As an adoptive parent of older little ones, I remember being so sad to have missed all the “firsts”:  first smile, first bath, first tooth (which in this mama’s opinion might actually be a perk.  Teething is so not fun for anyone!), first crawl, first step….

BUT seriously, no doubt, every mama longs to have had each from the moment they needed care, but that’s not how life has been. My heart has broken in a million pieces at times for missing every moment we weren’t together and knowing what each had to endure until they came home forever….

Yet, God in His goodness redeems each situation and although we don’t have some firsts there are beautifully joyous firsts that we do have – and we will celebrate those!

Like the First Christmas….

Let me tell you, Vern could hardly wait!!  I mean he beamed and would say over and over and over, “My First Christmas!”  Yes, son, it would be your first time authentically celebrating the birth of the Savior you love so much!!

And it went like this:

They were all waiting in the boys room!


We have always had this tradition where the kids line up Christmas morning…youngest to oldest  (although Birdie doesn’t quite get that “stay right there in front of Ruby” thing – yet!).

It struck me this year how that line has changed over the last almost 34 years…such a beautiful line and kinda’ maybe one of my favorite traditions…


Each year the kids exchange names and keep it a secret till Christmas morning…

Nehemiah had Vern…(and gave him some Wii games)…Vern’s smile tells it all…


Although horribly blurry, clearly Nee’s pretty pleased with Vernon’s overjoyed reaction!

IMG_0477 IMG_0475

Birdie wasn’t quite sure to make of all of it…


But suddenly she realized they were PRESENTS!!



Yippee Jesus!!  Birdie’s smiles are coming!!  Birdie’s smiles are coming!! Birdie’s smiles are coming!!

Emma and Josh skyped in for the opening of the presents they had sent for the gift exchange…


Vern had Elijah’s name (and on an unsolicited side note: Dang those darts sure sting no matter how much padding our bee-hind may have!!)!!



IMG_0445Making our traditional cinnamon rolls – with a special treat of gluten cinnamon rolls for the gluten-loving people! They were thrilled.  I made special GF ones for those of us who can’t, which frankly were not all that yummy. Oh well.  The tradition was carried out…although we may have to revamp for next year.


Our two little girlies don’t think “hold still” should be part of the plan!



Yeah, I know, I know.  The cords are sloppy and showing.  Dust bunnies.  Spots on the floor. Jubilee’s socks (Bwahaha)..

But this is my real life and although hardly Pinterest worthy – this mama (who has only ever longed for a big ol’ pile lovingly gathered from around the world) has this:


And my heart sings!

First Christmas for Vern and Birdie = Joyful Success

I will sing to the Lord, because He has been so good to me!

Psalm 13:6

24 thoughts on “Firsts

  1. LOVED this post~ their matching jammies, the line up of youngest to oldest, the sibling gift exchange- and especially Vern being so excited for his first Christmas- such joy! 🙂

  2. I’d choose those pics with beautiful happy smiling faces over a Pinterest worthy home ANY TIME!!!!!! Linny, your family is stunning….the setting doesn’t matter one bit! (although frankly, I don’t see a single thing wrong with your home)

    1. Thank you Brenda! Your words made me smile. In a Pinterest-perfect-pretend world, it’s so sweet to hear! I love our home and I am not a freak about getting it “just so” for anyone to come over…it is what it is…I would rather enjoy my kids than freak out about ‘mess’. xo

  3. Love, love, love Birdie’s delighted smiles! And Vern’s. My older adopted (nearly 7) was not impressed by anything. I never got to experience firsts with her because she never acted excited and still rarely does at 19. It was a bit sad but it is what it is. Your middle littles are looking so grown up! Jubilee! Elizabeth! Nehemiah! And Ruby’s so big now. It has been so wonderful and such a privilege to watch your family grow and your kids grow.

    1. Thank you Jan for being so kind!

      I’m truly sorry for the ‘unimpressed’ one of yours. That makes my heart sad and makes me kinda’ wonder what pain she is covering by her lack of joy? I would probably be playing a ton of “the Thankful Game” to help her understand that we *all* have sooooo much to be thankful for!

      Thank you for cheering our brood on as they grow! We have been abundantly blessed.

  4. Love love love the family picture under the tree. What an awesome sight. And Birdie! Her facial expressions are THE best. You are blessed.

    1. Birdie’s smiles are coming and it’s so fun! Last night she was hysterical (even in the midst of being sick with a nasty virus)…I want to record what she was doing. It would make anyone giggle. She’s healing and we are so grateful for the Lord’s touch!

  5. You know, I didn’t even see the “mess” until you pointed it out. As a Mama Of Much Craziness, I find myself not taking the pictures or not posting them, because of the general mess of so many people living in one house. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that we chose this life for the Little People we are caring for, not for the Better Homes and Gardens decor we could maybe have. Keep on loving those kiddos! Sara

    1. From one Mom of Many (with a whole lot of craziness) to another – we can hang together…and you could come over anytime if you lived near, cause you ‘get it’! Happy Monday to you! xo

  6. My heart has always been tender for your Nehemiah … and to see his adoring arms around Birdie, just so beautiful. A picture of redeeming love without a doubt!

    1. I don’t think there has been a day pass, since Nehemiah came home, that I have not stopped to thank the Lord for bringing him home to us. He is so tender hearted it astounds me. And helpful? Usually the first to jump up! He speaks openly (with us) of what he endured till we found him and I cannot bear to think of him anywhere but in our arms. No doubt, he was meant for us all along, God will use the past pain for His glory, but oh how I hate all this gentle son went through to get to us. Grateful always for our faithful God’s direct intervention into his life!

  7. Being behind and playing catchup on multiple Saunder’s posts at once just might be the perfect sinus cleanse for my head cold. I might be in denial, but I’m praising Jesus with every blow of my nose and wipe of my eyes. 😉 So many happy tears this morning!! Oh my heart bursts with joy seeing all those sweet smiles!! Especially little Birdie’s! What joy it must bring your momma heart to watch that beautiful flower of trust and joy unfold! Faithful God!

    And for the record, Pinterest is SO overrated. Real, messy life with squirmy kiddos is SO much more fun!! (And yes, I put that in writing to remind myself of that truth when my old perfectionist self tries to pay a visit and regain total organization, order and control). 😂 As always, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful family with us!! Love y’all to pieces!

  8. These are fantastic pictures of your beautiful family! So glad you had such a great first Christmas with Vern and Birdie =D
    I’m strongly considering adopting in the future, although want to wait until I’m married – I know you encourage single people to adopt, but I was raised in a single parent home for the majority of my childhood and sorely missed having a father so would never choose that for my children. Looking at pictures like this reinforces the potential joy adoption could be, but everyone I’ve met in real life who has adopted tells only stories like Jan’s – of heartbreak and real struggle. So I feel a bit torn. I know this isn’t about creating a beautiful picture, and instead is about providing a loving home for kids who wouldn’t otherwise have one, kids who have often been through some really broken times and are therefore naturally going to act out. But virtually everyone I’ve met has had a complete nightmare time and it’s virtually ended their marriages. Any thoughts?

    1. Alex,
      I understand your desire to wait and it sounds best in your situation. I think that the thing is that we *always* have to remember that painful stories of heartbreak and struggle are across the board in the category of “parenting”. Adoption is not the struggle…it’s just that people point out (usually in hushed tones), “Ohhhh, that’s the one they ADOPTED”…but no one ever says (about a kid gone sideways), “Ohhhh, that’s the one they BIRTHED!”

      But as a 58 year old mom with literally thousands of friends around the world over the years, I can attest to the fact that BIRTH children give parents an equal amount of “run for their money”. I can tell you about BIRTH children (I personally know up close) who have become prostitutes, drug addicts, abusers, murderers, thieves…all causing their parents tremendous trauma and real heartache. And like I said, those are *birth* children!

      So maybe adoption isn’t for you…maybe it is…but parenting is where the rubber hits the road and truthfully, birthing a child does not guarantee a kid won’t go sideways. There are zero guarantees with parenting.

      As James Dobson titled a book he wrote so well, “Parenting Isn’t for Cowards” and that’s the honest truth!!

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