Monday, February 27, 2012

We're Home...well kinda...

We have had our little Caleb with us for one day and one night now.  I have learned a couple of things...

1.  it is a huge stereotype to say Asians are smaller.  He is killing my back!  I am almost sure he weighs as much as my Tommy, a good 30 pounds at least!

2.  Children who have grown up with no real mommy or daddy, well it's just not good for them.

My sweet little boy came from a great Foster home/orphanage.  For the last year he has been with only a small group of kids, with one or two caretakers in a home setting.  Yet the things he does out of fear, out of lack of understanding, out of lack of ever having a mommy or daddy...

He is not very sure about Kenney, similar to Noah, he just hasn't had male caretakers in his life, so Kenney looks and sounds scary to him.  While we were in the civil affairs office he was the last child brought in. He had an adorable plastic sleeve that contained pictures of our family already, so I think he kinda knew or at least recognized us a bit, that seemed to really help.  He didn't smile, or look happy, or really have any facial expressions.  When we got in the car to go back to the hotel he fell asleep in my arms. (Yes, China has no car seats) Once he woke up, he seemed to warm up a bit, we had some snacks, and he played with a toy car.  In both a good way, and a sad way though, he will NOT let me put him down, or walk more than a few steps away from him without a full blown out screaming, throwing his body on the ground, banging his head, and flipping out.  To top it all off he has a terrible cold with congestion that sounds horrible.  Last night he woke up with a high fever, and that took a while to come down and get him back to sleep. 

In short, the long plane ride was NOT fun over here.  He is so cuddly.  He giggles and enjoys when I lean into his ear and tell him I love him, and kiss him.  He craves my touch so much.  He responds so well to me, I am so very thankful.  God has from day one (and all of eternity) known this little boy was going to be a part of our family.  I over and over can't believe how faithful he has been to my Caleb.  He orchestrated every single detail to bring this boy into a family, and he will continue to be both sovereign and faithful to our child.

15 more days in China.... I can't wait to see Isabell, I can't wait to bring them home, I am not looking forward to the plane ride with both of them.  Please pray Isabell bonds with Kenney, with one little girl who can't walk, and a little boy who only wants to be held, I for sure will need some prayers!

The food- it really isn't bad.  Real Chinese food is super cheap, different, but tasty.  Eating in our hotel is almost 4 times more expensive than eating from a street restaurant.  We ate locally last night, and have enjoyed ourselves, and Caleb just loves it, he isn't thrilled with American food.  The special for the month however is, cooked full alligator turtle.  It's pretty much a giant turtle cooked... kinda like lobster... I am still contemplating if I should be adventurous!

God is good, and greatly to be praised!  Hopefully my  baby will let mommy have some free time, as I'd love to journal a bit more, but for now....

Saturday, February 25, 2012

And We're Off....

I am watching my babies sleep.  I have no desire to leave them for 19 days!!!  I have no idea when I became so emotional, or such a big huge giant crybaby, but that is exactly what my life has become this morning. 

We leave in a couple of hours, board a plane for 14 hours, have a layover in China for 3 hours, board another plane to Zhengzhou (Caleb's hometown) for 2 hours, get picked up at the airport and go to our hotel around 10pm Sunday night, and then bright and early on Monday morning we go pick feng feng (what they call him in Chinese) up.

No rest for the weary!  As Kenney says, "it's a good thing we'll be rested in heaven."

Please pray for us.  Pray that I can keep it together and not cry too much.  Pray for my three littles here in America.  That they would be patient, obedient to my parents, and know their mommy and daddy leave them only to return with two new siblings! Pray for my parents, that somehow they would morph into two 20 year olds again and be full of energy and remember what having five kids was like. Pray for safe travels.  Pray our newest children don't make our three weeks in China too difficult. 

And, per Kenney, pray he would loose 15 pounds... on our honeymoon in Ecuador he lost 5, in Russia he lost 10... so he is going for a record  ;-)

Thank you to our friends and family who have supported us.  We've made new friends, formed new relationships, grew in our walk with Christ, grew in our love for each other, and mostly grew in our love of Christ.  May He be glorified!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Great is Thy Faithfulness

In the month of February Kenney and I celebrate Valentine's Day on the 14th and our Wedding Anniversary on the 18th.

In Northwest Indiana February seems to be a bit of a dreary, cold, but not cold enough for ice skating and snow sports, no sun and a bit depressing of a month.

In an effort to cure the dullness of February and be thankful for what goodness abounds even in the month of February we celebrate those two events very specially!

We hang paper heart lights up and keep them lit all the time -

We put bright red and pink valentines on the mantel and decorate with snowflakes and glittery snowmen.

We always have a special valentines day dinner and eat on Kenney's Honey Grams pink flower dishes. We decorate the table and have a dinner of Kenney's choice.  This year it was New York strip steaks, with a rosemary and chive Gorgonzola crust, bacon wrapped asparagus, spinach and artichoke stuffed mushrooms, a spinach salad with all the kids favorites on top- bacon, cheese, crasins, and grape tomatoes, with a sweet poppy seed dressing, and for dessert Kenney's favorite French silk pie!

And to top it all off, we attended the wedding of my cousin on February 18th, and celebrated. Kenney even requested Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" at the reception and we sang and danced and relived the memories. Kenney even air guitar-ed and slid across the dance floor. Audrey danced like it was her job. (I know I am in trouble when she is older.) Noah randomly found food left on tables and ate till he could literally eat no more, and Tommy found a table to cozy up under and fell asleep. Only of course after we spent a frantic five minutes looking for him and I was seconds away from pulling the mic from the DJ and calling for a complete search of the hall. 

Needless to say, we have decided to take the dullness of February and kick it in the butt! 

Most importantly for us though is the celebration of our marriage. We've been talking about what we've done in these six years, what the next six will be like, and what we've learned. While we are still mostly in the learning stages (aren't we all...) of our marriage more than the teaching stage, it seems we came away with two things that were most important for and to us.

First, that God is faithful. We chose the song as part of our wedding ceremony because of the rich truths it spoke to us. God had been individually and personally faithful in providing us a partner and spouse. God never changes, His compassion's they fail not, how He has been He always will be. For our wedding it was a sharp contrast and reminder of how we are NOT like Christ, we change, we fail, we lack in compassion. For us, it was a reminder that if we rely on ourselves in this marriage we will fail. But, if we rely on Christ our marriage will be blessed... and it has.
     "Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Then, after our honeymoon period (which went by really, really fast) we realized quickly we have problems. Arguments with each other, problems with the kids, issues with money, issues with greed and un-thankfullness. We made some good decisions, but we also made some pretty stupid ones (umm two mortgages at the same time when we could barely afford one?  Ask my parents about the blacktopping the driveway fiasco- I think they still are mad about it) It was quite obvious that we needed a God who was merciful on a daily basis because we needed to bring our sin to Him and be forgiven...over and over again. We needed hope and we needed to be reminded that God was with us, and as His children HE was our guide, not ourselves.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

And then as we ventured out on our adoption journeys, God began shaping us. He began showing us that what we thought we needed, well we just didn't. We are now on our 4th design plan for remodeling our house, and it seems each time God is telling us we just don't need more. We thought we needed what the marriage books said, special weekly date nights, or girls or boys night out. We thought we needed more babysitters for our kids- more alone time for ourselves. We thought we needed more friends and more people involved in our life. It seemed the world was telling us marriages fail, and we needed all of these things to "safeguard" our marriage. For Kenney and I, we realized God had given us what we needed.  He may use friends, or date nights, but it seemed that we were relying on the friends and date nights (or lack thereof) and freaking out when we didn't get what everyone else seemed to be getting. When we let God give us what we needed, when we saw our children as the blessing they were and are, when we put 100% of our trust in Him, we realized He did give us everything we needed.

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    "Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

That song pretty much sums up everything for us.  But, Kenney likes to play the "what if" game, so he asked if we could pick just one verse to meditate on for the year, if there was one verse to live out in our marriage what would it be?  I absolutly hate when he does this, I like the whole Bible, all the verses, but he tells me "the game" isn't played that way, so of course, I consent to pick a verse with him.  Funny thing, we seriously both chose the same verse! 

Philippians 2:3  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Oh dear God, if we could truly live this verse out. If we could kindly spit in the face of the world and live NOT for ourselves. If we could ONLY think of each others needs.  If I could put aside myself. If I thought of my husband as better than myself, and let my actions show that, and he did that for me...I could only imagine the joy, the blessing, the glory of God that our marriage would reveal. If we died to ourselves daily, and lived our life with this verse in mind each and every single moment of every single day, what glory we could bring to our Father in heaven. This year that is the verse we will mediate on, heck I just might even frame it!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Things like THIS never happen...??

Wednesday night, way past my bed time, and I just can't fall asleep.  I was born a night owl, and it seems even 3 kids can't change that!  I decide that it would be a good idea to check the weather in both the cities our kiddos in China are at.  I might want to start thinking about packing, so to pack, I need to know the weather.

Finding that out leads me to wonder if I can find out about the "local" scene, you know the secret places everyone should visit, that no one knows about.  I decided to do random internet searches.  I'm just weird like that, typing in random words to see what pops up and what information I can find out about where my babies are from.

Somewhere among the zillion searches I did, I found a link to a yahoo group that is composed of people who have adopted, are adopting, associated with, etc the same city/province as Caleb is from.  Well of course I join the group.  Maybe to find some random pictures someone took and my baby is in the background, or maybe just to learn more about where Caleb is from.

I told them my name and Caleb's Chinese name, and said hello!

Hours later, I received an email from the DIRECTOR of Swallows Nest in Zhengzhou, with the question...

Is this your son?


That is my boy!  I emailed her back saying YES, YES, he is ours!!  She gave me her phone number and said she is actually in the States, so call to talk to her.  I have the phone number of the woman who is in charge of the care of my son, and she is American, and she speaks English.... at this point, I am so overwhelmed I am about ready to throw up! (either that or Kenney made pigs in a blanket for dinner, not quite sure which)

So we talked, and she told me about him, all about his hearing, who cares for him, his personality, etc.  Then she gave me the email of a lady doing an internship there, that cares for 6 of the kids, one of them being Caleb. Again, all within minutes, we are facebook friends and I am able to look through her photo albums, and see tons of beautiful pictures of my boy!  Then I find out she is a Christian, a real, Bible believing, John Piper-ish kind of Christian.  I see pictures of my boy being read the BIBLE!

She tells me to send all kinds of pictures of our family, she'll share them with Caleb, and get him ready for us to pick him up! She'll use lots of English too!  She said we can email her all the questions we have, and she'll do anything to answer us.  She even said that she has a very VERY special place in her heart for Caleb...


I can not tell you how crazy this is, every adoptive family wishes for a glimpse into their child's life that they can not be a part of, and here, I have a wide open picture window!

The best part is, I didn't pray for additional information, I didn't ask God for more information than we already had.  I have a couple of pictures and some medical information and that is it.  We were happy with that.  We were happy we had a 15 second video clip of Caleb.  It didn't bother us that we were never given updated information.  It didn't bother us that his medical information seemed so incomplete.  I can honestly say we really were at peace with our decision, and ready to face all the unknowns.  We kinda felt like Abraham.  In Hebrews it says , Abraham, by faith was called, and went out, not knowing where he was going.  So with our little boy, we didn't know where we were going, just that we were going!!!

God, in his perfect timing, infinite wisdom, His glorious self, choose to make known the unknowns for us.  Praise God!  

The difference between knowing and seeing- I've read verses in the Bible over and over, and I've quoted them, over and over, and used them over and over, but to have them be real.  To take root in my heart, so much so that they effect my life.... sadly it doesn't happen enough, but tonight, the verse, it became so real

Ephesians 3:20
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us

and half a world away, a little boy sees his forever mommy and daddy for the first time

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Peace and Fear

Kenney and I have been reading a daily meditation/devotion together for the last couple of weeks. This last week our devotions have seemingly all been the same. God knows what we need doesn't He?  I thought I would journal them and share with others as well.

Worship Him only. Whatever occupies your mind the most becomes your god. Worries, if indulged, develop into idols. Anxiety gains a life of its own, infesting and infecting your mind. Break free from the bondage by affirming your trust in Him and refreshing yourself in His presence. What goes on in your mind is invisible, unseen to other people, but He reads your thoughts, searching for evidence of trust in Himself. 

"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." Psalm 112:7

God is your strength and shield. He plans out each day and has it ready for you long before you arise.  Instead of assessing your energy level and wondering about what's on the road ahead, concentrate on staying in touch with Him.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in a song."  Psalm 28:7

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust."  Psalm 56:3

"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." Psalm 105:4

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."  2Corinthians 5:7

He is renewing your mind. When your thoughts flow freely they tend to move toward problems. Your focus gets snagged on a given problem, circling round and round it in attempts to gain mastery.  Your energy is drained away from other matters through this negative focus, worst of all you lose sight of HIM.  A renewed mind is presence-focused. Train your mind to seek Him in every moment, every situation. He is always present in your spirit. Seek His face, speak to Him, and He will light up your mind.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:2

"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek his face always." Psalm 105:4

God is with you and for you, you face nothing alone. When you feel anxious, know that you are focusing on the visible world, and leaving HIM out of the picture. The remedy-  fix your eyes on what is not seen but unseen! How ridiculous to grasp for future gifts when today's gift is set before you.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary; but what is unseen is eternal."  2Corinthians 4:18

The mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace.

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:6

What a joy it has been to reflect on God's ALL POWERFUL being. To realize every single worry, problem, joy, stress, etc the world has to offer is NOTHING in comparison to God.  To realize I waste my precious time worrying, fearing, letting Satan plant those seeds in my heart... To realize daily I need to renew my mind, seek Him, look to Him, in EVERYTHING I do, to realize there is nothing outside of the realm of God.  Not our medical concerns, not our workplace problems, our children, our home, our finances, NOTHING escapes God's infinite wisdom.  He already has EVERYTHING planned out for me.  What comfort that has brought us. What peace our souls have received.  Even if the worst thoughts I could think happen to me, and NEVER get better, and I NEVER understand, it is ALL in God's realm, in His control, in His perfect plan for His sons and daughters. 

I awoke the other day to let the dogs out, and went out with them.  I saw the sun rising through the trees, the fog and early morning mist rising off of the pond. The trees glistened. It was breathtakingly beautiful.  Right here in northwest Indiana, during a cold February morning, I was able to see the beauty that God provided for me at my house on my pond, just for me.  I was content. 

And in heaven that is where the story would end, but here, I walked inside, Audrey was crying, and I re-read my own words... I need to seek Him ALWAYS!