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Here We Go Again

It was a year ago almost to the day that we were here at Texas Children’s for Sienna’s first lip surgery. Her appearance in every arena has drastically changed since then. DSC_7481She is so full of joy and has the best belly laugh!  She loves playing games and being together with her family.  She loves visiting her grandparents down the streetDSC_7177 whether its to help water plants, have some chips, popsicles and diet coke, or swing in the back yard.  When we got to the hospital early this morning, she woke up with a start and asked if we were at the airport.  Last fall she and I flew to Raleigh to spend some time with her grandparents there and she had a ball! Been a fan of airports ever since, hoping Grandad and Grandma would be waiting at the other end!IMG_2674  Here she is making pumpkin pies with Grandma and Cousin Heather!  Progress in speech is a snail’s pace, but stepping back to look at it you are able to see ground is being covered.  We are so extremely thankful for  “Mrs Lesa” and the way she has been “the Sienna Whisperer.”  I have learned so much from watching her in action as well as from her sharing instructional insights.IMG_1793  The biggest hurdle has been for Sienna to learn how to bring her top and bottom lip together, since she didnt have one for the first 3 years of life!  Looking forward to seeing how this surgery helps her be able to communicate all the words and ideas in her little mind that she tries so desperately to help us understand.  Fearfully and wonderfully made is this little one’s heart, soul and mind.  Beautiful girl, you are so very brave! We love watching God at work in you!

Just About 90 Days Shy of Her 90th Birthday

At Sienna’s Welcome Home Party, March 2012

We had to say goodbye to our incredible grandmother this past week, as she took her last breaths on earth on Monday morning.  Grandma Kirk had an amazing gift of hospitality.  I was thinking back on what made her such a great hostess and realized what time and effort she put into her family.  She would take note of details–the things the kids liked to eat, to do, to play with, to sit or talk about, and she would be sure those things were available the next time they came.  And the next time, and the next time.  You get the picture.

Her house was one of the first places away from home that Sienna seemed to be able to relax and play. 

I remember my grandma and I being so surprised when on only the second time we came over,  Sienna took off running to the toy closet the moment  we stepped through the door. Today Sienna and I went over to gather some photos for her memorial celebration. As soon as I opened the door, Sienna ran past me and started calling for her “Amm-maw, Amm-maw.”  I tried to explain that Grandma was gone to be with Jesus and we wouldn’t get to see her any more here. She walked around for a while, pulling the cherished toy wagon as all the great grandkids love to do.  She sat at Grandma’s dressing table in her bedroom, and pretended to put on earrings while looking in the mirror.  Then she went and got her blanket and just laid down on her floor, holding her blanket tight and looking off in the distance.  What a precious gift to have had 10 months for Sienna to get to know her Great Grandmother, one that shared her love of hospitality and tea parties. (She let Sienna drink from a real china cup when we would sit at the table and have coffee!!)  Grandma Kirk and I both preferred to sit at her kitchen table and visit over a cup of coffee than be in a noisy restaurant, being able to make the most of our time together.

90 years is a long time, but I still had things I wanted to ask her about and talk about.

She lived life to the full, up until the very end.  What an example we all have by the life she lived. Two weeks ago, on our last coffee visit with her, my grandma told me she wanted Sienna to have a certain music box that she had been given by some friends that were also from China. She thought Sienna might like that :) . I tried to talk her out of giving it to her right then, so she could enjoy it a little longer, but she told me to go ahead and take it. I would have never guessed that would be our last, but made even more precious.

I am looking forward to the next few days full of remembering her with family and friends and celebrating her life.  I just wish she could be here to hear it all!!

Tickled to her Toes

How can you not get caught up in her joy??!!  This sweet girl just seems to have 3 years of excitement and enthusiasm saved up that just oozes out of her!  She was so excited to see horses when we went on a walk today and the smidgens of grass available just were not going to cut it.  A second trip was in order, this time with some big carrots and a big sister to show how it is done.

Since one of my goals for the past two years has been to learn how to use my camera, I am going to join in NiHaoYall’s weekly Sunday Snapshots, and push myself to try new things, especially with the help of others sharing their masterpieces!  I took these with my Nikon D7000 and the settings were (1/60, F14, ISO 250) and (1/160, F6.3, ISO 250) and edited with iphoto tools, adjusting the settings and adding effects. They were taken at one of my favorite times of day–about 6:30pm.  Check out some the blogs linked up–great pictures and great stories!!


Ni Hao Yall


From  Gotcha Day until just recently, Sienna slept right next to me–first beside me in bed, then gradually we worked to where she slept in a crib pulled up right next to my side of the bed. Often when I would wake up even before my alarm to her early morning stirrings, eyes still shut but one arm up in the air, reaching, yearning. It made me wonder the first time if  she was dreaming.  When it happened repeatedly, I thought was this the routine in the orphanage, asking for a first morning bottle?  The picture is etched in my mind, and reminds me of how I want to be just like that–before my eyes open to the day or my feet hit the floor and get busy with the day, I want to my first energy to be spent reaching and yearning for what will satisfy the hunger that runs deep.  When we were working with students in Lancaster, PA, the annual Winter Retreat Weekends were three of the best days of our year.  I can still picture our friend, John Marley leading early morning worship with this song.  His contagious passion rang out in the room with the lyrics of this song. It is still my prayer today.

Shane and Shane “Yearn”


So Many New Things!

Sienna has been with us for 8 months and we continue to be amazed at her growth and development. What a sweet heart she has!! She is flying through all of the stages that we remember our other kids going through-like “NO” being the answer to e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Makes us laugh!! Saturday I was gone from 9 in the morning til 8 in the evening–taking the boys each on a “pre-start-of-school” date. Sienna loved hanging out with Sophie all day and didnt cry one bit!

She has slept 2 nights in her new “big girl bed” in the room she is sharing with Sawyer and Sophie. (We just did another rearranging of the rooms, and since they all like to be together they are going to share the biggest room). These are the first 2 nights since November 28th that Sienna and I have not slept in the same bed or vicinity. WOW! Good stuff! I know surgery will throw things out of kilter a little, but we are glad for today’s growth.

She is wanting to play with her big brother and sister and their friends sometimes.These boys are so kind to her and are always ready to change their play to accomodate her joining in.  They both have little sisters themselves and you can tell that has made them be even more well-rounded in their relationships!
We visited Great Grandma Kirk last week and just had to share a picture of three of the kids with her.



Surgery #2…Check!

Sienna had her second surgery today, which was to close up her palate. Most likely she will need revisions down the road because of the width of her cleft.  Her surgeon was very pleased with how the procedure went, which is good news to us. Here are some pictures from the past 2 days:

Pre-op appointment with Dr. Buchanan in the middle.
Sienna is a model patient--all the nurses love her!!
Sienna is a model patient--all the nurses love her!!
Meeting with the Child Life Specialist prior to the operating room.
Doctor said, "Everything went well!"
So many compliments on Pretty Pink fingers and toes!
Sienna's room view--cant wait to see the night lights!
Favorites today are Mama, pain medicine, Cedarmont Kids DVD and KaiLan movies!

Thank you for praying for us and so many of you being so involved in our lives and in being PVC pipe for God’s making “all things new” in Sienna!  We are forever grateful!

Sweet Girl Hears about Jesus at VBS

Sweet Girl was welcomed into a class at the end of June to work on feeling comfortable in a group of friends her age. Her are some pictures to show you what she thought about it all…This week marked the 7 month anniversary of when we got Sienna in our arms.  Mama is still her main source of security, but during the week, she was able to be content for 5 minutes one day, then 10 the next, then 15 by the last day, with Mom out of the room, but having been told big brother would still be there and Mama would be “right back.” She loved the songs and the movements to the daily memory verses.  What a treat it is to get to watch her soak it all in and continue to show us glimpses of her bubbily, joyful personality. Here is one last picture–during the end prayer time of  the Amazing Race program. So precious!!

I Got the Best Three Times Over!

This is my man.  Are you surprised he wanted to meet EVERYONE when we went to Disney World last summer??!!  This is the one that made me think “Life will never be boring with him.”  This is the one that sets the course for our family–that gives us vision and leads our family mission statement so we know when to say yes and when to say no–and battle living mediocre lives.  He pushes us to want more, and to work for it.  Sienna today, as we read one of the books we read before EVERY nap/bedtime (Jesus Loves Me), pointed to an illustration of Jesus with kids crawling all over him, and said “Daddy” with a smile.  He makes us laugh and he makes us suck the marrow out of life.

He had big shoes to fill.  I am so glad that Greg and my dad get along so well.  They both really value the other and the ways they are different from each other. I benefit from both of them rubbing off on me.  This next picture is 4 of my kids and me and my dad one summer when we came to visit.  He, like Greg, also makes life more fun when he is around.  Numerous times I have had people tell me that my dad is the best listener they know.  Even to the extent that they have never known anyone like my dad that makes them feel like he has nothing else in the world to do than to sit there and visit with them.  It is so very true and we get to live down the street from him and my kids get to raid his pantry and sit in his recliner,  learn how to fix a bike one day and catch a fish another.  It was my dad that dropped by with helium balloons multiple times in the days following surgery, that coaxed the first smiles out of Sienna’s new lips. Yes, he is a treasure.

You know the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  I hit the jackpot with this one.  My father-in-law fears God and works hard.  I am so grateful to share life with a man that shares these same qualities.  His dad also taught him to solve problems and work with people.  Life skills that are costly and precious.  He gives gifts that cause us to spend time together playing (like our well-loved washer game).  He has passed down a heritage of “family” and I am so thankful to get to be a Despres.

Happy Father’s Day to all three of you.  Thank you for the example you set for my children–and for spending time with them to rub off on them.  The world will be a better place because of the legacy that is being passed along from you to your kids to your grandkids, and hopefully on and on and on.


Drinking Deep of Christ, Overflowing to Others from Neighborhoods to Nations!

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