Saturday, October 6, 2012

One month in...maybe a little bit of rainbows and unicorns...

At times I have said that adoption is not all "rainbows and unicorns". That meaning, adoption is not some mystical, magical dream world. Certainly adoption can fill our imaginations and hearts with dreams, hopes and ideas; not unlike biological birth. When I was expecting the boys, I would imagine what life would be like being their mom. 

Both with adoptive and bio births, those romanticized hopes and dreams can be delivered a strong dose of reality. Whether it is an extremely fussy babe who struggles to sleep, a strong willed 3 year old that refuses to go 10 minutes without an explosion of emotions, or a 9 year old who has developed survival skills of deceit and manipulation, it can all deliver us right back to the reality that parenting children is difficult. Sometimes we can navigate a particularly difficult season with a child that can last weeks, months, or years. God's grace is sufficient, right? 

As I sit here, one month into the birth of Maggie Grace to us, it has been a bit of rainbows and unicorns, simply because God has ordered this season to be such. We have experienced adoptive hard and bio hard. We have experienced adoptive bliss and bio bliss. In all of it we praise our God, who is faithful and sovereign over all!

Maggie continues to daily display her girly qualities. She freely expresses her emotions, and it is usually clear what Maggie is feeling. She will let me know if there is something she wants or needs. This has been good, but yet I am pretty much the only "need meeter" for her so that leads to a constant beckoning. "Ma! Ma! MA! MA!!!" 
Let me just chat for a minute about girl world. There are things I adore about it, and things that make me want to escape to my bathtub for hours. I am adjusting to this new world. Did you know girls giggle, tattle, whine, and pout?...A LOT! Life can deliver a blow to a girls' emotions that can send her in a downward spiral for hours! Do you know what frightens me most about some of this? Hormones lie just around the corner! God's grace is sufficient!

Maggie loves school! She has a hard time not doing school on the weekends. This has actually helped Haddie gain a better perspective about her own studies!

She really does LOVE her sisters! (and brothers, but I am not good about photo ops in those moments.)

We have had some good times at a local pumpkin farm. Maggie was hesitant to do many of the activities. I realize, that up until now, life has told her she can't, but this mama is telling her SHE CAN!
Jumping on a huge bouncy pillow was one of the greatest moments of delight for both of us! I had not heard her laugh this hard. I was thankful I had my iphone in my pocket so I could capture this moment.

Even the teeter totter brought great squeals of delight!
In their lessons this last week the girls learned about names, and their meanings; that God is a naming God and He Himself has many names. We took a trip to a local pottery shop to make a craft with their names on them. I have yet to convince the boys to go to a pottery shop!

We also took a trip to the Halloween costume store to make a choice for trick or treating. After navigating through the ghouls and goblins with screams and tightly covered eyes, we arrived at the girls costumes. Haddie choose a bright costume with flare, and Maggie was delighted to grab the pinkest, frilliest thing she could find!

Three little pumpkin girls!!!

Signing off with a still my heart!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Last post from China!

Can I even begin to put into words how thrilled I am to be heading home? The only bad part, is I have to take a plane to get there! I hate flying! The Lord will once again be my peace and I will soon be home with my friends and family! What a day of rejoicing that will be!!!!

Sweet sister love!

Can you see the ornery mixed with the sweet?

Haddie, putting those big sister helping skills to work once again!

Our trip to the US Consulate was our final appointment before heading home. The most eventful part of it was having an opportunity to meet and thank one of the officers who helped us with out case int the final weeks before traveling. He was very apologetic that our process was so long.

The girl has had a couple of Big Mac attacks. What I love about watching her eat one is the pinky that is up in the air. I will say it again, she is ALL girl!

Yesterday afternoon was our most relaxing yet. The forecast was clear and sunny, so after our Consulate appointment I declared it a pool day for all of us. Maggie has gained enough comfort level, with me and the water, that I was able to relax in the cabana for awhile with my Bible! It was much needed time, and little did I know it would equip me for the battle I faced today.

My views from where I sat...

Haddie is extremely patient with Maggie, and I think this picture shows how much can be required.

Today was one of my hardest with Maggie. She locked down with me in a fairly significant battle. After abut a 3 hour standoff we arrived on the other side. Poor Jacob and Haddie. It was not the most enjoyable time of the trip. I ended up sending them to McDonald's for a break, they deserved it. HA! HA! Also, Jacob became even more knowledgable for his own parenting years.

For her best interest, we will need to keep Maggie on a "look, but don't touch" policy for awhile. Remembering that everyone she is meeting in her life right now is on the same playing field, and we will need time to establish healthy relationship boundaries. She will be meeting her daddy and many friends and family all within a matter of hours. It is vital to her attachment process that she be able to distinguish a difference within these first few months. So, the hugs and "I loves you's" will need to be held at bay, but feel free to lavish them on the rest of us!!!

Thank you for praying us through the last two weeks, and encouraging us on the journey. My words will never adequately express all it means. Trusting the Lord to deliver us to US soil tomorrow! Our flight will land in Chicago, but we will swing out to Blm/Nrml airport around 5:30 for a short celebration for anyone who can join us.

Much love and many blessings,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Holding Fast To

This was bedtime last night, and pretty much every night. Giggly, silly girls trying to settle themselves for sleep. I turn out the lights and join them in the bed, and although I may not hear a noise, I feel their bodies shaking with quiet giggles. This is all a new experience for me, and I have to admit it is cute. Although, I am not sure how cute it will be when we are home, and I am "shushing" them for the billionth time.

Little pink ladies enjoying breakfast!
Haddie just seems so much older than Maggie. Maggie acts similar to that of a 7 year old. Of course, Haddie does act very grown up for 9! She continues to enjoy her big sister role, but still struggles with mothering her little sis a bit too much at times.

Of course, big brother Jacob is a hit! Maggie has grabbed on to his hand to walk a bit more in the last day. Again, I am so thankful that God planned for him to be here with me. He has earned some bragging rights enduring this trip with these 3 crazy girls!

The girls enjoyedsome good ole Ramen!!

We attempted the shopping again, since the last time didn't go so well. It was 100% better. The girls took their purses and I gave them their own little spending stash of 100 RMB. They thought they were high faluting with their 100's, which amounted to about $14 , but don't tell them that. You have never seen 2 girls have so much fun with $14. It was fun to watch them gather their little treasures.

Here they are in the cab on the way back to the hotel. Yet another China accomplishment for us. Hailing a cab in a foreign country and actually getting to where we needed to go!

For me, the highlight of the day had to be a local shop owner sharing the gospel with Maggie. It was done discretely, sending a co-worker out to the street to make sure no one entered the shop as she shared the love of Jesus with her. Chinese Christian music was playing, and among the lyrics I kept hearing the word, "hosanna, hosanna". It was such a moving moment.

I had read from Psalm 18 the night before and here are some excerpts that had stirred my heart:

"...He reached down from on high and TOOK HOLD of me, He drew me out of the deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy...they confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my SUPPORT. He brought me out into a spacious place, He rescued me because He delighted in me.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to stand on the heights.

You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; You stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me so that my ankles do not turn."

Before traveling to China and have Maggie birthed into my arms, the wait was difficult. Every part of the process to get her home was HARD! The Lord spoke to me through His Word in powerful ways, one of those being through a Hebrew word, Dabaq, which means "to hold fast to". This word kept coming before me almost daily as I spent time with the Lord. I copied and laminated the definitions in regard to this word, and placed them in my Bible. I had sensed that the Lord was telling me to cling to Him, adhere to Him like glue, and I was doing my best to do just that.

As I held fast (Dabaq) to Him, He did just as the above verses read. He supported, strengthened, guided me giving me sure footing to step. But do you see that it was not me holding on to Him? He TOOK HOLD OF ME!

So, once again, keeping it real, I have been a bit agitated by Maggie's constant need to hang on me, cling to me. (If you know me I'm not a touchy, feely, cuddler) It is taking some real patience and getting used to on my part.

Could it be that the Lord had been preparing me to Dabaq my little girl? Absolutely!

Look at this girl! Really, what ever will I do with her?

Dabaq....HOLD FAST TO!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Do they sell Calgon in China?

My goal is always to keep it real, so keep that in mind as you journey through yet another day in China with us. I realize we are in the home stretch here, but it feels as though Friday will never come! It is close quarters around here everyday. I am have company in the shower and every bathroom stall. The squatty potty situations are the most fun! Don't get me wrong, I adore my girls, and I am so thankful to be with my Maggie Grace, we are just sharing a lot of "togetherness".
I made the mistake of telling the girls I needed some time to not be bothered. Maggie continued yanking on my arm asking, "Huh?, Ma, huh?" Haddie decided to step in and pull her sister off of me saying, "Mama needs a break, no more mama!" I soon realized not the way to communicate mommy needs some space to the newly adopted child who is digging having a mama. All is good now, and the girls are bouncing around the room with balloons. They are loud, but no one is touching me or asking me for something and I am hanging on for 2 more hours till this:

They are precious!
This morning my little FAITH builder, Libi had a seizure. Nothing makes me feel further from home than knowing my precious girl is struggling, and I can't be there. I trusted in the One who was with her, and was not taken by surprise at the circumstance we found ourselves in. It is no coincidence that the night before the Lord was washing me with these words, "On my bed I remember you; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You, Your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63

All is well with little Libi Love. It seems that she may be coming down with a cold. So thankful for my amazing man who is doing a phenomenal job holding down the home front!! Can't wait to be in his arms soon and introduce him to our new daughter!

Last night was Pizza Hut for dinner. It was a busy place, and we found it difficult to receive service, which is surprising considering we held the attention of most patrons in the place. The menu was quite extensive for a Pizza Hut and included some interesting toppings such as, corn, and pepper steak.
On the agenda today was the Safari Park. Maggie was very excited! She shared with our guide that she had never even been to a zoo.

As we rode through the half of the park that was navigated by tram, Maggie kept tapping Jacob's leg and pointing. She wanted to share her excitement with Jacob, not wanting him to miss a single animal.

After we acknowledged seeing the animal as well, she would clap her hands with delight!

Jurassic Forest was a new addition and ended up being one of the best parts of the park for all of us except Haddie. Picture Jurassic Park meets a children's zoo, China style!

Maybe this mama should have paid more heed to the "Gentle Reminders":

As we entered, Haddie's apprehension was grew more intense. Not mattering how I tried to reassure Haddie, her imagination outweighed reality. Walking along the path, sounds of roars and heavy footsteps loomed in the air. Maggie was so excited, and Haddie was terrified!

Every time Maggie looked over at Haddie she busted a gut at how frightened she was. Jacob and I were laughing so hard at Maggie, it was difficult to be a comfort to Haddie.

Haddie just kept her head down, and I kept telling her to look at the ground.

The end was almost too much for her to take, and she bolted for the exit. Poor girl!

The dinosaurs were okay for Maggie, but the giant Lion mascot, not so much.

You can figure this one out for yourself, I am still working on it.

Feeding the giraffes was yet another highlight of the park. Haddie found a baby to care for, which is not at all surprising. Her heart was just made to nurture!

Jacob had to help Maggie, because the giraffes were a bit too powerful for her to keep ahold of her branch. She is a tiny little thing!


Even the Pandas were on ice!! It was the hottest day yet, and I am pretty sure Maggie walked miles. Jacob and I kept trying to carry her, but she would not have it. She is a fighter!

Haddie passed out on the way back to the hotel, and once again Maggie thought her sister was hilarious! She tapped me, pointed to Haddie and just giggled her head off!
Some more REAL...
I am still amazed at how comfortable life with Maggie feels. She fits in beautifully, yet there is a bit of apprehension in my spirit when I think about life at home with two girls who are physically handicapped. Honestly, some real fears creep in of what it will require for their care. Maggie often leans on me for assistance when walking. She can walk independently, but it is easier when she has a hand to hold or an arm to grab onto. Getting dressed is more labor intensive as well. Things that the reality of living with her 24x7 have allowed me to see more clearly. It will not be all butterflies and rainbows, nor did I expect it to be. I am thankful that God has blessed me with another daughter, another child to mother; however, I am well aware that the road ahead will have difficult days.
Think of what Maggie's future could have been. There are times in China when the reality of it stares me right in the face. We pass by many who are lame on the streets here in China. This is not a country that has much to offer those who are disabled, or without family.
Last night we passed a gentleman who walked on his hands, literally wore shoes on his hands to move about. The girls were filled with concern for him, and carried money over to his box. I wondered if he too had once lived as an orphan. Is that what landed him in this place of hopeless desperation? A product of the system he lives in? Had he simply "aged out" to be destined for this life he now lived? I cannot just look away. I cannot ignore, even if it is just one. A difference for just one! Just one!
I do not have a photo of the gentleman we met, he deserves more dignity than that, but I have photos of these:
Little boys who could one day find themselves on the street, begging, lonely, and hungry.
Be a the difference for just one!