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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Really, Lord?

I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was nearly a year ago when we stood in the Beijing airport, newly adopted non-English speaking child in tow, and learned that after two very long weeks in China, our flight back to the States had been...

Like, for four days, cancelled.

In the minutes that followed, we also learned that the only remaining flight headed back to the US that day was leaving shortly.

Like, in forty minutes, shortly.

And my little band of troopers?
The ones who for the past 14 days had willingly given up the usual comforts of home (you know beds, food, sit-down potties) to unselfishly welcome their new little sister into the family?
Well, they were beginning to crack.
Four more days was not the answer.
Home was the answer.

But as much as we all wanted to get home...
As thankful as we were to have this new flight plan...
I struggled.

I simply had a hard time swallowing the fact that our original plan had unnecessarily evaporated right before our eyes.
And now, by purchasing these new tickets on the spot (for the sake of the sanity of all involved) it was very possible that we would never again see the chunk o' change we were about to part with.

And so amidst the chaos of changing airlines, checking bags, and counting (then re-counting) kids to make sure all were present as we sprinted through one of the world's largest airports, a conversation was taking place in the recesses of my mind:

Really, Lord?  
A cancelled flight? 
And not another booking for four days?
I fully understand, it's Your money and all.
And You can certainly do with it whatever You see fit.
But really?
I'm no investor, Lord, but I'm thinking there is a thing or two that could be done with these funds, something, say, better suited for the advancement of Your kingdom, than unnecessarily throwing it all away on plane tickets.  
Just saying, Lord.

And so it continued.
All through check-in.
Throughout the unbearably long flight home.
And over the months that followed.  

Really, Lord?  


And that was the end of that.
Until this summer...

Not long after returning home, we submitted our sob story and our receipts to the airline that had cancelled our flight just to see "what could be done." 
And this summer, what was "done" was a crediting to our account in the form of...
airline miles.
Lots and lots of airline miles.

Really, Lord?  


So we began to discuss what we might do with these unexpected airline miles that had been "put back in our sacks" (so to speak),
and with a daughter who is quickly becoming conversant in Mandarin,
and with a son who just so happens to be free the first week in March.

And then the plan unfolds:

We apply (and get accepted) to serve for a week in an amazing orphanage on the outskirts of Beijing.

We book our tickets.

And we pray.
That in our (very) short time there, He would use us however He sees fit to be His hands and His feet.
Among the children.
Among the staff.
Among each other. 

And as we wait, I think about how if I were given the opportunity to do anything in the world, anything at all, right now, that this would be it.
And here we are with the opportunity to do just that.

Really, Lord?


Friday, December 2, 2011

Her First Christmas

There's nothing quite like watching Christmas unfold through the eyes of a child experiencing it for the very first time...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Her Day

For over 8 months she's waited.
Waited and watched while birthday after birthday has rolled through this house.
First a sister.
Then a brother.
Then another brother.
Then her little sister.
"How much days till my birthday?" she would wonder.
And she kept a calendar on her desk marking off the days one by one.
Until today.
Finally, it was her day.
I asked her what was done to celebrate her birthday when she lived in China.
Did your friends do anything?

But you knew that it was your birthday?
Eight birthdays had come and gone and yet no one had stopped to celebrate the life of this precious girl.
Until today.
Today we stopped.
And today we celebrated.
Today she was our princess and she played the part beautifully.
Proudly wearing her tiara out to lunch, to Chinese class, and at the dinner table.
"Is it mine?" she repeatedly asked. 
All yours, we said.
"Do they make it in pink instead of purple?  'Cause I like pink."
So very Lily.
Every present was opened with such care.
She delighted in each gift and methodically put it back in its place before moving on to the next one.
Eyes wide with wonder.
To say she's a "good kid" is a significant understatement.  She's a phenomenal kid.
To say that adopting an older child is "challenging" is an even greater understatement.  It is flat out hard.

But to see the joy that radiated from her sweet face as we tucked her into bed tonight wearing her new pink bathrobe with her name embroidered across the front, makes everything,
absolutely, positively worth it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

And we're back...

And just in case you were wondering what we've been up to for the past month and a half....

Someone around here turned 4
(or was it 14?...the lines are a little blurry with this one)

Made a few trips to the dentist for checkups
(Something tells me orthodontics are in her future).

Walked some planks

Tried some new dishes
(Oh the depths I will sink to for her caloric intake...)

Stocked up for a hurricane that was passing through...

Learned a little poetry

Fought off some bad guys (or wanna-be bad guys who looked more like bad kittens)...

Came across these three (who obviously mean business when they request a snack)

Found much happiness with the purchase of this lovely appliance

And found much unhappiness with the discovery of this guy in my kitchen drawer
(using it as a public restroom no less...ugh)

Managed to fit in our usual summer tour
Totally kidding on that one.  But it did get me thinking....

We've already got our own tour bus....

And with the talent that abounds around here, why not take our show on the road?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Front Porch

I love my front porch.

When the wind picks up and the rockers start to sway with the promise of  a much-needed summer storm.

And last night, somewhere between supper and showers, we had ourselves a little concert on our front porch.

Lia was the opening act.
What she lacks in lyrics she most definitely makes up for in "porch presence."

Next was my hard rocker who surprised us all by forgoing his usual hip-hop routine to show off his softer, gentler side...

And then there was Miss Lily.
She rounded out the performances with a new twist on an old classic.
It's the most Mandarin I've heard her speak (or sing) since meeting her 6 months ago.

We haven't had nearly as much "front porch time" as I'd have liked to have had this summer.
But with the concert line up we've got around here, it seems we're going to have to find some.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Art Imitating Life (At Its Best)

I first saw this clip when I was a teenager.
I laughed then because I thought it was funny.
25 years and 6 kids later I watched it again.
Oh. My. Word.
The man is a genius.
Art imitating life (at least my life) at its best...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Happy Birthday...

to my little Calvin-ist!

We love you, Alex!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adopted. For Life.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Alex's 6th birthday.
It will be an amazing day.
Well, amazing for a six year old anyway.

Pancakes for breakfast.
A trip to the park.
Chick-fil-A (with indoor playground) for lunch.
White cake with blue icing (per his request.)
And presents.  Can't forget the presents.

He has been counting down the days for, oh I don't know, 6 1/2 months now.
And finally it's here.
And I hope it's as amazing in reality as it has been in his little head.

But despite planning and prepping for his big day, I've been thinking a lot about that day 6 years ago when we met that little guy for the very first time.

How we scrambled to make arrangements for our 3 kids at home to drive 2 hours to the hospital where his birth mom was about to be induced.

How we sat outside her hospital room nervously wondering how things were going, how she was doing, how she was feeling, what she was thinking as things progressed.

How the nurse handed him to me all bundled up in his little blanket and hat so that I could give him his very first feeding (just like his birth mom had requested).

How his birth mom held him, and kissed him, and looked at him longingly.  Even more than maybe she thought she would.

How she picked an outfit out from several that I had brought for him to wear for his hospital picture.

How hard it was to watch her, through tears, place him in my arms and walk out of that hospital room.

How we buckled him into his car seat for the drive home and I sat in the back with him clutching my finger with his little hand my mind spinning from all that had just transpired.

And how I found myself completely overwhelmed by the grief, the joy, the fear, and the hope that are all intertwined in this process called adoption.

We've talked to him some about his story but not in depth.

The older he gets and the more he is able to understand and process, the more we will share.
Because his story is amazing.

But still, I wonder how he will respond.
I wonder how each of my adopted children will respond when they come to fully understand their stories.

Yesterday I came across this letter written by Russell Moore, author of Adopted for Life.  He wrote it to the unborn son of an adoptive couple

I read it through tears thinking about my sweet boy and his story that began not six years ago but before the foundation of the world written by none other than the Author of Life.

I read it thinking about my girls who know even less of their history but who are known just as intimately and loved just as much by their Heavenly Father.

And I read it thinking about myself, one of the ex-orphans Moore refers to in his letter, who doesn't deserve one bit of this grace-filled life that He has lavished on me.  What great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1).

Here is the letter in its entirety.  I pray it is as much of a blessing to you as it was to me.

Dear Micah,

Let me start this letter by acknowledging that I don’t know you. I don’t even know whether to refer to you as “Micah” or “Tyler,” since I don’t know whether your parents will call you by your first or middle name. Maybe you’ll end up with a nickname, or, by the time you’re grown, go by “M.T.” or something else. I don’t know, because I don’t know you. 

Your parents read a book I wrote, and their pastor told me about them, and about you.
But, since you are days away from being born, no one knows you, yet. Your life story is just starting, and there are lots of people who are excitedly waiting for you, most especially your new parents who have been praying for you for a long time. We love you ahead of time.

But, come to think of it, I can’t really say that no one knows you yet, because Someone does. In the years to come, you will probably have hard times of wondering who you are and where you fit. Everybody has such times, some of us a lot. You might be tempted to think that these hardships are because you were an “adopted” kid.

Don’t believe it.

You are no accident. This universe is vaster and more mysterious than you can imagine, and at the heart of it, I believe, there’s a personal Being we call “God.” With millions of people all over the world, and for thousands of years, I believe this God revealed himself in a man named Jesus who taught us to call this God, with him, “Father.”

Jesus had a secret, a secret people wondered about for ages until he showed us just, relatively speaking, a little while ago. He’s not just any other man. In fact, he’s One with his Father from before the universe was. The whole cosmos was patterned after him, and meant to be his. Human beings were made especially to model what Jesus is like, but, long ago, our ancestors, and all of us with them, were taken captive by a spirit-predator, and we’ve only known the slavery of following our own impulses right to the grave. The universe we were meant to rule doesn’t recognize us anymore as what we were meant to be, the children of God.

But Jesus was free of that death sentence. His life lined up exactly with what his Father wanted. He walked into this demon-haunted age, and showed himself to have power over the wicked spirit-beings, and over the curse itself. Then he stood in our place and bore everything we dread the most, and everything we don’t even know enough to dread: suffering, temptation, accusation, abandonment by friends and family, alienation from God, and death itself.

But none of these things were strong enough to hold Jesus in their grip. Because he had nothing to hide from his Father, he was the first person in history to walk out of the grave and into newness of life.

This God of Jesus Christ decided your story. He purposed that you would be born to your birthmother, and that she would have the courage and the love to give you life. He willed that you would be adopted into this family of a mom and dad who love you. He made sure that there was the kind of emptiness in their life that they would yearn to seek after you, right at the time he would bring you to them. And he put you in a family that believes the good news of the old story I’ve told to you above.

My prayer for you is that you see how fervently you are loved. Your birth-mother loved you, or you wouldn’t be here to read this. Your parents love you, and always will, no matter what. Even more importantly, the God who formed you loves you enough to show you in your own life a picture of what he wants for all of us: to be adopted, for life, into his family.

I pray that one day, when you’re old enough, you’ll sense a kind of discontent with your life. I pray you’ll see that this is not because of your circumstances, and it’s certainly not because you were adopted. It’s because you, like all of us, will be a sinner in need of mercy, a spiritual orphan in need of a Father. And I pray that you’ll look to the story your parents believe. I pray you’ll look to Jesus’ bloody cross as hell enough for you, to Jesus’ empty tomb as life enough for you. I pray you’ll learn, if nothing else, to say two things: “Jesus is Lord” and “Abba, Father.” I promise you, he will be there to receive you, to rejoice over you. He always is.

Again, I don’t know you yet. But I look forward to meeting you one day, as your brother. If not in your next one to one hundred years of life, then in the trillions more we have before us in a new creation in Christ. I hope you’ll be there with me with a bustling, uncountable number of ex-orphans like us. It’s only then that you, and I, fully will know what it means to be adopted, adopted for life.

Blessings for a life of peace, joy, and, above all, love,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Sweet Surprise...

I was getting the little ones ready for bed this evening when I noticed them.

The first one I saw was posted ever so subtly on the bottom left-hand corner of Lia's bathroom mirror.

A few minutes later I found the one in Alex's bathroom.

Two teeny-tiny, gender-specific, age appropriate chore charts for my two non-readers to help them get themselves ready for the day.

So cute.
So creative.
So not my idea.

No, this was not my doing.

This was not even my suggestion.

This was Lauren's idea from start to finish.  She even explained it to them and they are loving it.

 Seriously, sometimes I just don't know what I would do without that girl!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Go Ahead... be the one to tell her she's too short to push the cart.

(Believe it or not, we did manage to make it all the way down the aisle without knocking over any applesauce).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

And We Are....

With swimming.
For the summer.
{Enter sigh of relief}.

After 2 long
(and crowded)
(and VERY warm)
days at the UNC natotorium watching the kids compete in their league's end of the year championship meet,

But even though it was long
(and crowded)
(and VERY warm),
it was so fun to see how the kids had progressed this summer.
Lily, who started swimming on the swim team after a total of 2 whole swim lessons, finished 1st in her heat.
She swam her little heart out and we were all SO proud of her.
(Grandma and Nana....these videos are for you).
WARNING:  Possible obnoxious parent cheering for daughter during clip.....

(Only had my camera phone for this one.  She's second from top.)

And then there was Alex.
Who had a very "Alex-like" end to his season.
He finished his heat in 2nd place.
We saw it from the stands.
We saw it on the score board.
And yet....
From way down on the pool deck, as he is walking back to his teams' spot...
He turns.
Flashes that golden boy smile of his.
And waves a ribbon given to those who finish first in their heat.

After the meet, I asked him.
So how did you get a ribbon?
And in typical Alex fashion he responded...
"There was a hand."
"Sticking out from the crowd."
"With a ribbon."
He had no idea what place he finished.
All he knew was somebody was handing him a ribbon.
Carpe ribbon.
It's just how he rolls.


My only hope is that the little guy who actually did win the heat was compensated for the mix-up by getting a ribbon of his own.

And then today after sitting through 1,235 various heats of 9-12 year olds, we were able to watch Caroline swim.
Just me and Scott.
Well, almost alone.
We were still surrounded by 700+ other folks.
But since none of them were our children, we call that a date.

Anyway, Caroline had worked so hard this summer to improve on her time.
She made every morning practice (and sometimes evening practices too).
She'd even work on her own sometimes while everyone else was having fun at the pool.
So when it came time for her events, we were so happy to cheer her on.
'Cause she'd worked so hard.
And 'cause she's really cute.

And in her butterfly heat, when she had to come from behind, she gave it her all.

She's second from the bottom. 
The cute one in purple.
Just sayin'   :)

So proud of her and all of them.
And so ready for a shower and a nap.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Happy 4th

and party hats,
precious smiles,
and pretty poses,
parades through the neighborhood
and loads of good ol' fashioned patriotism
made this 4th of July a happy one for all.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I took this picture of Lily on May 24.
May 24.

It was her first trip to the pool.

Floaties on each arm.
Blow-up ring secured tightly around her waist.
That's how it was on May 24.
Four weeks ago.

But last night, at our local swim meet, she showed us all just what can be accomplished in four short weeks...

...when you have the drive to pursue a goal.
...when you have the determination to work hard.
..and when you have the opportunity to make it happen.

I love that girl's drive.
I love her determination.
And I love the fact that because of His great love, she now has every opportunity to be all that He created her to be.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A First

He'd waited for this moment for a long, long time.
The day that he graduated from the "Happy Hippos" to become an official swim team member.
Swimming in the big leagues now.
Otherwise known as the "6 and unders."
And this week he had his first real swim meet.

He'd practiced all week for his event...the 25 freestyle.
And his coaches worked him ragged...
"Alex get off the wall."
"Alex, off the lane line."
"Alex, kick."
"Alex, swim."
And when the time came, he was ready.
Starting off with a healthy dose of carbs.
Followed by just a few more carbs.
And rounding it out with, you guessed it, more carbs.
Washing it all down with plenty of fluids.
Tough-guy tattoo was properly positioned ...
A little friendly conversation with the competition....
And then he was in the zone.
He received a  few final words from the coaches...
And then it was game on.
He positioned himself on the block...
And a historical moment was poorly recorded for all posterity.
(I've since learned that it is ridiculously hard to simultaneously enjoy the moment while taping the moment...)

After his highlight-reel worthy performance, he was greeted by throngs of fans..

And of course...

...more carbs.