Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lessons learned....

The past week and a half has been a whirlwind of activity. I almost feel guilty sitting with my feet propped up and blogging right now, but I am enjoying every minute of it. I have been so blessed by many of your comments as you have followed our blog to China and back. You never know when that small comment or kind word is just what someone else needs. God has answered so many prayers and we have been blown away by the kindness of so many. Just remember that,

"This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." 2 Corinthians 9:12

One thing David and I fully believe God commands in scripture is that we are ALL called to care for the orphans, widows, and the needy, even though that may look different for each of us.

Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 1:17

So I won't get on my soapbox, but this is God's command and not HIS suggestion. That certainly doesn't mean we are all called to adopt, but so many of you have shown how you are clearly following His command by your love and support of us. We could never have done this if it weren't for the love and support of our families, the generosity of so many friends, and a definite clear call from the Lord. We are convinced that the gift of adoption is the greatest blessing we could have been given and one we are certainly not worthy of receiving. So many people think that adoption has to be a second choice if they can't get pregnant and I wish I could convince anyone that would listen that it is a first choice in God's eyes. Giving birth to our three amazing boys was also a huge miracle, but sometimes as parents we can often take part of the credit for our biological births. I can look at my adopted children and realize that they are complete miracles and their lives were held safe by our heavenly Father until He could bring us together and we can't take any credit for that. It all goes to HIM!

In just the last week and a half we have recovered from jet lag and Daddy returned to work.

We have been to the pediatrician, the pediatric dentist and the cardiologist.

We have learned Mandarin and taught English. We have made new friends and tried many new foods(most of which we do NOT like!).Watermelon gets the thumbs up every time though!
We have learned that family means fun with brothers, sisters,
grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins,

We have been showered with gifts by our amazing friends and family,
We have learned that you just can NOT ride a bike in a pretty dress.
and most of all we have fallen in LOVE.

and with love comes joy and pain.

We have learned that no matter how beautiful and happy our little girl looks and acts she is a sick little girl. Her heart must be repaired and we don't understand it all, but we have wonderful doctors and a God that heals broken hearts. We will be going for pre-op on July 28, a heart cath on July 29 and heart surgery on July 30. Your prayers and support mean the world to us and we are confident of this....

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,

"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, June 21, 2010

The same hands

This was our first bubble bath and was full of joy!

Taken at our baby dedication service at church yesterday. What a privilege the Lord has blessed us with to be able to teach our little girl to love and praise Him. She was absolutely perfect during the whole service and took in everything that was going on.

I hope the following song, will minister to you in the same way it did to me. As we were leaving for the cardiologist this morning, our Christian radio station began playing the Cinderella song, by Steven Curtis Chapman. I love this song, but it was not a song I needed to hear at that moment. The lyrics allowed fear to absorb me as I thought about the idea of our little angels heart and how she could possibly be taken away from us. Just as Satan was attempting to consume me with that fear, the next song began to play on the radio. Only God could have orchestrated this totally perfect song at this perfect moment. The first words I heard sung were, "the same hands that hold the world are holding your heart." The idea that the same hands that hold the world are holding our daughter's heart was the MOST comforting thing for my own heart. Please take a moment to listen to this beautiful song and remember that He holds your heart also if you are His child.

(don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page and turn off the sound)

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Gen. 50:20

After a long ride to the cardiologist for our little girl who seems to be getting carsick easily we feel better to have some details on what our future holds. I am so grateful to my mom and sister-in-law for going with me today and helping me listen to the Dr. and entertain our little busybody. Your prayers are greatly appreciated as we prepare for heart surgery in the coming months. We feel much better to know that while this is certainly the plan, it is not something we have to rush into. We will be getting dental work done first and then a heart cath will give us any other information we need in the coming months. I will update more as time draws closer.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To the man of my dreams...

You are the MOST amazing daddy ever and God has blessed our family because of your sacrifice and faithfulness to Him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This is a bit blurry, but was taken from the bus window as we drove out of
China leaving one way of life behind to enter into another.

What do you do when you don't know what to do?
For a little girl who has had to come to grips with a new way of life
sometimes you just have to use the
coping techniques that are most familiar.
Sometimes that may be a funny face....

And then there might be that inquisitive face that says,
"What is this all about?"
And at other times it may mean pitching a fit when
we don't get out way...

But no matter what, there is this face that says, "I love you and I needed a mommy and daddy to love me through the good days and bad days and to teach me about Jesus and and the finer things in life(like bubbles, and bubble baths and ice cream!)
Both of these photos were taken only a few hours after we met one another.

The past few days have been days of trying to rest and adjust to a new time zone, teach a new language and learn some boundaries. We went to the pediatrician yesterday and found out that Ms. Lia looks great in every way except her heart. She has a pretty nasty heart murmur and oxygen levels that are very low. She has obviously learned to cope well with these low levels because it doesn't seem to slow her down. We go to the cardiologist next week and will have more news about her heart at that time. It will only be through God's strength that I will be able to endure heart surgery with her, since I cried like a baby when she got her shots. She however, never even whimpered. She is really testing the waters and today we had a few moments of learning what is acceptable and what isn't. When she gets scolded she doesn't want to look at me, but she wants me to hold her so I just have to reassure her that I love her and am here no matter what.

This week is VBS at church and we went the past two nights to take Tia and I was totally shocked that Lia wanted to go in and play with the kids and had a great time. I stayed right within her sight, but she had a great time and watched every move and activity and quickly began to join right in.

Everything has been a new experience and she has been in awe of each new moment. She had a bubble bath yesterday where she was amazed at the bubbles and had a great time. I will certainly post pictures later since I sent the SD card to work with David to show our pictures and someone forgot to bring it back today.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lia is home

Welcome to our newest citizen of The United States of American.

We are so excited to be home and introduce Lia to her forever family. I am begging for sleep right now at 12:45 am, but she is not! I have so much to update in the days to come but for now a picture or two and a huge THANK YOU to so many of you that have followed us and prayed for our journey. From today's events this journey is far from over, but I am happy to continue it in my own home with most of the rest of our family. We quickly discovered that Lia HATES a car seat and has an EXTREME fear of our animals, of which we have many. One thing we discovered though is that she LOVES her new brothers and family and they LOVE her and that LOVE will conquer all!

The joy of the Lord is my strength!

This was during nap time today.
And this one just happened at 1:30 am -
Thanks Big Brother, now I can also get some rest.

Wonder why she isn't sleepy now? This was lunch today.

Meeting Brandon for the first time today.
Meeting Nathan for the first time.

Can't wait until she gets to meet brother number three in a few weeks.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

On the count down now!

I'll give you more info later, but we are at the airport in Japan and finally headed home! God has answered our prayers and we are so excited to get on a flight in less than two hours now!

Pray we have a good day since we will be having this one twice;
we get home before we actually leave.
We may not look so fresh, but we will have a smile on our faces!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Prayer warriors-we need you now!

First, we are all OK! That is the most important!

Due to the fact that my husband works for the airline we planned to fly standby home and purchased our codeshare tickets before leaving the US. We just found out that Lia's visa will not allow her to travel through Japan which is what our tickets are for. However, we are not able to change our tickets here because there is no ticket counter for our airline. Purchasing full fare tickets for four of us at the last minute is going to cost us way more money than we have. We are looking at our options now but are getting little help and many ticket offices are closed because it is Sat. here. Please pray for our frustration level and for some way for us to get home without spending a small fortune. This is all new territory for us so there are so many unknowns.

Thanks in advance!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oath day at the Us Consulate

After a morning of shopping on Shaimin Island we went with three other families from our group to the US Consulate in Guangzhou to take our oath. We were not allowed to take anything in with us other than a toy for our children or a small snack so I do not have pictures. After presenting our passport we were each called to a window to sign a form. Then all families with our group and others, about 30 total, came forward and repeated after the American woman in charge our oath promising that all information was correct for Lia's visa. We all stood and raised our right hand and repeated after her. Now, tomorrow our guide, Amy, will pick up Lia's visa that will be affixed to her passport. She will then become a US citizen at our first point of entry into the United States of America. After getting her visa tomorrow we will get on the bus headed for Hong Kong. This is a 3.5 hours ride and we have to get off in China and in Hong Kong at the immigration points since these are considered two separate countries and each has their own immigration point. We are then hoping to catch a flight back to the US at midnight, but it may not happen until the next day. Please continue praying that we make it home safely and little Lia sleeps much of the way. She did NOT like the flight from Hangzhou to Guangzhou and was rather upset when her ears started popping. I fully intended to give her Benedryl just to help her relax on the way home, but was told that might not be a good idea due to her heart condition. We will just ask God for peace and calm while flying and trust that our God that calms the storms of life will calm our little angel.

We are hoping to be home sometime Sat. but for our friends and family that want to meet us at the airport, we will let you know as soon as we know which flight we get on. The life of standby travel is very uncertain, but we are so thankful that we have this opportunity to save some money.

I sure hope our little Lia learns to like Tex Mex because we are definitely ready for some of it, along with some home cooking. We don't eat at McDonald's at home and have had to eat more meals there this week than we have in years at home.

Our guides, Lineker and Amy, and little Lia.
She absolutely loves Amy and wants to walk beside her everywhere we go.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

So many new experiences

Today was another day full of new experiences. After breakfast Lia and I went to a "Mommy and Me" activity that the hotel was sponsoring. She is still very unsure when around others so she didn't want to have anything to do with the other children at first. After just a bit she warmed up and had a great time. We sang songs, played, read stories, did an art project and had a snack. We got to experience this with children and mommies who spoke English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malaysian, French and Japanese. It is so awesome to see families that are so culturally diverse. It reminds me of what heaven will look like and I imagine that will be the most awesome picture of all!

While we were spending time together, Dad and Tia skyped with the family. Once we got finished, we all got to skype with Brandon again and he got to see Lia doing one of her favorite things-coloring! She must have spent lots of time in the orphanage doing this, because she is really very good at it and can entertain herself very well. Then it was time for a nap so David took Tia to the pool while I got Lia down for a nap. Naptime was over just in time to meet our group for the dinner of a lifetime.

Talk about FRESH! The restaurant we went to tonight specializes in very fresh food. So fresh that it is all living when you get there. Since we are in Guangzhou now, the primary language here is Cantonese. We experienced a traditional Cantonese dinner, which was nothing like we have ever experienced before. As we entered the building we were met by LIVE snakes (my biggest fear!), every kind of fish, frog, alligator, snails, duck and many more animals that I had no idea what they were. Many of us decided right then and there maybe we should become vegetarians. Well, we went to the table and participated in an interesting dinner. I have to say the company and conversation were GREAT! Let’s just say we didn’t all clean our plates! I allowed peer pressure to get the best of me and I have to admit I actually tried the snake. NOT because I wanted to, but my precious husband thought I needed to face my fears. I did it, lived through it and don’t intend to do it again!

Tia holding the plate of cooked snake and then trying to decide whether she is
brave enough to eat the snake skin or not-NOT won!

After dinner we shopped along the way back to the hotel and as we stopped in one of the shops Lia and two of her new little girlfriends had to go to the potty so I took them. This was not your typical Western style toilet, but a squatty toilet as they call it, and I had three darling little rear ends stuck up in the air needing tissue at the same time (also not something they always have in supply so you better bring your own). When we came out, they could only choose one sink to wash hands in because a local shop owner was cleaning out her fish bowl and had live fish in the other sink.

To say that my senses are on overload might be an understatement, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. This has been an amazing trip and we are bringing home the greatest souvenir of all!

Another day I won't soon forget AND one that makes me long for some good ole Texas home cooking!

Did you pray?

Yesterday I did not get to blog because by evening time my stomach was a bit queezy. Fortunately, after rolaids, tums and sleep I was better today. So I must write about yesterday's scary event before I blog for today.

Our group had planned an afternoon of shopping at Shaiman Island but some of us with older children had to have their TB tests read first. We did that and it came out fine. Thank goodness! Then, we were the lucky ones to have to have more shots. Due to Lia's heart condition they did not give her all SIX of her shots the other day, but were having us come back to have three more yesterday. We never thought of giving her tylenol prior to going in. Immediately, before giving her shots they decided that they needed to take her temperature first. At this point, we probably all had a fever, due to the heat and number of people in this one small room! I never dreamed she would be running a fever, but they said she was(only 99.5) and would not give her shots. This wouldn 't be such a big deal, but consulate appointments are only done Mon-Wed. and if she hadn't had shots we might not be able to have our appt., thus meaning we would have to wait until next week! This trip has been amazing, but I am ready to go home! Our wonderful guide, Amy, took us to the other room that was much cooler, and I gave Lia water and tylenol and began to pray. We waited about 15 min. and went to take her temp again. I took her and told David to stay and PRAY! They took her temp and she was fine! So, if you were praying for us, THANK YOU! HE ANSWERED! I have never been more happy to see a shot in my life! We got out as quickly as possible and then had a great time shopping and took pictures on "the red couch" that is so famous for adoptive children to have their photo made on at The White Swan Hotel. We bought Lia her precious baby doll that has not left her side. By the time we returned to the hotel, we were exhausted and I was not feeling so well so it was a quick dinner at McDonald's for everyone else and time for rest.

Missing two of our precious babies

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A park, museum and lots of attitude

Our Travel Group

I can't believe it has already been a week since we worshiped the Lord at the International church in Beijing. So much has happened since that time. Today we didn't spend the moring in church but we were able to worship the Lord in a different way-through the eyes of children so innocent and so full of love. As I was putting Lia down for a nap today, she looked up at me with her beautiful brown eyes and said, "I love you," without any prompting at all. It will truly make your heart melt. We are with twelve other families and to see the love in each of their eyes for their new children is a gift that can only come from our Father. He knew which child was perfect for each family and how each one would fit in. Just the idea that we could have missed this, if we hadn't spent time in fervent prayer seeking God's will for our family, blows me away. How many times did I say, "we are too old,"or "we are getting closer to an empty nest," or"we don't have the funds?" So many excuses that were all valid, yet He knew better. No one ever said this was going to be easy, and Ms. Lia is a bundle of energy, but we know He will give us all we need to raise her to love Him. It only took a couple of nights for her to figure out what we were doing before going to sleep at night. Now without prompting she quickly bows her head and folds her hands.

So today we spent the morning at a park and then at a folk art museum. The park was different from what we are used to, but the beauty was fabulous. We just spent an hour walking around and looking at everything and taking photos. The temperature was not as hot as it is at home, but the humidity kept it pretty steamy especially when holding a four year old that did NOT want to walk or let her daddy hold her today.

These were artificial roses, but everything else around us was alive and beautiful

She is generous on her kisses.

A beautiful bride and groom taking photos at the park.
Once at the folk art museum we had this man write Tia and Lia's names in Chinese and English. After a full morning we returned to the hotel to rest. At times Lia thinks I am not understanding her, but I understand her perfectly and am just telling her "no"(imagine that)! Today was no different. She kept wanting her bubbles and I knew exactly what she was wanting as she put her little finger to her mouth and kept blowing. We did not have them with us though so she had to wait. Once back in the hotel we got out the bubbles, but only had the shower area to blow them in. She really didn't care where she was blowing them as long as she had them. She is so mesmerized I really don't think she has ever seen bubbles. She stepped in the shower and had a great time showing off with her bubbles. Here are just a few of the poses:

She is also smacking her gum, another one of her favorites. She has a definite way of making sure we understand when she wants gum.
And my favorite of all!
Don't you just love this Texas girl with attitude?