June 30, 2011

so much better

Will Jubilee come running into our arms with a big smile on her face?  Unlikely.  She doesn't know us at all.  Her home is the orphanage.  It is the only life she has ever known.  She has never seen a man with a scruffy face (Asian men typically can't grow beards, though I am open to correction, Alex and Phom).  We will smell different to her.  We will speak a foreign language.  We don't even have Mandarin in common with her, as she is from a Cantonese-speaking region.  She might scream for 45 minutes, as was our friends' experience when they picked up their daughter last week.  Their daughter cried and cried, reaching for the door through which her caregiver had left her with her new parents, inconsolable and stricken with grief.  Allow me to share an excerpt from this friend's blog; it just rings too loudly with truth not to.

"I’m so thankful that G0D gave me patience and perspective to have compassion for her during those first few hours. Her tears and temporary rejection didn’t hurt, because I knew something she didn’t know: it may have seemed like the end of the world to her, but I knew that it was going to get better, for all of us. At that moment, all she wanted was to go back to the orphanage and to the life she knew. I couldn’t and wouldn’t let her have what she so desperately wanted, but what I could do was to hold her, wipe away her tears, and pray for her. It must be how G0D sees things when we’re desperate for something and aching for what our hearts have set our sights on. He won’t let us have what we want sometimes, knowing that it’s not the best, but He is near to the brokenhearted and can whisper to us, 'You can’t have that, but what I have planned for you is so much better.'” -Sung McClure

June 29, 2011


Though the wait for Jubilee is frustrating and difficult, we realize that it is almost over.  We will have our daughter home before Daniel needs another haircut; before the next time I need to buy sugar.  Her room is (almost) ready.  As soon as the piglet-colored paint has cured (yes, we had to paint again, its a long story), we will apply the flowering branch decal and hang the shelf that will hold her dolls and other nicknacks.  Her Etsy-made bedding just needs to be ironed and stretched over the frame of the crib that Brave slept in until last week.  Her pinky-blinky clothes need to be washed and put in the drawers that are, at the moment, still stuffed with overalls, pickup-truck T-shirts and Batman pajamas.  On top of this dresser, her face stares out from a white picture frame, her full lips pouting, her black eyes seeming to question the world at large.  I stop into her tiny pink room in the quiet of the evenings, after her brothers have been kissed and blessed and stacked into their triple bunks for the night.  I sit down and look at her face.  Sometimes I softly cry.  Sometimes I pray.  Sometimes I just sit there, like I'm waiting for a bus, because in this last stretch that is more or less all we are doing.  Waiting.

The other night, Zion looked at her picture and said, "Mama, MeiMei looks sad" (MeiMei means "little sister").  I said that she looks sad because she doesn't have a family.  He looked up at me with that incredible attitude he has, the attitude we didn't see coming when he was a baby, and he said, "She duhhhhhs now!"

June 27, 2011

Fighting like a girl

We fight our way through totally nonsensical Eastern traffic.  She fights for her life.  We fight the urge to punch the lady at the counter at McDonald's because we fought our way through morning traffic for pancakes and they are now telling us they are out of pancakes.  She fights for her life.  We fight to learn a new language.  She fights for her life.  We fight frustration, homesickness, and diarrhea.  She fights for her life.  We fight demons, both literal and figurative.  She fights for her life.

I figure if she can keep her head up, so can we.  Thanks, baby girl, for teaching the rest of us how to fight.  

June 25, 2011


When Bright was this age, we were training him to recognize and recite dozens of countries from the world map that hung beside our kitchen table.  He was our only one.  We were bored in the evenings.

Aint so no more.

Brave is number three, with number two and number one still needing constant attention.  Any word he does say is asked like a question, and preceded by an "E."  We have no idea why.

Brave wanted to communicate the other day that there was a man and a tiger on a boat (in his imagination, of course).  He said, "E-man E-tigeh E-boat?" 

It doesn't bother us.  Sure, Bright was pointing out Madagascar before the age of 2, but when its all said and done, we will have four grown kids someday and no one will remember who knew their colors first.

Not only that, but E-Brave is really E-cute just the way he is.

June 23, 2011


Our children are what they call "TCKs," or "Third Culture Kids."  They are not completely American, culturally speaking, and yet they definitely do not share the same culture as our neighbors here in East Asia.  Children raised in other countries share a different culture altogether; a third culture.

Don't get me wrong, they know they are American passport-holders.  I found Bright drawing this on his white board the other day, and it wasn't until after I snapped the picture that I realized there was an American flag in the background, too.  I think this picture is very telling.  Bright is extremely loyal to his home country.  He is really proud to be "from Kentucky."  He can't wait to grow up and "be an American" so he can do what Americans do, which he understands to be visiting petting zoos and building sandcastles. 

I had not realized how TCK the kids had become until yesterday.  We were riding our elevator home, and Bright asked me what the tray on the stroller was for.  I told him it was for Cheerios.  His response?

"What are Cheerios?"

June 21, 2011

Thanks to Dallas

Look what our dear wedding photographer, Dallas Stalzer, who we have not seen in 9 years, gave us out of the kindness of her heart!  This and four more of our wedding photos, in digital form, emailed right to me because she read our blog and felt moved to bless us.  If you like what you see, and particularly if you are a Michigander who will be needing senior photos, check out her website.  She is amazing.

Thank you SO much, Dallas - not just for this recent gift, but also for the gift that you gave us almost a decade ago when you captured the beginning of the rest of our lives.

June 20, 2011

Welcome home, Glory!

Remember those three days you spent in the hospital after having your babies?  Remember how READY you were to get home on the morning of that third day, watching the door for the doctor to come in for that final check and then to hand you your discharge papers?

You can just imagine, then, how ready my family was for their discharge papers.  Today, Monday, June 20, 2011, Glory Danielle passed under the exit sign of Arkansas Children's Hospital.  Eleven months later.

Has there ever been a bigger reason to celebrate anything?  Excluding Easter, I am thinking not.

Please don't stop praying.  She will still have her tubes and her meds and everything else that helps her fight for her life.  Kerry and Philip and Shari need extra energy and love and support as they become Glory's around-the-clock nursing staff.  Eliana needs grace and understanding beyond her four years.  Glory herself needs several/many surgeries in the months and years to come.

Its like Glory is David and the brokenness in her body is Goliath and we are the Israelites, cheering her on from the surrounding hills, our knees on the ground and our hands raised to Heaven.

Go, Glory, Go!  A great host stands behind you always.  You've done so well, sweetheart.  We love you.  Welcome, welcome, welcome HOME.

Daddy's Day in Dali

This weekend, Daddy traveled to Dali to do a thing or two, so we tagged along.  When it came down to the choice between another weekend without my husband, and a road trip with the kids, I chose door number two.

I was glad I did.  So were the kids.  So was Daniel, he assures me.

Dali is beautiful, by the way.  This was my second visit to this mountain-hugging hikers' hub, and I think I enjoyed Stella's wood-fired pizza even more this time.  Although, I will say that even more delicious than her pizza is her vegetable soup with macaroni and pesto (as if Stella is a real person, which of course she might be).

A few pics of the weekend.
Father's Day gondola ride up the mountain.

And tootling around town.

Daniel, there has never been a better dad than you.  I know that you enjoyed the chaos company of your wife and kids this weekend, and that is why I love you.  You choose us every time. 

June 16, 2011


36 weeks later, Rupp Academy sees its first kindergarten graduate.  I sort of feel like I need a certificate, too.  
Bright Rupp, I am so proud of you, son!  You worked so hard and kept a great attitude, even when your baby brother was scribbling all over your math assignments.  You are bigger than you were in the Fall.  You are starting to pronounce your R's.  Your handwriting has become so neat.  Your reading skills have taken off.  You can carry your 1's and borrow from the number in the tens place.  You can tell time.  You know the difference between a circle and a sphere.  You know about the asteroid belt, the martyrs, and why a good story needs details.

We did it.  You and me.  I'll never take for granted the awesome privilege to be not only your mother, but also your teacher.  I love you, my little 1st grader!!!

June 15, 2011

the sound of significance

My feet stick to the floor.  The sneakers I reserve for indoor use, strapped on the moment I awake, give away the stage of life we are in. Criiick, shwoof, criiick, shwoof, across the kitchen, as I walk over spilled and dried milk because the boys need to feel like they are big enough to pour it themselves.  I could mop every 10 minutes, I could, but would you?

This morning, as I watched Daniel get ready to leave the house for a day of it, I pouted severely.
"I wish I could leave, too," I said.  "Can I sign up for something else?"
He smiled and pulled me close.  "I would feel the same way, I really would," he said (only after I told him to say that, of course - he's not THAT perfect, people).

But then, as we were waiting for the microwave to ding, he broke the silence with, "You couldn't be doing anything more significant, though.  If you wanted to do something really significant in this life, you are doing it right now."

The microwave dinged, Daniel headed to the bathroom to shave, and I proceeded to move around the kitchen making breakfast.  Criiick, shwoosh, criiick, shwoosh - the sound of significance.

June 14, 2011

Man Zou

"Man Zou" is a common phrase that literally means "go slowly."  It is said when two people part ways, spoken from the staying party to the parting party.

I say it now with a heavy heart.

One of the very best women I've ever known will leave this country in two days.  Marianne is pictured here on the right (with Alisa, another woman I adore and will certainly have to say goodbye to one day).  She and her husband, David, and cutey-pie daughter, Sarah, will be moving from here to St. Louis, for David to pursue the study of law.

Marianne is as real as it gets.  Everybody says that about her.  Her kind and beautiful face has a way of putting even the most high-strung friends (eh hem) at ease.  She is pleasant and strong and full of wisdom, and though smarter than all of us, we get the feeling that she doesn't know it.  Marianne and David have lived here for 6 years, exemplifying what it means to serve with true hearts for the people.  They will be missed quite sorely, but even as I ache at our parting, I thank G0D for giving the Rupps three whole years to fall in love with them, and with their movie projector, and their quick wit, and their Christmas toffee, and their hearts of absolute gold.

Marianne, David, and Sarah, be gone now and be blessed.  We love you dearly.  We will miss you terribly.  We long for the day when we see you down the road, whenever and wherever that might be.

Man Zou, my friends, Man Zou.

June 13, 2011

brave for two years

730 days ago this morning, I screamed a whole lot and out came a puffy blue boy.  I heard his father name him Brave.  I touched his waxy skin.  Then suddenly I was alone, in a tiny concrete delivery room in Chiang Mai, Thailand, under a glaring fluorescent light.  I would later find out that Daniel had stepped out to call our families back in the States and the nurses were cleaning and weighing our son down the hall.  That left me, lying alone in the delivery room, higher than a kite beginning to feel the effects of the epidural that was injected into my back just moments before Brave was born.

Here he is, two years later to the day, unsure what he thinks about the swimming pool.  Swim caps are required in the pools of this country, which look really dorky on adults but dangerously cute on little ones.
Happy 2nd birthday, Brave Ransom!  The Rupps needed your dimple and your rocketed spirit; your strength, your fearlessness, your loyalty and your love.  The world needed a boy named Brave.

June 10, 2011

a boy reborn

It all started on the way to McDonald's.  Bright said, "What does the word CHR!STIAN mean?"  I said, "It means follower of CHR!ST."  Zion said, "Am I a CHR!STIAN?"  The rest is history.  We explained, he heard and believed.  Zion prayed, this day, June 10, 2011, in the back seat of a mian bao che, to receive JES^S CHR!ST as his savior.  We went on to McDonald's and celebrated.  He kept saying, "I'm so incited to be a CHR!STIAN!!!" (meaning excited, of course).  We talked over cheeseburgers and fries all about the promises of G0D.  His dimpled face seemed to be glowing.

On the way home he said, "I want to go under the bath."  Daniel said, "You mean you want to be baptized?"  Zion said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm READY!!!"  So we got home and filled the wooden tub to baptize another one of our sons.  While the tub was filling, Zion bounced around the house in his underwear exclaiming, "I'm jumping for the joy!"  Daniel had a short pastoral counseling session with Zion in the home school room, just to make sure he understood what was about to happen, and then a boy was reborn.

Another Book of Life Cake!  Party at the Rupp house, and among the angels in Heaven.

June 09, 2011

My day with "Dad"

Now and then Daniel keeps the boys for the afternoon so I can steal away with my Bib1e and journal.  Around here, we call this sort of thing spending the day with "Dad."  Below are the (many, so beware) words from my journal yesterday. 

1:31 p.m., Wed, June 8, 2011
I am sitting on a waterside stoop at Green Lake Park, sipping a cold "ling du" (coke zero) that I bought for 5 kuai at a drink stand.  I kindly got rid of an older man who wanted to practice his English with me and buy me a drink (of tea, friends, to his defense).  There are three teenage girls in shorts, sneakers, and pantyhose playing cards and giggling under a tree.  There is a woman to my right selling stuffed monkeys and other brick brack.  A minority woman with a thatched broom teeters by, sweeping up what is left of other people's lazy interludes.  There is a loud motor sounding from beyond the bamboo.  High-altitude sunshine is warming my legs as the breeze lifts my out-of-place blond(ish) hair.  I have nowhere to be until 5 O'clock.

1:45 p.m.
Um, I look crazy talking to "myself," so I will write these prayers instead.
I watch the reeds, the sky, the willows, the birds, the flat, handsome faces of your people, this land that saw your birth.  I marvel at you, daughter-I-have-never-met, and me, mother-with-hazel-eyes-and-freckles, coming together once and for all.  G0D, make me worthy of this thing.  Make me like the chosen woman that I am.  Take care of my daughter's needs, even now as she sleeps in a steel crib somewhere east of here, resting before her supper of rice and cabbage.  Surround her with your love.  Prepare her to be loved, to be touched, to be cherished.  Loosen her tongue to learn a new language.  Loosen the bricks in the walls she has built to survive.  Prepare Yang Yu Hong to also be Jubilee Sue Rupp.  Prepare us all.

2:13 p.m.
I just read Revelation 7.  I just saw a man in a shirt (that used to be white) tucked in with pride to hand-hemmed pants, who when digging through the trash for plastic bottles (which are worth scant amounts of money), came across a half-full bottle of green milk tea and drank it down before crushing it and tossing it into his burlap sack.  I wonder how many backwashed beverages that man consumes every day at this park.  I wonder how often he empties his bladder onto the red earth, making room for the contents of more bottles.  I wonder how strong his immune system is - or how weak.  I wonder about the tiny dark fingers that carefully hemmed his pants, that tastefully fry the vegetables he buys with the money he gets for the bottles in his sack.
Revelation 7 says, "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands" (v9) "Never again will they hunger, never again will they thirst...And G0D will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (v16, 17).
L0RD, oh my L0RD, to trade our dingy shirts for robes of white!  To trade backwashed tea for living water!  My Savior, my Precious L0RD, to you be all the praise and glory and honor forever.  May my friend with the sack of bottles learn, somehow, of the well that will never run dry.

(A shoe-shiner uses a toothbrush to scrub gunk from a despondent woman's giant rhinestone shoe-bow.  I realize I am hungry.  5 more kuai buys me a bag of sweet and salty popcorn.  I drop another kuai-and-a-half into a young man's guitar case in exchange for his having serenaded my popcorn break.  A guy selling spicy pickled fruit?? chortles something my way.  I get back on my hot pink motorbike and ride downtown, touching my knees together as I ride, like a lady.)

3:51 p.m.
Grande decaf skim milk latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup.  Starbucks has arrived in our city, my friends, and the red-white-and-blue in my veins won't allow me to stay away.
G0D, put a distaste in them for sin.  Put a yearning in them for light and righteousness.  Reveal yourself to them in ways you never will to me, at least not in this life I'm sure.  BRIGHT:  Make him the leader he was born to be.  Protect his keen mind from the poison of the enemy.  Raise up for him a strong-hearted wife who will cook mashed potatoes for him and listen to his ideas and lovingly heed his leadership; to bless him and warm his heart all the days of his life.  ZION: Cultivate the creative heart that is Zion.  Surround him with beauty and joy, for these things he was made to love.  Raise up for him a wife with a quick smile who lets him protect her; a wife to delight him and welcome his abundant affections forever.  BRAVE:  Make him into the wall-scaler he was meant to be.  Watch over his feet as he ventures into wild places.  May he venture, when and where he does, for your glory, LORD.  Raise up for him a wife who will believe in him and who's love will spur him on.

I don't think this latte is decaf.

L0RD, thank you for Daniel.  Please continue to bless our marriage with joy.  Strengthen our love for you and for each other, even as the storms of life rage.  May his shoulders be like a tower, his feet like anchors when the winds are blowing and like the wind when your truth must go forth.  Bless his efforts on this Earth.  Let his heart be content in you.  May you be his portion forever.  Protect his good name, teach him your ways, and carry him in those hours when he has nothing left.

G0D, renew a right spirit within me.  At your feet I choose to spend my days.  At your feet I lay my burdens down.  I love you, L0RD.  Thank you for this day together.  Thank you for everything. 

June 07, 2011

on the eve of adopting a sister

Six years of saying, "C'mon, boy(s)!" is fast coming to an end, to be replaced with "C'mon, kids!", I suppose.

Everything is about to change.  

We have noticed subtle changes in our boys on the eve of adopting a sister.  Brave is clingier, Zion is asking more questions, and Bright's moods are a little more pronounced.  Like dogs, kids can sense change, and our kids are no exception.  They are all asking the same question, in their own ways, begging the same answer, "Yes, we still love you.  No, your place in this family will never change.  Yes, everything is going to be OK.  In fact, its going to be amazing."

So while we pray over this and converse about this and tinker with her room, we document the era when Rupp boys ruled the roost.
The instruction-following oldest.

The free-form middle son.
The brawny baby.
Our brood, soon to include a black-eyed beauty.

June 06, 2011


This is my little brother, Jack.  You'd never believe this handsome kid is pushing the daylights out of 30.

 These are his awesome kids, Jack and Sharlet.

This is my handsome big brother, Kody, with his natural dad, Randy, sister, Mahrya, and her daughter, Paityn.

I stole the first two pictures from Jack's girlfriend, Gina, and the third picture from Mahrya.  I can't explain what its like, to not know my niece and nephew (due to the 7,000 miles that separate us year to year), and to miss the prime of my brothers' lives. Of all the sacrifices I've been called to make in this life, this one is the most difficult.  All I can do is be their prayer warrior, and I am.  I pray for Jack and Sharlet, and their handsome daddy, and their handsome Uncle Kody, and if my prayers are answered, I will get to spend the rest of eternity fishing side-by-side with my precious family, in heavenly lakes brimming with bluegills.

L0RD, you can come on back and get us anytime.  Seriously.  I'm ready when you are.

June 03, 2011

waiting song

People ask us all the time what it is like to wait for Jubilee. They ask how it feels not to be able to hold one of our children. I search for the words to explain it. This song does it better than I can.

June 02, 2011

Zion's first (read) word!

Note this day in history, Grandma, Grandpa, and MoMo, because today Zion read his first word, "Tom!"

Also today, Bright read, "All purpose Greek Seasoning," but that is beside the point.

Even more beside the point, and speaking of Greek seasoning, if you want some good chicken, marinate chicken tenders in plain yogurt, lemon juice, and a generous amount of Greek seasoning (like Cavender's), then baste and grill.  Serve as the main meat, or on top of a Greek salad, or in a pita with feta and black olives and such.

Back to the point, GOOD JOB Zion Rupp!  You are very smart.  May you be swept off your feet by the written word like your big brother and me.  May the Word of G0D be like candy to your heart all the days of your life.  And who knows, maybe you'll name your first son Tom.

jogging my memory

Its that time of year again:  baby showers, weddings, and rainy weekday afternoons.  I have hosted one baby shower already this Spring, attended several, received one myself, and ordered plenty of wedding gifts from Bed Bath and Beyond.  This time of year always brings me back to the Spring of 2002, when I walked across a football field in Michigan to receive my bachelor of arts in English Literature, and then walked down the stone floor of Dimnent chapel to receive Daniel's hand in marriage.  I spent my time that Spring writing final papers, swooning long hours on the phone with my distant fiance, mulling over things like crock pots and towel sets, listening to Ben Harper in my pjs with Lou, and dreaming of happily ever after.
I remember going dress shopping with my mom.  The first dress I tried on was a simple number from the sales rack, and I loved it.  "I'll take it," I told my mom.  But she said oh no you don't!  I've been waiting your whole life to take you dress shopping and we're going to make a day of it.  So we drove all over Grand Rapids, laughing and oohing and ahhing and eating, and then we went back and bought that dress.  I love you, Mom.
The picture above is one of our favorites from May 26, 2002.  We were married two minutes before digital photos were standard, so we only have the prints that we ordered.  This is a photo of the print that hangs framed in our home school room, right above my desk.  It shows how young we were, and how excited, and how stupid (I say that with more warmth than words can relay).  Do you see the truck key in Daniel's right hand?  We jumped in his Ford F150, 12 seconds after this picture was taken, and drove off to take on the world!  We chuckle now when we look at this picture, saying that those two kids had no idea what they were getting themselves into.  Not marriage, mind you.  Our marriage has been the bedrock of our lives and always will be.  We mean life itself, with all of its burned birthday cakes and miscarriages and spiritual warfare and valleys of darkness when the only light we have is the light of G0D himself. 
I also like to look at this picture when my memory starts to fail me.  When I can't remember why we're doing this.  When I can't remember how it all began.  I look at this picture and it all comes flooding back.  I can almost feel my feet clicking down the chapel steps and across the concrete, underneath swirling rose petals and clapping hands, my brand new husband's fingers intertwined with mine, his new ring pinching my skin.  Oh yes, now I remember, my heart says with a sigh, Now I remember.

June 01, 2011

climb every mountain

My boys love The Sound of Music, which is not at all weird considering the film's high level of exuded bravery, children singing and playing, and beautiful mountain scenery.  (I think I've just described a boy's dreamworld).  Thanks to Ms Allison, who got us hooked early to the classics, my children are drawn to slower-moving, well-written pictures with realistic images and healthy messages.  They are the same way with books.  They would rather listen to a great book with no illustrations than cringe through one of those things with a sound-effect board along the edge.

OK, I know I'm a bit of a snob.  I beg your pardon, I really do.  Its just that the printed newspaper is on its way out, my friends, ON ITS WAY OUT, and in a world where junior-highers are learning about relationships from social networking sites, I am a bit protective of anything...well...real.

That said, Daniel took the above picture of Z and B on a mountain outside the city the other day, and it reminded me of The Sound of Music.  Hand them each a pair of green and white paisley knickers and we might actually be fooled.

The thing is, they were on this mountain because Brave and I were in Thailand for another medical emergency.  One might imagine us grumbling about that, about having to go through that kind of thing, again, but I can honestly tell you that Brave sucking in that nut was an answer to prayer.  Zion and Bright have been going through a tough time lately, and G0D knew that they needed five days of hiking and spelunking and not brushing their teeth.  He knew they needed to build fires and forts and be showered with the kind of strong, tender, challenging, approving, awesome, safe, wild, deep, and enveloping love that only a daddy can give.
G0D really is so good at what he does.  What might look like an obstacle is often exactly what we need.  This week, I was taken out of the picture for a while, where I could pray and collect my focus and listen to the sound of silence.  Zion and Bright were brought to a place where they could grow and learn - and heal.

And as it were, I came home to
the sound of music.