Thursday, November 20, 2008

celebrating Sara's special day!

Two years ago today, we met our youngest daughter for the first time in Tianjin, China (about 1.5 hours away from Beijing.) That morning, she left behind her friends and care providers at LangFang Children's Village in order to be returned to her home orphanage (pictured below.)

KangXia spent the first three months of her life at the orphanage and was blessed to spend the next 15 months being loved on and cared for by the wonderful people with the Philip Hayden Foundation.

While we know the day was especially sweet for us, it was extremely traumatic for our little girl. When she was placed in my arms she was very upset and afraid. She immediately began to wail loudly. It was so very sad. Within minutes, however, she quickly settled into the protective arms of her forever Daddy and fell asleep.

Once we were back in our hotel room, Sara allowed me to hold her close while she moved her eyes timidly back and forth between the two of us. Clutched in her left hand was what appeared to be a sticky snack, shaped in a ball and made of cereal.

Realizing she was probably hungry, our guide suggested that we order a bowl of congee and steamed egg from room service. Sara quickly perked up when the food arrived. After eating a very large meal, Sara began to show us her adorable personality. She was smiling, laughing and walking around our room within the first hour.

Those first few hours with Sara are forever etched in my mind and heart, just as the births of my two older children are. It's definitely a different experience, however, when you "give birth" to a walking, talking eighteen-month-old in a foreign country. :-)

Sara's journey has not been easy for her. The many losses and trauma she experienced in her first 18 months definitely left a mark. I'm so thankful that God brought her home to us and has given us the wisdom and grace to help her little heart heal. He has also surprised us by using Sara to help our own hearts heal and grow in ways we never expected.

I was reflecting the other day on the true miracle of adoption. My heart feels as though it has been stretched in such a unique way. Not only do I have a love for my precious girl, but I have a love for all of my adoptive friends' children. Not only do I have a passion for adoption in China, but worldwide. Not only do I have a desire to help my own children learn and grow, but I desire to reach out to other children in need and bless them, if even in a small way.

When I hear about orphaned children or families suffering from disease, poverty and war, my heart physically aches and longs to do something to help them. There is something that was planted within my spirit three years ago when we answered God's calling on our family to adopt and it continues to grow and blossom in beautiful ways.

Today as we celebrate and remember Sara's adoption into our hearts and lives, I thank God for the incredible gift and blessing He has entrusted us with.

Whether you are a friend of our family, or someone just dropping by to check out my blog today, I would love to have you leave a quick message or prayer for Sweet Sara. Thank you for helping us celebrate a very special day. :-)

On the way to pick up her Dad tonight, Sara excitedly remarked, "I'm gonna tell my Daddy that I have a 'Gotcha Day!'" Too cute.

Below are some of my favorite pictures of our "Gotcha Day" as well as a recent picture I snapped of Miss Sara to show how far she's come along.

Wishing you sweet blessings. I'm SO thankful to be LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

40 days

Over the past several years, friends and mentors have encouraged me to pray over my children while they're sleeping. Every time the suggestion has come up, I've always thought what a great idea it was and planned to do so. Ah, but isn't it sad how the best intentions sometimes just never seem to come to pass?

As I've shared in past posts, each of our precious children have different struggles that make their daily lives (and ours) challenging. Our decision to teach them at home is birthed out of a deep desire to give them the very best in their lives. Our goal is to not only nurture their minds, but also their hearts and spirits.

We have spent years following the advice of specialists to help our children's bodies and souls heal and grow so that they would be able to enjoy a life of health, peace and joy. It has most definitely not been an easy process, but as I say at the end of each post, our lives are extremely blessed.

During the past week, Geoff and I have finally come to the realization that our very best efforts aren't having the effect that we had hoped they would. We've definitely reached the end of ourselves. We have, of course, prayed and trusted throughout our journey. However, I think at the same time, we've also trusted in our own efforts and the advice that others have given us. Without meaning to, we've been double-minded.

After repenting for our striving and human errors, we feel led to try something we should have started with. Prayer. It always seems too easy. While I do believe in God's healing power and good plans for our children, I admit that a part of me has held back and remained stuck in human "wisdom" and unfortunately, doubt.

Reaching the end of ourselves can sometimes feel extremely frustrating and disappointing. When the light bulb finally turns on, it's easy to go down the road of self-condemnation and get stuck yet again. I'm thankful that God always provides those bread comes back to His will for our lives. Whether spoken through His Word or through the beautiful people He's placed in our lives, He has an impeccable way of getting our attention. :-)

And so, last night, for the first time in 10 1/2 years, Geoff and I knelt beside our children's, one at a time, and offered up our humble and heartfelt prayers to our Creator while they slept. His love and understanding for our children is far greater than we can ever understand. He knows their hearts and struggles. And, He knows ours.

He knows that our desire has always been to honor and please Him in our actions, thoughts, words and deeds. He knows that we love our children and want the very best for them. He's never surprised by our weakness, frustration or mistakes. His mercy and grace are limitless. I'm so thankful for that. I know that He hears the pleas of our hearts and that He will respond.

For the next 39 nights, we'll be praying for His mighty power to do what we have been unable to do. We'll be humbling ourselves before Him, and in doing so, we'll be getting out of His way to work powerfully in the lives of our children and our family.

If there's an area in your life where you're struggling, where despite your very best efforts you can't seem to get that breakthrough, I invite you to join us in our 40 days of prayer. Maybe it's with your children, your spouse, or even yourself. God's love and grace are available to each of us in EVERY area of our lives. He can (and will) do BIG things.

Our prayers don't have to be long-winded or complex, just honest. When we surrender ourselves before Him and allow Him to begin to work, He will. I'm so excited to see what He's going to do, for His smallest effort goes far beyond our greatest effort.

I don't have all the answers and I'm still a work in progress, but I'm thankful that God has given me a new sense of hope and the desire to seek Him in a real and deeper way. It is solely because of His love, grace and mercy that I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With hope & faith,