Friday, December 30, 2016

Reflections as the New Year Approaches

The events that have transpired over the past year have been nothing short of a miraculous unfolding of the hand of God in every aspect of our lives.  Years ago in the middle of confusion, knowing with all of my heart that there was a child missing from our family and yet...that child never came.  Nine long years passed and my arms were still empty.....I cannot adequately express in words the heartache and confusion I went through....... but now I know, God had a plan far greater than I could have imagined.

I know we often hear the phrase 'God has a plan'  but what exactly does that mean?   I don't know what it means for anyone other than myself but let me detail to you a little of how it has unfolded in my life.

In 2007 I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was a child that was supposed to come into our family.  That feeling stayed so strongly with me that I couldn't shake it no matter how hard I tried at times.  It is amazing as I reflect back because our sweet little miss was not even born until 2010.  God was preparing a mother for her before she was ever born.  I know that may seem like a trite statement because of course every child has a mother, it is only a mother who can bring a child into this world.  However, in the devastating circumstances of a little child being abandoned on the streets, a child loses their mother.....their whole family in one traumatic, frightening moment as mother or father vanish into the night never to be seen again.

I will not go into all the details but I will say that the next the next five years of seeking this child brought surgery, six months of acupuncture, herbs, medication.....and ultimately frustration and heartache.  In the end of 2012 I felt I could not take another minute of this heartache and I prayed that God would take this feeling from my heart because it hurt too much.  My burden eased but the feeling that there was a child that needed to come into our family never left my heart.  I am ashamed to admit, I began to ignore it....I figured there was nothing more I could do.  Interestingly in 2013 in a dream I was again reminded of was a profound and vivid dream with a simple message...."Don't forget me"

I awoke from that dream with renewed strength to press forward in trying again to bring this child into our family.  Little did I know that pregnancy was not the way in which she would I look back I realize that it was that same year, 2013 that our little miss was abandoned.  When I think of this I am so amazed at the hand of God in every little detail of this precious story.  He made sure that I did not this little one could have a family.

My mom invited me to attend Women's Conference with her and I was excited to go although I did not realize that God had a plan even in this seemingly random decision in my life.  I had been struggling in my heart.  I felt that there was nothing more I could do and that I needed to just turn this over to God because I could not become pregnant no matter what I tried.

It was the last day, the last class, and it was so full we ended up on the back row....we almost missed it.  As the speaker began I was sitting in the back frantically trying to finish a scarf I was crocheting for charity at the event....I was listening as she said she wrote her speech and then felt it was too personal to share and thought that she should select another topic and redo her speech.  She prayed and she said the answer came, "There will be one in the audience who needs to hear your story"

Hmmm...I thought, that is interesting.  As she continued delving into her own nine year painful journey of infertility tears started to well up in my eyes....she could have been telling my story word for word!  I hate to cry in front of anyone but I could not hold back the tears as they began streaming down my face.  I bowed my head and crocheted even faster as I tried to hide my tears.  I listened intently as she described her heartache, confusion, unanswered prayers and I literally felt every painful moment she described and relived my own pain as she told of hers.

As I sat with tears streaming down my face these words pierced my heart..........

The answer to my prayer had to be the answer to her need for a family could be YES!

In that moment I had clarity, in that moment came purpose and meaning to the heartache, suffering, and tears that had filled my life for the past six years!   This little saying that pierced my heart that day has become the motto of my journey toward this sweet little girl.

I would take a thousand No's to my own prayers so that this little one could have a YES to her need for a family!!!  There were times I felt forsaken, there were times I thought God had forgotten me, there were times I felt as if my prayers hit the ceiling.....and yet.....God had NOT forsaken me, He had not ignored my prayers....He simply had a different plan, a greater plan than I had for myself.

I had thought of adoption years ago but I allowed fears, concerns and the adversary to sway me and I resolved that it simply was not the avenue to pursue...but I was wrong.  I went home after this beautiful Women's Conference with direction, an answer to my prayers, and I felt as though my heart would burst I was so full of Joy.   

The rest of the story is smooth sailing right?  

I wish I could tell you that once God answered that prayer and provided direction that things just fell into place....but they didn't.  My husband had lost a business in 2010 and we literally lost everything...every dime we had in the bank, our cars, our retirement account....everything.  We were left penniless and moved into a small home that had been an old one room log cabin in the mountains.  We only had one $2000 car, our home did not even have heat vents in many of the main living areas and we had to use wood stoves to keep warm which I often was unable to get fire going and the kids and I sat in the living room in coats, wrapped in blankets to keep warm,  the kids often slept on the couch because there were no heat vents in their rooms and the fire would go out at night and it would get too cold.   We lived very simply, it was hard but we enjoyed a lot of happiness there too.

At the time of this conference my husband had just barely secured a good job and we were trying to get back on our feet.  We did NOT have the money to complete an adoption of any kind!  I really had to put it on the back burner for a long while because it simply was not financially feasible at the time.

We continued to discuss it and I poured over thousands upon thousands of pictures of these precious orphans from all over the world and my heart ached for them.

My heart cried out....Where are the Christians?

When your eyes are opened to the plight of millions of vulnerable orphans all over the world you can't help but wonder why very, very few Christians are stepping up to provide families for these children.  We are repeatedly told in the scriptures to care for the widows and the orphans and yet....we don't!

We live in our comfortable homes, with our nice cars, consuming far more luxurious food than we should, living in complete and utter comfort without a thought in the world of the poor, the needy, the orphan or the widow.   We wear costly apparel, spend $100's to change our hair color, wear fake eyelashes, have plastic surgery, gym memberships, drive expensive cars, purchase $500 purses or shoes.....and for what reason?   

Do we really need expensive clothing, fake eyelashes, gym memberships and $500 handbags?  NO!  
There are people suffering throughout the world, children without homes and families, people living in devastating poverty and what are we doing...buying a $500 handbag?  I am sorry but I just do not understand this, I just don't.  

I have witnessed many fundraising campaigns and I have seen first hand how very few people there are with hearts for the orphans.    I have seen people even make comments that if you can't afford it you shouldn't adopt!   If not me, then who?  These children need families, someone has to step up and be willing to open their home and literally sacrifice to bring these children home....I was simply not willing to turn a blind eye and think to myself...someone who has the money will do it!  Guess what....they won't!  They will by boats, four wheelers, fake eyelashes or some other fake body part, $500 purses, they will take a cruise or buy a house big enough to house many orphans but they won't open it to them....  It isn't about having the money, it is about having a heart willing to sacrifice for a child in need. my soap box...

We were not financially able to adopt

Guess what....we were not financially husband had a stable salary + commission job when we started looking into adoption but we were by no means recovered from our financial loss.  We didn't have a savings account...not one dime...we were still trying to pay off credit cards we had used to purchase groceries, propane to heat our little old home and other necessities after my husband lost his first job after the loss of his business.  

Just before the Women's Conference where I realized that adoption was where my daughter was my husband was making about $30,000 per year and our adoption cost MORE than a years salary at that time!  My heart was willing and therefore, God provided a way.   Shortly after the answer to adopt came my husband found another job and his pay doubled....over the course of years as we prepared to adopt his income continued to increase.

I will tell you how the financial end of adoption works = FAITH

There is NO other way in which we could have financially adopted other than by the Grace of God.   We had no savings, we were still financially recovering and yet....God called and we simply had to have the faith that it would work out.  We took out an adoption loan for half of the amount we needed to complete the adoption and then just had faith that the rest would come as we needed it.

Our First Fundraiser -  We began trying to raise funds to bring our precious daughter home as soon as we had been matched with her......I must recognize that we did have a couple of amazing, generous people who donated....but that was all.  It was hard on my husband when he realized the lack of support we would have as we proceeded....but we pressed forward with faith even though we could not see how this was going to work financially...we literally did NOT have the money to complete the adoption!

Miraculously, the money came, when we needed it, it was there.  Donations from a few amazing generous people came just when we needed them, my husband earned far more commission than we ever expected and honestly God blessed us every step of the way.  

At the end of the year my husband was reviewing his income for 2016 and much to our surprise.....
The extra commission he earned was THE EXACT COST OF THE ADOPTION!!    

I could not contain the absolute JOY in my heart, I felt my heart lifting praise to God because I knew that without His hand in this, we could not have done it. 

I learned so much through this process....we literally had to step out into the darkness with the faith that God would provide as we continued to walk forward.  The finances came as needed but we were not able to see how it would all work out or come together beforehand, it was literally a walk in faith the whole way.

Home Almost Four Months
Opening her first present on Christmas morning!

I cannot believe that we have been home with this sweet and sassy little girl for almost four months now.  It is absolutely amazing to watch a little child blossom with the love and care of a family. 

When we first came home she did not speak unless it was an absolute necessity.... Go potty, I hungry, Drink of water....she would not even speak to us in Mandarin.  She cried a lot when we first came home...she even cried from 10pm to 2:30 am in the morning at times as we just held her trying to ease her grief.  She was very shut down and afraid of a lot of things, it was almost like having a newborn baby.  There are times I was so sleep deprived and exhausted and yet there were moments when I could not keep from laughing because she would say the funniest things....

She LOVES to say..

David Archuleta is Bae               (big sister taught her this)
Taco Amigo is Bae                     (she loves their fries)
'Little Miss' is the cutest
Kenzi is awesome                       (big sister taught her this)
She loves to bark like the dogs
Just like fire                    (she says this because she LOVES the song "just like fire" by Pink)
Snuggle with mommy   
Bless you                               (she LOVES to say this when you cough)
Do you wanna hungry, yeah   (she says this when she is hungry)
She loves to fake laugh
I want Christmas nusai (music)   (she is still asking for Christmas music)
Mama's right here                       
I want to hold you
Stay with you                           (she says this when she wants you to wrap your arms around her and                                                           walk with her when she is scared.)
I scared                                   (she used to say this a lot but she is saying it less and less)
Give you mama hug
Zuo Che  Ride in the car
Wo men zai jia  we are home
Gong gong qi che   (Bus)        Daddy says blowing on her cheek and she thinks it is hilarious
Wo hai yao                         (I still want...she says this when she wants you to keep doing something)
She loves to yell   Ya ya ya ya ya
I love you
So we got it     (from the "hot chocolate" song from The Polar Express)
AMEN            (She yells out AMEN randomly in the store, at church, at restaurants...) 

She is learning language so quickly it amazes us....she is learning to ask for the toys that she wants...she is starting to play with toys and loves her xylophone, she is learning to ask for the food that she wants.... she is almost able to go to the bathroom and wash her hands by herself.

These may seem like small things for a six year old but we are so amazed seeing the progress she has made in the last four months.  

Many people articulate how much we have blessed her or how blessed she is but honestly she has blessed us in so many ways!  This entire journey has been an immense blessing in our lives, it has been hard and yet so beautiful all wrapped into one.   

In closing, I knew this would be a hard journey, I knew it would be a sacrifice but I felt so strongly that in striving to choose every single day to live a life consecrated to the Lord I would have to let go of living my life for myself and choose to live my life for others.   I am not perfect, I wish I were, I fail every day of my life....but I can say that I strive for this goal every day of my life and this journey with little miss has humbled me, shown me my weakness and helped me to become a better version of myself.  She is a blessing to our family and to all those who have been touched by her story.....

From Little Orphan
(A photo of her shortly after coming to Bethel the home for visually impaired children in China from her orphanage)

To a loved child with a family to call her own
I tear up everytime I watch this "I waving"  "Hi Mommy"

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