Friday, July 27, 2007

So we wait...

It's been almost 90 days since we "met" Emmy Xiang. How blessed we are now, just knowing that she is ours. But, though I know that God is working all the details to His purposes, I find myself worrying, wondering...and I find that I must ask myself, Am I really trusting Him? And when I am honest, I must say I am not.

I know in my head that His ways, His timing are absolutely perfect. However, my sinful, deceitful heart suggests that, "it's not fair!" or I'm not getting what I deserve. I must constantly remind myself (and be reminded by my dear husband and others) of Truth. What I deserve is not what I'm getting, thankfully. God has been so merciful and kind to me. I simply don't deserve His grace. I must remind myself that it is God who is sovereign and in control of all things...not me, not the CCAA, not our agency...GOD. He has a perfect plan. His plan for now is to wait and trust Him.

So though we're still not in the "match room" at CCAA, still have no letter for us to sign reaffirming our resolve to bring Emmy Xiang home, still no passports for the girls, still no frenzy to arrange travel plans and pack, I will trust Him. I will joyfully wait...and enjoy this time of anticipation, of loving my family, of fellowship with friends, of service to others, of looking ahead with my husband toward our future.

All glory, honor and praise be to our God, who is worthy of all our gratefulness for His mercy and goodness to me! I will thank Him, will look to His word for Truth.
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
~Psalm 27:14

Psalm 111
1 Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; ~Psalm 130:5

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. ~Psalm 138:8

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. ~Psalm 145:17-18

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mission X: Niceville

The Brown family was quite busy this weekend...but what fun we had serving the Lord, alongside 21 folks from sister churches in Florida (all Sovereign Grace Churches).

These 21 youth and adults, known as the Mission X: Niceville Team, came from other parts of Florida to serve our local church in various projects. They did some yard work, cleaning, walked (in our lovely hot and humid weather) countless neighborhoods leaving flyers about our church, shared their testimonies with others, served in the set up and tear down of our worship service...and prayed for us. We shared meals together, they stayed in our homes, enjoyed the beach and a pool party....worshipped with us Sunday morning. And all this they did with joy.

We were especially blessed to have two young ladies stay with us: Ashley and Joanna. What sweet people they are! We miss them already. They and the team were a great example for our children. It was such a pleasure for us to serve alongside this group of young people.

The Browns with Joanna and Ashley.

Enjoy a few pictures from our camera this weekend here:

The Mission X Team at the Beach (notice the writing in the, huh?)

The Mission X Teamwith our pastors and their wives at church on Sunday

To read all about Mission X: Niceville, and see many pictures of the weekend, go to this excellent blog:

There are lots of great pictures...and some hilarious videos of what one work team did when the work was done. Hmmmmm......and this was a mission trip?!? Ha! Ha!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pet birds?

We have a constant "chattering" in our chimney. Sounds like monkeys, or something jungle-y. Folks who come over look kinda freaked out toward the sound. We're somewhat used to it by now. It is the sound of our "pet birds," the annual visitors...our chimney swifts.

I think we've had at least ten in the house this year. They fall through some small crack in the flu. Just when we think we've plugged it up, some bird makes his way flying around our house, looking for the way out. They can really scare you....well, they scare me. I don't mind birds outside...but inside? Not so much.

Jim's my hero usually. Once, though, he was out for the evening and we had a bird. Poor thing just clung to a fake plant for hours, until Jim came home, gently covered it and let it out to fly off. This afternoon, while Jim took a nap, we had a bird. Ladybug, ever the animal lover, gently got him out. But it doesn't look like he'll make it...

Here's a picture of him and her.


New summer homeschool project: researching chimney swifts. Our chimney seems to be a refuge for them. Best way to care for them? Any suggestions?

Those quilt squares and wishes and prayers....

I just wanted to say a heart-felt THANK YOU to all of our friends and family who continue to bless us! We are so excited about the fabric and wishes and prayers you are sending to us for Emmy Xiang's quilt. We haven't started sewing yet, but we hope to start soon.

If you wanted to participate in the quilt, but thought it was too late....please know that it's not! Call us, email/mail or drop by your thoughts and fabric. Remember, if you aren't up for finding the perfect fabric, we'll match it up for you. We actually love to go to the fabric store (well...not Jim!).

I can't wait to show Emmy Xiang how loved she is...even before we all meet her in person.

And please...keep her in your prayers!

Happy Birthday to the Elf...

Wow...13 years old! God has blessed us with 13 years of amazing grace in the life of our little girl! She is growing into quite the young lady.

On the evening of her actual birthday (July 19), we did a quick sing, ate some yummy brownies and ice cream and enjoyed fellowship with friends, "old" and new.

We wish a very happy birthday to our lovely young lady. May the Lord continue to bless you as you grow in love for Him and serve Him with joy all of your days. We love you, Elf!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sew what?!

Well, we had the purse sewing class, part 2 the other day. What fun!

The girls all learned how to make a crazy quilt squares. (My stars - the fabric that covered the floor!) The girls had fun choosing a focal point and then fabric strips to surround it. Then, they added fun trims and decorative stitching. It was interesting to see the manifestations of their different personalities.

Three girls finished lined zippered pouches with their squares, two made adorable pillows, and the rest just had fun finishing their squares...ultimate finished projects to be seen.

I think the girls learned something: creative sewing is fun. Evidence: the very next day the Elf and Ladybug went over to the home of the Bee and Rudy. They packed up my sewing machine, boxes full of scrap material and trim, rolled them down the street and had a blast sewing crazy quilt squares. They said, "we should do this everyday when it's hot outside!"

The next purse and creative sewing class is for my lady friends. Jim said I could have y'all over one evening! Stay tuned for a fun night of creative sewing!

Until then, my machine is burning midnight oil as our co-op sew capes (dress up!) and chemises (dress up!) and medieval gored tunics (more dress up!) While many shop for school supplies, we make "necessary" dress up for the historical time period we'll study. really is one of the joys of homeschooling!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No news is good news?

At least, that's what Jim keeps reminding me! Still no word from China. So we wait. Which is good. Why? Because we still have no passports for the kids. *SIGH* Please continue to pray!

However, for many adoptive parents who received their waiting child referrals close to us, there is a flurry of nervous excitement. Many of them got the infamous TP2 (the word they're in the match room) last week and their LOA (that letter to send back to China - signed, saying, "Yes, we really, really, REALLY do want to adopt this child!") THIS week. It also means they'll probably leave for China in 5-6 weeks. How cool is that?!

Since we're not quite there yet, I've been "listening in" on much of their conversations (on our agency's waiting children email group...what a great online support group!) and trying to take notes along the way. What kind of electrical converters do we need in China? Can one access blogspot in China? Important questions, like: What's the name of that "personal shopper" in Guangzhou? Where is the Starbucks in Guangzhou? Shocking questions, like: The cost of a Chinese visa is going up August 1?!? How many arms and legs are those airline tickets?!?! And our favorite...where to fly into - Hong Kong or Beijing? (Pray for Beijing!)

OH MY...the details to think of! And that's not even scratching the surface!

In light of all of that, I am prayerfully trying to map out our school year with Jim, discuss our homeschool co-op plans with our friends, order books for the kids, and get our life ready for the MAJOR change (what a welcome change Emmy Xiang will be!). Knowing the details that still need to happen, I do recognize that *my* desire to have travel plans RIGHT NOW are not the best. God's timing is best. Why should I worry or be anxious when He is in control?!? I remind myself daily - even moment by moment - that I am so grateful to be in the palm of His hand...that I can trust Him to work ALL things for His glory, as He has promised, and for my good. What an awesome God we serve! Pray with me that I will trust Him more!

And, Lord, please bring those passports...and then, the TP2 and then the LOA, and work out all the details, and, and, and....Oh, just make me content, Lord!

Friday, July 6, 2007

And she shall be called....

Finally, the Brown family agrees. Our "Xiang Xiang" has a new name. But before we unveil her new name, we thought we'd share the hard work involved in bestowing her perfect name.

There were, of course, certain requirements:

First of all, she had to have an "E" name. All of the Brown girls (the Elf, Ladybug and Pooch) have an "E" middle name. So do I...and so does my mom, and my mother- and sister-in-law, etc. So naturally, we didn't want our Xiang Xiang to be different. So Dad, Mom and the girls all went through name books and thought up "E" names on our own. Everyone had favorites. We narrowed the pool down to about 6 names names...Ella, Ellie (or Elly), Emma, Emmy, Elsa and Elsie. Once we met her via our referral, and saw her picture, Dad chose the final two: Elly and Emmy.

Secondly, we wanted her to have a Chinese name, and would rather keep part of her Chinese name. This part was hard before we saw her, but we all loved the Chinese name Mei. When we "met" her and realized she was no baby, but indeed a three year old girl, we especially desired that she have some connection with the culture and people from her first years of life. Her Chinese name (given by the orphanage) was Shan Le Xiang. Her foster family and others she meets call her Xiang, or Xiang Xiang. We liked that one best and we just knew she'd have Xiang as a part of her name. So the Chinese names we chose to consider were Mei, Le, Xiang.

Now, how to put together all of our favorites?!?!

The names we loved and kept to consider were EllyMei Xiang Brown (calling her Elly Mei...this was the one Dad came up with) and Emmy LeXiang Brown (calling her Emmy). Although there was agreement in the pronunciation of the names, there was dissention among the ranks in the spelling of both names. Some Brown children (who will remain anonymous) preferred the "ie" spelling of Ellie and Emmie, but eventually came around to the "y" spelling of those names, albeit somewhat reluctantly. The family went through phases where one name would dominate and stand out, and then the other would be the one. However, we just couldn't nail down a name. So we waited..and thought, and asked each other, and waited...and called her Xiang Xiang.

And then, recently, in the middle of the night, it hit me! Some things we loved about one name we could apply to the other. I shared my revelation with Dad and then the girls, and remarkably, there was no retort. In fact, everyone considered this new idea of a name, and immediately liked it. The more we thought of it, we began to REALLY like it. All that was left was to get the final word from Dad, so we called him this morning at work and he sealed the deal.

She is heretofore to be known by one and all as....

Emmy Xiang Brown

Just so you know, we will lovingly call her "Emmy Xiang" because, being Southerners, we think a double name just drips sweetness, like honey. (Oh, and the Elf has one of those double names too!)

Practically speaking, having "Xiang" in her spoken name might help her more quickly associate her new first name with herself.

And the most important reason of all, we think she just looks like an Emmy Xiang.

So there you have it..she is named. Meet our girl...Emmy Xiang.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The cutest little guy

Yes, I must admit....I am the proud aunt of the cutest boy in the world.

Meet Ross.

We don't get to squeeze him often, but we were so blessed to spend the afternoon last weekend with my brother Troy, sister-in-law Angela and Ross. My girls and I traveled to Alabama last weekend to spend time with my mom and dad (Mammy and Pop). Had a GREAT time with Mammy and Pop...went to the most quaint old-fashioned tea house (the Blue Willow) for lunch and the Unclaimed Baggage store one day, to Chattanooga and the Tennessee Aquarium the next, and then we met Troy and Angela for lunch. But I didn't bring the camera!

Enter Angela! She and my husband got the same awesome camera for Christmas this year, so naturally she took lots of pictures. She sent them by email this week and I just had to share them. (Thanks, Angela - Love y'all so much!)


Bag ladies

What do you get when you gather seven girls, for six hours, with five sewing machines, four irons, three moms, "too" much fabric and a dog and a pear tree?

Hmmm...not quite sure, but here is what WE came up with Friday.

The girls gathered here to learn to make a simple, lined tote bag...just the basics. After several boughts of power surges, countless times of re-threading machines, many ripped seams, snack breaks and lots of laughter, most of the girls finished their new fun totes!

The finished products (Kitty and MJ, we'll post your bags soon) :

Ladybug and Bee..............Monie, Elf and Rudy

What fun! We'll have another class next week, where we'll attempt some kind of little pouch. Maybe we'll tackle a zipper, or perhaps a drawstring closure. Whatever we do, we'll be sure to make them fun and funky!

Thanks girls, for a fun afternoon!
~Mrs. B