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Saturday, February 26, 2011

adopting bryan ... part 2

(continued from here)
I have never experienced despair like I felt then. I was crazed with helplessness, pain, hollowness. We explored and entertained every option. I really mean: every. The excruciating pain I mentioned in "part 1" does not come close to describing what was happening inside of me. The thought of losing Bryan for eternity was more than I could bear. I sunk to the lowest, deepest, darkest place I have ever been. But there was a spark of hope. I never quite let go of it. It kept me functioning and taking action. It prompted me to prayer. I can say with more certainty than I can tell you what I see, that we have a Father in Heaven who is aware of us. He knows our hearts, He’s patient with our tantrums, He hears our prayers. I can also testify of the humanity of loved ones and strangers alike. We had entire congregations of people praying for us; we had family fasts; we felt the support of friends.
Through a series of people, we got an appointment with an emigration attorney. He listened to our plight and decided to take on our case even though he did not normally handle family law. He felt strongly that “good parents should have as many children as they want and bad parents shouldn’t have any”. So although he was willing to fight for us, he forewarned us that this could end up costing more than a years’ salary. Over a year passed from the time we hired our attorney until December 23, 1994. That was a Friday night, about 7pm when the phone rang and our attorney, Patrick Ceville blurted out the good news. The judge had agreed to meet him in the court house on Christmas Eve, Saturday, to give us the Christmas gift of our lives. Papers were signed and James Bryan Chapman was officially our child, never to be taken from us. The next day, Christmas, he sat in my arms as Priesthood Holders from our church laid hands on his head and gave him a blessing usually given to infants. The day after Christmas Brad and I signed papers at the court house where we also picked up our bill. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the bill was one short page, with the total amount being about $600 – just enough to cover court costs. A month and a half later, Bryan was sealed to us in the Hawaii Temple.
Every single day of my life I offer a prayer of thanks for our miracle children, and Bryan in particular. Truly, this is an age of miracles.

(below: Bryan and Sierra ... 1 year apart, but as close as twins ... the picture below that is one that Sierra took of Bryan recently)

adopting bryan ... part 1

I can list the major trials in my life without even thinking about it:

* Infertility

* Dad’s Cerebral Hemorrhage

* My brain bleed

* Ectopic preganancy and Miscarriage

* Multiple Sclerosis

* Near bankruptcy

* Loss of employment and completely depleted resources

* Death of my brother-in-law

But none of these trials even come close to our adoption experience. Without a doubt, that was the most excruciating, heart-breaking pain I’ve ever felt. Consequently, the end result created the most exhilarating and deepest joy I’ve ever tasted.

Without a medical explanation, Brad and I were unable to conceive on our time-frame. Trevor was born after a year and half of marriage, so we just assumed I’d be like my mother and fill our home with back-to-back children. After months turned into years, we began fertility treatment. Our heart-wrenching miscarriage of twins preceded the birth of our 2nd child when Trevor was 5. Brooke and Trevor filled our home with love and laughter, but we knew there were more children to come. We lived on the island of Guam at the time, and about the time Brooke turned 4, I remembered reading in the paper several weeks earlier about the need for foster homes. When I picked up the packet in the Guam Social Services office, the receptionist asked if I wanted an adoption packet as well. Of course I did! I asked about adoption and she told me that because of the culture, they hadn’t actually had an adoption outside of extended family in over 12 years, so I should not get my hopes up. Too late. We filled out the paper work, completed the necessary police clearances and home visits, then counted the days as we waited. Finally, on our 11-year wedding anniversary, we got the call. There was a 5-week old infant boy who needed a home. AND, he was adoptable. Brooke and I drove immediately to the office where Bryan was waiting in his battered car seat, head tilted up and to the side as he was apparently used to having a bottle propped to eat. We filled out the paper work, made a quick stop for formula and diapers, then headed home to enjoy the greatest gift in the world. Surprising Trevor at the bus stop after school, then playing with Bryan till Brad came home made for a very full day. Our little treasure had never been bathed and had long curly hair that desperately needed cutting. He sure did clean up well! Bryan came to us without anything – including a name. So we held a family council to name him. Thankfully, it was not a democratic situation or he could have ended up being named “Tofu”, “King Kong”, or “Benjamin Franklin”. Our social services caseworker was quick to warn us to not get too attached. Even though he was adoptable, parental rights were not yet terminated and it was their job to try to place him somewhere within the extended family. But we knew. The bonding was immediate, and we couldn’t give up Bryan any easier than we could give up each other.

Bryan didn’t cry for the first couple of days that we had him. He had been neglected and had learned in those first few days of life that it did no good to make any noise. But all it took was a couple of days with an over-load of attention and Bryan learned to exercise his lungs as well as any newborn! 8 months went by during which time I got pregnant, we lived through several typhoons and an 8.2 earthquake that rocked our world for 60 full seconds, and we continued to grow as a family. When parental rights were terminated near Bryan’s 8-month birthday we rejoiced. But our happiness was short lived. Just days later, our caseworker called to inform us that Bryan was being taken from our home to be placed in a home with parents of the same skin color.
.... to be continued

Friday, February 25, 2011

faith & growth

I attended a conference a week or so ago ... well, I didn't actually attend. I was on the commmittee that put it together, which meant I lucked out and got to hear bits of some of the fantastic presentations.
(Heber & Ardeth Kapp)
During one presentation by Ardeth Kapp, she talked about her yearning for children; about how hard that trial was, and about how if she could have just seen the future, and known that in her responsibility as the General Young Women's President in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she would be caring for a quarter of a million young women, she would not have been so anxious and life would have been easier. When that thought came to her, she heard in her heart,
"Yes, but you would not have come to me so often in sincere prayer, you would not have grown and developed the faith that you have."
(David Osmond)
During another presentation, this one by David Osmond, I heard these words:
"In this life pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional."
David Osmond has Multiple Sclerosis. Having been paralyzed from his waist down, and confined to a wheelchair, David walked again on his wedding day and has been walking ever since.

Two inspirational heroes ... two inspirational messages. These got me thinking about my own life - my trials, my triumphs. Over the next few days I want to share some of these with you. And I welcome your comments, sharing your trials and triumphs. Because I believe this life is a time to lift and inspire each other. Feel free to email me if you'd like to send a private message, or comment with one you'd like others to read. So the next couple of weeks I'm going to take a break from talking about food, shopping, playing and clothes - and it'll be a pretty serious bunch of posts.
I hope you'll join me.

soy & almond ... so pretty!

I'm something of a health-nut (hehehe - yup, I meant to use the word "nut")
Anyway, I LOVE frozen berries with milk, but I really need to stay away from cow's milk for now. I make my own soy milk (it's a breeze - just buy the right machine) and we drink it in smoothies. But alone: not so good unless you sweeten it, and I want to avoid that too.
(almond milk on the left, soy milk on the right)
So the other day, after going a couple of days without sugar, when I bit into an almond and my sweet-taste-buds were startled awake - I thought I'd try making almond milk to pour over my frozen cherries and blueberries. YUM. and PRETTY. And oh-so-good-for you. Oh - and cheap too.
Oh - also, our in-home-chef, Bryan, made the BEST savory almonds the other day, roasting them with sesame oil, worchestershire sauce, sea salt, and some other good stuff. LOVE Bryan!
So here's me telling everyone that you can eat organically and still satisfy your sweet cravings!

Sierra sings with Marvin Goldstein

Marvin Goldstein, master pianist, (click here for some of his music) invited my daughter, Sierra, to sing with him at a fireside following a conference he was performing at with Vanessa Joy. Excuse the turning of the camera (it was my iPhone and I'm still learning).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Life's Puzzle

I'm working on some books. Writing some books, that is. For my posterity. One of them is called "Press Forward" and chronicles some of my life experiences and the lessons I'm learning from them. I was thinking today about one of the paragraphs, and want to share it with you now.
Everyone who has put together a puzzle knows that the individual pieces seldom resemble the actual picture. In fact, without a picture of the completed puzzle, it's really hard to put the pieces together. Yet each piece is vital to the completion of the puzzle. Any piece that gets dropped off the table and kicked under the couch keeps the puzzle incomplete. Our lives, and specifically our trials, are just like those puzzle pieces. As difficult as any given trial is, it is still essential to the completed picture. We can't just toss the really hard ones aside. Each one is a vital part of the whole. Just like we have the box of the puzzle to show us the completed puzzle picture, we have scriptures, prayer, people we trust - to show us our completed picture. It is extremely important that we keep that picture in view, or eternal perspective, when we're in the midst of a trial. That is how we hang on to the puzzle piece and are eventually able to place it in the big picture. It is a carefully organized group of puzzle pieces that create the final picture. Heavenly Father is acutely aware of each of our personal puzzles. He sees vividly the finished picture, and He knows the significance of each piece. He also knows that if we were given all the pieces at once, not only would it be overwhelming, but we wouldn't be able to develop that faith that is essential to our eternal progression. We are given just a piece at a time. "Line upon line ..." applies to trials as much as to learning. Bit by bit we are allowed trials to help us grow. And with each piece that is placed in the puzzle, the picture becomes clearer. The time will come when we will all have completed pictures and we will see the wisdom in our pieces being specific to us. I think we will be amazed at the beauty of those pictures and maybe surprised at how the more difficult pieces created the most beauty.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Brad & I will celebrate 29 years of marriage early next month.
He couldn't wait to give me his gift (video, words and music - all by Brad Chapman!) ...
sweet, isn't it!
A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.
~Andre Maurois

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Sorry for the hiatus.
I spent last week trying to decide where I would be going with this blog ...
say good-bye to my long-distance friends? give up trying to read & comment often enough so you know I really do care? scramble to put together a post just so I don't lose you? take something else out of my life to make sure I can put daily quality time into the blog? keep going as I am .. hit and miss, true self into blog posts, but sporadic at best?
I found myself vacillating.
Passionate or not about the purpose of Silver Strands, I have not been tending it as I should.
I'm not a "do-things-half-way" type of person.
This has been a struggle for me - the decision, I mean.
Anyway, SILVER STRANDS wins! Hooray! I'm not giving up!!!!
So here's what you can expect from me:
I will begin to take better care of my Silver Strands. I will continue to stay up to date on your posts and lives. But I have to cut something out. Comments (which I admit, have been thinning already) will be fewer. Please know, even if you don't hear from me, that I am here. When life slows down a bit, I'll comment more. But for now, I am cutting myself some slack there.
So, what has been keeping me so busy as to make me question my loyalty to Silver Strands?
For one, my sweet family.
Family. That's one thing that's taking my time. Family near and family far. The above picture shows 2 of my kids, Bryan (in the dark blue with thin white stripes) and Sierra in the wide blue & white. Below is Brooke in Kyiv, Ukraine. She's there with her little family of 3 and so is my son with his family of 4. Azure (no picture) is also keeping me busy (she's 13 ... those of you who have had teenagers know what I mean by "keeping me busy")
(Brooke doesn't usually go around with a head covering. You can read about this adventure here)
Besides family, I'm hop-hop-hopping with work and volunteer jobs. The big "Multi Regional Single Adult Conference" happens this weekend. I'm in charge of the presenters ... it's going to be amazing with workshops and performances by Marvin Goldstein, Ardeth Kapp, David Osmond, and many more. It all comes together this weekend, and then I'm going to crash. Celebrate with a massage.
So I leave you today with this thought:
"It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see."
Henry David Thoreau

Friday, February 4, 2011


So, I've been wondering ... How are your New Years Resolutions coming along? On your way to accomplishment? I love to hear success stories, so please share!

Though I haven't completed any of my goals, I am progressing, and I haven't given up on any of them yet :)

"Success is steady progress towards one's personal goals." -Jim Rohn

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Images of gray

I think gray is absolutely beautiful! Here's why:

Do you agree?

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I used to have a thing for containers ... I collected every container I could find, from big rubbermades to itty-bitty glass containers - I just couldn't get enough of them. I'm over that obsession now. But I still like to collect some things. There is nothing in this world that beats a day at the beach collecting sea glass! (except maybe a nice foot massage)

When we lived in Sitka, Alaska we spent many-a-day wandering the rocky beaches.

Here's the thing ... It feels like a treasure hunt! And when we'd get it home and add it to our collection it would feel like such an accomplishment! As the days away from Sitka have turned in to years, our little treasures have become even more valuable to us. You see, the treasure isn't monetary - each piece of sea glass carries a treasure of memories.

What are your treasures?

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011


So, with a house full of girls (yeah, there are boys here too, but they're out numbered) there's a lot of picture taking, hair-doing, and modeling. In fact, it's tradition that whenever someone buys something new they MUST model it ... We have a required fashion show. This is especially fun at birthdays and the beginning of the school year.

I tell you this because I'm currently watching my girls modeling their summer wear. Why? They just got excited for summer to come, so they're trying on swim suits, shorts, more swimsuits .... In fact, right now they're practicing their Miss America waves :) ... I love our fashion show tradition. Do you have any traditions that aren't related to holidays?

"Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world." -Susan Liebereman

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