15 years ago, halfway around the world…

… a beautiful baby boy was born.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)

That very same week, we began to pray for the baby boy that God would give to us to adopt.Nick with his MOMMYI prayed for him before I knew him, before I’d laid eyes on those big brown eyes, before I’d held those big round thighs, before I’d rubbed that tense, strong back, before I’d heard that laugh that could bring a smile to the weariest mother’s face.

That child who was borne halfway around the world in a nation and culture so different than my own was chosen by a great, big, good God to be my very own “little man.”Nick Emily at Chris and Summer's wedding

Now as I look into those same big brown eyes and hear that same big infectious laugh, those chubby thighs and rigid back may be gone, but I continue to pray for that precious child who has grown into manhood before my very eyes.

Papa Emil with Nick April 2001And I will continue to pray faithfully for this beloved son until my dying day … because he is worth it.

I pray with thanksgiving to a God who places orphans into families and who placed this one in mine.

I pray with thanksgiving for his first mother who carried him in her womb and who gave us a gift in this beautiful boy.100_4169I pray with thanksgiving for the workers in the Russian hospital and baby home who cared for this baby boy for his first six months of life.

I pray with thanksgiving for the Future adoption agency who worked tirelessly to bring him home and all those fellow “Future” families who cheered us on.

Yet, I also pray with humble tears for the millions of other orphans still in need of families.

Nick's Camera 073I pray for the Lord’s blessing upon that first mother we hope to meet in Heaven and on all of the many people who cared for this baby boy and helped make his adoption possible.

I smile and say, “Thank you, Father, for the gift of this special child.”

IMG_1731He brings excitement into life’s daily drudgery that would otherwise drowned me in the mundane.

He memorizes movie lines and song lyrics so effortlessly, reciting actors’ names from movies I’ve long ago forgotten.

He rattles off sports statistics and Cardinals players biographies with fascination and ease.

DSC_8263He draws a crowd with his engaging wit, quick smile and expressive story telling.

What does God have in store for this young man’s future?

Only He knows, but whatever it is, I’m thankful to be a part of it.DSC_8138Happy Birthday, son. I’m glad you’re mine. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Love
TWIG

By the way, if you’d like to give my little big man a birthday gift, how about checking out his YouTube channel? Maybe watch a few zany skits? Maybe become a subscriber even? It really would make his day!

https://www.youtube.com/user/foreignbrothersfilmsNick's Camera 095

A New Year — Looking Forward with Thanksgiving

Every year this time of year people think about their New Year resolutions.

I’m not real sure about that myself because I seem to have a hard time following through on the promises I want to make, but I do start every year with some reflection on the past year and prayer for the coming year.

With that in mind, these are my prayers for this year.

Father, teach me to number my days.  May I make the most of every moment.

Every moment with my rapidly growing children.  Every moment with my husband.  Every moment out in the world where my life is on display.  Every moment You give me to proclaim Your truths in word and in deed.

Father, please guide me in how to spend my free time.  Show me by Your wisdom and grace in how to spend those extra little moments and minutes and hours when nothing is pressing for my attention.

Father, I pray that I would remember that I have been chosen, been made a royal priest, been made holy, made your very own possession, that I would PROCLAIM the excellencies of Him (that’s YOU) who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once I was not part of God’s family, God’s people, Your people, but now I am.  Once I had not received mercy but now I have received mercy.  Now, as a sojourner and exile, I pray that I would abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against my soul.  I pray that I would keep my conduct among the world honorable so that when they seek to speak evil against me, they would see my GOOD deeds and glorify GOD. (1 Peter 2:9-12)

May I live my life as Yours.  Your servant.  Your slave.  Your chosen, adopted child.  Your daughter.

May I remember that my life is not my own, that I have been BOUGHT with a price.  The blood of Jesus has ransomed me from my slavery to sin.  I have become Your bond servant.  I have sold myself willingly into Your service.

But, no, it’s more than that.  I am MORE than a mere bond servant.  I have been made a daughter of the King of kings, Lord of lords, ruler supreme of the universe.

Father, please give me the strength, passion and wisdom to live boldly in the grace and power which that gives me.  May I be about my Your business, my Father’s business, today and every day.

Not by my might, nor by my power, but by Your Spirit,

TWIG

A New Year — Looking Back with Thanksgiving

Happy 2014!  Let us wake up each morning looking toward the blessings that day holds.

 Psalm 90:12 (ESV)  “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Here’s the text from our 2013 Christmas letter.  I traditionally have each person write their own part for the newsletter, or at least coerce them into giving me lots of input.  This year, I confess, it was all me.

Bill and Kim - married 19 years
Bill and Kim – married 19 years

Bill – Probably the highlight of this year would be moving to a new house — yes, our fifth house!  We moved to a one-story home about 15 minutes south of Collierville, but across state lines.  Our new home is located in Barton, MS on a gorgeous 2-acre lot.  I’m enjoying the laid back lifestyle of the new neighborhood, complete with four-wheeler rides, bonfires and laser tag in our wooded back yard.  I’m still working at FedEx, leading a small group for our church and serving in the audio-video ministry there.

Kim – This year I have been blessed with many opportunities to share Biblical truths from my heart as I led a women’s Bible study over the summer and spoke at two women’s retreats a well as maintaining at blog — www.TeachWhatIsGood.com.  (Please check it out!)  My days are very full homeschooling and caring for my growing family, as well as serving our portable laser tag business, Pure Laser Tag.  In July, we took a trip out to Colorado to visit my parents and my sister and her family.  Upon arriving home, we began to hurriedly pack for our upcoming move, when Nick (our go-to moving man) contracted viral meningitis and ended up in the hospital for two days.  It was so faith-building to see the peace that God gave us as He brought Nick (and our whole family) through this scary, busy time.  We are especially thankful for our amazing church family who was there helping us every step of the way.  Incredibly, the week after moving in to our new home, I experienced a severe allergic reaction to poison ivy and ended up in the hospital ER.  I am thankful for once again experiencing that peace that surpasses understanding as we waited patiently upon the Lord and He heard my cry, bringing healing and help to come to my aid.  On top of everything, I’m scheduled to go in tomorrow for surgery on my right ulnar nerve in my elbow for something called Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (aka Ulnar Nerve Entrapment).  (Postscript – I’ve survived, but still waiting for the nerves to heal.  Ugh.)

Emily - 17
Emily – 17

Emily – It’s hard to believe that I’m in my final year of high school.  Time has certainly flown by!  This spring my mom and Noelle and I went on a cruise with my best friend (Dani) and some of her family.  We sailed out of New Orleans to Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico.  It was amazing!  Over the summer, Nick and I went once again to Reynosa, Mexico to serve at the Rio Bravo Children’s Home.  I love it there and hope to be able to spend more time there next year.   I officially received my driver’s license this summer and am enjoying the freedom of being able to drive myself around.  Also this year, I’ve been having fun learning to shoot a recurve bow with the Memphis homeschool archery team.  On Thursdays I teach two classes (a science discovery class and a Bible study about the Biblical names of God) for homeschooled elementary students at Renewed Moms Ministry.

Nick - almost 15
Nick – almost 15

Nick – This year I officially started high school, though no one can believe that I’m only fourteen.  It’s fun seeing the shocked looked on people’s faces when they find out how old I am.  Last spring I played on a competitive 14-under team called “Batters’ Box” and this year I’m with the Memphis Homeschool high school team, “The Eagles.”  We started practicing and working out in August so we are looking forward to a great season.  On Tuesdays, I attend a learning center for homeschoolers called Veritas.  It is a college-prep program where I study rhetoric, apologetics, literature, geography and more.  The rest of the week I work on my schoolwork from home.   I enjoy making crazy videos with my best friend, Zane.  Emily does the recording and editing work, while Zane and I make up and perform the skits.  We have a YouTube channel at ForeignBrotherFilms (all one word).  We’d love some more subscribers!  (Hint, hint)

Noelle - 10
Noelle – 10

Noelle – I’m now in fourth grade and learning all the necessary fourth-grade skills, but my current passion is ice skating.  I ice skate almost every week at a skating rink near our new house and absolutely love it.  It’s exciting and fun and beautiful.  My other favorite activities include making crafts and made-up recipes in the kitchen.  I love going to AWANAs on Sunday nights with the rest of my siblings where I learn Bible verses, play games and hang out with my friends.

Daniel - 6
Daniel – 6

Daniel – This spring I finish kindergarten and this fall I officially became a first grader.  I love learning new things.  My favorite subjects are math and astronomy.  I am interested in all kinds of science things, like weather, outer space and how the body works.  At night, I love to work on memorizing new Bible verses and listen to my mom read books about real stuff, like hurricanes and tornados and trains and sharks.  Since moving to our new house, my siblings and I have been learning to shoot BB guns and archery.  I also like playing all kinds of sports, like soccer and baseball.

18 years ago a baby boy was born

Brady Randall Lange
Brady Randall Lange

I don’t know if our earthly birthdays are still celebrated in Heaven, but if they are,

Happy Birthday, Brady.

My first of many nephews.

You are still loved, missed and remembered.

When we wake up in the morning, we may not know what grief that day might hold.

And for that, I am thankful.

Yet, in the same way, we don’t know what JOY awaits us either.

May we choose joy.  May we choose hope.  May we choose faith and love and life.  May we live every day giving thanks, trusting that God is good.  May we wake up each morning and live each moment with grateful hearts to God from whom all BLESSINGS flow.

Brady’s life was a blessing.

We thank the Lord for each day he had.  486 days of life after birth.

We give thanks for his big smile, his contagious laugh, his sparkling blue eyes.

And we give thanks for the blessed hope that we will see him again one day in the glory of Heaven that awaits us.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (ESV)

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.