"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Look who got new t-shirts!

"I'm the answer to lots & lots of prayers"

"My favorite book says we're ALL adopted"

"I am wonderfully made!"

(The t-shirts came from Cafepress.com. I just put "ADOPTION" in the search engine.)

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hidden in Plain Sight...a year later.

I recently read this short article written by Mark Clark, and it made my thoughts immediately think back to our precious, Anna Grace Fengqin.

"It was a brisk January 2004 day in Washington DC as the young, nondescript musician emerged from the Metro subway train in L'Enfant Station. Wearing blue jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt, with a Washington Nationals cap on his head, he selected a spot against the wall. He removed his cherished violin from its small case, placed a few dollar bills and pocket change in the case as seed money, and turned to face the morning foot traffic. He began to play. In the course of the next 43 minutes, 6 classical pieces were performed; 1097 people passed by, 7 stopped long enough to appreciate the music and made donations to the violin case totaling $32. and change. The violinist played a selection of classic greats that have endured the ages rather than catchy pop tunes. By the way, the violinist was Joshua Bell, 39 year old internationally acclaimed virtuoso playing his Stradivarius. Three days before he had played to a full house at the Boston Symphony Hall where merely good tickets cost over $100. and two weeks later to a standing room only crowd in Baltimore. He is a Grammy award winning international star who was virtually ignored by the crowd hurrying to work."

Lu Feng Qin, now known as our Anna Grace, was placed by God in our hearts and home, as our priceless treasure hidden in plain sight. Today marks the one year anniversary of Anna Grace joining our family, and becoming our daughter and sister.

As many of you are aware, Scott and I both knew that God had led us to Anna Grace. There was never, ever a question about that. But just days after coming home with her. I questioned many times, "Why?" I couldn't understand why God would want someone like me to take on such a great task, not to mention what was happening to the dynamics in our home. My heart truly ached for her pain, but after days turned into months and seeing such small steps forward with giant leaps backwards, I didn't think I had the strength as a mother to raise such a child. I felt that we were both walking around with a big, black cloud hovering over us, and worse yet, I felt I had let down not only our daughter, but the very God who gave me this precious gift. God knew better.

It is only now, a year later (and still not at the end of the tunnel) that I can step aside from the daily grind and truly acknowledge the mastery of the Creator as I view my beautiful daughter, who was indeed hidden in plain sight to me. At times, I would be the one wanting to just give her a passing glance and pocket change, but it was God who made me realize that she deserved my all. She is His masterpiece, His perfect creation, and shouldn't a priceless masterpiece be worthy of complete admiration and the utmost of care? Especially when I knew she was a gift from the King of Kings?

I've learned so much from Anna Grace. She has taught me patience. She has brought me closer to our Lord than I've ever been at times. She has made me see that He could turn desperate situations (and trust me at times I felt desperate) into loving moments, all for His glory.

I will never forget that day when we walked into the Civil Affairs building in Hefei. I had created dreams and expectations that would be crushed within days. She wanted nothing to do with me. I patiently waited. I prayed and I gave it to God. Nothing changed. I prayed more. Things improved ever-so-slightly. But the look of despise and distrust in her eyes when we were close was very much still alive.

For months we had holding time several times a day. I learned to be able to differentiate her strong willed personality from her attachment struggles. She learned slowly that it was "ok" to be nice to Mama and that her heart would not be broken if she gave into loving me. Each day was like a small teaspoon of sugar being poured into a bucket of the most bitter of drinks. It hardly made a change in the taste, but nonetheless it was working. I kept telling myself it was working. It had to. We were in this for the long haul.

I often found myself telling her stories about little girls that were lost and scared until they found their Mamas and Daddys, and how happy they were when they realized that Mamas and Daddys loved their babies so much and would never let them go once they were united. Even after months of being home, she would not give me eye contact, but I knew that she was listening. She slowly started playing with baby dolls and I would see her begin to nurture her babies as a Mama should. After a few months, she'd whisper to her babies, softly enough for me not to hear (or so she thought) "No scared. Mama loves you."

It was heartbreaking to hug her and feel the tension between us. Her arms always in a ready position to separate us. I felt guilt for not falling immediately in love with her. She was my daughter, how could that be? It was only through prayer and the help and encouragement of many that have gone through this that I realized that it was quite normal to have those feelings. Everyone saw the outside beauty. She is indeed a stunningly beautiful child. I only saw a child that wished I didn't exist in her life. While she continued pouring her "sweetness" upon everyone around her, I kept wanting to give up. To just accept the fact that this would be our lives. Yet, my heart, the heart of a mother, knew that she needed me to hang in there.

Fast forward a year later, we still have some struggles, but oh my! That sweetness is pure as honey and how I love it! Nothing melts my heart more than when she comes running to me with that loud, high-pitched screechy voice yelling, "Big Hug" as she throws herself on me, wraps her arms around my neck and squeezes me to the point of not being able to breath. Those days of being pushed away during hugs are nearly gone, with the exception of when the big attachment monster rears its ugly head maybe once or twice every couple of months.

She loves it when she sees that I put my hair in pig tails (my reason for letting it grow now) and quickly says in a very proud tone, with her million dollar smile, "Anna Grace looks like Mama!" She loves when she can climb into my lap so that I could praise her and tell how how much I love her and how happy she makes Jesus every day. At night before going to bed she often asks me, "Does Anna Grace make Mama's heart sing?" I smile, inside and out, and answer "Yes, baby. Anna Grace makes Mama's heart sing so loud that Jesus could hear it all the way up in Heaven and it makes His heart sing."

There's no doubt that it's been a long, tough year with many tears shed, both of joy and pain. But, I smiled as I awoke this morning and reminded Scott that today was the one year anniversary of the best Father's Day gift he's ever received (she was handed to us on Father's day last year), followed by a very affirmed statement by me, "I love her so much! I can't even begin to imagine our lives without her." To which Scott, with a Daddy's heart, quickly responded "Neither could I." We both smiled.

Happy 1st Forever Family Day baby girl. We love you so much!!!! May God always bless you and remind you that your family is yours forever and ever and ever....and we love you as much as the whole wide world, and back again!


1 year ago on Father's Day, June 18, 2007

The first 3 months home.

(Notice the sadness in her face when I carry her and the arms
"held between us" in case I got too close. Also the smiles always there when held by others.)

Six months home.
(More smiles...but still keeping her distance to guard her heart.)

Finally allowing herself to love and trust! :)

(The picture in the center is one of the first times that
she put her arms around me when I asked for "Big Hug!")

Home 1 year!
Our beautiful and happy girl.

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