Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time ~Oswald Chambers

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

"Lia Extreme Room Makeover Weekend" has a new name: "Downstairs Bathroom Extreme Room Makeover Weekend--Busted Water Pipe in the Ceiling Edition." I was hoping for an activity to distract me from a few more days of waiting for Travel Approval. My wish has been granted. :)

Gotta love a house that's more than a century old. However, I'm not sure the charm and character that first attracted us to it is all it's cracked up to be....(pun most definitely intended).

Oh well, Lia, maybe next weekend...

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."--Psalm 62:8

Friday, January 30, 2009

Distractions

Well...we are approaching the weekend and still don't know when we'll be traveling. Ugh.

So, I have decided to designate this weekend as the "Lia Extreme Room Makeover" weekend. Anything to distract me from these long, long days of waiting. Maybe I'll have a picture to post once my little project is completed.

Until then, enjoy the latest work by one of my other favorite "distractions:"

video

Classic Alex.

"We will sing and praise your might."--Psalm 21:13

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Little Helper

While getting things ready for Lia's arrival, I've thought about how another little one will mean an increase in what already seems like an overwhelming amount of laundry. It's a good thing I have help.

"For the Lord takes delight in His people"--Psalm 149:4

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Picture of Love

As I was straightening up the other day, I ran across this portrait of Lia done by one of my little Picassos.



The caption reads "I want you and I love you!"



I couldn't agree more.



"It is right for me to feel this way about...you, since I have you in my heart"--Philippians 1:7

A Gentle Reminder

We are currently on day 18 of a 2-6 week waiting period for our Travel Approval. And as if it weren't already obvious...I don't enjoy waiting.

Which is why this morning, I was gently reminded on Whom rather than on what we are waiting.
This morning I was reading this in my Bible:
He sends his command to the earth;
His word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
He stirs up his breezes , and the waters flow...(from Psalm 147)
As I was observing this outside my window:

The snow came all in accordance with His word. So did our referral, our RA, and so will our TA. And so will the moment when that sweet little girl is in our arms. But until then we wait.
No, I don't enjoy waiting one little bit...but I do enjoy Him and am glad that He is in control of it all.
"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit." Psalm 147:5

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year!


Tonight we celebrated the Chinese New Year in style with a feast compliments of the frozen food section at Walmart.

Our extravagant menu consisted of sesame chicken, orange chicken, fried rice, egg rolls, sugar snap peas, and fruit. (Well, OK, it was probably more American-Chinese than Chinese-Chinese but it was still good).

Yet, despite the good food and good conversation we realized that something was still missing from the celebration.....

Something sweet...with a little icing....
Ah....yes. Miss Lia Kate was most definitely missing from the evening's festivities. This will be the last CNY we celebrate without her if we have any say in the matter!


"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Small World, Big God

After joining the world of Facebook, my husband reconnected with an old friend from high school who is now a pastor. Of all places, he has taken regular trips to Guangxi (specifically, Beiliu where Lia is)! So we have some great pictures of the area that she's from and from the capital city of Nanning (where I assume we'll be staying while we are there).

It's amazing how half way across the world can hold some pretty amazing similarities to home.

For instance:

He describes these mountains outside of Beiliu as being very similar to the ones in southwest Virginia where Scott is from.


And they have their own Volunteer Fire Department, too! I wonder how their Thursday night bingo turnout is Grandma and Pop Paw?

And look Grandaddy Bobby! A golf course! What says "home" more than 18 holes no matter where you are in the world, right?


But the one picture that I saw which convinced me we might be able to survive the wild, open frontier of Guangxi was this one:


That is if they're open 24 hours.

Happy Chinese New Year!

"Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?" --Psalm 113:5-6

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Year of the Pig

Monday marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Apparently it's a pretty big deal and everything shuts down over there for the celebration. (Sadly, this also includes the offices that I need to be OPEN to process our paperwork so we can travel.....but I digress).
There is an animal attributed to every year and after a little googling I discovered that Lia was born in the year of the pig. Every girl's dream, right?

According to this calendar, I also have an ox, a rabbit, a horse, and a rooster at home. Throw in the real life golden retriever and I think that accurately describes life around here on any given day.


Wouldn't trade it for anything, though.
My ox, rabbit, horse and rooster in action....

"Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love..." Psalm 107:8



Friday, January 23, 2009

Waiting with a Smile

Well....it could come today or it could not.

At least while I'm waiting, there are plenty of things to smile about.

Here's one of them:


video

I just love this age.

"The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all He has made." Psalm 145:13

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Little Girls Grow Up

I was blog-hopping today and came across an entry from another adoptive mom who has two little girls from China. She posted an article written by a young woman, Tai Dong Huai, who had been adopted from China when she was a young girl. I pasted it below. (Be forewarned: it's a very real retelling of one of her experiences. Not necessarily warm and fuzzy, but real).

Right now I spend my days gazing at that little cake-covered face of Lia's wanting to go scoop her up, bring her home and make everything OK for her. But the truth of the matter is that I know relatively little about the first year and a half of her life and what she experienced. And I know absolutely nothing about how she will process it all as an adult.

How thankful I am that in these big situations of life, we have a big God to turn to who hears the cries of the orphan, who sets the lonely in families, and who has compassion on those who fear him. May He have compassion on these little ones and on those of us who love them.

"But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children.." Psalm 103:17



Ankles
By Tai Dong Huai

You don’t know why, but you refuse to allow anyone to touch your ankles. Not the shoe salesman at Macy’s, not the nurse at school, not even your Aunt Rachel who presents you with a thin gold ankle bracelet which you put, untouched, in your jewelry box. You avoid all boots, most shoes, sneakers. You would be content to suffer the most wicked New England winter in no more than split-toe socks and flip-flops. Then one hot day in August, something happens. Along with your adoptive mom, you visit her ex-college roommate who lives in Larchmont, New York. Her name is Linda, she’s a recent divorcee, and she has a son who, at sixteen, is two years older than you. You’ve seen his picture on a Christmas card.
When you meet, he’s handsome and funny and it’s summer and who’s to say? “Hot enough to deep-fry a turkey,” Linda says just before she suggests you all go swimming at her new country club. “It’s one of the perks of having a blood-thirsty divorce lawyer,” she smiles.
You’ve known about this possibility and you’ve hoped for it. You’ve worn your one-piece swimsuit under you t-shirt and cut-offs. You’ve brought a towel, an eco-friendly one, the one made from organic terry cotton. And you’ve packed sun block – Bull Frog SPF 45 – even though you never, ever burn, hoping he might ask to rub some on your back.
The pool water is as clear as those pictures you’ve seen of the Caribbean Sea near CuraƧao. The area around the pool, as well as the pool itself, is surprisingly uncrowded. A life guard sits above it all, and somewhere close by a Beach Boys CD plays “Fun, Fun, Fun.” And while normally you might feel some disdain for these privileged few, today you are accepting because today there is music and a bright sun and a good-looking boy.
You’re standing in water four feet deep. You’re adoptive mom, back by the Pepsi machine, is calling to you. “Did you bring any change?” she wants to know. And before you can answer, before you can call to her to look in the ladybug purse in your straw bag, it happens. This boy – Chandler – this boy who has gently teased you all afternoon, swims up behind without your being aware. He moves rapidly under water, and before you are sure what’s happening, he maneuvers between your slightly parted legs and playfully lifts you up and out of the water. Instinctively, your mouth opens and your hands wrap around the top of his head. Your knees cling just above his ribs, and he squeezes your ankles beneath his armpits. Someone gleefully shouts, “Chicken fight!”And just before you scream, the lifeguard -- standing straight up in her chair -- points at you and blows her whistle.
Later that day, as you ride north on the Merritt Parkway, your adoptive mom says, “Come on. It’s not the end of the civilized world.”And you say, “I peed on him.”“What?” your mom says.“Right on his shoulders. All across the back of his neck.”After a moment hesitation your mom says, “You were in the water. He probably didn’t even notice.”But you know he noticed. By the warmth. By the odor so close. By the way he unceremoniously dumped you backward after you screamed. “What is it with me?” you ask.
Your mom says nothing for a second, and then she lets out a puff of air. You are familiar with this gesture. It’s the same one she used just before explaining your period. The same one you heard prior to being told that you, unlike your cousins, were not Catholic. “I guess I should have told you this before,” she says. “When you were in the orphanage there was this – what would you call it? – this ‘practice’ they had.” She looks directly at you and says, “There were so many of you and so few caregivers.”
Her eyes back on the road, she continues. “Three times a day they would put those of you who couldn’t walk onto potty chairs. Regular wooden chairs, actually, with a hole cut in the seat and a pot underneath it. You were kept from falling off by straps tightly fastened around your ankles.”“How do you know this?” you ask.“You know me,” she smiles. “I researched.”
The smile fades. “You still had the marks on your ankles for five months after we brought you home.”“Why would they do that?” you ask.“In the interest of time,” she says. “They trained you all to relieve yourselves simultaneously.”“But how?” you ask.“Like Pavlov’s dogs,” she tells you. “They blew a whistle.”
You both ride in silence. You glance down at your ankles, and for a moment you think you see them. Dark leather straps with glinting metal buckles. But no. It’s only shadows cast by the sun as it sets behind so many seemingly identical trees.
You almost laugh. And then a bud of hope begins to grow. You look over at your mom, so protective, so naive. And you think that tonight, once you are both home safely with your adoptive dad pouring wine and boiling spaghetti, that you might try on that ankle bracelet.
About the Author:Tai Dong Huai was born in Taizhou, China. Fiction has appeared, or is scheduled, in elimae, Hobart, rumble, Underground Voices, Wigleaf, Word Riot, and other terrific places. "Ankles" is from a collection in progress, I Come From Where I've Never Been.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Still Waiting...

Yes, we're still waiting on our Travel Approval (optimistically hoping for the end of this week). But no matter when it comes, after today, we're one day closer to it and one day closer to this sweet little face.

"Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord." Psalm 144:15

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Swept Away

No new pictures.
No new info.
Just more waiting.
Which means more experimenting with cyber technology.

This time I thought I'd see if I could add audio to my blog.

This is one of my favorite songs about adoption. It's written by Geoff Moore (who also has adopted daughters from China) and accurately describes our adoption experience thus far.


You have no idea how much we love you Lia!

Swept Away by Geoff Moore

We would say your name a hundred times a day like speaking words in faith
And with a mixture of hope and fear and trust, we prayed for strength to wait
And dreamed of how we'd feel the day you'd be in our arms and swept away
Caught up in our love; home to stay you'll never be alone
You'll be amazed at how much you are loved
Your life will never be the same when you're swept away

What once was just a dream is reaching up for me; I hold her in my arms
Lord thank you for the way you held her all those days we had to be apart
And now I see the impossible dream is holding me and I'm swept away
Caught up in your love, home to stay I'll never be alone
And I'm amazed at how much I am loved; our lives will never be the same I've been swept away


"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"--1 John 3:1

Gifts


So this weekend, I tried to mark off some things on my China "to do" list. One of those things was buying gifts for Lia's nannies and the director of her orphanage. I've put this one off for a little while just because I had no idea what I was going to get.

First of all, is the orphanage director a male or female? I don't know. Secondly, what do you buy (as a gift of appreciation) those people who have been the only family that your child has ever known? And lastly, how in the world do you find anything not made in China?

I visited our local farmers' market yesterday and found some locally produced soaps and lotions, some candy, and 3 really pretty wine bags to put everything in. (I had picked up some note pads that I thought would work but didn't discover the MADE IN TAIWAN sticker until too late).

It all seems so small but meeting the locally made, lightweight, non-fragile requirements is a little challenging.

I'm open for suggestions if anyone has any ideas.

"Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise"--Psalm 48:1




Saturday, January 17, 2009

On the Outside Looking In...For Now


This photo is a picture of the entrance to Lia's orphanage taken by another adoptive family some time ago.

It's where she has spent the first year and a half of her life and is probably all she has ever known.

As time continues to pass (much too slowly, in my opinion) while waiting for our travel approval, I have wished many times that we were able to make our own travel arrangements and just go. After all, she's right there! Right past that gate in one of those buildings!

It has been so encouraging watching all the families from our agency who are in China right now meeting their children for the first time. But it has also made me more than ready to get out of here and go get her and bring her home to where she was always meant to be.

Here's hoping it won't be too much longer.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." Psalm 130:5





Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nesting Has Officially Begun

I think the nesting instinct has finally kicked in.

Shortly after hearing that many of Target's winter clothes for kids were on clearance, I found myself standing in the middle of the infant/toddler section giving specific instructions to my kids:
  • must be the right size
  • must be cute
  • must be girly
  • must (and this is non-negotiable) have the prized "red sticker"
45 minutes later we were on our way home with our treasures.


That was our first shopping trip for Miss Lia. We found a couple of cute things to take with us and the kids learned a valuable life skill...bargain shopping.

The best part was that we all had fun thinking about Lia while shopping for her. Even Alex, who made an unsuccessful attempt to smuggle a Lightning McQueen pajama set into the cart for himself, had a good time.


The boys are absolutely thrilled to be my spokesmodels.

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever." Psalm 30:11-12

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Little Girls, Big Fears, and a Prayer Request

We don’t even have our Travel Approval yet, but the tears have already started to fall.

“I want you to go get Lia but I don’t want you to have to go so far away and for so long.”--L

“I don’t want you to go.”--C

“I’m afraid the plane will crash.”--L

“What if something happens to you?”--C

These were the words that came flooding out of the hearts of two very sad little girls last night as I tucked them into bed.

Enter big brother: “You know, planes are three times safer than cars.” (I think his data was a little off here, but you get the idea).

“Who said that?”

“Daddy. And I’ve read it, too.”

Somehow, this small piece of travel trivia didn’t appease their fears. Nor did it appease mine. And to be completely honest, I have a whole lot of fears that I could add to that list related to this journey on which we are about to embark. There are many unknowns related to adoption…especially international, special needs adoptions.

But the one fact that I tried to drive home to the girls (and myself) is that nothing happens in this great big fallen world that doesn’t pass first through the hands of our all knowing, all mighty, all loving Heavenly Father.

He is the one who brought us to this wonderful, amazing, terrifying place and we will joyfully follow Him wherever He leads because He is worthy of our trust. As the old hymn states..."Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him; how I've proved Him o'er and o'er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus; O for grace to trust Him more."


If you would pray for the hearts of my kids (especially the girls right now) as we prepare to travel, I would appreciate it... Not that they would feel secure in their circumstances but that they would feel secure in Him.

Thanks.

“I, even I, am he who comforts you.” –Isaiah 51:12

Guangxi Girl

Lia is from the Guangxi province in southern China. It borders Vietnam on the southwest side, the Gulf of Tonkin to its south, and Guangdong (the province where the US Consulate is located and where we will end our trip) is on its eastern border.

OK, that's enough about geography.

From the images I've seen, parts of this province are breathtaking. Even up until the 20th century, it was considered an open and wild territory--very mountainous with a lot of rivers running through it (thank you, Wikipedia).


Here are some pictures of Guangxi:








I haven't been able to locate much info about Beiliu City (where her orphanage is), so I'm assuming it must not be very big.

I guess little Miss Lia Kate, born half a world away, is a small town southern girl just like her sisters.

"Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." Ps. 90:2

Monday, January 12, 2009

Biding Time

While waiting for our Travel Approval, I've decided to experiment a little with this blogging thing to see if you really can teach an old dog new tricks. I wanted to see if I could figure out how to post a video on the site.


Here's the result (it's only a few seconds long but bet it makes you smile):

video


He took a break from finding Blue's Clues around the house to help me out with my little experiment. The notebook he's holding is his "Handy Dandy Notebook."

"From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise..." Psalm 8:2









Gotcha Day

So, unfortunately (for me) I have no new pictures of Lia Kate to post. I suppose the next group of pictures will be the ones that we take ourselves on Gotcha Day. This is the name given to the day of the trip to China when adoptive families receive their little ones.

Today is Gotcha Day for a group from our agency who is in China right now. I will spend whatever free time I have today bouncing from website to website to see the images of these little ones and their families whose lives are forever changed starting today! Nothing makes me happier than to see the pictures and videos of children meeting their forever families for the first time. If you want to take a quick peek, check out the Brizzi Family News or We're Coming Baby! blogs on my sidebar. Trust me, it'll make your day. :)

"Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom...." Psalm 145:3

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Last Few Weeks as the Baby

As we are getting ready to transition from a family of 6 to a family of 7, I've been amazed at how the Lord is preparing the hearts of my kids for our trip and for Lia's place in the family. They are all anxious for us to go and get her and talk frequently about how they will help with her when she comes home. It seems they are all excited to be a big brother or sister once again....or in Alex's case, for the first time.



It's safe to say that Alex has enjoyed his position of "baby" for the past 3 1/2 years. Although, he readily admits to being a "big boy," he continues to enjoy the pampering that he receives from the rest of the family including me. He will undoubtedly have his fair share of adjustments to make as he learns to share Mommy with Miss Lia but in the end, he's going to make a great big brother.



When I ask him how he's going to help with Lia, he says he's going to teach her how to take a bath without crying. Perhaps he could start now by showing me what that looks like.....:)



Always ready for a Nerf gun battle!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Computer Illiteracy Confession

As if it weren't blatantly obvious, my computer skills (namely, web design) are a little lacking. I finally figured out that having a blog title that's actually in the "Blog Title" spot comes in handy when people are linking to your blog. :)

Sorry about that.
Now, back to more important things...


Little Lady


Our Referral Acceptance (the paper from China asking if we are sure we want to adopt Lia Kate) is on its way back across the Pacific with an enthusiastic "YES" marked on it. Now we wait for our Travel Approval which we hope will come in the next couple of weeks. We are currently applying for Visas, planning our trip (very amusing for 2 people who know nothing about international travel), and trying to figure out what to take.


The latest measurements that I was able to get for Miss L were taken at 12 months where she weighed a whopping 17 pounds and measured 28 inches tall. She was (I think) wearing 9 month clothing then, so I'm assuming she'll be wearing 12 month clothing at 18 months. Oooh is it going to be fun finding clothes for her!


"We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks, for Your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds." -- Psalm 75:1

Friday, January 9, 2009

Our "Sweetie"


Truth be told, we really don't know much about Lia Kate's personality. All we have is very sketchy information from her referral report. It states she is "talkative, active and outgoing, and has a ready smile."
Thankfully, we were able to get a little bit of updated information from her orphanage which stated, "she loves eating sweet things, loves all kind of toys, and loves outdoor playing."
I think the love of "sweet things" is clearly evidenced by her face in this picture. :)

"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever."--Psalm 136:1

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lia and Her Friends


We were able to send Lia a care package thanks to www.ladybugsnlove.com/ which included an outfit, books, a toy, a blanket, a little stuffed animal, some nuts and candy for her nannies to enjoy, 2 disposable cameras (which we really hope will enable us to have more pictures of her) and some pictures of us! Also, we were able to send her a cake that she enjoyed with some of her friends and it enabled us to get more pictures of her!

Aren't those little ones precious?





Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Two Peas in Exersaucers



We received this picture of Lia in her referral packet and it reminded me of a picture I had of Alex in his exersaucer during his "fuller figure" days. Oh those little toes...
...and sweet cheeks!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Name



When we received Lia's referral information, along with her sweet little passport photo (pictured here), it stated that her name was Guo Jiang Yan. After doing a little bit of research on her province, Guangxi, I learned there was a river which flowed through there called Li Jiang which I believe translates to "beautiful river."

It reminded me of the passage in Revelation 22 where John writes about "the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life...and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations...No longer would there be any curse...They will see his face...(and) there will be no more night..."

And it reminded me of a time that is yet to come, when there will be no more orphans, no more poverty, no more sickness, and no more death.

So we chose for her a new name, Lia Katherine Jiang (beautiful, pure river), which would be a name representing not only the place from which she came but also the place, where by His grace, we pray she will be going.


"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." --Rev. 22:20




Lia Katherine Jiang...


...known affectionately to us as Lia Kate...is waiting for us in the province of Guangxi in southern China. She will soon turn 17 months old and is two years younger than her big brother Alex! We are hoping to travel mid-February to bring her home!


We are all overwhelmed with joy as we anticipate her homecoming!


More details and pictures to come!


Angela


Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have been granted in what He ordaineth? --from Praise to the Lord, the Almighty