Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 2 & 3

The weekend is over...and so far today I've spent most of the day today in the foster home! Taking a quick break to blog during the naptime :) Sunday afternoon, after eating lunch at a delicious village restaurant (Mom and Dad, I'll have to take you there!) I got to wander through the village- go to all my favorite shops, get some hawthorne (my favorite China snack EVER) and mangoes, and see how much the village had changed since the last time I came! It was so wonderful. We went back to the apartment and ate our mango and drank some Chinese NesCafe. OH MY GOODNESS how I have missed it!!!! 

Even though Monday and Tuesday are a Chinese holiday- (kind of like their Labor Day), I was able to go into the foster home to work with the kiddos :) I spent a little bit of time up with the babies- holding and cuddling the precious new tiny ones that just came in. They are so so sweet! I spent the majority of the morning in the playroom with the toddlers, got to deliver a VERY special package to a special little boy, and played with Brooke and the other kids! I went outside with Brooke, Levi, Joshua, and Colton. They were TOO cute. Brooke was trying to climb up the slide and kept sliding back's hard to pull all that weight up the slide!! Ha! I started sitting at the top and would have her grab my hand as she was climbing up. She would laugh and laugh and laugh...her little chubby hands were SO funny. We played lots of games outside and out in the sandbox :) She loves to be outside! 

The cutest was when I gave a certain special little boy a present from his forever family- they included a photo album of their family pictures. He was SO excited to see it and was flipping through so proudly. All the kids were crowded around looking and the nannies were also passing it around to each other ooo'ing and ahhh'ing over the pictures of "ta de jia"...his family. Brooke noticed this and immediately started saying "wo de? wo de?" ...Mine? Mine? I went to her room and got her photo album we sent a few months ago and gave it to her. She ran from nanny to nanny showing them HER pictures...proudly pointing at herself and saying "Wo de jia" family. I'm not sure if she's made the connection yet that I'M the jie jie (big sister) in the picture that she is pointing to...but hey. She's bound to figure it out sooner or later :) The nannies loved looking at the pictures of my family- they asked me what my parents did and I told them that my dad was a pilot and flew the big airplanes and they were SO EXCITED. They kept telling Brooke that "her baba will fly you all over the world...your baba will fly you back to visit us!!" It's so clear how much the nannies love Brooke and all the kids there. They really really love them...and the kids love them so much as well. It will definitely be bittersweet bringing Brooke home from New Day- we are SO excited to get her home, but know that there are so many people who love her so dearly over here! 

Still no pictures- so sorry!!! Coming soon- trying to figure out the camera situation. I think its the cord to charge it/to upload pictures that is broken so my camera won't charge at all. I've been taking some though!!! As soon as the fam gets here, we will have Allison's super camera that will take thousands of pictures...I'm sure! 

Keep praying for Brooke's heart- that her adjustment to my family would go well and that she will form a good connection with my mom and dad. Also that she and Erica will get along well! Be praying for some of the precious kids at the foster home- there are some who are sick and fighting off colds. Oh and pray for my family!! They are headed over tomorrow (Tuesday- US time!)...I'll pick them up from the airport late Wednesday night China time. They will meet Brooke for the first time Thursday morning! Can't even wait! 

THANK YOU for the prayers!!! More later and hopefully pictures soon! 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 1

I made it to China!! There was a little craziness with the flight, but it all went well! I landed in Beijing around midnight China time, and was at New Day by 2 AM. My wonderful friend Emily was at the airport with Yong Shi Fu...our driver...and I tried to beat the jet lag by getting to bed and staying busy all day long!! 

I got to see Brooke this morning!!!! As soon as I walked into the foster home backyard where she was playing, the a few of the nannies saw me and just started saying "OH!!!! Mei!! You are Cai Wei's big sister!!! You came back!!!"...and immediately grabbed my hand to bring me to see Brooke! She was playing in the sandbox and was absolutely PRECIOUS. The first few minutes she was really, really shy and her nanny, Shirley, kept trying to get her to give me kisses...and Cai Wei was having none of that :) After a little bit though, we were playing in the sandbox together and she let me walk her up to look at the flowers and she even gave me a beautiful flower for my hair. We bonded over some beautiful princess stickers....tomorrow I'll pull out the candy. :) I told her that her mom and dad were coming soon- Dad, she immediately started asking "Baba? Baba? Baba?" She's going to be a daddy's girl for SURE!! 

All the kiddos were SO precious- I immediately fell in love with one of the newer little girls...Rachel. She is absolutely precious. I just couldn't get enough of them! The rest of my day was spent going into the city about an hour away for one of the long term staff's birthday! It was lots of fun- ate at Chinese Papa Johns and did a little grocery shopping at the Chinese Sam's Club. It was a fun experience! 

I'm having trouble with my camera- its not plugging in or uploading pictures, so hopefully I will have some pics tomorrow! My internet is also pretty sketchy so sorry for the lack of updates! Mom and Dad....Brooke is about a 2T in size and is probably wearing size 5-6 shoes. She has the CHUBBIEST her nanny told me that they are very fat- the fattest in the whole foster home. HA. Love. It. 

Love to all!!! Good night from China! 


Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Fingerprints of God- Brooke's Story, Part 3

Brooke's Story... Part 1 and Part 2. Read these first. : )

From my journal:
September 4, 2011:
“ my head I know there is purpose in me being at Samford and that my time spent here is not a “waste”...but Lord, I need you to make that clear to my heart. Because my heart wants to be in China- loving on my kids. I want to scream every time someone says 'Oh, I bet that was fun'..because I want them to understand how so much more than 'fun' it was. How do I adequately communicate how China wrecked my life in such a good way; opened my eyes to my culture's (and my own) materialism and greed; grew my heart to passionately love 40 of the most precious children in all the world? How can I ever go back to “normal”? Lord, I miss my little Brooke. I know she is being loved and cared for in the foster home but God she needs a family of her own. Please help her little heart to continue to learn to trust and love- prepare her heart for the family that is going to be SO blessed by her. Lord, I selfishly want to see her again, if I get the chance to go back to New Day next summer...but I know she NEEDS a family. I pray she will be matched to the most perfect family who will love her even more than I do...and maybe let me find their blog so I can follow her journey home. :)...”
Who could have EVER thought that we would be the family writing her story on the blog for her journey home? Only God. 

God is so funny- I can just picture Him laughing as I would write/pray/think these things. The amazing way that Brooke came to be a part of our family is nothing short of miraculous- and every.single.thing was God's confirmation over and over again that she was indeed my parents' daughter; my precious sister.

Now, I've probably been begging asking my parents to adopt another baby since the day we stepped of the plane from China following Erica's adoption. I watched waiting child lists like nobody's business, nonchalantly asking my parents which special needs they would consider, emailing pictures of the little precious darlings I would find (always to dad…he's the softie), and pointing out EVERY adoption blog I could find to know, just to keep it fresh on their mind. I even had an account on RainbowKids, an online advocacy site for special needs children. This is dangerous, my friends. Very dangerous. Especially when you still have 10+ years until you can adopt for yourself... :) After five (FIVE) years of keeping this up, I was pretty convinced it would never really happen. God was really calling me to China, and opened doors all over the place for me to spend my summer at New Day Foster Home. My parents were, of course, thrilled for me and they knew that this would be a life-changing summer for me. mom did have one “prayer request” that she would say as a joke- “Pray that Meredith doesn't come home with a baby for us to adopt!! We are done!”.
Ha. That's funny.

Brooke thinks its funny too :)
On September 7, 2011, my wonderful friend Faith sent me a precious picture of little Cai Wei. It was the most precious picture I had EVER seen of her...and I, obviously, forwarded it to my parents. The weekend before happened to be Labor Day, so I was home and spent the weekend showing them I had taken of Brooke all summer, because I missed my girl so much. That's a lot of videos, ya'll.) They knew good and well who little Cai Wei was, and I knew they loved her and prayed for her. However, I was SHOCKED by the response I got back from my dad literally 10 minutes after sending the picture.
“Tell them we want her!”
The picture from Faith that was immediately forwarded to my dad :)
WHAT. Well. Being my ever logical self, I immediately called my parents (dad) and informed them that Brooke probably wouldn't be paper ready for awhile...and that it's basically “impossible to 'find' a file”. Dad responded with “Well, we'll call the adoption agency and talk about starting a homestudy. Just in case we do ever start another adoption”. Wow.
Email from my dad: Tell them we want her!! :) (yes, of course I saved it!)
The next day, my sweet friend Allie had asked me to go get coffee with her. She asked to hear about China- “real” China. Not the cliché “Oh, it was so great and I had such a wonderful time!” that I was used to quickly sharing...she sat me down and just said “TALK”. It was wonderful. I told her all about China- the good, the bad, the ugly. I told her about the struggles I had coming back to America and the re-adjustment. And finally, I told her about Brooke. How I missed her, how HARD it was to win her over..but how special our relationship was once she finally trusted me. And then Allie asked to see a picture. More than happy to oblige, I pulled out my computer, and as iPhoto was opening, my email dinged with 1 unread mail message. Just one. I opened it real quick just to see if it was anything important...and it was an email from RainbowKids, an online advocacy site for thousands of children available for adoption. Ya'll, I had got to the point where I would literally just delete those emails without even opening them. It would kill me to see those sweet faces and not be able to bring them home! It had been months since I had opened one of those emails. For some reason, I felt a gentle nudging to open that email- an announcement that a little girl named “Caroline” had been added to the list. As I entered my username and password into the the RK site, waiting for my iPhoto to load, I was in the middle of telling Allie “...This is Brooke...isn't she such a chubby little diva?!?!”- when all of a sudden, the page loaded. I swear all the blood drained from my brain because I immediately developed a stutter and was incoherently screaming/crying/blubbering to Allie.
"Caroline"...aka BROOKE
It. Was. Brooke. My Brooke. I knew it immediately.

The picture I saw of Brooke on the RK site- absolutely beautiful.

Poor Allie. What a friend. It took a good 5 minutes for me to make coherent sense of what exactly was going on....and our calm, collected coffee date immediately turned into a mad dash of rushed explanations and tears. I was on the phone with my dad about .05 seconds later, and China about 2 minutes after that. I wish someone could have recorded that call. I was a basket case. I don't even think I gave him a word in edge-wise. “It's Brooke. You need to call. Adoption agency. Adopt her. Phone number. Keep calling!!! IT'S BROOKE.” I don't even think I explained how or where I had seen her file. Poor Allie (and the rest of the Samford food court) just sat there and stared as I was having a nervous breakdown over the phone.
One problem. It was 8 PM and the adoption agency she was listed with was closed. CLOSED. There were hundreds of scenarios running through my mind. I just knew her file had already been locked- with a face that cute who WOULDN'T have scooped her up right away? I contacted everyone I knew that was related to the adoption world in the smallest way- trying to see if there was any secret phone number that gets to this adoption agency no matter what time (FYI...There's not.)
Once again...poor Allie. The girl was a God-send. I was a basket case, but she, while still utterly confused as to what in the WORLD was wrong with me, started praying- prayed that we would be able to get in contact with the agency that had Brooke's file. That we would be first to be able to review it. That I would trust God in His perfect plan no matter what the outcome. Whew. Needless to say...I was on pins and needles. Mom and Dad assured me that they were doing all they could to contact her agency, and would let me know the moment they heard something. Oh man.
MIRACULOUSLY, at 11 PM, our agency had someone there working late who got our (multiple) phone messages and (multiple) emails and responded to us. She was available. Did we want to review her file. Did we have some special connection to this child, because usually families don't go this crazy over one specific child?….uhhhh ya think.  God's fingerprints are ALL over this. After turning in some necessary forms, we were sent Brooke's file at 8 AM the next morning. My parents told me to “DO NOT TELL ANYONE” (yeah right) because we hadn't had her file reviewed yet. And boy oh boy, was there some reviewing that was done. Finally...after 3 of the most excruciatingly nerve-wracking weeks of my parents called me on skype. They knew that God had put this precious girl in our lives to join our family, and we had received Pre-Approval for little Cai Wei- our precious Brooke.
One of the precious pictures we were sent in Brooke's file. 
God's fingerprints were so clearly over the entire story. From putting me in her orphanage for the summer, becoming her one-on-one teacher, praying specifically for her and her future family, sending her file to my email, causing me to open her file on RainbowKids among the thousands of other equally precious children on the list, being able to get in touch with her agency despite the late hour. Oh. My. Goodness. His confirmation came over and over, again and again. My mom will have to write a Part 4 explaining the confirmation that she felt that Brooke was indeed her daughter.
Brooke does have a tough road ahead. Her heart condition is extremely complex, and there will be many trials through the days ahead. She only has half a heart, and many other conditions that come alongside that. We can't know the future and we don't know what is to come with sweet Brooke and her heart. What we DO know is that she has been CHOSEN for our family, and is the most beautiful gift and incredible testament to God's faithfulness. We have so much hope for her, and cannot wait to see the incredible joy that she will bring to our family. God has incredible plans for this little one- we are SO excited to journey with her. I can tell it's going to be an exciting ride :)
Brooke Cai Wei, we can't wait to bring you home!!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future"- Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, April 16, 2012

"By the Brook"- Brooke's Story, Part 2

If you are just starting here, click over here for Part 1 of the story first. 

About a week before I left China, one of my dear friends at the foster home approached me about writing a blog post about Brooke's transformation over the summer through our one-on-one sessions. It was nearing Brooke's one year “anniversary” at New Day, and she wanted to know if I would be willing to show a little bit of Brooke's personality through the ND blog, and how the two of us had grown together over the course of the summer. Of course, I agreed, and that blog post I wrote about her is now so treasured. I asked my sweet friend, just for kicks and giggles (and so I could find out how much time I had to convince SOME family I knew that I had found them their new daughter), when Brooke's file might be ready...and was told that they had no idea, but that it probably wouldn't be for awhile, because she still needed a pretty complex heart surgery. I remember thinking to myself...”I can work with that! Give me time to keep talking about her to these families, let them pray about it...fundraise...start paperwork...yeah, God! This will be GREAT!!”. Oh my. If I could have only known what was to come :)

The day to leave China came much too soon- and I was devastated. Absolutely heartbroken. My last day in the foster home was filled with many tears, hugs, and promises to keep in touch. I hugged and kissed my precious kids one last time- telling them “see you later”, while inwardly wondering if that would ever be the case. I never wanted to forget these children that had made such a profound impact on my life- who taught me to love until it hurts, to find joy, to be brave. I was- in no uncertain terms- frustrated to be leaving China when it seemed I had just broken through Brooke's wall; just earned her trust. I had found life-long best friends in the girls I lived with all summer and the long-term volunteers, and I couldn't fathom moving back to America where people didn't “get” what I had experienced all summer. I realized that I had only been in China for a few short months, but in that time- China became home. My home. I didn't know how I would transition to “real life” back in America...and to be honest, it was extremely difficult.

Our last Chinese session with Polly, the best laoshi EVER

My sweet Philip with his foster mother- saying goodbye just about broke my heart

So thankful.
Saying goodbye to my sweet girls

Precious Forever Home girls...they stole my heart
The flights going to America usually leave at unholy hours in the morning...and rather than spend our last evening in China packing and preparing to go, we decided to eat in the village and spend the evening experiencing every last bit of China that we could. Unfortunately for Priscilla and I, that meant getting drenched (absolutely DRENCHED) in a Chinese monsoon, and wandering through the “back alley shortcut” through the village in water up to our mid-calf to get back to our apartment complex a good 15-20 minutes away. There couldn't have been a better story to leave China on- and Pris, Linds and I ended up staying up the rest of the night- packing, reminiscing, reminding each other of funny stories about the kids and the summer as a whole. At some point in the midst of the packing frenzy, someone brought up Brooke. "Mere…it's still just amazing. Look how far you and Brooke came this summer. I mean. She really loves you. And knows that you love her." I know. Oh I know. And I was heartbroken to be leaving her.

The ride to the airport was extremely quiet- partly because of the hour (3:45 AM)...but mostly because of situation. (Little did I know it would take me a good 60+ hours later to finally make it home from the first time I left for that Beijing airport, but that's a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother day.) (Apparently God really REALLY did not want me to leave China!)

There was LOTS of reminiscing done about Pre-K....what a dream. 

Our family. Dysfunctional, as usual. 


The unfortunate monsoon adventure
After landing in America, despite multiple “I'm not in China anymore” breakdowns for the silliest things, I was THRILLED to see that I had an inbox full of emails from my friends back in China- full of pictures, stories, tidbits of life there that I was already missing so dearly. It was like a little taste of home. The most precious, however, was from a volunteer from Canada who had come to New Day for a week sometime in the middle of the summer. She and I had become friends during her time there, and I had given her my email address though I hadn't heard from her since! I opened her email to find 5 of the most precious photos that she had taken of Brooke and I during one of our daily walks with the nannies.


The realization that I was now halfway around the world from this sweet girl who held my heart hit me like a ton of bricks and I just sobbed. I sat down that day and wrote the blogpost, Brooke's blogpost, about her beautiful transformation and the way she changed my heart as well. My sweet friend published it that week, and I sent it to my parents and friends- who all fell in love with her chubby cheeks and short little legs just as I had. There was something about sweet little Brooke- she drew people in from just a simple picture.

Last day of one-on-one sessions with little Brooke

Sweet baby girl
RA training began...and then classes started...and gradually my life began to get back into its routine. However, there was something that was different from any years before. Something that pulled my heart in a new way. I had a picture of Brooke that I kept in my Bible and on my wall. Okay...I had (and still have) MULTIPLE pictures of her on my walls at school. Every morning when I would wake up, her little face would be on my mind, and I would start my daily quiet time with a mug of coffee, my journal, and prayers for Brooke. For her health. For her heart. For her yet-to-be-determined adoptive family. I knew that some family was going to be SO blessed by her, and I prayed every day that her paperwork would be made ready and that it would be SOON, so that Brooke would know the love of a mom, dad, sisters and brothers.

The picture in my Bible
My mom sends my sister and I a devotional email from Focus on the Family every morning. She usually picks a catchy little “title” for them in the subject line. On August 23rd, 2011, my mom sent me an email she titled “Brook-Bound”...and the first sentence blows me away going back to look at it now.

God's direction includes God's provision. God says, "Go to the brook. I will provide."

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love”- Mother Teresa
Part 3 coming soon.... 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In Every Season- Brooke's Story....(Part 1)

We have received our travel approval from China, and we are OFFICIALLY headed on a plane to bring Brooke home in just a few short weeks. Before we go, we wanted to document her story- for her sake and for ours. We want her to know exactly how incredible our journey to her has been...and how God showed us over and over again HIS will in bringing Brooke into our family. The title of this post is from the song "Desert Song" by Hillsong. It was constantly on my mind and in my heart all summer.

This story is going to have to be broken up into several separate blog posts- It is too incredible to short-change on the details :) Meredith here for the first installment...Grab yourself a nice hot cup of coffee and settle in for the story. Let's back way up to June 30, 2011- and so begins my season of excitement.

I had just arrived in China- jet-lagged, slightly overwhelmed, and excited as all get-out. I remember frantically trying to remember the name of each person I met, and gleefully soaking up every glimpse I had of the land that would become my home for the summer. I had flown over a few days early, so I was offered an "unofficial tour" of the foster home and a chance to just play with the kids for the day. I was ALL over that...I had been counting down the hours until I could meet the precious kiddos I would be spending the majority of my time with!! I'll never forget the excitement and nervousness that filled my first walk into the foster home- I knew that this summer would change my life.

As I walked through the door, I smelled the mix of China summer time - rice, dumplings, and little children- a smell that would become extremely familiar as the weeks went on. I peered into the playroom...and immediately saw the most beautiful little girl in a purple striped dress, sitting on the floor playing with a little farmhouse box. I lost my heart right then and there. I'm telling ya, folks. It was THAT fast. I asked her name, and was told she was called Brooke. I thought it fit her perfectly. I snapped a picture of her through the window, my FIRST official "Summer- China 2011" picture- thinking how I couldn't wait to send it to my parents- so they could see for themselves the precious little ones I would be spending my days with. I met SO many beautiful children that day, and had the chance to play with them outside while they splashed in the rain puddles- and I knew in that moment that leaving China at the end of the summer would break my heart.

My first "China picture"- sweet Brooke Cai Wei

My first day at the Foster Home- splashing in the puddles with these sweeties!!!

All summer long, the other interns and I would have weekly meetings- checking up on how we were doing, what we were learning, cultural things we were experiencing...etc. Our very first meeting, however, we were given our job assignments. I desperately wanted to be with the toddlers- where Brooke, the sweet little girl who stole my heart, was. The four of us who would be working in the foster home went around and said where we would prefer to work...and I miraculously was given the toddlers in the morning, and the pre-K class in the afternoon. I was ecstatic. :) With the toddlers, I was assigned two “one-on-one” sessions each morning. Basically, I would be working with two children for 30 minutes each, every day. The two I was assigned were Josiah, my favorite roly-poly little guy.....and Brooke, soon to be affectionately known as my little diva :) 

See why she got the nickname? :)
I'll never forget how Brian, the volunteer coordinator, pulled me out in the hallway afterwards to talk about my one-on-one assignments. His very first words were “Well Meredith, I just want to give you a little bit of a warning about Brooke....she ummm....doesn't do so well with strangers. At all, actually.” Oh boy. I heard what he was saying, but I don't think I really believed it until I attempted to take her out of the playroom for the first day of our one-on-one sessions. She screamed. She fought. She kicked. She wanted NOTHING to do with me. While I had fallen in love with her from the moment I saw her, this was most definitely NOT the case for her. There was actually a joke that went around with the interns....who was going to be the first person to befriend Brooke! We didn't think it could be done!! Ha! And it wasn't JUST me that Brooke wouldn't give the time of day...this little diva loved her nanny and Wayne (a sweet Chinese staff member at the foster home who would play with Brooke during her outside time). Other than that, Brooke's affections towards "outsiders" were pretty much zilch.

Cai Wei with her precious nanny this winter- outside on the swing. Her beautiful friend Wendy is on the left!
I hate to say it...but this was the beginning of my "season of frustration"- I LOVED Brooke. I wanted her to love me back. I couldn't understand why she would reject my care and love I so willingly desired to give to her. God taught me so much through this season- I realized that in my stubbornness and independence, I do the same thing to God. I reject His love, His help, His Word so often and fall into sin. It is freely given to me and always there, but yet I resist. Even then, He loves us. Not with a conditional "well if she doesn't want it, then it's not even worth it" love that I was tempted with through working with Brooke...but with a STEADFAST, unconditional love. He used Brooke to open my eyes- to learn what unconditional love truly looks like.

Once I was brought to this realization, my determination to love Brooke grew and grew. I become more stubborn...just about as stubborn as Brooke. :) I was bound and determined that before this summer was over, Brooke and I would become BEST FRIENDS and I had faith that my little Cai Wei would open her heart and learn to trust. It's so funny to look back now, because the captions I would add to facebook photos and emails I sent detailed our process to “best friend-ship”...and my inching progress with Brooke during our one-on-one sessions was always a major topic of conversation at lunch break. This was the beginning of our season of trust. 

Slowly but surely, Brooke began to trust me. It started with me sitting on the floor beside her in the playroom, not daring to touch her, but playing with the toys I knew she liked RIGHT next to her. It was hard...and my prayer every day before one-on-one sessions was that God would work in her little heart. Help her to trust and to love. Gradually, we began to transition to playing together...but still NO touching!! I don't know when it happened....but one day, out of the blue, Brooke saw me come into the playroom and came over and SAT in my LAP! Voluntarily! And we played....oh we played. And oh how full my heart was. Everyone who passed the playroom was pulling out their cameras to take pictures of Brooke and I...they all understood what a MONUMENTOUS occurrence this was. From that day on, Brooke and I were well on our way to becoming best friends. She would come to me immediately when I entered the room and would ask to go to “shang ke” (class time). We would leave together and have 30 minutes of amazing “becoming best friends” time. I soaked up every single moment...even the frustrating ones when she would yell "BU YAO" (I don't want to!!) when I would try to get her to do something she didn't want to do! 

The very first time Brooke Cai Wei voluntarily let me hold her- I was SO EXCITED

Beginning the process of becoming best friends- slowly but was happening :)

Pictures during class time- love love love this sweet girl! 

Our one-on-one sessions quickly became the highlight of my day

The turning point really occurred about halfway through the summer. I was on a walk with the nannies and the toddlers to the Lunar Market. As we were walking, Brooke insisted on holding my hand the entire way there- and cried for me to pick her up and hold her while we were waiting for the nannies to purchase their vegetables. This had NEVER happened... and I was absolutely thrilled. As I held her close, singing “Xiao Shou Pai Pai” over and over again, I promised myself that I would find this precious, precious girl a family of her very own, no matter what.

Lunar Market with the nannies. 

When my amazing friend Priscilla took this picture, she said something along the lines of OH MY GOSH this has to be your best friends picture of LIFEEEEE!!!!!!!! So true, wo de peng you. So true. :)

That very night, I emailed multiple families that I knew had been thinking about adoption...and told them I had found them a baby. I didn't know how, when, or where her file would be ready...but I promised myself I would do everything in my power to find this precious girl a home. I loved her so very much and the thought of leaving her in just a few short weeks just broke my heart. I knew she needed heart surgery- and soon- and prayed every day that God would prepare the perfect family for her...that her adoption file would be prepared, and that she would be matched quickly. She had changed my heart and my life- teaching me what it meant to truly love. I had seen and loved the orphan for myself- she was no longer a picture on a website or sponsorship card taped to my desk. She was a living, breathing child of the King looking me in the eye and calling me "Ayi". Now that I have seen, I am responsible- Proverbs 24:12. And so began the season of love.

 "Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes…" --David Platt

Stay tuned for Part 2.... :) 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

We are READY for the Banquet!!

I have been SO amiss in writing this blog for Brooke…mostly because I am too tired in the evening to write and catch you all up in this amazing journey God has for our family. My last post says – “more tomorrow…”! Ha! I will just share my thoughts and prayers right NOW…right where God has me…isn’t that where He does the best transforming?

It is 2:24am…and I am up waiting for Victor to come home from his Jr/Sr Banquet…of course the banquet is just the beginning of the evening… they are finishing up one last round of bowling! (Don’t worry I slept on the couch from 11 – 1). Anyway…what does one do at this hour but pray…ah…answered prayer just now!!! Victor just texted and he is on his way home! Let’s see if I can get this done before he gets home!

I prayed not only for Victor and his Banquet and his behavior and his manners and his safety and good clean fun into the wee hours of the night…but my old mind and body wondered, as I rolled – yes, rolled off the couch, “would I be able to wait up sixteen years from now when Brooke is at HER Jr/Sr Banquet?” Then my heart went immediately chasing things only a mother’s heart does…would she get asked?…what would she wear?…how would I teach her to ‘wear” her “zipper” (her scar from open heart surgery)? And a swell in my heart said, “YES….YES…YES…it will all happen if the Lord wills and we rely on Him. And then the BIG question…would HER heart carry her to her Jr/Sr year? Oh my…oh… my…OK, that’s where we partner with God in prayer on that one. But, YES, we will try to live in the moment and will live in anticipation of The Banquet!!!! We will be ready! : ) Are you? (Check out Luke 14)

Brooke loves dressing up. They just had a fun dress up time at her foster home and some adorable pictures were taken…Meredith has included a couple for this post. In fact, Brooke would not take off the dress up clothes when play time was up! She’s ready for the banquet!!!

Our love for God is manifested in our love for others. I pray right now for that special Godly young man that is someday going to invite Brooke to her Jr/Sr Banquet and-- And I thank God now for the responsible young man Victor is becoming and God’s testimony of unconditional love in his life….and…ahhhh…

Victor is home…
And it is well with my soul. 3:01am

I wonder whose double chin that could be....?

PEEK-A-BOO Brooke! We see you! 

Brooke and her best buddy Levi- He and Brooke have similar heart conditions and are "zipper buddies!" The family that is blessed to be adopting Levi are some sweet friends of Meredith's- can't wait to see the two of them reunited in America very soon! 

What in the world would we do without Jeremy around to love on Brooke for us until we get there?!

OH sweet girl we love you so much!! You are BEAUTIFUL!

Oh my...that's a look like big sister Erica would give! Brooke has decided she is OVER this photo shoot!

Good thing her brother/best friend Levi is around to help her with her hat! How SWEET are they?!

And of course...our little diva refusing to take her pretty dress off when the photo shoot was over. What a little princess :)