Monday, January 9, 2017

5 Years Home

Happiest Gotcha Day, my little fireball.
 
 

 Five years ago today I couldn't have told
  you how year five would go. I wouldn't have seen the mountains you would have to climb. But He could. I couldn't have warned you that there would be a failed heart procedure before a very successful, but serious, heart surgery. But He could. Or that even though this year turned significantly medical
 how you would go an entire 12 months without even a common cold. But He could. 
     In my little 42 years I want to be sure of things. I want to know things. I want to teach you all the things, however I am finding myself only sure about one thing. Jesus. The truth that is Him. 

       So here are some beautiful truths about year five that we cannot miss....
 
There is not a place on the planet that you could go where Jesus is not with you....not a little sidewalk in Guangzhou, China....not an orphanage....not a classroom...not the depths of an operating room.
 
     
       "Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:7-10

     You are His. He created you, in His image. You are glorious.
 

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14
      
     Five years ago I met a fearful little girl with two broken hearts. Your deepest heart, by far was the most wounded. 
 

     "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

I knew that I could never make you whole little one. That's not my job.. It always has been and forever will be Jesus. Mama just gets to lead and learn along the way. You are a warrior!! Happiest Gotcha Day my precious girl! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

…….About That Toothbrush

                                      


      
            We've been home from our second trip to China for over four months now.  I remember the day we received travel approval for the first trip. We were eating at a local pizza place. I can recall some of the one sided  conversation between my husband and our agency. What I remember with record clarity is...." Yes, we can be there in less than two weeks,"  My brain kicked in gear, making fourteen to-do lists simultaneously. Then the voices making the lists started arguing about logistics and time and then worry showed up....totally invited. I had no idea my mind had the capacity to create so many worst case scenarios. After packing and weighing our bags three times, my husband began to make a pile, of the "discard" variety. In his most concerned tone he said, "we are going to China…not the moon." Several days later we boarded a plane.... without the parachutes and water filtration system I needed. We did, however, have the maximum amount of luggage two plane tickets allowed and well over what two human beings could comfortably manage.  So I thought I would put together a little list of suggestions from one momma to another....while my luggage still smells like Shanghai.

      1. Just Breathe:  Relax. There may be hiccups. You may miss a flight.  There will be another. You may get stranded in Hong Kong for two days...during Chinese New Year, with a very sick toddler. You may also be told that you will not leave China for another two weeks. You may pay more for three one way tickets to leave China than you will pay three years later to fly four people round trip and an additional one way lap ticket. True story. Don't let it make you panic or powerless...just breathe. 

      2. Antibacterial Wipes:   If I am in China and I see you with liquid hand sanitizer I will have to bleach my brain. Wipes are convenient and mess free. They are also great for mini baths for little people when the real deal is still another six hours away.

     3. Travel Tissues: Because you may need to blow your nose but you will most certainly want toilet paper and there is a strong possibility you may visit an establishment that is out.....eternally. Why the little packs of tissues? Because they're cheaper and I envisioned my husband tossing me the miniature roll of TP out of the daypack in public. Nope.

     4. Cough Drops:   If that tops out your gag meter, hear me out. These come in many flavors but make sure they have the menthol. When in high school biology, staring down at a little froggy corpse, you think you may pass out from that smell and from nowhere someone rescues you with medicine candy.....it changes your life. It's how you deal. Twenty five years later, as I walked out of the Hong Kong airport, I looked at my husband and asked, "what is that??" He inhaled and lovingly replied "China". A cough drop can be like sunshine in your mouth and your nose.

     5. Coffee: If you don't partake, feel free to skip number five....or stop reading all together. I'm not sure I can be of any help.  I think panic on this subject started six months from actual travel. I have friends who live in China. They suggested instant coffee, to which I instantly started praying….because  I just can't….. I also can't swing Starbucks for every cup at my level of habit. I started asking around to other moms about coffee in the hotels, elevensies and four o'clock pick me ups. At the end of my interrogations I settled on a stainless travel press by Bodum. I took a very large doubled zip-lock of my favorite cheap coffee and made coffee in my room every morning, with the hot pot and my press. This helped with the walking, seeing and sentence putting together. The other four times I made coffee during the day were because I may have a problem.  My trusty Bodum has traveled to China many times with and without me. If it died there would be an entire group of grief stricken mommas.
                   

      6. Water: Ok. I see you in the Aeon....purchasing eleventytrillion bottles of water. Maybe you want to just buy six and boil water in your hot pot...and boil it again if you so desire, refill them and cram them in your mini fridge. Or maybe you're making a sculpture with your plastic bottles. If so...carry on with your bad, creative self.

      7. Laundry: I carried a small bottle of Dawn liquid soap on our first trip. I bought it there on the second. This is great for washing out cups, bottles and hand washing clothes. On our first trip we paid to have our laundry done...once. I hand washed from then on and it was super convenient.  I really like to wash my own foundation garments. The second trip we stayed in the apartments at The Garden in Guangzhou and had a washer/dryer in our apartment. It was both functions in one machine. There was a slight learning curve but it was fantastic. I can't recommend the apartments enough for large families. All of my people had a full size bed....and sleep?…. sleep is golden.

     8. Zip-Lock Bags:  On our most recent trip, I packed three checked bags, a backpack and one carry on for four people and a returning toddler . All of the bags were manageable even for my seven year old. I totally recommend the bags that will roll in the upright position.  My thirteen year old carried everything he needed in his backpack and carried it on the plane. I split medicines, clothes and toiletries, for the remainder of the travelers, In the three checked bags but I couldn't deal with the "by your pants-ness" of it so I put it in clear bags. This way I wouldn't have thirty minutes of laundry sorting on the other side. As it turns out our bags were inspected by a human tornado so the bags were awesome.

      9. Eat the Food: ….or at least try the food. I'm going to confess something that may make you shiver in disbelief. I did not take a box of Cheerios to China......not once. I know!!!!... You have either walked away from your computer or thrown your phone from the car window. It's because, friends.....my girls wanted mostly noodles and rice crackers....and fish cake (I just gagged a little bit.) These things were familiar and comforting to them. The look on their faces was not one of disappointment, it was more like, " How did you know....fish cake was the way to my heart?" The next thing you need to know is that I took lots of protein bars and almonds for the two male, human garbage disposals traveling with me, who eat meals...between meals. Me? I ate noodles every single day, without shame.

     10. Toothbrush and Toothpaste:  I didn't pack either. I'm just going to pause here because I still can't believe it myself. Before you gag in disgust, know that I am a freak about oral hygiene. I use an electronic toothbrush equivalent to a pressure washer and buy floss in bulk. We stayed at The Garden for the entire time, both trips. They give you a new toothbrush and toothpaste every day. I carried little disposable toothbrushes that already have toothpaste for travel and for out and about. (I also have these in my car at all times...ahem) Do a little research about your hotel. Chances are they either provide you with one or there is a store near by.

     11. Pray:   Before all else and above all else pray. It is not number last it is what I leave you with if you forget one through ten. When we began our adoption journey over three years ago. I had made some assumptions about China, her culture and her people. God used those 18 months it would take to bring our first girl home to break my heart and open my eyes. I knew early on, before we were matched with our daughter, that I was to pray for her birth mother. He brought me to my knees for this first momma and I pray for both of our girls birth mothers daily. My love for these women is other worldly. It is a gift from God. The love He has given me for China is also a gift. Through an open heart He placed it there for me to see His great power to love through me and for my girls. My oldest girl knows my love for her heartland and it connects and binds us in a special way. She is so proud to be Chinese because she feels how much we love and celebrate that she is. The culture and the history are now part of my story....our family story. Take advantage of the opportunity to fall in love with China. Your children will sense it in your speech and how you find ways to celebrate their heritage and it will light them up in every way.  Prepare yourself, you may see things and smell things you thought weren't possible...and you may find yourself overwhelmed by a love for all of it, almost to the point that it grieves you to get on the plane and watch the clouds over their birthplace as they leave their eyes. But that love helps you celebrate how God created them. And you may add a foreign city to your weather app and add another New Years celebration to your calendar. Because now China has found a place in your heart and in your home.

     


Friday, April 10, 2015

Beginnings

 
        At the mention of beginnings, we took some time to visit the very spot you were found. Wrapped in a blanket with your name and birthday written on paper pinned to your clothes, at the gate of a small hospital. A place where people could help a little baby who turned blue when she cried. For a long time I have regretted not visiting this spot when we were here to bring you home, three years ago. I have imagined in my mind what I thought this place would look like. I imagined a busy intersection with tons of traffic and public transit. People lining the sidewalk waiting for buses and taxis. Instead, it was a quiet place, tucked in an alley, off the beaten path. I was prepared for an emotional visit but I wasn't prepared for the grief and loss I felt for you in that moment. I have prayed so often for your birth mother. Prayers that can only be uttered by The Holy Spirit because they come from the place in a momma's heart where none of us want to go. There are no words for the sacrifices made sometimes for the well being of a sick child. In some places it means giving up the privilege of being the beloved parent all together so the child has a chance at life....life in another home...in another country.  Being your mom is grace upon grace and the gift of life and sacrifice given by your birth mother is a beautiful reflection of the eternal gift of life and sacrifice given to you through Jesus.  Walking into this alley with you was an appointment. It was my first visit. I held your hand and pulled you close, protecting you from cars and strangers. It was not your first visit and God allowed me the gift of knowing it was and is , He who pulls you close, holds you up and walks next to you. He who makes all things new.

     "Children born to another woman call me "mom". The magnitude of that tragedy and depth of that privilege are not lost on me."  ~ Jody Landers 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tourists....

        The thing about two weeks is..... It's just not long enough.
                  
        Beijing Road Mall Area
         You both should know if you travel anywhere you should take your brother. That boy was born old. Calm in the chaos. That is all.
Guangzhou Opera House from inside the Museum.
Canton Tower (and the best guy).
       I believe right here your dad and I we're exchanging a humorous conversation about having a toddler at our age.

      .....and this was kind of funny.😳 in a laughing/ crying sort of way.
       Visit to the Chen Family House. I loved this. It's not so easy to find traditional Chinese Architecture in the city. In some ways you can feel like you are still in America with the high rise buildings and public transportation.
Sometimes when we get stressed or tired...we cover our face.



           
       Our time in China has a special place in my heart. It was a roller coaster of beginnings all around. Beautiful beginnings.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Flashback

     I'm a little behind on posting about our trip. You girls kept me so entertained with your cuteness I totally lost track of days.  Here are a couple of photos from our second day at civil affairs where they finalize the adoption. This was right before I realized that I had brought Jackson and Qwinn's passports instead of momma's and baba's. See the smile on Baba's face....like I said, it was right before.

I snapped this one right before we left....aaaannd that's why I have totally forgot my name. Melted Momma...that's my name.

       This was necessary. Some people want to photograph their children on the red couch, (which is adorable by the way and I have shed many a tear over these photos) this however is a must for our album.  I don't really know what happened here... I'm pretty sure I displayed my vast knowledge of kung-fu. I'm positive it wasn't embarrassing at all for any of you. Look at your brother.... He makes me so proud....Sniff...sniff

Monday, March 9, 2015

Gotcha!!!!

         

                                                        



Before you look at these pictures you should ask yourself if you are really ready. The cheeks totally caught me off guard. Not only that but as we stood in the lobby waiting for the elevator I saw her coming in with her nanny. I immediately looked at my guide and said "Is that my baby?...that's my baby". She confirmed and we all piled into the elevator and I tried really hard not to freak her out with my smiling and talking and touching her hand....she started crying. Everyone losing composure by the second. So consider yourself warned. I cannot be held responsible for anyone being injured from the adorableness....





                                    .....snacks and a big sister for the win.




                                      
  Qwinn says "I love huh and she's my favorite"  "mommy she is so cute ". " I so sited to have my baby sister Scout"......      



 

Her nanny on the end is her favorite. She watched Scout the whole time. Snapped pictures of her with her phone. I wanted to embrace her and weep. I think she felt my crazy on the elevator and kept
her distance.


                         

                         ........see!! I warned you.


I can hardly wait for her to meet her oldest sister.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

   
       We are here!! I can hardly believe, after such a long paperwork journey, that tomorrow we meet this little love.......  Ellis "Scout" Rotger.  

To my littlest little:
      We can't wait to meet you. You have captured our hearts with your sweet little grin and hope you are willing to share those with us soon. We have prayed for you. We know this will be hard, we are strangers desiring closeness and connection. We want you to feel secure and loved and realize that trust takes time. But we know the one who created you and He knows everything about you and we know that He can bring peace into the chaos. We are praying His perfect peace over you. It is He who rescues, redeems and restores and we are so honored for the privilege of being part of the story He is writing in your life. He is the very reason I am looking at this photo on the other side of the planet with my heart exploding waiting to meet you and call you daughter. It's grace upon grace. So this evening in Guangzhou we are counting down the hours until glorious you! 




I will try my best to keep the crazy to a minimum.......I mean seriously.. those cheeks!!!
 Maybe air kisses???... But be warned there is a little girl giddy with the excitement of a little sister, 
who does not believe in personal space. Like I said....we've been praying.