Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A week of firsts

Isaiah started school a little while after we moved to the new house. It was time. Time for him and time for me. I must say that the Lord provided a very smooth transition. His timing is always perfect. Isaiah has been delighted at his new adventure and the littler ones and I are enjoying each other at home (and preparing for the next little one!). The bus stops at the corner of our lot and there are 4 other kids at our bus stop. Lots of the kids in the neighborhood go to our church so he already had friends on the bus. There are so many kids in our new neighborhood that there are TWO elementary busses that cover it! I love that.  And at our bus stop the Moms and Dads wait at the bus stop with the kids.  We all wave and blow kisses as the bus pulls away.  Ok, it's kinda nerdy, but I still really love it.  I'm gonna be out there participating in the nerdiness until he asks me not to do it anymore.  :)

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Conversations with Levi

Levi has become totally conversational in recent weeks. It is a pure delight to hear the things that he is thinking. To think that all of these things have been pent up inside for so long since being home and he has not been able to communicate them well. Here is a conversation that I just had with him while snuggling at bedtime:

Levi: You are my pumpkin. (That is one of the names that I have for the kids.)

Me: I love this boy

Levi: I love this girl (Giggles)

Levi: I can't wait for Phoebe to come home.

Me: Me neither.

Levi: She will cry?

Me: Yes she will probably cry.

Levi: I can't hear her crying.

Me: Well she is not here, she is in China.

Levi: Just like me!

Me: Yes just like you were.

Levi: Why?

Me: Because that is where you were born and Mommy and Daddy came to get you.

Levi: Why?

Me: Because we love you.

Levi: And then we go on airplane?

Me: Yes. Then we went on the airplane.

We have never had a conversation like this. The most surprising thing to me was that I don't ever remember talking about bringing him home on the airplane. Not with him I mean. He just remembers.

Another cute thing that he said from about a month ago went something like this:

We were at a local elementary school picking up a friend from school and we were standing beside the playground looking through a fence at the kids playing. There was a little boy who was Asian and as soon as I saw him I knew that Levi would make a comment. He gets excited when he sees other Asian kids, boys in particular. Right away he looked at me with huge eyes and a smile and while pointing at the boy he said "Hey! Like me!" I smiled at him. He looked at the boy who was quite a distance away and yelled "Hey like me!" while waving frantically. As if "Like Me" was the boy's name.

It is a pure joy to parent this kid.  And despite all of our parenting failures and screw ups- of which there have been many- he seems to be adjusting well and as happy as he possibly could be.  Praise Jesus, our Savior, for that.  We are not perfect and never will be.  But he is and always will be.  Our hope is in Him.


Friday, November 18, 2011

New pics of our babe!

We got these new pics of Phoebe a couple of weeks ago and I am ashamed to say that I have not taken the time to post them.  We have been a bit on the busy side with moving and all.  We moved to a different house and are just trying to get settled in and find things.  Like our toilet brushes of which I own three and have not been able to locate.  At least I know I owned three when we left Spires Dr.  Maybe they fell off of someone's truck?  Or one of my helpful friends took one home as payment for helping us move?  Whatever.  If you come for a visit don't judge me for my dirty toilets.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oh. My. Goodness. (Insert scream!)

I knew that the super duper nice lady from our agency was going to visit Pheobe this week but she said that she would be back on the 16th and that I should not expect to hear from her until then.  BUT!  This morning, when my alarm went off at 5:00, I glanced over to my phone and low and behold I see this super duper nice lady's name come up and I know that it was gonna be gooood!  I exited the bed as if it was on FIRE when I saw the picture of our sweet baby.  AAAAHHHHH!! Can you believe it?

Here is what the super duper wonderfully kind woman says about her:

She is a very sweet child – she has chubby cheeks and a chubby little belly.  Her legs are thinner, but not skinny – also, not chunky.  When I first saw her, I was very surprised to see her lip had been repaired!  According to the orphanage staff, it was done about 2 weeks ago.  Her palate has not been repaired.She has one little tiny tooth that has just popped thru on the bottom left/front.  She weighs around 7 kilograms (15.4 lbs).  I held her and played with her for about an hour – in that time I learned:-  she has very good eye contact and loves when people talk to her-  she enjoys being bounced-  she has ticklish feet-  she grabbed onto my finger many times and has a strong grip-  she can bear weight on her legs, but needs practice doing this-  she cannot sit unsupported but has good head control-  she laughs when you fly her up in the air – but not too high, or too fast as that scares her – there is a thin line between funny and scared-    she likes when you tickle her chin/neck-  she loves peek-a-boo-  once she gets to know you, I think she will love to spin… I tried to spin her (me standing, holding her, turning around in a circle) and she thought she liked it but was a bit unsure… I’m thinking she has never done that before.We took about 25 pictures.  We also took pictures of her hands and feet – because I love baby hands and feet.

Happy dance...

The Lord is at work in our hearts over here.  Praise His glorious name!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Praise God.

We are so excited to announce that we are expecting a baby girl!  We are thrilled that God has chosen us to be her parents and we are very much looking forward to bringing her home.  Her birthday is February 24, 2011- which makes her 7 months old!  Her name is Xie Rong Tang and she is currently in Fuzhou at the Fuzhou Child Welfare Center.  As far as we know she has unrepaired cleft lip and palate and we are not sure if she will have any surgical procedures before she comes home.  We hope to get more info on her in a couple of weeks.  One of the staff from our agency is planning to visit her during a trip next week and promises to give her some snuggles and have some questions answered for us.  We are also hoping for some more pictures of our sweetie. They tell us that travel time is 4-9 months from now.  Ouch.  If I call and whine to you about the horrible misery involved in waiting for your baby laying in a crib (or sitting in a weird home-made bamboo high chair)  half way across the world please say the following things to me:

  • Our father in heaven already knows the day and time that she will come home.
  • His timing is perfect.
  • He loves her infinitely more than you do and more than you can imagine.
  • He knows exactly what she needs and he will provide those things for her, seein as how he loves her so much.
So, anyway, without further is our new beauty whom we have decided to name Phoebe.

Phoebe Glenn Rongtang Steele, we love you already and we can't wait to touch you!  

Please join us in praying for our sweetie.  Prayer requests are as follows:
  • That she feels loved and cared for and that her physical needs are being met daily.
  • That the Lord would be preparing her for a big transition to our home.
  • That we would be able to bring her home before her first birthday.
I think that's all for now, I'm sure Ill think of more.  Thank you all for your love and support.  It is such an encouragement to us when you celebrate with us!

A couple more pics and info...

Fuzhou, Fujian China

This is the CWI where she lives.

This is where our paperwork currently resides.
Hurry up Ya'll!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Levi!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

We have a performer.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Naomi is 5!

Naomi turned 5 years old on August 19th so we had a girlie princess party complete with nail painting and hair fixing.  It was a grand time.  Her guest list included several little girls in addition to three of the sweet ladies who babysit for us.  This girl is absolutely adorable.  So girly and funny.  It is so much fun to watch her grow up!


Southern Iowa Sister

The kids and I went to visit the Hill Family in way way way southern Iowa.  It took me four whole days hours to get there.  It was totally worth it!  I love my sweet Emily and her beautiful family.
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We went on vacation...a long time ago

We drove to North Carolina back in July for a vacation with my family.  We went from the beach to the mountains and it was a wonderful trip.  It is always delightful to spend time with my fam and share life with them.  They are a rowdy bunch of folks, Ill say that.  There was lots of laughter and goofing off and quality time just relaxing.  I thank God for such a loving family!  Here are some highlights in pictures.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stuff and such

Here are some pics indicating what we have been up to.  This has been the most fun summer that I can remember.  Just doing this blog post has caused me to have perm-a-grin.  The kids are at such fun ages, they are trying and accomplishing new things all the time, and they are so interesting to talk to and hang out with.  I was struck while looking back over these pictures at how much joy they give Micah and I and how incredibly blessed we feel to be their parents.  Every victory for them is so much fun for us to watch and every skinned knee or big bump on the head is a privilege for us to care for.  I know that if I, a sinful human, love my children this much that there is no way I can comprehend how much my heavenly father loves me.  And that my friends, makes me well up with tears and takes my breath away.

So, with that, here is the summer so far.  I know it may seem like the longest blog post ever and like I chose every picture that we have.  However, we have a thousand and one pictures and it was very hard to choose.

The kids all took swim lessons this year along with Naomi's best pal Paisley.  The beginning of June in Iowa is not exactly balmy, its not even warm actually.  Most days were in the 60's and they left the pool with blue lips in sweatshirts.  Isaiah and Naomi both are able to swim pretty well on their own and they are so happy about that.  Levi just thinks its fun to sit on the bottom of the pool with his eyes open.

Naomi and Paisley attended a dance camp.  Boy was this interesting.  Um, I don't even know what to say.  We aren't doing that again.

We have spent lots of time at the lake having camp fires with new friends, among other things.  The kids ride bikes all day and play in the blow up pool and sprinkler.  We have also purchased 160 sparklers, 800 water balloons, and lots of smores ingredients.  Micah and Isaiah obtained a inner tube and floated down the river.  I have been reading on the deck with a big glass of lemonade.  

We finished up baseball and Isaiah loved it.  I did too.  It doesn't get any cuter than those little buns in those little baseball pants.

We have had multiple cookouts with our small group including this one for Independence Day.  It was a hilarious event as Levi entertained us all by just being himself.  If you hang around him for more than 5 minutes you will know what I mean.  He is a very fast moving bundle of JOY.  Isaiah lost a second tooth in his can of lemonade.  There was lots of lightening bug catching and sparkler enjoyment.  We watched the fireworks together to end the evening.  

Grandma and Grandpa Steele have been making more frequent visits to Dubuque.  It's been super fun.

Lots of bike riding has been going on.  

We finally dug out the owners manual for our camera and we are attempting to learn how to use the thing.  Here is quite possibly our favorite picture of the summer just because he is so darned cute and that personality is just unbelievable.  I've caught myself thinking and saying out-loud lately that God must have known when he added Levi to our family that we would be reminded how to relax, have a lots of fun, and not take things so seriously.

Absolutely. Adorable.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Motherhood as a Mission Field

Here is a great article from the blog at A great reminder to all you Jesus Lovin moms out there!

Motherhood as a Mission Field

There is a good old saying, perhaps only said by my Grandfather, that distance adds intrigue. It is certainly true — just think back to anything that has ever been distant from you that is now near. Your driver’s license. Marriage. Children. Things that used to seem so fascinating, but as they draw near become less mystical and more, well, real.
This same principle certainly applies to mission fields too. The closer you get to home, the less intriguing the work of sacrifice seems. As someone once said, “Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help Mom with the dishes.” When you are a mother at home with your children, the church is not clamoring for monthly ministry updates. When you talk to other believers, there is not any kind of awe about what you are sacrificing for the gospel. People are not pressing you for needs you might have, how they can pray for you. It does not feel intriguing, or glamorous. Your work is normal, because it is as close to home as you can possibly be. You have actually gone so far as to become home.

Home: The Headwaters of Mission

If you are a Christian woman who loves the Lord, the gospel is important to you. It is easy to become discouraged, thinking that the work you are doing does not matter much. If you were really doing something for Christ you would be out there, somewhere else, doing it. Even if you have a great perspective on your role in the kingdom, it is easy to lose sight of it in the mismatched socks, in the morning sickness, in the dirty dishes. It is easy to confuse intrigue with value, and begin viewing yourself as the least valuable part of the Church.
There are a number of ways in which mothers need to study their own roles, and begin to see them, not as boring and inconsequential, but as home, the headwaters of missions.
At the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice, and there is perhaps no occupation in the world so intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.

Faith Makes the Small Offering Great

If you are like me, then you may be thinking “What did I ever give up for them? A desk job? Time at the gym? Extra spending money? My twenty- year- old figure? Some sleep?” Doesn’t seem like much when you put it next to the work of some of the great missionaries, people who gave their lives for the gospel.
Think about the feeding of the five thousand when the disciples went out and rounded up the food that was available. It wasn’t much. Some loaves. Some fish. Think of some woman pulling her fish out and handing it to one of the disciples. That had to have felt like a small offering. But the important thing about those loaves and those fishes was not how big they were when they were given, it was about whose hands they were given into. In the hands of the Lord, that offering was sufficient. It was more than sufficient. There were leftovers. Given in faith, even a small offering becomes great.
Look at your children in faith, and see how many people will be ministered to by your ministering to them. How many people will your children know in their lives? How many grandchildren are represented in the faces around your table now?

Gain What You Cannot Lose in Them

So, if mothers are strategically situated to impact missions so greatly, why do we see so little coming from it? I think the answer to this is quite simple: sin. Discontent, pettiness, selfishness, resentment. Christians often feel like the right thing to do is to be ashamed about what we have. We hear that quote of Jim Elliot’s and think that we ought to sell our homes and move to some place where they need the gospel.
But I’d like to challenge you to look at it differently. Giving up what you cannot keep does not mean giving up your home, or your job so you can go serve somewhere else. It is giving up yourself. Lay yourself down. Sacrifice yourself here, now. Cheerfully wipe the nose for the fiftieth time today. Make dinner again for the people who don’t like the green beans. Laugh when your plans are thwarted by a vomiting child. Lay yourself down for the people here with you, the people who annoy you, the people who get in your way, the people who take up so much of your time that you can’t read anymore. Rejoice in them. Sacrifice for them. Gain that which you cannot lose in them.
It is easy to think you have a heart for orphans on the other side of the world, but if you spend your time at home resenting the imposition your children are on you, you do not. You cannot have a heart for the gospel and a fussiness about your life at the same time. You will never make any difference there if you cannot be at peace here. You cannot have a heart for missions, but not for the people around you. A true love of the gospel overflows and overpowers. It will be in everything you do, however drab, however simple, however repetitive.
God loves the little offerings. Given in faith, that plate of PB&J’s will feed thousands. Given in faith, those presents on Christmas morning will bring delight to more children than you can count. Offered with thankfulness, your work at home is only the beginning. Your laundry pile, selflessly tackled daily, will be used in the hands of God to clothe many. Do not think that your work does not matter. In God’s hands, it will be broken, and broken, and broken again, until all who have need of it have eaten and are satisfied. And even then, there will be leftovers.
Rachel Jankovic is a wife, homemaker, and mother. She is the author of "Loving the Little Years" and blogs at Femina. Her husband is Luke, and they have five children: Evangeline (5), Daphne (4), Chloe (2), Titus (2), and Blaire (5 months).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Speedy Grilled Pizza

Here is the link to a fantastic recipe that we tried last weekend.  We will use this one lots this summer!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  I used half whole wheat flour and next time I will try all whole wheat.  We also added pepperoni to ours.  It was delish!  Other than that, we followed the recipe exactly.
Happy cooking!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weekend in Dalton City


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Catching up

I can't believe that I have not posted these...

The kids finished AWANA and got their awards for the year.

We got a free trampoline from the side of the road! ;)

Isaiah started playing Pee Wee baseball and his first game is tomorrow!

Naomi decided that she wanted to learn to ride a bike without training wheels!  We were so happy for her.

Isaiah lost his first tooth!

Lots of milestones around here.