Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why Sundays are the Hardest.....

What a whirlwind the last two weeks have been. On Wednesday, October 15, we signed  papers and bought a house! Yes, Zack and I have done this several times in the past, but never in a different state than Kentucky.....not much was different in terms of the paperwork, but it was a strange feeling knowing we had bought a house in a town where we really don't know anyone. It was the like the final piece making this whole thing seem real!

The weekend before we close, Zack and I had driven to London with the kids on Friday night, got up Saturday morning and packed a Penske truck, then drove back to Charleston the same day. It was a quick and hard trip. Not something I want to do again. But, in the long run it saved a lot of money, as everything packed in the Penske truck was less the movers had to pack and bring, and that is where the savings came in :)  So, on the day we closed, we had a Penske truck packed full of our things to unload, and the movers brought the rest the following day. My mom's cousin's daughter and I connected on Facebook, and we found out that she lives very close in the next subdivision! She and her husband were so kind and offered to help us unload the truck on Wednesday. She also took the kids over to her house and let them hang out so we could get some work done. Also, on that same day, my parents came into town to help out. I was so excited for them to see our house and well of course just to seem them!! So we had a great crew of helpers, and got the truck completely unloaded Wednesday evening. The next morning the movers showed up and brought in boxes as fast as they could. All of our furniture, boxes, everything we owned was either in the garage or our house in about two hours. Needless to say, it was two hours of total chaos.

That same week one of my dad's favorite cousins also happened to be in town! They were so gracious and on Thursday night (the day the movers came) brought us a wonderful dinner. It was so nice to see them and the dinner was much appreciated. She brought me a sweet framed reminder of My Ole' Kentucky home, and brought all the kids UK apparel....definitely needed down here!

We truly have felt very blessed with the help, support, and love we have been shown over the last couple weeks. We could not have gotten moved in and settled in the short amount of time we did without the help and thoughtfulness of so many. So a big thanks to all who have helped and prayed!!

We have spent the last week unpacking, painting, organizing,  changing out light fixtures, decorating,  and taking things to Goodwill. God help me not to buy anything else I DON'T NEED!!  We really love our neighborhood and our house. It is actually less space than we had in London, but I honestly think the space we have meets the needs of our family just as well, if not better, in most ways.  We don't have a huge yard, but the yard we do have is flat (of course, this is South Carolina :) and we are very close to our community pool and playground, and there is a huge field to play soccer, baseball, etc. So all we have to do is hop on our bikes and we are there in a jiffy! Speaking of bikes, it's a great neighborhood for bike riding as well. So here is the house....I think it looks more fancy and bigger than it really is. It is an older home, just a comfortable house. I don't have any pictures of the inside of the house to share yet....but soon :) We really love it and feel very blessed to have found it.

My amazing inlaws were here with us almost the entire week and were a HUGE help. We painted our kitchen (which wasn't as easy as it sounds because it was covered with wallpaper :) installed several light fixtures and ceiling fans, and of course checked out downtown and Charleston's amazing parks. They left today after church, and we all already miss them. We had a great time.

Speaking of church, today was the third time we have visited Summerville Baptist Church. The church is about 15 minutes from our house, right in the heart of downtown Summerville. It is a fairly large church, with two church services and soon to be two Sunday School hours. It is a very traditional Southern Baptist Church, so Zack and I feel right at home in that regard. We have felt very welcome at Summerville Baptist, and the kids love it. No tears at all for Emmie, which we honestly think God used to help us decide between this church and another church we had visited. The minute we would pull into the parking lot at the other church, Emmie would break into tears. There was no rhyme or reason for this! But at Summerville,  Emmie just walked in, went straight into her class, and said "bye mom!". We have attended Sunday School each Sunday we have visited and the class is a good size group of 30 somethings, all that are in the same season of life as us. They have children's church for the kids, and Awana on Sunday nights, which the kids absolutely love. It has been fun watching them get excited about putting God's Word into their hearts. We haven't made it to a Wednesday night service yet, but they have a church choir and they practice on Wednesday nights (a must for me :) and the kids also have music and missions on Wednesday nights. Oh, and they have a church softball team (a must for Zack). Most importantly, we have found the teaching to be very Theologically sound.

So why did I title this post "Why Sundays are the Hardest"?  I just told you what a great place our new home is and how great Summerville Baptist is, and what good experiences we have had here. What is hard about it? This is what is hard about it- On Sundays, I am reminded of this:

These people are not here! 

And come to think of it,  lots of other people we love aren't here these people....

And these......

And of course these....

  Zack and I both agree, we are in some type of grieving season right now. We are faking it for our kids....I mean, they know we miss our friends, but we don't mope around and cry all the time. We try to be positive and encourage them, because they are doing awesome!  But inside, we feel a huge hole. I am not sure if everyone has such a special group of church friends, co-workers, and high school buddies like we have been blessed with, but I have to think it is a pretty special, once in lifetime (or maybe twice in a lifetime :) kind of thing.  They are the kind of friends that you want to have for the rest of your life. They are the kind of friends that you want your kids to grow up with so they can have friendships with their kids. They are the kind of friends that know you and still love you. They are the kind of friends that right now, seem like we will never have again. I know what you are thinking- you'll make new friends. And yes, I know that God is faithful and is capable of bringing new and wonderful relationships into our lives. He can do whatever He wants, and I do trust that He will meet all our needs.  And I even believe that He is using their absences to create character in us that wouldn't have happened otherwise. But these friends will never be replaced. A piece of our hearts will always be with them, and with our church body at First Baptist London- we miss all of you terribly! 

Zack and I both know God desires to work in our lives here in South Carolina. We are trusting Him to grow us, mold us, and lead us. He already has through this time of separation from family and friends. We are relying on Him more and more each day to guide and direct us as to how He desires for our family to serve Him where He has planted us. We have decided the only way to go about this is to go "all in" here in South Carolina, whether it is for a few years, or for the rest of our lives. So we plan to get involved in every way we can- church, school, community. We want to give God our best and let Him lead us. So many of you have texted or emailed to let us know you are praying for our family as we transition. To think that you would pray for us is just overwhelming and we feel so blessed. Thanks for your prayers. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Beauty of Charleston and Giving God our Dreams!

 One thing you can't deny about Charleston is that it is a beautiful place.....

 Especially downtown. The architecture and attention to detail of the homes, shops, landscaping, etc. It is lovely. Picturesque is a good way to describe it. The water is serene and tranquil (hopefully most of the time, anyway). I can definitely see why people like to visit Charleston, and some decide to call it "home". Now, as you probably know, I am still up in the air about whether or not I would ever want to call Charleston home, but one thing that the Lord has shown me over this last week is that my attitude needs to reflect the reality that for now (and until further notice) it is our home, and there is something great, wonderful, and God ordained  for our family here. Through prayer, daily devotions and Bible readings, God has shown me that He is ready and willing to do great things through our family in Charleston, if we will but only ask! Consider this thought from one of my daily devotion readings from the magazine Journey: "If we get to know God and His perfect and loving character, we'll joyfully release our dreams into his mighty hands and wait with great anticipation to see what He'll do with them".  I realized that I have not been releasing anything since we arrived here, and especially not joyfully. You see, I have realized it all comes down to how I view God, and if I truly trust Him. If I view him correctly, as the loving Father He is, then I have no reason to not put my full trust in Him, and that includes my hopes and dreams! Consider Jesus' words in Matthew 7, verses 9-11: "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" 

It struck me as I read this passage how much I love to give gifts to my children. I love to see their reaction, their smile, their excitement. But even my best attempts to give good gifts do not come close to comparing to what God desires to give us as His children. Now I am not speaking of material blessings, though sometimes we are blessed in that fashion, but I am talking about the abundant Christian life- a life that is so much more than possessions and earthly things. A life that has eternal purpose and value.  I am asking God to each day help me to release my dreams for this sort of abundant life to Him, trusting that He loves me beyond my comprehension, and desires to work in and through me, for His glory.

This past week we had a wonderful visit from my mom and her best friend, Belinda. The visit came at just the right time as my homesickness had seemed to peak the day before they came. We had a great time visiting the quaint downtown of Summerville and its many boutiques and unique stores, checking out the awesome consignment and Goodwill stores (and they are awesome!), driving through the many subdivisions,  and of course exploring downtown Charleston. We tried out a great seafood restaurant downtown called the Noisy Oyster. Very yummy.

In just a few days both my parents will be here as we will be moving into our home. We are all excited to have the chance to be able to run and scream and "spread out" once again. The kids have been troopers over these last several weeks and have had to learn a new type of respect when it comes to apartment living. If you know my kids you know they tend to be loud and rough and tough, and you just can't do that in an apartment with neighbors all around (we found out the hard way....a couple times :) I am very proud of them for being so flexible and patient as we have waited to move. I am very proud of them in general. They continue to get up every morning bright and early like troopers, and have great stories to tell me when I pick them up. They are making friends and challenge me to have as positive of an attitude as they do!

I promised to write about our experiences visiting churches here, and I will definitely do that in the next post. We have had good experiences and have been treated very kindly, but have found that Sundays make us the most homesick of all day. We love and miss our church family. More to come on that soon.....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Starting Week Three in Charleston....

We are starting week three in Charleston!!! Everyone is doing well and though we are still homesick, things are becoming somewhat more normal. I thought I would write just a quick post to show you a little about what our life has looked like since the big this post mainly the kids schools and where we are currently living.

Let's start with where we live. We have been living in temporary housing since we got here. We live in a 2 bedroom (mostly furnished) apartment in Summerville, South Carolina. It is about 3 miles from our new home (we will be closing in a little over a week....yipee!!), and about 5 miles from Caleb and Noah's school, and about 7 miles from Emmie's school. It is close to lots and lots of shopping centers, restaurants, name it! So it is a very convenient location. We live on the third floor, so carrying bicycles up and down has been quite a work out(we need it!). Though it is small (only about 800 sq. feet), our family has had a great time here. There is a community pool and playground, and the kids like riding their bikes here. Lots of bonding :) Here are some pictures:

Next, the kids schools- Noah and Caleb attend Eagle Nest Elementary. There are over 900 students in K-5! It's huge!! School starts here at 7:25, and dismisses at 2:10. Charleston is a very, very diverse area, which is awesome. There are children from a wide range of ethnic groups in the boys' classes. I or Zack take them to school each morning. Even though our apartment is only about 5 miles away, it takes about 45 minutes round trip due to the traffic. Very crazy!!

Here is a picture of their school:

Emmie just attended her new school, Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary School,  for the first time this past Friday. She received speech services back home in London, and she will continue to do so here in South Carolina, thankfully. There were no spots available at the boys' school, so this school is the next closest school to where we live that also can offer Emmie the speech services she needs.

Many of you know the difficulties Emmie had when beginning preschool in London last fall. I was very concerned that this would be a tough transition for her, but the day before she started she went in and met her teachers and saw her classroom and did great! Her first day went just as well! She walked into the school like she had been there all along, went into her classroom and was ready for breakfast. I am so amazed by the progress she has made in a little over year. She had a great first day on Friday and is ready to go back tomorrow. In South Carolina, the 4K program is only half days, so Emmie still gets to spend time with mommy too :) I like that. Emmie's school is a little smaller than the boys' school, but still has over 700 students! From our apartment, it takes me about one hour to take Emmie to school and come back home. Really crazy!  Here is a picture of Emmie's new school, her classroom, and of Emmie on her first day:

The way in which the kids have adjusted to their new schools has been a such an amazing thing. We are so thankful and thank God for answering our prayer for our children! Noah was even invited to a birthday party this past weekend by a classmate- he had a great time. Caleb tells stories everyday when I pick him up about what he and his new buddy, Luis, have been doing at recess. Though we know they still very much miss their friends from home, it is a huge relief to see them talk with such enthusiasm about their new experiences.

Our next challenge/adventure is to find a church to call home. The past 2 Sundays we have visited two different churches....more to come on that next time.

Thanks for all the prayers and encouraging texts, emails, and Facebook messages. They mean so much!

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Are We Doing Here?

This past Monday I was sitting by a pool in an apartment complex in Summerville, South Carolina, watching my kids swimming. They were having a great time, the only ones in the pool. I was sitting under an umbrella in the 90 degree heat wondering to myself, “What are we doing here!!!???””

Of course, I knew what we were doing here. Zack had received an amazing career opportunity that we both felt God leading him to take (short answer). That is why I was sitting by the pool this past Monday in Summerville, South Carolina. We had moved to South Carolina. We moved to South Carolina???!!!! What??!!!! Moved from our wonderful, small town of London, Kentucky, a place that I had lived my entire 32 years of life, and a place that Zack and our kiddos had come to love. We moved from London to a place that neither of us had ever even set foot in until about a month ago. A place with really hot, humid weather( I love fall and winter and SNOW) , no hills or mountains (I love the mountains), no one that we really know,  no family, no emotional connection to the state, or anything affiliated with it (i.e. the Gamecocks ), no Kroger( I love my Kroger and especially my Kroger pharmacist J ) . You get the picture…I could have gone on and on that day. Reality had set in. This was our new home. But it sure didn’t feel like home that day (still doesn’t, of course….it’s only been a week!).  

So how did we actually end up here? Well the long answer makes more sense. The long answer is what I have to keep reminding myself of. You see, at the beginning of this year, I felt God leading me to pray Psalm 90:17 “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us-- yes, establish the work of our hands”. I wasn’t sure in what way God was going to do this, all I knew what that I desperately wanted Him, and Him alone to be the one to lead our family.

As the year went on, Zack and I decided to try and sell our home….just test the waters. As with almost all the homes we have owned, this home was bought as a foreclosure, and we had done some updates to the home in hopes of one day selling it to make a profit. We listed our house the first week of June, and just asked God to be in control. We in no way imagined that we would be moving to a new town, just a new house! I have to be honest, I was doubtful we would be able to sell our home and make the profit we wanted, but 23 days after being on the market, we had an acceptable offer and contract. We had looked at many houses in London, just in case our home did sell, and after about a month had found a home we loved. It was for sale by owner, in a great neighborhood, had just about everything we wanted and in our price range! Seemed perfect. We met with the owner the first time, and made an offer.  The owner countered back in a couple days with an offer we were willing to accept. We met to sign the contract, but after an hour of meeting, the owner just “wasn’t sure” if they could sign it. We said we understood, and that we would happily give them more time. We even offered to pay full asking price, even a little more, because we liked the house that much. To make a long story short, over the next couple weeks we met two more times in an attempt to sign the contract, but the owner never was able to sign! Didn’t have peace about it, wasn’t sure, etc.  We couldn’t figure it out. In all our experience with buying and selling homes, we had never experienced anything like it.

Then came a call to Zack a few days before we were set to close on the home we were selling. From out of nowhere he received a call from a recruiter wanting to know if he was interested in a position with an Electrical Distributor in Charleston, South Carolina. Zack thought the timing was pretty interesting, and wanted to know my thoughts. I encouraged him to at least check it out, as the timing of everything going on in our lives was definitely very interesting. He called the recruiter and told him he would be interested in at least finding out more, and in a couple days they had set up a phone interview for Zack and the manager of the office in Charleston. The phone interview took place on the same day that we closed on our house. Zack sat in the driveway in his car and talked to the guy for almost an hour. The next day the recruiter called Zack and asked him if he would be interested in coming down for a face to face interview. They wanted to fly Zack down to Charleston, but Zack, being the smart guy he is, knew I would want to come too J So, we drove. Zack’s interview lasted about 4 hours, and soon as he got in the car, I could tell by looking at t\his face that he was pretty excited. The opportunity he had been presented was simply amazing. On the ride home we talked about our options, and I remember the moment that I knew we were moving. We had been quiet for a while, and then Zack said, “Rebecca, this opportunity could help our family by leaps and bounds…..” I knew he was right.  We spent the weekend praying about it, and when the final offer came to Zack the following week, we both felt a peace in saying “yes”.  

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of trips to Charleston to look for homes, packing, scheduling last minute appointments, and the toughest part, lots of hard good-byes.

Leaving our family and friends and our church family has been a very tough thing. Very tough. Like lots of tears and crying tough. It’s like the lyrics from one of Toby Mac’s songs, “You never know what you got ‘till it’s gone”. Of course, we knew how awesome our friends and family and church were, but I guess not having them physically in our lives has made us appreciate them all the more. They will always be a huge part of us, and their influence will always be felt. Our last Sunday at church was such a special time that it brings me to tears to even think about it. We have been incredibly blessed by the relationships that God gave us while in London (and I am secretly, well, okay, I guess not so secretly now J praying that God will eventually lead us back, if He so wills).
Leaving London meant leaving everything that was comfortable. And, in the big picture, that probably isn’t such a bad thing, but it sure doesn’t feel that good right now. I have had multiple times when the Lord has told me that this life isn’t about being comfortable and feeling safe. I guess this is what that feels like.  I know in the long run it will produce a close family bond, grow our faith and trust, in the Lord and his leading, and teach us resilience and perseverance.

Even though I am quite homesick, we know God is up to something by moving us here, and I am very interested in seeing just what that might be…..I will keep you posted!
For now, some pictures from our first week in Charleston. More to come soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Someone Had To Have Made A Mistake....One Year After Meeting Emmie.....

One year ago today I surely thought someone had made a mistake. Either Zack and I had incorrectly heard the voice of God calling us to adopt our third child, a daughter from China, or (and I know this will sound blasphemous, but it is how I felt a year ago today) God had led us to the wrong child. This is what I was thinking one year ago today in a hot, crowded building in Nanning, China.

In this hot and crowded building, a screaming, kicking, biting, spitting, (and everything else you could imagine) adorable three year old little girl was experiencing a tremendous amount of grief, fear, and anger as she watched her only caregivers walk out a door to never return. She was  left with two strange looking white people, and she was not happy. I won’t recount the experience that we all encountered the next few days (you can read it in the blog if you are interested ;), but let’s just say it was filled with lots of crying (by everyone), being confined to our hotel room, and lots of prayers, prayers, prayers. Those first few days with Emmie I was convinced that our lives would never again be the same. And one year later, I have found that I am right. Because of the blessing of a precious girl named Emmie Grace Caldwell, our lives have been filled with more joy, love, laughter and excitement than we could have ever imagined, and our lives will never be the same.  

I do want to share with you all the strides that Emmie has made,  but  what I wish I could communicate to you more than anything is how loving and sovereign God is, and how He has designed adoption to be the process that unites children and families. I am convinced of this now more than ever.  

Emmie finished 8 months of preschool this past May. She started with a very, very hesitant spirit, but finished absolutely loving preschool. She has learned a tremendous amount and is speaking English now, though still with a cute Chinese accent. Most people still can’t understand  what she says, but her family can, so that works out well J She will be starting speech therapy when she returns to preschool in the fall.  
Her personality and the affection she shows to her friends and family are beyond what we could have ever imagined those first weeks in China and first few months home. She is caring, thoughtful, compassionate and concerned. On the opposite end of the spectrum, she also has plenty of attitude to go around and says some of the most hilarious things and has some of the most expressive faces.  Things are never boring around our home! 

She loves her church, and especially her friends and teachers she has come to know. She is always ready with a smile and hug to greet everyone.  Though her first few months at church I could hardly leave her side, she now runs around the entire church like she has been there her entire life. It is beautiful to see!

Her best friends are undoubtedly her brothers, Caleb and Noah. They are her playmates, helpers, and of course the source of her greatest frustration at times.  I can assure you they have a very normal brother/sister relationship! It has been challenging at times to navigate the interactions between the three of them, and she and Caleb have an especially challenging relationship at times. But overall their love for one another always wins out….it just may drive everyone crazy in the process!

I am honestly at a bit of a loss for words for what else to say, for fear of sounding cliché…but here I go.  Being Emmie’s parents has kind of been like being the gardener of a very fragile flower that was uprooted from its original garden, and placed in a whole new land. It has taken lots of care, cultivation, pruning, and attention. It has taken lots and lots of help from the “Master Gardener”. It has taken patience as we have passed through different seasons, and with the changing of each season we have experienced new growth, and new challenges.  We have seen this fragile flower blossom into a strong, vibrant, confident, and beautiful flower, now at home in its new garden and with its new caretakers.  Emmie’s Chinese name means “beautiful/lovely flower”. And that is truly what she is.

 I am so inexpressibly thankful that we didn’t give up, and that Emmie didn’t give up on us. The thought of what our lives would be like without this little girl is too terrible for me to imagine. And yet one year ago, sitting in our hotel room, I was quite certain, somewhere along the line, a mistake had been made. Turns out, I was the mistaken one!  Thank God for the prayers and support of our family and friends, and for God’s guidance, grace, comfort and peace during those first few days.

 God was, is, and will always be in control and sovereign even if we don’t feel it, or at times don’t even want to believe it. God always finds a way to work for the good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28), and are called according to His purpose.  As we have found, that doesn’t always mean the “working’ is easy, fun, or what we might have imagined or planned for, but it is always for the good.
Which leads me to my final point- Adoption is good! It is soooo good!  Adoption is hard and challenging and painful at times. But adoption is good, because it is what God has chosen to use to unite children with families. Families that can give children the love they were created to have!  If you need convinced of this, look up James 1:27 for the definition of what “true religion” is. Read the parable of the “Sheep and Goats” in Matthew 25 and see who Jesus  identifies with.

 As I type this post, at this very moment, I could show you the pictures of thousands of children around the world, and here in the USA who are waiting, just like Emmie, Caleb, and Noah all were, just like I was at one time, to be adopted. They are waiting for someone to give them the love that only a family can. I am beyond thankful for the care and attention all my children were given in the orphanages and transition homes they lived in before coming to their forever homes, but nothing can replace the God created role and relationship of a family.  

I know what you are thinking. It is scary. It is risky. There are no guarantees. And that would be a 100% true statement, at least from our experience. Every adoption we have been scared at times. Every adoption we have had to take some type of risk. And every adoption we signed papers releasing agencies and governments from lots of guarantees.  It is a step of faith. And there is no way around that!

But here is another 100% true statement: If we, the Church, the body of believers who claim to love God and love others, do not begin to do something to bring orphans into families, an entire generation of children are going to grow up without ever having known the love and meaning of a family. Just think for a moment about all that being in a family entails and the meaning it brings to our lives (the good and bad). Now imagine millions of children never knowing anything of family life. This is the current reality of our country and world if nothing changes in terms of orphan care/adoption.

So now I ask you- would you be willing to intentionally pray for a time about how God would have you and your family to respond to the orphans in our world? 

Zack made a statement once that has stuck with me and it basically went like this: It sometimes seems like couples and families that want to have children and children that desperately need a mom and dad and a family are like ships in the night, just passing one another by.

Why is this, when there is this beautiful thing called “adoption”, that can unite families and children?  May God lead us to trust Him and believe in His word as we prayerfully examine this question.

To all our family (especially our parents, Glenn & Linda Toney and Mark & Punky Caldwell) and to our amazing friends and family and our awesome church family at First Baptist Church, London, we could not have blossomed and grown as a family without your love, prayers, and friendship over this past year. Thank you for all you have done for our family, and especially for Emmie.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

6 Months with Emmie.....

Today marks half of a year with Emmie. It seems like just yesterday that we were dealing with the disappointment of being delayed to get Emmie, then flying to Beijing, then meeting a very sad girl .

I remember being in China longing for months to have already passed, in hopes that Emmie would have adjusted to her new family and that we wouldn’t be experiencing the same things in 6 months that we were currently experiencing in China! Now, 6 months later, Emmie has transitioned into our family more wonderfully than we could EVER have imagined during those turbulent first weeks.  

It may sound cliché, but she is hardly the same child that we met in China. Though we certainly saw glimpses of fear and grief for the first months, we now only see them from time to time. Emmie is such a funny, sweet, and affectionate girl. Sometimes I look at her and and just wonder what we ever did without her! She brings so much life to our family!

She has gone through so many changes in these last 6 months, as have the rest of our family members. She now is the “baby” and has two brothers, while Caleb and Noah are now both big brothers and have had to learn how sensitive and delicate (at times) a little sister can be.  For the most part the three of them have bonded and fit in together wonderfully, but there have been some very challenging times for all three as well. But through it all, when we look at them, we can’t help but feel that our family is complete, and has been totally woven together through God’s leading.

Since being home, Emmie has started preschool, probably one of the biggest challenges she has faced other than learning to trust her new family. She was very hesitant and resistant to the idea initially,  but thankfully, over the course of about 8 weeks, she slowly has transitioned into attending preschool 4 days a week, is making friends, and is learning so much.  It is a true praise to see her walk hand in hand with her brothers into school every morning.  She also loves her church family and friends and her Sunday School class. Again, this was a slow transition for Emmie, but she now tells me “bye”, gives me a kiss and off she goes!  Such a miracle!

Emmie’s English is also progressing quite well. She is quite a talker and is learning new words everyday. Her brothers have helped many people,  (including mom and dad) understand Emmie’s “Chenglish” as we call it. These days it is becoming much more like English that Chenglish.  Some of her favorite statements: “No more!”, “Okay, okay”, “I don’t know, maybe”, “It dark…goodnight?”, and my favorite, “I lub de too”  (I love you too).

As I am sure is the case for any other family of five, life with three kids is crazy! Most days are a whirlwind.  My house isn’t really clean that often, and laundry is a continuous process J But there are more laughs, tickles, chases, and hide n’ seek nights than ever before, and for that, we give God all the Praise.  We are learning to have a new sense of “normal” . Our desire is for our “normal” to be one that focuses on the joy we receive from being Children of God, one that cherishes each moment (despite if that moment may be changing two beds full of pee and doing laundry at midnight ;)  one that seeks to guide our children into the Truth of Jesus Christ, and one that above all else, is full of grace.

The last 6 months have been full of triumps,  as well as tough times- there is no way for me to cover them all in this post! The one thing I can say, today, without a doubt- I would do it all again. I look forward to each day. I am very blessed.  We give God all the Glory.

Through all the changes of learning to be a family of five, we have learned so much about what God desires for us as a family that seeks to follow Christ, especially how much grace Zack and I both need as parents! There are so many attributes of God that I am beyond thankful for, but the one that seems to be most prominent to me in this season life is God’s mercy He bestows, new (thankfully), with each morning.

Merry Christmas! Hopefully Emmie will get a chance to enjoy her first taste of sleigh riding and making snow angels this season….fingers crossed!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness”

Lamentations 3:22-23


Monday, July 8, 2013

Three Weeks With Emmie

Three weeks with Emmie……

I actually had to look at the calendar today to make sure that I was counting correctly…..three weeks since we first met our daughter! Three weeks since we watched her lay in the floor and scream, cry, and kick at the thought of being with us. It truly does not seem as if three weeks could have already passed since that day.
There is  no way that we could have imagined the current state of our life with Emmie three weeks ago.  Three weeks ago we were just wondering how to get through each minute with her, let alone hours, days or weeks. Three weeks ago we were laying on our bed in a hotel room in Nanningpraying for wisdom as Emmie had cried herself to sleep in front of our hotel door- this was the farthest she could get away from us. She would not allow us to provide any consolation or to even approach her.  

God has shown us what we thought was impossible is actually possible in a shorter amount of time than we ever thought possible! Here are just a few “impossible” things we have experienced in our short three weeks with Emmie:

-Emmie wants to be carried by “mama” several times each day!

-Emmie wakes up smiling and giggling

-Emmie is beginning to let “baba” and mama give her kisses and will even give us kisses (sometimes)

-Emmie loves her brothers to pieces, but they love her even more!

-Emmie is beginning to sit with us during storytime and is allowing us to read to her

-Emmie is beginning to be able to go into public places without any major “meltdowns"

-Emmie is telling us “good night” in English as bedtime (most of the time….we still have a couple tears some nights)

Yesterday a friend who is also in the adoption process and whom has already experienced much heartache while she and her family wait for their precious daughter posted this on her Facebook page: God often waits until conditions appear impossible in order to remind us that nothing is impossible for Him- Dr. Tj Betts
For our family, this sums up our adoption experience not only with Emmie’s adoption, but also with Caleb and Noah’s adoption, albeit in different ways. God brings us to a place where we can only exist in and through Him. Where each hour of each day we must seek Him to continue to press on. Somehow I think that this must be how God desires for our entire lives to be. Not that he wants us to experience constant hardships, but rather that no matter what we are experiencing, valleys or mountain tops, we experience it with Him as the Lord of our lives.

I will end this post with two pictures. The first is Emmie the first day we met her, after she had cried herself to sleep by our motel door. The second is Emmie tonight, sleeping peacefully in her own bed, in her own room. She went to bed tonight willingly and with no tears. As I left her room, she said in her very best English/Chinese, “Good night. Love you”.

I know that in the big scheme of things, we still have many issues to work on. I know there will be more sleepless nights, more breakdowns in public , more attachment issues- I know that, and we are continuing to grow, pray and learn. But for now, for three weeks with our girl, we are feeling pretty blessed. We are in a good place. God has done great things in all our lives and hearts. Grace has been shown mightily to us.