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

Friday, December 31, 2010

The BEST gift of all...

...was receiving this picture just a few minutes ago.

The dear family that is in China right now adopting their daughter took a note from us to Lily yesterday when they visited the orphanage.  In it we included a picture of the kids holding Lily's picture.

Kim and Carl, thank you so much!!

Seeing that smile on her face is absolutely priceless!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Focus."

It's Lia's new favorite word.  And she wields it with much power and precision around here.

Like when Michael is pouring her a bowl of cereal and gets lost in conversation with his other sister.

"Michael, focus!" she tells him.

Or when putting a puzzle together with her daddy who simultaneously is checking some of the latest football scores.

She reminds him not-so-subtly, "Daddy, FOCUS!"

It is certainly a reminder I need all too often these days. 

In a few minutes we will leave for our last Christmas road trip.  Then home again to de-decorate, finish the last bit of preparations for Lily's arrival, begin to seriously pack for China.  And there's also this schooling thing we've got going on too.

In the midst of all that (and really on any given day, not just this particular season of life) it's very easy for me to lose focus and get distracted by the unimportant things.

And I end up like Peter sinking in the water because I have lost sight of Jesus.

There is much joy to be had in this journey even amidst the hardships but it's a battle to maintain it when so many things desire to steal it away.

So today, by His grace, I will heed the wisdom of my pint-size preacher...

...and remember to keep my eyes focused on Him.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Three Weeks From Today

This morning I was able to see the blogs of two families who met their daughters for the first time yesterday. They were 2 of the 4 girls that had moved back to the orphanage with Lily. According to their moms, the girls were giggling and smiling holding the pictures of their respective families that had been sent to them months before. The road ahead will be long and arduous I'm sure with all that is involved in the transition to their new lives but what a blessing to have their initial meetings go so well.

It's hard to believe that in 3 weeks we will be doing the exact same thing. I've tried to play over and over in my mind how this initial meeting will go. What will I say? What will I do? What will I bring? Honestly, I just don't know. I guess I'm leaving the Holy Spirit PLENTY of room to work here. His strength is perfected in my weakness and I've got no shortage of that!

We have much to do over the next 18 days before we head out. I have a nice little pile of "China stuff" growing in the corner of my bedroom. At some point I'll need to deal with all that. But these days all I really want to do is stare at the sweet face that in 21 short days will be in the same room with me and not simply staring back at me from my computer screen.


Lily with members of the volunteer group who serve at the orphanage.  Looks like they were on a trip to the grocery store with the kids.  Even at a young age she's got that sparkle in her eye.  I just love it!
T-minus 21 days and counting.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

That Face...

My cup is seriously overflowing today.

Before I discovered all those precious pictures of Lily yesterday, I had requested some updated ones to see how she was doing after moving back to the orphanage.

Today in my inbox I found 6 new ones of our little miss. 

Have you ever seen such cuteness?






Only 25 days, 3 hours, and 12 minutes 'til Gotcha Day.....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

JACKPOT!

I decided to look a little more closely at the website for the Chinese volunteer group in Lily's district (mentioned in my last post) to see if I could find more photos.  It was fairly time consuming poring over all of their various activities and scanning through all the pictures.  But I've got a pot roast in the oven, so what the heck...

At first I didn't see her.  Other familiar faces were there but not hers.  Maybe this was when she was with her foster family.

I went back as far as 2-22-09.  And that's when I saw it.
Oh gracious, I'd know that sweet pose anywhere.

And then there's this one with her friends...

She's in the front of the boat...snacking and smiling :)
She was 6 when these were taken.  And there are many, many more.
Like this one when she was only 4!

Eating and smiling once again...that's my girl :)
And one more because I just can't resist...

I can't begin to explain what a gift these photos from her past, photos with the friends she's had for most (if not all) of her little life, are to have. 

Thank you Lord for this sweet surprise!

Because I'm Completely Obsessed...

This morning, thanks to a tip from someone else, I was able to locate 3 new pictures of our sweet girl.

A group of local volunteers visited Lily's orphanage and spent time with the kids and posted some of the pictures on their website.  Thanks to Google translator (oh, how I love thee) I was able to find them and ultimately find her.

She's the cute thing with the little pony tail on the far right with her arms up over her head.

See her here?  The one with the adorable face?  (And the only girl in a group of all boys...hmmmmm)

What a sweet gift these extra pictures are! 

27 days to go....

Any Way You Tell It...

...it will always be the greatest story of all time.



Monday, December 20, 2010

A Message of Love

I mentioned in a previous post that Lily, along with 3 other girls her age, have moved back to the orphanage to wait for their families to come. While we, unfortunately, have to wait another 4 weeks, there are 2 families traveling over Christmas weekend. One family in particular graciously agreed to take something from us to try and give to Lily.

I mentioned this to the girls and they got right to work on pictures for her and I included the picture on my sidebar of all 5 kids together holding Lily's picture. We also wrote notes telling her how we were all very excited to be able to come to China to meet her.

Caroline drew a tiger for her and wrote a very sweet note on the back.



Lauren did a family portrait (including the dog, of course)

We'll find out later next week if they were able to get the note to Lily.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunday Snapshot { 30 Days}

In 30 days we will find ourselves half way around the world standing in a crowded room at 2:30 in the afternoon scanning a sea of faces looking for one face in particular.

A face that I have stared at for 9 months.

A face that grabbed my heart from the moment I first saw it.

A face that always, always makes me smile.

Thirty days.

And counting.


Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dates

We have dates.

Not necessarily the dates we wanted but we are thankful to have them.

We will leave on January 14th, meet Lily on the 17th, and have our new (and hopefully permanent) Consulate appointment on the 25th.  Then we'll fly back right before Chinese New Year starts.

I asked our agency about Lily's status.  Where is she now?  Does she know?  How is she doing?

The social worker in China had emailed our agency about Lily and 3 other girls who had been sent back to the orphanage to wait for their families.  It was a bittersweet update:

"Thanks a lot for your letter. We are so excited to learn that those four families will come to Longgang to adopt the four kids soon.


Now four kids have come back to the orphanage. They are also very happy and elated for they will meet their families and go abroad in the near future. They almost can't wait for it.


Since they returned, four girls always get together to play games, have meals and sleep in the same room but respective beds. But they may have some sorrows, for they can not come back to school and get along with their classmates and friends, teachers and foster family. Even though,i think delight is more than upset in their hearts. In addition, social worker here will also try her best to serve them ,e.g. Ease their emotion and arrange some activities for them. I guess they will adapt it asap. So please rest your heart."

Please pray for the heart of my sweet girl and for us as we wait a little longer.

A Needed Reminder...

This morning my mind was racing with all the things that have transpired over the past few days and all the things still unknown about our travel dates.  When will we travel and more importantly right now, when will I even find out when we're traveling.  Watching our perfectly formed travel plans disentegrate right before my very eyes leaves me feeling frustrated, powerless, and hurting for our little girl who is most likely back at the orphanage and missing her foster family. 


I have trouble seeing "the good" here, but this morning, in His mercy, He reminded me that He's the one calling the shots.  Not the civil affairs office.  Not the Consulate. Him.    

Case in point:  I was thinking back to Monday, the day we received our original confirmed Consulate appointment.  That was to be the last piece of the puzzle.  With that set, we were 99.99999999% sure of when we needed to leave.  Monday evening we searched all the travel sites for the best airfares that would get us to Guangzhou without too much pain and suffering.

Finally, we found one that was doable and attempted to purchase the tickets.  Five one way, six back.  However, when we went to enter all our info, the site was requesting our passport numbers.  Fine for us, but we don't have Lily's passport.  We tried a number of different ways, all to no avail.  I even sent out a plea for help to different message boards we belong to.  Everyone who responded had either used an agent or did it on their own with no trouble.  No one remembered needing to provide their child's passport number.

We finally gave up. The next morning, while making some calls to figure out how to buy the tickets,  I learned the civil affairs office in Lily's province was closed the day we were to meet her.  That closing meant there was no way all our ducks would be in a row before our scheduled Consulate appointment.  Our "perfect" travel dates went up in smoke.

Yet this morning, for the first time, I realized what a blessing it was that we weren't able to purchase those tickets when we tried.  Do you know how much a round trip ticket to China is going for right now?  Let me tell you, it's a chunk o' change.  Multiplied by six?  Ouch.  I can't imagine the hassle we would have endured trying to change them.  Worse yet, we may end up using a different airline altogether depending on when we leave. What a nightmare that would have been.

Over and over again He has shown Himself to be all over this adoption.  Sometimes He closes doors and sometimes He blows them wide open.  But all the time, all the time, He is good. 

And it is on Him that we wait and in Him we place our trust, so that in this and all things, He might be praised.

We're coming soon, Lily...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Still waiting...

There was no news about our new Consulate appointment waiting for our agency this morning. Hopefully tomorrow.

More than likely that means we'll be assigned the later date of leaving 1/7 and  meeting Lily on 1/10 (which also happens to be Caroline's birthday).

The only really hard thing about the later date is that Lily was probably moved from her foster home back to the orphanage once our TA was issued. Now she'll have to be there even longer before we arrive.

So many things out of my control. But always, always within His.

'Til tomorrow....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bad News

Ugh.

Just found out this morning that the Civil Affairs office in Guangzhou isn't open on the Monday that we were supposed to meet Lily.

No office means no passport.

No passport means no doctor's appointment.

No doctor's appointment means no visa.

No visa means no ticket home.

We are now trying to figure out if we should leave Christmas day (can't believe I'm even considering it) or the week of Jan 7th. Both options have big implications.

(Sigh.) Such is the road of international adoption.

Looks like another opportunity for my big, big God to show Himself to be all wise, all powerful and all loving yet again.

(Smile.) All prayers appreciated.

The Things People Say...

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was rather funny.

And true.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Soon...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

TA!

Our Travel Approval came today!!!

If we get the Consulate Appointment time that we requested we will be on a plane New Year's Eve.  Now THAT is the way to bring in the New Year :)

Spunk 101

Just thought I'd post a few more pictures of our girl.

Not the ones showing her pretty dresses that tell me she's a girly girl.

Or the ones that flash that gorgeous smile of hers that tell me she's absolutely charming.

Or even the ones of her performing that tells me she's very comfortable in front of a crowd.

This time, I thought I'd post two new ones. The ones that tell me my girl....she's got some spunk with a hint of silliness to her.




Thankfully, I've been working on an advanced degree in "spunk"...

...with a minor in "silliness"
The Lord always prepares us for that to which He has called us, does He not?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Knock, knock...

video
Gotta love a comic with his own rim shot.

And not to be outdone...
video
 I'm sure this is how it all started for Jerry Seinfeld...

Officially On the Clock!

I just found out today that our Article 5 letter arrived all safe and sound in Beijing and has been submitted to the appropriate people.  Sooo...we are officially on the clock waiting for our Travel Approval to make its way from Beijing to our agency's office. Could take a couple weeks, could take longer. But once it arrives we are free to go meet our sweet Lily!

Woo hoo!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Busted

Last night, while talking on the phone to a family member (who shall remain nameless per their request), it was brought to my attention that some interesting pictures had been posted on my daughter's blog.

I hadn't checked her blog for a while but don't ya know I surely did before I even hung up the phone.

Here's what I saw going on in my own home, right under my own nose (or more accurately, right over my own head) without me having the slightest clue:

Does it surprise anyone that he made this jump with no pillows or any safety netting whatsover below him?


Looks like if I decided to sell them to the circus, they might make a career out of it.

Crazy kids.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Packing Up Party

Tonight the kids packed up their shoe boxes for Samaritan's Purse.  One each for a boy or girl in their age range.  We piled up all the goodies that had been purchased, popped popcorn, partook in some peppermint bark (a bit too much peppermint bark, I'm afraid) and sipped on some cider.

(I had hoped to have some pictures of them working but all hands were needed on deck so there were none free for the camera.  Phooey.)

The sweetest part was reading the letters they composed for the children that would receive the boxes.  We are all excited about the ability to track the boxes and see where they end up.

This is the last weekend to participate!  For more info go here:  Samaritan's Purse

What I wouldn't give to be there to see their faces....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Surprise

"Mommy, DON'T come into the kitchen.  I have a suhpwize for you!"

And what a surprise it was...

While perusing the cabinets this morning, he had come across an empty spray bottle, filled it, and then (dressed in the appropriate attire~or lack thereof) he had decided to "clean" my kitchen windows by squirting them with water.



And squirting, and squirting, and squirting them with water.

My, those windows haven't been that clean in quite some time.

After finishing that job, he took his work outside...per my request :)...and tried to invigorate some life into our dying basil plant.  Unfortunately, to no avail.  I miss my basil.



There is simply no lack of entertainment around here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sharing the Cuteness

Today our agency received several Travel Approvals which means lots of families are packing up to go get their kids.  We're still waiting on one more document before we will receive our TA but hopefully ours will be in the next batch that come from China.  Hopefully.

Today I felt like looking at some video of Lily that our agency captured while they were in China doing one of their camps for the kids they are trying to place in families.  I have about 5 or 6 little snippets and while this one is more "random" than most, it is my favorite.

There's something about her facial expressions, her smile, and the way she interacts with the interviewer that just melts my heart.  I think she is just adorable.

And I thought it would be just plain selfish to keep all that cuteness to myself.

Enjoy.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

He's Making A List...

...and checking it twice.

Only it's not a list of things he wants to get for Christmas.  It's what he wants to give.

And the little stinker wrote it in secret code too so no one could figure it out.  Then tucked it away in a safe spot until it was time to go shopping.

That's my Alex.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Update!

Today we got an update on Lily!  I had asked for measurements so I would have some idea of what size she was.  As it turns out, she's pretty tall.  Only 2 1/2  inches shorter than Caroline who is almost one year older.  In addition, we received 11 new (and I must say extremely adorable) pictures of her.  The picture resolution is pretty poor so I can't enlarge them without blurriness.

But if you could see that smile, it would just about melt your heart.

Trust me.


Thankful Thursday

One cozy fire.
Two cute kids.
A gazillion Uno cards.
And 15 glorious minutes of uninterrupted "Mommy" time.
For that I am thankful.  :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Closer still...

Today we received our letter from the National Visa Center saying they received our approval from USCIS.  All our information has been forwarded to the appropriate visa-issuing post in China.

Now we wait for our Article 5 letter to be issued.  I think that's the letter that says we met all the adoption requirements we were supposed to meet.  That takes maybe 2 weeks to be issued? (I'm sure you sense my complete and thorough understanding of this process).

Then, I think a few weeks after China gets the Article 5, they can then say "well why don't y'all come on over and get this sweet thang" (more formally known as Travel Approval).  And once we have TA and an appointment at the US Consulate to pick up her visa, well, then, for all intents and purposes...

We're outta here.

And on our way to....


Alexander the Great

Today was the day.

The day that my future Hall of Famer read his first book.

Cover to cover.  Word by carefully sounded out word.  



And to celebrate, as is family tradition, we will be dining at the restaurant of his choosing one night this week.

Look out world.  Here he comes!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Going, going...

...GONE!

Alex's first loose tooth, that is.

It had been wiggly for quite some time. Thanks to a little wrestling match with his older brother, the painful days of having it "hanging by a thread" have been avoided.

He was quite proud of this milestone. Can you tell?




A Belated Boo

Last Saturday was a "boo-tiful" day and the kids enjoyed their time outside (even with a little chill in the air) carving their pumpkins...











The finished results....

Michael's haunted house
Lauren's scary face

Caroline's dragon

Alex's jolly roger

And Lia's kitty cat

Everyone was pleased as punch how their pumpkins turned out...


Then Sunday was the big day for our ladybug...
...and Jedi warrior
Once Lia got the hang of what was actually going on, she would march right up to the door with Alex saying "I knocky door.  Knock, knock, knock!"
Afterwards, the littles were more than happy to share a few pieces with the big kids who graciously held down the fort while we were walking around the neighborhood...
And a good night was had by all...