Rathjen Family

Rathjen Family
Rathjen, Party of EIGHT

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


November is a happenin' month!  Phew!  I turned 35, we spent 8 days at Children's Hospital running tests, Tyler turned 19, it's National Adoption Month, Thanksgiving of course, (and we are hosting it), husband has been working out of town; and we just learned we have a surgery to schedule.  You may ask why I choose now to catch up the blog…well because it's time.  It's time to stop and reflect.

I read a great book this month, written by excellent fellow blogger, Jen Hatmaker.  Seven. Read it, it will change your life.  Seven has reminded me to stop and reflect.  It has reminded me we all have the same amount of time in the day, what we do with it is up to us.  I won't go into the details of Seven, I hope to leave you curious enough to grab a copy and read it yourself.

Turning 35 was freaking me out just a bit, I will admit.  God place Seven in my hands at just the right time. Jen Hatmaker opens with "I am only 35…" Only.  Nice.  It's easy to "age" myself when I have a 19 year old.  The truth is, age is just a number.  Each day is a gift and we can open it, appreciate it and use it for His glory or we can stress that yesterday is gone.

We learned in Trigg's gamut of tests, he has a tethered cord in his spine.  We thought surgeries were behind him but we were reminded that it is not a predictable thing, ever.  I have learned with my little guys born with birth defects, one birth defect can often mean several.  This is more reason to be grateful God brought them to a place where they can get the services they need.  We are hopeful we an put this surgery off till January.

For the first time-EVER Tyler turned one year older without getting a big squeeze from his mama.  I can assure you this bothered his mama more than it bothered him.  He has a sweet new friend, who was careful to make it special.  I appreciate her for that.  
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013


As Rance learns his letters in Kindergarten, and Zoe learns how to navigate 5th grade and all the social weirdness, Tyler learns what it's like to be on his own.  I am sure there are days Tyler wishes he could go back to Kindergarten where memorizing what "J" says is his biggest problem.  Trigg and Ivor are usually just along for the ride, although becoming potty trained was a big highlight last month.  Things are going good with all 5 kiddos, and as they should.

However, Mom and Dad are at a crossroads.  Where do we want to live?  What school do we want our kids to attend?  What are our priorities?  Unfortunately, the husband and I don't have the same ideas.  I am of the mindset: Who would want to live in the same area their whole lives?  There is a whole world to experience!  Just because we are born here, does not mean we have to stay!  In my head, there are no limits, no boundaries!  I would LOVE to be a full time missionary!

Husband's mindset:  This is where we are "from."  We have roots here.  Our family business is here.  We can travel to all those other places.  I want to live right here, the rest of my life!

God's got this.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

All Aboard! Trigg and Ivor Turn Three!

The summer flew by and before I knew it, it was fall and a big birthday was creeping up on me.  We got Tyler moved to Colorado Springs.  Ivor's annual cleft appointment has been marked of the to-do list, our China travel group reunion has passed and things just don't quit going full steam ahead.  Welcome to a busy life, with 5 kids!  We would not have it any other way and I am glad we spend our time "living."

The twins' speech therapist introduced them to trains.  Around here, we don't seem to expose our kids to anything but animals, and as it turns out, we have a couple of little engineers!  They love trains, so this years theme was chosen by the little boogers themselves.

Trigg and Ivor

The Candy Train

Trigg trying out his new wheels! 

Ivor gettin' it!

They have a little buddy, also from China, that paid us a visit on the "real birthday."  James is a cutie and we are so glad his parents went to China and got him.  We can't imagine our lives without his cuteness!

Trigg, James and Ivor

On the boys' birthdays, I think about the family that gave them up, so they could get the help they needed.  I think about the mother, who must have felt so desperate and scared when she realized what needed to happen.  I think about the lady who "found them" and how her heart must have hurt to come upon such a discovery.  But then, I think about the God that created them, loves them more than any of us here on earth ever could, and who brought them back together so could grow and flourish together.

I am so blessed to call myself their mom.  I am so blessed to have the opportunity to watch them grow into amazing men and play out the life God has planned for them.  I pray that their biological family will have peace, peace only the Lord himself can provide that they not only "survived," they are THRIVING and are so, so very loved.


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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Letting Go


The count down is on. My first born child will graduate in less than two weeks, and it is filling me with grief.  This is supposed to be a happy thing.  I am happy for him. I am so proud of him. I am excited for him beyond belief. I am so sad for me. I am bathing in self pity, and trying to hide it. I am losing one of my best friends. The best big brother, EVER is leaving the nest. I realize he is still my son, and the big brother, but after he leaves, it will never be the same. Our routines as a family will be forever changed. All my children will not be under the same roof anymore. I am not going to lie...I kind wish we could just all pick up and follow him!

By now you are thinking I am one of those over protective, over bearing, overly involved mothers. Maybe I am...but let me explain.

I had Tyler shortly after my 16th birthday. When I first held him, it was a feeling I will never forget. I had been so alone in the world. And then there was this child, this perfect, adorable, sweet child, and he was mine. He wasn't going to judge me, he wasn't going to talk behind my back. He needed me, and I needed him.

People warned me. "Oh just wait! Wait till he is two and he is in to everything." Or, "wait till he talks back." Or my favorite, "wait till he is an awful teenager, drinking and partying and you are out all night looking for him."  Well, these things never did happen.

At two, I could take him to a 2 hour high school play and he would sit and watch quietly. He never did get "into everything." I can honestly say, he is not one to talk back, never has been.  Most importantly, he has never been to a party, never wanted to. He hasn't had a desire to drink or experiment much. He has been hard working, honest, and simply pleasant to raise. There is not a fiber in my being that wants this journey to be over.  He has been a part of me for as long as I can remember, and that part of me is relocating.  Ugh.

I want to rewind, start all over.  Turn back time.  Reverse.  Relive.  Redo.  But that is not possible.  We can't go back, we can only go forward.  We have made incredible memories.  We have a bond that can never be broken.  These are things I need to hold close, keep tucked away, be thankful for.  He has been the best son a parent could ask for and he will continue to be, it will just be different.  Our roles may change a bit but our love for one another will not.  I need to remember this as he receives his diploma and I can hardly see through the tears.  I need to remember this when we drive off and leave him in a new city, in a new chapter.

This is the way God intends.  He does not entrust us with His children to keep forever, tight by our side, protected under our wing.  No.  He wants us to prepare them for the world.  He wants us to teach them truth, make them honest, guide them.  We have done that.  Now we need to trust Him and let go...

No one ever said it would be easy.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We GOTCHA! (One year ago today)

Oh how fast it has gone!  Amazing to look back at the little guys that were placed in our arms 365 days ago.  They were scared.  We were scared.  They were confused.  We were nervous.  They had a past we did not fully understand.  We were about to take them to a land they did not know existed.  There were many discoveries and milestones made over the last year.

Perhaps most important, we have seen God's faithfulness.  He has shown us how He will never leave us in a storm.  He has given me even more of a desire to love the orphans of the world. I know He will continue to lead me to them.

My friend, Faith said it so well.  She said, "There is something that is so unexplainable joyous when our children come to us through adoption.  It really is something you can only understand completely if you have experienced it.  Giving birth to our biological children is such a magical miracle and we know they are a part of us.  Adoption is like finding a missing piece of your heart."  Well said, Faith.

I knew since I was a child I wanted to adopt.  People have asked me, "Why?"  I say, "Why not?"  Sure it's expensive.  Sure, they will take a lot of your time.  Sure, you don't know what you are getting.  I get that.  I understand all that.  But what about the fact that our time is not our time?  Our money is not our money?  We only woke up today, because God has work for us to do.  We are breathing right now because He has more planned for us, here.  Now.  Today.  So what is it?  Maybe you are not "called" to adopt.  Maybe He has other ways in mind for you to advance His kingdom.  Ask Him.  Once you do, you will feel driven, unstoppable, and blessed.  It's true, when we bless others, it is we who are blessed as well.  Let Him use you.  HE WILL.

When you look at me and my boatload...please know, I am not perfect.  I am not special.  I don't have a gift.  I have just answered to a call.  I know He has more for me to do, and I am trying to figure out what that is.  It is a constant mission.  There are days when I ask myself what I have gotten myself into.  Days when my house looks like a bomb went off, I have a huge list of things to do that I don't know how I am going to do it, days when I feel like I have yelled to much and hugged too little.  But He always gets me through them.  At the end of the day when my littles are all tucked in bed and resting so peacefully, He always sets me strait.  This is not about me, or my house, or my to-do list.  This thing we call life is about Him.  Fortunately, He wants the best for me, and you, (and the orphans) of the world.  Every.Single.Soul.

Ask, Seek, Knock.

Last night we took the kids out to celebrate one year as a forever family.  We ate Sushi at the "Rice Monkey." (I love that name, it just makes me smile.)  Then, we took the kids to "Top That," to load up their frozen yogurt with any toppings they wanted.  Trigg and Ivor's eyes just gleamed.  They knew something was up.  It was a great time and we are looking forward to another wonderful year as a family of 7!

Blessings to you,


Monday, April 8, 2013

Turning the Pages

Sometimes I feel like my life is a story and we are just turning the pages, one by one. We are never sure what is on the next page. Sometimes it's predictable and sometimes we never saw it coming. This last week, they were flipping rather fast and we experienced a little of both.

We went to Colorado Springs, where our oldest plans on attending college in the fall. I would like him to get more familiar with the city, we needed to get away, as well as he was hunting for a reliable vehicle. We accomplished all three. He drove home in a fun little car and his excitement was enough to warm my heart for a long time. The last two years he has driven a 1984 Toyota 4-Runner that has seen its better days. I was so glad he went through that "initiation" as it made the moment that much more special. There was true and genuine appreciation. He was thrilled. He did the research, patiently did the shopping and learned a lot from the experience. I think when children are given to much to fast, we rob them of the potential for joy. He had to pay his fair share and the pride he is feeling is priceless.

We stayed in a great resort at a steeply discounted rate since the summer beauty has not yet graced us with its presence. It was still great and the kids enjoyed the beach near the lake and we had a great time in the pool.

We visited the zoo one day, which I must say is the best I have seen. The kids fed giraffes and birds. We watched elephants introduced to a pool for the first time and gawked at grizzlies playing with their toes in the water.

My dear friend Cindy, fellow adoptive mom, and sister in Christ lost her battle to cancer and Heaven got a whole lot sweeter. My heart aches for her young daughter who has just lost her second mother and has so much left to experience without her sweet mommy. It's so hard to understand why she was taken from us. Her cancer was detected in her medical examination she was having done in order to start the adoption process again. Just after we brought Trigg and Ivor home, she had informed us she had felt the pull to go get a son after watching our sweet boys bless our family. Her time was spent blessing others. She was generous, kind and loving. We will not understand till we meet again and until then she will be missed.

I ask that you remember Cindy's three daughters and husband in your prayers. Be grateful for each day He gives us and trust in Him with all your heart.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Walkin' with Rance

After church Rance and I went on a walk. Daddy kept the others and for the first time in a long time- it was just us.  I got a really sweet Schwinn bike for Christmas, from my parents that I am dying to try out.  Yep, parents even buy their adult children bikes for Christmas.  We had trouble navigating the mud, snow, and slush, so we swapped the wheels for bogs.  Smart move.  If you have never taken the time to just listen to a five year old talk...you are missing out.  The way their minds work is quite entertaining fascinating.  He had to take a backpack and a gun and holster (in case we saw a mountain lion).  The freaky part is, some one killed one on our property not too long ago.  Rance's gun was obviously not real, so I found myself wondering if a mountain lion would be threatened by the looks of one.  I decided, probably not.

As we are going along, I start trying to get to the bottom of why he did not want to go to church this morning.  I start by explaining why we go.  One of the things I brought up, is we are able to learn ways we can help others.  "I love helping poor people," Rance says.  "I think when you see a poor person, you should pretend they are rich.  That way, you will treat them good."  "I know if Jesus was walking, say in like Africa, and he saw someone just sitting on the side of the road, homeless, He would give them everything He had in his pockets."  Hmmmm...so you are learning something.  "I like to help people cause' it makes me feel good on the inside."  Hmmmm....so you are feeling things.  "I like to go to church, it's just that sometimes, I don't."  Of course, you are a child and you need guidance.  But yelling and threatening and pushing you out the door is not "guidance."  I think I need to start treating Sunday's like holidays.  We should work hard at making it a day the kids look forward to.  What do kids want more than anything else?  Time.  Time with people they love.  One on one time.  Play time.  Time to play with friends and family.  That happens to be exactly what we do on holidays.  We look forward to them mostly because they are centered around fellowship.  What is a Thanksgiving meal when you are eating it alone?  Not near as tasty.  Of course kids look forward to gifts, but honestly, Christmas is made memorable by who we spend it with.  Holiday's don't have to be expensive.  You don't have to spend lots of money to create a great meal.  You can simply throw on some spaghetti and meatballs and you know the kids are pleased anyway.

We have spent so many Sundays being lazy, catching up, getting ready for the week, stocking the cabinets.  I think, we need to get back to making them special.  Holy.  About worship.  About Him.

Rance and I sat on a bridge and talked.  We threw rocks at the icy lake.  We ventured out onto the ice, which my husband informed me we should not have done.  I figured if it could hold the cows, it could hold me.  It should have occurred to me who I was talking to before we gave all the details.  Haha.  I worked very hard at not rushing my little guy.  I even stopped with him to let his stuffed bear pee.  (Rance has quite the imagination.)  What I got~refreshed.  A refreshed me and a refreshed kid.

Be blessed,


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our 1st CNY

I discovered last Saturday night the Chinese New Year may just be more fun to celebrate than the American New Year. Most Americans bring in the New Year with a few friends and some cocktails. I am sure some people have cool traditions but I have never been exposed to any.

The Chinese however, (as well as other Asians) have several really neat traditions. The main one is-they eat. It's a time for lots and lots of food, including dumplings, noodles, rice, and deliciously prepared vegetables. They also pass out red envelopes to the children with money inside. The money the children collect is their spending money for the entire year. Leading up to the new year, they clean their homes from top to bottom, sweeping away the bad luck. Each family member gets a new set of clothing to wear for this special time. They relish in the moments of enjoying the company of their friends and family for FOUR days!

We had a little gathering at a friends house last Saturday night. Asian adoptees as well as local Asian families gathered together in their Asian attire and listened to Asian music, ate Asian food and did some crafts. We had a wonderful time.

It is so important to me our boys grow up learning about their birth countries traditions and culture. I want them to be proud of where they came from. I never want them to feel we took them away and never looked back. I want them to have a sense of who they are. They are all American boys, born in China and I pray they are proud of their unique story.

In hope,


Monday, February 4, 2013

Love Without Boundaries-Part One: Healing Homes

Since we got home with the boys,  I have been considering volunteering for Love Without Boundaries.  I can finally say, I am one!  I fell in love with this organization when I learned they had taken in my twin boys, one by one, when they were extremely sick and helpless in China.  Love Without Boundaries has healing homes, also known as Foster Care Centers.  There is Heartbridge, in Beijing, which is the one my boys were in.  They also have Anhui Healing home in Anhui, which is a cleft healing home, as well as True Children's Healing Home which is in Fujian.  Until a week ago, there was one in Henan, called the Henan Healing Home.  Tragically, it was closed down and all the children are now living with Foster Families, except one, which had to go back to the orphanage.  The government implemented this change in Henan after a fire broke out in a foster home outside of Kaifeng, killing seven children.  It was a tragic incident but it deeply saddens me that the Love Without Boundaries home was closed as a result.  Their home was very modern and well staffed.  They had plans in place if there was indeed a fire, including aprons that would allow them to carry out several babies at once.  None the less, it has happened.  Therefore, we must be grateful the home helped as many as it did and pray for those who have been relocated as they adapt to this change in their life.

I will be writing updates on children to their sponsors.  This is so awesome to me, considering while Trigg and Ivor were in China, we sponsored them through LWB, and these monthly letters were highly anticipated as we waited to bring them home.  Since they have been home we have sponsored other children and it is such a joy being a part of their journey and healing  as they receive the love and care they so desperately need.

Healing Homes are places for healing, simply put.  If you would like to be a sponsor, I have included a link to enable you to do so.  If you have any questions... please don't hesitate to ask.

Below is a photo of Trigg and one of Ivor taken at Heartbridge,



Monday, January 28, 2013

Trigg and Ivor's Journey Home Video

Our Adoption Video is finally released!  I have been chipping away at this for some time now...and finally...here it is.  I hope you enjoy it.