Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We love you, silly boy!

Jon Paul plays with his foster brother's tutor, Dana. The two are good pals!

More playtime with foster mom, Deena. The little girl on chicken rocker on the right is Sarah. She is 10 and also blind.
Our silly, handsome boy! We love you and we can't wait to bring you home!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The beginning of Holy Week.

Today is Palm Sunday marking the beginning of Holy Week. For Catholics, this is the beginning of our high holiday, which we have spent the last 40 days (since Ash Wednesday) preparing for, Easter.

We love Palm Sunday and the passion of the Lord. We also love to make palm crosses. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You've come a long way baby!

All of this activity with Jon Paul really has me thinking a lot about Camille's adoption and her humble beginnings. This photo was taken at the hotel in Hong Kong the night before we flew back to the US. I had honestly forgotten how thin and frail my sweet girl was. We had been a family now for only about 10 days, but look at how happy she had become! So filled with loved! This photo makes me sad to look at now. She was very ill, and we didn't even know it until we got home.

But God is great, and today she is a happy, healthy, NORMAL, five-year-old who suffers no ill effects from her turbulent beginnings. Thank you, God, for this wonderful child, this wonderful gift!

Monday, March 22, 2010

May 22, 2010

May 22, 2010... 2 months from today. That's the day they are closing the doors of our beloved St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church... for good. It's the end of an era for the people of the community, who built that Church, more than 70 years ago.

I have to be honest, when I moved here and had to leave St. Elizabeth's, it was painful. I loved St. Elizabeth's. It was a young community and we had a contemporary worship service. The priest was young (well, okay, younger) and the parish was lively. When I arrived at St. Francis, the first thing I noticed was that it felt old. The priests were old, the church was old, the people of the parish community were older... even the services had an older feel, heck they still rang the bell at communion, wasn't that practice out with Vatican II? But as I whined and moaned and attended services each week, St. Francis began to grow on me. Churches have a way of doing that. And the the priests came and went. The really old ones retired and, what's this? We got a young priest? And a really young priest, at least by priest standards... and I really liked him. And I got to know the people of the community and the old-school service grew on me and, what can I say? I kind of grew to like that bell! And while I was there we saw friends get married in that church and we had our daughter baptized in that church and we said goodbye to Michael's mother in that church and we saw our friends children get baptized, recieve their first holy communion and confirmation in that church. And, lo and behold, I became a part of that church and it became a part of me. Churches have a way of doing that. God has a way of doing that.

Where do we go from here? The simple answer is another church. It will likely be St. Rose, since this is where Camille attends school. Our church has merged with Mary Mother and St. Gregory's and the new home parish, who's name I can not recall, will be at Mary Mother. We can not afford to support 2 churches and since Mary Mother and St. Rose and equal in distance from our home (we could walk to St. Francis) we will likely end up at St. Rose.... and, I expect, again, it will be painful. But perhaps, with time, St. Rose will feel like home.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The really amazing moments...

I'm really happy about a lot of things right now...
  • We have accomplished the impossible. It sounds like a contradiction, especially if you really believe that, with God, ALL things are possible, but China simply is not allowing people like us adopt again... but WE ARE ALLOWED! And this is a miracle! A true gift from God.

  • Camille will have a baby brother. A sibling. For a long time I really thought Camille might be an only child. While I was willing to accept this, as I will accept God's plan for her, it made me kind of sad. I think siblings add dimension to our lives.

  • Camille's sibling will share her same nationality. He will also be Chinese. Is this important? Maybe, maybe not. In blended families like ours, it may not be so important, but it can be something special that they can share, like being adopted.

We love you, Jon Paul, and we can't wait to have you home. Your big sister keeps a photo of you under her pillow :)

New Photos

Because Jon Paul is in a foster home with folks from America and his "foster grandmother" lives here in Florida, we have an advantage. We have contact! :) I have even been able to speak to her on the phone on several occasions. It's wonderful! And we get LOTS of photos! Here's some newer photos of our little guy taken as recently as last week. We think red may be his color!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

I have been dying to post this, but didn't want to until we received our pre-approval from China. Today was the day we received our pre-approval. Meet our new little guy, Jonathan Paul Kuang, or simply Jon Paul.

He resides in a really terrific foster home in Fujian province in China. Yes, as you can see he is blind in his right eye. He may have some level of visual impairment in his left eye as well, we're just not sure yet and we won't know for sure until we get him home. Isn't he about the cutest thing?! We are all very excited, especially Camille who is THRILLED to be a big sister! God is great and miracles do happen!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why Adoption?

This is a question I get asked quite often. Why did you adopt? Can't you have your "own children"? (I consider Camille my own child... and any future children that God allows us to adopt will be considered the same, but I also understand the statement coming from an under-informed mind). There are many reasons. I think one statement sums it up best.
Love is an action word.
Please visit this blog and you'll understand what I mean:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where Have All The Churches Gone?

Where Have All The Churches Gone? by Father Joseph Jenkins

Bill and Susan are both baptized Catholics. But they rarely went to Mass. You might see them in the pews at Christmas and Easter, but that is about it. One Easter they came to Mass and had the surprise of their lives. The parking lot was empty. Going up to the church doors, they discovered that everything was locked. Confused, they almost decided just go home but it was Easter so they drove a little further to another church. Again, they were shocked. There was no one there, either. Now the mystery was intriguing them. What had happened? Had there been a revolution and the churches forcibly closed? Were the Protestants right and all the good Christians taken away by the rapture? They traveled outside of town to a third church. Here they found cars but services were ending. Although they had missed Mass, they entered the church for a quick visit and to find reassurance that nothing else had suddenly changed. Everything appeared to be in place, although the congregation seemed a bit small from the celebrations remembered in the past. They saw the priest and approached him with their puzzlement.
Susan spoke first, “Father, we are sorry about missing Mass but we had trouble finding an open church.”
Father Flynn responded, “I take it that you are new to the area. We would love to have you register here. We can always use new members.”
“No Father,” said Susan, “we have lived here all our lives. We were married at St. Margaret’s.”
“Oh my,” responded the priest, looking somewhat disturbed and maybe upset.
Bill entered the conversation, “We went to St. Margaret’s this morning and finding no one there went over to Holy Spirit. Both places were empty.”
“Yes,” lamented the priest, “I guess you both feel inconvenienced.”
“It certainly ruined Easter, what is going on Father?” asked Susan.
“You won’t like my answer. It might even make you angry,” added the priest.
The priest motioned for them to sit in a pew next to him.
“What is it, Father?” asked Bill.
“I will tell you,” said the priest, “it is your fault.”
Taken aback by the answer, they immediately insisted that he explain.
“You and so many people like you, killed St. Margaret, Holy Spirit, and almost a hundred other churches in the diocese. You want the church for a wedding, as if the building is only a decoration on a cake. You might ask for a baby’s baptism, when grandparents nag you. But then we have trouble finding a godparent who is not in mortal sin. Everyone who comes is a stranger. No one is practicing his or her faith. You come to Mass a couple times a year, throw a few dollars in the basket and expect the church to still be here waiting for you when you feel like coming back. Some only come to church twice in a lifetime, the day of baptism and the day of final repose. You did not know about those churches because they were not a part of your life. You did not support your parish through donations. You did not add to the parish life by your participation at Mass and in the various volunteer opportunities. You did not have children or if you did, you did not encourage vocations. How did you expect us to keep the churches open when we have no priests and empty pews? You broke the hearts of your priests who gave up the possibility of spouse and children to take care of the family of God. Priests weep over their people who neglect Confession and the Mass. Priests yearn to forgive your sins. You became comfortable with sin and made excuses. You said by your neglect that our sacrifices did not matter. Some of you were even vocal in arguing for married priests and condemning all celibate men as deviates and predators. In essence, your dissent and absence told the priests that we were wasting our time. Worse of all, you were saying that you did not need the Church. You forced God to the periphery of your lives, if he was there at all. The churches closed were wonderful places once. God lived in those houses and in the hearts and souls of the people. But when you stopped coming, things began to run down. Where there were once three priests, now there was one. Eventually even that one was shared between parishes. Many young people stopped coming. The congregations got older. The average parishioner age at Holy Spirit was around eighty! God called the faithful remnant home. Grandparents tried to give the faith to their grandchildren, but sometimes with opposition from their own children. They suffered terrible guilt. What had they done wrong? Why did their children stray? Bills started to grow and resources were strained. The new Bishop had to take action. Critics hated him and spouted condemnations when he closed beautiful old churches. Many of these same voices were those of fallen-away Catholics. They still had sentiment about their childhood parishes, but nothing of a deeper or lasting value. Catholics today are twice as populous as in the old days, but less than 20 to 15% go to weekly Mass. Back in 1960, that figure was 90 to 95%. Our schools are dying and increasing expensive. Our churches are relegated to the status of museums instead of as places of worship and community life. You did not pray— you did not pay— and now you are upset that the churches did not stay. We are drowning in a sea of hypocrisy. A housing developer will be bull-dozing Holy Spirit within the month. Who knows what shall become of St. Margaret Catholic Church? There is talk that a Baptist group might buy it. Some of the churches have become condominiums with the guts torn out. What the enemies of the Church could not do, we have done to ourselves.”
The couple was silent. The priest reached into his pocket and pulled out a broken piece or marble or plaster made out as marble.
“See this,” said the priest, “this is a fragment from the altar at Holy Spirit. I was pastor there. On the morning I came by to pay my final respects, demolition men were hacking the altar to pieces. It was on that altar that bread and wine became the body and blood of Jesus. It was from that altar that the faithful received the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation. I did everything I could think of to save the church. I went door-to-door in an attempt at outreach. But there was a bigger Catholic church down the road and we had no school. Even they were struggling. Most people of faith in the area were Protestants. Others spurned all religion. Many Catholics had moved away and those who remained did not come, except for my small faithful remnant. I buried most of them.”
Staring straight into the faces of the couple, he lamented, “I cried and cried after seeing that altar destroyed. Here, take this,” offering the altar fragment.
“It means too much to you Father, no, we couldn’t take that,” returned Bill.
Not taking no for an answer, the priest forced the fragment into his hand, and said, “It is okay, I really want you to have it. You are right, it meant a lot to me, but it is my hope that someday it might come to mean something to you and your wife.”

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Heart Faces - Bundled Up!

I am not a professional photographer, and I know this photo has lots of imperfections, but I love it anyway and I think it really captures the spirit of this week's I Heart Faces theme... BUNDLED UP!

To see more terrific entries, click the camera below...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Catholic "Weird Al"

I know we're already way into Lent, but I recently found this and I thought it was great. Inspired by today's fish sandwich for lunch, just thought I would share!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adoption Tax Credit - Families Need Your Help!

Many people need your help to encourage your Senators and Representatives to support making the adoption tax credit permanent.
As it stands now, the tax credit put in place in 2001 will expire in December 2010. If an adoption finalizes in 2010, the tax credit will still be in effect. However, as the law states, after December 2010, the adoption credit will be reduced to $5,000 - $6,000.
Adoption costs can exceed $20,000 and can be up to $45,000 - $50,000, depending on the type of adoption and country of choice for each family. Right now the credit is $12,150 with limitations based upon salary. It would be a tragedy for a family not to grow through adoption due to financial hardship from this tax credit not being permanent.
So could I ask that anyone who has been touched by adoption to take a minute to help? We need people to write to their Representatives and Senate to ask them to co-sponsor the bill that will make this credit permanent. Here is a step-by-step guide of how to help:

1. Start by contacting your Representatives first, then contact Senators. Find the name and Washington, D.C. mailing address of your Representatives and Senators at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/findyourreps.xpd . For New Jersey, your Senators and Representatives can be found here. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/findyourreps.xpd?state=NJ

2. To find the status of the bill currently, it can be found at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-213
Verify if your Congresspersons are already co-sponsors of the legislation. (For anyone in NJ – only one of the thirteen Representatives is co-sponsoring, so write and spread the word to others to write!)

3. If your representatives have not signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, send them your request that they do so. Tell them how important the tax credit was to you when you adopted your children, or how much you and other families you know are counting on it to be available in the future. Emphasize that the tax credit truly results in more children finding homes. Tell them that this is so important to you that you will be following the bill’s progress through Congress.

4. Family Photo: While e-mails are valuable, but there isn’t a picture. A written note with a picture of your family or your children will be most effective. When writing, it is recommended to be personal, short, targeted and informative.

5. If any of your Congresspersons are already co-sponsors, write them a thank-you note. Again, letters sent by snail-mail with photos of your children will receive more attention.

6. Send this to family and friends, so they can make contact with their Congress.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Busy, busy, busy!

It's March and we're up to our eyeballs in projects! Mike and I are having the kitchen remodeled and new siding put on the house. I may have mentioned that before. We've spent the last several weeks interviewing contrators and finally found one we like. He's sent me some preliminary plans, and I like what I see so far. I'm encouraged. We should be closing on the refinance in the next week, so once that's done and we've finalized the plans, we can begin ordering cabinets! Fun! We're also working on another very special project that we haven't gone public with yet, but it's a biggie! Stay tuned for that announcement :)

Finally, I never thought I'd see the day, Mike actually made an application with the Seeing Eye! I am so proud of him! I hope he's able to go and obtain his first guide dog this fall! I think it would be wonderful for him!

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