Life is Good

It's amazing what a night of good rest and some sunshine can do to brighten your spirits!  We have been loving the gift of the sunshine God has given us the past few days...just what we needed.  We have taken LOTS of walks and played outside and Lily loves it.  She is my kind of girl who loves to be outdoors. 

Lily is doing great and has a sunny disposition most all of the time.  She loves to laugh and figure out how things work.  She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to let us know about it!  Night time and naps were HARD the first few days we were home but the past couple of days have been much better.  I'm cautiously optimistic but definitely celebrating the small successes we have had in this area.  She is sleeping in her crib now and not in our bed which we are both VERY happy about. 

She eats a wide variety of foods (quiche, asparagus, broccoli, apples, oranges) and now we know she even likes Mexican!  I finally got my Mexican fix tonight and Lily did great.  She loved her rice and chicken quesadilla...it was a perfect ending to a great day. 

Tomorrow Lily meets her cousin for the first time...I'm sure they will be fast friends as he is so much fun to be around.  He affectionately calls her "Wiwwy"...so sweet.  She has also had fun skyping with her aunt Debbie and cousins Marlee and Kelly...they taught her to stick out her tongue (even more than she already does!).   

My "Sherpa" never ceases to amaze me...he has unpacked all our bags, washed and folded all our laundry, mowed the lawn, cut the crepe myrtles and went back to work on Monday with only  2 hours of sleep.  He is with me every step of the way and I could not do it without him.  I am so thankful that God put him in my life.  I miss him already after being with him non-stop for two weeks...I could get used to that!  
We appreciate your continued prayers as we get settled into our routine.  Michael was praying last night as we went to bed and thanking God for answering every one of our specific prayers for Lily.  We never want to forget what we have seen and experienced the past several weeks together...life changing is all I can say.  There are millions of other orphans like Lily in need of a family...break our hearts Lord for the things that break yours.  

Thought you may enjoy a few pictures from the past several days home...

Spencer meeting Lily for the first time

Lilies for the Lily pad

He looks like a natural!

Fun with Nana

A painting of lilipads for Lily's room
(thanks Nana and Granda)

Sweet love

Admiring her big brother
(who blew up the ball pit all by himself just for Lily)

Loving her Papaw and Granda!

The travel tiara princess!
(she earned this one for being a trooper on the long flight home)

Kisses from Papaw

Make shift gloves for the cold walk outside
(thanks Deb!)

Happy girl looking up to her Gaga

The infamous "finger point" to let us know what she wants

Fun with her Gaga

Playing hard to get with Daddy

Holding on tight
(if she only knew she has Dad wrapped around her finger already)


Where we belong

Words cannot express the joy we have being home.  When I saw our family and close friends at the airport close to midnight last night, peace flooded over my soul.    

Our trip was LONG…17 hours on our flight from Beijing and barely making our connection in NJ, but God’s angels surrounded us every step of the way and we most definitely could feel your prayers.  Lily did AMAZING the entire trip and when we stepped off the plane in Nashville she had the biggest smile on her face as if to say “this is where I belong”!  She studied all our friends and family waiting for us at the gate and she took to her big brother in no time at all.  She loves her ge ge!

Today we made some more milestones with Lily which made any jet lag I was feeling make it all worthwhile … she has been loving on her Daddy and she let him feed her breakfast, she snuggled up in the chair with Spencer and played with him, she is walking more, and she has officially been in all of her grandparents arms with a smile on her face!  She has smiled and laughed a lot today…baby girl loves being the center of attention!  I’m sure the honeymoon will come crashing down when everyone leaves and she is left with just mama to entertain her everyday- ha!

We have a tradition with Spencer of making homemade buttermilk pancakes on Saturday mornings.  I told him last night on the way home I would make him some…of course he was so thoughtful and said “that’s not necessary because I know you will be too tired.”  Not the case…we made a quick stop by Kroger on the way home last night at 1 am and the tradition continued this morning…guess who else likes them????  My mom and dad bought us some yummy filets for dinner tonight and we invited Michael’s parents to join us.  My amazing husband grilled up a fabulous dinner that hit the spot after two weeks of noodles and rice.  Now I just need my Mexican fix!

A fire is crackling as I write this post and everyone is asleep…I look back over the last year and see where we are today and shutter to think how life would be different if we had not taken this step faith.  Thank you God, for nudging our hearts and giving us the courage to step out in obedience.  Our home is already filled with more laughter and joy…unspeakable joy. 

Jet lag may hit hard tomorrow or in the days to come but for tonight, I am relishing in the moment of having Lily home and in our arms. 

We have two referral pictures that are framed and sitting in our kitchen that we have looked at every day since November 3, 2010.  When we came home last night I noticed that sitting right next to these pictures was a picture of the 3 of us from our trip that my mom had framed.

The reality hit me that we will no longer have to look at her picture and wonder where she is, who is taking care of her or imagine what she is doing.  She is home…where she belongs…the forever family God chose for her long before we even knew her or dreamed about her.

This is home…

enjoying some ice cream in Beijing
our "home" for 17 hours
getting settled in for the long journey home

Lily and I in the cockpit withe the Captain!
He aked her what she was hiding her cheeks :)

Spencer doing puppets with Lily
More pictures to come!  Having technical difficulities right now so I'll try again tomorrow.  Off to get some sleep...


Coming Home!

Our journey in China is about to come to an end.  While we anxiously await to be back home, we also know that this is another milestone in our journey with Lily.  A piece of our hearts will always remain here.  We look forward to returning one day with Lily and Spencer and sharing this part of her story with both of them.  

We are all packed and ready for an early departure tomorrow morning (5:45 am).  We have about a 30 hour day ahead of us.  We appreciate your prayers as we travel... for safety, for our strength (mom and dad are exhausted) and for Lily to do well.  We arrive in Nashville at 10:30 pm and look forward to seeing all of our family and friends. 

Tonight was a "wish I had my camera" moment because we were getting Lily ready for bed and she was giving Michael the biggest hugs and grinning from ear to ear!  What a sweet way to end our trip together knowing that her trust in her Dad is growing. 

We will share more about our reflections and experiences once we return home and I have some time to process everything.  Thank you all for walking with us on this journey to get our sweet daughter.  She makes us laugh everyday and we are so grateful that God has entrusted us with her.  

Wakedog...we will be thinking about you tomorrow night at the talent show.  So sorry we will miss it but we know you will be awesome!!!  Can't wait for you to be the first one to see your sister when we arrive tomorrow night.  She has no idea what a blessing she has in having YOU as her big brother. 

Wo ai ni!


God's bigger story

"I am a God of both intricate detail and overflowing abundance.  When you entrust the details of your life to Me, you are surprised by how thoroughly I answer your petitions.  Best of all, your faith is strengthened as you see how precisely I respond to your specific prayers." (Jesus Calling)

Michael and I were reading this while Lily was sleeping today and reflecting on how we have seen so many of our prayers be answered by our sweet Savior. 

Michael prayed that she would have a teachable spriit and our baby girl loves to explore and learn new things daily. 

I prayed for her to be courageous and not give up easily and we see a spirit of determination in her already. 

We prayed for her protection and her caregivers and the Lord graciously placed her in a foster hoome over the past year with someone to love her. 

We prayed for her to learn to trust us and everyday we see that bond growing stronger and stronger. 

This is only the beginning...a glimpse of God's bigger story unfolding. 

I was reading and entry from my journal a month ago and I wrote...

"Father forgive me for not saying "yes" earlier in my life to being part of your plan for the orphan.  Thank you that we are walking this road to bring Lily home...it is hard and beautiful at the same time.  I am so thankful we are not going to miss out on this sweet blessing you have for our family.  Open our eyes and hearts to what else you have for us... Fill our home with laughter and love and joy we have never known.  Give us the ability to live expansively and openly as we wait to see what you have in store in the days ahead.  Thank you for the story you are writing in our hearts."

This is only the beginning...a glimpse of God's bigger story unfolding. 

As we prepare to come home we'll share a few highlights from the past few days...

Leaving Henan

Arriving in Guangzhou after a long day

Lily's face of determination

Silly girl

Lily's doctor's appointment

Sherpa even does his own ironing (thanks Nan)
at the pearl market

our girl from the year of ox (can you say strong-willed?)
 Lily was a trooper for our consulate appointment today.  I actually got a little teary just walking into the room knowing that this was the final step to be able to bring her home to her forever family.  She has no idea how many people are waiting back home to love on her.

our final appointment, the US Consulate

One more day and we'll be coming home!  Thanks everyone for your continued prayers.


Loving my Sherpa and thankful for the simple gifts...

You know you must be feeling better when you wake up to poop all over your arms and you don't get sick!  It's been a rough couple of days on the home front and we appreciate your prayers and kind words.    
Tomorrow is another big day...we leave at 7:00 am to go to our consulate appointment. This should be a good test for getting Lily up and going early for our trip home in just a few days.  She likes to snuggle and wakes up VERY slow in the mornings...should be a lot fun!
Michael has been amazing and I couldn’t ask for a better Sherpa!  He continues to stay steadfast even when his wife is sick and his daughter still won’t let him hold her without crying. He looked at me last night and said “you are beautiful even when you are sick”…just the medicine I needed. 
Even in the midst of some definite lows the past 48 hours I am thankful for the simple gifts like….finding a “real” bathroom just in time (if any of you have even been to the Chinese bathrooms you will know what I’m talking about!)…giggles from our Lilypad…watching her start to walk…sprite and ice cubes…a stroller that Lily loves…learning words like “boola” (no), deng deng (wait)…howla (it’s ok)…and “booka” (don’t cry) which have been our life line…a good night's rest...the fact that Michael didn’t make me take a second dose of the Chinese herbs that Kathy gave me (they looked like caviar and tasted horrible…she told me this morning that they induced sickness!!!  Good thing I didn’t know about that when I took it the first time)…having two days of no meetings…and being two days closer to coming home. 

Today we took the famous red couch photos.  It is a tradition for all the families who have adopted to take pictures on the red velvet couches that are in the lobby of our hotel.  As you can see…the kids are not quite sure what to think of it all.

Hanna, Grace, Lily, Shaupoo, Silay, Daniel and Mary

Our travel group and all of our children

Lily is testing the waters no doubt and we are learning that she responds best when we are very firm with her (as the Chinese women do with their children).  She can turn it on and off like a light as you can see below from our photo shoot this morning…I know in time her smile will be bright and happy in the arms of her daddy who loves her so much. 

I'm thankful today was better.  Sherpa is wiped out from taking care of both his girls...hugs to all. 


Asking for prayers

OK prayer warriors, Sherpa needs your help.  Amy has been sick all day.  I don't know if is something she ate or if it is just a virus.  It has been challenging to take care of Lily who hasn't put her trust in me yet.  Amy has been courageous and fought through it when she could.  She has had to make a few mad dashes leaving Lily in my arms screaming.  I'm sure our hotel neighbors wonder what is going on.  I did manage to get Lily in the stroller and walked her outside for 1 1/2 hours this afternoon.  So please pray for a good night of rest, no more sickness and that Lily sleeps well all night.  Thanks everyone!  Hopefully all will be better tomorrow and we can catch everyone up on what's happening.


Sherpa's post

Sherpa here (Michael). The boss needs a night off so I am at the keyboard. 

I am the Sherpa because I am the support, the guide and in Lily's eye the grunt.  I am the luggage hauler, document keeper and chief gofer.

Most of you know that I'm succinct so I will not disappoint you.  We are delinquent in posting because we are catching our breath.  It’s been a long, hard 30 hours.  We left Zhengzhou yesterday on a 4:30 flight with hopes to be in the new hotel by 8:00.  After a delayed flight, fog, rain, turbulence, projectile vomiting (Lily), traffic jam (imagine that in China) and diarrhea (Lily), we finally got to the room around 10:00.  Her first plane ride was eventful, but she did amazingly well through it all.

By the time we got her down and in the bed it was after midnight.  To tell you my patience was short today is unnecessary. 
We had her doctors examination today and visa photo taken.  She was tremendous. So we celebrated with …

The tea here is great, but not having a good cup of coffee for a week was hard.  It was a nice treat.

Another first today, removing the Lily appendage from Amy.  She has locked on to her since the first night and not allowed me within the 5' safety zone unless I have something she wants.  It has been an interesting analogy of how God must feel when we keep pushing him away.  It has made me wonder how many times I have done that to Him, not allowing His involvement in my life and how He longed to do so.  So thankful He is patient and faithful! So the Sherpa was off on a mission, a stroller.  I really didn't think she would go for it, but surprisingly she loves it!

Amy is thrilled to give her arms a rest.  Lily still will not let me push her though.  It is hard being a Sherpa.  No love or respect.  However, for a few moments today she let me in, even gave me kiss! 

Oh how my heart swelled!  But it was short-lived.  I didn't get to push her back to the hotel.  Back to being the Sherpa. 

Seriously, it has been great to watch her progress each day.  To watch her with Amy and see how much she trusts her, how much Amy pours into her, teaching her every moment of the day is great to see.  With Amy's love, affection and teaching Lily is coming out of her shell and showing us the great personality that God gave her.  I know someday soon I'll be her daddy.  It's worth the wait!


Packed and ready for Guangzhou

This afternoon at 4:30 pm we board our plane for Guangzhou where we will complete additional paperwork to get her visa.  We are one step closer to bringing Lily home. 

I have mixed feelings about leaving Henan today...her homeland province.  I think about her birth-mom and her foster mom and wonder what emotions they have when they think about Yuexin.  Yesterday we received a copy of the newspaper ad that showed her finding in the Nanyang city park on December 18, 2009.  She was listed with about 20 other children...most of whom had cleft lip and palate.  

Yesterday we took Lily to a nearby park and I thought about our little girl being left alone in the park on a cold December day.  I do not know the circumstances that brought her birth-mom to make that choice but I know that God's hand was in the details of it all.  I can't even imagine the depth of pain she must have had when she walked away.  I hope that in some way her foster mom and birth-mom will be flooded with a peace knowing that she has a forever family who will lover her emmensly. 

Today was a turning point for Lily in many ways...she woke up happy to see us...not crying.  She sat by herself in a high chair for breakfast and let me feed her (she has not left my lap for 4 days expect one other time).  When we came back to the room she played with her toys on the bed and actually let me walk away from her for the first time.  She has been full of smiles today and exploring new things.  I love to watch her figure out how things work.  She is quite determined and has the perseverance to stick with something until she masters it.  I love seeing life through her eyes. 

We will update more when we get to Guangzhou.  Thank you all for your continued prayers.  We feel them flooding our souls with peace and hope. 

Hope these make you smile...

At the park on a sunny day.

Our Lilypad!

Happy girl loves the water!


The Whispers of God

Jesus is a fork in the road.  We either go with him or against him.  The closer I am to Him…the more painful it may be.  When you come to a fork in the road, you are faced with a decision to choose. 
For Michael and me, adoption was like a fork in the road…we could either stay on the course we were headed which was, for the most part, a life of comfort and predictability…OR we could listen to the whispers of God that would take us out of our comfort zone and require huge leaps of faith. 
For a long time, we tried to keep one foot in each path.  Fear and uncertainty kept us from making any course corrections because it was easier to hold on to what was safe…what was familiar. 
God continued to place people in our lives that were choosing the miracle of adoption and we were able to see life change in ways that only God can bring about. 
God was stirring our hearts.  He was even using our son to nudge us.  God was whispering to us and we were faced with a decision to choose. 
The only regret I have is that we allowed fear and comfort to keep us from making a course correction sooner.   I cannot imagine any other path I would want to be on right now. 
Lily is at a similar fork in the road…she trying to decide if it is worth it to let go of what was familiar and comfortable and begin to trust something new and different. 
There are times we see her happy and beginning to trust and then without any warning, she retreats into fear and inconsolable grief that neither of us can take away.
Is it hard?....yes…is it worth it?...ABSOLUTELY. 
We see the hand of God in every facet of her story and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
“And behold, the Lord passed by and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire… the sound of a low whisper.”  I Kings 19: 11-12
What is God whispering to you? 
Don’t let fear or comfort keep you from making a course correction.  The doors of opportunity swing open on the hinges of obedience. 
we hear the whispers of God in Lily's smile and beginning to trust MIchael...

Feeling safe enough to eat out of mom's lap.

another first...allowing dad to feed me.
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