Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Movies

I enjoy going to the movies. I especially love it in December. This year we saw Did you Hear about the Morgans, The Chipmunk's Squeakquel, Avatar and Sherlock Holmes. It was glorious and I hate to see it come to an end! Here's a cute pic of Victoria and Hosanna....

Life's Purpose...

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

5 months home with Eli

I was planning on writing some of my thoughts lately about parenting an internationally adopted child...about the frustration of feeling your way in the dark...and the satisfaction that comes from getting some direction, a plan. But alas, I've decided to ponder it in my heart a while longer. In the meantime -- I didn't want you all to miss out on this cute pic!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Eli's first Christmas

Well, everyone's been asking, "How was Eli's first Christmas?" At first I was gonna answer "uneventful" -- but that's not really it -- it was very fun and full with activity. However, Eli doesn't know enough about American Culture to be "excited" about a holiday. He doesn't speak enough English for us to explain and then to "anticipate" things he's never experienced before like getting up on Christmas morning and opening gifts. However, he is certainly learning our ways. He loved looking at Chrsitmas lights for instance! He could have done this over and over. Here's a house we went to a couple of nights ago! Can you tell it was snowing?
He's really enjoyed having the tree up and loves asking us to "turn on" some of the decorations. Not knowing about presents it didn't occur to him to be curious about them. He never touched them or tried to open them. He did, however, break a few ornaments! I think he'll be sad to see the tree go "bye bye".
We were all, Eli included, delighted by the Christmas Service at New Life...we all agree it's one of our favorite Christmas activities. Actually, it might be our families all time favorite Christmas activity.Eli couldn't decided whether to laugh or cry when i made him sit on the stage for a picture. He's yet to "smile" on command.

Eli opened about 10 gifts or so from us and the grandparents. He would painstakingly tear each package into 1,000 tiny pieces. He got shoes, a cute little bath robe, and toys. He got a new backpack, a baby cell phone and a TON of candy. He also got this...
Now, how did we enjoy our first Christmas with Eli? Most importantly, how did Mommy enjoy the time? I'm happy to report, we all have had a GREAT couple of days. Really, I don't think I could have asked for a better time. The kids were wonderful -- and all seemed to enjoy the festivities. They loved the goodies, time with friends, Christmas movies, decorating (my girls did a great job on the table).
Thanks to Billy's mom, we all enjoyed the food, the gifts and each other! Tonight we joined the thousands of other people at the movie theatre and laughed through the Chipmunk's Squeakquel. What more could a mother of five have asked for? Billy and I even enjoyed a date in Denver -- with NO kids!

We are looking forward to an even more relaxing week! My favorite week of the year infact -- between Christmas and New Year's -- when I truly have nothing to do (well...you know what I mean). Hope your family had a Merry Christmas! Looking forward to a New and Happy 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Teenagers, Birthday Cakes and Purity Rings

This month our 2nd daughter turned 13 years old. Around this time, I like to emphasize (2) important things to our girls. Number one, despite recent upsets, they do have a Godly Heritage. On both sides of the family, they have parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. who have honored God and have therefore allowed a generational blessing to be passed down for them to enjoy. Number two, I like to emphasize the Godly Community that surrounds them. They have Godly teachers, leaders, mentors, friends, and friends of their parents all around them. Despite how they may feel from time to time, they do not walk the Christian journey alone. There are many others who walk it as well, along side them. There are many who are watching over them, encouraging them, hoping the best for them, and who are willing to pull them away from questionable situations. I joke (only slightly) that there are many "momma's" and "papa's" that are looking out for them in this city! On that note, we are so thankful to everyone who took time away from their busy Christmas schedule to spend the afternoon with us and were such a blessing to Hosanna.

At the Ramsdell home, our daughters origionally initiated the idea of getting a purity ring. In our family, the ring simply represents a Godly desire. We believe that the particular desire to stay pure until marriage is a worthy one to pursue and is definately worth our affirmation. I have emphasized with my girls, maybe all their lives, that their responsibility at this time in terms of male/female relationships is not to pursue a young man, nor is it to seek the pursuit of a young man -- even if it is a Godly young man. Their responsibility is to become the right young woman. If the principle that we "attract who we are" makes any sense, and I belive it does, taking the time to become Miss Right before attempting to land Mr. Right makes all the difference. When our daughters asked for purity rings, we realized it does not speak to what will happen over the next 10 years or so. It does however speak alot about the kinds of women my girls desire to become. We believe that the "becoming" must begin to take place before the "pursuing". When Hosanna finally reaches her wedding day, what sweet gifts, the gifts of her purity and loyalty, will be. How helpful to a marriage to already have done work in the areas of patience, perserverance, loyalty and waiting.

So...today...we presented our daughter with a purity ring as a symbol of our affirmation of who she is, who she desires to become and of the future relationship we pray she has one day with her husband.

Recently, she told me she didn't like the color blue. She told me this AFTER I'd bought her a blue ring and had it sized for her 3 3/4 finger! My reasoning on getting this blue ring was an old tradition. At least in the South, girls wear something Old, something New, something Borrowed, something BLUE. So, I thought that just maybe her ring may become her "something blue".

Our Christian community layed hands on her and prayed for God's blessing on her life. We ate cake and opened presents. It was a nice day...a sweet party and we are so happy God is allowing us to be able to raise such a sweet girl!

Christmas...even when I don't feel Merry

I look forward to the holidays. Around this time of year, I wish we could just take off of EVERYTHING and concentrate on only those things that bring enjoyment. Having unrealistic expectations seems to be a constant theme for me lately.

This year Christmas has felt a little different. We are smack dab in the middle of our transition with Eli. It has been difficult for me lately -- in ways that I don't even know how to articulate very well. I run a small business...Billy is starting a large business...we have lots of children who love being involved in life (and rarely love cleaning up after life happens)...we have far less resources at our disposal than in year's past...I miss my extended family whom I haven't seen in a year and 1/2 (it's being at my Grandmother's during the holidays that gives me that "holiday feeling")...my little sis has had 2 children I've yet to meet...and I've even found myself revisiting the sadness of my father dying in a car accident almost 10 year ago. We feel alot of stress at the moment. Billy and I both feel tired. I feel fragile...much more emotional than I normally am. A sweet friend today said, "You sound like a first time parent." She couldn't have been more accurate as to how I'm feeling. My lack of confidence in parenting Eli has caught me off guard. However, this blog isn't about Eli.

This Christmas season has still seemed, well..."Christmasy". Not in a "merry" sort of way...but I've definately sensed God's sweet presence with us. Life this past year has not gone smoothly...therefore...I don't expect that Christmas go perfectly either. Infact, I know it won't. I'm ok with that. However, here's a short list of things I've just reminded myself that I know too....

- Christmas is about the night when God sent hope to the hopeless. I've been a Christian more than 1/2 my life -- yet I must confess that I still feel a sense of hopelessness from time to time when life's stress is more than I think I can bear. God sent Jesus that night for me...just for me. We couldn't have made it this far without a belief that regardless of life's circumstances, His love is sure and never fails.

- Christmas is a time to celebrate the love that lives inside you and me. Getting my mind off myself by giving this love away -- is a good idea.

- That quiet, calm night, God broke through the darkness with light -- dazzling light. He breaks through mine too...often when I'm "still, knowing He is God". I'm a lover of that moment. Really, I can't express enough how much I love a moment where God shows up and comes through. To have that moment -- I also have to have the experience that brings me there.

- "Doing" Christmas this year - with less resources than I've had in the past -- on top of everything else - has required a certain amount of courage out of me...I have proven I can be brave.

- My love language is "Quality Time" which means what I really desire this time of year is time to spend with the Lord and time with my family. To make this happen, there are other things I need to give up in the future. Next year, if I don't invite you over -- it's because my house is a wreck -- I'm making time to read my Bible instead of picking up. Next year, instead of getting a Christmas Card from me -- I'll be praying for you instead. :)

We have been in a time of stretching and growth. Those words are always bittersweet. BITTERSWEET. At any given moment -- in an emotional sense -- I look like I've just completed a hard, long workout. My faith feels truly worked out and it has felt like this for quite sometime. Actually, the faith of my whole little family is getting worked out. I can only believe that God is headed someplace in all that we are doing --- the words of this blog infact is proof of my trust and faith -- after all I'm still here walking the narrow road He's called me to walk...and I have hope.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Journey of Our Lifetime... at OneTrueMedia.com

I believe God's grander plan is coming true for Eli. Enjoy....

Eli's Eye Surgery

Today was a big day for Eli. As the Dr. did a surgery that basically saved his vision in his right eye, we experienced some of the enormity of what the American Health Care System can offer him versus what he wouldn't have gotten in China.

Eli had cataracts as a baby - in both eyes. At 1 year, 8 months, he had surgery in China to remove the cloudy lens from both eyes. Since the part of the eye that we use to focus is absent in Eli (the lens), he has very thick glasses. The good news is that he is a good candidate to have artificial lens put in when he's older. The other good news is that he has (4) older siblings to fight off mean, playground bullies. Bullies beware as the Ramsdell's have no wimpy children.

With the cataract problem being solved...Eli also has Glaucoma due to a birth defect in his eye. Glaucoma is simply high pressure in the eye. Prolonged high eye pressure can lead to damage to the optic nerve and eventually loss of vision. Since Eli is only 3, the concern is that he is looking at managing high eye pressure over the course of a very long life-time (vs if he got glaucoma at the age of 90).

After being sedated, Dr. Lee was able to get a very good pressure reading on Eli. Good pressures fall in the range of 10 - 20. Eli's left eye was a 14. Great! Enough said there. His right eye was a 30 --- with 90% damage to the optic nerve. Chances are he's already lost some peripheral vision in this eye (as we suspected even in China). The surgery came just in the nick of time.

All went well and as he heals we will be able to tell where the procedure has left him. Best case scenario, the surgery was enough to lower the eye pressure and nothing more will be needed.

The bottom line is...the boy has sight. He will be able to play, read, go to school and most likely drive. I believe God's grander plan is coming true for him.