I first "met" Annie when we were waiting to bring Luke home, so I guess I've known her now for about 2 1/2 years. I stumbled upon her blog and began reading about their journey to Lizzie from China and then I saw the "gotcha day" video. I laughed and I cried. I emailed Annie. She emailed back. And so our friendship began. She has a huge compassionate heart that's filled with love for the Lord, her family, orphans, and the under privileged. She is a sweetheart!
God is doing great things in Annie's family and all I can say is grab you a cup of coffee and a piece of cheesecake (because that's Annie's favorite and that's what I'm serving today) and sit back and enjoy! :) And you might want to grab a kleenex and keep it handy.
1) How long have you been blogging and what/who gave you the desire to blog?
I have been blogging since June of 2009. I started a Baby Jelly Beans site for our Lizzie when we were waiting to bring her home. It was a baby book of sorts for her. When she had been home for a year, I decided that I would like to try my (clueless) hand at blogging. I had so enjoyed others blogs in the adoption community and loved reading them as we waited to bring Lizzie home but I have to say that Stefanie over at Ni Hao Y'all was my biggest influence. Lizzie and her Shepherd were being cared for at the same orphanage and we were both using Lifeline Children's Services to bring our kiddos home. We talked several times on the phone and were able to meet briefly in China. She is wonderful and has a huge heart for China's waiting children and the Lord! She also has one phenomenal blog and one big, beautiful family!!!
2) How did you choose the name of your blog and why?
Well, I wanted to incorporate our family's southern roots as well as Lizzie's Chinese roots. So, one day hubby and I were trying to think of names. Hubby (bless his heart), kept coming up with names like Fried Chicken and Chopsticks or Corn on the Cob and Chopsticks or Chopsticks and Boiled Peanuts – um no – and just when I thought I could not take it anymore, the Lord took pity on me and gave me the name Cornbread and Chopsticks! Hehe!
3) What variety of topics do you post on your blog (examples - home decorating, family, gardening, recipes, adoption, homeschooling, crafting, etc....)?
Well, my topics are mostly family with a lot about adoption (ours, as well as advocating for those who still wait, and adoption awareness). There is a little recipe and homeschooling thrown in but alas no gardening or crafting as I was not blessed with a green thumb as my mother was, nor did I inherit any kind of the crafting gene but I am learning 'cause my girls do love to draw and paint and create and make a mess:)
I also love to take pics and although I have what I would call a decidedly brown thumb, I can take pics of the results of my Mom's green thumb!
I am a born again Christian who loves the Lord, loves my family, loves my doggies and have a passion for the cause of the fatherless. My hubby is 5 years younger than me, a fact that he delights in! Ha! We have been married for 16 wonderful years and have come to the Lord together, through various financial struggles and trials, and we are stronger than ever before!
We have 5, going on 6, beautiful children. Christian is our oldest. He is 14, almost 15 (driving soon – yikes), and is my responsible first born child, who can be moody one second and amazing the next – teenagers – it's a wild ride!! Charlie is 12 and is my happy, LOUD, and funny child. Ya just look at him and smile! Caleb is 9 and is my tender hearted, old soul, sensory child and my only home schooled child right now. Emmeline is 6 years old and is my snuggler. She is sweet and nurturing and wants to be a mommy (and a doctor) so badly! She is the ultimate big sister to her “younger by 2 months” sister, Lizzie. Lizzie is also 6 years old and was adopted from China in 2008. She is one of the most amazing, determined, courageous kids I know. Adopting Lizzie, literally changed my life as well as my family's lives. Her adoption played a huge role in bringing us to faith, real faith, and has led me down a path I could have never dreamed possible. Lizzie is tiny and spunky and full of compassion, passion and love. Her “mad” is big but her love is too! We also have 4 rescue doggies and 2 cats who decided that our house, ya know the one with all the kids and the dogs, was a good place to live, so how could we turn them away! I still can't figure out if they are incredibly brave or really just not so bright!
5) How would you describe your decorating style?
Is there a style called the, “whatever I inherit” style? If not, I would have to say relaxed traditional, maybe? Is that a style? I just kind of use what I like and fortunately, I like many of the things my Mom does, hence, the “whatever I inherit style”! Works out nicely for me or should I say, hubby:)
6) What's your favorite color and why?
This is a toughie, cause I like different colors for different things. I decorate mostly with earth tones and some splashes of red, LOVE to wear brown or blue or black and think that white flowers are just dabomb! If I had, had, had to pick an overall fav though, it would be brown, no green, no wait blue – definitely blue, I think.
7) Tell us a few of your favorite things (collections, things that make you happy, etc.).
I don't really have any collections but my family knows that I love anything with dogs on it. My mom started me on a set of china (dinner plates) when I was younger that have dogs on them and they are beautiful. I do love those! I also seem to collect real live dogs but we won't go there:)
I also cherish the rocking chair that I had when our first son, Christian was born. That child loved to rock. Up until he was about 3 years old, he would wake up in the middle of night and with his 2 blankets, 2 stuffed puppies and pacy, he would ask to be rocked. Even when I was very pregnant with his brother, Charlie, and no longer had a lap, we would somehow make it work, cause he loved it and so did I. I can so clearly remember being oh so tired one night, as I was rocking him at 2:30 in the morning, but thinking to myself that one day very soon, he would be too big to hold and rock like this and to treasure this time with him – and – I – did! I will NEVER get rid of that rocking chair and hope to one day rock my grandkids in it!!!
8) What do you like to do in your spare time (hobbies, crafts, etc..)?
OK, don't shoot me but I do love to exercise. I know, weird, right? I just never seem to have the time to do it anymore. I also like to cook with my kids, again, when I get the time! I love summer for just that reason! There just seems to be more time for things like that!
9) What does your dream house look like? (Describe and/or include photo)
Oh gosh, when I think of my dream house, I think less about what it looks like and more about where it is. I would love to someday, have a house with a big piece of property on a tidal creek with beautiful marsh views and a dock! I would love to have LOTS of windows, great big porches and really comfy rocking chairs - and a hammock! The house itself wouldn't have to be huge, just big enough for the kids and the dogs and the grands and me! At that point, with all the grandkids and the dogs running around, hubby will probably move out to his “dream boat,” as he sometimes threatens to do! Hehe!
I have 2 places. I would love to visit Washington state and Oregon. I have never been to either one and the pics I have seen of the country side are just breath taking! Another bloggy friend of mine, Heather over at Noodles, Tea and a DiDi Please, just moved up that way not too long ago and her pictures are just beautiful! I would also dearly love to be able to go to our waiting daughter's hospital in China. Our precious 8 year old daughter waits for us in a Cerebral Palsy Rehabilitation Hospital in China and oh how I would love to be able to hop on a plane right now, wrap my arms around her, tell her that I love her and that she is finally coming home. Yep, that would be the best!
11) Would you share with us a favorite homemaking/organizing tip or recipe, etc..?
BASKETS! I love baskets! I put everything in baskets! They look nice and help to keep things organized or at least off of my counters! I used to be an ultra organized (ahem, control freak) type of person but alas, as each child came along, there was less and less time for organization but more and more need. However, I truly believe it was all a part of the Lord's plan to help me to relax a bit and (shudder) go with the flow! I also don't like clutter but with 5 kids and one hubby who just refuses to throw anything away, there is clutter! So, to prevent the clutter from driving me totally batty, I have a rule and that rule is that if it stays on my kitchen counter for more than a day – it gets thrown away! It works and now I have more room on my counters for my helpers!
One of my favorite recipes comes from my grandmother. It is a squash casserole and it is just so easy and so yummy! Just cook up a mess of chopped squash and onions until they are done, drain well and slightly mash. Mix this with sour cream, cheddar cheese and seasoning, pour into a casserole dish, sprinkle with stuffing mix and bake! YUM!
12) Tell us something about yourself that we might not already know from reading your blog. (something unusual, etc..)
Well, let's see, I am a vegetarian (love my veggies) but cannot stand tofu,
I hate seafood but live on the coast, I was a pretty good ballet dancer in my day, I ran (and completed) a marathon – once – heh, I hate to fly (ask me about our return flight from China with TWO 2 year olds – f.u.n)
.....and I absolutely cannot get into an unmade bed! I promise you, if my bed has gone all day without being made up (horror), I will, at the very least, straighten the sheets before I get in!!! I also love potato chips that are folded over! I will search the bag for the chips that are folded over on top of themselves. I don't know why, but they are just extra tasty!
13) I know adoption is very dear to your heart. Tell us a little bit about how your came to adopt and your heart on adopting and advocating. (Anything on adoption you want to share here Annie).
Oh wow Tammy, pull up a chair cause this could take a while. Wink! You know, I think the Lord put adoption on my heart when I was a very young child. My brother was born with no fingers on one hand, and his left hand looks very similar to our Lizzie's hands, missing and very small fingers. He also has no toes on either foot just as our Lizzie has no toes on one foot, while her other foot was clubbed. Watching my brother struggle with his hands and feet, not in a functional way but more in an emotional and social way, broke my heart and at the same time, grew my heart. Growing up, I always felt different. I had good friends and had a “typical” growing up experience, however, the things that effected my heart didn't seem to effect the hearts of many of those around me. As I got older, it even became difficult to watch TV shows or go to movies or read newspaper articles that had any kind of abuse or oppression or sadness of any kind in them. Hubby says that it is very difficult to watch TV with me, cause if the show has a dog or a child or an elderly character, I cannot watch it and he is right! HGTV is good for me! As a young adult, I just could not understand why my heart seemed to break and stay broken for things of the world that did not seem to break others hearts, but I was to find out. That's when I met my hubby and we began our family. We had our first child and our second and third and fourth and all the while, the Lord was working and hubby and I were talking and through these beautiful children that He had blessed us with, I began to get glimpses of what might lie ahead for us. As we began to talk more and more about adoption, China kept coming up and special needs kiddos kept tugging at my heart and while hubby was open to China, he was not open to special needs – not at all and I did not fight him on it but my heart kept going back to these wonderful kiddos. One day, as I was searching the yahoo groups, the agency I that I now work for, posted about their special needs kiddos who were just waiting on their list. I was kind of new to the yahoo group world and was a little nervous to visit any site that I was not familiar with but I did and their she was, our Lizzie and I knew her right away. Her sweet face had a familiar-ness about it, and I was in love, and then I scrolled down and saw her beautiful hands and precious little feet.
They were my brother's hands and feet and in that instant, I knew what the Lord had been preparing my heart for all those years, why He had to break my heart over and over again. He was breaking my heart for the things that break His, only I had no idea at the time just what He had in store for me and was just beginning to see His hand in my life. When we traveled to bring Lizzie home, we visited her orphanage. It is a trip that I will never, ever forget. It is a trip that changed my life forever. Up until that point, Lizzie wasn't really unhappy but she wasn't really happy either and then we went to her orphanage. We tried to tell her through our guide that we were not leaving her there, that we were just visiting and that she would come back with us, but for a 2 year old child who had no language, not even Chinese, she, apparently, did not understand. As we walked in, I could feel her grip around my neck tighten, I could feel her entire body tense up and the minute one of the nannies walked up and tried to take her from me, she screamed and cried and held on to me for dear life! She was terrified and when she wasn't crying and screaming, she was limp and heartbroken, laying her little shaven head on my chest as if trying to soak up the last bit of tenderness she would feel before she was left yet again. I did not let her go but we stayed and we saw and our hearts were forever changed. When we left that day, as we sat on the bus, I told Lizzie (just as something one would say to an infant who would not understand while you hold their arm and wave it bye bye) to say bye bye to her orphanage. At that moment, there was life and hope within her and as she jumped up on the seat next to me, she smiled the biggest smile I had seen her smile and our Lizzie began to wave bye bye and SAY bye bye, over and over again. She was changed that day as was I and while Lizzie's heart began to learn what it meant to be loved, what it meant to have hope, my heart began to understand what it meant to have neither and the Lord's plan began to unfold. And then, on that infamous plane ride home with our TWO 2 year olds, Lizzie began to cry and everything I tried to soothe her, just would not work, so I did what I would do for my bio kiddos when they were inconsolable, I began to sing to her and as she looked up at me with surprise and wonder, I knew in my heart that this was probably the first time anyone had ever held her and sung to her and then I began to cry and as I thought back to all the many, many times that I had held my bio children, the many, many times that I had comforted them in the middle of the night or when they were hurt or scared, I understood all that Lizzie had never had, all that she had had to endure – alone. Right then and there, on that plane, I knew that a piece of my heart remained in China, in Lizzie's orphanage, in all the orphanages all over China and the Lord's path began to become clearer. I knew I could not go back to life before Lizzie and not do something and after we got her through her surgeries and castings and all the adjustments that take the place of 'normal” for a while, I heard the call and finally it all made sense and I began to advocate for those left behind, and my advocacy grew.
|Lizzie today....after all the castings and surgeries|
|Em and Lizzie......the 2 year olds ....now 6!|
It grew so much that I am now working for Lifeline Children’s Services, the same agency that helped us to bring Lizzie home, as their International Adoption Advocate and while the hurt in my heart for these precious waiting children has not eased, I take comfort in the fact that I am doing what I believe the Lord began preparing me for, so long ago. My advocacy site is www.wonderfulwaitingkids.com and I advocate mostly for older children and those who have more significant special needs. Please request membership and have your heart moved by these precious kiddos whose most severe special need is not knowing the love of a family or of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
14) Tell us a way God has blessed you and/or your family.
Oh goodness, how has He not blessed us!!!! LOL! There are so many ways and being born again has allowed me to look back on my life and truly see Him in everything and everywhere, in all parts of my life! I have to say though that the most amazing way He has blessed us has been in the form of a struggle. A few years ago as the Lord was really working on my heart, hubby lost his job. It was right when the financial crisis hit and we lost financially in other ways as well. I know now, that the Lord was allowing our feet to be knocked out from underneath us so that we could begin again, to rely on Him, to give our lives, our worries, our provision to him! We had to be stripped of our worldly provisions in order to trust in Him to provide. We were transformed as we watched the way He provided for our family and while it was hard, it was so worth it because it was the kick in the pants that we needed to give our lives to Him. The journey to true faith had begun long before but we were stuck and needed to be (gently) pushed. So after a couple of years of true financial struggle, the Lord provided a steady job for hubby and we began to relax a bit, although, He was still nudging as we weren't exactly were we should be but we were trying and right before Christmas the Lord moved hubby's heart for what had been on my heart for a very long time! I had been praying that the Lord would move hubby's heart for another child. In my advocacy, I see so many kiddos, wonderful kiddos who need a family, need a momma and a daddy to tuck them in at night, help them with their home work, correct them when they mess up and praise them when they succeed. All I had to do was take one look at Lizzie out on that soccer field, passing all the other kids who are SO much bigger than she is, scoring yet another goal and – just – loving – life, to know that I wanted that for another child.
I wanted to watch in awe again as the Lord was revealed to that child – our child! However, because of our money struggles, hubby was just not ready, so I prayed. I prayed for the Lord to move his heart for another child or take the desire from mine. I prayed for the Lord to provide the way for us financially or provide the way spiritually in helping hubby to know that even if we couldn't provide, He would provide. Can you guess which path was ours? Yep, right before Christmas, hubby's heart was moved and the Lord provided him the courage to step out in faith, even without the financial provision. My Christmas gift from hubby was a Bible and a bank account with $250 in it. It was the beginning of the provision for our daughter!
When we finally found our child (another God story all on it's own), we were filled with peace and as the weeks went by it was clear that the Lord would provide and provide in amazing ways. We knew we would have to fund raise to bring our precious daughter home but we had no doubt that she would come home – He would bring her home! The Lord moved so many hearts for our sweet girl and we were flooded with donations and with offers to help raise the money needed to bring her home. And then... once again, hubby was very unexpectedly without a job and we were shocked. We knew that the Lord would provide and we knew that we would be ok but we were in the middle of an adoption and our daughter was waiting, waiting for us to bring her home, to take her from the only place she had known since she had been abandoned at 4 years old, a rehabilitation hospital for children with cerebral palsy. The “me” before knowing the Lord would have been angry, the “me” before knowing the Lord would have been heartbroken, the “me” before knowing the Lord would have been terrified and defeated but He filled our hearts. His Holy Spirit just lifted us up, encouraged us and helped us to stay peaceful and joyful while we waited, and while we are still waiting for the Lord to provide a job for hubby, we have watched in awe as He has continued to provide to bring our daughter home! We haven't even really been actively fund raising but He keeps those donations coming and to date we are a little over halfway there! WOW! In a little less than 5 months, the Lord has provide a little over half of the $30,000 that we need to bring our beautiful child home. We are using this latest blessing as a time of more intense growth and faith, to allow Him to transform our lives and as I wrote in one of my latest blog posts, “God is just so great and watching Him provide the way to bring our newest daughter home has been an amazing, faith-filled journey and while we are not there yet and while there are still unanswered prayers, through these struggles we are learning that He is always working for us, even when we don't see it, He is working. So we worry less and trust more. We learn to cling to our blessings instead of our fears and we make sure that we are 'putty in His hands,' opening our hearts up to His plan for our lives... and... we get out of His way 'cause that is when He is able to do His best work for us... and while it might get bumpier before it gets smoother, we have buckled up and are trying our best to enjoy the ride!”
15) Share any words of wisdom and/or a favorite quote you'd like to leave with us.
I still pray for wisdom and am still waiting on that prayer to be answered so I don't feel qualified to hand out words of wisdom – yet! However, there is one quote that I keep on my fridge and in my heart. “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”
I have had to rely on that quote many times in my life. There are also lots of Bible verses I love but right now, in this time in my life, the one I am clinging to is Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” There have been many times in my life that I have not been able to “see” what the Lord was doing but before I truly knew Him, I did not have enough faith to reassure me. I cannot “see” why hubby lost his job just when we had found our daughter but I now have stronger faith and that fills my heart with the assurance I need to wait on Him and His plan and His perfect timing and to trust that even though I cannot “see” Him working for us – He is and it will be an amazing journey!
Words from Annie:
Thank you Tammy. I have loved our chat and I am still saving that rocker on my front porch for you!!!!
Thank you Annie! I've cried more than once preparing this post! Your faith is so encouraging to me! One day I hope our paths cross and I would LOVE to sit on your front porch with all the kids playing together! Thank you for being such a sweet guest. I enjoyed your visit so much! I can't wait for the day I see the family pic with your precious little XM's smiling face snuggled in there among you all!! Talk about needing the kleenex! Oh what a day! :) Thanks my friend!
Thank you (to all our guests) for stopping by today and joining us for the Sunporch Chat! Your comments always make my day and I know Annie would love for you to stop by and visit her over at Cornbread and Chopsticks and leave her a comment as well!
Have a great day! :)
♥ Tammy ♥