November 14, 2012

We've got mail!

We had a couple fun surprises here today.

The first one came in my morning email. A family we've been in contact with was able to visit Meili's orphanage because they just adopted a little girl from the same one. There was 5 wonderful pictures and an update written in ENGLISH!

I didn't have much experience with Yahoo groups prior to this adoption, but WOW - they have been helpful! There is a group for almost EVERYTHING! I belong to one for people adopting toddlers from china, one for parents of adopted children from China with the same special need as Meili, and one for parents who have adopted or are adopting children from her orphanage. I was able to connect with this special family through the orphanage group. They picked up their daughter just a couple days ago, and today were granted permission to go to the orphanage.

Even with the stress/excitement of their new daughter, trying to capture pictures and video for her, and having to use a translator, they were able to ask a couple questions about Meili and get some really great pictures for us. What a blessing! We are so grateful to them for being willing to do this. AND, we know these pictures are recent!
Here's our little peanut as of today:

They also included a couple pictures and description of the orphanage. It's so bleak, empty and cold. They said it has 3 rooms, two with cribs lined up against all the walls and one full of wooden high chairs. That's it. Hard wood floors and dirty white walls with some colorful stickers. No toys. No soft carpet to crawl on. You can see the floor and the bottom of one of the dirty walls in the picture above. That's about what the rest of it looks like.

Despite this, they also said the caretakers seemed like they genuinely cared about the children. I SO hope this is true!

The second great surprise came in our "snail mail."

I had mentioned in THIS post that our little girl had some crazy hair and some cute hats might be in order. A talented friend from high school took this to heart and sent us a wonderful gift!

Aren't they adorable!! We were just absolutely thrilled to receive these! It's the first gift anyone (besides grandparents) has given Meili!

Here's the best part:
We currently have purchased (or Grandma has purchased) three outfits for Meili. My friend who sent the hats had no idea what the outfits looked like, and didn't ask me for any color suggestions.
And here's what we ended up with:

And this is the outfit I was hoping to buy as a "coming home" dress...

...which I thought went pretty well with this one:

Seriously, could they match any better?!?
(Can God work through hats?! :) )

Thanks TM and SR for sending us mail that made our day!

November 12, 2012

Tapping into the POWER

I can safely say that raising funds and filling out paperwork has been one of the easier parts of our adoption process. Those two things tend to be reasons that people shy away from adoption, but at least they're tangible. Either you have the money, or you don't. The paperwork is done, or it isn't. They aren't easy to do, but they're not the most difficult piece of the puzzle

That award goes to the emotional aspect of the process.

We've mentioned the "rollercoaster" several times and I know that just like having your first biological child, you can't really understand it until you've been through it.

Just trust me. It's hard.

After we accepted Meili's referral, a million thoughts flooded my mind...
Did we do the right thing?
Is this the child God has for us?
What if we didn't pray enough and we missed something?
What if she has needs or disabilities that we aren't prepared for?
Did we misunderstand what God was trying to tell us?
Will we really be able to handle this?
Are we shortchanging our biological kids?
Are we insane for committing to a child we've never met or even SEEN?
...and on...
and on...
and on.

Even though I know that my questioning indicates a lack of trust in the Lord on my part, I couldn't seem to shake it. It was consuming my thoughts and keeping me up at night.

But Matthew 7:7-8 says "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

So I asked. And He answered. Times three.

A couple days later I was spending some time reading this book:

Have you read it? If not, it's definitely worth your time.
Chapter 3 is called "Beginning at the end of ourselves." It really challenged me to examine myself and see if I was living in such a way that I was depending solely on God's power and not on my own abilities. Am I trusting a God who drives out demons, feeds thousands from almost nothing, controls the seas and makes heroes out of ordinary people?

 And of course the answer was, "no."

The example Platt uses in chapter to demonstrate his point is George Mueller. George Mueller was an amazing follower of Christ who started with nothing and spent his entire life building orphanages and caring for parent-less children without ever asking anyone for a dime. He relied solely on God's power to provide and sustain.

What a perfect example.

As if that wasn't enough, the next morning I opened my YouVersion reading for the day to find 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul was given a "thorn in his flesh" - a messenger of satan to torment him. "Torment" is a pretty strong word. I was worried and anxious, but Paul was "tormented."  And when he asks God to remove the thorn, he replies:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness..."
After reading the rest of chapter 12, I had concluded this:

His power is perfect. His grace is sufficient.
And Paul, in his state of torment, takes God at his word and chooses to not only accept,  but to delight in his hardships and difficulties. - verse 10

I don't know many people who can do that.
But clearly, we're to be striving for it. "For when I am weak, then I am strong" - verse 10.

Less than a few hours later I grabbed the mail quick before leaving the house and an adoption article caught my attention.

I only had about 2 minutes so I flipped it open and quickly read one of the three stories included in the article. I don't think it was by chance that I picked the one I did.

Honestly, it was almost comical to read those last two sentences. God clearly wants me to know about his power and his grace and to rely on him when I'm weak. He will work through us during those times of weakness to make us stronger in him.

I can do nothing with all my questions. I can't guarantee that everything will go smoothly. I can't control what our family life will look like with Meili in it. I can't even hold her. But I can rely on a God who is capable of more than I can even fathom, and who promises his grace will be sufficient.

I love how Platt summarizes this chapter (emphasis mine):
"Why would we ever want to settle for Christianity according to our ability? The power of the one who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us, and as a result we have no need to muster up our own might. Our great need is to fall before the almighty Father day and night and to plead for him to show his radical power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for his glory what we could never imagine in our own strength."
That's our prayer. That we'll be able to accomplish this task in such a way that it will be clear to everyone who sees that it accomplished by the power of his spirit, and not by the abilities of man.