Monday, December 31, 2018

Treasuring and Pondering Fall 2018

Fall 2018 

So this Fall we welcomed Christian home for a semester as he prepared to study abroad for the Spring semester.

Yeah, yeah, I know...  great opportunity, awesome experience...

blah blah blah...

talk to me in June and then I might agree with you!


More on that later as I just cannot speak of it yet!


Now as we welcomed one home this semester, we delivered another to his Freshman year at college.

Funny, how quiet it has been around here since, oh I don't know...

maybe August 18th???

 Charlie brings laughter and chaos and love and fun and he is truly missed.

His first visit home was a complete surprise and just like Charlie and something I should have expected...

but didn't and it was the best surprise ever!

Halloween came and went...

try explaining that holiday to a 14 year old from China!

in the end, all he needed to hear was "candy", lots of "candy"...

the rest was unimportant!


I have never been a huge fan of Halloween but I love Thanksgiving and Christmas and for me, the Christmas Season starts with Thanksgiving...

and this year, we had much to be thankful for.

As I look back on memories from this time last year, I am transported back to mounds of paperwork, heaps of fundraising, moments of sheer panic, an abundance of prayer and smack dab in the middle of all of that...

a fullness of peace...

a peace that defies all logic because it transcends our earthly boundaries of possible and real.

This time last year, we were in the race of our lives...

for - Will's - life.

This time last year, we were anticipating one more chair at the table...

one more running back for Thanksgiving front yard football...


one more helper to trim the tree...

one more hand in the Reindeer Food frenzy...

a few more gifts under the tree...

and one less orphan.

Yes, this time last year, we were giving thanks for a journey that had been years in the making but was just beginning to unfold and this year...

we are giving thanks for God's faithfulness and the way in which He prepares and equips us for those journeys that transcend the realms of our comforts and the world's definition of "normal" or even "doable".

This time last year, we were giving thanks for what we knew the Lord would do, as we had experienced this kind of trust before, each step taking us farther away from "normal" and "humanly doable".

It is almost as if the next step appears just as your heel leaves the last, your fear decreasing as the expectation of that next step and the equipping that accompanies it, is established.

This year we are thankful to have been chosen for this impossible journey and the privilege of walking out Matthew 19:26:

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Cause y'all, there is just no way we could do this without Him...

and we are thankful.

Will was so excited about Christmas.

He told everyone that this was his first Christmas!

He thought maybe he would get a toothbrush...


but he really hoped for, talked about and longed for a remote control airplane.

So ya know, we just had to make that happen, cause...

this was his first Christmas after all...  there was much rejoicing!

The best gift we got???

Will asked to speak to someone at our local Chinese Church.

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  John 8:32

Overall it was a very good Christmas, filled with much to be thankful for...

however, as Christmas quickly approached, so did the departure of our eldest.

Yes, this is an amazing opportunity and a wonderful adventure for Christian and yes, I am so very excited for him...

but as much as I long to cling to moments past... 

time rolls on, in an ethereal mixture of pensive reflection and anxious but optimistic expectancy, our grip loosening as we trust in the Lord's plan for the children whom He first entrusted to us.

I have been praying about this adventure ever since it became a reality.

I have been praying for the Lord to keep him safe and for the Lord to use this time for His good and I have also been praying for Christian's host family.

I have prayed for them every single day for a few months now. 

We didn't know anything about them until a few days ago, when we received an email with their information.

Dad, Mom, two boys (14 and 12 years old) and a dog!

So far so good but as I read down further I saw Christian's Host Dad's name:

Father's name:  "Jesus"

Jesus had this and I was once again overcome with the way in which He helps me to hang on and to trust and to cast my cares and to help me to remember that He really is listening and working.

The morning after Christmas was still hard and I still cried but not because I feared for my son.

That mixture, that beautiful, wistful melange of past and present and future as Christian stepped out of our story and into his own, was ever present that morning and I just longed to hang on to a few more moments of our past when his story was still entwined in ours.

  One of my favorite Bible verses is Luke 2:19

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

What faith Mary had...

a young girl who faced an impossible situation who knew beyond any doubt that it was all possible with God.  She was excited to behold what the Lord would accomplish through this precious baby boy...

her precious baby boy.

I can only imagine the hope and the anticipation and the fear and the pondering that lived in her heart in those first beautiful moments and all of the moments to come that would be "treasured up" as she prepared to lose the precious gift that was entrusted to her care.

I have treasured up so many memories over the years and in these moments, these junctures of letting go and trusting, I find myself pondering and praying and in awe of our God who began to prepare me even before I knew He was preparing me, even before I truly recognized His hand in my life.

In no way I am comparing myself to Mary, her faith, her loss and the immeasurable purpose she was chosen to fulfill but in some minuscule way, I understand.

I realize the treasuring and the pondering as I live within the anticipation of what God will do and this Christmas with its tinge of reflection, we are thankful...

thankful for what has past and thankful for what is to come because in between the two, He is there, just as He is in every single moment, past, present and future and as the Christmas decorations are packed up, once again, for their yearly hibernation, I muse over the circumstances under which they will return.

We have one going abroad, one headed back to college, one setting his sights on college, two who will be teenage girls very soon (shudder), two who struggle and inspire with every effort and one who doesn't yet grasp the bigger picture of why he is here, and the Lord is in the midst of it all...

and we are thankful.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Run

Friday was hard. 

I wasn't sure if I would post about it as I wasn't sure how to put into words the mixture of emotions, the disappointment, the heartbreak, the gratitude and the immense love for a child who has to fight for every single step.

Friday was the annual Reindeer Run at school and just like every year, Lucy was excited. 

With the big "sport" wheels in place, her walker was ready to go. For a little while, it's almost like she forgets and for a little while she can dream.

She was ready. 

Lining up with her walker, she was just one of the girls, waiting to run... run. So full of anticipation, she waited for the whistle and almost as soon as the whistle blew and the race started, my Lucy, my brave, strong, courageous Lucy, fell. And so did my heart.

A sweet friend helped me to bring Lucy to her feet again. I watched as she physically and mentally, pulled it together and continued on, flanked now by a few sweet young boys who were going to watch over my girl.

It wasn't long before she fell again, the one thing the walker and her sport wheels were supposed to prevent. I offered to push the back of the walker for her but she was done. Done with the walker that is. Baby girl gritted her teeth and decided to go on without the walker. 

Fighting back tears, she muscled on, falling several more times but everytime, getting back up, determined to make those legs go.

She didn't make the 5 laps but she made 2 and when she fell into my arms, I was the one fighting back tears. She needed me to be happy and excited and proud and I was but I was also heartbroken and angry and empty and defeated... 

but as she looked up at me, expectantly and obviously disappointed, I mustered up every ounce of enthusiasm and excitement and pride I could and covered her in kisses and congratulations. Trying to steady my voice, I told her over and over, just how proud I was of her...

waiting until the solitude of my car to break down and give in to the brokenness that permeates her life.

This is hard y'all but the brokenness that we have stepped into has revealed to us the brokenness that we were steeped in... 

the kind of brokenness that lulls you into believing what the world tells you, the kind of brokenness that feels good, the kind of brokenness that surrounds comfort and security and self love, the kind of brokenness that lies to you and reassures your sense of "worthiness". 

This is the kind of brokenness that leaves you empty and numb. Allowing our children's kind of brokenness into our lives has broken our hearts for what breaks His and opened our eyes to a world far greater than the one that begins and ends with a white picket fence.

Lucy, in your brokenness, you are so beautiful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Question

Can my eyes be cured...

That was the question waiting for me on Google translate. 

Em was helping to translate for Will as I drove them all to karate. Her face fell as she showed me Will's translated question, her eyes locked with mine as we both soaked in the hope behind this question and fought back tears as the immense-ness of the reality of the moment sunk in . 

We haven't had to use the translator in a while but this question, he wanted to get right. He was excited to ask it and as he sat in the backseat anticipating my reply, I gathered myself yet again and dug deep for a voice that didn't tremble, a voice that held hope but hope that was intertwined with his reality. 

He was waiting and he was listening but so were Em and Lucy and Maggie. My girls, his sweet sisters, knew, but as my answer hung heavy in the moment, the four of us somehow wished that answer could be different. 

How hard it is to watch a heart break, to witness hope diminish. It would be so easy to get stuck here but the Lord steps in. He teaches me so much in the midst of the heartbreak and the hopelessness. He redeems all of it, every single heart break, every single drop of hope lost... 

These kids y'all, how the Lord has used them to mold and shape me, to work on my selfish heart, to understand what it means to love like Jesus and what it means to BE loved BY Jesus. 

While our culture concerns itself over picking just the right schools or which caterer to use for the Christmas party or finding just the right fabric for the drapes in the den or the Acura over the BMW or finding the perfect, matching smocked outfits for the school picture or granite counter tops vs quartz or whether to vacation in Hawaii or Disney this year or maybe we should buy all organic foods...


There are millions of children who will never go to school, much less the "right" school.

There are millions of children who will never have a Christmas, much less a catered Christmas party.

There are millions of children who will never have a home to hang drapes in.

There are millions of children who will never even own a car.

There are millions of children who will never have their own clothes, much less perfect smocked outfits.

There are millions of children who would love to be able to live in a real home, regardless of the counter tops, granite or otherwise.

There are millions of children who don't even know what a vacation is.

There are millions of children who are wondering if they will eat today and don't care if it is organic or not. They are STARVING!

I am honestly not trying to condemn or to point fingers or to guilt anyone into anything but our kids, these gifts from God, have served as a wake up call for our family and while we are still very guilty of stressing over worldly things, we are a little more able to see the things that are truly important.

We don't always get it right but we try a little harder now.  Our kids have shown us what true perseverance and trust looks like and we will never look at the world, or our lives, the same again...

At least I hope we don't because the hard that we have stepped into has awakened us from our "American Dream" and has revealed a world in which there is pain but it is from this pain that great joy is born.

Will will likely never see our faces... 

and Lucy will probably never walk with ease... 

and Maggie will possibly always battle her body... 

and Lizzie will never be able to change her beginnings... 

and while all of these realities are hard, they have allowed us to feel, I mean really feel, a down to the depths of our souls kind of feel and oh the conversations we have had and the prayers we have prayed and the transformations that have followed.  

Yep, that question, that one simple but shattering question was difficult to answer...

but I did... 

and I am certain the answer was difficult to hear...

but he did... 

and we both survived and took one more step closer to each other and to Him. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Trusting in the Wait...

Our first adoption was 42 years in the making. No, it didn’t actually take 42 years from start to finish, although, when your arms are aching to hold your baby, it can seem like 42 years. It did, however, take 42 years for my tightly clenched grasp on life to begin to release and to give my life over to Him. 

 Looking back, I see how the Lord was calling to me. I can picture Him watching over me, arms wide open, calling me to Him, ready and willing to take the burden from me, waiting for me to hear Him, run to Him, serve Him, love Him. His still, small voice in the back of my heart, was ever constant, ever present, ever merciful and ever patient. 

At the age of 42, I had 4 beautiful children and was living the “American Dream”, but as that still, small voice began to grow and I began to relax my grip, the Lord began to reveal Himself to me and grant glimpses of the life He had planned for me and it had nothing to do with my "American Dream." 

Our journey to Lizzie began in 2007, after some ups and downs and twists and turns that served to get our hearts back where they needed to be.  We started the process for our first daughter from China believing that we would “save” her, not understanding yet that the Lord was using this precious journey to save us! 

After 42 years of patiently and gently waiting, the Lord had my attention and was beginning to have my heart. After 42 years, I began to understand what was missing. The wait for Lizzie was hard but the Lord used that wait to teach me. The journey with Lizzie was hard but the Lord used that journey to open my eyes and to change my heart and that was just the beginning.

It would be 5 years later that the Lord called us back to China and to Maggie and Lucy. Bringing home two girls with cerebral palsy was not easy and as that American Dream continued to be slowly stripped away, the Lord constantly and faithfully restored my heart. It was a process, a beautiful yet sometimes painful process as parts of my heart were revealed. It was purposeful and equipping and at times we felt woefully inadequate as we let go of “normal” and learned to embrace all that He had for us. 

And now, ten years after our first adoption, we find ourselves newly home with our 14 year old son who is blind and the fruits of that process are affirmed as we maneuver behaviors, feelings and medical needs that would have left us fearful and discouraged had we not learned to release it all to Him. There is joy in this place. A kind of joy that would have been unrecognizable to me 10 years ago, the kind of joy and peace that can only come from the Lord, formed into beauty from the ashes of the struggle. 

The Lord wants us to trust Him in the details, large and small, to trust Him to provide in everything, to turn to Him for our affirmation, not to this world, and to trust Him in the wait. Those challenges that He allows in our lives, the times of waiting, and of perceived silence can ready us to do just that.  

“We share in His suffering so we can share in His glory.” 

I watch my children. 

 I watch as they “maneuver” their lives through their special needs. 

 Yes, they have challenges but they trust and they have joy - because they are loved. 

 Isn’t that the key? 

 He loves us. 

 The Creator of the universe loves us. 

 How could we not be filled with joy and childlike trust, regardless of our circumstances, knowing that He is ever there, watching over us, arms wide open, calling to us, ready to take our burdens. 

I am beginning to know what it means to follow Him, truly follow Him, the blessings and the cost. It can sometimes be hard but the blessings that come from that “hard” are unlike anything “easy” this world has to offer. 

 Through our adoptions the Lord has shown us what it is to love with grace and ­­without expectation. Day by day, bit by bit, I am being transformed into who He created me to be, willing to be led by the promptings of His Holy Spirit and not by the misleadings of a fallen world. 

Ten years ago, as we waited for our “minor need”, two year old, precious daughter from China, I would have never envisioned our lives as the Lord knew they would be. 

 Ten years ago, we adopted Lizzie and we, ourselves, were adopted into the kingdom of heaven! 

 For 42 years, He waited for me and for 42 years He prepared me and while I still have moments of fear and doubt, I am quicker to cast my cares and love courageously for the One whose love is steadfast and unconditional. 

Adoption is such a reflection of His love for us and whether you are in the wait or newly home or home and still struggling, remember: 

He is not done yet. 

He is in control – always. 

He is never taken by surprise. 

He is right beside you, even when you are far away. 

He will equip you because He called you. 

He is unchanging and His promises, eternal. 

Release it all and watch as His strength transforms your fears into a testament to His glory.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Cerebral Palsy just sucks...

and sometimes no matter what we say or try to do...

it just sucks...

not because God somehow messed up but because it is a fallen world where there is pain and hardship and...


Ever since Lucy has been home, she has watched her siblings play soccer.

For years, she has cheered them on and for years...

she has wanted to play soccer, just like 3 of her brothers...

and 2 of her sisters.

At half time, she heads out to the field with her willing siblings and tries so hard to make those legs work, to keep her balance and to run...

sometimes I think that is Lucy's greatest desire...

to be like everyone else and just run.

It can be hard to watch but I have also watched in awe as Lucy's determination inspires those who didn't even realize that they needed inspiring.

We talk about that a lot.

She knows that one day, she will be totally and completely healed in heaven, that she will run into the arms of Jesus when her time in this life is done.

She knows that God is good and that she is "fearfully and wonderfully made" and that the Lord will use all of this for His purposes and His glory.

She knows that He could heal her right now, right here in this life, but she also knows that He may not...

She knows that there is a job for her, a purpose and that the Lord has provided her the strength and courage to be His hands and feet, to inspire others through her joy and her determination.  

She knows that every time she falls down - and - gets - back - up...

she is fulfilling a purpose and showing others what it means to love Jesus and to find her joy in that unimaginable love.

She is also, however, 9 years old and while all these things are tucked away in her heart...

there are times when she just wants to be 9 years old and do "normal" 9 year old stuff...

and soccer was part of the picture of "normal" for her.

Surely as soon as she had a team...

surely as soon as she had a jersey...

surely as soon as she had cleats and shin guards...

surely as soon as she stepped on to that field...

she would be "normal"... just like everyone else... just like her siblings.

So, after a couple of years of searching and even trying to start something ourselves, we found a team.

Lucy was so excited.

I was nervous.

I wanted it to be wonderful, to be everything she had been dreaming of...

but sometimes dreams don't come true, not the way we want them to or think they should.

It was an awesome program.  

Those who were leading it were wonderful and so excited to share what they were doing with Lucy...

but it just wasn't the "normal" she was longing for.

It was a good program but it didn't "fix" her legs.

It was a good program but she still fell down.

It was a good program but her walker got in the way.

It was a good program but she still could not run.

It was a good program but she still had cerebral palsy....

We will go back and she will play again cause that is just Lucy.

This precious child, who only 5 years ago had never heard the name of Jesus, loves Him so completely and so fully that she will continue to get - back - up, with a smile on her face that so beautifully reflects that love.  

Yep, CP sucks and this is hard.  

There is so much emotion and energy poured out onto my kiddos, every single day and there are some days that I look at those around me and I too long for "normal".

I imagine the athlete Lucy would have been.

I imagine the songs Maggie would sing.

I imagine the sights that Will would see.

I imagine healed wounds for Lizzie.

I imagine the family vacations that never were, the earthly possessions that were never purchased and the retirement account that would never have been drained.

Yep, this is hard but it is within those moments of longing that the Lord ministers to me.

What a gift this is.  It is raw and it hurts but what a gift.

So many people don't get to feel this.  So many people have "normal" but they have become numb.

The Lord takes those moments of longing for "normal" and transforms them into moments of longing for Him.  It is within the moments of pain and hurt and struggle and disappointments that God's love for us is the clearest.

So we - keep - getting - up... 

and Lucy inspires us to keep smiling and loving and trusting that one day she will run and Maggie will sing and Will will see and Lizzie will be healed and we will no longer long.

Keep fighting baby girl.

CP sucks but you are not defined by the limitations if your body.

Love this from Joni Erickson Tada

God is working in you and through you sweet one...