Sunday, August 16, 2015

The ULTIMATE “Welcome Home”

Recently, Dale and I went to his hometown to attend the funeral of his cousin, “Dick”.  Dick and his wife, Beth, have always been a sound and solid “root” to this family.  I remember early in our marriage when all but “4 foot something “ little Beth would sweetly exclaim to me, “you two are on my prayer list for children, Nancy!”  And all along our struggle to conceive after surgery, chlomid, progesterone, artificial insemination, etc…she continued to pray and pray and pray.  All those prayers from Beth and family/friends were answered and we had not one but two beautiful boys.  Years later Beth asked me, “Nancy, do you want me to keep you on my prayer list?  How about a girl this time?”  My answer with a smile…”No, that’s ok Beth.  I think we are set.”  And yet… not too long after that I said, “put us back on your prayer list Beth!” 

A year and a half later those prayers were answered and we brought our little girl home.   We had a family gathering and it was like she knew she was finally HOME and with her “forever family.”  I get choked up with tears just thinking about it.  The emotions that we felt…the pure LOVE in our hearts that literally bled out of our eyes in the form of tears …well, that best explains it.  The pictures say it all really… look at Lily's PURE, euphoric, lit up face of JOY.

Prayers brought Lily across the world and home to what I thought was...
 the “Ultimate Welcome Home.”

But I realized after Dick's funeral (and the AMAZING sermon~) that Dick got the ULTIMATE Welcome Home.  Kathy (our cousin) said to me, “Can you imagine? Dick closed his eyes and woke up to Jesus.”  You can’t help to wonder what kind of welcome home party he got in Heaven!  Seriously?  The LOVE feeling odometer has got to be a zillion times more than we can possibly feel here on Earth!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a 1000 times more…when I birthed my boys… my LOVE exploded out of my heart and through my joyful ugly cry (and all over my babies & Hubs, OB and nurse).  The LOVE emotion was off the charts to welcome our boys to this world we call home.  AND then my “ugly cry” (Dale has “handsome cry”) carried across the world (to splat all over the Chinese people) when we held our little girl for the first time and flew her home.

How much more does our Heavenly Father feel when we come home?

There is no question in my heart and mind that The ULTIMATE Welcome HOME is when Dick opened his eyes to Jesus saying with his outstretched arms,

“Welcome HOME my Son”

Until we all come HOME Dick…to you, Jesus and our FOREVER FAMILY.  
Here's my RSVP to that party! ;)

**In memory of Richard “Dick” Snyder & A tribute to Beth Snyder & family**
**The sweetest man with a huge heart and always offers a warm bear hug.  Miss you!**

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"The Case for Grace"

Ok.  Let me first confess a couple "white lies."  Yes, I lied.  I had amazing intentions to write in this blog once a week and I am still struggling in my time management! Truly!  I really will get there!!!  But I have these little monkeys that pull on my leg and climb up my back and sometimes they restrain me with ropes and tape!   Ok ...  So, I lied, again.   I'm sorry!  Second, I also lied about writing my "back-story" on fear.  Not gonna do it...this time ;)   I will write it...THAT I promise.  But I found such urgency to share this amazing story on GRACE!  Something I so often lack!  But...Lee Strobel who is a NY Times best selling author came to our church to share a message on this thing called "grace."  He's not only a great author but was an amazing speaker as well!  His message was incredible!!! Please!!!!  I urge watch or listen (I suggest watch...I like visuals!) to the message on my church's website.  Here is the web address:

If you have problems with above, go to and click on "watch messages."  Then click on the "Case for Grace" week 1 message (by Lee Strobel).

Lee tells stories.  I LOVE stories!  He tells real live people true stories!  Those are my favorite!  One is on adoption which is amazing (even if you are not going to adopt...please watch...there is more to it!).  The second story is on forgiveness which again is something that I struggled with for over 30 years!!  And really, who doesn't struggle with forgiveness!  Everyone has a story about that.   And amidst it all...there is grace.  Don't we all search for grace?  I ask God for grace every day.  I feel like I find grace some days and then the next, I lost it like I lose my keys.  Not only did I lose the grace but some bad choice words start to fly out under my breath.  Just driving today...yeah, no grace for Nancy! Nope, I didn't extend any grace while driving today (or yesterday...or the day before)!

These stories from Lee obviously come from his book, "The Case for Grace."  I just started reading it and I love it already.  Grace is much easier understood (I believe) from stories rather than just a definition.  Isn't that true with so many things!

But here's a definition for you definition lovers:  *"Grace is the favor shown by God to sinners."
In other words...*"at its core it is an unmerited and unconditional gift of God's love that we can never earn or deserve."   Amazing!
Ephesians 2:8-9  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
We tend to always try to prove ourselves and work so hard to earn things...but grace is truly a gift from God!!  So check out Lee's stories at above website!  It was so good, I'm going to watch again!

I named this website "Sea of Grace" for two reasons.  One is, Lily's (our daughter's) Chinese name had the meanings "sea " and "grace" in it.  Hence, we named her Lily Ann Grace. I couldn't fit "ocean" or "sea" in her name!  Little too much.   Second, I knew that I would literally need God to breathe an ocean of grace into me to get through the adoption process & journey to bring Lily home.  I knew that I could not do it (nor my hubby) on my own.  I'm still learning about grace.  But the one thing I know without a shadow of doubt...the source of grace... is from our Heavenly Father.  And He has oceans and oceans (infinite!) of grace.  I try to extend grace to others but I am human and it sure doesn't always work that way.  And thankfully God does not keep score on my lack of grace.  That's the thing about grace!  It's "unconditional."

But I believe we are meant to extend God's grace to others.  And sometimes that looks impossible ...but all things are possible with God.  Luke 1:37  "For nothing is impossible with God."

(pic of Clearwater FL - our kids met the ocean for the first time!)
sand,  sea, sunsets and Daddy...Lily loves it!

Me and my cute hat wearing, amazing boys !
Sunset beach walkin'.  hmmmm...yes, I would pitch a tent and live here!

Is there anything more peaceful than the ocean?  Is there???  I'm always at peace at the beach!  That sea of grace that I love to look at ...goes on forever and forever.  That tide that moves in and out and the sound of it washing the beach soothes my soul.    There is a peace in God's grace.
Nature resembles so much of HIM and all that He freely extends to us out of pure,
unconditional, tremendous, sacrificial , BEAUTIFUL LOVE.
I hope and pray you soak in all that God offers...especially accepting HIS GRACE.
The heart of HIS GRACE encompasses LOVE and PEACE.

BTW, Lee has written several books...but another amazing book is "A Case for Christ" (and "A Case for Easter" ...smaller version of aforementioned book).  Lee, former atheist,  set out to find if there was any historical evidence of Jesus being the Son of God and any evidence of his resurrection. And lots of evidence he found~!!  Check it out~
*Quotes from:  "The Case for Grace" by Lee Strobel

Thursday, March 12, 2015

ONE Year of "Lily Bug Bliss"

What can I say that I haven't said already about our life with Lily & the boys?  I don't know...I'm like that annoying teenager in love that can't stop talking about her boyfriend or something.  I'm glowing like I'm pregnant (but I"M NOT! ;)  Ha ha!  This ole' lady can't be pregnant ...but I am beaming in love with my family!  They amaze me  everyday!!  It's been 1 year since finally getting to hold our little girl!!!  I'll never forget that day!

This photo was taken within a few minutes of receiving our beautiful daughter...LILY
I love this picture!  Proud "Ba Ba" and his angelic daughter!

This is a few hours later after we got one layer (her coat) off of her.  She was sweating profusely!   Funny thing...she would not let go of the package of crackers that the orphan caretakers gave her since before receiving her into our arms.  I don't blame her.  Can you imagine the fear & confusion?  She needed at least one thing to cling to.

My favorite family photo!

I know I've posted how we came to the decision to adopt (see post:  "Lily's story" dated 7/20/14).
However, there is a "back story" to that too.  I'm writing this so that I can keep myself accountable to get the courage to write it and post it.  It's a difficult story of getting over fear and coming to the freedom of forgiveness.  I think about this today because...well, if I had not faced my fears, worked through them and come into freedom of it...we would not be celebrating our little girl.  We would not have adopted.  We would not have our blessing of this God miracle!   Ok...that's all I can give you on that right now.  ;0  But that is my promise to write on this next.  It's important to face our fears.  We all have them.  If you don't face them, you don't find the blessings behind them.  We are blind to them.  I like to call them "blind blessings." :)

Today I had the absolute honor to meet with a lovely lady, Kristine, who is adopting for the first time.  I was  giddy to tell her all the wonderful, exciting, beautiful news on adoption.  And I'm always honest about all the ups and downs too.  It's like labor pains in a way...but they last longer!  But it's all worth it!  It was interesting because I told her that I was blogging about fear.  I confided to her that if I hadn't confronted it, worked through it and prayed about it ... then I would not have grown in my trust, nor my faith to take that leap that God had in store for our family.  We would have missed our tremendous blessing.   Kristine will be a new mom soon.  This adoption will be their first child.  She and her husband, Brian, tried to have children for many years but it just did not happen.  Adoption has been in her and her husband's hearts for some time.  However, Kristine confided that fear prolonged it for her.  Fear kept bringing up all those "what ifs" about parenting and about the child.  Fear prolonged it for many years.   I get that.  I felt that.  Then one night, after researching more on adoption and bringing more concerns and questions to her husband, Brian said to her... "Kris, are you going to let fear stop you from doing something you have wanted for so long?"  Seems so simple right?  However,  hearing those words from your husband is powerful & encouraging!  I love that!  Words like that stop fear and it's buddy, "doubt", right in their tracks!
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind

    You may (or may not) feel called to adopt or foster a child.  Not everyone can or is able.  But there is a way to help.  A new friend of ours is part of an amazing initiative that is happening in our own "backyard!"  Our friend, Jason, is a part of "The Forgotten Initiative."  Keep reading...because this is something for everyone!   Did you know that around 250,000 children enter the US foster system EVERY year?   The Forgotten Initiative helps the fostering community in our country ...the children, the caseworkers, the fostering family and the agencies that place the children.  Whether you can financially help, pray, mentor, pack a backpack  or even help with a's all HUGE for these precious children whom are going through a very traumatic time.  Jason explained that they even remodel the room children wait in be placed.  They paint the room and warm it up with bright toys.  Even these little touches make a difference!  Please check out their website and feel free to contact them.  The "Get involved" tab is very helpful and informative!  It's a great organization and the website is VERY easy to navigate!
    Quote from Website:
    "I am so inspired by the work of TFI!  Whether yours is a call to take in a foster child, pack a backpack, or paint and remodel rooms at your local county office, there’s a place for you in this powerful ministry." -Susie Larson – Radio Host, Author, Speaker
    • Here's one last photo to make anyone smile!  Thanks Kris for accessorizing my little girl!  She can't get enough of the goody bag you gave her!  


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lily & her brothers fly West...Rocky mountains baby!

So it was Lily's first visit to her brothers' birthplace...COLORADO!  It has become a family tradition to go to Colorado once a year to ski down some mountains!  Well, Lily did not ski (but will try it next year!), but her brothers did (their 3rd year!).  We had a blast at Steamboat Springs this year.  Thus far, we have changed up the mountains each year.  The first year was Beaver Creek CO...the second year was Telluride and now Steamboat.  Lily did great with the altitude and she had a blast playing with her brothers and family friends!

Here is Lily on the plane with one of her BFF's, Miss. Di!  Happy as a clam (especially when she is eating snacks!).

The boys skiing (Noah in red and Jake in black).  Our family friends kiddos...Maddy, Grace and Emily are in turquoise ski pants.  These shots are night skiing with fireworks!

Dale & I had some fun ski time too!

Family photos:  Filipiak Family
The Filipiaks share the love of mountains and skiing with us :)) 

Next year Lily will be on skis right beside the boys!

The hot tub at the condo was a hit!  I forgot to get a pic of that but you can imagine all 6 kids (including Lily!) in there having a ball!

In 3 weeks...we will be at the 1 year anniversary of the day we finally got to hold our little girl for the first time.  I can't tell you the overflowing, tear flooding JOY (and "Happy Ugly Cry") moment that was!  I can NOT believe it has already been 1 year.  If you missed that blog of "Gotcha day"... look at "Introducing Lily Ann Grace" in March of 2014.

I look at this little girl who has grown sooooo much in ALL ways in just one year.  The love that we shower on her is off the charts.  Yet... the love that gleams from her is mind blowing.  My mom said it best..."what did we ever do without her?"  Well, honestly...we had it good before Lily.  We had the boys and our family life was great.  BUT, even when you think your family is complete and happy and cozy and can feel a tug.  For me & Dale, it was a tug from God.  We were called to adopt.  As scary as the thought is of bringing home a complete stranger...and the daunting task of filling out the paperwork...and the rather impersonal tasks that it all entails... there IS a child on the other side.  There is a beautiful, amazing, perfect child that needs a family.  And this child was hand picked by God.  He has a plan always!  I know that.  Dale & I have lived it.  And the only reason we have lived it is by simply opening our hearts and minds and just asking God..."What do you want us to do?  What is your will for us? us."  Maybe adoption is something you are contemplating.  Perhaps your friends are thinking about it.  Whatever it may be...I would be happy to share our experiences...our story.  Surround yourself with encouraging friends & family.  And more than anything...present your requests, questions, concerns, etc to God.  Trust me...when we did...He answered.  It only takes an open heart and open mind.

I can't help to think about 2 years ago when we went to Beaver Creek.  We were in the waiting stage of adopting our little girl.  We had not been matched yet.  We did not have a picture of her face or name.  And I struggled.  I struggled with if or when this will happen.  I was strapped with fear.  I just wanted God to give me encouragement.  So I asked for it.  And HE answered.  Please see the blog dated: February 14, 2015,   Titled:  "CONFIRMATION" ...for the full story.  It's one of my favorite confirmations and encouragement from God that Dale and I were on the right path...the path he chose for us.

I know God has a plan for everyone.  It may or may not have to do with adoption but HE has a plan for you.  WE are all HIS children.  Have faith like a child...innocent and pure.    Just ask...and you shall receive.

"So I say to you: Keep asking, and it will be given you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you, "  Luke 11:9  (International Standard version)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lily flies South Ya'll!!!!

It was time to introduce Lily to the South!  We took our family to TX to spend time with my brother and his family.  My sister-n-law, niece and nephew had not met Lily yet so it was time to fly south! :)

The boys were ready for lift off!
 Lily happily played on her Nabi with her "Ba Ba"
It was a beautiful, smooth flight and we actually arrived 50 minutes early.  
The winds were with us :))
Lily did fantastic!
 Lily and Noah at DFW baggage claim.

It was 65 degrees and full sunshine when we got there and the next couple days the temp climbed to 71 degrees.  It was all sunshine from the moment we arrived until the moment we left.  
There was lots of play outside of course!  We had a blast!

The playground was one highlight... 


FREEZE TAG!  So much fun!  Catching cousin Chase was nearly impossible but Noah got him~!
Jake was quite the contender too!

Uncle Price and Noah

Swings - a favorite for Lily

Lily had the best time with her cousins Chelsea and Chase.  She loved them instantly!

Lily spent much time being held and hugged by Aunt Pemb Pemb.  She loved cuddling with Aunt Pemb Pemb and grabbing her face to kiss her.  

In was hard to pry her away from Aunt Pemb Pemb!  

Lily loves to look at pictures (of herself!) and Uncle Price showed her all 1,000 he took of her and the entire family on his computer ;)

More outside play!
Look!  No hands No  hands!!!  Lily meets the skateboard for the first time.
And here we go...another gray hair for momma!  Had to check all fingers and toes and limbs to make sure they were still intact! ;0
 Cousin Chase and his sidekicks!
 No...Lily didn't really kick her cousin;) but it looks that way!  Chase always keeps us in "stitches" ...laughing constantly!

Grandma (aka: "Mommoo / Mima") and her two eldest grandchildren :)

Great memories made on this trip!  Frisbee games kept the boys running outside (and climbing ladders to get the frisbees off of roofs and neighbor back yards ;).  Sitting in the rocking chairs on the back patio watching the action (and comedy) and soaking in the sun with some iced down "sweeeeet tea" was my heaven.  I enjoyed every second!
Many laughs, stories and made up question games were held at the dinner table.   There's nothing like breaking bread with family.  I love when we hold hands in prayer before we eat.  I love when we eat to our bellies are about to explode.  And I love when we make a bad decision and cram our "dessert pockets" with cookie dough ice-cream!  Its the best!
Thank you to our family down South!  Love Ya'll!