8
Nov

A dose of reality as we head out

8 duffle bags and 8 backpacks wait in our schoolroom.

We have maxed out our big 12 passenger and will be having a friend not only drive us to the airport, but also towing our utility trailer behind us with our luggage as well as my parents’ luggage and 3 strollers.  Moments like this make me realize we have a larger than typical family.  Funnily enough, someone seems like they are missing.
DSC_4214

Nw for the dose of reality.  Little Theodore’s photos haven’t been shared a lot by us.  I know it’s a little strange for those who have walked with us through our other adoptions.  Truth be told his first photos just made us heartbreakingly sad.  9 months old and 9 pounds.  Red eyes from crying.  Unable to sit.  A long list of expensive lab tests had been run.  His stated diagnosis was clear cut in one respect and very dire in another.  He was not meeting milestones, nor was he ever expected to, according to one respected professional who looked at his medical file for us.

And yet we sent in our letter seeking to adopt him and make him our son.

Why?

Because he’s worth it.  

Totally worth it.

Our agency director went looking for an update.  She called his orphanage and found that he had been transferred to a special medical foster home run by a NGO (non-governmental organization) in the same province. We were thrilled!  His pictures show a very serious little face, but he is now nearly 26 months old and he has gained 10 pounds and 10 inches.

We aren’t sure what his medical future will hold, but we do know that God woke us up to love him unconditionally, to fight for him, to give him a place to belong.  We have several medical teams available to us here in North America and once we are home with him we will pursue all of our options to get him the best treatment we can.

 

And we have been given a little glimpse into his personality.

Theodore belly laughs when he is tickled!

 How great is that?!

As we leave tomorrow please pray for us about the following:

*easy travel (all parents will understand the full depth of our request!)

*that Theodore’s heart will be prepared in whatever way it can be for the enormous life altering changes about to occur.  Adoption, while redemptive, is still trauma.

*the hearts of our Chinese born children who are returning to their birth country.  So much processing has already occurred as we went through this preparation for this trip.  They are new ages for this homeland visit and with each new developmental stage come new ideas, memories and levels of processing.  Pray that this will be a rich time for them to see China, to know China and to love China.

*the hearts of my children not Chinese born.  They have welcomed their siblings like kings.  They have embraced their adopted country wholeheartedly.  They look at China with pride and realism and helped our other children feel brave and strong in spite of the complexity of what they are processing.  They take leadership roles with their younger siblings on all of our travels and it can be exhausting.  Pray that they would have strength beyond their years and experience.  Also, pray for their patience while trying to breach the great firewall of China in order to connect with their loved ones and peers back home. Not.even.kidding.

*Health.  Stephen and I have been trying to get healthier over the past six months knowing this was coming.  We are on a continuing journey with this, but I pray that God would honour our attempts and keep our backs strong, our stomachs ironclad and our sleep deep (even if only for a few short hours – haha!).

*for my parents.  They come with us on these trips and there is very little glory in it.  It is not how most couples would choose to spend their empty nest or retirement vacations, but they do it without any complaint about missing the actual tourist areas, grumpy grandchildren (and, ahem, children), and enormous piles of luggage and children attracting stares and stopping traffic everywhere we go.  Please pray for their health and that they would be able to enjoy their time away in spite of the busy schedule.

*for Stephen & I.  It’s physically exhausting, but it’s also emotionally taxing.  I’ve cried more in the past few days than I have in, oh, about two years.  Adoption does that in the final days before we leave.  Pray that I would hear God prompting me to be quiet as Steve leads us and that I would listen more to Him rather than trying to control each and every detail.  Truthfully, that is my downfall.  And pray that Stephen wouldn’t run down to far as he tries to juggle all of us and be emotionally available to all of our many and varied needs.

And thank you, each and every one, who has offered to pray for us.  We’ll be thanking God for you all too!

22
Jul

What can I say?

IMG_2653 IMG_2669 IMG_2676 PIC_0884 PIC_0887Isaiah is:

Absolutely charming!

Delightful!

A smiler

A joker

Ticklish

A cheek filler – with food at the end of a meal :(

A splasher (in the tub)

A whiz (at the ipad – swiping games work well!)

Strong!

A communicator ( he has a few words: like chee-chew-ah which is car, family titles like jiejie, Baba, Mama, and he’s copied a few English words like Hello and likes to say Uh-Oh)

A giggler (sooo cute!)

A player (he knows how to put on a show)

A page turner ( he loved showing off his page turning skills again and again today – we are truly amazed!)

VERY, VERY LOVED!

We met our guide in the lobby and were happy to reconnect with her.  She had helped us process Samuel’s adoption 2 years ago and now has a little one of her own as well.  We purchased some flowers for the official gifts today (an idea I stole from another parent) and off we went to the civil affairs office.  Our guide, Vicky, let us know that we would most likely beat Isaiah to the office, so not to worry.  We arrived and headed upstairs.  Walking into the meeting room, our eyes were drawn to a family that we’d met in the hotel lobby the night before.  They were trying to engage their new three year old son.  What we didn’t notice right away were the two ladies sitting off to the side with the little boy on their laps!

There is was!  Watching us with wide, speculative eyes.  We’d seen those eyes before (James, Garnet).  I walked over and knelt in from of him.  Talking softly to him he didn’t move much.  Then I reached forward to pick him up.  He didn’t resist me and I turned him around on my lap to cuddle him closely.  He turned to look up at me and we stared at one another for a second.  Then I smiled.

He began to curl into me a bit and kicked at his legs.  The nanny handed me the small quilted photo album they had been looking at (one we’d sent the orphanage a but more tan 4 months ago).  And then the fun began!

Isaiah began turning the pages of the book with his hands!  We had no idea he could do that!  He was able to control his arm muscles so well.  Well, we all clapped and told him how smart he is and he really warmed up to the idea.  Next thing we know he’s doing it again and again – wiggling in pride as we praised him.

He holds himself up in a sitting position with a lot of strength.  He moves his legs around and can wiggle his toes. He can easily pick things up with his mouth.  He can sit up from a reclined position (amazing abs!).  He plays with toys and can grasp objects between his fingers to pick them up and move them.  He likes to wiggle and bop up and down to music.  And he sings and hums.  He also chatters in a soft voice and belly laughs loudly.

We are totally smitten, just as every new parent should be.  Once again I can honestly say that I really and truly felt my heart expand.  It’s an unbelievable knowledge that from now and forevermore, I am Isaiah’s Mama.

11
Jul

To China in a few days

After a long, long wait beginning in November 2012, we are finally a few days from flying to meet our Isaiah.

So much has happened over the past few months. I honestly have not struggled as much during the waiting period for any of the other children (and that includes our birth kids). I logically tell myself that it is the fact that approvals were coming in fast during the early days of our wait and I had gotten my hopes up, but in fact I think it was the uneasy quiet I felt in my relationship with God.

While I knew He was there and I was engaging with Him daily. It’s been many months since I truly could say that I had heard His voice.

Ironically, it was in the last few hours prior to hearing that our approval was to be granted that I finally knew He had spoken through His Word to me in a truly clear way. Or should I say, He’d spoken and I’d actually been aware of it, as the quiet isn’t indicative of His lack of relationship with me, rather it tells of my brain and heart clutter that had prevented my hearing Him.

The word He spoke was from Psalm 5:8.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.

Make your way straight before me.

I had been struggling for Him to make MY way straight before me. Totally different angle there.

I am so thankful that a short time later He granted our approval from China to adopt Isaiah. But truly more so, I am thrilled that He made this clear to me before the approval was granted. This has become my heart prayer the past hours. I am holding to it. I can’t do this on my own.

Lord, make Your way straight before me.

2
Jan

Genuine Christmas Spirit

Like most of us, I really love the weeks leading up to Christmas.  The lights, the visiting, the anticipation – they bring out such a warmth in my spirit and in the demeanour of so many around me.  Truly, what’s not to love?

Unlike many, I try to avoid the Boxing Week sales.  The return lines in the mall, the 70% off everything signs, the bedraggled decorations – they put a damper on my glow, you know?

Today though, I decided to take James out to exchange a couple items.  And as expected, folks were a bit more down in the mouth.  And things didn’t have the sparkle that I’d noticed just a few short days before.  Until, that is, we headed over to a new prosthetics office that we haven’t been to before.

I needed to pick up some spray that helps Samuel’s prosthetic liners suction a bit better.  We go through a ton of that stuff. I ran in expecting a quick errand and stopped dead in my tracks.  Amongst the clients and professionals, there was laughter and smiling; friendly banter and joking.  I paused for a second while they waited for me to announce my reason for stopping in.  Such a contrast and in such an unlikely place, or so one would think.

But that it the secret that we have discovered over the past five years.  The key to happiness and joy has nothing to do with the packages and shiny lights and brand names and deep discounts.  It has to do with perspective.

And today I realized, not for the first time, that I am one of the privileged few who have been let in on the secret to joy and maybe even the true essence of Christmas Spirit.

It was a wonderful reminder for a brand new year.

Welcome 2013!

Santa 2012

(Don’t mind the late Santa photo – it needed a home here.)

19
Sep

Something left to give

 

I stayed away for oh so long from my blog.  Recharging?  Regrouping?  Hiding?  Not sure exactly.

There was a time after we adopted Grace that we were online A LOT.  Keeping connections alive.  Those invisible life lines were so necessary.  And it was draining on me.

Those days were followed by the whirlwind adoption of Samuel.  More online obsessing.

And suddenly my life felt dry and tired.  So much of the joy of interacting with friends online, jotting down family anecdotes and my heart that desired so much to do more for the orphan and widow, was just sucked dry.

I was dry.

I needed a fresh new start.  And so did the blog.

As for me, I bought myself a new Bible.  Rejigged our whole homeschool.  Dejunked my home base. And decided to freshen up the blog.  Make it more functional.

It’s not all there yet.  The Bible, the homeschool, the minimizing of the house – they each deserve their own post.  The blog is still under construction (my fault not my wonderful designer’s, who I’ll introduce very soon), but I felt the need to get on here tonight and get the ball rolling.  I’ve got something left to give.  And here I go!

23
Jun

Followed by My 2 Cents

I decided to post Stephen’s post from No Greater Joy Dad right here, along with a response I made to someone who questioned how I have responded to Stephen’s “Reluctant Husband” status.

I will follow his post with my comments in purple and then finish off with more from Stephen in response to my words.

Just a little bit of what has gone on behind the scenes in the growing of our family.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m a recovering, yet stubborn reluctant husband and father. I’ve told my wife that we have had enough kids from before we even had kids to today – five kids later. Two bio and 3 Chinese adoptions later, I’m still a reluctant father! For all those men out there that don’t think they can do it, I’m a great example of getting it done, and still maintaining my fantastic reluctant husband status.

 

Adopting three “special needs” kids in 3.5 years is not what everyone should do, but it HAS changed my life, my heart, and my perspective about God’s provision and strength in significant and fundamental ways.

I used to be the busy-at-church husband: doing, doing, doing until everyone thought I was a super-Christian with a few vices! Little did I know that playing the part of a christian man, and living the part (REALLY living the part) of a Christian Man look very different. If men had feelings, the two roles would have FELT different too!

These days, I don’t sit on the deck dreaming of what I’ll do with my life, my pastor doesn’t see much of me, I’m not on this board, or that committee. In fact, I’m extremely surprised if I arrive to church before the greeters have left to enjoy the service! My “Christian walk” is more of a hunched over waddle with a few dives to the ground for cover and a split-second recharge on bended knee before the next event.

But I’ll tell you what… I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t change the fact that I’m in another country to receive medical treatment for newest Child 5 and that he walked upright for the first time today! I wouldn’t change the fact that Child 2 told me this afternoon, that seeing people without all their bits was uncomfortable until Child 5 came along without his legs and now she thinks / feels that this is normal! They both get it: just do what you can with what God gave you and move on – no stigma, no regrets, just a life worth living… an adventure worth enjoying!

If I had to change anything at all, it would be that I didn’t enjoy more of the drama along the way. I’d change my attitude about trying to do everything perfectly, instead of appropriately for each of my kids. I’d change how clean the car was for the first 10 years of parenting. I’d change the look I give my wife every time she mentions another child. I’d change the power that fear has in my life and how I still allow myself to be a slave to it called on to act dangerously

– to make messes and take chances!

Yet, I’m still a reluctant husband! I still hold on to my fear (terror really) of being a poor father, or failing to provide for my family, or failing to be there emotionally or physically when child 1 through 5 may need me. I still worry and worry some more about some things in my life that I can’t change and should give over to God.

I still argue with my wife about Child 6 through ???? whenever it’s brought up. I still worry about being the best parent / husband in the world, and know that I can’t be because of all the mistakes I’ve made along the way…

…Then I have a moment where someone asks for my testimony and I think – what is REALLY going on in my life? I take a moment to pause the game of life and realize that I’ve never been more challenged, yet rewarded. I’ve never been so busy, yet effective. I’ve never had so many hugs when I return from a business trip, or just doing errands in town.

I am beginning to realize that life is not about being the best father in the world, it’s about shutting up and doing what God asks of you and knowing that He made you to be enough to fulfill his plans for your life. I’m not perfect,but I’m not MEANT to be, or even created to be. I’m the person God needed; to Do what God needed; When God needed; and How God needed. I am the best father I can be; and I’m the best father for each of my kids (1 through ???) and husband to my wife (just 1).

I hope that I’ve made at least one man out there 2 cents richer for their trouble. Enjoy the adventure!

 

I’m glad you asked for my input!

We have been very much of like mind in most major areas of our life (not to say  that we don’t disagree sometimes) and so when we found that we didn’t agree at all about whether or not we should add a child (by birth or adoption), I really was quite dumbfounded! I remember thinking that it couldn’t possibly be real! Perhaps he was making a bad joke? Seriously. I was that shocked.

Really I hadn’t come to the conclusion to adopt (or add our 2nd bio child) on my own. It felt like a strong push from the Holy Spirit to get moving. When Stephen let me know that he would not even consider my request, I prayed. And I tried to be quiet about it. If there was an opportunity to bring up the new family member I took it, but I tried hard not to rub it in or act “holier than thou” either. Really tough when on the other hand God seemed to be increasing my desire, not decreasing it!

Finally in each case, there was a moment or a day when I knew without a doubt that I needed to lay it down before Stephen and tell him that it truly was something of God and that I needed Him to treat it as such. I needed Stephen to go before God on His own and ask God what he thought. I let him know that I would wait to hear from him and that I wouldn’t say anything else about it.

I hope that helps to clarify it a bit.

 

I agree with what she has said and agree that in 99% of our marriage we have agreed on the bigger picture for our family. Sure, we disagree on which way to put the toilet paper up in the bathroom and other equally serious issues, but the size of our family was a big issue that took a long time to resolve (for each kid!). It finally came down to her letting me know that she respected me as her spouse and would provide me with the freedom to decide on my own without interference or “nagging.” I am very good at resisting nagging, but when my best friend, life partner, and the person I love more than anything on this earth gives me the freedom to love her in my own way, when I’m ready – I know it is serious and I need to pay attention.

In this environment, I didn’t have to ignore her voice, I only had my own conscience and my sensitivity to God’s calling to listen to. These are voices that I keep hearing when I’m at work, commuting, sleeping, or trying to relax with the kids. It is this voice that I can’t ignore when I’ve worked through all the excuses and make the “fatal mistake” ;o) of actually listening to God. Then the questions really come on strong – no longer am I asking WHY?, I start to ask WHY NOT?. When I ask WHY NOT? The answers appear pathetic and weak. The truth of the situation becomes more clear, and I can’t ignore that I have a decision to make. A decision that every man has to make at some point… Do I want to be perfect at doing very little, or am I ready to take on more and allow God to show me what is good enough – what perfection in His eye really looks like.

I don’t believe that adopting children into their home is the right decision for every family, but I do believe that God wants the first and best of our fruits, our gifts. He doesn’t want the left overs. This manifests itself in tithing on the gross income we bring in, not what’s left over. This means that worshiping Him comes before the football game, the camping trip, the parties in Vegas, etc. (Fill in your private time passions here…) It means that the 10 scrapbooks we did for our first child turns into a digital picture frame on the kitchen counter of all our kids and our adventures.

As a man, I would be challenged most from my wife if she left it in my hands after asking two key questions:

1. WHY NOT Adoption?

2. If not Adoption, how are we going to practically express our Faith in this world? (Missions, food for homeless, support of people adopting, etc)

I wish you all the best in your adventure and would love to hear how it turns out in the years to come.

 

 

21
Jun

Stephen Opens Up

Well it looks like it’s three posts about Stephen in 1 week.  Definitely a new record for me.

Anthony over at No Greater Joy Dad, husband to the lovely and talented writer, Adeye of No Greater Joy Mom fame, has posted a testimony from my own dear “Reluctant Husband”.

When Anthony began publishing his “Daddy Blogger” blog, I followed and then sent his link to Stephen.  He’s been hooked ever since.  If you read Stephen’s post, it’s worth it to scroll back and read through the other earlier posts (there aren’t too many yet, as it’s a fairly new blog).  He’s been doing a whole Q & A series on reluctant dads.  Very interesting stuff, especially for this wife.

Click here to read his post.

Oh and comments would be good.  He was more than a little nervous to be sharing his thoughts.  :)

16
Jun

Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

As every parent knows, they watch us.

The kids, that is.

Now, before I go further, this story isn’t about us as adults, but rather what we saw in one of our boys today.

We were driving away for the hospital this afternoon and on our way to the park.  We pulled up to a light and Steve and I noticed a man asking for change.  Without saying anything, Steve powered down the window and handed the man something.  The man thanked him and we pulled away.  We thought the kids were tiredly playing to themselves in the back.   About 15 seconds passes before we hear Garnet’s little boy voice, “That was nice of Dad to give that man some money.” And then it all went back to the quiet play in the back.

He got it.  He had seen the man.  And he saw his own Daddy’s response.

And I got a lump in my throat.

Just a little moment I’ve had the presence of mind to record, but hopefully one of many in the growing of our young man.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More on Samuel’s road to mobility coming soon. Some new developments and an extra day here tomorrow.  Thank you for praying!

 

15
Jun

Today I Cried and then…

Don’t laugh.  It’s true.  I cried a tear or two.

A negative person who spoke those bleak words that branded my son.

I cried.

Carrying the thought of someone I love in pain and knowing they were to meet with their specialist today.

I cried.

Seeing folks openly smile at my littlest guy and be so inclusive of him at the Science centre today.

I cried.

And yes…

Seeing the Canucks lose.

I cried.

It was a brutal ride on the emotional roller coaster of life today.

But then it turned a corner.

My son will receive his first “boots” tomorrow.

And I smiled!

My kids are all tucked safely into their hotel beds.

And I smiled!

My husband squeezed my hand in empathy.

I smiled!

My loved one had good news from the specialist.

I smiled!

I recalled other hockey seasons.  There’s always next year!

I smiled!

And then I remembered that God’s grace is enough.

I beamed!

Sound trite?  Naw.  It’s just another day on the roller coaster of my llife.

 

8
Jun

Hear Our Prayer, O Lord

Tonight one of my children prayed a prayer no child should have to pray.  Ever.

Dear Jesus,

Please be with my first Mom.

Please let her not be dead.

Please help her to know You.

And please be with all my Chinese people.

Help them to know You too.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Amen, my child.  Amen.