Saturday, June 28, 2008

Heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise

There's nothing like the warmth of a summer afternoon
Waking to the sunlight, and being cradled my the moon
Catching fireflies at night
Building castles in the sand
Kissing Mam's face goodnight
And holding Daddy's hand
Thank you Lord, how could I ask for more

Running barefoot in the grass
A little hide and go seek
Being so in love, that you can hardly eat
Dancing in the dark, when there's no one else around
Being bundled 'neath the covers, watching snow
Fall to the ground
Thank you Lord, how could I ask for more

So many things I thought would bring me happiness
Some dreams that are realities today
Such an irony the things that mean the most to me
Are the memories that I've made along the way

So if there's anything I've learned
From this journey I am on
Simple truths will keep you going
Simple love will keep you strong
Cause there are questions without answers
Flames that never die
Heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise
So thank you Lord, oh thank you Lord
How could I ask for more

     I heard this song yesterday while working on the girls' room.  It's a bit of an emotional song for me.  It has a beautiful slow melody.  And, it's a great reminder of the things that really bring happiness.  Often I need to slow down and enjoy the journey on the way to the destination.  
     Another reason for the emotion- it's an older song.  I used it in my wedding when showing pictures of our families.  It gets me a little choked up every time I hear it.  While listening to it, the last line really hit me.  A month ago I was so distraught.  It seemed liked the world was falling apart and God had forgotten that he told me to adopt a little girl from China.  When I look at her little face now, how can I argue that heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise?  Thank you Lord!
(Cindy Morgan is the artist who recorded this song.  Ironically enough, when I taught school, I had her little cousin in my class!  Small world!)

Emme's shaved head

   While I didn't get any information about travel yesterday, I did get something really good!  Good enough so that I was not depressed the whole day about not receiving LOA or Ta!  I got updated pictures of precious little Emme!  I was a bit surprised.  Remember that head full of hair??  It's gone!  Shaved!  Mylei had a mohawk.  Emme has a reverse mohawk.
    I have received various information about why they shave the heads of these beautiful little girls.  1)  They want it to grow in thicker and fuller and even.  2.)  It's cooler.  Especially for her, she lives in a tropical climate.  3.)  It's a sad fact of institutional life.  Easier to keep clean from dirt, bugs, lice, etc...
     One of my little internet friends casually told me, "Oh, yeah, I asked them not to shave our daughter's hair."  That would have been a nice thing to know I could ask:-)

     Oh well, she's beautiful... really... even with a shaved head!!  I am going to wait until tomorrow night to post her new pictures.  I need to have something to look forward to doing to get me through until Monday.  Who would ever think I'd live for Monday's?? 
     We also received updated measurements.  I have a hard time believing they are correct.  However, her SN is slow growth so maybe they are accurate.  They said her weight is 12 pounds and her length is 24 inches.  On Monday, she will be 10 months.  That seems a bit small to me.  I told you she was a peanut!

    I have to go rest my weary bones now!  I was cleaning and painting the girls' room today.  I started at 10 am and finished at 6:15 pm.  I shouldn't say finished.  I should say, I got the first coat applied ( 2 more to go.  I am doing a linen weave).  Getting Emme has been a great reason to redo their room.  Shelby and Gracie have had the same decor since Shelby was born (She's 10 now.)  We are making their room a Hawaiian room.  I think it's going to be really cute.  We have bunk beds with a trundle on the way so that all 3 can share a room until one of them is brave enough to sleep in the bedroom downstairs.  Emme will sleep in a crib for awhile.  Of course, I'll post pictures when it's done!

    Come back tomorrow to see new pictures of Emme!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here she is GUO SI LIAN.... AKA Emme Mei Kathryn

This morning we received a call that we received a Pre Approval (PA).  I am happy to be able to show her picture, but we were told we would skip this step.  I thought we would skip it and get LOA and TA at the same time.  This is a very long difficult road!  The waiting is driving me insane.

In the positive side, isn't she so cute???  

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hopefully, this is the last long weekend

     I am optimistic that this will be our last long weekend.  It will be much, much better than last weekend.  And, for that I am so thankful.  Now, I just want to know when we are leaving.  I feel like I am one of the most impatient people in all the world.  I thought for sure that once I KNEW they were REALLY going to give me a new referral, I would relax.  That precious little referral came Tuesday.  Now, I can't stand it.  I have got to get my hands on her!  I just want to know when I am leaving!!!  I told you I was impatient!  Wait until you see her, then you'll understand.

    At least 10 times a day, Paul and I pull her picture up on the computer and just stare and smile.  I could just eat her up!

     Enough of that, here's what we do know.  On Wednesday, I had to overnight money to FTIA (Families Through International Adoption).  I highly recommend them, by the way!!!  They were going to send over our paperwork and then wire the money.  They keep telling us it's going to be quick.  Now, that may not mean a lot to you.  But, if you are with FTIA, then you know it means a great deal!  I love FTIA and I would use them again!  But, they are not going to hold your hand and console you or even give you a glimmer of hope.  To be honest, at times, it's a bit depressing.  However, they don't make false promises.  And, when they tell you something, you know it's true.  So, for FTIA to say something's going to be quick, I believe it!!

     It also hit me Wednesday night that I never sent a dime for Mylei.  I was working on adopting her for 3 months and never sent any more money than I had paid 2 years ago.  I had been working on Emme for a day and I had to overnight money so they could wire it to China.  So, Wednesday night, I panicked!  I thought this is going to happen fast and I don't have one thing done to adopt this child.  I don't have any clothes because Mylei was 18-24 months and Emme is only (almost) 10 months and she is a peanut!  I have the wrong size diapers, no bottles, no baby toys.  This is on top of ordering new money (the $3500 orphanage donation has to be in new money as well as the rest of the money for fees and spending.)  At 4:30 in the morning, I found myself lying wide awake starring at the ceiling.  Finally, at 6 am, I got up and began working!

Maybe.... it won't be a long weekend.... if I sleep!:-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celine Dion

We just returned from the viewing and funeral of our friend.  Thank you so much for all who prayed; I think that is the reason the family was holding up so well.  It was very sad, but went very well.  If you think about them more, please pray that my friend, Sue, would allow herself to grieve.  I think she is but she's also trying to be strong for her children and the rest of her family.  I think she's trying to be too strong. 

On the adoption front, we overnighted some money.  They will wire it to China tomorrow.  From there, things should be set to roll.  I believe we will skip PA.  Our LOA and TA will be expedited.  They could come together or come very close together.  My apologies for thinking they (China) were buying time on Friday.  I believe the person working on our case really was out of town because they have been ON TOP OF IT!!  Everyday we have received information.  I really do believe things will move quickly!

Now, we are having debates about names.  We decided we can no longer use the name Mylei.  Man, that messes up my whole title of my blog!  That was the other little girl to us.  We need a new name. The first name we decided on, 2 years ago, was Emme. Then we switched to Mylei.  I think we should go straight back to Emme.  Paul wants to be difficult.  He think several things.  1) We don't need to jump into a name.  Well, I can't stand not calling her a name and we don't even know how to pronounce her Chinese name.  He keeps calling her Celine Dion (Her name is sorta like Celine but vastly different!).  It's driving me crazy.  2)  Instead of officially naming her Emme, he wants to name her Emma or Emily and call her Emme.  3)  He wants to find some name with lots of meaning. Well, that's all good and fine, but continue reading.  He tried to find a name that meant promise and guess what came up- Promise.  I AM NOT NAMING HER THAT.  Besides, she looks just like an Emme.   I wish I could post her.   I want so badly to show her off, but I asked and I am not allowed- yet!  I think all the girls would agree that she is an Emme!

Anyway, names are difficult for me.  I don't like a lot of names, at least names I want to name my children.  For you teachers out there, teaching school ruins lots of names.  For all you dog lovers, I think you should be fined (or shot) for naming your dogs with people names.

Any suggestions??

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

He gives and takes away

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

For reasons not completely known to us, the first precious little girl we wanted to adopt from China was taken away.  Part of the reason (see last post), I believe, is because God also knew that some very dear friends of ours was going to have a relative taken away from them and we needed to be here.

However, the Lord is faithful and he also gives!!

Today, we were given a very precious gift- we were given a new referral.  I am not allowed to show a picture of her right now.  I am also not allowed to say much about her.  But, I will tell you that she is an absolute doll!  She could not possibly be any cuter!!  And, she is 10 months old with a very minor (in our opinion) special need.

We do not have any other information right now.  We are unsure of how our papers are being processed.  That would help us get a better idea of when we will travel.  Our agency has already submitted those questions for us and we hope to have answers really soon.  We immediately filled out the paperwork we needed to in order to say that we accepted her.  We have  already mailed it!!  We didn't need 10 seconds to decide if we would accept her.

I could never begin to thank all of you who have prayed for us and encouraged us.  I am certain God has answered those prayers.  We are beside ourselves happy tonight!  I think I will sleep better tonight than I have in a long time!

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, Blessed be your name

Monday, June 16, 2008

Breaking News!!

Our agency told us this morning that they would be surprised if we didn't have a referral by Wednesday!!!  Pray that God would prepare us for whatever child he has for us.  I am a bit nervous because they asked how we would feel if "something off the wall" happened.... like giving us a boy!  I was not prepared for this and was upset.  I am just going to have to trust God- He has to be picking this child!

Please read the post before this one and pray for our friends!

Stay tuned.........................................

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Coincidence or God's Grace???

Isaiah 55:8-9 says,
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."

Often things happen in life, that we never understand.   Every once in awhile, things unfold that help us understand prior events.  I believe these are times when God is gracious enough to let us peek at him doing his work.

Last Wednesday evening, very, very, very dear friends (I will call them Jim and Sue) saw the bonds of alcohol slavery squeeze the life out of Sue's brother, Bob.   After a year of being very intentional in Bob's life- allowing him to live in their home, giving him a job and food, taking him to church, giving him love and tough love (allowing him to sit in jail) and any other necessity imaginable, Bob took his own life... in their home.  I am sure you can imagine the devastation.

Late Friday evening, I got a call from Sue.   I was able to tell her what a great sister she had been and to assure her that she had done everything possible for him.  After talking for awhile, because even in a time like this, Sue thinks of others, she asked how I was doing with the adoption loss, etc...  I assured her that most of the time I was fine.  I went on to say, "It really just bothers me when I think about the rest of the travel group that I was supposed to be part of leaving Wednesday.  WEDNESDAY!  Sue, we were supposed to leave Wednesday!"

Wednesday is the day of Bob's viewing and funeral.

Paul (my husband) was asked to do the funeral.  Had we left when we were originally supposed to leave, we would not have been able to be there to help lay her brother to rest.  We would not have been around to love on them, support them, pray for them or share God's word at Bob's funeral. 

I realize there are 100's of other pastors around that could do Bob's funeral.  But, we have a spiritual bond with Bob and Sue that runs deep.  And, they asked Paul.  

God knew we needed to be here.  

We look forward this week to seeing God answering our prayers for our daughter.  We pray that this will be the week we see her precious face for the first time, we hear her name, learn what province she is from, etc....  We would ask that you join us in this prayer.  While we are eagerly waiting this great news, our very dear friends are living their worst nightmare.  This week, they will see the precious face of Sue's brother for the last time.  They will question what they could have done differently, what they could have said, etc...  So, please lift them up!  And, pray for Paul- that God would give him words to say and speak directly through him.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another LOOONG weekend for The Isaacs

That's me, at the computer, everyday, waiting for information or maybe it's the person I am waiting on in China.

If only I could get skinny like that!  Instead, I think the stress of this whole scenario has caused me to gain 10 pounds... just compounding my problems!  I am not kidding about the 10 pounds.

The big news of the day is that our agency called us!!!  This may not seem like a big deal, but Paul has been relentless about calling them.  Most days, he calls them two times.  On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I made him take a hiatus.  He had to swear not to call them.   On Thursday, he caved.  He called twice.  But, TODAY, THEY called us!

Here's the big news:  The reason we haven't heard anything is because the person handling the case has been on a long business trip.

 No, really ???  Why does that not surprise me???  And, how hard would it have been to tell me that in the first place??   I am not sure I really believe it!  It seems like the perfect explanation to buy time.  That person is supposed to be back next week.  (Why do I feel like a tire that is quickly losing all it's air??)

Let me guess, Friday of next week??  Meanwhile, my whole travel group is leaving to go to China to get their babies on Wednesday.  AHHHHHHH!!!!!!

I know I sound  a bit jaded.   As I sit here to write this, it's one of those times I want to hurt someone! (See earlier post for explanation)  I'll settle back into trusting God.  Sunday night, about 8 pm, I will be filled with hope and praying and praying and praying.  Why?  Because our Sunday night is China's Monday morning.  And, barring any Dragon Boat Festival, or Rice Counting Day ( not a real day, in case you are wondering... I made it up!) or any other holiday they think up, the 'powers that be' in China will be starting their work day.  My prayer is that my papers end up on the desk of the right Mr. Wong (made that up too!)  That God will soften his heart and cause us to have favor in his eyes.  Then, Monday morning I will receive a phone call with the name of a precious little girl who needs a mommy!

One can dream.....................

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival??  Sometimes I think it's better not to ask.  I am sure they feel the same way about our President's Day or Martin Luther King Day.  But, since I mentioned it, I feel compelled to tell you about The Dragon Boat Festival.  I compared it to two of our holidays because in China, The Dragon Boat Festival is a vacation day.

This festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. Along with Dragon Boat Races, customs on this day include eating zongzi (rice wrapped in leaves) and hanging "fragrant
pouches" of cloth wrapped with colored silk threads.

The festival has its roots in ancient Chinese history. Qu Yuan,
China's first great poet, lived at a time when various parts of
China were at war with each other. Qu Yuan tried to provide advice to
help his government. But, as legend has it, the king did not appreciate
his advice, and with evil men twisting his words and making his
situation worse, Qu Yuan was exiled from his homeland. When his homeland
fell into enemy hands, his despair grew so deep that he threw himself
into the Miluo River (in today's Hunan province of China) on the 5th
day of the 5th lunar month. The people of his village raced to the
river to save him in their dragon boats, but were too late. They later
threw rice in the river as a sacrifice to him. Afraid that the fish
would eat the rice, they began wrapping it in reed leaves and wound silk
threads around the packets before dropping them into the river. Dragon
Boat Races were held each anniversary in commemoration of Qu Yuan.
Today, many cities around the world now hold Dragon Boat Races on nearby
rivers as a fun summer-time event.

You learn something new everyday!  And, if you don't, you should!

I am not sure if their holiday affected us or not, but for the sake of my sanity, I am going to say it did!  It makes me feel better!  Why?  Because today, as it has been for almost a week now, we received no news!  Zero!  Zip!! Zilch!

I am going to take the liberty of telling you about our decision.  It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, right??

Last Tuesday, after receiving counsel from the CEO of our agency and a lady from our church with lots of experience with adoption (8 adopted children), we have decided to ask for a new referral.  That was an option from 'the powers that be' in China.  Our agency said it could take 1-3 months for the legal system to get the foster parents to return her to the orphanage.  The CEO then told us that that was a conservative estimate.  It would be more like 6-12 months with no guarantee of the outcome.  

We want to provide a home for a child who doesn't have one.  She is obviously loved so much that her 'parents' are willing to defy their communist government to keep her.  It is my hope and prayer,  that if that home is the best place for her, that she would be able to stay.

As hard as it was for us to make that decision, there is another part or us that has a perfect peace.  Before you think too highly of us, you should know that at least once a day, we want to hurt someone... bad!!  It usually happens between 10:30 am and noon.  It's that time frame because if we are going to hear news, that's when we will hear it.  After the anger subsides, we are back to trusting God and being so excited about the little girl he picked out for us before time began.

We were told that our referral would be expedited.  Clearly, expedited for me does not mean the same thing to them.  If it did, we would have a new picture of a beautiful little girl to show you and we would be leaving for China SOON!!

So, please pray, for the sake of our sanity, that it would be the will of the good Lord to resolve this issue.  Pray that the letter we had to write gets into the hands of the right people.  Pray that they would feel compelled to issue this referral soon.  Pray for a lady in the US who is communicating with them on behalf of us and our agency.  (She is Chinese and knows the system and the right approach.)

I'll let you know!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I think we are leaving the desert

 I feel like over the last two weeks we have been left in the desert.   Everyone else is moving on and we are at a standstill.  I realize it has only been 14 days, but when God places a call on your life,  life feels incomplete without being able to get to what he has called  you to.  I am imagine wondering in the desert would be really wearisome very quickly.  Some would even question whether or not we could even really call this 'the desert'.   The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years.  But, it's my blog and I can call the last 2 weeks or 2 years whatever I want to call them!!:-)  Since this whole process began 2 1/2 years ago, so I am sure one could understand the desert analogy.  By the way, I'd much rather talking about dessert!  Why are the spellings to close to one another.... they are vastly different???!!

Since last week, we have spent much time in prayer over this situation and over this child.  We have fasted.  We have called on others to pray for us.  We have asked for and received counsel.  

The Lord has been teaching me the last year the value of speaking his would out loud.  If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  The Bible talks about our battle not being against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).  God tells us that our only offensive weapon is His word (Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12).  When Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days, he used scripture to fight Satan.  Remember Jesus always says, "It is written....."  I don't believe Satan can read our minds.  So, it would stand to reason that when we are faced with battles, we are to fight the same way.  As Christians, shouldn't we emulate the life of Christ??

So, Sunday night I looked up verses on spiritual warfare and the authority of the believer.  Here are some examples.

Psalm 6:8-10
 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed;
they will turn back in sudden disgrace.

Matthew 18:18 - "Surely I [Jesus] say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven"

 I then read and prayed those verses out loud.  From here, I have had to leave the situation in God's hands.

Today, I believe it became very clear what we are to do.  After "trying on the decision" (something our agency suggested we do) (how great is it that we have believers working at our agency giving us advice?) and after speaking with the executive director/CEO of our agency, we made a decision and we are at perfect peace

Right now, I do not feel at liberty to speak freely about the decision.  However, I don't think it will be long before I can share.  We had some questions so they were sending those questions to the 'powers that be' in China.  We are anticipating some answers tomorrow.  At that time, I will ask what I can share.

Until then, please continue to pray for us.  I think that is the reason we can sit here tonight in peace.