Tuesday, October 1, 2013

His Bride

I was brushing the tangles out of her hair.
It was Sunday morning and we were rushed, as usual.
But then the Lord impressed upon my heart this moment 
of time together. Time that passes so quickly.

So, we talked while I brushed her hair.
We talked about breakfast and life.
We began talking about worship.
I was explaining to her how special our time of worship is to us.
I was teaching her how we are the bride of Christ
and that  it is the time that we come before Him
and offer Him ourselves.
It is our time to place our lives on the altar before our Groom.
I told her that we know His love and feel His love reigning over us.
Because we are His Bride
and every Bride knows the love of her Groom

Love is beautiful.
We feel it. We know it. We soak in the glory of love.

Then she turned to me and asked me with kindness in her voice 
if he was part of Christ's bride.
Moments of teaching her become His moments of teaching me.
She knows his faults. She knows the pain he can cause.
Her concern was for him.

God spoke His truth into my heart.
I turned to her and spoke His simple, yet profound truth.
No, he is not yet part of His bride, but he will be.
She asked me how I knew.
I answered that my God was wooing him.
And when he chooses to woo His bride 
she always comes,
His love is too beautiful to resist.
His power is in His love.

God used a small moment to remind me of what is really going on here.
Despite trials, and fits and moments of darkness
His light is shining down on this home
through this boy,
my son.
I am blessed to be a witness.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I know it has been a while since I have updated all of you. It's been a very busy summer to say the least. 

I'll update you first on Simon's health. He is doing okay. I say okay because it hasn't been terrible, but it hasn't been great either. Simon remains a mystery when it comes to transfusing him. He is not predictable in the least to be able to estimate when he needs another transfusion. I'm hoping that over time it will become more predictable. It's just nice to have a schedule to stick to and plan things. He is transfused anywhere from three weeks to five weeks right now. His liver is more loaded with iron than we had hoped and we are increasing his medication to reverse that damage. The good news is that it is reversible. The bad news is that the medication itself is dangerous. Please, continue to pray for wisdom in these areas.

Now, how have we been adjusting as a family? Well, it's hard, really hard. Most days are a struggle. Please know that we love, love, love this boy, but I am faced daily with the truth that he has been raised not by loving hands in the setting of a family, but in an institution that did not have the manpower to teach my little man how to live in a family.

There are lots of areas to grow. Sometimes I watch him and think, "what in the world?" And then I remember. I remember He had no teacher. He had no mother teaching him not to lick his plate after dinner...or his hand and arms. He had no mother telling him not to use her shirt to clean out his ears. Seriously. Things that I take for granted as basic social skills are not so basic when nobody has been teaching them to you. If I'm really honest with you I would have to tell you that most days it drives me bonkers. BONKERS.

He also had no father to teach him how to handle arguments with words not fists. He happens to be excellent with his fists, or legs, or fingernails. His survival skills are topnotch. Survival is natural and it served him well before he came into a family. But now he is here in our family and that transition is, well, still a transition.

Mostly, I've learned how desperately I need my Savior. Days are exhausting, nights aren't long enough and I can dig as deep as my heart will let me but it will still not be enough. I wake up tired and I crawl into bed at night.

I've learned that I have no concept of mercy. Mercy that chooses not to give punishment that is deserved. Mercy that beckons me to my Savior's arms at the end of another failed day. Mercy that whispers my name and tells me to wrap my arms around a boy that hurts those around him. Mercy that tells me to withdraw from the fight. Mercy that gives and never takes.

But at the end of the day I cling to those words written long ago, "I trust in the name of the Lord my God." He has planned this path for us and He is teaching us to be more like His son. 

And I know that in the end you will find us standing upright. Because the strength of my God will uphold us.

You will find a young boy slipping in between his sister and brothers and loving on them. You will see him rising up with the strength of the God of his father.

You will find us laid out on this altar of life. You will find mercy.

Psalm 20
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
    and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
May he grant you your heart's desire
    and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
    and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!
Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
    he will answer him from his holy heaven
    with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
    but we rise and stand upright.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Simon is adorable, and a handful. We absolutely adore him.
Life is really hard and really awesome all at the same time.

When people ask how we are doing I'm not sure how to answer. The truth is complicated. We are doing well. We have all fallen in love with Simon. His brothers and sister adore him and so do we. He is doing well too. But I would say my version of "doing well" and yours may not be the same. For instance, Simon now tattles nonstop, non.stop. BUT this is "doing well." It means he is learning that someone will fight for him and that he does not need to fight for himself. Which believe me is a very good thing indeed.

It's an exhausting kind of growth we are going through. We are being changed and transformed individually and as a family. Change is never easy. It's hard and painful, but necessary. We are in the middle of the furnace of redemption, but we are not alone. God is surrounding us with His love. 

Am I tired? You betcha. 
Do I handle every day well? Um, no.  
Do I love every minute? No, no I do not. Some minutes are dreadful, truly dreadful.

There are some things I can't do yet. I can't go on playdates. Heck, I can't go on real dates. 

Real dates, the kind where your husband is gazing into your eyes OR snoring loudly next to you in the theater, they are just not in our realm of possibility right now. Hopefully soon they will be. 
Because, guys, this face owns my heart.

I cannot plan activites. I often can't head out to friends houses or girls nights out. My life is different right now and that's okay.

It's okay, truly. I don't resent it. Right now I have a little boy who needs me desperately. He needs to know that I will never leave him, that mommy and daddy are here for good. He needs to know that he can trust my decisions for him. 
It is tiring, but right now I am honored to walk beside him on this road. 

Monday, May 27, 2013


Nothing special, just some quotes that I love.
Simon is sick today, so I'm enjoying time to 
be a little creative.
We will have to go have his hemoglobin checked tomorrow
to see if his fever lowered it faster than usual.
We may be headed back for another transfusion...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Medical Abyss

We are stuck in the medical abyss of questionable diagnosis. As a mom I am struggling as I watch Simon deteriorate each week until its time for another blood transfusion. His eyes get a little more yellow, he wants to just sit on the couch, he gets really cold, he gets cranky.
I like answers.
I like solid evidence that I can see and follow.
I like knowledge and books and reading to understand things better.

I don't like doctors not having answers.
I don't like two separate and very different diagnosis.
I don't like the thought of bone marrow tests.
I don't like the unknown.

But that is where we are today.
We are in the belly of the unknown with no great outcomes.
If you are interested in the great debate of Simons medical mystery feel free to ask questions or look up Thalassemia B major and Diamond Blackfan Anemia.
I've been in close contact with both foundations and am thrilled to find that either way we have an amazing support team!

In the middle of all the phone calls, appointments, blood draws and hospital visits is one of the bravest boys I know, our Simon.  He is amazing.

These days he is discovering freedom and the ups and downs of it.
He has tried to ride a bike for the first time and discovered that falling down means getting hurt.
And that getting hurt means mom comes running.
And that mom kisses bruises and bandages cuts...even the fake, made-up ones.
He has tried ice cream and discovered that too much leads to tummy aches.
And that mom is worth listening to.
He has learned that when he cries at night someone comes to comfort him.
He has learned that tantrums don't get you out of time outs.
He has planted flowers and is learning that beauty is worth waiting for in life.
He has learned to walk up and down the stairs and that hard work has benefits.
He has learned that he can color a picture and that mommy and daddy will proudly post it on the fridge.
He has learned that someone in his life is crazy, over the top, smitten with him.
He has learned that he is part of a family.

He makes me furious one moment and rolling with laughter the next.  In the last 5 weeks I've found my way to falling in love with this boy.  Some days are immensely difficult and some days are immeasurably, beautifully filled with joy.

I want answers for all of Simons tomorrow's and I'm working hard to get there, but for now I'm so thankful to be a part of Simons today.

Friday, May 3, 2013

An open letter to adoptive parents

I have been guiding my children through the lessons of life that adoption is bringing to our family and I have been hearing the echoes of my Savior speaking to me in those lessons as well. One of my children really struggles with mercy and grace. Everything is black and white, right and wrong and this one will fight to the bitter end over the smallest thing.

As I sit there and pour out wisdom I can't help but feel a check in my spirit. I have pounded two lessons recently and here they are. First, choose your battles wisely and second be gracious enough to allow others to make mistakes. Life is a long road and we are all often wrong even when we are doggone positive that we are right. So, weigh the balances and choose to take your stand on worthy ground.  Whether or not something is green or blue is not worthy ground. I took out my Bible and said that truth was worthy ground.

God often allows us to make mistakes and learn our lessons from our consequences. As a mom sometimes I allow my kids to do things that I know will not end in smiles because I know that one more nagging comment won't mean a thing but a scratch on the arm might! I allow them to be wrong sometimes. I allow them to learn on their own...sometimes.

Jesus set forth His example when He dined with sinners and had awkward conversations with strange women by the wells. I doubt that they all had great manners or knew all the right things to say. Have you ever sat with the oppressed or beggars? They don't usually smell great and can say the craziest, most offensive things! Yet, He was a gracious guest in their homes. He didn't berate the woman at the well for all of her mistakes. He spoke the truth with grace.

Here is where the adoption community has been on my heart. We are a unique group of people with amazing strengths. We are compassionate, sensitive, loving and steadfast. We have to be or else we will never be able to do this whole adoption thing. But with those great strengths come great weaknesses. We are overly sensitive, over zealous and down right stubborn.

We choose this road for many reasons. But we often fail to give grace to others that don't understand our choices. We write post after post about what not to say to us and what not to do and what to do. Can I propose that we do exactly as I instruct my own kids? Can we choose our battles wisely? Can we be gracious enough to let someone be wrong and allow God to work in their hearts? I fear sometimes we are so loud that the gentle voice of God is drowned by our passionate cries for justice. I fear we as a community have become prickly bushes that others are afraid to go near. They are afraid of saying the wrong thing so they simply say nothing and we lose our chance to educate.

There is a time and a place for us to stand our ground, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that commenting on our child's "different" hair or skin is probably not it. Becoming angry when someone asks who your child's father is won't educate anyone and certainly won't leave a good taste in their minds for our community. Be gracious. Tell them the story, tell the tenth person that day about your adoption journey. Let them comment on your child's hair or skin and tell them how much you love that part of your child. When they ignorantly ask questions that spark our stubborn streak take a step back and remember that we are all ignorant in some way. There are things in this life that we don't understand too! So answer with grace and kindness, assume the best. There really are not that many people that are cruel on purpose.

When they are dead wrong and offensive speak the truth in love and walk away graciously. We live in a strange world within the adoption community and we sometimes forget that the rest of the world is not out to get us. They simply don't understand, and that is okay. We need to be okay with that. We need to listen to their rude questions patiently. We need to let them stare at our strange family while they assume that the Middle Chinese son had a different baby daddy from the other three kids. We need to break the ice and laugh out loud at their silly questions. We need to tell them how we traveled the world and gave up our lives to find our children and that our marriages are in fact still blossoming and our blended family is not the result of a straying spouse!!

Stay the course, laugh a little more often, take your battle stance on worthy ground and be gracious.

Passionately, sensitively, lovingly yours,
Another crazy adoptive momma.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Progress and Questions

Simon is doing far better emotionally. He still has a hard time with sharing and being told no, but the tantrums don't last nearly as long. Hallejulah!

We, his parents, are adjusting back to our normal time zone. Our tummies are adjusting back to U.S. food. Craig has had time to read a few pages. I've had time to...well, maybe eventually I'll have time to do something!

Signs of Simon's progress:
1. Little orange backpack that he never, ever let go of in China sits in the corner of his bedroom EMPTY! He is finally feeling like a permanent resident of our home.

2. The bathroom door is occasionally CLOSED when Simon is in there.

3. Simon ate some chicken!

4. He can be in the same room as the dog without screaming like death is waiting to catch him by surprise.

Medical update:
The group of specialists working with Simon are questioning his diagnosis. At first this sounded good, but the new names of blood disorders they are throwing at me are actually worse. I thought we were at the bottom of the barrel with Thalassemia b major but apparently not. Right now they are thinking he has something called Diamond-Blackfan Anemia (DBA) which has a high predisposition for cancer and the lifespan is about 40 years old.
I've been throwing myself into the research and talking with the doctors and asking lots of questions. I see where they are coming from based on his blood work but I'm probably still in denial and pushing for other tests to rule out a few other anemia's first.

We have yet to see the cardiologist to find out the extent of the damage done to his heart and if he does have DBA then it is very likely that he will have heart defects as well.

Keep us in your prayers as we try to fit in all of these doctors visits and research and phone calls and still find time to bond with our new son and find time for family time. If you are a friend please keep calling. I can't often get to the phone between appointments/tantrums/sleeping but I appreciate your thoughts and your invitations to things even if I can't accept them yet. You are all amazing and your support humbles me daily.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Real life

The real life part of adoption is hard, hard work and we are in the thick of it. Simon is home and adjusting. Adjusting would be the key word in that sentence. He can throw a heck of a tantrum. Getting comfort from another person is a completely foreign concept to him so holding him and trying to calm him down does very little good. But we just stay the course. Someday it will click. At some point he will realize that our arms are loving and kind and he will discover that they are comforting. So, we hold him and rock him and sing to him for hours on end.

Yesterday he threw a tantrum to end all tantrums at naptime. He was screaming in my face and punching his bed and throwing the blankets and the pillow. Then he would calm down to where I could safely hold him and I would rock him and sing to him and lay him down and it would start all over again. Around and around we went. I prayed for grace and understanding. I sat with him in the middle of his bed while he was angrier than I could have imagined for one so small and I talked to him. I told him that I get it. I do. He's furious. I would be too. He's been ripped from everything he knows and stuck with this crazy American woman who can't even cook a Chinese noodle properly!! He's gone from never answering to anyone to being surrounded by safety and controls. Everything he has ever known has just changed. It's for the better, but he doesn't know that yet.

It reminds me so much of my relationship with my Heavenly Father. How many times has He set me on a course that was for my own benefit and all I could see were my own fears? How many times have I railed at Him and tried to run away and all the while He was singing His love over me? I try to cling to these memories while I love on my Simon. And I pray for grace, lots and lots of grace.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Touring China

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity and touring. We're just waiting on Simon's U.S. Consulate appointment tomorrow where he will be issued his visa to return to America with us. Once he steps foot off of the plane and onto U.S. soil he will be a brand new citizen! How cool, right?

So, here are some pictures of the last few days

 Our first church service together. The first time Simon heard "yesu ai ni"
Jesus loves you

Chen Clan Academy

Amazing ivory carvings

The art of paper cutting

 Oh, look, Flat Stanley made it to China!

Pearl Market
In which I stole my friends idea and bought Simon's
future wife a strand of pearls which
I will give to her on her wedding day
with a picture of Simon holding the pearls in China
as a little boy.

Playing ball

Pearl River Cruise

 Standard Chinese Adoption photo

Squatty Potty
I was begging for Christ to return at this point 
of the journey.
I am also currently dehydrated in my attempt to 
avoid a second use of these things.

Visit to the Buddhist Temple

People, people everywhere!!!

Whew! That's it. Gotta get up for Simon's Consulate appointment
tomorrow morning first thing! 
We head for home in just four days. Awesomeness.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Oh, man this kid is a charmer!
People stop us everywhere to tell us how cute he is and then to tell us how young we look. (guess some things are cross cultural! I keep assuring them I'm not a teenager...)

*Simon knows his name now
*Simon can say please although it sounds like "pleuchese"
*Simon has excellent slurping and chomping skills, just excellent.
*Simon randomly wants to take baths, really, really long baths
*Simon sleeps very well
*Simon takes up the entire bed as he rotates 360 degrees all night long
*Simon gives amazing hugs
*Simon loves practicing the names of all the family members
*Simon is a ridiculously picky eater. Ahh, another one to add to the family!!
*Simon yells all the time when he talks (imagine the crazy chinese man on karate kid) 
*Simon's eyes will eat you up
*Simon has to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes
*Simon loves watermelon juice and hates watermelon 

He is such a remarkable boy. I lay awake at night and can't believe he is actually mine and he is actually here with me. So many miracles wrapped up in such a small body. I feel like being near him is like walking on Holy Ground because God is so clearly present in every single ounce of this story.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orphanage visit part 2

I had to wait to write this post. Yesterday I was too angry to write it out, but I want to write it while it's still fresh in my mind.

There are no words to describe seeing so many orphans. I've seen pictures. I've heard stories. But when they reach out to you and tug on your skirt and lift up their arms you realize 
You. Had. No. Idea.
Not a clue.
They were covered in scabies and dirt and layers of filthy clothing. 
They were deformed and sick.
And I realized on that day that I had never seen anything so incredibly beautiful
I sat in the midst of them and held them. I told them they were beautiful. 
I told them they were handsome.
I told them Jesus loves them.

I don't know how as a Christian I could not be angry as I looked around and saw those that the world has shut away. We have shut away. We have gone about our business, our lives and pretended not to know their utter devastation. We have pretended that an orphan crisis is something exaggerated by passionate fanatics. We have avoided the topic in our churches. We have ignored them. We have failed to teach people about orphan care.
We did this. We did it ourselves by pretending and choosing to close our eyes. 
We brought this on them. We didn't just forget, we ignored
I am undone.

These are the ones we have ignored.

We have said the cost is too great and banished them to rundown orphanages 
so that we can pretend that the world is good and kind.

But it's not kind to them is it?

We say we follow Christ. 

And yet we have no part of "true religion" James 1:27

We told him that the cost of his redemption is too high.

We told these babies that the sacrifice it too great.

We told them we couldn't handle their needs. 

We told him that he has too many fingers and we can't love him.

We left her behind.

I know this is a forward post, perhaps even harsh. If I sound angry it's because I am. I'm angry that we have decided that our lives are worth more than theirs. I assure you that I include myself in that "we."
I walked away to screams of "mama, baba!" I cried and cried on the van ride home because I had to leave them behind not knowing if they would ever have a mama and baba.
May God forgive us.
May He give us the strength and courage to follow Him, wherever He leads.