Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Goliath of Fear

On Tuesday night, Li'l Empress had her Kindergarten musical. For weeks now, she's been coming home with sweet and silly little songs like "Mittens" and "Shake My Sillies Out" that had me smiling with anticipation. They eased the kids into the idea of performing for a gym full of parents and grandparents slowly, introducing the idea of singing on stage, practicing on the risers, and then performing for the student body of the school during the day. They were very well-prepared for Tuesday night's big performance.

As LadyBug helped Li'l Empress pick a suitably fashion-forward outfit and do her hair with the biggest bow they could find, the questions began.

"Are you gonna be 'dere tonight, LadyBug?"
"Is it gonna be dark in 'da gym?"
"Will you wave to me, Mommy?"
"Will you sit where I can see you, Mommy?"
"Is Daddy coming to my show tonight?"
"Will people like our show tonight?"
Peppered at me, rapid-fire.
With a little "something" behind each subsequent question.

These questions are how Li'l Empress deals with anxiety she feels about facing something new and/or scary. And seriously, who ISN'T a little nervous about the idea of singing a bunch of silly songs in front of a gym full of grown-ups and family members? I know I sure would be. So, I answered the few questions as they came, very matter-of-factly, and began praying in earnest.

We did a little pre-show photo op, letting her strut her stuff while I figured out the camera on my still-new, smarter-than-me smartphone.

(Heh, in retrospect, I should have tried out the video option before we left the house, too. Trying to capture a clip of the night, in the dark, while not blocking the view of anyone around me turned me into a nervous, sweaty mess. I'm such a dork.)

She was pretty quiet on the short ride over to the school. When Daddy dropped us off at the doors to get to the classroom for lining up, she started tightening up. Her hand clutched mine. Her arms got a little stiff. Her free hand drifted up to her mouth and in went the fingers. As I handed her off to the teacher, her big brown eyes filled and her lower lip started quivering. Oh, sweet mercy.  I swallowed deep, smiled brightly, and told her to look for me and give me a big happy wave when she got on the stage. As I hugged her and walked quickly out of the room, I felt as nervous as if I was the one going up on stage in front of a gym full of people!

I have to say, she looked and acted just fine as they all filed on stage and made their crooked, unevenly spaced lines on the risers. She kept her eyes on her teacher and sang most of the first song with gusto. And then. Then it appeared as if she "noticed" where she was and what she was doing. And in front of whom she was doing it.

Hands went into the mouth, silent tears flowed immediately. It was so sad to watch her try and figure out what to do. When they got the signal to be seated, one of the teachers handed her a tissue.

I jockeyed around for a better angle with which to see her and waved at her a little bit. She looked at me and I gave her our "thumbs up, you can do this" signal. And prayed!

And something shifted. I can't describe it any other way except to say that she just decided, "I can do this. I can do this." She nodded at me and sat up a little straighter in time for the next song. She literally squared her shoulders and

When I saw her make that choice to go for it, it was all I could do NOT to jump up and start cheering for her! And go for it, she did. For the rest of the program, the whole Gang watched with delight as she belted out every tune, caught every cue from the teacher perched up front, did ALL the motions, and waved and smiled at us all while doing it. Oh.My.Heart!

When she got out to the car, the whole Gang started clapping and cheering for her. It was adorable to see her preening and accepting their praise. She didn't stop smiling the whole ride home. I especially LOVED that they were all praising her for the right stuff.

"You sang so nice, Li'l Empress!"
"Wow, you were so brave up there tonight!"
"You did a great job singing with your friends!"
"Li'l Empress, I'm so proud of you! You did so well!"

Yeah. It was pretty amazing. I love my kids.

Later, when I was tucking her in, I told her that I noticed the moment when she CHOSE to hang in there and participate in the rest of the show. I told her it reminded me of when David fought against Goliath. I said, "I noticed that your fear up on that stage was kind of like that big ugly giant, Goliath. But you decided to be brave like David and fight the giant even though it felt so big."

While I acted out the story of David and Goliath sitting with her on her bed, she copied my "swinging the slingshot" and killing the giant. I told her she was just like David, only her giant was called "Fear." She killed that fear by choosing to trust Jesus to be with her. Her eyes were huge. As I covered her up and prayed over her, I took special care to thank Jesus for being trustworthy with Li'l Empress's giant of Fear. When I said "Amen," she sat right back up and said, "Mommy, I killed that giant. Only my giant was being afraid. David's giant was Goliath, right?" And laid right back down with huge smile and a very self-satisfied sigh.

It was a very good night in The Gang's House.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Full Circle Moment

I've shared with you all before that the Lord gives me life verses for my kids as a platform for which to pray for them. It's kind of my starting point and my habit to keep me focused on how to hear from God for my gang.

It's a practice I started when I was expecting Shaggy, 19 years ago. His (in real life) name means "Who is like the Lord?" - a rhetorical question meant to inspire awe at His greatness and incomparable awesomeness.  His life verse is Micah 6:8.

"He has shown you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justly, To love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?"

Over these last 18 years, I have had many conversations with God. Seeking His heart for my son, asking God to show Himself so good, so amazing, so BIG to Shaggy that he would never want what the world has to offer. Sometimes, begging God to give Shaggy such an experience of His love that leaves him completely spoiled for any other kind of experience or love. Frankly, some days those prayers felt rote. Trite. Other days it felt like slogging through mental mud. Still other times, I truly wondered if he would EVER find his way to dissatisfaction with the world's definition of life, success, love ...whatever.

When we picked Shaggy up from the airport last week, the whole gang headed out to to our favorite diner to celebrate Shaggy's graduation from YWAM DTS. During our meal, Shaggy started sharing small snippets of his time away from home and the things he experienced. At one point in the conversation, he said to us, "I feel like I just spent the last 5 1/2 months learning that God is so good to me, so much BETTER than I ever knew He could be. Like there's never going to be anything better than knowing Him and serving Him."

I froze.  There it was. THAT was it. But in the interest of "keeping it together" and not reacting immediately, I tucked it away and processed it and prayed through it the rest of our night together.

The next evening, Shaggy was sharing some more reactions and experiences with me as I prepared dinner. When he was winding down, I repeated what I heard him say at the diner the night before. Then I reminded him of the meaning of his name and the life verse I've been using as my platform to pray for him all these years.

He made the connection standing there across the counter from me. Tears in his eyes. Tears in mine. I am not exaggerating when I say to you that this was the MOST. FULL. CIRCLE. MOMENT. I have ever experienced in my parenting journey. Standing there in my kitchen, that moment felt holy. It WAS holy.


This is why we pray, moms! This is it. It's hard. It's exhausting. Sometimes it feels as if it's bouncing off the ceiling. Sometimes it feels like it's never going anywhere. I really felt like I needed to share this with you today. Maybe one of you is weary. Maybe you even feel hopeless. Maybe you wonder if you are even making a difference in the destiny God has for your son or daughter.

Hang in there, momma. There is a purpose to your prayers. There is a reason for that particular prayer that rises up each time you stop to think about that particular child. And it WILL be fulfilled. It will come full circle. His Word promises it to be so.

" shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:11 (English Standard Version)

"And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick,
and the Lord will raise him up.
And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore, confess your sins to one
another and pray for one another,
that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person has
great power as it is working.
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours,
and he prayed fervently that it might not rain,
and for three years and six months it did not rain
on the earth."
James 5:15-17 (English Standard Version)
*emphasis mine*

OH! And a hat tip to my sister for posting this last week,
just when I was looking for it!

“I remember my mother’s prayers
and they have always followed me.
They have clung to me all my life.”
Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Moving On!!!!

On Friday afternoon, I shot a last minute email to our long-suffering and patient Immigrations Officer to inquire about the still pending I800 approval process.

I was thrilled to come back an hour later and find a note verifying that she had indeed JUST processed our approval. Once the Supplement 3 and the results from Shaggy's fingerprints get collated with the original I800 packet, the whole package goes off to the National Visa Center to start the next leg of the paper trail to travel plans.

Another step down in the long journey to Mei Mei!!!!

Here's where we are, for you who enjoy the visual. Check out Step #10 - that is supposed to get started on Tuesday. Our Step #9 had a bunch of mini-steps thrown in by the need for Supplement 3 filing and Shaggy's inclusion in the paperwork as an adult household member.

Friday, February 15, 2013

What's a Girl to Do?

It's likely because of the cold weather and biting winds we've had lately but this momma has been CUH.RAY.VING. some good old fashioned comfort food. In particular, as I was compiling my grocery list Tuesday night, I was craving a heaping dish of The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti. But my frugal side could not bring myself to actually fork over the money at my nearby grocery store for such recipe specific ingredients when I wasn't at my normal "discount" store. It was meant to be a quick run out for just the immediate needs. But the craving would not go away.

**Side note - I've let this month's meal planning and regular grocery shopping slide far too long with the crazy grumpy weather we've had so it's my own darned fault, I know. I'm sorry. Moving on.**

When I got home from the quick run, I took stock of the pantry and left-overs to plan Wednesday's dinner

What's a girl to do when she has a big batch of left-over shredded BBQ Chicken and can't face eating one more sandwich from it?

What's a girl to do when she finds a huge R*bberm@id container of whole wheat spaghetti left from Monday night's family feast? (Shaggy has been gone since September and I'm still making spaghetti portions like his carb lovin' self is at the table every time! Oh well. He's coming home Saturday so why bother adjusting portion sizes now?!)

(Yes! I said Saturday! Shaggy is coming home on SATURDAY!!!!!! 
Yay, Yay, YAY!!!!!)

Where was I?
Oh, yeah. The spaghetti. Lots of left over spaghetti.
Here. Right there. See?

Well, the girl gets inspired and turns on the Phillip Phillip tunes while she creates her own knock-off of a yummy family favorite! Who knows? Maybe the girl is about to stumble upon a brand. spankin'. new. family favorite? Crazier things have happened 'round these parts. Here's how it went down. In case you want to try such craziness in your own kitchen!

I warmed both containers up slightly, to loosen them up and make them easier to mix. Please. DON'T forget to cut up the spaghetti in smaller pieces once it's warmed... it'll be a lot easier to blend in with the other ingredients. NOT that that ever happened here. Heh. I'm just sharin' the benefit of my mistakes, er, wisdom.

I put all the meat and long stringy spaghetti in my largest mixing bowl and started adding the yumminess.

For my-sized crowd, I used about 2 cups of cheddar. 

If I'd had two cans of beans, I would have used both.
But one can, rinsed and drained well, went into the bowl.
Followed quickly by these little green bites of scrumptious,
drained lightly, of course.

It was a little thick and hard to mix thoroughly,
so I added a can of this. Low fat, low sodium.
Cuz that's how I roll with the cass-ah-rollz!

It looked like this while I was adding and mixing.

Poured it all into my trusty P@mpered Ch*f
9x13 deep baking dish.
Well-sprayed to avoid sticking and staining.

I slid it into the oven without covering it.
Voila! Dinner was done before 1:00 in the afternoon!

Do you use your timed cooking and delay start
options on your oven?
If you have them, you should use them.
I LOVE them. They have set me free from the madness
that is 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 'round these parts.

Homework, lessons, chore charts, meltdowns, you know what I mean.
Back when the older kids were really little,
my mentor-mom-friend called them the "witching hours."
Cuz if a momma isn't careful, 
she can get pretty witchy-like.

Yeah. You know what I'm talkin' about!

Anyhoo..... back to our story.

As the madness subsided, I had Li'l Empress and Baby BlueEyes set the table.
LadyBug made the salad and all the fixin's for it.
All that was left was the eatin'. Mmmm, the eatin'.

Oh. Wait. Can't forget that once it cooked all it's yummy goodness
together for about 45 minutes, I added a little bit more of this on the top.

I cooked it for another 10 minutes or so
till it got to this stage of melty, ooey-goodness.

You can see, we almost forgot to snap a picture before digging in!


You're welcome.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines from The Gang's House!

From our house to yours....

Would you be our Valentines?

Our house AND our hearts say...

to you all!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Playlist of My Heart

I've mentioned several times in recent weeks that the Lord has been bringing songs to my heart as I've pressed in to pray for our Mei Mei. It was much the same in our journey to Li'l Empress. There are just songs that connect with my spirit in powerful ways and give me a platform from which to pray. I could never narrow the list down to "just" five when I was waiting for Li'l Empress but I did highlight many of the most meaningful songs in this post and again in this one. To this day, each of those songs brings me right back to the very moments that I keyed in on them - they remain weapons in the praying hands of this momma even now.

This journey to Mei Mei has similarly been shaped. The emerging theme of understanding and accepting HIS unconditional and unfailing love has been both humbling and empowering. Turning my understanding into prayers over my daughter has definitely eased the pain and the myopic focus of the wait for her to join our family. I'm excited to share these songs with you all - maybe when you hear one of them, you'll join me in praying for our girl?

Home by Phillip Phillips - From the moment I first heard this song on the American Idol stage, I knew it was going to be one that resonated with the nation. But I also knew that it was going to be a really important song to me while I waited for Mei Mei. I love this kid's style anyway, but man, oh man! The first couple times I played it on my iPod, I could barely see through my tears. I usually get really annoyed by "saturation" in pop-culture music but this one does.not.get.old. for me. It just keeps me trudging forward, focused on my mission to get Mei Mei "HOME!"

Your Love Never Fails by Jesus Culture AND by Newsboys - This is the song that led me to Mei Mei's life verse. The first couple times I heard it, on the Newsboys album, I found myself singing it over and over and when I was home, I'd just keep repeating it on the iPod. Then I got the Jesus Culture cd for Christmas and that whole cd became my soundtrack of January's season of prayer and fasting with our church. I soaked in these words like a sponge, praying for my own emerging understanding of His love and commissioning angel ministry to anoint my daughter's spirit with the sense of deep and unfailing love.
On a side note, in the bridge of this song, the words are "You make all things work together for my good." In the interest of being totally honest, I struggled with those words A.LOT. during this delay we've been working through. I didn't want to sing the words because they didn't "feel" true. I couldn't figure out how this whole thing was going to work to ANYONE's good. But as I was praying through it one afternoon, the Lord reminded me that while it's good and right to be singing these words out as a praise for the prior experiences of His good thus far in my life, it is also imperative that I speak them out as a declaration of truth over the current and coming circumstances I face. That I speak them as a statement of faith in His ability to continue to work all things for my good. And you know what? I don't yet understand what good has or will (or honestly could!) come out of getting to our girl six to 8 weeks later than the original time line. But I don't have to. I just have to trust that His Word is true and He is working it out. Simply cuz He says He is. That's your freebie for the day. You can thank me later.
Kicking and Screaming by Third Day - this is the acoustic version and I just love it!!! But it's no secret to those that know me that I love me some Third Day. A day can hardly go wrong when you've  got Mac Powell and friends crooning you through it! This song is from their recent Miracle album and upon first listen, I felt like it was a great word picture for how I was feeling about my girl. Even before we got the news of this paperwork tangle, when we were (not so patiently!) waiting for our very delayed Letter of Approval, this song was resonating with me. I was fighting for my girl and gearing up for whatever I had to do to get her home. Heh. I had no idea that the fight was about to kick into high gear just a few days later. Now, as I listen to it and the mission for my girl has unfolded more and more, I hear it from Jesus' own heart. This is how much HE loves her. And He's already been fighting for her since the day she was created. I can't even tell you how that makes my heart soar!!!!

Your Love Is Like a River also by Third Day - also from the Miracle album. This song has been a point of healing and refreshment for me for many weeks now. This acoustic version is new to me - I actually prefer the studio version on the album but I love that they did this right out on the streets of Atlanta. Proclaiming HIS Word and letting it take flight over the city. This song has soothed my ruffled feathers while acting as a beacon to point me to HIS purposes and HIS plans for this season of the journey. When I've felt wrangled and roughed up by the "process" or misunderstood by those around me, this song has lifted my eyes to the hills and reminded me that my help comes from HIM. Special thanks to my sister-in-law for the Christmas gift, despite my brother's disdain for my taste in music. What does he know anyway?

How Great Thou Art - the version by Carrie Underwood is on my iPod but I'm sharing the live version of her singing it with Vince Gill. It cannot be compared to any.other. live version. Any.Where. Seriously, it's simply amazing. This old hymn of adoration reminds me daily that I must decrease that He can increase in me and through me. I've always loved this hymn but in this season of my life, the comfort I derive from being reminded that it's not about me is astounding.

Similarly, Great Is Thy Faithfulness is a stand-by in my faith walk. I am sharing this version just because I love this guy's voice and heart of worship. No matter who is singing it, the anchor it provides for my heart to worship my God has stood up well in the long journey to Mei Mei. I fully expect that this and "How Great Thou Art" will again be the lullabies my baby girl hears as I rock her to sleep each night. It was and is perfect for settling the wounded and weary heart, isn't it?

These are only a few of the songs that are running on the playlist of my heart as we inch closer and closer to our girl. The Lord has always ministered to me through music, whether it's worship tunes, old hymns, or pop songs one can hear on the radio. And I'm soaking it all in that I might be full to overflow onto the little sponge of Mei Mei's heart when we finally get to hold her in our arms!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Untangling the Tangle

So many of you have asked about the tangled mess of our pending I800 approval in the recent days! Thank you for that - really. We're astounded at how folks (virtual strangers and friends alike) have taken the time out of their own busy lives to check in on our progress toward Mei Mei. While we have certainly had our fair share of feeling helpless to "do" anything during the wait for progress, having folks come alongside us like this has been a wonderful distraction to the days of "no progress."

Here's what's the most recent update as of yesterday afternoon: (including a bit of re-cap)

On Thursday, January 31st, the Supplement 3 packet was sent to Immigration's "lock box" and our postal service tracking numbers indicated that it was received into the general Immigrations lock box in Texas on Friday, the 1st. Beginning on Monday morning, there has been a regular flurry of phone calls and emails from our agency to our Immigration Officer's desk. In that process, we found out that our case was turned BACK into the hands of the second officer to whom it was assigned. Seems that the first officer has been re-assigned and the third officer was only covering cases for the second officer as a temporary measure. The flu hits Immigration offices too - seems no one is immune these days!

Late Monday evening of this week, The Boss got notification that our paperwork was being forwarded from the general lock box over to the Adoptions department of Immigrations processing in Missouri. That was excellent news - we are in the pipeline!

In addition to our Social Worker "hounding" our Immigrations Officer daily (and with her permission), I've made contact with our local Congressman's district assistant. She's been amazing and so compassionate regarding the details of our case. Upon learning that the Supplement 3 had been entered into the processing system, she got busy and contacted the Colorado fingerprinting offices on our behalf to pave the way. It's now possible for Shaggy to get into their offices at the first possible date as a walk-in. Her advocacy on our behalf is so crucial AND so incredibly appreciated.

So, right now we are kind of in a new holding pattern. Once Shaggy arrives to his YWAM base in Colorado, he will go to the local USCIS fingerprinting site (about 1/2 an hour from his base) and walk in with both his official fingerprinting appointment invitation AND the letter from our Congressman. He's leaving Cambodia today and arriving in CO on Saturday. The Boss made contact with the leadership of the YWAM base and they've agreed to get Shaggy in to the USCIS office on Monday, the 11th.

Then we'll be in another holding pattern. (Heh. I know. So much "hurry up!" followed by a whole bunch of "wait!" to the average adoption journey. And this is by far NO LONGER an average adoption journey!)

Once Shaggy is printed, we'll need to "hound" someone (still working on who that would be!) to expedite the processing of the fingerprint results back to the Immigrations officer for the final step - that darned I800 approval we've been waiting for since January 16th. I'm working on a post will be a quick summary of what happens from I800 approval to Gotcha Day. Yes, we will finally be able to start visualizing an actual Gotcha Day once the I800 approval is finally issued!

All told, this delay is likely adding 6 or more weeks to our journey to Mei Mei. It's been very hard to sit back and be "okay" with those 6 weeks of additional separation from our little gift. Especially since we were at the "tail end" of the longest part of the journey and fully expecting to have the remaining steps fly by with our request for medical expedite in place. Talk about a crashing of expectations. In my efforts to be very real and honest about this journey, I'm going out on a limb to say that this has been a test of more than just our trust in His timing. It's been a test of our resolve, of our determination to keep focused on HIM as the author of our story (and hers). In many ways, it's been a test of our maturity - a refining of the skills He's grown in us over the many years of life experiences together. The tests (and to be fair, the rewards too) have come from the most unlikely places as we've tried to share the experience along the way.

Support and prayers from folks like you have really carried us more than we can even articulate here. We KNOW all the "stuff" of a solid faith journey. Living it daily, sometimes hourly when news changes or progress stalls, has been the focus. Choosing to act upon the truths that are in our hearts (that He is in control, HE is sovereign, HE has a plan, His timing is perfect, etc.) and then choosing to trust those truths has been bigger and harder than we expected. It's forced us to lean on HIM when we were too weary and sad to stand firm on what we know.

Yet through it all, He remains faithful. Unchanging. And very willing to show Himself merciful and mighty through the hands of those He's placed in our lives. Folks He's given to us to act lovingly on our behalf. Folks who have shown us "Jesus with skin on" in these recent weeks: Our social worker, the Immigrations Officer, our congressman's assistant. The friends who have offered creative and extraordinary measures of support or intervention. Strangers who sent gifts to invest into our Adoption Jar. All of it has been strategically placed in our path at His timing and by His grace to show us how very much He loves us. And how much He loves our Mei Mei.

Given the "mission" He's placed in my heart for my girl, I shouldn't be surprised that HIS plan for untangling the great big tangle of our yet-to-be approved I800 Immigrations process brought me right back to His love. His unchanging, all-consuming, new-every-day merciful love. It may be that I can only see it through that lens now, that it's almost completely untangled. But it's okay. He saw it and He knew what I needed in my journey to be able to see it too.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I'm On A Mission, Part 2

I never intended for there to be such a length of time between posts about what God is doing in me through this adoption journey for our Mei Mei.... Life kinda got away from me for a couple days of unexpected happenings. Additionally, I've been struggling with how to put all this into words while still respecting and holding sacred my daughter's story. I've been profoundly affected by conversations like this one over the last few years and I know it's all been in preparations for this beautiful little one God is bringing us.

You see, her "need" is not apparent to the world, as is Li'l Empress's need. The nature of her need is one that we have chosen to only share with folks in person, in the context of relationship "in real life." That has come about both because of all that we've learned about respecting our children's life stories AND through the learning curve of understanding this particular child's need. It's been quite the journey in and of itself, but the balance is one we are still learning and processing, so I'd imagine that it will continue to unfold as we parent these two precious children who have come to us with such divergent history behind them.

But the story of the work God is performing in me as I prepare to parent Mei Mei is also one that continues to unfold while we wait. For those that have been following the details of the paperwork tangle on our way to Immigration approval, hang in there. An update is coming. In the meantime, I am excited (and if I'm being totally honest, a little apprehensive) to share this part of the "mission" I'm experiencing in this adventure to Mei Mei....

As I keyed in on the themes that kept emerging during the fall months, I found my "platform" from which to pray for our girl. Bear with me as I share this, as it's still "raw and uncut" and I'm still grappling with it for myself and NOT just in order to pray for her more effectively.

I mentioned late in January that the Lord had led me to this verse in my prayer time for Mei Mei:

It's been an integral part of the process - understanding and grappling with a new understanding of HIS love for us. For me. For Mei Mei. As my understanding of Mei Mei's difficult beginnings, her current environment and the status of her needs have emerged, I have been struck over and over by a three main thoughts, none of them new to me but somehow so completely new, stark, and painful at the same time:

This child has already, in only 19 months,
experienced the most profound rejections
that a human can experience.

(I still have the hardest time writing that out. It pains me greatly when I dwell on it. Harder still speaking it and accepting it as her current reality. And it's been months of unfolding and processing....)

It is our job, from the moment we accepted her referral,
until we draw our final breath, to point her
to unconditional and everlasting Love.
In our words. In our actions. In our parenting style.
In our prayers over her and for her.
It is our calling. MY calling. My mission.

Finally, I am completely ill-equipped to parent this child.
Really, to parent any of them, if I'm being real.

But that's been the greatest thing about the unfolding of this journey. It's okay that I am ill-equipped. HE is perfectly equipped. HE is the best parent and HE knows exactly what she needs from her parents. HE chose US to parent her. HE planned this path for her and we get to be the ones that walk with her out of the ashes of pain and rejection and abandonment. Because HE chose us.

I don't have to be well-equipped to parent my little Mei Mei.
I just have to let HIM parent her through me.
There's a huge difference between the two ways of parenting.

Heh. "Just."  Yeah, that's the hard part. Isn't it?

But as I've mulled over and over the process through which He is bringing me, I've had to first let HIS acceptance of me wash over my heart. I've had to give myself over (and over and over and over) to HIS view of me. So that I can properly have HIS view of my daughter and the gift that she is. It sounds bane and trite to say it. But given the combination of her needs, her beginning story, her current situation, and my own difficulties and struggles, I've had to press in and accept this cleansing. Let it equip me in a way that I haven't had to yet process with the other five gifts that call me Momma.

This season has been one of humbling and digging deeply into areas of my heart that I haven't really had to examine before, at least not in these ways. I've had to specifically PRAY over my countenance and my responses to my daughter-to-be.

I have begged God to work in me in such a way that when Mei Mei watches me caring for her and for her basic and medical needs she sees nothing but loving acceptance and unconditional care.

I have had to ask God to prepare me and prepare my heart for especially those early first moments of examining her sweet little body and cataloging the details of her need as we learn how to care for her. Again, medical "stuff" has traditionally not been my "forte" and those who know me best are learning just what a leap of faith this adoption has represented to me.

Trust me when I tell you, these have not been easy prayers to pray. It's been a process that both disgusts me for my own squeamishness and selfishness and yet empowers me to GROW! in spite of my irritation with myself.

Through it all, HE has been just as His Word says He is:  He is merciful. Every single morning, in new and amazing ways. He is unchanging. Every single day. He is uncompromising in His love for me. His patience and compassion toward me. That verse has not just been for my girl. Obviously. And He has proven it over and over. Through the conversations and experiences of the recent months in which I've been seeking Him.

And through all the worship ministry that He's brought my way in this season.... That part of the story is coming to you soon. Worship and music has always been part of how the Lord speaks to me (as I'm sure He does with you also) and I'm excited about the "playlist" He has been compiling in this journey to growing me up and preparing me for this mission to which He has called me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday {seeing double}

We don't purposely dress like twins around here
but you'd never know it from this!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
click on the link and join in!

Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm On A Mission

Shortly after we accepted Mei Mei's referral, I started sensing the Lord had something quite missional for me in this journey to our girl.  Given how I was starting to freak out a little about caring for her need and what I was learning about the medical side of it all, I assumed that it was going to be about growing me up and giving me courage over my fear of "medical" issues. Particularly medical issues that pertain to my kids. See, I've not shared this with a ton of folks but I have long struggled with at times a gripping fear that one of my kids would be victim to a horrible, even fatal, accident. Or diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that would change our whole life forever. While I understand that every parent deals with this to some degree, I also know that my fear is truly an enemy that Satan wishes to wield against me to cripple me and make me parent from a position of fear. So I have chosen over the years to "take captive every thought" and keep my eyes on the ONE who created them and loves them even more than I could imagine. It sounds lofty and holy to say it that way. But it's not. It's gritty and hard. And requires a kind of relinquishing of the facade that I have any control over my children's lives. It's not easy, but  it requires me to choose a posture of prayer. Which is actually a great thing when I am choosing well.

As I pressed in and prayed about it more, several things started happening. First, I kept hearing several songs over and over. I mean, not hearing them in the background of my life, but HEARING them. Feeling their essence and their message expand my heart. Gripping me and charging me up with a passion for my daughter. I sensed that the themes underlying these songs was the key to what the Lord had for me.

Second, a friend from church came to me and told me that the Lord had given her a specific urging to pray for the angelic ministry of HOPE over our daughter. That we commission angels to hover over Mei Mei and fill her with hope that her family is coming, that she is loved, that she has a purpose. Another friend later said something about her own daughter that gelled with that perfectly, to the effect that (our waiting children) don't know that they are longing for a family. Or a momma or a daddy. Most of them don't even know what that might be. But they do know that they are waiting for love. Taken together with the other things God was stirring in me, I knew that what He has for me in this adoption journey, and beyond, was going to be something bigger than my battle to keep fear at bay and be a prayer-focused momma.

Just before Thanksgiving, it all started really coming together. Not in any grand revelation, rather in a few snippets and prayer times here and there. Talking and sharing with a couple friends. Again, through hearing a couple songs in a new way. It crystallized as I listened to the exquisite details woven into the love story of Ruth and Boaz by author Liz Curtis Higgs at our denomination's annual Women's Retreat.  (Seriously, if you EVER get a chance to hear her speak, RUN, don't walk to the line at the door. Her style, her knowledge of the CONTEXT and the CONTENT of The Word has changed the way I read my Bible. Really. Truly.) Finally, thanks to the worship led by Kim Walker Smith and her husband in that same weekend, I picked out a cd for myself and asked for another for Christmas. Both cd's have had significant roles in directing my prayers and clarifying what God has been speaking.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story..... and I'll even share the playlist that God has woven together of songs that lead me to prayer for Mei Mei.