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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Another First for Lily

So, she's the first.


The first of our six to discover that there's more than one way to get out of the back of a pick up truck.


 The first to realize that one of those ways will land you a Saturday morning visit to the orthopedist's office.


The first kid in our almost 15 years of parenting to have a fracture in her radius requiring 3 to 4 weeks in a cast (purple per her request).


After such an event, it only seems right that she would lay low for a few days and rest that fragile arm of hers while soaking up all the pampering her big sisters were willing to offer.


Then again, this is Lily we're talking about.
And apparently that rest and relaxation is just going to have to wait until the sun goes down.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

She Gave Him Everything

Tonight I watched my little boy play ball outside with his dad.
I watched him laugh with his friends and tease his sister.

I held him as he snuggled in my lap after his bath
as I kissed his still baby soft cheeks and hugged him tight
and debated back and forth over which of us loved the other more.

I cuddled with him in bed
as we read about men from the Old Testament
and smiled as he said he wished we'd named him Joseph
because he wanted to have a name from the Bible.

I prayed aloud with him that he would grow big and strong
never forgetting what Jesus had done for him
and that he would live up to the name we did give him
Alexander...defender of mankind
Christian...follower of Christ.

And then I came downstairs
and I heard this song for the first time
and I remembered.

I remembered that day
over 6 years ago,
when we stood beside her hospital bed
watching and praying
as she held him in her arms
and covered his little head
with kisses
and tears.

I remembered how she stood before us a few hours later
with resolve in her heart
and tears on her cheeks
and how she tenderly placed him in my arms
hugged us both
and then walked out of the hospital
empty.

She could have made a different choice.
She could have chosen to not be inconvenienced with 9 months of pregnancy
or the pain of labor.
She could have chosen not to deal with the emotional turmoil of saying goodbye to the one she had carried inside her for so long. 
She could have chosen so very differently.

But instead
she chose to give him life.

And then
she chose to give him to us.

This dear, dear woman
who displayed one of the most selfless acts of love imaginable
gave my son life
and in so doing
she gave him
everything.

A hope.
A future.
Everything.

And tonight I am overwhelmed with thankfulness
for that little boy asleep in his bed,
for his birth mom who chose to give him life,
and for the One, full of grace,
who ordained every day of his life
before one of them came to be,
who out of great love for us all,
set him into our family at just the right time,
and who allows me,
undeserving as I am,
to be the one he calls
Mom.


Adoption and the Gospel


"It's one thing to talk about changing lives, even to give to an organization like Show Hope--it's another thing altogether to see with my own eyes the real flesh-and-blood little boys and girls standing with Steven [Curtis Chapman] on the stage-- people whose lives have literally been saved by a family's obedience to God.  It's an incarnation of the love of Christ; the fruit of the Kingdom made tangible, standing there with a little bow in her hair.  For a man like me so prone to disbelief, I feel like Thomas putting my hand in Jesus' wounds:  'This Gospel, then, is true?' "                                                        
                                                                                          ~ Andrew Peterson

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Princess-ology 101

The great ones never stop learning.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Peas and Carrots


He's long and lanky.
She's short and sweet.

He's a bit on the quiet side.
And she's...well, not.

He'd wear the same outfit every day.
She changes three times in an hour.

He loves a good story.
She's all about the music.

He owns one pair of shoes.
She has a pair for each day of the week and then some.

As different as night and day, these two.
But some how they go together,
adoring each other like they do,
and they make it work.


"Like peas and carrots, Jenny, like peas and carrots."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sing.

Sing because He loves you.
Sing because you're free.

"His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."



No matter what the day may hold
sing to the One who holds the day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

From Sorrow to Joy

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.  ~Psalm 30:11

He speaks of  it over and over again all throughout Scripture.
You'll find it in the words of Isaiah,
and Jeremiah,
and David.

And I was reminded of it once again when I watched this video.

How He takes our sorrows
will all their bitter pain
and deepest grief
and loneliest mourning

and how He,
the great God of all comfort
turns them

transforms them, really,

into joy.

Beauty from ashes.
Sorrow into joy.

Unless you have journeyed a while through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
the value of that statement might not resonate.

But my friend Hannah has.

And in this video, she recounts her memories of precious Paige,
the little one whose life,
although cut brief due to a weak heart,
changed her
forever.

And how the days following Paige's passing were incredibly hard
and filled with
the sorrow
the pain and
the mourning
that so often come with loving others dangerously.

Loving like He loved.

But as Paige's life is remembered
and celebrated
and honored
joy is on the horizon.

Joy, as another little one,
Lydia,
who is facing the same dire circumstances as Paige once did,
is offered a chance at a life-changing heart surgery,
a chance at hope,
and a chance at life.

A chance to experience joy herself.

Will you consider joining the celebration?
The celebration of Paige's life.
The celebration of all that awaits Lydia (and Tabitha) once their surgeries are complete.

Will you celebrate the One who turns our sorrows into joy by loving these little girls like He loves us?

I guarantee you, you won't regret it.

Our Little Bit of Spunk

She's been hovering just under 30 pounds for about a year now.

Still wearing those 2T and 3T shorts from a while back.

Not sure when she'll ever be able to ride a roller coaster.

Or sit without a booster in the van.


But make no mistake.

The girl has spunk.

The other day I was watching her play an archery game on the Wii.

 
Don't let the sparkly headband and lacy top fool you.
She was in the zone.


She was undaunted even as her big sister coached her from the sidelines.
"I'm looking at you, looking at me, looking at you..."


And despite the distractions (and the crazy woman snapping pictures all around her)
success was hers for the taking.

video

And knowing her,
and just how much she enjoys a good challenge,
and a good fashion statement,
I fully expect her to enter the next round of competition
wearing her princess heels.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Stylish and Practical (or not)

Came across this little gem of a hat while touring the gift shops at the Great Wall and thought there just might  be a little boy at home who would enjoy it.


Turned out to be a perfect fit (for my little guy with the not-so-little head size).


Stylish and oh so practical for those subarctic winter conditions we are forced to endure here in the southeast.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Target Practice

Found these two out on the deck the other day.


Apparently he was teaching his little sister a thing or two about the proper way to shoot the living daylights out of a Coke can with his airsoft gun.


And seeing as she's 12 going on 20...


I don't reckon that's such a bad idea after all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Matched

Oh, y'all.

She's been matched.

Rosie.

The little girl He so graciously provided formula for
through your donations
through you prayers.

Beautiful
delicate
dancing-again
Rosie.

She has been matched with a family.

A forever family.

A family who will pursue her
and love her
and provide for her
and adore her

Forever.

And someday soon
she will be going
home.

He is so good.

Yesterday this passage kept coming to my mind over and over again.
Today, I read it with even more joy as His compassion and mercy have been put on display yet again.

From the heart of God
to the pen of David
to His work in the life of this precious little girl

Let all that I am praise the LORD.



Psalm 103

Let all that I am praise the LORD;
      with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
      may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
      and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
      and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
      My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
The LORD gives righteousness
      and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
He revealed his character to Moses
      and his deeds to the people of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
      slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
      nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
      he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
      is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
      as the east is from the west.
The LORD is like a father to his children,
      tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
      he remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
      like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
      as though we had never been here.
 But the love of the LORD remains forever
      with those who fear him.
 His salvation extends to the children’s children
      of those who are faithful to his covenant,
      of those who obey his commandments!
The LORD has made the heavens his throne;
      from there he rules over everything.
Praise the LORD, you angels,
      you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
      listening for each of his commands.
Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels
      who serve him and do his will!
Praise the LORD, everything he has created,
      everything in all his kingdom.
Let all that I am praise the LORD.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Psalm 103:1

Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being,
praise His holy name.
                                            ~Psalm 103:1


10,000 Reasons 
Matt Redman

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name

The sun comes up
It's a new day dawning
Its time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name

You're rich in love and You're slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
10,000 reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Soon my soul will sing Your praise unending
10,000 years and there forever more

Bless the lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Will You Help?

"Will you help?"

It's the question that awaited me in my inbox this morning.
A question posed by an extraordinary woman I had the pleasure of meeting while in China.

Hannah is the supply coordinator at the foster home we visited who fielded countless emails from me about the donations we would be bringing with us when we traveled two weeks ago.  "What kind?  How many?  Where can I find it?" were questions I besieged her with several weeks prior to our trip.  A more patient woman you will not find.

She sees those precious little ones every day.  She knows them well and she loves them deeply. I have seen it with my own eyes.

And she knows the pain of loss when sickness overtakes them and their Father takes them home.

Last year, Hannah's life was forever changed when Paige, one of the foster home babies, lost her battle with heart disease.  Paige's brief but beautiful life left a lasting impression on many.  Likewise, Hannah's friend, Lindsay, also a volunteer there, experienced the same pain four years ago when she had to say goodbye to precious Liu Yi, another heart baby who would have been four years old this month.

To honor the lives of these little ones, and the love that they continue to carry for them in their hearts, Hannah and Lindsay are raising money to provide two babies who currently reside at the foster home with heart surgeries that they desperately need.



Meet Tabitha.

 And Lydia.

Beautiful girls whose hearts are in desperate need of repair.

I had the joy of spending hours and hours with Tabitha a few weeks ago (feeding her, holding her, kissing those glorious cheeks) and I would do anything to make that surgery possible for her.  For both of them.

Hannah and Lindsay have taken on the challenge of raising $14,000.  The amount required for both girls to have the surgeries they need.  There is a Chip In bar in the top left corner of the blog where donations can be made. 

It is a big amount.
But you know as well as I..
He is much, much bigger.

So I encourage you...

Read their story.
Watch their video.
Hope with them.
Give to them.
Love them.

And pray.
Pray that these two tiny treasures would find healing for their hearts in every sense of the word.

Friday, March 16, 2012

No Words


Just love.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Game On

Each Thursday, after their writing class is finished, some of the older kids at our co-op participate in a little math competition.

They line up into two lines (often boys vs. girls) and square off in a relay.

A participant from each line runs to the designated spot, answers a math fact, and races back to their line enabling the next child to go.

And recently, even though most of the kids are a little older than Lily, she has started taking part.

'Cause you know, nobody likes a little friendly competition more than Lily.


And even though it's all in good fun, she certainly takes her role on the team seriously.
Very seriously.
Can you tell?


And while I stood on the sidelines and watched her today, I'd say that her having the chance to join in on the fun...


...having the chance to contribute to her team...


and having the chance to succeed in this friendly little game of numbers...


brings a great amount of joy to that intense, competitive little wildflower of mine.
Don't you think?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Home

Home.
To four sweet faces.
One incredible husband.
Spring-like days.
My own bed.
Schoolwork.
Housework.
Home.
And we are so glad to be here.

But we aren't the same people as the ones who left here a week ago.
How could we be?
We've seen their faces.
We've learned their names.
And we've heard their stories.

We have listened to the prayers being offered on their behalf
And have seen with our eyes the proof that He hears.
How He knows their plight.
How their cries are always before Him.
How He defends their cause.

And how He desires for us,
the ones who bear His name,
to do the same.

143 million.
Each with a name.
Each with a story.
Each, a life worth defending.

Lord, give us strength for the battle.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

He Is Here

In the feeding of bottles
And the spooning of cereal
In the wiping of faces
And the wiping of tears

He is here

As cleft lips are kissed
And toes are rubbed
And smiles are coaxed

He is here

In the sicknesses
In the surgeries
In the uncertainties

He is here

In the lullabies that are sung
And the books that are read
And the prayers that are whispered
Pleading for health
For hope
For home

He is here

And I find that this call to go
To the poor, the outcast, the defenseless
To give, to serve, to love
Is also a call to come
To come and find Him
Here
In these faces
In these smiles
In these tears

Because He hears their cries
He knows their needs
And in Him they find mercy

As a Father to the fatherless
He is here

"Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me."  Psalm 27:10

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Psalm 139: 13-16

For you created my inmost being

You knit me together in my mother's womb

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made 


Your works are wonderful

I know that full well


My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place


when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.


Your eyes saw my unformed body


all the days ordained for me 


were written in Your book


before one of them


came to be

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Game Night

In addition to caring for the kids here, there is also a residential English school where college-aged students come to learn English for the purposes of studying abroad or business.

A new semester began this past Monday and in order to help facilitate conversational skills, the instructors have a game time each afternoon starting at 5.  Would we be interested in hanging out with them and playing some cards?

Um, yeah.

The first night it was Uno.  Thankfully, I have a 6 year old who schools me in that pretty regularly so I was prepared to handle an intense round or two.

We also learned a new game called "Kent" which works well for large groups.

Getting to know some of these students has been an additional blessing to our time here.






The Lunar Market

Today at lunch one of the long term volunteers here offered to take us to the Lunar Market which springs up down the street from the foster home every so often. 

That was an experience we didn’t want to miss.

They lined the streets and gravel lots to sell their wares.

Everything from shoes, to fish, to fruits and vegetables.

Herbs, noodles, handmade pots and pans.
 
And believe it or not...toilet paper.

It was like Costco as an open-air market in a small China Village.  
Go figure.

We bought our lunch from one of the vendors there who made what was called an egg pancake.  It tastes just like it sounds with a batter base to which they add egg, scallions, what looked like a huge chunk of waffle cone and then spices.  You can get it spicy or non-spicy.  We took the wimpy way out but it was still pretty good.

I was so glad we braved the blustery wind and made the walk over to the village.

Because this is the China I love.