Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Growing in Grace

I'm sorry that we dropped off the face of the world for the past 10 days. I truly didn't intend for that to happen. We've spent time with family and had friends over. Email and voice mails have built up and I feel bad for letting it go so long. When Cindy and Gabby showed up on the doorstep last night and mentioned that they've been visiting the blog (hint, hint), I figured I better check in. The holiday was a wonderful time of togetherness for all of us. Its amazing how God has knitted us together as a family through everyday experiences. It has made me treasure the common things that make our lives so blessed. Some snapshots of our time over the last few weeks:

I think its the earliest childhood memory I have. My small hands gripped the chrome handle in front of me. My thighs aching with tension as I perched astride the yellow tank. The helmet muffling my father's voice as he gave me a warning, "Ready?" My hands, stony gripped on the metal bar, sought a tighter hold as the dirt bike began its ascent up the sand dune. He was the only one I would ride with, the only one I trusted. The motorcycles scared and thrilled me all at the same time. Kristina got her first experience on the motorcycle at my parents' house. She clung to Robert's back squealing as he whizzed across the back acre on the four wheeler. She showed little fear as she tried to ride the mini bike. It didn't take her long to get the hang of it and she spent much of the time asking when it was her turn to ride again.



Having so many brothers at the orphanage gave Kristina just the edge she needed to climb in the trees with the boys and swing from the rope swing until one of them snapped from overuse!



In the last few weeks, Kristina was able to reconnect with several friends who have been adopted by American families. Each Saturday or Sunday she chats endlessly in high pitched Russian with girls that she lived with for years in the orphanage. We're thankful that she has the opportunity to practice and use Russian. A few days ago, we learned that one of her friends would actually be in the Orlando area for a day. Anya and Kristina were very close and we couldn't pass up the chance for the girls to see each other again. We met up with Anya and her family for a few hours. The girls were immediately whispers and hugs. It was good to compare notes with Anya's parents. They're a wonderful family.



We visited Sea World and Busch Gardens (thanks, K!). Kristina still loves roller coasters and she even convinced Hannah to ride every one of them with her. They were drenched after riding the River Rapids, but insisted on going on more rides.



Church has been an exercise in self control for Kristina. She is still a constantly moving bundle of chatty energy. She cradles the song book, following the lines with her finger, belting out words here and there that she recognizes. When its time for the preaching, she turns her face into my arm and I can feel her warm breathe through my sleeve. She tries so hard not to strike up a conversation with me as she studies her church shoes swinging back and forth under the pew. Last Sunday Kristina was able to observe communion. I love the way our church practices this cherished sacrament. We knelt at the front of the church together as a family. She looked around curiously at the other families that were gathering together. Tom knelt before us, took Kristina's hand, and thanked God for bringing her into our family before he reminded us of the significance of the elements we were going to partake of. She watched as we each took the bread and wine and I loved that God would use her curiosity to provide us with a teachable moment.

So, is it all rainbows and lollipops? Of course not. We've had our fair share of growing pains, but the 10 weeks she spent with us in the summer of 2006 laid a very firm foundation. We went through much of the painful transition and willful disobedience back then (just check the past posts if you don't believe me). I appreciate that other adoptive parents like Jim, Beth, and Sean have been so honest about this period of time after adoption. Knitting a family together is not an instantaneous thing. God uses the process to refine all of us, parents, children, siblings. There have been times that I have thrown my hands up in the air and huffed out of the room. Robert has been the real hero in this portion of our journey. He has had the patience of Job, taking the time to speak with the children (over and over) about expectations and compassion for one another.

I returned to teaching this week. That's another story all to itself about the provision and goodness of God. It is so good to be back in the classroom and ministering with the gifts God has given me. All of us are enjoying school. Kristina is doing so well. We consistently reinforce in her that she is the smartest Ukrainian girl in the whole school! She's very proud of that fact!

I promise to try and be more consistent with posting. You all have been so faithful to check in and leave words of encouragement for us. We still believe that this is the beginning of an exciting journey for our family and we are in prayer over the path we think God may be calling us to. Please continue to lift us up in prayer!

10 comments:

Jim H. said...

There you are! Thanks for the great update. All your kids look great. I didn't know you were a teacher. Where do you teach? I'd love to hear more in the future about what's working and not working with Kristina. We are starting to explore some education options, mainly because our girls are getting hammered with tons of homework. Don't worry about being a slacker on your postings. It took me awhile to get cranked up again after returning home.

Nataliya said...

Great pictures! Looks like the adjustment is going well for the entire family even though there are some bumps down the road. I'm very impressed with Robert - what a great Dad!

I also didn't know you are a teacher! What do you teach? I used to be a math teacher in Ukraine many years ago, but decided to change my career in the States.

Ashley said...

Thank you so much for the update! It is nice to hear how things are going with the family. How great for Kristina to be able to see her friends from Ukraine. I know that meant a lot.

Thanks again for the post! Oh, in the New Year's pictures Hannah looks so much like you! I didn't see it before, but there are some where I really see the resemblance. :)

Waitingonmyua2 said...

Good to "see" you again! Thanks for writing such a great blog and for sharing such great pictures. I SO HOPE I get to meet you some day (this side of Heaven). blessings, Beth

Robert N. Landrum said...

Kristina made a post on the family blog while in MS. There are more pictures here to.
http://thelandrumsblog.blogspot.com/

DoveFamily said...

Great to "hear" from you again! I know, it's tough to find time for blogging with everything else going on. I was hoping to post at least once a week after we got back from Ukraine, but that isn't always happening! Anyway, I'm glad that things are going well for your family - God is good!

Melissa E. said...

Love the update! We are getting ready to do our best not to "drop off the face of the earth" here in a little while when we get home with three energetic little boys!!

Congratulations again! After all, you are still "new parents" in a sense! I think it must be a lot different when you don't get to start from 'scratch'! I'll find out soon enough, won't I?!

Leslie said...

thanks for the update!
I chuckled at your rainbows and lollipops comment! Yes, I understand.......

Anonymous said...

God bless your family. Kristina is a doll. Please send her my well wishes.

Nataliya said...

Leslie, I LOVE your new profile picture!