Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm not sure if I'm one year or six years pregnant, but I'm due tomorrow

Alright. Let's be honest. I'm nervous like a first-time mom here. 

I know our "due date" and I've even seen a general likeness of our daughter (kind of like the 3D sonograms I had with a couple pregnancies) but it's a little unnerving to think...the day is almost here.

Maylin is on a train already heading to Hohhot. She'll travel about 23 hours with a companion from her orphanage. She'll arrive in Hohhot as dazed as we will tomorrow, but we know things that she doesn't..

We'll know Who arranged her life so that we will meet tomorrow.
We'll know what it sounds like and smells like and tastes like in her new home.
We know we are going to be fine, regardless of the struggles we each may need to overcome.
We know she'll be loved unconditionally.

She'll learn it all soon enough.

We will leave our hotel in Baotou at 7:30am with our Chinese friend, Peter. We'll have about 2 hours on the train (do not visualize the Orient Express with rubbed wood and velvet curtains.) Peter will assist us with his near-perfect English and quite perfect Chinese to locate the Sheraton Hotel in Hohhot. 

And then, I guess,

We meet each other.
While our three youngest kids at home in Florida sleep, we will be meeting their newest sister.

We'll have about 15-20 minutes with her, and then we part for the night.
Kind of a weird arrangement, but if you'd just traveled 23 hours on a train and were being adopted into a family from America, it might be good to have one more night with people with whom you are familiar.

Monday at 10am, we'll meet again, and when we leave that meeting, she'll be officially our daughter.

We'll head back to Baotou by train and hopefully be back in time to introduce 4 of the new siblings to Maylin. They too are excited!

Before I head to bed for whatever rest I may be able to get, I have had a few amazing blessings this week. Some involve former students, and some involve just little gifts He left in the cool weather, my health, friends who are near and far, new friends and old. One that just blessed my heart today was when Peter asked if we were going to change her Chinese name, Maylin, to an American name.
 I grinned as I told him that Maylin was her new American name.

Oh, he said. It is also a Chinese name and so beautiful.

Yes, it is. Indeed it is.
And tomorrow, we'll meet our beautiful Chinese daughter named
Maylin Li.

Another great day in China

There is just too much to say in such a small space. 

The sights, 
new students,
visits from former students,
the teaching teams,
that blend together each year to make our unique

is too complicated for print.

But I'll give one small example of Inner Mongolian hospitality that our family experienced Thursday:

Hot Pot

One of my former students that has become a friend over the past 5 years asked if she and her mother could host our family for a meal. Because I had already told Duxin that my favorite meal was Mongolian Hot Pot, they booked a table at the world head quarters for the famous 
 Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
(google search it...there may be one in a large American city near you!)

A bowl of a delicious smelling soup for which the Little Sheep restaurant is famous was place in front of each of us. You could choose mild or I picked both. My pot had a
divider with the different soups on each side.
And then the food parade began...

a plate of sesame seed coated rolls
at least six plates of various types of raw meats, thinly sliced and rolled into delicate tubes
at least six plates of various vegetables, mushrooms, lettuces to cook
a plate of fish balls, shrimp balls, and crab
a plate of dumplings
two or three "cold dishes"

We each put the food we wanted cooked into our own pot, and after it was sufficiently cooked, had a gastronomic feast. Fishing for slippery sweet potatoes at the bottom of the pot is quite a feat with chopsticks!

It could have been the beginning of a Tums commercial.

Although the location and the meal were a somewhat exotic adventure,
we felt the same warm hospitality of Duxin and her mom were priceless.
It was less about the food and more about
the process of sharing it with

How can a heart be knit to mine while we are in a classroom for only 8 days?
How can the sporadic contact throughout the year turn into such a friendship?
How can I feel such kinship with Duxin's mom when we can barely communicate beyond our translator's help?

It's part of the mystery of these trips, and the mystery of the One who does all things well and with purpose.
Some amazing "flowers" that were planted 5 years ago are in full bloom, and I'm so grateful.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A "zoomed in" version of Maylin

Mark came through for me, as always.

The candles/flower probably opened out, possibly rotated, and played a delightfully "tinny" version of something you'd recognize...but usually not "Happy Birthday."

This is a typical style of cake for China. When we told our students the first year that we have ovens at our home and make birthday cakes...this is what they imagined. I was glad I didn't have any photos of my sheet cakes frosted with canned icing and decorated with M&Ms. 
(Hey, sometimes I make great cakes, too. Just not every birthday.)

And did He send Flowers!

Did we ever wake up to an amazing "bouquet" this morning.
A smile that made us cry.
And ache.

Isn't she perfect? 

Last month, we sent a small gift to Maylin through Ladybugs N Love.

A package had been mailed to her SWI (Social Welfare Institute) in Tongliao from Ladybugs N Love.
It contained some candies, and nuts, a disposable camera, and money for a cake. The company requests a photo of the cake and child as proof that the gifts arrived and the money was used as instructed. 
We can't contain our excitement as we see her precious, happy face. 

In 5 short days, we meet.
Even if she grieves and does not have an easy smile for us at first,
we have the proof in the photos that she has a gorgeous smile and a twinkle in her eyes. 

What else is there to be said?

(Enjoying a laughing child may be my one weakness)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First Day Jitters

Remember that 
**feeling in the pit of your stomach**
that happened every year as you headed off to school for the 
You were in your new clothes, and uncomfortably new shoes. 
The lunch box had no dings or scratches and you still liked peanut butter and jelly 
(at least for another month)

Well, that's today again for me.
Instead of being the shiny little student smiling nervously in the second row, today I am 
the esteemed Foreign Teacher. 
I am the English expert. 
We will soon leave the hotel and arrive at a school the English Program has not been in before. As with other years, we'll not know our rooms assignments, or our age level (the range will be kids 12-16...maybe) or their English ability until we all arrive in our classroom. I know from other years, that it will take more than a few minutes to get the room arranged (since school is out, the rooms have been left uncleaned.) Many of the children will come into the class because they feel just as 
**first day**
as their volunteer teachers from America. Maybe more-so. 
It will be the very first time for many of them to listen to a real-live American voice, see real-live American people and be expected to learn and converse.

There. Jitters are lessened.

Like a good teacher/momma, I put the focus back where it should be: 
on the kids with whom I am here to interact.
It's gonna be a great 
**First Day**

Two requests--One--please don't post anything religious on the blog.  Two--You can ask our Father to send me as many Flowers this week as I can stand.

(I will try to post photos now that I have a system of getting to the blog...key word...try)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

We are in Chiner!! July 22

According to plan, we arrived in Beijing 
at 11:00pm China time...which was 11:00am on Thursday in our home state of FL. 
We had the usual wait and hurry, hurry and wait kind of plane exit.

(Does leaving a plane give you a few moments of panic that you may have left some--extremely important--item tucked in some comfortable corner of the plane and you won't know you are missing it until that item is essential?? It does me...especially after a 12 hour and 41 minute flight in which I've tucked and rearranged more than once.)

Our group of 24 made it through deplaning, clearing customs, locating luggage and bathrooms without losing anyone. We dragged our over-packed bags and our tired little bodies with enthusiasm reserved for end-of-trip reuniting with friends and family. Mark and I were not only back to a land we've grown to love, but we had some necks we were looking forward to hugging: our son, Justin who has been in the Philippines for 3 weeks, and some of our American friends who are ex-pats here in Ch*na. 
(warm fuzzies for Momma to get her hands on that boy, even if only for the shortest of seconds. His hugs are famous!)
Necks were hugged, and we were off.
We quickly met Oliver, our guide, who shook our hands and said,
"Stay right here. I will be back in a minute."
And within 3 minutes of meeting, we were parted...
Most of the group headed to the bus, leaving Mark, Austin and me to wait for Oliver.
Bye kids! Not one of the 3 needed to touch base with us. 
(You can read a previous blog regarding launching our kids as soon as
I figure out how to make those links on my blog.)
I can do wait. 
There is so much to watch in the Beijing airport at midnight.

We were met by the van and loaded our 
6 full-size pieces of luggage, 
4 backpacks and
3 people into a 
9 passenger van. 

No problem. 
Then we drove to the next exit, and loaded 7 more people and their luggage. The last passenger actually sat in the front, nearly on the lap of the driver's assistant, with two suitcases crammed between them and the driver. 

True Ch*na living at it's best.
We arrived at the hotel uneventfully and settled in for a very short night.

When the wake-up call came at 4:15am, we were easily out of bed and quietly slid down to a lobby by 4:40am...which was FULL of people also waiting for the van to the airport. 
That airport is also hopping at 5:15am!

When we arrived in Baotou, we were met by the rest of the family of our American ex-pat friends...and everyone but the Momma has grown this year! 

2 taxis and 5 flights of stairs (thank you, boys!) later, 
we were met with cinnamon rolls made by Timo, and fresh fruit for breakfast.
(yeah! Dragonfruit is one of my favorites here!)
Amy's two little friends, Schultz and Klink
Matt has grilled something delicious smelling and we'll soon have lunch. The rest of the day will include enjoying our friends, chatting, moving into the hotel and chatting.Until tomorrow...
Zai Jian!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Count Down to Maylin continues...

So, what needs to happen in the 
next 24 hours 
before we leave our house for 
22 days and 
fall in love with about 25 students each, 
then return with our 8th child?

Although math is not my strong suit...multi-tasking is. 
We've so got this...

until that last minute panic caused by my forgetting 
whether I already put that (one specific thing) into someone's suitcase!

What needs to happen today:

Final clothing washed and packed
Maylin's bag packed
Toiletries packed 
(we decided we needed to wear deodorant this week, instead of packing it early)
Adoption dossier rechecked
Passports packed
Vans full of gas for Grammy and for the travel
my suitcase is almost ready!
Verify travel with Team members (our first flight is an hour earlier)
Reorder the school clothes that didn't fit B, B and M
Pray some more
Print photos for our Chinese classrooms
Finish running all the water our of our house lines 
to remove the chlorine used when treating our brand-new well.
Turn water heaters back on so we don't have to rely on last week's deodorant use

Continue praying
Pack back-packs and carry-ons
Make sure banking and bills are caught up
Buy a messenger bag for Austin
Continue running water to flush the lines
Trash to the curb (we don't even have a curb...)
Pray as I finish the list of things
Finish putting the old school books away to have fresh space for Maylin's books
Check that the money for adoption fees and travel is in like-new condition
(The Chinese don't always take US dollars if they are not like new. It just means 
my money-laundering/ironing career is about to commence!)
Recheck flight times
Zip suitcases and weigh each one
Do all the other odds and ends
Attempt to sleep

That should do it! My next post ought to be from Ch*na!!

(the inserted photos are a few of the things we are taking to children from their soon-to-be adopted families!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

So, what IS with all the Changing? (part two)

Let's get this straight. 

I'm an up-front kind of gal, and I want you to recognize that I never promised
this blog would be solely dedicated to our heart journey (or our literal journey) to Maylin Li.

What I meant to say, whether or not I actually did, was that our adoption has caused me to finally succumb to the blogging world. I will try to blog frivolous details, and extraneous information in abundance while we are in Ch*na. I will do my best to convey our varied emotions as we spend time with our newest daughter. 

But, I wanted to finish our last conversation. My unusually strong, multi-tasking brain just doesn't want to move on until this topic is put to bed, so to speak.
**the parenthesis in the title that states this is (part two) should suggest you read 
(part one), the previous post**

I hear you say:
Get. on. with. it...
(which is what I would be thinking if this were your post,and I was waiting to get into your head...)

While sitting at a fine entertainment establishment
known for it's terror-inducing Mouse and money-sucking games,
I was pondering the thought I posed last:

"Lord, if you want to mold me into the image of Your Son, and
You 'call out to me to change'
Why don't You just start with a better product??!"

I love when it's obvious to me that God is listening in on my conversations with myself.
ALL day long, in lots of corners of my brain and life,
I found Flowers from Him:

1. The third stanza from one of our worship songs Sunday morning:

And I know I'm weak
I know I'm unworthy
To call upon Your name
But because of grace
Because of Your mercy
I stand here unashamed

2. My feeling of genuine affection for one of my kids,
at the very same time that I was annoyed beyond myself at his/her behavior
(Can't share which kid... I have to protect the reputation of the little jerks sometimes...)

3. Thinking of Maylin's soon arrival and the discussion Mark and I had last night regarding her future. It MUST be an awesome life ahead for God to have her adoption all planned since before time.

4. A couple of other things that really wouldn't translate well if I tried to put them into print.

While I was at the Mr. Cheese's House, I was considering the analogy of the Maserati and beater that I used yesterday. I came to an amazing conclusion:

Let me back the conversation up a little to talk about parenting, then I promise I'll say those
three awful words again... 
you know which three.

As a parent of children that have come to our family biologically and through adoption, I think I have the right to say, there is amazing potential in children. Research backs me up when I say they come pre-wired, but malleable. It's the Nature vs. Nurture debate that I had to discuss in a college course WAY before I cared.

Most of the parents I know look at the pooping bundle of tiny human in their arms
and dream...

I am not one to pre-set my kid's destiny based on my desire for his or her future job.
(I would not be a very good "Jewish Mother" in that respect.
"Meet my son Austin, the future inventor of something useful and costly.")

I dream things that are big, and yet specific. I pray that this screaming bit of sweetness that demands nutrition every few hours will be a man or woman of God. That they will change the world they entered and truly leave it with more people seeking a relationship with God because of them. That they will be successful in the ways that count in eternity.
I believe they each have amazing potential.

That's why they are stuck in piano lessons until they get paroled to another instrument of their choice.
That's why I expect them to complete homework and study for tests, even if the teacher is stupid.
That's why we expose them to real, live m*ssionar*es and m*ssion fields.
That's why we take the time to repeat their weekly verse each night
(when we're on our game, at least.)
And a billion other things that include learning to love themselves, and others, and God above all.


What they might become;
What they could become;
What they will become.
(future tense used on purpose)

So I must shamefacedly admit: I was wrong. The basic assumption was wrong. It sounded so right, but when I compared it to Truth...I was wrong.
(not so painful to type the third time...)
The sometimes-painful process of become like Christ doesn't start with
a decent product that He needs to tweak.
I was processing the whole surrender thing as if He is taking all the good He's already instilled in me and when (read:if) I let Him, changing it into something else, that looks more like Christ. In reality, I think He is actually working His (occasionally painful) work of GRACE in my life to
return me to what He had envisioned all along for me.

In some ways, He is Restoring me to what He intended at Creation.
In some ways, He is Creating a whole new beast.

For those who are analogy-prone like I am:
He isn't making a Jaguar out of a Dodge.

He's making the stuffed toy jaguar on my child's bed into the real, breathing, muscular, sleek-coated cat that moves and hunts and senses and LIVES. He is taking the me that I was--a pretty poor representation of the Image I was created to bear--and transforming it into the Eden-dwelling human
He originally planned for me to be.

The Velveteen Rabbit and Skin-Horse know what it is to be REAL,  and what it takes to become REAL.

I haven't even touched on dealing with the pain we see inflicted on others, and how devastated that can make us feel. If this post wasn't so shockingly long already, we'd go there. But instead, I wonder what you're thinking.

A favorite from C.S. Lewis:
"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us;
we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

So, What's with All the Changing?

So, here's my thought from today, and yesterday.

(Well, it may have started the day before, but I'm not certain what day of the week 
I am finishing, and which day this all began...)

There are things I just wonder about. 

"What's-Your-point, Lord?" kind of things.

Questions to which I am not sure I will ever have the RIGHT answer. 

Some of the questions are huge in my head, and need a cosmos of thinking in order to get somewhere close to an answer with which I can live (and believe me, I rarely have the time or energy to do a cosmos of thinking in a short time frame. That kind of stuff takes me years to process.
And it makes my head hurt...but not in a tiara-way) 

Other questions may pique my interest, but they're not deal-breakers when it comes 
to my trusting, loving, and serving God.

I don't plan on answering those questions for you, but maybe as we travel along together, we can 
share the parts and pieces that God has given each of us

~~those thoughts that help you and me begin to put handles on the boxes...even if we can't yet carry them~~

Let me give you a few, just to mess with your mind, like they have with mine:

How does prayer really work? I mean, I know it works...but how?

What's the point of a husband and wife purposefully investing years "growing into each other," if He knows the pain and grief that comes when one spouse dies? (and most of the time, that is what's going to happen.)

Why does He knit our hearts with anyone...and then remove them from our life?

Why do people who will never choose to parent well receive the blessing of children?
(sometimes, abundantly)
And why does God plan for others to struggle so hard in order to become the 
parents they are already destined to be?

Stuff like that. 
(Believe me, I have more...but we'll grab the tiki torches 
and toast our brains together another time.)

Here is the paragraph that got this particular brain wave rolling:

"If anything, I’ve seen more and more how I haven't let God shape me and ways that he is calling out to me to change and to allow him to be in control. But the peace that has come from seeking him wholeheartedly is encouraging… and causes me to want to know him more and to surrender more and more."

  This recent wonderin' is not a new thought to me, which is why the sentence below formed so quickly in my brain when I read my friend's words:

"Lord, if you want to mold me into the image of Your Son, and You
'call out to me to change'
Why don't You just start with a better product??!"

Really, what's Your point? 

Why buy the car when you know you'll have to drop in a new engine before you even begin to sand and fill and paint, and bump out the fender, and replace the doors so you can replace the locks, get new tires, seal the windows and recondition the air conditioning,  for heaven's sake?
And...You paid top dollar for the stinking car.
You paid for a Maserati and got

a beater.

No, really, what's Your point?

I have some theology, and a little reasoning, and a pinch of common sense. I can make this work...if I have to prove a point about God's goodness, or His love, or His redemption. I could stretch out some truths and wrap them in nice words, and we could all go through the day feeling like we talked about something.

Maybe even something important.
But really, is that enough for you?

(Honestly, some days, it is enough for me. It takes a lot of faith and energy to make life work, and some days I'd settle for a nod and pleasant hand shake instead of truly understanding what God's purpose is in CHANGING me.)

I do have a few conclusions...but I'd also love to hear what He's shown you
(Hence, the comment box below. As Elizabeth pointed out on a recent post, the comment boxes creates conversations, instead of a monologue.)

(I warned you, my one weakness was a daily analogy...)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Did you happen to see my Flowers yesterday?

God knew I would be tired after shopping, 
and driving and expending more energy than an old lady ought to...
and I do get a teeny bit grumpy when I get, 
He sent me an amazing sunset 

to watch while I drove a van full of boys young men home from the Orlando International Airport.The kids were playing games and sharing music and cackling (one has a creeper-sort of laugh, but the others cackle) and interrupting each other's telling of the week's events--
In all, a delightful trip home.
(and I really am serious about that...)

For 20 noisy minutes, I quietly watched God paint 
the wispy, scattered clouds an amazing yellow-gold 
that melted into an amber-pink 
which turned into a fiery red in the blink of an eye and 
then...the inky blue of an evening 
when there are too many man-made lights to view the stars. 
The colors oozed from one to the next, and (safe driver that I am) I had to check the sky frequently while checking the road even more frequently. I know I missed some nuances of the transitions between colors, but I saw the ones He wanted me to see.

No one else in the car noticed the colors, or the clouds, or the changes. 
If they did, they were as silent as I was about enjoying 
the Flowers From My Father.

The other passengers were rightfully busy with friends within the tiny six-seater world we created as we hurtled down the turnpike at (the appropriate) speed of the highway traffic. It was fine with me that I didn't point out the bouquet...He'd made it for me.
And it was perfect.
So, I guess the question still stands,
did you happen to see my Flowers yesterday?
Did you see any of those He sent you?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sometimes, the Tiara hurts my Head

One of the passions I have is 

Okay, maybe it isn't as much of a passion as I'm just weird. 
(And, I prefer to call it quirky, not weird.)

The truth is
I truly can't live through a single day without at least one analogy 
oozing out of me. 
Sometimes, it's even purposeful.
Sometimes, it's like finding coffee dribbled down my T-shirt (How'd THAT happen?)
But I admit, I really like it. Well, almost always.

I was tidying the house when I found the tiara.
The silver plastic one with the pink boa-style fringe along the front.
It was broken. One of the pointy parts up front that makes it tiara-like had been snapped off.
(I'd make some comment about the neighbor's kid, "Syd," destroying our toys for his own evil purposes, but there isn't a neighbor, or a "Syd," or much evil you can do with a partial tiara.)

So, efficient, yet wacky, woman that I am, I stuck the tiny glittering head-piece up 
on the Royal Noggin.
I'd head toward another room soon enough (where said tiara should reside) and deposit it in that 
Black Hole we call, Beth's Room.

Only, that wasn't my next stop. 
Or maybe it was, and I'd already lost focus.
Regardless, I apparently had the tiara on for...

Cleaning done, I was at the dining room table, preparing to teach in Ch*na.

I started to get that feeling--you know, the, uh-maybe-I've-been-sitting-here-too-long feeling.
Maybe, I shouldn't have had caffeine at lunch. Did I? I don't think I did...
Uh-oh, the flu that's going around starts with an achy head.
It can't be an allergy headache. My nose isn't itchy. Wait! It is a little itchy!
I'll just get up and get some water. Yeah, I'm probably dehydrated.
But, I can't be dehydrated, I just had all that water with lunch.
Well, I can't finish China lessons with a head like this. I'll set this aside for later...

I rolled my head around to loosen up the muscles tensing in my neck and ran my hands through my hair.......

Awwwwww, the tiara.
Remove tiara. Rub temples. Roll eyes. Sigh with relief. Shake head.

 A little something I picked up and added to "me" in my daily life 
became a total distraction to what I ought to be/wanted to be doing.

Are you rolling with the analogy yet?

Whatcha' got tucked into your back pocket, or handbag, or up your sleeve...that seems innocent enough at first...but becomes something you had no idea was
going to steal time
to rob energy
to weaken friendships
to waste the seconds you've been given today?
(I immediately think of the example of reading blogs....sorry...) 
"The Tiara that was used for Evil" (sans Syd!) could have been the title here.
But I'll remember this one a little longer:

Sometimes, the tiara hurts my head.

(Analogies may possibly be my one weakness.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wo Ai Ni, Dear One

To the Daughter we will soon meet,                                                                         September 2010

So, why did I feel the desire to bring you home? 
What was it in my heart that told me our 
already-full hom
didn’t only have room for you, but it needed you?
I am not sure I can define why, but I will explain how, the best I can.

After our first two weeks teaching in Inner Mongolia (August 2007), 
I was actually a little relieved that 
I could see beautiful Chinese children, 
I could teach marvelous Chinese kids, 
and I could fall in love with new Chinese friends, 
yet not feel like we needed to bring one of them home. 
In some ways, I wanted to bring them all home...
but I knew these bright and loving kids I had fallen in love with already had 
and parents, 
and a place in life.

When I came home after teaching in August 2008 and 2009, I was again 
a little pleased with myself
that we had united our hearts with 
the Wonders of China 
a second and third time and I was perfectly content to love friends there.
(relieved exhale!
I know it was the month of October when, 
as I prayed for the children in my previous years' classes, 
I heard the whisper that there was a Chinese child that belonged to our hearts forever
I smiled and confidently confided in God that all those students in our classrooms would be in our hearts forever. 
 (Silly God! Of course I'd love those kids forever.)

He gently said, Not just those children. Your child.”

“Oh,” I (excitedly) reasoned with Him, “You are going to give us Chinese grandchildren one day!” 

Will it be through my kids’ adopting, (oh, so fun!)
or maybe one of our kids will marry a Chinese and our grandkids will be part-Chinese, I figured!
“Do You mean 
You have a child for Mark and I to adopt, 
and love, 
and bring into this family, now?” 
And He confirmed just that. 
I guess you were born in my heart that day.
Just like many pregnancies, the daddy didn’t know as soon as the momma did! But God gave Daddy his own story that he can tell about how God worked in his heart, and when you were born there.       

I know God is fully directing this. 
But, I wonder. I have to admit, I worry a little. 
In the winter months, I have prayed that you would be warm and that you would have 
enough to eat each day. 
I worry that it will be so difficult for you to move to America. 
I worry that you will be leaving people you love, and have known most of your life. 
I wonder how hard it would be for Benjamin, or Elizabeth, or Matthew to make the kind of transition we know you will have to make. 
So difficult. 
I pray that God has given you a heart that is strong, and a desire to come to America. 
I pray that He will give you an amazing ability to learn and grow and learn more! 
I pray that He will teach us how to grow with you.

In March 2010, we started the paperwork that had to be done. Dad did 
an amazing job 
of making sure it was done correctly, and as quickly as we could have it done. 
We want you home as soon as possible! And now, with all the paperwork in China, we can begin to look for you on the lists of children that are adoptable. 
I am certain we will know you when we see you. I hope you feel the same.
Already, Wo Ai Ni, Dear Daughter.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Bouquet called EB

There are all kinds of ways to be given flowers.
There are all kinds of reasons to be given flowers.
There are some types of flowers I love more than others, BUT
I do love getting flowers.

I love getting flowers when I expect them.
(What new Momma doesn't expect some kind of pastel bouquet?)

I love getting flowers when I don't expect them.
(Especially if we haven't even had a disagreement!)

I love flowers when I buy them for myself at the grocery.
(I usually pick up alstroemeria because they last so long.)

I love getting flowers in a pot of soil. 
(My friend J. is great on this one.)

I love getting a tangled handful of yard greens with limp tossles on top.
(Thank you, Austin, for having allergies. This is one time when your allergies are useful.  
Because of you, I can honestly thank the dear child that brought flowers to me, 
then take the arranged weeds to the window sill outside. 
The other time his allergies are useful is when there is dusty work. He does get out of some types of manual labor based on the sympathy- factor.)

I think, quite possibly, that 
Flowers From My Father 
are my most favorite.

You see, I was given some again today.

I had a pretty good day yesterday, considering it was one of the children's birthdays
and things didn't go as planned.
(Maybe I should have actually had a plan, but that's another post.)

Yesterday's Flowers From My Father included an international skype conversation with Justin. He's our 20 year old in the Philippines for a 3 week medical m*ssion and he was able to fill me in on his first few days there. So precious to get face time when it's a little elusive.

Flowers From My Father.

(We'll leave out the significant chunk of the day which was spent disciplining character training another one of the children)

Then, Birthday Girl's birth mom called.
We hadn't had a chat in a
time, and it was a wonderful gift of

Flowers From My Father.

I figured the smile from those two bouquet alone would glue the grin on my face all week.
But, no, He had more planned.

Today's bouquet wasn't the huge mass of crimson roses
on the dining room table,
or the sweet single bud on the bedside.

It was the delightfully cheery riot of
Gerber Daisies
neatly settled onto the kitchen table with
a hot cup of tea beside them.

~~a long-overdue, extended conversation with a dear friend
who is serving God on the other side of the Big Pond~~
God's gift of friendship and fellowship and community
outlasts location, occupation and nation.

I listened to her heart and she listened to mine.
We shared our lives, and adventures, and we laughed
and neither time nor distance really were an issue.

She listened as I paused our conversation to instruct a child or two on one thing or another. Our family banter made her smile since she could "see" the expressions on the kids' faces. She's seen the good and bad in most of my kids, and still enjoys their unique personalities. I enjoyed hearing her man's voice call out from the background, and it was like we lived across town from each other again, not across the world.

The grass sometimes seems greener,
was one thought that came from today's conversation.
That's true for me, I suppose.

There are days I think less would be more and other days when I think more would be better.

But the conclusion, rightly drawn, was that 
we are where we are with God's grace and provision.

is living life with the faith, the deep-to-the-core knowledge, 
that despite anything and everything
He has a plan (perfect one, at that), 
He has a purpose (perfect one, at that) 
and He will provide (perfectly, I must add)

To quote EB:
"Maybe it's just that we're all making the most of what we've been given - wherever and whatever that is."

Good strong, quotations may be my one weakness...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Preparation for The Next Chapter

When friends and acquaintances learn that we will soon be bringing home our newest daughter, the conversation usually includes a question,

So, what are you doing to prepare for Maylin's arrival?

Huh, What am I doing? 

I've been too busy to be Doing.

Well, she'll be sharing a room with Beth, and the second twin bed has been there for years.
We don't know her clothing size, so the hand-me-downs that wait...may or may not fit.
I can't master Mandarin this week.
We've discussed which drawers we'll clean out for Maylin.
 I don't see the value in labeling anything. I know where the spoons go, and she doesn't know that 
means much of anything.

We don't really have much we can DO to prepare.

Mostly, I think I ponder. 
I consider how I'll handle a situation at the supper table, if she throws a tantrum about mashed potatoes.
I consider how I'll teach her when we (literally) don't even speak the same language!
I think about what we might do together that will help us bond, without threatening her personal space.
I read. and read. and read.
I read about bonding in an older adoption.
I read about parenting children from the difficult place.
I read about integrating an older child into an established family.
I think about all the things she may miss, and how I can fill those emotional holes when I can't duplicate the things she'll miss.


How will we understand her emotions?
Who will stand in the gaps when we hit a new snag?
Should I have her seen by the pediatrician immediately or let her acclimate?
What about vaccinations?
Should we shut down our lives and go into quarantine?
Is it better to simply live our normal lives since that is what she's in for?
Will she like me?

So, today, I did what every anxious mother turns to for comfort and a feeling of control:
(It wasn't cleaning, this time.)

I went shopping.

Now, I only purchased a few things for us to get through the first few days together.
(two dresses, undies, a TinkerBell Pajama and a swim suit)

Provided she comes in one change of  clothes and a pair of shoes, that should hold us.

Oh, and we've also been praying. Yeah, that's the big one.


Having conversations with God about my kids comes pretty naturally to me now, and having one more to talk about hasn't seemed to slow anything down, or clog anything up.

We've specifically asked Him to give her a desire in her heart to come to America.
We've specifically asked that the timing of the travel and adoption coincide with our already planned trip to the cultural exchange/English language program. (check! thank you, Lord!)
We've asked that her transition be exactly what it should be to make us all who we should be.
We've asked that we be who she needs us to be as a family and as parents.
We've asked that we all have teachable hearts.
(I've secretly prayed that she likes her new English name.)
I love it...Maylin Li Dersch

So, I guess, tomorrow I'll try DOING something to prepare.
Maybe, I'll help Beth "tidy" her room and decide which drawers will belong to her little sister.
(This will strike fear into my Dear One's heart. She is well aware that
"tidy" is a mom code word for "throw it away.")

And I'm sure I'll pray.

God seems to already know all the answers to the questions of my heart.
It seems to be the place I go when I recognize my one weakness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Launch Dates

A Launch Date could be just about anything. 

"We launched the new computer program at work."
"We went to see the last Shuttle launch."
"A face that could launch a thousand ships..."

When I say Launch Date, it means one thing:
growing my child to a point that I am confident (as possible) that he/she is ready to be 

The Adult.

That they can 
~write a check
~pay a phone bill
~smile at a job interview
~dress appropriately for most occasions
~speak their mind clearly (and hopefully, humbly) and 
~employ personal hygiene on a regular basis, without any reminders.

My internal guide says that I won't judge 
how good of a Mom I have been 
until the kid is 30. 

Somehow, at 30, it seems like you are who you are going to be (sort of.
 People mess up in their 20's (I did, at least.) Some people mess up in big ways.
But by the time we hit 30 (I speak retrospectively), it just seems to me, 
that most people have settled in their head 
what they want their life to BE.

And like it or not,  we suspect that we are the only ones that can BE us.

I'm not raising children. I'm raising adults.

I don't intend for my 30 year old sons to be childish. 
I want them to be leaders in their homes, nurturing warriors, decent citizens.
I hope my 30-something daughters will be women with a passion and purpose who make choices because they are the right ones, and love hard, pray hard, and live (a little) hard.

Now, what was my point?
Oh yeah. Launch Dates.

I don't have a date set in my head when I expect any of our children to "launch," although there are certainly some appropriate times to expect it might happen. But in a daily way, preparing them to launch means I don't look at today's drama in the school room, or messes on the floor, or broken heart the same way. 

The play ground disagreement needs to be handled like you hope they'll handle drama in the corporate world: with a solution-focused respect, a calm demeanor, and knowledge that life isn't always fair.

The messy floor needs to be dealt with by the one who made it, or sometimes, the by one who didn't make it, because a serving spirit is rewarded in so many lovely ways.

The broken heart needs patience to bind the wound, and arms to cry into, and a box of tissues nearby because sometimes, real love is hard.

I have plans to launch them.

And I'll know when I know.

I've had the experience of setting a child from our quiver onto the bow string, pulling back, determining the course I think he ought to fly, and being ready to let go with confidence. I've looked into a set of clear blue eyes and known he will be just fine, if perchance, I never have opportunity to pour one more thing into him. 

Just Fine.

That's a nice feeling.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Glimpse of the Future

Sometimes I just wish I knew a little more about 
the Future.

What heart-wrenching decisions would have been just a "done-deal" had I known 
the delightful end from the painful beginning? 
What heaviness would I have avoided if, 
 in that moment of choosing, 
I knew how that choice would effect 
 my family. 
 my friends.
my future.

Tonight, the Flowers from My Father included a strangely silent house.
A gift from the future.

Our bustling home is usually filled with 
(at least) 9 busy lives 
living out LOUD
and sometimes, LOUDER.

As a young(er) momma, I took to heart the wistful eyes and wry smiles of mature women who said they missed having it. They missed listening to unending stories, and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and kissing boo-boo's, and laughing at knock-knock jokes (again), and folding tiny white onsies and squinching up their eyes as the piano practice repeated the same wrong phrase and burying their nose in stinky boy-necks after the Wild Thang fell asleep across the footstool.

That's when I decided.
I would not regret moments gone.
I would embrace the days, the hours and attempt to embrace the moments.

I would know when they left, that I had been There. Really been There. 
and for the most part, I have.

The very still house I'm in tonight is different than the 12midnight house that I revel in. At midnight, there is a delightful quiet that still moves, and breathes, and occasionally snores or snorts. The hush tonight is 
the constant thrum of a refrigerator, 
and an air conditioner, 
the singing of crickets from the back yard. 

The nearly-empty house sounds.

Predictably, if all goes as planned,
my future.

It pleases me tonight because I know it won't last. 
 It won't be long until the young legs are cranking down the hall (slow down, tiger!) and the cheerios are poured (It's okay. Let Lucy...our dog... get those) and the couch lets out its mighty groan (this living room is NOT a gymnasium!) and someone is looking for car keys (check Anne's room) and laundry is running
and life is busy, 
schedules are crazy, 
the family is amazing.

A glimpse of the future can sometimes make the present very sweet.
When we're old, I'll bake fresh bread, and you bring some blackberry jelly, 

and we'll do tea.
Jelly bread may be my one weakness.