celebrations, legacy, testimony, Uncategorized

Easter 2020:

A Week of Improv

 This Holy Week has been such a strange one – a Holy Week with the script massively edited.

I think most holidays have a script, whether it’s written or unwritten, stored in gray matter, or pixels or printed and bound in hardcover on the family bookshelf. Over the past dozen years or so, Jason and I have been editing ours. We’ve been writing and rewriting, trying hard to choose the right actors, sets, and action, cutting and adding what gets into the script, and trying to keep it short and focused on the thing we are really trying to celebrate. But even as we are working on this, it’s so easy for the scripted celebration to compete with the thing we are celebrating.

Palm Sunday communion at home

We are blessed to live in an age with so much creative content available at the flick of our scrolling fingers. There are just.so.many good things to help us keep our eyes on the journey to the Cross: beautiful art, moving music, hands-on activities and coloring pages, videos, recipes, blog posts and devotionals and carefully planned worship services. I love to curate and adapt and sometimes write these resources. Every year, Jason and I choose some things to do that we think will help our family make that journey from life to death to new life. It’s not always the same, but the worship services form the skeleton for the week: Palm Sunday with a processional, Maundy Thursday fellowship meal and worship, Good Friday service, and Easter Sunday celebration.  

But this year, as we stay home, it has been different. Different than usual, of course, but also different than what I expected. I thought we would have more time to do some of the things we don’t always have time to do – more coloring pages and kids’ activities, more acts of service, more all-family worship and devotional times. I thought the script would include some rewrites and some new scenes. I knew the dinner scene would look different, because we are functional cooks, not celebratory cooks like my parents. I didn’t know that it would look like we lost the script for most of the week. But we did, and it gave me pause to think about the disciples in a new way.

We used a script for a simple, beautiful Maundy Thursday liturgy that was a gift from Patti Gibbons at The Spacious Life https://instagram.com/thespacious.life?igshid=11hkvf0yf0a4b

Even though Jesus had prepared the disciples, they really didn’t get a sense of their roles until they were right in the middle of it. They thought they knew what to expect with the entry into Jerusalem. They thought they knew what the week would hold. They thought there was a script for Passover. But Jesus did some completely unexpected things at the Passover meal. And that was just the beginning of their realization that their roles were being rewritten.

They quickly found themselves saying lines they didn’t intend to say, doing things they didn’t think they would ever be doing. There was no neat order, no preparation, no planned menu, no supplies and materials gathered, no practice for how to huddle together in a locked room to avoid being executed, no rehearsal for how to celebrate and mark the crazy good news that your Lord who died right in front of your eyes has been raised from the dead. No menu for that celebration meal, and no order of worship. No florist delivery, no carefully hung wreaths or flower crosses or practiced orchestras. I am seeing that it must have been all higgledy piggledy for them, too – chaotic and scary, unprecedented, unpracticed, and unprepared.Those disciples were improvising, responding to each unexpected thing that happened with nothing but the preparation that Jesus had been doing in their hearts the whole time they had been walking together. Their world was upside down, and they were a scattered mess.

But Jesus used that mess to build his Church and to spread the good news of his love across the world. And He can use this mess in my house – this unprecedented, unpracticed, unprepared band of followers in each of our houses – in the same way to accomplish his purposes. But like the disciples, we aren’t unprepared for the important things. He has been preparing us as long as we have been walking with him. So now, may how we respond in our homes – even when our scripts have been tossed –  build the Kingdom one line at a time. And when the lines we deliver are wrong, when we and the other actors misstep, when the props aren’t at hand, and when the sets fall down, may we then give and receive the grace He offers the disciples and us by coming and sharing our everyday meals cooked over a campfire or served in our usual dining rooms. May this week of improv be used to spread the good news of His love and hope far and wide on whatever stage He gives us.  

adoption, celebrations, family, milestones, testimony

Whew… it’s been quite a while since we last updated this. But, I’m here today to share about what’s been going on in the past year with my littlest sister.

One year ago yesterday, we held this sweet girl for the first time. For those of you who haven’t met her yet, this is our precious Eleanor Mae.

One year ago today, we walked across this construction zone. This was  the only way to get to the Civil Affairs Building where Rui Shan was waiting to meet us.

It was an interesting and visible reminder that the enemy doesn’t want orphans to be in families; a physical barrier. We know, however, that our loving God wants us to care for orphans and He will provide a way for us to get through the physical and spiritual obstacles.

When we walked into the room, our little sister was lying on a caretaker’s lap and we learned that was just about the only thing she could do. Since then, she has made huge strides!

In the past year, Ellie has started eating solid foods (mashed or cut into little bits and spoon-fed). She can sit up on her own. She is mobile: she can roll both ways and go from sitting up to lying down and from lying down to sitting up. She has started to bear weight and has had rodding surgery to make her bones straight so they are less prone to a significant fracture. She is working on communication, and will soon add speech therapy to her regular rotation of physical and occupational therapy.

Eleanor particularly enjoys:

  • Eating
  • Music
  • Hanging out in her own house
  • Playing on the floor
  • Playing with toys and books
  • Swinging
  • Being talked to and played with
  • Being held and carried
  • Swimming – especially with her grandparents, who took her for her first real swim time
  • Her siblings’ antics, horseplay, and romping
  • Her daily routines

On her 2nd birthday – before we even got to meet her – we began praying Psalm 27 for this precious girl. Here are a few verses in picture:

The Lord is my light and my salvation —     Whom shall I  fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life–    of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me  it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;   

he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;

At his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;  be merciful to me and answer me.

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”  Your face, Lord, I will seek.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait  for the Lord.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Psalm 27: 1-8; 13-14


Today marks the one year anniversary of when Eleanor officially became a Scheopner. China’s adoption process requires a 24 hour period of getting to know the child before the actual adoption. One year ago today, all the official paperwork was signed and stamped with Mom and Dad’s thumbprints and Eleanor’s footprint. Eleanor is such a blessing to us and we can’t imagine life without her. God has provided in so many ways throughout the whole adoption process and we know that He will continue to lovingly lead us each step of this journey together.

Blessings,                                                                                                                                                                                      Juliana

adoption, celebrations, milestones, Uncategorized

This weekend we posted about having received a matching grant to help with the expenses of completing an adoption. If you missed it, you can see the details about God’s timing and provision here. That grant – one a friend had encouraged us to pursue – was just another example of how our community has come together to help bring this little child into a family – our family – with such love in action.

Love in action is really what this adoption has been about so far – and I suspect will continue to be as we transition from the preparation phase to the action phase of bringing Rui Shan into our family. It was love in action that caused someone to post her profile in our OI Parents group. It was love in action that brought our kids to start Operation Adoption, and it was love in action that brought so many generous people into our driveway in preparation for and on the days of an enormous garage sale. It was love in action that caused people to play Freethrows for Family, or collect soda cans they could have easily flung into recycling, and it was love in action that gave our kids so many work opportunities this summer. We have seen love lived out in your actions again and again – and that is what we are celebrating on Sunday. We want to invite you to come and celebrate this milestone: through your love in action, we are about to embark on the travel part of the adoption journey!

You will see love in action in a few very fun ways on Sunday! Feel free to bring friends, children, grandchildren, and come enjoy the delightful Floofus, have some munchies or a cup of coffee, and take a minute to sign Rui Shan’s quilt so she will one day soon be able to see and understand how very much she has been loved and anticipated since before we even saw her sweet face.



adoption, celebrations, family, milestones, Uncategorized

Our dear, darling daughter on the other side of the world from us turned two today.  We are so thankful for the gift of her life – for the parents who gave her life, for her foster parents and nannies who are loving on her today and sustaining her, and for the many people whose work is enabling her life and our lives to be joined together. We are so eager to be able to mark milestones with her before too long. Tonight we had to mark the big day without the guest of honor, but we are mindful that each day that passes brings us nearer to our time to meet and hold her, and to begin to let her know how special she is to us, and above all to God.  We can’t wait to celebrate with her in the years to come!