This blog is a chance for us to tell our story and shine the light on the God who wrote it.

It is also a place for me to bring into the spotlight the millions of orphans around the world who are waiting for the Body of Christ to fulfill God's command to "care for orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27)

Soli deo Gloria... (All Glory to God Alone).

3.10.2014

Overtaken



It happened today.  

We are sitting in our hotel room here in Guangzhou.  I am sitting on one couch reading and Eden is next to me in a chair working intently on her stenciling project.  I look up and stare at her, just taking it all in.  She feels me staring at her and looks up; her face lights up with that joyful smile and she says, “Mama!” 

And that’s when it happened.  I literally felt it flood over me.  This promise that God gave me in the darkest hours.   Back in the fall and early winter when I felt like my whole life was falling apart around me.  And the promise of this child He’d been speaking to me about for two years seemed a total impossibility. 

"Gladness and joy will overtake you, and sorrow and sighing will flee away" (Isaiah 51:11)

That’s what I felt today.  Like gladness and joy had overtaken me.  

When she looked up at me and it just sunk in real deep.  He did this.  He really did this.  

Every weapon formed against us was destroyed.  Every mountain that arose to keep us from Eden was flung into the sea.

"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promise to her!" (Luke1:45)

I am blessed.  Overtaken. 

I’d gotten used to the sorrow and the hard.  And then I looked up and there she was.  Gladness and joy have overtaken me and I am undone by the weight of His grace.

3.09.2014

Update from Guangzhou

We wanted to take a few minutes to update everyone and let you know how Eden is doing. 




We met Eden on Monday, March 3rd.  They told us that she is very timid and a bit afraid in new situations and we have seen this to be true.  She understands about being adopted and is very excited to have her own family.   Yet this first day was hard for her, too, because she had to say "goodbye" to her teacher that brought her and that she loves very much.  She is attaching very well with us and allowed us to comfort her.  We are so thankful for this.  Every day we are together trust and love grows.

Our official "Adoption Day" was Tuesday, March 4th- one day before her 14th birthday!  Just in time, God :-)  We are finding that the best bonding with her is when we can be playful and make her laugh.  She laughs easily and so we are goofy and she likes that.  She also likes it when we carry her, especially "Baba" (Daddy)- she gets this look of joy on her face when he sweeps her up into his arms.  

We have named our precious daughter Eden Xinmu.  Xinmu was her Chinese name (pronounced like "shin moo").  For now we are calling her Xinmu-- don't want to overwhelm her with too many transitions at once!  Eden means "delightful" and we cannot think of a better word to describe this child.  She is incredibly sweet and kind and when she smiles her whole face lights up and I think my heart might burst.




Eden turned 14 on March 5th.  She is teeny tiny- probably a size six or seven.  Just absolutely adorable.  She is super smart, too.  She knows many of the Chinese characters and had memorized her foster father's eleven digit phone number.  We found that she can count to ten in English and sings the ABCs so she loves that we can do that with her.  She doesn't understand much English yet but we've no doubt she will pick it up quickly.  Sometimes it is hard when we want to understand what she is thinking or feeling and don't know how to get to that.  But there are things that all children understand- lots of hugs, smiles, laughter- these things are universal.  Her beautiful personality comes out a little more every day.



On Thursday, March 6th, we were able to go and visit Eden's orphanage in Maoming where she has been for the past six years.  It was about a four and a half hour drive one way, but the car time was a sweet time of bonding and playing together.   It was an incredible gift to visit the orphanage, meet some of her friends, and see a little bit what her day to day life might have been like.  The love the teachers have for Eden was so obvious- she was adored there.  We also were blessed to be able to meet her foster mother.  Many of the children live in homes with foster parents and several foster siblings and return to the orphanage each day for school and meals.  Eden's foster mother loves her dearly.  They kept saying how happy they all were that she has a family now.  (In just a couple years she would no longer have been able to stay with the foster family/ orphanage).  What an incredible gift to meet these people who invested so lovingly in Eden's life.  She will miss them terribly and it breaks our hearts when we see her grieving.  But honestly, these moments have been rather short and she allows us to comfort her.  We know this is all a part  of the process of becoming family.  We pray God will give us patience and love and wisdom to guide her through the feelings of loss while pointing her toward a future of hope and love.





Friday, March 7th was the day for Eden's medical visit.  This is a step we must do in order to get her visa.  Unfortunately, because of her age, she had to get five immunizations since she has never had any.  On top of this, the congestion that she had had since we met her had become much worse and she was coughing much the night before and obviously feeling lousy.  Fortunately, we were able to get her some medicine to loosen things up in her chest.  When we got home that day after the medical she slept from about 2 pm until 7 am the next morning!  Girl was worn out :-)

On Saturday we took her to get some clothes since everything we brought was too big for her.  She wasn't too excited about new clothes but when we let her pick out a toy and an art set she was thrilled.  She is very into art and has been doing beading, cutting and designing collages, and lots of drawing/ coloring.  We were grateful to have a very restful day on Saturday and now her cold has been improving.

Today is Sunday and we spent the morning out shopping with the other families from our adoption agency that came in to Guangzhou this week.  We have noticed that Eden is most comfortable when we are in the room together.  She is very relaxed and playful with us.  But when we go out she tends to withdraw alot.  So we are staying indoors as much as possible and that has been really good.  Not a problem anyway, as it is rather dreary and rainy outside most days.

We are so grateful for so many that have let us know that they are praying for us!  We have truly felt God's presence with us and can see how He is answering our prayers for Eden and knitting us together as a family.  Such an amazing mystery ... and it is a process that takes time.  But to already see some fruit in that is such a gift!

The kids back home are doing great!  They enjoyed several days with "Mena" (my mom) including a trip to Adventure Island in Jacksonville with several of their cousins.  Now "Ma" (my stepmom) is with them back in Gainesville and taking them to school, etc.  They went to the Retired Horse Farm yesterday and managed to feed the horses 25 lbs of carrots.  Lots of good memories with the grandparents :-)

Some have asked for specific ways they can be praying for Eden.  These are the things that are on our hearts for her-

- God's comfort through process of grieving leaving her foster family/ orphanage

- trust and bonding to grow between Eden and Scott and I... and that we would rest in the Lord and trust in His timing for each step of this (ie- not worry :-)

- for us to be able to understand and meet her needs well ... when she needs to be held and when she needs assurance or to be left alone to draw, etc.

- Eden has a narrowing of the esophagus that can cause food to come back up if she eats the wrong thing or wrong amount.  Please pray that we will know what to best feed her and that she will keep her food down.

- for God to begin to prepare Eden's heart for meeting her new siblings.  She has "met" them over Skype and knows all their names.  But there are lots of new relationships forming here and we are just praying for God's hand to bring love and attachment in His perfect timing.  (You can pray for the other four children on this note as well.  They are all thrilled about getting Eden home, but I think the older ones are nervous as well.  Please pray they'll have much peace).

- we fly out on March 14th and are grateful for prayers during our travel time.  The trip over went much better than usual (especially for me as I usually can't sleep at all and get extremely sick).  

Thank you so much for following along on our journey!  We have been overwhelmed by the love that so many of you already have for Eden... how you have prayed for her, wept for her, and rejoiced with us when we were able to come and get her.  We cannot wait for you to meet this precious child who will, no doubt, bring joy and love wherever she goes.  Just in total awe that God chose us to be her parents.  There are no words to explain what a gift this is.  What grace...

3.03.2014

Introducing.....!

Eden Xinmu Long
Born- March 5, 2000
Forever Family- March 4, 2014






3.02.2014

The Night Before I Meet My Oldest Child

It’s 2 am (a la jet lag) here in China- March 2nd, 2014.
In just twelve hours we will meet our fifth child.  Our oldest.
Scott and I were married August 14th, 1999.  She was born just seven months later and we didn’t even know it.  Didn’t even know there was a little girl growing up on the other side of the world that would one day be our daughter.
Tomorrow I will have an almost-fourteen year old daughter.  Who speaks Chinese only.  And has Down Syndrome.
I’ve never parented a teenager.  All I can say in Chinese is “Thank you”, “Hello”, “Sister”, and “I love you”.  And I’ve much to learn about Down Syndrome.
There is so much I don’t know.   I don’t know how she is feeling or how hard this transition may be for her.  I don’t know what makes her happy, what scares her, or what comforts her.  I don’t know what she likes to eat or how to make her laugh.  I don’t know any of the things I often think I need to know to parent and love my children well.
There is so much I don’t know.  So.very.much.   And this could paralyze me with fear.

But.  But this I do know.
I know the God who created my daughter.  Knit her together in her mother’s womb. 
It is, after all, the same God who created my other four children.  The ones I know so well.  Yeah, I know what makes them laugh and what they like to eat and what scares them.  I know them so well.  Except not really.  Except how many times have I been on my knees in tears before the Lord acknowledging that This is beyond me!  I do not know this child.  I do not know why he acts this way or why she seems so angry or sad lately.  Nothing I’ve tried to speak to his heart seems to be getting through.  And I just.don’t.know. how to comfort this baby so she will sleep or convince this child not to be so hard on himself.
Maybe there’s a lot I don’t know.
And maybe it’s supposed to be that way.  Maybe it puts me in the perfect place for God to parent through me?  Is there any greater role in life where a woman ought to just cry out- Oh, that I might decrease… that He may increase?

So here is what I know.  All I really know.
I know God.   I mean I don’t just know Him from a distance- like I know He’s there and it will all be okay.  I know Him intimately.  His spirit lives in me and guides and instructs me in ways I could never articulate.  Ways I don’t even see.
And the Truth is that I know what I need to know to love because I know Him and He is Love.  His Love lives in me.  And I cannot even believe I am writing that. He lives in me.  His love lives in me.  What a crazy, presumptuous thing to say!  Unless it is true.  And then there’s nothing to say.  You just bow your knees in wonder because you know it’s all gift and it doesn’t have a dadgum thing to do with you.  It’s all grace.  So.much.grace.  And how does it ever cease to bring me wonder?  How am I not always walking around in wonder?  God is not just near to me.  He is in me. 
I could have read a hundred books about Down Syndrome and garnered counsel from fifty adoptive parents with older children.  And those are all good things.  I have done and will continue to do some of these things and God will often use them to instruct my heart.
But when it comes down to it tomorrow…  when I bend down and look at my daughter for the first time, I’m not banking on what I’ve learned from books or the eleven years of parenting I’ve got behind me or the two adoptions we’ve done before.   I’m whispering a desperate prayer (because it’s okay for me to be desperate)… a hope-filled declaration of belief (because he who asks for wisdom must believe and not doubt)… and I’m letting go.  Letting Him love her, speak to her, parent her
Look, we’ve done this adoption thing before.  It’s still beyond me.  So far beyond me.  The pain, the loss, the brokenness … the redemption, the hope, the creating of a new family. 
So far beyond me that it has to be… God.  All Him.
And I’m just here … just standing on this Holy Ground.