Living Faith

Noah was surrounded by people who wanted to dissaude and detract him from following God's call in his life. Noah acted in faith to God's call even though what he was called to do went against common sense and the "rules". Noah ran his race with the intent to win. He did not worry about public opinion. We can look at Noah's life for guidance when it seems we are the only ones walking a certain path; running an only course. We are not alone in our faith. God will always be there to guide and help through life's many storms and trials. An active and living faith can at times require actions that may seem new and uncomfortable, but the rewards are eternal.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Out with the Old and in with the New?

For those who have visited my blog a few times in the past, you know of how my husband and I so desperately sought to bring home two children from the same classroom of our most recently adopted daughter, Chloe.  Chloe was and continues to be a survivor.  During and after her adoption we were told stories of how she refused to smile, how sick she was in the orphanage and the amount of money spent on her frequent hospital visits while living in the orphanage.  The director of her orphanage was a beautiful and loving woman who did everything in her power to take care of her.  She, the director, had an adopted child of her own who also worked in the orphanage.  Chloe was blessed to be in this orphanage not only because of the director but also because of three special friends she had there with her.  One of those friends was adopted just a month after Chloe came home but the two others wait.  Wait for what?  We do not know.  These children are stuck in the system.  Did we turn our backs on them? No, we fought for them and although it did not turn out the way we wanted it to their lives are better now because we did fight.  We continue to pray.  We receive updates on them and cherish every picture and bit of information we can get.  We talk of them frequently in our home.  Although they are not physically with our family they are in our hearts and we will always love them.  Chloe has the opportunity to visit them when we return to China in February.  I go back and forth in my mind weighing what is best for the boys as well as Chloe knowing that they are "family" and a significant part of each others story.  A story that needs to be embraced and not forgotten, "the old".  Do you throw the old away and start over again with the new?  I do not think so.  In my Trust Based Relational Intervention studies, Karyn Purvis taught us to be a blank slate for our children's stories.  We do not make up a story for them hoping it will make the past better or less painful.  We allow the children to tell us how they remember or even what they want to make believe about their past.  As we accept their rendition of the story it slowly changes into the real experience of what they endured as they are able to process it and accept in with the love, trust and security we have given them by listening.  Only listening and doing nothing else like correcting, fixing or negating.  So do I throw out the old? No, I pray and ask God to help me trust in Him to heal the heart of this little miracle we have.  

Going backwards a little bit and also repeating some information in a previous blog, when we came home with Chloe, all I could do was think of her friends left behind.  When you adopt and you get to visit the orphanage it changes you.  To me, I was not rescuing one child.  I was leaving behind an orphanage full of children who were losing hope with each "friend" they saw leave, never to return. How do you reconcile that?  Well thankfully I allowed God , after some time of fighting him to show me how. It all started with my pastor.  On Palm Sunday after having Chloe home for 6 months and still fighting to join her friends with our family, I went forward in church to ask for prayer for these boys.  My prayer request was to adopt these boys, Noah and Rhys.  After all, ever since I had gotten home every Christian radio station I listened to was preaching on Noah!  This must be a sign that he and Rhys were suppose to be part of our family.  I will never ever forget the pastor's response to my request.  As we held hands and he prayed for me, He asked God if it was His will for these boys to be adopted that it be so.  I was livid!!!! God tells us He will place the lonely in families.  God fights for the orphans!!!!  I could not believe the words coming out of this tall strong Texan's mouth.  Had he not studied his Bible?  Little did I know!  In the days to come, a non-profit in the orphanage started a tutoring program for our two boys and the 5 other children stuck in the same situation as them.  They, at the moment, do not have a hope of being adopted but they do now have tutors and loving people coming into the orphanage to mentor them.  The old is not thrown out, it is rejoiced in.  And what of the new?

I believe if we had been successful in bringing home these boys, less children would be reached through me by the grace of God.  Because God said, "No", I was open to other ways that I could help children from the birth country of my two precious daughters.  This search took many twists and turns that led to the opportunity of  leading  two teams to China, training under Dr. David Cross and Dr. Karyn Purvis, meeting Dr. Bruce Perry and talking to him of traumatized children one on one, and in the next couple of months I will return to Ft. Worth, Texas, to receive training in how to hold camps for adopted children and their parents as well as conducting camps in orphanages for the children and their care providers. A camp for  children with histories of abuse or abandonment that has caused them to isolate themselves due to failed trust.  These children often remained closed and alone while their parents and care givers watch helplessly. 

God has truly been merciful to me.  As I wait to see what God has next, I am thrilled at the opportunity to parent our newest son who will be 10 years old when he joins our family hopefully by the end of summer 2014.  We will continue to celebrate in the new and as we support and cherish the past.  I look forward to sharing how God continues to work in our lives and will give Him the glory for everything we have and do not have.  I am what I am because He has been there in the old and in the new for me.  Shaping me and forming me into what He needs to accomplish the goals He set for me before I was ever formed in my mother's womb.  I am a child of His and I am thankful for all the children He has chosen for me to come in contact with.  I ask for your prayers as we navigate the new and uncertain as we also continue to celebrate the old that continues to unfold from the pasts of our children's lives.  The stories they have shared and will share as we journey together this side of heaven.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Beyond Burdens be........Blessings!

My last blog was almost a year ago as I prepared to lead a team to China.  Today I find myself once again preparing to head off to China to lead another team to the beautiful province of Fujian.  A new team, a new organization sponsoring me but still the same burden to make a difference in the lives of these children from my daughter's province.  A burden that was placed on my heart 4 years ago and weighed so heavily at times that I though my heart would break. Today that burden has brought many blessings in my life; new friendships, sponsorship, education, love, children, etc....A heart that once was so heavy with the emotional and physical hurts of life.   Burdens that I had carried by myself not trusting anyone with them and therefore not allowing them to be exposed to the light so they could be healed.  As I opened up and told my story I found unconditional love and my burdens now became blessings.   A heart that had to walk through the healing process herself so that she could walk others on the path she had traveled and found step by step that God was always there waiting and calling out to me.  Burdens I bore have now become connections in order to help others bear their own.  I rejoice that I have come to a place of healing that allows me to take these orphans of China and their caretakers farther than I could last year.

This year I go with a team that includes a teacher of Tia Chi, massage therapist, art therapist, girl scout leader, a mom of a son with sensory processing disorders that knows how only 18 months in an orphanage can have damaging effects on the brain of a child, a daughter adopted 18 years ago from this province and two males for the large group of teen boys we have in this camp.  I also go being sponsored by a wonderful organization that used Karyn Purvis' book, The Connected Child, as a Bible study to teach healing to grown women who came from hard places.  To me one of the most significant things is that I am allowed to bring my two adopted daughters back to China to help teach English and Christ's love to their age group.  Chloe will also be able to visit her friends, the two boys, we left behind 3 years ago.  God has been so gracious and merciful to me.

What do I go back with personally for the upcoming camp?  Experience and knowledge would be the two things at the top of my list.  Last year we were recruited to teach English first and foremost.  I had a wonderful team to fulfill this task.  We were blessed with a music teacher that also wrote curriculums, four beautiful ladies that had been on many mission trips and a sweet heart of a girl that wanted to learn and have her heart broken for the orphan.  I learned through this first trip and my studies through Texas Christian University that learning English was secondary to what these children needed.  They were not going to be able to learn English, higher learning skills, until we addressed the lower needs.  This is what we will go equipped to do this camp. These children through no fault of their own and unknowingly by the workers that were assigned to them were not given the the neural input they needed to self regulate can be taught this skills months and years later.  We will do this while introducing English words that will help them communicate in Mandarin, English and sign language what they need without acting out to get their basic needs met.

I am so excited to take what I have learned to continue the relationship I have built with the children.  Not only that but I am so excited to return to these children that I served last year to let them know I am committed to them and that I want to pursue a relationship with them.  I have not forgotten them and will seek to be a part of their lives as long as I am allowed.  They are precious and valuable to me just as they are to their Heavenly Father.  However, they can not know how precious they are to a Heavenly Father until they are shown that through us here on earth.  I have been blessed to be able to go back and ask that you go with me.  We are in need of prayer, supplies and funding.  Please consider supporting us by first praying and then through the support of meeting our needs financially.

Friday, January 11, 2013

God answers prayers, His way

3 years ago this month, Greg and I were matched with Jiang YuJun. Little did we know at the time that we were also matched with her two best friends, Noah and Rhys. Two boys that would change the course of our lives.

When Greg and I returned home with Chloe we were determined to do all we could for her family, Noah and Rhys. As many of you know, family is not necessarily defined by blood. Sadly, my biological family and church family did not meet the definition of "family". I think maybe this is why I fought so hard to have the two brothers of Chloe's heart be a part of our family. So, the first thing we did was pray, beg and plead to our heavenly Father for these boys. Those first weeks home Chloe cried for her friends, she and her sister decided to sleep on the floor in Washington State Apple boxes so Noah and Rhys could have their beds when they joined us. I was always finding gifts Chloe had carefully wrapped and hidden away for the day the boys walked through the door.

It breaks a mom's heart not to be able to give her child the thing that is breaking their heart. I know you know that. How much more does our heavenly Father know that?

Palm Sunday in 2011, I could not focus on the sermon by our wonderful pastor. I bowed my head and asked God to forgive me for my wandering mind. My thoughts kept drifting to the two little boys left behind. Some have experienced this and some have called people crazy that claim this, but I heard an audible voice that told me that His name would be glorified through these two boys. I knew I had to go forward at the end of the service and ask for prayer from our pastor. As the final hymn played and my heart beat frantically, I made my way to the front of the church and asked for prayers concerning our situation. The prayer given up to God by my pastor was not the one I was expecting and I will have to admit I was a little ticked off. The prayer was that if it were God's will for these boys to be adopted let it come to pass. Of course, the mommy in me thought, "How in the world could it not be God's will for these boys to be adopted?" My Lord's thoughts and ways are higher than mine and my Lord is not finished!

Greg and I realized that with the situation our boys were in, being trafficked children without the hope of being adopted internationally or domestically, we needed to do something to help the country they were in take care of them. Greg and I with the help of secular non-profit agency began a tutoring program in the orphanage for this group of children. We, along with other sponsors, pay a small sum each month to provide these childen tutoring in the orphanage, school supplies, school lunch and some clothes. However,as you know this does nothing to fill the role of a family.

A year passes and my knees are sore from praying. My dear husband, knowing me so well and warning me not to become obsessed over these boys, reminds me that I am now obsessed. So, I start searching for an outlet for these feelings. On an internet search, I find the only organization in Colorado that works with orphans in China. I was so elated. I did not think this was my way to get the boys it was just an opportunity to help in the country where half my heart was left behind.

The mission of this organization, World Orphans, fit perfectly with the way my husband and I felt coming home from China after our second adoption. There are so many children out there that need a home and begging every Christian family to adopt one orphan so there would be no more orphans was just not working. Even with some families adopting up to 13 children, we just were not going to meet the need and the command that God has given us. World Orphans works with churches in the United States to partner with indigenous countries to care for the orphan.

Imagine my excitement to think I was going to be able to volunteer, advocate, and maybe visit orphans in China. To my disappointment, I was told that the two centers that WO worked in were self-sustaining. Feeling a door close again but not giving up I remained as a volunteer. It has been a year since the last door seemed to close. It was not a door sealed tight with no hopes of opening. It was a door that was not ready to be opened. It did open this past summer. WO was asked to lead a ESL camp during Chinese New Year in Southeast Asia. I signed up to be a part of the team but God had bigger plans for me. I leave in 17 days LEADING a group of wonderful women to the very place my boys, Noah and Rhys, are located. I did not know the location of the camp at the time I accepted the responsibility to lead the team.

What does God have in mind with this really big "coincidence"? I do not know and I am not even going to try and guess. I am going with no other agenda than to serve my Lord and the children, orphans, He has told me to serve. Stepping way out of my comfort zone and being obedient. Leaving behind my four children and my adored husband for the first time in my life. Am I scared? You had better believe it but I am going to trust and wait upon the Lord giving Him all the glory.

You can follow our journey here. You can also support our journey by praying for us, the area we will be in, the orphanage leaders and the children.

God Bless,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Part 4 where to after this?

Greg and I were touched by the pictures we received of Chloe. However, it was the pictures taken of her that included her best friend that tore at our hearts.

If it is possible to catch love in a photo, I have it stored on my computer under "photos of Yujun".

Greg and I decided we would do everything we could to keep these children together.

We inquired about adopting Noah at the same time as Chloe but China was not allowing adoption of two children unrelated at that time plus, we were told Noah was not available for adoption.

We went to China and visited the orphanage. We got to meet Noah and another of Chloe's closest friends, Rhys. Rhys walked right up to my husband and held up his arms to be picked up. With tears in his eyes, my husband looked at me and I knew the two children we would need to bring home together would not be Chloe and Noah but Noah and Rhys.

God is leading Greg and I to continue to fight for Noah and Rhys.

There is no way I can explain how I know this and if I did it would probably make no sense to anyone but me. Why these two boys, when there are so many other children readily available? Why not adopt children a little older so there will not be such a gap in age? Why have four children the same age? Why adopt when you are about to retire and do not know what the future holds? Why adopt when you have two boys about to enter college and tuition is so expensive? Why, why, why?

Blaise Pascal, says, "The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."

The why's go on and on and stop where the "what if's" begin. What if our petitions fail after we feel so convicted.

I can not answer any of these questions. I just know that to not pursue this would be turning my back on everything I have learned through my personal story and as a Christian. We are to stand up for those who do not have a voice, we are to take care of the orphaned but most of all we are to follow our heart when we have tested our motives against the scriptures.

The Lord will prevail regardless of what I want. I want these two boys to be part of our family but God's plans are bigger than mine.

When Chloe entered the hospital, I wanted a successful surgery to help her have more independence with the issues we faced with her spina bifida. However, after 8 days in the hospital we were faced with the realization that one of the procedures in the operation had severe complications. After 20 days in the hospital we realized that somehow, unknown to all, that the operation had corrected Chloe's high blood pressure. Chloe no longer needed high blood pressure medication! However, the mitrofanoff I wanted for her so badly was sacrificed.

In humility, I sacrifice all for the greater good. Please remind me of this again in a few minutes! Yes, it is a constant battle and sometimes one I lose.

The hopes and dreams I had going into the hospital for Chloe's operation. Hopes and dreams of what I thought would be best changed drastically upon leaving the hospital. I was not in control.

I know the faith of building a family is nothing compared to the faith of building the Ark but the "coincidence" of stepping out in faith to bring home this little boy coined Noah was not lost on me. I am studying the Faith of Noah as I walk this path and I am learning, growing and trusting.

I humbly ask God to add these boys to our family, but if He does not, I know they are in His hands even if God does not use my hands to physically care for them.

In His Name and for His Glory,