Harder Family

Harder Family

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

MRI Results

Psalm 145 "I will extol You, my God and King, and bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You and praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of Your awesome deeds, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of Your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all,
and His mercy is over all that He has made. All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, and all Your saints shall bless You! They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and tell of Your power, to make known to the children of man Your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all His words and kind in all His works. The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever."

Easter 2015 (2 months after Wayne's brain surgery)

Easter 2017 (leap of faith - grew our family by two this year!)

Thank you to everyone who was praying for Wayne's MRI on Monday. I apologize for not letting everyone know the results sooner (life got crazy the last two days). Wayne's oncologist told us that his scan hasn't changed. It still looks clear except for what they think is radiation spots. We do not have to go in for another three months!! We are praising the Lord for more answered prayers. We know that God could answer either yes or no to our prayers, but we are so thankful that God thinks that He isn't done with Wayne here on earth. So, we press forward working toward the finish line!! 

Each time we go to the doctor, I reflect on how much God has blessed us since that day two years ago when we got handed the awful news of brain cancer. When we felt God calling us to adopt, it felt like that would be the stupidest thing to do..."One year after brain cancer God, you want us to adopt? We do not know what is in store for the future and you want us to take a huge leap of faith?" We prayed long and hard. We felt the prompting of the Lord and we moved forward in faith. I am so glad that we obeyed. God's timing is perfect!! I just heard today that China has just readjusted some of their policies, including adopting two kids at once. We knew changes were coming, even while in China. No one is 100% sure what is causing the changes, but there have been a lot of changes recently. Policies are being more strictly enforced. China used to give waivers to some families where did not meet all the requirements (age, income, etc). Today there are no waivers being given. 

Today's news, that families are being denied final approval for two, just once again reinforced my belief that God works in His timing. If we had hesitated or been afraid to say yes, these two boys would probably still be sitting in China waiting for their forever families. It is heartbreaking to see parents being declined by China. This means children will be waiting longer. People who could adopt and meet China's requirements, are many times too afraid to take the leap of faith and adopt. Those who are willing to take the leap, are being told no. Maybe you are someone who God may be calling to adopt but you are afraid. Please do not hesitate. We have seen God move mountains to bring our boys home! There is nothing like participating in the work that God is doing. It is scary, exciting, thrilling, and crazy all wrapped in one package. 

Please prayerfully consider how God may want you involved. Maybe it isn't adoption, maybe it is foster care or Safe Families. Maybe God wants you to walk along side a family who is adopting. Pray and ask God what He wants you to do today. Thank you again for all of your prayers!!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Glimpse of Heaven

Revelation 7:9-10 "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'"

This week the weather was really nice. One day we met up with friends at Lake Katherine to enjoy God's creation.

The boys got their first hair cut after arriving home. Our friend Sammi came over and cut their hair at our house! That was a HUGE blessing!! Thanks again Sammi!

For school on Friday, we did some fun projects, including using M&M's for math. Everyone enjoyed school on Friday!

Friday night we took the boys to the Chinese Christian Union Church in Chicago. We attended their Good Friday Mandarin service. It was a great experience for our girls. They were able to feel what it is like for the boys to attend church with us each week. I told them to try to see if they could understand anything. For me, besides working hard to try to understand as much as I could in Mandarin, it touched me deeply. While they were singing praises to God as loud as they could, I closed my eyes and envisioned Revelation 7:9-10 (see above). It gave me the chills to think about EVERY nation, tribe, people, and language worshipping God together one day. 

We have been studying the book of Acts in our woman's Bible study at church.  Friday night's service made me contemplate what it must have been like to be Jews from different nations who came to Jerusalem to worship God at the temple, but could not understand anyone around them. When the Holy Spirit empowered the believers and they spoke in all the different languages, I could just imagine what it was like for these people to hear people suddenly speaking in their language. The people were amazed at this and wanted to know more. There is something about hearing your own language that brings peace and comfort. We saw the boys perk up Friday night (I know for experience how nice it was in China to meet someone who spoke English!). They loved being able to understand everything and talk to everyone in their own language. It was wonderful because they were able to ask questions about Jesus and get answers from people who could explain it better to them in their own language, then our poor attempts with a phone translator. 

Yesterday we spent the day preparing our meal for today. Wayne and I decided that this Easter, we would have Chinese food. We want the boys to feel at home and eating Chinese food makes them so happy. I asked them yesterday if they had ever made baozi (steam buns) or jiaozi (dumplings). They said they had wanted to cook in China, but they were never allowed to. So, Friday night before church, I took a trip to the Chinese store to buy the ingredients we needed to make a Chinese meal at home. All the kids helped me roll out steam buns and dumplings. Although the girls and I helped put together steam buns before, I have never made the dough or filling before. Yesterday was an adventure, but it was a success! We made homemade pork dumplings, ground pork and cabbage steam buns, and BBQ pork steam buns. I quickly made a batch of noodles with the leftover vegetables I had cut up for the dumplings and steam buns. (all the recipes will be listed at the very bottom of the post for those who are interested!!) 

Our jiaozi (dumplings)

"Look at my baozi (steam buns) Mama!!"

This morning we took the family back to Chinatown for the Easter service in Mandarin. The boys were so excited to go back to church. After church, we headed home, ate lunch and then hunted for eggs. 

Ready. Set. GO!!

This afternoon DJ helped me make sesame balls (Jian Dui). I thought they turned out really good. The kids told me that they tasted just as good as the ones we ordered a few weeks ago at a Chinese restaurant. I also whipped up a pot of wonton soup (Shan Chen's favorite). I wouldn't trade the time with my kids to make the food for today, but next year if we do Chinese food, we are just going to a restaurant. I did end up buying the chicken from a local restaurant, because I was burnt out from two days of cooking. The results were amazing though. We had a huge feast and I don't think that I'll have to cook for a few days with all the leftovers we have.

This Easter was our first holiday together as a family. We all had a wonderful time as a family of 10. The boys are doing so well adjusting. Please continue to pray for them. We have some doctor appointments in the few weeks ahead. Tomorrow is also Wayne's next MRI appointment. Please pray for another clear scan and for God's glory!! We cannot wait to introduce the boys to Wayne's neurologist. Only God could write the story that we are walking.


Pork Dumplings: I blended ideas that I found from thewoksoflife.com 

Ingredients for the filling: 

1 pound ground pork
2 cups chopped napa cabbage
3 chopped shiitake mushrooms
1 green onion
1/2 cup grated carrots
2 tsp sesame oil
3 Tb soy sauce
2 Tb shaoxing wine
3 cloves of garlic (it tasted bland to me until I added garlic - the girls agreed)
1 tsp sugar

Chop all the ingredients that need to be chopped. Then add everything together in a bowl and mix well.

Dumpling Dough Ingredients: (recipe from Crazy Dumplings from Amazon)

3/4 c. flour
1/3 c. boiling water
dash of salt

Mix the flour and salt together. Boil the water and then slowly add a 1/3 cup of boiling water to the flour until it is well mixed. Then cover the dough and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Take the dough out and gently kneed it. Then pull off a little piece of the dough (maybe 1/4") and roll it out into a circle. Add a little spoonful of the filling to the dough. Dip your finger in water and rub it around the edges of the dough. Fold the dough over and push together. To cook the dumplings, pour about 1 T. of oil in to a wok. Place the dumplings the oil and start to brown them. Once they are browned, add just enough water to come up about 1/4" off the bottom of the pan. Place a cover over the dumplings and let them cook until the water is gone. Continue frying them until they are a light brown.

Baozi (Steam Buns):

Ingredients for the dough:

1 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1 cup cornstarch
5 T sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp baking powder

I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to make this mix. First, place the yeast and the water into the bottom of the bowl. Place a dash of sugar to help activate the yeast. While the yeast is activating, sift the flour and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Slowly add the mixture to the yeast mixture, along with the rest of the sugar and oil. Let the machine mix it together until it is a smooth ball. Please note: I had to take it out and hand kneed it a little to get it to this point. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 2 hours.

Meat filling:

We made two sets of buns. The first set used the same filling as the dumplings (see above). The second filling is the one below.

1 T. Oil
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 T. sugar
1 T. soy sauce (light)
1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 T. sesame oil
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 1/2 cup diced Chinese BBQ pork (see next recipe)

Once the dough is ready, take about a 1/4" ball and roll the dough out. Place the filling inside the middle of the dough. Slowly grab a little dough and start pinching the dough as you turn it in your hand. It's like making a bunch of little V's with the dough as you move it in a circle. I'm sure you can find a video online to see how it is done. We made baozi with a friend at Christmas time where we learned how to do this technique. 

Chinese BBQ Pork (Cha Siu):


3 pound pork shoulder or butt (I chose the shoulder, but I had to cut the meat off the shoulder, so be prepared for the extra step)
2 T. sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 T. sherry (I used Shaoxing wine)
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tsp classes
1 T. oil
3 cloves minced garlic

Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl. Place the cut up meat into a gallon size plastic bag and put the marinade over the meat. Let the meat soak over night. I cooked the meat on our BBQ grill. If you cannot do that, place the meat onto a rack over a cookie sheet (to allow the heat to cook both sides evenly. Once it is done cooking, let is rest for 15 minutes. Then slice it and either eat it (like we did last night for dinner) or cut it up and place it into the filling of the baozi (what we did with the leftovers).

Sesame Balls (Jian Dui) - recipe found on chinasichuanfood.com

1 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
80 g of sugar (approximately 3 oz)
100 ml water (approximately 3.3 oz)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup roasted white sesame seeds (take raw seeds and place them in a wok. Slowly cook them until they are slightly toasted
Red Bean paste (you can find this in a local Chinese store in either a can or in the refrigerator section)
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Start by taking 2 T. of the flour and mix it with about 1/2 T. of water. Mix together until it is smooth. Boil this dough for about 2-3 minutes. Take it out and place in cold water.
2. In a larger bowl, mix the leftover flour, sugar and baking powder together. Take the small ball of dough and break it up into the flour. Slowly add the rest of the water as you mix the dough until it is smooth. Roll into a log and cut 20 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
3. Press the balls flat and put about 1/2 tsp of bean paste in the middle. Carefully wrap the edges of the dough around the paste and roll into a ball.
4. Next, take a bowl of water and dip the ball in to the water quickly and then roll the ball into another bowl containing the sesame seeds. Roll the ball gently in your hand to press the seeds into the dough.
5. Fill a pan with oil and turn it to medium. Once the oil has reached about 120 degrees, gently place the balls into the oil. Fry the balls until they are a light golden brown. Remove them and place them on a plate with paper towels. 
6. Please, let them cool down before consuming (I learned the hard way today tasting them). Enjoy these delicious treats!!!

Fried Rice or Noodles:

I used the same basic recipe for my noodles last night that I have been using to make my fried rice from leftover cold rice. If I was making fried rice, I would add some peas and eliminate the cabbage.

2 cups chopped cabbage (approximately, I do not measure)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 onion
1 green onion
oil for frying the veggies
3 cloves of garlic
Noodles or rice (for these noodles I grabbed some noodles at the Chinese store in the refrigerator section)
2 eggs
2 tsp sesame oil
Soy Sauce (to taste)

Place the oil (about 2 T. oil plus the 2 tsp sesame oil) in a wok. Place the garlic and onions and saute them. Add the carrots and cabbage and continue to cook, stirring constantly. Once the vegetables have softened, add the noodles. Mix well and then add soy sauce to taste (I think I used approximately 3 T.). I then moved the noodles to the side and scrambled two eggs. Incorporate into the rest of the noodle mix. Let the noodles continue cooking until everything is mixed thoroughly.

Won-Ton Soup:

This is super easy Won-ton soup. My boys LOVE it and it is so easy to make!!


2 boxes of chicken broth
3 cloves garlic
1 chunk of ginger**
1 bag of pre-made wontons (or make your own) - I have used the ones from Costco or from the local Chinese store
Bok Choy or other green veggies
1 green onion
1 T. oil
1 tsp. sesame oil

In a large sauce pan, place the oil, garlic and ginger. Saute them together until they are soft. Add the two boxes of chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add the book choy and wontons. Let it continue cooking for about 7-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

**Ginger: ginger is strong and I found the easiest way to get the flavor without chunks of ginger is to use a garlic press. I remove the skin of the ginger and slowly press about 2-3 small pieces until I get the ginger flavor in my soup.