9/30/12

A Letter to my Chinese Prince


Dear son,

My heart misses you today.  Actually I miss you most every day, which still astonishes me because I've never actually known you.  I know about you, I've seen your smile, heard your voice, and studied every facial expression but I have not yet  held you in my arms.  I have not yet comforted you during illness, I've never wiped away your tears with my hand, I've never watched you sleep in my arms...but somehow my mother's love has expanded to encompass you, my son, even as we wait.  Our lives are inexplicably intertwined, our hearts meshed for reasons and purposes I cannot comprehend.

 We are living in the time in-between.   You are mine and I am yours,  but the ultimate fulfillment of that promise has not yet come...and so we wait.  We wait in eager expectation.  We wait with readiness and preparation.  We wait with deep longing, like the pangs of labor waiting for new life.

This is the time of hope, knowing that what is yours is now being secured, that someday soon you will be in our arms.  Your Baba and Mama will come.  We will come and we will bring you to the home we have prepared for you.  A home filled with your brothers and sisters, and more noise and love that you will know what to do with.

Even as I write those words I am reminded of how we wait for Jesus to return, to gather together his Bride, and to take us home forever.   Our status is secured, our ransom was paid, the papers have been signed but yet we wait for the fulfillment of the promise.  We live in the time in-between.  We wait with confidence and hope, we wait with purpose and preparation, we wait in eager expectation, we wait with longing for the day when every tear will be wiped from our eyes and all things will be made new.  We wait to feel the arms of the One we love....the One who loved us first. (John 14)

I know that it is so hard for you to comprehend our love for you, and it is impossible to understand the word "forever".  I know that as you trust your life to us, it will, at times, be terrifying   All that is comfortable and familiar will be gone, and a new life as a son will begin.  Learning to be secure in that will be a long road, it is a road we will walk with you.  There may be days when you doubt and you strive to earn our love, fearing it will be taken. There may be days when you decide you don't need it at all, that the risk is just too great.

I can't promise you that we will know how to perfectly handle every fear, hurt, and doubt but I can promise you that we will love you with a never giving up, always and forever love....a love that that can't be earned or lost, a love that will spend itself, a love that will travel from one world to another to say "you are my child".


We will lack, we will make mistakes, we will fail along the way, but I know that we are loved by a Father who's grace can cover over all our blunders....who's love never fails.  A Father who is a father to the fatherless.  We can rest in Him...a flawed mother and a wounded son, together, secure in our Refuge.

You are so much more loved, and so much more wanted than you could ever know.

"I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you"  John 14:18




Love, Mama




Soli Deo Gloria,

9/29/12

All About My Girl



I haven't written about my little Miss Cece in ages.

Actually, I haven't written about much in ages.
My blog has been a bit neglected...not because life hasn't been a wild ride lately.  Oddly enough sometimes the more that's happening, the more I'm learning and growing, and more deeply I'm being refined the more I don't even know where to start or what to write about.  I guess all that's in my head and heart sometimes has to sit and percolate a bit before it can be formed into words.

So I'll narrow it down and write about my little girl.

 One very exciting development is that we're FINALLY in the finishing stages of Cece's adoption.  After 2 1/2 years the paperwork is finished and we are basically just waiting for it all to go to court.  Hopefully that will happen within the next month or two.




This week we received her "file" which is her entire social services, medical and family history wrapped up in a binder.  Fascinating, nauseating, thrilling, and horrifying.  It is amazing to have the veil of secrecy pulled back and finally have answers to all the things we have intentionally been kept in the dark about as "just" foster parents.


 It also made me cry as I flipped through family history and records.  So much brokenness and pain.  Generation upon generation upon generation.   Overwhelming.  I cry because they are real people.  I cry because  these are the pieces of the puzzle that I will carry for my child, the pieces that will be hers to carry...and to lay down.  I cry for a mother who's own life and childhood is layer upon layer of pain. I cry for what she has lost.  I cry, and at the same time I thank God for stepping in and throwing a wrench in that furiously spinning cycle.  He reached in an pulled out one tiny little raven haired girl.  His providence and protection of this fragile little girl is written all through this binder.

Her history will always be echoed  in her shining black eyes, in her ear to ear smile, in her rosy round cheeks, in every part of her beautiful little design.  I will love that about her biological family.

Traces of the sins of others will be carried in her veins, and in her mind, and in her heart...BUT GOD.  I love the "but God"s in the Bible.  I love the "but God" in our story.  What Satan intended for destruction, our Father will use for his glory. What Satan has had a death grip on for decades, Jesus has set free. What has caused so much damage, will be healed.


I was dead in my own sin, without even a hope of saving myself,  BUT GOD in his great mercy and love reached down and plucked me out of the mire and adopted me as his own child.

BUT GOD.

Through no plan of my own, God in his great purpose and for his glory, saw fit to take this orphan named Carla and make her a daughter.

God brought together two painfully ordinary people, created a new family, and in time began to miraculously mend and restore our own broken family tree...and now has begun to graft on new branches.  I LOVE how God can bring beauty and life out of utter despair and brokenness.


 As I read through our daughter's history, and all that went on behind the scenes that placed her in our home (and allowed her to stay with us) I wept because at SO many points our story ,and hers, could have turned out very very different.  She so easily could have been one that slipped through the cracks.  One the system missed.

Out of the ashes He is making something extraordinary.

2 1/2 years ago we had just returned from 6 months in Mexico.   We unpacked and settled in for a couple weeks and then asked the Lord to once again allow us to love a child that needs to be loved...for however long we would have with them.  A couple days later we received the gift of a tiny, scrunched up, screaming 5 wk old.

As I spent days and nights soothing a colicky newborn I honestly wondered what I'd gotten myself into.  I came face to face with  my own self preservation, and selfish motives.  There were a few moments in the beginning when I considered giving this "gift" back, reclaiming my own life, and emancipating myself from someone else's burden....but over the days, and weeks, and months I grew to love her as fiercely as any mother loves her child.

When Cece came to our home we had NO idea that she would ever be our daughter.  We had no idea what her case plan was, where she came from or why she was with us.   We had no idea when she would leave...but we knew as foster parents that someday she would leave.  Just the thought of saying goodbye tore out my heart.

Today we are waiting for our final court document saying that she is forever our daughter, that no one can ever claim her and take her from our home.  She will no longer be a "foster child" that can be taken , returned or passed around from home to home.  She will be a full heir, a rightful member of our family, a beloved forever daughter.    She will be fully grafted in to our crazy little family tree.

Today Miss Cece is a charming, exuberant  little bundle of life and joy.  She is chalk full of personality.  Her smile and ridiculously generous giggle still lights up our home.   She is a full fledged 2 year old little princess who insists she wears frilly skirts and purple rubber boots together to church.

It's been so cool to see her personality, gifts, the little person God created emerge and bloom.


 Cece is a little mother.  She will "mother" anything she can get her chubby little arms around including her older and much bigger siblings.  She is a natural care taker and nurturer.  She loves and rocks her baby dolls...she wraps her arms around and strokes the hair of any sibling that happens to be upset, hurt, or sick. She adores and takes good care of her Daddy.  She has a very strong natural sense of empathy and compassion.  She is just a natural lovie.   She loves well.  

Cece a silly little bean.   She is full of goofy antics, expressions and loves to make us laugh.  She loves to sing, dance and make jokes.

Cece has a mind of her own.  Although she is not particularly strong willed (compared to a couple of my other kids) she knows what she wants and she knows what she likes.  She is asserting her autonomy more and more, as any two year old does.  She can throw an impressive little princess fit, but it rarely lasts long.  She's super sensitive and her natural inclination is to please her parents, she is very easily corrected and very quickly "lowy" (sorry)...which is a slightly refreshing surprise after bringing Silas through his preschool years.

Cece is smart.  She constantly amazes me with her cleverness.  Of course, we have always watched carefully her development and abilities but so far she is totally on track and even excels in many areas of development.  Her fine and gross motor skills, her problem solving, understanding non verbal ques, her sense of humor, understanding cause and effect, her understanding multi-step directions and follow through actually surprise me...mostly because our other kids all had difficultly with some of these areas.  The only area that is lagging slightly behind in is her speech but it's finally coming and she's adding words every day.  She has never lacked for creative ways to express herself.

I am constantly amazed at how God protected her mind and body as she was developing in the womb, and has protected her little heart every day since then.

Cece is now potty trained!  I didn't know if that would come late, or with more difficulty but by 2 1/2 she was ready and it actually came easier than it did for my last couple boys!  She still isn't 100% reliable of course but she no longer wears a diaper and she comes running and tells me when she needs to go.

 I love this little girl with a never ending, never giving, up always and forever love.  This is my little girl who I would go to the ends of the earth for, give up my own life for, and live every day for.

I have no idea what God's plans and purposes are for this little precious little one.  I do know that she belongs to her Father, her Creator, first and I can trust Him with her, whatever lies down the road.   I still can't believe that we have been given the incredible privilege of loving and raising this child.

She is such a blessing and a gift.




Soli Deo Gloria,














9/24/12

I Always Wanted a Pet Monkey



When I was a kid I thought it would be really cool to have a monkey for a pet.  Of course this was based more on Disney movies and cute little Chimps dressed up as people than it was any actual real experience with monkeys.  

I never got my pet monkey, 
but I did get a monkey for a son. 



Which actually comes in handy when you need to get something out of a tree, or in this case when my clothes line came off it's wheel.
I made the mistake of grumbling about my out of service clothes line in front of my monkey son.
A few minutes later I looked out the window to see my child doing his mother a favor.   




He couldn't get the wire unwedged  and back on the track...while maintining his precarious position.  I told him to please come down and not to worry about it. 



Even without a functioning clothes line it is pretty cool to have a monkey for a son. 




9/9/12

More about him...

In my last post I introduced the boy who will soon officially become our son.  We are already "matched" to him but until our thumbs are pressed down into red ink in an office across the ocean it's not finished.  We anticipate and long for the day when he will forever be ours.

When navigating the jungles of international adoption one has to tread carefully, choose words wisely, and use discretion in what to share publicly and what not to.  Sadly, the reality is we live in a world that largely despises adoption.  Because I don't quite have all the boundary lines figured out yet, and each situation is different, I'll probably be somewhat reserved in sharing specific details about our child...at least until we get him home.

I do want to share my experience with you though.  I appreciate those people who come here, for whatever reason, and want to share in our life and encourage us along the way.  If by sharing our experience it emboldens someone else's faith enough to step out and say yes to an orphan then I will write until the cows come home (a little bit of farm girl talk sqeaking out).

We are still super excited and it's  finally sinking in that this is really happening, and we have just a few months left until he's here.

Today we bought this stroller.  I'm silly excited about it too...our last umbrella stroller was 11 yrs old and begging to be put down (oh man, there's that farm girl talk again!).  We needed something light weight, compact, good quality, and yet big enough to hold a small 6 yr old.   I've been scouring online second hand stores and advertisements and finally came across one of these (the exact one I'd been drooling over) being sold privately but in the box brand new.  Score!  It has a very tall head clearance and goes up to 55 lbs.  Our little guy is only about 35 lbs so he's got lots of room to grow.




You might be wondering why I've been so concerned with having the right stroller along with us when we're adopting a 6 year old child.   The answer to that is that he doesn't walk at all yet.  Our child has cerebral palsy.

We don't know the details or potential of his gross motor skill abilities or the full extent of his challenges... but we do know that he recently came out of an institution where he had been classified as bed ridden and had been spending his days and nights confined to a crib.   I don't know a huge amount about CP (although I've been reading all I can about it in preparation) but I know enough to say for certain that lack of movement and nurture is not conducive to reaching any kind of developmental potential....even in a child without CP.   His little muscles will certainly be tight and atrophied.  It really will be incredible to see how he grows and develops in the years to come!   At this time we have no idea if he will ever walk unassisted.  We really don't have any idea about what his potential is in any aspect of his development.   He may completely surpass any thing we ever thought he would be capable of.  That would be amazing. We are trusting God in that area and quite honestly it really doesn't matter to me all  if the greatest success in his life is getting himself dressed each morning.  Our view of "success" is largely different from most of the world anyway.  We will celebrate each little hard earned victory along the way.

  When we started the process we left our range of "special need" acceptance wide open and included many different special needs on our application.  We also were open to either a boy or a girl, and to a child up to the age of our oldest. It was really a strange experience to be writing down things like Spina bifida,  Cerebral Palsy,  Hep C, HIV, limb deformities, cleft lip and palate, blindness, deafness etc.   So many diagnosis's that, at one point in our life, we would have been horrified to hear our child had.   Now we are requesting it.  The irony of it was not lost on me.  Only a work of God does that to a person! Somehow he's taken my self preserving, comfort loving little heart and regenerated it into one that longs to be poured out.

In the months before we started this process we felt led to open up our hearts and home once again, we just had no idea how God was going to bring us our next child.  So I started praying about it.  I prayed that God would lead us to the child he has prepared for us, whether that was in our own country or somewhere else.  After choosing the China special needs program (being unexpectedly led there), we prepared and we prayed again.  We prayed for the child we did not yet know.   When we first saw his picture, I can't really even describe it,  it was him.   We knew it was our son.  I knew it like staring into the face of one of the children I had just given birth to.  That may sound just plain bat crap crazy to some of you reading this...but to others who have walked this road before you may know exactly what I'm talking about.  It's a work of the Holy Spirit moving and guiding.   I don't know why or how, but that's how we knew to say "yes" to this child.  The love that God has given us for this little boy we've never met is astonishing.

So that's how we got to where we are today.   It's a pretty amazing trail looking back over the years.

So now we wait and we prepare.   We pray for our child so far away.   We pray that each little bit of our lives and the lives of our children (even  especially the one who lived only an hour, and the child who may never walk or tie his shoes)  will bring glory to our Lord, and make his mercy and grace known.     Our son's life will be an amazing testimony of our good God who sets the lonely in families.





Soli Deo gloria,

9/6/12

Introducing...



Introducing our newest treasure,



by God's grace, our 4th son.

"I will go before you and will level the mountains;
 I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."  Isaiah 45:3



A child once locked away in dark places, behind bars and closed doors, is now treasured by his family across the ocean.  Always known by the Father, the One who formed him in his mothers womb and has been sovereign over every detail of his unfolding story.

"This is what the Lord says: 
In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, 'Come out'.
and to those in darkness, 'Be free'"  Isaiah 49: 8-9


Now that this whole adoption process has a name and a sweet little face, we are over the moon thrilled.   We're  trusting that He who led us to this place, will be the One to sustain us as we learn to parent a child who will turn our lives upside down.  I have a feeling we will understand at a deeper level what God's love for us costs Him as we pour ourselves out to love a child who has known far too much suffering.  Oh, I ache to help carry that burden of healing with him...to bear it slung across my own shoulders.   I already do, I feel it as any mother feels the pain of her child, and grieves for their losses.  

I'm praying that the Holy Spirit would be near to him as he prepares for another uprooting.  There will be brighter days ahead, but change is never easy, especially for a child who has endured so much of it already. 

I don't know how to accurately describe the very wide spectrum of thoughts and emotions that flood my soul.  Joyful, excited, terrified, unworthy, inadequate, humbled, amazed, and so very much blessed.  
So absolutely brought low by the enormity of this priceless gift. 
So overwhelmingly thankful that I get to be his mama.

1 Samuel 1:27

Soli Deo gloria,


9/5/12

First Day of Kindergarten


Although it appears he is standing in front of a firing squad, he is actually just stopping for a "mom needs a picture of you on your first day of school" photo.


His nerves were in high gear this morning.   He dressed in his trusty, comfortable familiar clothes (no new first day of school duds for this boy...no way, that's just too much craziness).   Put on his favorite jacket and pulled the hood up for extra protection.  He asked and asked again if I had all his new school supplies packed in his back pack....and his new Star Wars lunch box.  

This boy has been looking forward to this day for many months.


"Can you smile Silas??"
....oh, ok.  That's alright...don't bother smiling.
We'll have to work on that before school picture day!

Can't you just see all the scenarios and possibilities running through his little brain?


Will he do it folks?



Yes!  He did.


He marched right onto that bus and didn't look back.

I spent the day hoping I wouldn't get a phone call that he was looking like a red blow fish (he has anaphylactic allergies) or that he was doing some sort of stripper dance on top off a desk (don't ask)....
happy to report that my child didn't act like a freak, at least not enough of one to require a phone call.  


His only complaint about the day was that I need to pack him a bigger lunch next time.   When I teasingly asked him if he missed me,  he said

"Not at all.  I actually forgot all about you"
Just what I had hoped.....sort of.   I'll take it.  









9/2/12

Autumn




It's that time of year again, 
and this is my ride.  


My boys heading out.


Roman goes along for the ride, watching and learning.


The view from the cabin I will spend many hours in this season.   Not a very impressive view in this field, the hail got to the peas before we did.   This week I think I'll be cutting down wheat so it should be a little prettier. 
 I enjoy the peace, quiet and solitude of a tractor cab and an ipod playing all my favorite preachers.  Last week I listened to the whole Gospel Coalition  2012 Woman's conference.  I also loaded up with Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Murray Mclellan, Russell Moore, Tullian, Craig Groeschel,  and David Platt.  I don't get a lot of laundry, garden and house work done while I drive back and forth with a Combine but it's a nice change from normal life.  Lots of time to think, imagine, pray, and learn.

I also enjoy watching nature as I spend a day in the field.  There are always rabbits, foxes, and coyotes scampering away, as well as Hawks that circle about the tractor waiting for little mice to scurry out of their hiding places.  The other day I watched a doe with her two fawns wander across the field, and a hawk swoop down after a rabbit that jumped out of a swath....I'm happy to report the little bunny got away.


This week was a busy one but it was also super exciting!


This Ch*nese character Qiu (pronounced something like Cho) means Autumn/ fall/ harvest.
It also has another very special significance to us   It happens to be the name of the child we were matched with last week!     He was given this name most likely because he was found by the side of a road five years ago this month, in Autumn.   He was abandoned in Autumn and he was found by his forever family in Autumn.   God writes great stories!  Stay tune for more on this one.



9/1/12

Leeland, Nail polish and Birthday Cake



11 years ago I gave became a mom to my first daughter.   Somewhere between cutting baby teeth and getting braces she's morphed from a pig tailed little elf into a full fledged adolescent.   



As an early birthday celebration we took our two oldest kids, and Aili's friend to a Leeland concert and her friend was able to stay the weekend.  


The girls admiring their new concert shirts.
...and making friendship bracelets with plastic string.


deja-vu
wow, I remember doing exactly that at her age.
Having a daughter this age gives me so many flash backs to my own past life as an 11 year old girl.  It's trippy. 


Her new Auntie from Haiti gave her some braids.  Excellent.  This girl hates having her hair brushed so getting it done once for a week or two is perfect.



On the actual day of her birthday we did just a small family party.  We all ate cake and icecream.  



She has enough nail polish and lip gloss to last for years. 
Which is a good thing because little sister is a hard core girly girl princess who loves having her nails painted.


So thankful for this girl who is growing into a young woman.  She is still a quirky bundle of creative, scattered, energy full of big dreams and big ideas.  



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