Thursday, December 5, 2013

3 Years into Forever

All you have to do is blink and three years will pass before you know what's happening.

I said today, it's so easy for me to be right back on that bus, listening to Amy tell us what was about to unfold. I can hear my heart beating in my ears and smell the "china" smell....



Three years later, i'm still processing all the Lord did those two weeks in China. There were things I wanted to write about then that the Holy Spirit didn't give me the go ahead to share. Things to "ponder in my heart" because there was no way I could fully see how they were meant to be put into words. 

One of those things was how messy and painful love is.




I've blogged about Asher's condition when he was placed in our arms before, so I won't repeat it all here. But basically we were handed a 24 month old child who weighed 17 pounds and had been crib confined for two years. He couldn't walk, talk, or even eat stage one baby foods.  His spine could be felt through three layers of clothing. Developmentally he was 6-9 months old. 

 I was in shock.  
 I was angry at how he was treated.
And I let the Lord know it.

And He firmly put me in my place.

I remember crying out to Him in prayer, grieving for the first two years of Asher's life. 

"Lord, WHY did he have to be in that crib 27/7??? WHY didn't they feed him anything but a bottle?? Lord he can't even WALK. His skull is deformed from rocking his head against steel crib bars for hours and hours, are you kidding me??"

It was ugly.

The Holy Spirit reminded me of the verse that the Lord had given to me at the very start of our journey to China for Asher:

Ephesians 3:20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

And in that is the answer to all of the WHY.

"....to HIM be the Glory..."

And I'll be transparent that in my grief for my son....I said to the Lord...but WHY MY SON? Get the Glory in the good, easy, triumphant, touchy-feely stuff, but Lord, why this way? Why does it have to be so so ugly, and so so painful??
All I had to do was put my eyes on the cross for that answer.

The cross was ugly, y'all. 

It was messy and gruesome and HARD. 

And it was the very thing that brought God the most GLORY.

And it is the very definition of LOVE.

And it was through that act, that you and I were ADOPTED as children of the King. 

So WHY do we think that this thing called adoption, will not be MESSY and PAINFUL....and HARD?? His love for us wasn't EASY, because love.isn't.easy. 

But if we will allow it too... it will bring Him GLORY and renown in ways that are "more than we could ever ask or imagine."

I didn't know how to process that three years ago. I couldn't see the other side. I was in the middle of the mess and the pain and all I could do was believe by faith that the Lord would be a promise keeper and redeem this child's life. That He had risked His very name on this adoption, and He.Would.Make.It.Good.

If you're right there, hang on. 
It may be messy. 
It may be painful. 
It may be so so hard.
It should be.
It makes the victory that much sweeter.



Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”



Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.


Sweet boy, you bring more JOY to us than we could have ever imagined. You are indeed, "happy and crowned" just like your name says you are. I can't wait to see how such a little guy is going to make a BIG impact on the Kingdom.

Happy three.years.home.

Love, 
mama <3 





Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oh, the Joy

Once upon a time there was a mama of 4 girls.
She was happy and content in her world of baby dolls, hair bows and polka dot tights.
Then one night she was aimlessly surfing her agency's website.....
when her heart literally skipped a beat.
Her husband sleeping, she called her friend in Florida..
"I think i'm looking at my son...." 



This mama was scared....A BOY???!!
Lord!! What would she do with a boy???
Her best friend would tell her, "there's something about the way a boy loves his mama..." and 
she would listen, but not fully understand.
Until Monday, December 6, 2010, in Guangzhou, China.....

In the International adoption world, a female child under the age of 3 is still the most requested child across every county and continent, including the United States. In 2011, for China, there were 1,888 females to just 699 boys (http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/statistics.php), adopted and brought home to their forever families. 


With a shared list of literally hundreds of waiting children in China, the overwhelming majority of them are male. When little girls come to agency lists, the emails come pouring in.....and young boys with minor needs sit.

And wait.

Simply because they are boys.

Now hear my heart.

When the Lord called us to adopt the first time, we knew it was a daughter. It wasn't written in the sky or spelled out in black and white, but we knew. 

We had barely recovered from jet lag when the Holy Spirit began to convict me about my willingness to follow HIS plan for our family, or mine....and it took me digging into His Word, and continually, daily, laying my plans on the alter and and offering them as a sacrifice. 

Sometimes, we just have to be willing for this adoption thing to not look like we thought it would. 


Lord, did you call us to adopt a daughter.....or a child?  


Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.


 If you're on this adoption road I'd challenge you today to seek deep the heart of your Father. Be willing for the end not to look like you planned it would.
Perhaps it will.
Maybe it won't.
But rest assured....He knows *exactly* what you need.

Even when you didn't realize what was missing.


Psalm 133:1

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!"


*Shepard, Jude, and Judah pictures courtesy of Steph at Nihao y'all and Anna at AnythingbutLokey and K&RPhotography

Sunday, July 7, 2013

{Saying Goodbye} Last days in China

                 We loaded up the vans on our last day at the orphanage as prepared as we could be.
Monday was by far the hardest emotionally.
Tuesday we hit a food wall.
Wednesday and Thursday we got into the grove.

But we all knew this day was coming.

  It's the day I have teared up about since I signed up to lead this trip. Walking out of that door without a child in my arms, like on our previous trips. I knew as a mama, this was the day that would test me!! What I wasn't prepared for was that the little man that grabbed my heart would never even have a chance to go out of those doors without a mama and baba. 



They ushered us into a conference room and had a sweeeet ceremony for us. Presenting me with a plaque and gift bags for the team. Then each child we had helped with their "craft" presented them to us framed. *que tears*




We went to the courtyard to say our goodbyes. But my little guy wasn't out there. I asked the orphanage director if she could take me to him and she did. Longest walk ever. He lit up when I walked into his room and called his name. Scooped him up and he played with my hair and giggled as I did the silent ugly cry. Kissed his head and told him I loved him and God had a plan for his life. 

Scooped up this precious girl (who the nanny's called ugly) and told her she was beautiful AND SHE HAS A MAMA AND DADDY COMING SOON FOR HER!!!!!! I told her they thought she was the most beautiful girl in all the world. 
And walked out. 


We had one last lunch there and headed to the van and drove away. 

It's been an amazing trip. 
I'm not sure I've ever been this prayed for ever in my life.
God gave us moment after moment where we clearly could trace His hand.
From the second we pulled in.
This is the front opening of the orphanage.





This place is near to His heart. God has His eyes on these children. Adoption is such a picture of the Gospel....the fact is, everyone of us that know Christ were once like these children...lost, lonely, fatherless, without hope...and because of the cross...we now have new names, an Abba Father, we're hopeful and we are known.

There's not a doubt in my mind why the Lord tied my heart to the one he did.
He represents a new chapter for me. 
A new voice.
One that says, GO.
Yes, bring them home. 
PLEASE bring them home.
But don't forget about them.
They need the Gospel and how else will they hear?




Thank you.
For joining our team. For praying and giving and praying some more. 
For our husbands and grandparents that held down the forts while we mama's were gone.
We could not have done it without you.
And we'd love for you to come back with us.
I promise, you won't be the same.
Ever again.

Isaiah 43:12-13
"First I predicted your rescue,
    then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
No foreign god has ever done this.
    You are witnesses that I am the only God,”
    says the Lord.
13 
“From eternity to eternity I am God.
    No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
    No one can undo what I have done.”



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 7 {Blessings}

I'm reallllllly not feeling good tonight so this is going to be short. (please pray my stomach calms down!!!)
Today was our last full day.

We were able to spend the money that many of you gave to me and our team to bless the socks off these kids!

All total we purchased:

65 large cans of high-calorie formula
10 boxes of diapers
20 pairs of shoes
50 packs of underwear
3 packs of hangers to hang clothes to dry
PILES of clothing
2 new basketballs
and
4 new packs of sand toys for the sand box

Tomorrow is going to be like Christmas morning up in there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The words "thank you" don't even do this justice. We prayed to be able to love, give and share as deep and as wide as we could in 4.5 days. I believe we have.

As I looked out over this city I asked the Lord to take our small offering this week, and multiply it like the little boys lunch. That's something we've prayed consistently this week...Lord, just use what we have, small as it seems at times, and do a mighty work.


 Seriously. What's a blog without him? 

 $800 (4600 yuan) worth of formula for the BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


Tomorrow morning we say goodbye.
It's not going to be easy or pretty.
The kids favorite song we sang for them this week was "Deep & Wide"
And that's our prayer for these people, as we have loved deep and wide....

Ephesians 3:18
"I pray that you....may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how WIDE and long, and high and DEEP is the love of Christ.."

Goodnight from southern China
<3


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Zo ba!! {Let's GO!} Day 6, part 1

“We love the lovely because it is flattering to us to do so.

 God loves the unlovely, and it broke 

His heart to do it. 

The depth of the love of God is revealed by that wonderful word, ‘whosoever.’

The Bible reveals God to be the 

Lover of His enemies.” – Oswald Chambers


There's no secret I have a favorite on this trip.
His smile and laugh grabbed me within the first 20 minutes of entering the orphanage.
This kid is a firecracker...wherever I am, he always seems to show up.
Outside with the older kids....he's there....inside with the infants, he comes swaggering in for lunch....and comes right to me with arms UP.



Of course, as soon as I felt comfortable, I asked about his adoption status. I was told details that I can't share publicly,  but the fact is, this child will never be eligible for a family.
 
It is, in fact, impossible.


On day one of this trip blog, I said there were two ways that these kids would hear the Gospel.
 
One, by being adopted by families who live and shout Jesus with their lives.
 
Two, by people coming to them.

22 children of our orphanage are currently available for International adoption.  Close to a dozen on top of those, are already matched and waiting for parents to come. They represent the first group.

He represents the second.



This kid.
He represents
 millions.
147 million orphans worldwide in
Asia, Africa, Haiti, South America.... and only a 
tiny
fraction are available for adoption.


Jesus said, in Matthew 25, "whatever you do for the least of these, you do it to me"
Today, I go to tickle one of the least of these.
I got to see him cry for the first time, and while the nannys ignored him, scooped him up and 
rocked him, noticing he was patting his diaper area....he just needed to potty and didn't want 
to wet his pants.... Rushed him to a potty seat and the smiles returned.



 I got to give him a sucker and watch as he didn't bite it like most American kids do...
he licked it for 15 minutes till there wasn't a grain of sugar left on the stick.


He doesn't understand that Jesus loves him.
He's still too young.
But he will one day. If people who say they love Jesus,
are willing to step outside their comfort zones,
eat some nasty food and travel around the world,
leave their families and their smells and all familiarity
and GO.

To the least of these.
And if the "least of these" to you means you tollerate
your neighbors kids,
you need to have this baby boy grab your cheeks and get as close to you
as he can.....HE is the least of these.

 
Luke 10:36-37
"Jesus asked, which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked? The man replied,
"the one who showed him mercy."
Then Jesus said,
"Yes, GO now and DO the same."





Lost in Translation {Day 6, Part 2)

Ok, now for a little light post after the heavy hit :)

Let me attempt to set this scene for you.

On one hand: 12 Americans that speak close to zero Chinese. With the help of Shaun and Anna, and my little *tiny* knowledge, we can  say  attempt the following words/ phrases:

*I love you
*sit down
*let's GO!
*sucker
*count to three
*Little sister/brother/big sister/brother
*NO (omgosh we say this about 347 times a day to the little wild men!)
*mama/baba

In the other hand, a sweet amazing guide that hasn't the greatest handle on the English language. In a city where roughly .000000012% of the population speak English. #thatsus

SO.

You can see, our ability to communicate is limited to say the least. Ok, next to non-existent.

Just a few funnies that have come out of this process:

*saying the Lokey's son's name in the van...and our guide saying "POTATO!" .....huh? "You say, "Ju-dao" that means, potato!"
So basically the Lokey's named their kid Potato Lokey.  Great job, guys.
(his name is Judah:)

*Asking our guide why there are bars on all the windows of the apartments. Mind you, we've been asking this for several days, with no clear answer. Finally, she responds with "Those are not bars, those are restaurants and houses" So apparently we've been asking about a BAR for days....nice.

*the biggest whammy of them all came tonight at Mcdonalds. YES MCDONALDS. The Lord heard our prayers!!!!!!!! Some of us were hitting a wall, including me, with the food. It's hard. How hard? Some of the selections we had yesterday were: cow stomach, tendons, fat (yes, boiled fat) boiled tofu, fish balls, muscles, sushi......see? WALL.


 So we head to mcdonalds, and about half of the team orders, through our guide, 10 piece chicken nugget meals.
Bless.
We ended up with 24 BOXES of 5 piece nuggets. They gave everyone two full 5 piece meals.....so we left with about 10 boxes of nuggets, 10 extra drinks and 10 extra fries.....

Congratulations team, we have affirmed their stereotypes of fat Americans.
Americans, we are so sorry.
The Chinese believe we're all overweight and eat KFC and MCD every day....and the 12 of us just ordered 8 double cheesburgers, 1 big mac, 21 orders of fries, 21 cokes, and 24 boxes of chicken nuggets.
Anna reminded us that when the Israelites begged for meat and had a hissy fit, the Lord send quail and they ate so much it came out their noses....welp, we BEGGED for American food, and
WE
GOT
IT.
(this was the leftovers)





Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Field Trip!! {Day 5}

Imagine the JOY on our faces this morning sitting in the lobby when the orphanage van pulled up FULL of kids!!! They were waving and squeeling as we loaded up for a field trip! The driver took us on about a 45 drive through the city and over a large river. We got out and realized we were at a temple.  Not just a small temple. A very large, ornate one with hundreds of gods. There were people there worshiping and making offerings. Let me say in all honesty, to the eyes it was very beautiful. Full of color and details. Built into a hillside with amazing views.

BUT

I've never felt more spiritual darkness in my life. I told Lori, it was hard to breathe inside. Hundreds of gods. People bringing offerings of food. Burning incense. So I just sang...outloud, "How Great is OUR GOD" over and over. I reminded the team members with me of  1 John 4:4,"He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world"..the Holy Spirit that dwells in ME is greater than every.single. one of those pieces of concrete they worship. I know that as ticked off as the enemy was that the Holy Spirit was all up in there, breaking up his party, and there wasn't a thing he could do about it....because we are in Christ, things have to go through Him first....He was our SHIELD in that place today!!!!










I talked some about the spiritual warfare that was happening surrounding this trip. It's still on. My camera is broken.

Yep.

The devil tries to get us where he *thinks* we'll break. And he knows I love my camera. And he knows what i'm going to do with the pictures. And he knows that they are telling a story of this place and he hates it.  The issue is a simple fix in the US, but not here. But it's just a camera. (Right, Kimberly Ann??) And the Lord doesn't need me or that camera to get His message out. And Lori let me use her dslr today...see? Just like that, my God came through!!!!

Then.

When I left the temple today, my iphone totally went dead.  With full battery it was dead and wouldn't come on.  I told Anna "he's really trying isn't he?" We were riding on the bus. I slipped it into my bag and thought, no sir. Not going to be shaken. Bring it on. The Lord is right beside me. (Psalm 16:8) After several minutes I pulled it out and handed it to her. She powered it right up. She said, "now go take the best darn iphone pics the devil has ever seen!!!"

After we left we headed to lunch! We pulled over on the side of the road and I was a little in shock at the place we were walking into.


But the food was actually really good and seeing the children enjoy their food......PRICE.LESS. They probably eat rice porridge every single day. THIS was a treat. They ate circles around us all. What an experience....full bellies on GOOD food.....worth the smell, the fungas soup AND the hole in the floor toilet. i'd eat there every meal if we got to bring them along just to see them eat.

We take so.much.for.granted.

Our afternoon was filled with baby time! Play time with the little ones and feeding them dinner. Oh my heart. What I wouldn't give to be there everyday feeding those precious babies rice porridge. I wasn't ready to leave when it was time to go. I just wanted to stay and put them to bed....maybe play some music and rock them. There's not a rocking chair in sight. There is always a nanny right by...but a nanny is not a mama. They need mamas.  And daddy's. And sisters and brothers and hugs and tickles and nighttime prayers and boo boo kissers. Oh Lord, break us. It's so easy to see His heart when you hold one of these precious children. It's like a one way ticket straight to the middle.

SO SO thankful for your prayers. PLEASE do not stop.

Emily