When I was growing up my Dad could be a little odd at times... actually most of the time.  The good thing about that is I grew up not caring what people thought, except for what really matters in this life.   Of course, I learned more about that--the after life--from my Mom.  Something happened on our recent trip to Nashville, and it reminded me of what my Dad tried to get me to do when I was a little girl.   We were on a trip and driving down a road out in the country.  I was in the back seat moaning that I had to go to the bathroom and it had to be right then!  My Dad slowed the car and whipped into a total stranger's driveway!   He told me to go up to their door and ask them if I could use their bathroom.  I slipped down in the floor of the car and said "No way!!!!!!"   He kept trying to coax me to going to the door.  We left without me getting out of the car and I don't remember what happened next, but I must have "held" it. 

In Nashville last week the hotel we stayed at was OK, but not great.  What was way cool though was across the street was a GIGANTIC building.   Mike and I were instantly intrigued and he asked the front desk what it was.  They said nuns lived there.   Mike and I aren't Catholic
, so maybe that is partly why the monstrous building intrigued us.  But I think it intrigued me mostly because it was obviously really old. 
Well, the next day after Cokie's surgery we decided to try and drive closer.   The entrance was gated, but the gate was open.  So Mike pulled through the gate of the long, long drive.  He immediately noticed in his rearview mirror that a car pulled through the gate right behind us.  He stopped thinking we were about to get politely told to turn around and leave.  But as luck would have it, the other car pulled up beside us, and the two nuns sitting inside it asked with big smiles if they could help us.  Mike responded and what he meant to ask was whether we could drive around the building.  Instead, what came out was, "We were hoping to get a look around.  The nun in the passenger seat said, "Follow us and we will give you a tour."   Mike and I were like, "Oh my gosh, is she going to let us go inside?!!"   The building was so, so big and so, so old that at first it was almost scary driving up.   Mike asked me, if we go in, will we come out?  When we got to the front of the building, this very young nun hopped out of the car.  She said I can't show you all of it, but I can show you some.   She couldn't have been nicer and answered all our questions.  Turns out part of this building was built one year before the Civil War ended.   At one time up to 350 nuns were living there.  The oldest nun living there now is almost 100 y.o. and has lived there her entire adult life. 
The nun giving us the tour told us they have nuns training there now that will go all over the world as under cover missionaries.  It is scary that so many people in our own country would love nothing more than to drive people of faith underground.  Right now, even our own goverment is trying to force the Catholic Church to go against their religious beliefs and perform abortions.  

The nun also told us their main jobs were, learning/teaching, praying and service.  She said they prayed at least 3 times a day--morning, noon and evening.  At first I thought... well all rightie then.   Then it hit me.  Isn't that we all should be doing?!

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 

1 Peter 5:6 

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 

2 Chronicles 7:14

Short of being an atheist how can anyone believe this country is not in trouble?    
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 

Psalm 14:1 
















This is the nuns' cemetery.




Scan 68

My parents who are on the other side -- the right side, because even my Dad accepted Jesus before he died.  They both died within 5 years of this picture being taken.  My Mom died 6 months after my Dad.   

Back to school...

for Cokie.  She loved her time off and would have stayed home longer if I had let her.   I am making her stay out of gym for 2 weeks, which she isn't thrilled about.


When you're in the "adoption world" I think you get the same questions over and over again.  I should be used to them--and I am somewhat.  Still sometimes they take you back.  I got asked last week if the kids like each other.  I don't think it matters if kids are biologically related or adopted, respect has to be taught.  I can honestly say my kids love each other and really want to be with one another most of the time.  


Last week when we left for Nashville Cokie had not said much about being gone for a few days.  She was excited about the trip and the time off school.   That morning we dropped the other three 5th graders off plus Pryor off at school before we hit the road.  I looked in the back seat and Cokie's eyes were watering.   She was a little sad about leaving the other kids.  


I received more pictures of Cokie today . . .


God knew what I needed most, and He called on your kind heart.  Thank you for answering - He used you in a very special way.  You're truly a blessing. 

The Lord bless you for showing this kindness.  
2 Samuel 2.5










The reporter was trying to get Cokie to give herself a little bit of a pity party, but Cokie would have none of that.  The truth is Cokie is a survivor and lets her little light shine.






Cokie is one tough cookie!!  They probably cut about  6" to get the hair follicles and she was awake and watching TV the entire time!! 

Two and a Half Days in Nashville

You may be thinking, a trip to  Nashville in the middle of February is a little unusual.  Calling this trip "a little unusual" is a bit like calling this past winter snowy.  I'll tell you more about some of the unusual and fun things we did, but for now let me explain why we went in the first place.  It is because a sweet, sweet doctor offered to perform surgery on Cokie for free.  When Cokie was first operated on in China, the doctors used skin from her scalp as grafts for her burned legs.  They were certain that taking the skin from her head wouldn't cause Cokie problems later in life, but they were wrong.  Mind you, I'm not being critical.  Given the extent of Cokie's burns the doctors in China were operating under intense pressure just to save her life.  But as Cokie has gotten older, the grafts that were taken from her head have caused hair growth problems.  Dr. Coleman, a great surgeon and a wonderful man, has done a number of surgeries on Cokie.  For years, Dr. Coleman was head of the burn and plastic surgery units at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.  He stepped down as chair of those departments recently, but he still does surgeries for Cokie and Bret.  After Cokie's most recent surgery, he suggested we talk to a surgeon he went through residency with who is one of the top hair transplant specialists in the country.  Dr. Coleman's friend, Dr. Fisher, is in Nashville, Tennessee, so we were pretty sure there would be insurance problems, if we could even get insurance to cover anything.  But I called Dr. Fisher anyway, hoping for the best.  He told me not to worry about anything--he would do the surgery and didn't want to wait by fooling around with insurance.  Needless to say, Mike and I were stunned.

The day before we were to head down to Nashville, Dr. Fisher's office asked if we would object to a local news station doing a story about Cokie and Dr. Fisher.  We talked with Cokie about it, and she was in, so our adventure got even more exciting.


Here is Cokie with the reporter, Adrianne Flores.  Adrianne was very professional and also very nice.  A link to the video of the news story is at the bottom of this post.


I can't even begin to tell you how well Dr. Fisher's staff treated Cokie and us!  Everyone was so sweet.  Michelle, who is standing directly behind Cokie, made everything so easy for us. 

These are Cokie's hair follicles that would be transplanted into parts of Cokie's scalp where no hair is growing.  First Dr. Fisher removed skin with hair follicles intact from the back of Cokie's head where she has plenty of hair to spare.  These ladies then removed the follicles from the skin.  While Dr. Fisher was removing the skin, Cokie was watching movies from Netflix.  I was in the room at this point.  Cokie's head was numbed and she had been given pain medicine.  She barely flinched a couple of times.

Cokie got to check out the follicles under the microscope before Dr. Fisher transplanted them into her scalp.

The whole process was amazing! DSCN8489

Here Cokie was done, but moving a little slow.  For the most part she seemed to be enjoying herself.  She was on pain medicine, and they ordered pizza (she got to choose).  Dr. Fisher and his team were a lot of fun and seem like they all genuinely enjoy one another.  Cokie is a pretty fun-loving girl herself, and I think she enjoyed the little party they had for her!

Headed back to the hotel--with her iPod closeby of course.


This morning Dr. Fisher wanted to see Cokie again and give her one last check over.  As we were just about to walk out the door, Cokie asked him if they could take a "selfie" together with her iPod.  He was happy to oblige.  Like Dr. Coleman, I think Dr. Fisher is somewhat taken with Cokie.  He told her that he didn't know of too many 11 year olds that could handle the surgery he performed on her as well as she did.  He also said, "You did so well that when you get old I'll give you a free face lift!"  Hey, too bad I can't take him up on that!!!

Click above to watch the story Channel 4 in Nashville ran about Cokie.


I'm surrounded not only by my kids, but also by lots of nieces and nephews.  If I haven't seen them through the week, which usually I do, I run into them at church on Sundays.  I am blessed to have every one of these guys in my life and ask God for His blessing to fall on them.


Our church is building on again.  This time it is a children's center.



Payton has been talking a lot about wanting to become a missionary.  She is now a senior in high school and has been training to be an EMT to pay for her college.  I think her love for the Lord came from my Grandpa Baker.  If I've met a saint, it would be him.  No one can say anything bad about his morals or the way he lived his life.  Oh, I can't wait to see him in Heaven.  Payton is (choking? / hugging?) her brother Eliot in this pic.  The Chinese boy is also Payton's brother Sawyer.  Eliot and Sawyer are both really handsome boys, but they can both also be major league buttheads.  



Remi and her cousin Lain.  They are very close and hang out together a lot.  Lain and Remi are kindred spirits.  Like Remi, Lain is mostly very sweet and the perfect kid to have around, but when she gets angry, run for your life! 


Here is Lain again with her sister Lacy.  Lacy may be Charly's most outgoing daughter.  She is full of love and is the type of kid who makes you happy just by being around her.


Erin may be my spunkiest niece.  She has always been gorgeous.  This summer, she got her license and a job!  Look out world.  I remember the very first day my sister Charly and her husband Dennis brought her home from China.  She was 3 1/2 y.o. and teeny tiny.  She sat on her new Dad's lap and wanted nothing to do with me.  I wanted so bad to get my hands on her, but she just gave me the evil eye - she was still pretty scared.  Hard to believe Erin was ever scared of anything!


Remi with Lacy and Avery (Avery is in the middle).  Avery is Charly's youngest.  Like the other Wagoner girls, she cracks me up most of the time.  Like I said, they all make my life richer, and I am blessed to have them.


Jenna is always, always smiling.  For some reason, she loves to torment Lael.  Of course, Lael can be grouchy, so it doesn't take much.  Jenna is also my sister Charly's daughter.  I think Jenna was 3 y.o. when they got her and she got here right before Christmas.  Christmas Day she just walked quietly around my house, with a toy in her hand, clanging it on walls and doors as she took it all in.  



Victor is... Victor.  He is my nephew's friend and EVERYONE in the family loves Victor.  Victor is from Russia.  If the USA hockey team wins gold in Sochi, I'm going to rub it in good.  If the Russians win, I really hope Victor doesn't read this. 


We watched the pairs figure skating the other night at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  And I don't even like sports!


This is my niece Gabrielle with Lyric.  Gabrielle is my sister Becki's daughter.  I don't think Gabrielle has a clue how pretty she is.  But I do.  And she is very, very sweet.




And this is Darby, Gabrielle's sister.  Darby is as cute as a button, and I think she may have a clue that she is.  She is very funny and sometimes a little ornery--but hey, I was pretty ornery myself when I was Darby's age.  I don't know why, but she likes to call Mike Lady GaGa.  But Mike adores her (Darby, not Lady GaGa).