Safe In The Arms of the Shepherd

Safe In The Arms of the Shepherd
This is Who we want our children to know!

Monday, February 6, 2017


These are some of the earliest photos that we have of our daughter Sarah Joy Smedley who will come home to us soon from Guangzhou, China.  When I think of all those "lost years", I get a little melancholy, just like any other mom who adopts children at an older age. Think of all those thousands of moments when you respond to your baby's cries that Sarah Joy did not experience. I think the human spirit is marvelous to survive all that loss. Fortunately, Sarah Joy (and Lizzy Grace, home 3 years) come from a loving orphanage and were cared for by nannies who really love them, but it is still not the same as being in a family!

 These two were taken in October 2016, after the orphanage got word that Sarah Joy was going to have her very own family! Look at the difference between the top pictures and the others.  There seem to be several years between them. Actually, we think she was seven in the top picture and thirteen in the bottom pictures. Why the huge gap? When she was seven, it looks as if her file was prepared for foreign adoption (no one within China would be interested in adopting a child with a visible special need, so sad to say). The gap represents all the years that SHE WAITED.
Let me leave you with a more hopeful way of moving past the sadness and into the joy: Although Sarah Joy's adjustment won't be easy by any means, she will not be alone anymore! She will be supported by every member of her family, a family that God Himself gathered together. God has done a miracle in each one of our hearts to tell us that she is one of us, a Smedley! Our hope and prayer is that not only will she enjoy her own family here on earth, but that she will come to know the One who saves anyone who calls on Him, who adopted us into His family. "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are CHILDREN OF GOD."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I said it before Max Lucado!

Since we created our blog, Max Lucado has written a devotional book entitled "Safe in the Shepherd's Arms". Hopefully that will bring some traffic to our little blog! I am so thankful that no matter what we go through, we can always depend on and trust God to stay with us and help us through!

That's good to know, since we are heading into a new adventure which requires us to let go and let God. We have found that many people don't understand letting go and letting God - that is a foreign concept, and one that relied on heavenly wisdom and priorities, not conventional human wisdom and norms.

We really thought our family was complete by necessity. Our home is small, our finances are challenged, and our age is, well, we are not spring chickens! But God definitely had other plans for us . . . yep! He has been making changes in our lives to make us ready for this very point, small corrections in the way we do things and even a miracle or two! Maybe I will list them later, as we are in awe now of seeing what He was doing that has now been made plain:

Here's the news . . . we will be bringing home Lizzy's best friend from her orphanage days in China to be our daughter. Her name will be Sarah Joy Smedley! She will turn 14 in August of 2017, so we know we will be in China before that date to prevent her from aging out. The prospects for a special needs orphan in China after he/she turns 14 is very grim. We felt God tugging at our hearts to not let this happen to this child. We cannot save them all, but to the one who gains a family and learns about the love of Christ, it means everything! Next time I will tell you how this came about. Until then, say a prayer for us! Making a decision of this magnitude definitely brings on some turbulence from the evil one!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Catching up after 2 1/2 years!

Oh my! I feel as if a lifetime has passed since I last created a blog post! Two and one-half years ago was my last post. YiLi and I had just met Lizzy Fang Fang. We were still in China, and, shall we say, Fang Fang did not take to me! After we came home, though, she quickly (within a couple of months) became comfortable, and it became clear that she has a sweet and content personality. She was almost 11 at that time, and now she is 13, a teenager! But inside, she is still a sweet little girl. Sam is 10 and YiLi will be 13 in March.

So much has changed! I reduced my hours at work simply to allow for all the surgeries(two) and therapies (weekly or more than weekly) that our children need. My full-time job at a small law firm for an attorney who knew me well from my previous banking career and as organist at church FELL INTO MY LAP back in late 2009. Soon after that, we began our first adoption process. As our family needs changed, my attorney's needs changed right along with us, as he began to gradually, ever so gradually prepare for retirement. Recently we began homeschooling all three children, and I was able to choose the work hours needed to support our family, while being home most of the day for schooling. God is good!

One thing that has stayed the same is our desire to tell our children about the love of Jesus. We believe very firmly that God has blessed our adoption path because of our commitment to riase our kids up in a Christian home in the middle of a world that seems to be turning from Him more and more. So, I will not be changing our blog title, because "Safe in the Shepherd's Arms"  is ever so appropriate!

I think what you really want to see are recent pictures of our family, so let me get right to it! On my next post, though, I will give you some really BIG news, so stay tuned . . .
Our now 13 year old!

One of my faves with Sam and Grandma Grace

So grown up!

One of my absolute favorites!

May 25, 2014, two months home and you can see her personality come through!

At the Ark Encounter, October 2016
My favorite of Fang Fang (in China)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We have our beautiful little girl! We met her Monday, but have not been able to connect. She is everything we have hoped for and more! She prefers to be called " Fang Fang" rather than Lizzy right now. Please pray for her as she is in deep grief at loss of loved ones and country, and I am lonely from being without my mate Rick and being rejected by her, which is not unexpected, as older kids see us as the ones taking them away from all they hold dear. I understand this logically, but it still hurts my heart. But she is wonderful! Her smile, rare now, lights up a room! Her giggle and her love of silliness will fit right in with our family. She is a little spitfire! She has quite a limp going on, but that does not stop this girl!  God be praised that she is ours!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

So thankful . . .

Not just an ordinary old truck . . .

Don't you love it when God uses ordinary things in our world to demonstrate His love for us? It's just an old truck . . . for a few days last week we thought it had a blown head gasket, and that it might have been cheaper to replace the whole engine than get to the problem.
There were stages in our reactions. Although we knew God was in charge, we had been asking for confirmation of something big in our lives, and we started out by asking ourselves if this was God saying "no".  Okay, I'll admit it. We doubted! We knew that the fear and confusion we were tempted to feel did not come from God. So we just waited. While we waited, we learned a new appreciation for our truck as the children and I walked to the places we needed to get to.
We thought the truck was "dead" After an entire work week, when I got home on Friday at 5:15 pm, there was a phone message from Sheri at our mechanic's garage that we could come and pick the truck up. Our agreement had been that they would fix the radiator, and by taking it out, Mark would then be able to see if the head gasket was cracked or blown. Then they would call us to decide the next tactic. But this message addressed none of that - just said "Come and get your truck . . ."
We were going to a picnic up in Pleasantville at our friend's house on Saturday. So we waited until then to pick up the truck so that we didn't waste a trip. Oh, the anticipation! It sounded like the truck was totally fixed, but was there a message on the seat?
What would have been previously upsetting (a bill for $600.00) had become a true joy, when we discovered that the gasket was not blown and the truck was good to go.
Here's my spiritual application  and why I am blogging again after so long . . . if we were that GLAD that an old truck we had was thought to be "dead" and was now "alive", how much more glad should we be that Jesus died and is now alive?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How overjoyed should we be that we were once dead and are now alive in Jesus!!!!!
Often times, we get so bogged down in life's cares that we forget the truth that really matters!! I hope this encourages you in your day to day walk! Look around and see past the cares to some of our hidden blessings on this earth, as well as our promised future with the One who gave His life so that we could also live!  
We appreciate our truck so much now! I call her our "pretty, pretty". It's amazing how God can use something "bad" to correct our attitudes and remind us that everything we have is a blessing from Him!
"He is not here, He has risen, just as He said!"  Matthew 28:6
"We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life!"  Romans 6: 4

Friday, June 7, 2013

Did you ever think about how big God is?

Did you ever think that a "yes" answer to my prayer often means a "no" answer to someone else's prayer? Take adoption, for instance . . .  One mama's prayer for blessing to adopt a certain little child, if answered, might mean that another mama gets disappointed with the answer she receives. One delay in the timing of a family's approval might mean that God was protecting them from an even bigger glitch or problem down the road. Maybe if that delayed family had travelled when THEY thought they should have, they would have been caught up in a dangerous situation or the SAARS outbreak.

But that's just adoption. Think about all the prayers of all types for all the situations for all the believers who pray, and how everyone's lives intersect here and there behind the scenes. Think about prayer in terms of the entire globe! And then know that:

" My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
   He will not allow your foot to be moved.
   He Who keeps you will not slumber . . ."     Psalm 121:3


"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."                               Romans 8:28 

You might think about this subject, like I do, but we cannot totally understand how big God is, how He never makes mistakes, we don't wait because He is "busy" with someone else, we wait for our own good. So, folks, God is behind EVERY prayer situation, answers all of them in the way that is best according to His plan, whether we can see that plan or not, and never makes a mistake or a poor judgment.

What is your mountain you need to climb today? Is there a situation that tempts you to fear or worry? Have you ever tried to "manipulate" an answer to prayer to be the one you want? Got your heart set on something? I do. Let's give our fears, our worries and our desires to God. He knows them already!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ . . ."

Our God loves us, He's BIG, and He's got every prayer request in the whole world under control!!!!
So don't be afraid to add yours! As big

as He is, He also calls us by name and considers us precious!