Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Very Delayed update

Well, it sure has been a long time since I've written anything here!

We've been busy (aren't we all?) and have all kinds of things going on around here.  I haven't written here lately because I keep thinking I'll add something that we've written recently for  But, I clearly haven't done that.  And, since I haven't, in case you're interested, here are the links to the last few posts:

"Lessons from a Former Orphan"
"Will Love Ever Be Enough?"
"Still Face Experiment"  Jon wrote this and if you have a few minutes, it's well worth your time.

So, I'll try to give a brief update about what's been going on here the last few months.

Spring break 2013
Jon has been enjoying his new job (did I ever mention that??) at Hope for Orphans as the director of FamilyCare.  Since last May he has been using his passions for orphan care, his experience as an adoptive dad, along with his professional training as a psychologist to help adoptive families and to train others in how to help children from hard places, along with other tasks as well.  We feel so blessed and honored to have joined this ministry and are thankful for the opportunities that God is giving us.    

Jian has had a rough few months both at home and at school.  We're thankful that things are improving in the last few weeks and pray that this trend continues.   He's finished with sports for this year and is doing quite well as a freshman in high school.  He's looking forward to football next fall and hoping to be able to make it through more than 1 game.  His arm has healed well, it doesn't look nice, but, we're very grateful that he has full use of it and are hoping that all of the feeling will still return in his little finger.  He's continuing to grow and is almost as tall as I am now (and of course, loves that!)    
Fishing in Corpus Christi
Tanner has grown so much in the last year, I can barely keep him in pants that fit!  We have seen the leukodystrophy affect him more this past year.  His academic and cognitive functioning have decreased as well as his communication skills.  He's slower than he used to be and a little more off balance and weaker as well.  This is sad to see, but not unexpected.  We love to see his smile and how he always wants to help others.  He loves our new chickens and thanks them for the eggs whenever he goes to collect them.
Tanner and "normal brown chicken" (Tanner's name  for her )

Tanner LOVES animals.  This goat was at the Victoria Zoo.
Let's see, what else has been going on.  We've helped to start a deaf church (with another family) in our community this past year. Our boys love to go and we love seeing more people learning about the gospel.  It's so great to see Deaf people see the word of God in their own language!  We're excited to see where God will lead this ministry.

Well, that's the brief update of what's happening here!  Hopefully I'll get around to posting a little more often in the coming months!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Grandma's Goodbye

70th Anniversary Party - Feb. 2011
On November 29th, 2012, my mom called to say Grandma Lenger wanted to talk to me.  She got on the phone and said something like "Shelly, goodbye, I love you, I'll see you again in Heaven" I cried and selfishly asked her to wait a week, since I would be flying to Michigan then, and she replied "I can't, I'm going to Heaven." After saying I love you, we hung up and I sobbed, not so much because she was going to die, but, because I would miss her.  That evening the boys wanted to tell her goodbye as well, so we called again, she woke up when mom told her the boys were calling, they both said I love you and will miss you and Jian told her "have a good trip to Heaven," and she smiled.

Growing up, every Saturday that they were home (they owned a travel agency and often were traveling all around the world) she would take any grandkids that wanted to go, out for breakfast.  After breakfast, in the car, she would sing whatever songs we wanted (and always would obligingly sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" with me, while the cousins and my sisters groaned).  She loved well.  She remembered everyone's birthday & made them feel special.  She left an amazing legacy of caring for others.  For many years they traveled to India taking pictures and videos, and then brought those around America to help others see the need for teaching people in India about their Creator.  Grandma cared for "the least of these" in a quiet, determined way.  She loved our boys.  The best part of that, is they knew that she loved them.  Jian, who struggles with understanding family and knowing what love means, told me the day before she died "Great-grandma Lenger cherishes me." How true that is.  In the last few years, she lost her sight and still would write letters to tell the boys that she loved them.
Christmas 2011
The day after she called me, I flew to Michigan.  I arrived in the evening and I believe she knew I was there, even though she didn't wake up.  Six hours later, at 12:37am on December 1st, I had the true privilege of lying next to her and holding her hand, (along with my mom, and Grandpa - her husband of 71 years) as she took her last breath and went to be with her Lord and Savior.  My Grandpa showed unconditional love in caring for her the last few years as her health was declining, a beautiful example of Christ's love for us.  We will miss her terribly, but, are so very thankful that we will see her again someday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


2 years ago today we officially became a family. What a whirlwind it was to becoming parents a second time!  To us (as parents), that meant  It meant a new son, one we don't know well yet, but, now the eldest child in our family.  It meant that we would love him, care for him, feed him, provide for him, teach him, discipline him, and guide him.  As parents, it meant as a family we would go on vacations together, attend school functions, help him with his homework and drive him places to participate in events.  It would mean disagreements, saying no, listening to painful parts of his past, and knowing we were not there for his growing up years.  We had expectations, but, tried to keep them in check.

To him, family meant something completely different. It didn't really mean anything. It didn't mean security or safety, love or provision.  Family meant pain and fear, uncertainty and the unknown.  People had always left him, no one took care of him, and no one protected him.  And now he's going to a new country, new culture, new languages, new rules, and a new family.

Holidays and anniversaries are wonderful times for us, full of tradition and memories, fun and time together.  For him, it's more reminders of the pain of the past and the unknown of the future.    Will this family really care for me?  What does love mean?  Will they keep me?

Last year, anticipating celebrating one year as a family was not a time of fun and excitement, though we celebrated.  It was a hard time for everyone.  Though, one year is a very short time to have been a family.  This year, things are different.  They're better. It's been a hard year, but, things are improving.  It was a hard summer with a lot of extended family that caused a lot of heartache for Jian and for us.  Being together seems so joyful to us, and yet it's a constant reminder of what he never had, and he feels left out and uncertain.

He anticipates trips and doing something new, but, being with family does not stir up feelings in a positive way for him.  He doesn't necessarily know what he feels, but, it's a mixture of pain, anxiety, sadness, anger, happiness and more.  We're always hoping and praying that by continuing to spend time with family and friends it will help him improve and see what family truly means.

I thought about writing this post at the end of summer when we were struggling and getting ready for school to start.  I never got around to it.

Then, four weeks ago, Jian broke his arm in his first high school football game.  He needed emergency surgery to repair the broken bones with plates and screws.  He then developed compartment syndrome that required 4 days in the hospital and 2 additional surgeries including a skin graft from his thigh.  The road back to health is going to be a long one, but, the benefits to our relationship are immeasurable!  We both stayed with him in the hospital almost non-stop, we had many friends and family come to visit, send cards and food and gifts.  He began to realize THIS is family.  We cried and hurt with him, we took care of him, washing his hands and feet, literally and figuratively.  He was able to see what love really meant.  Despite his pain and not being able to sign with his dominant hand, he was full of thankfulness to everyone who helped him, from the trainers on the field, to those who brought his food and cleaned his room.  It was amazing to see this is who he really is, with uncontrollable pain, he was gracious and kind.  Through this time of struggle, he is recognizing this is what it means to be loved.  The first two weeks after his injury were the best we've had in the last two years.  What seems like it may have been the worst thing to happen to him, has been one of the best things in our relationship.  What an amazing blessing, hidden in what was once one of my greatest fears (I've always been afraid that one of my boys would break an arm and due to their deafness, would be unable to communicate).  We know that we will still struggle and have difficulties, but, we are so thankful for God's grace and provision through this time.

Even in the midst of hardship and pain, family is becoming so much sweeter!  We're so thankful that we'll have a special and memorable time of celebrating two years together tonight!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Summary of Spring

Well, I've been quite remiss at posting regularly, so, this will be another picture update!  There's been some exciting new changes going on around here, and hopefully we'll get to tell you about them one of these days when I find time to sit down and write!

Until then, here's what we've been up to since early March

Tanner is enjoying the end of the drought!

A fun time with Matt during spring break at the Houston aquarium

Jian's first ferris wheel ride in Houston

A fun trip to Houston to visit Great-grandpa Olson

We had a great week with Grandma Lenger visiting, including a trip to the A&M physics show

Jon had a great trip to Ukraine (part of our exciting new changes :))

Jian's 2nd time in competition to Pole Vault - he won 3rd place at this district meet by jumping 9 feet!

A proud brother!

Jian achieved his personal best for long jump

Tanner achieved his personal best too!

3rd place medal and all his track ribbons for the season

Hattie likes Tanner's Easter books too

Our family walked/ran a 5K to help raise money for Compassion International in Ghana.  Jian won 1st place in his age group and 19th overall (of 252 runners), in his first time running long distance.  This is the best picture from the race - and it was before we even started!

Jian started soccer season last week, he's loving learning a new sport.

Tanner laughing at the kisses from the pre-rodeo petting zoo!

Well, that catches us up for now.  We're all excited to be going to California next week.  Jon will be co-presenting at the Summit VIII, an annual conference about orphan care.  We'll try to post more about that later!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

We're still here

WOW!  It's been a while since I've posted here!

Let's see, I'll try to give a brief recap of what's been going on the last 5 months.  Despite having a rough fall  around here we had a lot going on and were still able to make many fun memories!

We enjoyed our friend Charity coming to visit from Indiana.
Fall 2011
Jian loved his first salt water fishing experience with our friends in Rockport, TX.

We had a memorable time when our friends the Meyers came to visit, which included a trip to the pumpkin patch!

We had a fun Thanksgiving in Whitney, TX with all of Jon's family.
Thanksgiving 2011
We went and cut down our Christmas tree - the 2nd time ever for Jian!

We had fun seeing Christmas lights and Tanner liked the snow (ice) they brought in!

We loved the holidays and bowling with friends - apparently we're a little worn out! 

And had fun making gingerbread houses with friends as well!

Then we had a great trip to Michigan to celebrate Christmas - not much snow, but, still a memorable time!
Grandpa and Jian
Jian, Grandma and Tanner
Great-grandpa and Grandma Lenger with the boys

We celebrated Jon's 40th birthday together!
We all had a blast watching the Harlem Globetrotters (thanks Aunt Nece & Uncle Steele)!

Jian finished out the basketball season.  He played on the B team and was the top scorer in all but 2 games!

Jian shooting a freethrow

Then started track!

SO - that's the short, pictorial version of the last 5 months!  We have a lot of things going on, so I'll try to 
update again sometime soon!