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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Filled to Overflowing

Filled to overflowing...

The Chip In account.  Twice a goal has been set.  Twice it has been exceeded.  All because of His overwhelming generosity displayed through the donations and prayers of so many of you.  Thank you!

Filled to overflowing...

The suitcase that sits in the corner of my room.  A testimony to His mercy.  Two cases of formula are here.  Two more will arrive this week.  A little girl has been lavished with love by Him through you.  And additional funds have allowed for the purchasing of even more supplies including much needed nebulizers that will be used by many of the other children.

Filled to overflowing...

This mother's heart as two little girls made their way to my room the other night, fists tightly clinched around wrinkled bills.  "Will it be enough?" they asked as I counted.  Yes.  Enough for one more can of formula for little Rosie.  They beamed and I marveled.  And was reminded once again that God is doing a thousand things in everything He does. (Piper)

Filled to overflowing...

The heart of a Father towards His children. "He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out..."

And He invites us to join Him.
To receive.
To give.
To love.
And to be filled to overflowing with Him.

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways 
so that you're ready for anything and everything, 
more than just ready to do what needs to be done. 
As one psalmist puts it,    
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God 
who gives seed to the farmer 
that becomes bread for your meals 
is more than extravagant with you. 
He gives you something you can then give away, 
which grows into full-formed lives, 
robust in God, 
wealthy in every way, 
so that you can be generous in every way, 
producing with us great praise to God.

2 Corinthians 9: 8-11 (The Message)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good News...

We received our first shipment of Rosie's formula today!
Turns out it doesn't weigh as much as I thought. 
Or take up as much space.
(Confirming the fact that math is not my strong point.)

But as the lovely and gracious Lia demonstrates below, we have room for even more!

 $30 will provide Rosie with one can of formula.

And we are about $80 away from being able to buy 2 more cases.
Thank you so much for your contributions and prayers towards this sweet girl!
It is so exciting to watch Him provide for her in such a way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eyes to See

On the surface it may seem like "no big deal."

A little girl in need.
A few cans of formula.
A quick online order.
And that's it.
It's how we do things around here.
No big deal. 

When I first contacted the orphanage about what type of supplies we could bring when we came, I was told that Rosie, one of their little girls, was in need of a special kind of formula.

I didn't know why it was needed.
Or what it would cost.
Or how to get it.
But I would try.

OK, I'll admit, that much, in and of itself, was a big deal.
Fundraising, organizing, attention to detail.
For some people that comes easy.
They can do stuff like that in their sleep.
But not me.
I can't even sleep in my sleep most nights.
And any ability to give attention to detail or stay organized disappeared about 3 children ago.

Still I wanted to help.
It wasn't rocket science but it did take some time and thought.
Both of which are scarce these days.

And so it began.
I searched for the formula.
Explored ways to have money donated.
Corresponded with the orphanage.
Put up a post with a way to contribute.
Made a pretty good mess of it the first go round.
Wondered if I really should be doing this at all.
Tried it again.
And waited.

In a few hours a little over $300 was given. (THANK YOU!)
When combined with other donations, that amount covered the cost of 2 cases of formula.
The order was placed yesterday.
In a few days it will arrive on my doorstep.
In a few weeks we will deliver it to Rosie.
No big deal. 


Except that it IS a big deal.
And here's why.

While corresponding with the orphanage, I learned that they are trying to stretch her current supply to last until the end of February.  
We planned our trip months ago.
We barely knew who this sweet girl was let alone her need.
But, Lord willing, we will arrive in Beijing the first weekend in March with more formula. 

It's a big deal because I don't know Rosie at all.
But Jesus does.
It's a big deal because I didn't know that the time of our visit would correspond with the time she would need more formula.
But Jesus did.
It's a big deal because I didn't know that 1 year ago, while standing in the Beijing airport, struggling with the consequences of our canceled flight and the need to spend more money on new tickets, those chain of events would allow us to go back
Because if all that hadn't happened, we probably wouldn't be going back.
At least not right now.
But Jesus knew.
He knew every last bit of it.

And through all these seemingly insignificant circumstances this is what I see.

I see the heart of a Father who delights in showing mercy to those in need and is pleased to use the weak to do so.
I see the strength of a King who holds all time and circumstances in His hands always working them for our good and His glory.
I see the compassion of a Savior who desires that we would have eyes to see His matchless grace that is put on display all around us over and over again throughout the course of our days.
And that in so seeing, we would believe that He is every bit of who He says He is and live accordingly.

Too often I rationalize away the countless works of His hands that happen right in front of me as "no big deal."
But today He gave me eyes to see.
And I believe.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How You Can Help...

There is someone that I would love for you to meet.


Rosie is one of the precious little ones who reside at the orphanage the kids and I will be visiting in early March.
And she could use our help.

A few days ago, I contacted one of the orphanage administrators to ask what supplies were most needed.
And their greatest need right now is for a special formula used by Rosie.
A special formula.
For a very special little girl.
And a unique opportunity for us to help her get what she needs.

Our hope is to purchase as much as we can and transport it with us when we travel.
A case of six containers runs about $200.
And we want to stuff our luggage with as much of it as is allowed so that sweet girl can grow into all those plans her heavenly Father has for her.

There are other supplies needed in addition to her formula.

We hope to take many of these as well.

If you'd like to help Rosie receive some of the things they need most right now, you are welcome to contribute by using the Chip In Box in the top left corner.
Or you can just contact me directly.
I'm flexible that way :)

Thank you for remembering Rosie and her friends.
And praying for them.
And loving them in this very tangible way.

"In You the orphan finds mercy.” Hosea 14:3

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The New Has Come

Today we celebrate her adoption day.

The day when, one year ago, we walked into the civil affairs office and sat opposite the residing magistrate.

We answered his questions.
Made our vows.
Gave our signatures.
And sealed our documents with our prints.

It was finished.

We had satisfied the requirements of the government and the adoption was final.

Her old life was forever done away with.
Her new life had begun.

And she seized her new life with every bit of determination that I've come to expect from her.

There was the bike.
The check-up at the OT.
The piano recital.
The swim lesson.
The final meet.

It has been quite a year watching her blossom.
But as amazing as it was to witness all these accomplishments, the best was yet to come.

Early on, she learned of Jesus.
And her love for Him took off like wildfire.
She was captivated by the stories.
(And if you've never read the story of the 10 plagues to an eight year old hearing it for the very first time, you have no idea what you're missing.
We watched as she earnestly tried to live out His teachings in her own life.

Months passed and she began to inquire more.
Specifically about communion.
And baptism.
She wanted to know if she could be baptized.

We talked through it with her.
And then one Sunday in October she stepped up on the stage at church.
She had an index card filled with symbols and stick figures prompting her with what she would say.
What she would say.....her testimony.

How she had not heard of Jesus before.
But how her Daddy read the Bible at night after dinner.
And how she had watched a movie about Jesus in her native language and understood that He died on the cross for her.
How He took her bad heart and give her His perfect one.
How Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer and she wanted to be baptized too.

I had asked her if she wanted to add a verse and she said yes.
"This verse," she said.
1 John 3:16
"This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us."
She knew it by heart.
And after reciting it on stage, she made her way over to the water...
and was baptized.

He had satisfied the requirements of the Law on her behalf.
Her adoption as His child was final.

The old life had gone.
The new had come.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                                           2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reflections on the Year

I will never forget the butterflies that morning as we walked around Shamian Island.
One year ago today.
It was a beautiful day in the making.
The sun danced off the statues as we passed.
Lines of pre-schoolers toddled through the park in their traditional bulky layers.
Locals practiced badminton while shop owners beckoned us to come in to peruse their wares.

A typical Monday morning on the island.
Much to be remembered.
But it will undoubtedly be the butterflies that always stand out when I recall that day.

Not because we could observe them or capture them on camera.
The weather was unseasonably cold that particular week in Guangzhou.
There were no actual butterflies to speak of.

The butterflies that are permanently etched into my memory are the ones that filled the pit of my stomach and fluttered unmercifully as we strolled along the streets that morning.
And watched the clock.
It would only be a few short hours before we boarded the van and made our way across town to the local civil affairs office where we would meet our then 8 year old daughter for the

At this point in the adoption of Lily there was really only one thing that was certain.
The path that we had been on for the past 9 months and more specifically,
the One we had followed down it,
had without question brought us here to this place.
To this moment.
To this child.
That much was abundantly clear.

But what would happen after the civil affairs office...
In the hours, weeks, years that would follow...
That remained to be seen.
the butterflies.

Up to this point I had read the books, taken the classes, and had a vague idea of what life could be like.
Adopting older.
Out of birth order.
From an orphanage
and from foster care.
I knew that "they" said it takes a child as many years as they are old when they join a family before they actually feel as if they are a part of that family.
That'd be eight years for her.
And us.
Eight years of her life already lived.
A life that I knew next to nothing about.
But a life that we were about to commit to...
had already committed to in our hearts...

And as I look back over this past year I would say it has proven to be some of what I expected it to be.
And much more.
So much more.

I expected the relational tension as we all adjusted.
But expecting it and living it are two different things.

We've all had our moments.
Each of us has "lost it" a time or two (or twenty) over the past year as we have attempted to merge all these little lives into one big happy family under one roof.
We've all witnessed the ugly in each other and at times we have all been the ugly ourselves.

I've learned that while Jesus sometimes calls us to follow Him to the ends of the earth;
He always call us to come to the end of ourselves.
And that's where we ended up most days.
At the end of our proverbial ropes.
A the end of our literal selves.

But He would always be there.
With truth for desperate hearts.
With provision for those lacking.
With grace.
Always with grace.

And from that bloomed beauty.
Immense beauty.
As truth takes root.
And relationships deepen.
And trust grows.

Love becomes something that can be given freely without expectation and without demands because of the realization that our supply, or more accurately our Supplier, is limitless in His ability and willingness to provide.

This could easily be counted  among one of our most challenging years as a family.
But it could just as easily be seen as one of much growth.
Challenge and growth.

They often seem to go hand in hand.

When tucking her in the other night, I noticed a score of pandas and one lonely lion atop her bed.
Absent-mindedly, I placed the lion on her desk and pulled up her covers.
She immediately reached over, brought the cub back and nestled him in among the pandas.

"The pandas," she explained, "they adopt the lion."

Really? I inquired.

"Yes, it is a odd story," she added.
(Odd is a new favorite vocabulary word of hers.  She pulls that one out a lot).

 "Well, is the lion happy about being adopted?" I asked (with not a little trepidation at her possible response).

"Yes," she said in her oh-so-Lily-matter-of-fact-way.  "Yes he is."

And so are we.

In our very own
often broken,
frequently failing,
always learning
but never,
kind of way.

We are gloriously happy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

She Did It Anyway...

I asked her not to.
Begged is more like it.
Just wasn't sure I could handle another one.

With her big brother now eligible for driver's ed.
And her older sister on the brink of teen-dom.

A mother can only take so much growing up in a short amount of time.

But she couldn't help herself.
She had to.
Just had to go and turn...sigh...10.

It was the next milestone on her list.
And if there's one thing to know about Caroline, it's that she always checks off her list.

In His wisdom, it's how He made her.
She has things to do and she gets them done.

And also in His wisdom, he placed her right smack dab in the middle of my big kids and my little ones.
Third out of six.
Because He knew that's where I needed her to be.

She speaks my love language.
And nearly brings me to tears.
"Mommy, I feel like cleaning.  Do you mind if I do the dishes?"
Oh child.

She can manage a house (kids included) better than me.
Oh my, did He ever know that I needed a Caroline.

Her world has been turned upside down a few times over the past decade.
With that comes a lot of growing.
And because of it she is wise beyond her years in many ways.

Most definitely wise beyond her years.
And us?
We are blessed beyond measure.

Happy 10th birthday sweet Carly Grace.
We pray today (and every day) that you know just how much you are loved.