ask me if people have Jesus in their hearts and you love to talk to total strangers. I’m hoping missionary, and even though it will be difficult to send you on the mission field I prayed to the Lord that if He would bless us with a daughter I would in return raise you up to be a Christian and I would freely give you back to Him to use in service. I would never try to keep you here for selfish reasons.

You are so beautiful; funny and sassy and passionate and full of life!!!!!!! I can’t imagine my life without you in it. You take all the dull moments and make them interesting.

I love you!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Four Months

Four months ago we became a family of four. This picture was taken in the White Swann Hotel in Guangzhou. I thought I would write to Laurie Alice about the things she is doing.

Ever since you learned how to hop (about two months ago) you love to do it. Just this morning you hopped your way from the van to your classroom. When we get to your hall you love for me to lift you up so you can look through the big window and see Miss. Nancy and all your friends.

Within the past week you have started putting me and Daddy in time-out whenever you get mad at us. You shake your finger and scold us in mixed up English/Chinese baby talk. You are so funny with your little forehead all scrunched up. You take our hand and lead us back to our room where you then shut the door and leave us standing by ourselves. You will come back and check to make sure we are okay and when you decide we have been back there long enough you lead us back into the living room. You LOVE to play this game and it distracts you from whatever it was that made you mad.

You love to copy your big sister. Whatever she eats, wears and does you want to do the exact same thing. The other night when Gracie wanted to wear socks to bed we had to put socks on your feet too, but not just any socks they had to be Gracie’s socks. You looked so cute with your stripped Hello Kitty socks on.

You’ve just started to lick your finger whenever you turn the pages of the books you are reading. Gracie did the same thing when she was your age.

You love to wear dresses and spin around. You run to the big mirror in our room and look at yourself and touch your dress and face. You are so proud of yourself in your fancy dresses. You also love shoes and especially your white church shoes. I think you would wear them everyday if I let you see them.

You say so many things now. The words are not very clear but we get the gist of what you mean. Although this morning you said “go-go” plan as day. You even made the g sound in “go” perfect!! Me and Daddy and Gracie were so excited for you and clapped and cheered.

You are such a sweet sweet child. You love to snuggle with whoever sleeps with you. You press your cheek to my cheek and you rub my arm and face. You also like for your back and tummy to be rubbed to help you fall asleep. The other day you sat in the bathroom while I took my shower. You took my hand and helped me out of the shower and handed me my towel. You love to wear deodorant just like Mommy. You also say “thank you” without being reminded.

Your teacher tells me that you play well with the other children and are good about sharing. When your classmates become upset you are very concerned about them and will console them.

You LOVE candy and cakes and cookies, unlike Gracie who isn’t fond of sweets. You will eat most anything although you are not big on green beans or broccoli unless you can dip them in lots of ranch dressing.

I love that when I pick you up from school you run to me and get so excited to see me. When I ask you about your day you just talk and talk to me and use your expressive eyes to tell me about it and you use lot’s of hand gestures.

You are a joy to parent and I’m so happy to be your mommy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Our last stop on the way home from our trip was to Cherokee, NC. Rusty and I used to vacation there with our families when we were young. It was fun reminiscing about those trips and how we thought it was the coolest place.

Monday, September 1, 2008


After the reunion trip our family checked into a hotel and spent 1 1/2 days at Dollywood. We loved it and had a wonderful time. Gracie still talks about it.