November 9, 2015

It's time to tell this story.

This has been the hardest, most beautiful year of my life, and I'm about to let to go by with no more than five blog posts about it.  And that is okay.

There are some seasons that are simply beyond words.  The dust has needed to settle a bit before sense can be made out of it.  I want to be real, and not sugar coat the complicated emotions and heartache, but at the same time celebrate all the amazing ways I've seen incredible growth and love and redemption and healing.  So, if you ask me how things are going, I might say a quick "Good".  Because I'm a glass-half-full kinda girl.  But the real answer is, "Really good.  And really hard."

I think it is time to share this story.  The beautiful and the painful.  But this isn't just our story, it is Owen's too.  And that is a huge reason why I haven't found words to write yet.  I have needed to give some time for this story to play out, and figure out what is Owen's to keep and what is mine to share.  At the same time, I definitely feel compelled to share this story, all while honoring Owen's history.  And that is what I intend to do.

Over the next many weeks, I want to get this story written down before it leaves my memory.  It has been incredible and the most beautiful, convicting, refining, and humbling experience of my life.  And we're only six months in.

This Owen Kang is nothing short of amazing.  He simply blows me away.  Sometimes I look down at this boy, snuggled up against my chest, rubbing his blankie with one hand and the other with a thumb in his mouth, and I can't believe we've only known each other six months.  Six months and he trusts like this?  He was so ready for us.

This beautiful story of family and growth and hard and relationship and love, could only have been written by the One who loves each of us beyond measure.  I'm so excited to share it with you.



May 1, 2015

So, it's May.

So, it's May.

I haven't updated, not for lack of things to say, but it has been so hard to find the time to really flesh out all that has been going on into words.  Then I remember, for me, it is writing that is therapeutic and will help me process, so here we go.

We leave in 12 days.  TWELVE DAYS.  Twelve days until I will be in my littlest's country, only days away from squeezing his cheeks and making up for all the snuggles and kisses we've missed the previous 20 months.

My heart is in a state of constant tension right now.  So excited and eager to go get this boy and bring him home and begin the process of loving him to trust us and feel safe with us.  At the same time, right now I am already feeling grief over leaving my other two boys for 17 days.  I get choked up just thinking about it.

But here are some truths that I know.

1. God has us all.  All the time.  In our togetherness and in our separation.  God will be there, and he can communicate love and affection to my kids when they are not with me.  All three of them.

2. Jude and Isaac will be so loved and spoiled by my parents that I'm sure 17 days will feel like 17 seconds.  That, and I may have gone a little overboard on the daily gifts for them while we are gone.  Oh well, what can you do?  They will be in good hands.

3. Redemptive work often involves sacrifice.  In all honesty, I'm sure China is amazing, but I don't know that I would have just left my kids and sat on an airplane for 14 hours for the experience.  Actually, I do know.  I wouldn't do it.  This leaving 2 huge pieces of my heart is sacrifice.  It's part of the hard work.

4. But, then I'm reminded that in 17 days, there is a boy who will be mine and will be a part of a family for the first time in his life and what JOY that gives me.  I have only a tiny picture of what this next season of our life is going to look like, but I do know that it involves a lot of trust in God.

People ask me, are you ready?  Yes, and no.  Yes, because I CAN NOT WAIT for my family of 5 to be under one roof.  No, because how are you ever ready for something that is going to completely change your life?  I have no idea.  But I know God is about to perform a great work, bringing a family-less boy into our family, and he will qualify Jordan and I for the job.  So, yes, as unready as we are, we will be ready.

February 21, 2015

now we're sprinting...

Earlier this week I was Facebook-chatting with a fellow China-adoption-Mama who is also bringing home a sweet boy from China.  I asked her when she planned to travel, and she replied "May".  She then asked about us.  I replied "Planning for August, but praying for July."  I was shocked by her optimism as she said "Oh girl, you will travel before August.  I bet you travel in May with us."  I laughed it off.  July was stretching it in my mind, but May?

The next day, we were gathered around the dinner table (who am I kidding... Jordan and I were, I'm sure one of the kids was under the table and the other was probably standing on his head) when the phone started buzzing.  I try to keep a strict "no phone" policy around the dinner table, but when I happened to see Eugene, OR on the number, I knew what that meant.

"Your LOA has arrived!!"  said our caseworker.

My polite phone voice flew out the window as I sputtered "WHAT ON EARTH!?!  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!?!?!"

She laughed and said that due to the Chinese New Year, our file must have gotten expedited to be completed before everyone took a vacation.

You guys.  We were planning on waiting 3 or 4 months for our LOA (letter of acceptance) to arrive.  It took one week.

Waiting for this document was a huge chunk of our 6 month wait out the window.  So when do we expect to travel now?

"I would expect May.  Possibly June, but no later."

You guys.  YOU GUYS.  I have been so overwhelmed, processing this had me up until midnight that night because I did not even know what the next steps were!  I had months to wait, why would I jump the gun and drive myself crazy?  Well, as it turns out, we don't even have time to think.  Our baby steps to pick up Owen have turned out into an all out sprint as we anticipate traveling to get him this Spring.  I don't even need to count months.  I could count weeks at this point and it wouldn't be crazy.

I texted many friends with my outrageous news and one replied "It doesn't surprise me in the least.  God moves mountains to bring his orphan children home."

Oh you of little faith.

How many times have I stepped onto this water and believed I was sinking only to be pulled up by the arm of Christ, telling me that he has prepared the way.  Wow.

I am still overwhelmed.  But as tempted as I am to fear in the midst of this very big change, I'm going to reject it.  I could spell out the many reasons I fear for myself, the transition for Jude and Isaac, just FLYING TO CHINA (cool, but ummm freaky)... but again.  The road has been paved.  God cares about my anxieties and my fears so much that he continually prompts me to just let them go at His feet.  He continually reminds me that he has written this story and he is trustworthy.

So onward we go.  In May.

February 11, 2015

the story of this boy.

Only God can write a story this good. A story that even what the enemy means for evil, He makes good. All the time.
That devil tried to steal family from a sweet baby boy. Steal the love of a father and a mother. God wouldn't have it.
I already love this story, but first we need to back up.  

The week leading up to this one was hard.  It was hard for me.  Hard in the parenting department.  Hard emotionally, hormonally, whatever.  Just hard.  The previous Monday we had just submitted our paperwork to our adoption agency to say we would gladly adopt a boy or a girl.  I knew it was right, but that week, instead of dreaming of the future, I found myself paralyzed with fear.  What if I fail at this?  I can barely keep up with my own two boys, what am I thinking?  I'm not cut out for a big family or adoption.  This just feels hard.

I was signed up to attend the IF:Gathering conference that weekend and the thought crossed my mind more than once to skip the conference entirely.  I never spoke the words, and I knew I would be too stubborn to skip.  I'm so glad I didn't.  But I was exhausted.

February 5.  I was scheduled to fly out of Grand Rapids (by myself) to Austin, TX (by myself) to attend this conference (by myself).  Luckily I had Facebook connected with a gal who I had a mutual friend with, so despite having never met her before, I didn't feel completely alone.

My first flight ended up being delayed 3 hours, which was okay, because already my second flight was rescheduled to be about 2 hours later.  Luckily, I heard about the delay before leaving for the airport, so instead of sitting by myself for hours, waiting, I had lunch with my mom and boys and then left for the airport.

Boarding time was about 20 minutes away when I get a phone call.

Eugene, OR

Said my caller-ID. 

This can only mean one thing.  Our adoption agency is in Eugene, OR.  And they really have no reason to call, except for one.

I have a referral for you!

Said the singsong voice on the other end of the phone.  My heart started racing.  I quickly told the caseworker that I had to get on a plane very soon so, tell me everything as fast as you can!

It's a baby boy!!....

I was shaking.  Us?  Now?  This soon?  I was shocked, but not surprised in the least all at once.  My caseworker said she would email me the file, and all I could think was that I just can't wait to see this boys face.  Can. Not. Wait.

They called to board the plane as I drained my phone battery by continuing to hit refresh. refresh. refresh.

The plane took off before the file came in, and as we ascended to cloud-level, it hit me for the first time that I have a child on the other side of the world.  

I knew that ambiguously for the past year or so, but now I knew it for certain.  There was a boy out there, living and breathing, that I could claim as my own.  

The email was waiting for me when we landed and I saw my son's face for the first time.  Such an odd thing, to see your child's face for the first time... as a toddler.  The beauty and complexity of adoption is more real than ever.

And he is just the most perfect little boy.  In his photos and videos, he is just so happy and full of life and I have nothing but gratitude for the fact that he has already, CLEARLY been loved on.  Oh, Lord, you answered my prayers for kisses.  I pray that he continues to get the affection and nurture that he needs to thrive.  

So allow me to informally introduce you to our dear son, Owen.  

Young warrior.  Thrown from birth into the battle for his life.  He was God's first, but now he is mine
You hear that, son? You have always been and always will be God's first, but YOU. ARE. MINE. 
These fears I talked about?  They don't matter. They don't. They are bred my of my human responses, just fleeting emotions, but NOT truth.  Fears don't care about an all powerful and supernatural God.  Fears don't remember Him. But the Spirit in me does, and that is who I am going to listen to. 
Those fears that say “I could never adopt”? Why not?  That is the question we came to. WHY. NOT? The “I could never” is fear speaking.  Drown that sucker. 
Those fears that say “I could never raise three crazy boys”? Why not?  I have no experience, but apparently boys and girls are quite different to raise, because people tell me all the time.  But you know what?  Man, I love boys.  Ever since having my own in my womb the first time, God has been cultivating a sweet spot in my spirit for boys.  It wasn't long after, I visioned a house full of boys.  Wow.  It does souls crazy and energetic and dangerous.  But wow.  WOW.  So good.  What a privilege.  To raise MEN.
It was a whirlwind of a weekend.  But we are taking this step.  Pushing aside all fear and doubt in the confidence that the Lord has prepared this road for us.  And we couldn't feel more honored.

Owen, my boy.  We're coming for you.  Consider yourself one less orphan.

P.S.  You have no idea how badly I wish I could share these videos and photos of our boy, but we simply can't until he is officially ours.  Just picture the most adorable Chinese face you ever did see, and you'll have it right.

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