Saturday, April 30, 2011

His Past. His Healing.

This is the flower by my front door.


Pathetic I know.

But it is an interesting flower nonetheless.
Stick with me here....I'm going somewhere with this...
I promise.
This is not a horticulture lesson by any stretch.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

We have lived in this house for nearly two years.
I haven't ever planted
nor watered
a thing.

And what amazes me is that each spring this one flower,
among the death and ruin of the remaining flowers of yesteryear
continues to bloom.
It blooms despite it's circumstances.
Never watered.
Never fertilized.
Never paid any attention to sans a stray nerf bullet that sometimes sails it direction.
Nuthin.

That flower,
I love. 
That flower that I walk by everyday when I enter our home

r
e
m
i
n
d
s

me
so much of
them.

Nobody loved.
Nobody cared.
Some were just downright mean and awful.

Yet.
They.
Bloom.

Today I was playing with Jacob and tickling him and that contagious laugh of his was bursting out of him.
I did what I have done a hundred times before with our other kids.
I started gently tapping his mouth as he was laughing which
as all mothers know
makes their voice sound really funny and typically makes them laugh even more.

But today
in that moment
his past
once again
caught up with him.
And he
shut.
down.

That scared traumatized look came right back into his eyes.
The hollowness.
The emptiness.
I had apparently found yet another trigger.
That look that, in the beginning days and weeks of being home, would last for hours
came back. 

But this time
it left rather quickly.
"Please don't do that mama. XXXX in China hit mouth hard. He really mean."

Oh sweet boy.

I hugged him, he smiled, and we went right back to playing legos.

And he heals a little bit more.
And he blooms a little bit more.
And I get really angry inside and want to get on a plane and have a little what's what with that man. 
And I pray.

And not only is he blooming,
but he is choosing. 
Choosing to love.

Captive no more.
Orphan no more.
But free.

The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free. Luke 4:18

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Mail System ~ Our Odyssey.

Every day when we pull up in the driveway after school Joey runs to the mailbox to check the mail.

Homeboy is fascinated with that box that magically produces tons of junk mail letters.

Today when he opened it he discovered ~ GASP ~ mail FROM LILLY! 

Oh.
Gracious.
The joy!

The boys poured over her letter and immediately scooted up to the dining room table to write her back.
"You can write it in Chinese if you want." I said.
"No." They replied simultaneously.
Alrighty then. 

Joey grabbed Jason to help him write his letter as I stood nearby in the kitchen making tacos.
Yes.
Yes I make tacos a lot.
They like them.
They ALL like them.
And if you have more than 2 or 3 kids you know what valuable commodity that is.
Tacos.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
Ok, just kidding on that last part.
Please don't write me a letter.

But I digress......

So Jason dictated Joey's words


while Jacob took the opposite approach and thanks to his off-the-hook fanstinkintastic 2nd grade teacher {Hi Mrs. D!} wrote the following:
{unassisted I might add, sans a peek or two at Joey's paper to properly spell words like swimming pool and brother.}



Go ahead.
Be amazed.
Tell me how cute and smart he is.
I can take it. ;)

And then.
Well.
And then I had to explain to them that we put the letter in the mailbox and the mailman comes and brings it to Lilly.
What?
No!
Jacob Joey give it to Lilly. No man. Jacob Joey do it.Get in car. Go to Lilly.

Yeah.
Ever tried to explain the US postal system to a couple of small non-English speakers?
You should try it sometime.
Good times.
Good times.
20 minutes later they acquiesed and we put it in the mailbox for the lucky man that gets to see Lilly.

But not before they added these to the envelope


and this

and this

Don't ask.
Cuz I don't know.

and this.

cuz every girl needs a necklace.

and this

cuz every girl needs a slightly used kids menu from the restaurant last night.
Lesson on How the Postal System works:
Check!

Next up, HOW TO PUT THE TOILET SEAT UP WHEN YOU POTTY, PLEASE, I BEG OF YOU.
Standby for updates on that.
~sigh~

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Check it out!

I've been published.......errrr.......blogished?
I dunno.

But regardless, you can catch my heart-buh-reaking post on what the boys were really thinking over at
We are Grafted In 
today!

Go check it out and ya know....leave a comment....I'm having a bad hair day so it'll make me feel better.
Your such a friend, thanks.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Every Now and Then

I realize.

6 boys.

Is

well

a lot

of

boys.

 Gracious.

Happy Monday from our testosterhome.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Before & After

Before.

After.

Before.
After.

Before.
After.


Before.
After.


That's what love can do.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Boys: 6. Stitch Count so far: 2,472

This is Jordan.


Jordan plays baseball.
Jordan is a lefty.
This makes baseball coaches very
very
happy.

Jordan pitches.
Jordan plays 1st base.
Not at the same time.
That'd be weird.
or amazing.
I'm not sure which.

Jordan had baseball practice last night whereupon catching a fly ball he failed to see the L screen.
An L screen is that thingybobber that coaches hide behind whilst throwing balls at teenage boys in practice.

This is an L screen.

Please do note that this particular one was constructed out of chain link fence material.

In case you were curious, when one's face runs into the L screen and one's cheek gets punctured by and then subsequently torn by said chain link the result is going to be
well
it's gonna be ugly.
In fact.
It'll look somethin like this


At this point I'm just thankful that it didn't rip most of his cheek off.

John helps coach Jason and Jordan's team and had just left practice early to come home and take care of the little kids.
It was my bunko night you see.
Priorities people.

Shortly after John walks in the door, which was about 2 minutes after I had applied a shiny new coat of lip gloss as I bounded down the stairs excited about seeing my bunko peeps
his
phone
rings.

Yeah.

The side of the conversation I heard went something like this.
"Hey Brian."
"Oh really."
"Oh. ok."
"I guess I'll come pick him up then."
"Alright. Thanks. Bye."

And as I was putting my flip flops between my freshly painted toe nails I slowly watched my bunko plans sadly fade away.

Now let me just hit pause for a minute here and jump in to tell you this:
We have 6 boys.
Blood.
Stitches.
Cuts.
Scrapes.
It's all about as regular as breathing in and out around here.

So my response to this news was simply and calmly this
bring him home, let me see if he really does need stitches.
because I am completely unqualified in expert medical care  I have an advanced degree in mom medicine.

So John goes back to practice, finds our son laying in the grass, bleeding profusely from the face whilst simultaneously cracking jokes with his teammates who are all hovering around him
and brings him home.

They walk in and, oh yeah, despite it being bunko night AND season finale of Parenthood night....
we definitely need stitches.

~sigh~ I knew girls would've been easier. Don't they like play tea and barbies and stuff?

At this point I feel compelled to share with you that we didn't dash out the door at mach 2 to rush the poor ~ no longer bleeding child to the nearest care center.
Nope.
He is 13.
He was hungry.
As was my coach of a husband.
They started getting out plates and helping themselves to the dinner that was on the table.
So there I stood.
All dressed up and no place to go.
Watching 7 men devour their dinner.
And ladies....well, there was my bunko posse and yummy bunko food across the street at bunko house and all.....
and they....
ya know.....
talk about girl stuff, and they smell good, and they don't burp loudly at the table....
so you can understand that I did what any mother in my position would do....
yep.
Whilst the men were back at home with forkfuls of dinner in their mouths I schlepped across the street,
and chatted it up and snacked with my bunko posse

and then
20 minutes later
took him in for stitches.
Hey.
Don't judge me.
I was hungry.
And I had freshly painted toenails.

So there we sat in urgent care awaiting our turn.
He with his CheezeIt's he brought along for the ride
and I with my flip flops and fresh lip gloss with no where to go.

8 stitches later and we were back home.
And that my friends, is how we roll around here.
and thank goodness they stream those episodes of Parenthood online. Whew.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How I Managed to Fail at Adoption 101.

{a caveat to this post}

Adoption 101:
"Make sure your child knows that he is here to stay forever."

How I screwed that up
well
the answer is

I.
don't.
know.

I don't know.

I don't really know what I would have done differently.
They were happy.
They had settled in.
They showed no behaviors expressing insecurity.

There were no signs.
There were no signals.
There was no packing of the backpacks and standing by the door.
They
were
fine.

So the knowledge that they had been feeling that way
well
it kinda made my head spin
and made my jaw drop
and my heart crumble.

So here I sit.
Reflecting on that conversation
and wondering
what
could
I
have
done?

I got nuthin.
Nope.
Nuthin.

I guess we could have had some Mandarin speakers over sooner
but would that honestly have made a difference had we done that right away?
Would they have really grasped any concept of a family or permanency at that point?
Or would they still be reeling from having their world turned upside down
and the news that they were here to stay may not have even been all that welcoming at that point
......if we are being honest. 
Which we are.

Part of me thinks it took us showing them our love, our stability, our permanency over the last nearly 3 months.
Kinda like we aim to teach our kids not to just talk the talk
but to
walk
the
walk.

We were walking the walk.
We were loving them.
We were serving them.
We were caring for them,.
We were laughing and crying with them.

We.
Showed.
Them.

We showed them what a family was like.
Prior to that,
prior to us,
let me tell ya
they had no idea what that looked like.

So if indeed someone had shown up at our doorstep those first few days and said,
"Hey guess what?! You are here to stay! Yippee! Congrats!"
would they really have truly received that?
Really?

I don't know.
Part of me is starting to think this timing was impeccable.
We showed them,
then we told them.

And though that certainly wasn't a conscious decision,
I'm kinda thinkin that it worked for us.

So instead of sitting here feeling empty-handed, inept and incapable of expressing everything to them
I will instead, let Him fill in those gaps and equip us with everything we need
exactly at the moment we need it.
Cuz that's life.
that's love.
that
is
adoption.


That is family.

PS This concludes the series Deep Thoughts by Sonia. 
Come on back tomorrow for a post of levity involving baseball, blood, 8 stitches and a chain link fence. 
Ya know. 
If you like that kinda thing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Confusion is Reining in Our Home.....

wowzers.

I finally got my act together enough last week to invite some new friends of friends of friends over to our house for dinner last weekend.

Friends that have lived in China for 13 years
that are here for a year on sabbatical
and are
of course
fluent
in Mandarin.

It was such a great evening!
I made tacos
because really,
what's more Chinese than ~ ahem ~ tacos.
And once the boys got over their initial shock of perfect mandarin flowing out of the mouth of a very white American man they opened up
big time.

Had I even known how downright confused and lost my precious boys were I would have had them over the day after we returned home.
Jet lag and all.

We found out so much that night.
Some good.
Some not so good.
Some downright awful.
Things that, as their mother, I am still processing.

For starters Jacob and Joey had no stinkin idea that they were here to stay.
No.
Idea.
The fact that for nearly 3 months they have woken up day after day after day after day and wondered if today is the day that
they
will
be
sent
back
is nearly too much to bare.


You could have sucked the life right out of me when those words came out of their mouth and
I'm pretty sure a piece of my heart shattered at that moment.
Sweet, sweet boys.

They are going to be your parents and love you and take care of you forever they were told.
"Impossible." Jacob answered.

Oh my heart.

He wanted to know if we were "happy with them".
As if we were still trying them on for size and about to activate some kind of return policy.

Sweet boy.
Sweet innocent boy.
If only you knew the depth of the love that we have for you.

At one point he began to catch a glimpse of that secure future and somewhat understand; and the look on his face when it dawned on him that he really does get to stay was a moment I shall not soon forget.
He.
Lit.
Up.

We had some funny moments mixed in with some things that were very hard to hear.
Funny things like, when they were told about our upcoming move, they said that we had too much stuff and there was no way it was going to fit in our new house. 
Would the toys come with us? 
The swimming pool?
The clothes?
The couch?
The window blinds?

Yes.
No.
Yes.
Yes.
No.

When we found out that Joey has been having nightmares we told him that he could come into our room and wake us up, or call for us and we would come comfort him.
He liked that idea.
And for curiosity's sake I asked our friend to ask him what he did in China when he had nightmares.
Joey's response was that one time he got up to go tell his foster parents but one of the other boys told him not to go in there because
they
might
be
making
a
baby.

Yeah.
Older child adoption......never a dull moment.....or an awkward one for that matter....

So the apparent confusion and silent chaos that they were living is ever so slowly being replaced by truth. 
Replaced.
By.
Love.
.....and from that....there's no going back.


 "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace....."1 Corinthians 14:33

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just a Hunch...


but I think they really like the pool.

New experience #4,792 for them in the 2 1/2 months they've been home.
It's amazing how much life there is outside the confines of an orphanage.

The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free. Luke 4:18

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Like This Boy.

Jordan was asked to give up Facebook for 21 days as part of a lesson that his {amazing} youth group is studying.

During that time he is supposed to shoot little videos documenting his experience and how it is going.

Today's result:
video


This kid cracks me up.....and I get to be his mom.....and buy him lots of Cheese-it's.
How great is that?

PS Anyone know how to spell Cheeseit's? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paying it Forward.

We were so,
sooooooo
blessed by friends and strangers alike as we were fundraising and getting ready to bring Jacob and Joey home.
John and I will never, never, ever forget the love and giving that was poured out on us during that time.
That experience will forever change the way that we give.
And now we get the opportunity each month to pay that love forward to families that are getting ready to bring their kiddos home.
All of that to say you simply must go here

so loved

and meet Poppy & Esther.
If I ever wanted to jump on ovah to the girl aisle these two faces would certainly push me in that direction!
They are precious and will soon be a part of one big Jesus-lovin family!
Go check it out and see how you can make a difference to these two!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our Future. Adoption & Otherwise....

It's that time of year again.
The flowers are blooming
The AC is running.
The electric bill is rising.
And the kids are spending more time in swim trunks than out.

All of that can only mean one thing.
Moving trucks. 
Moving trucks by the......well.....by the truckload are going to begin to appear around the 'hood soon.
And this year
one will be showing up in our driveway.....again.

Time to find the houseplants a new home.
Time to pawn the fish off on the neighbors.
Time to get your head and your heart ready to say goodbye.

We found out our next assignment last week.
It's sunny,
it has a beach
white sand
and a palm tree or 12.
Excited?
Yep.
Bummed to be leaving behind some amazing friends and an incredible church?
Oh yeah.

By last count, our impending move in a matter of weeks will be our 9th state in 13 years.

It is such a fine line to walk in this life.
Trying so very hard not to prematurely disconnect from the life we have here.
The life we will still have for a few more weeks....
yet all the while preparing for what's next.
Housing.
Schools.
Church.
Where is the nearest Target at our new locale.
You know,
the important things.

Saying goodbye ~ not my favorite.
Saying hello to a totally new group of people when you don't know a single soul in the entire state ~ also not my favorite.

Jacob and Joey don't know about the move yet.
We are having some new friends over for dinner on Saturday who are fluent in Mandarin so we will begin to discuss it then.
I'm pretty sure the adoption books don't recommend uprooting your newly adopted children into a new home and new environment a few short months after coming home.
but on the flip side.....what a great lesson in cementing the fact that
they
go
where
we
go.

7 more weeks of home school.
6 more weeks of school for the little kids.
1 more baseball season to wrap up
and then before I know it
a group of men I have never met before will knock on my door at 7am and begin packing up our worldly possessions.
Ever had a stranger pack up your underwear drawer?
You should try it.
Good times.
Good times.

As for our adoption future
well,
I think it can best be described by this

Pre-Adoption I would have thought that we absolutely would be going back.
Post-Adoption I have to say that our family feels very, very complete to the both of us.
However and I do say a big
HOWEVER
our prayer is that He will lead us to what we can be doing to still care for the orphan.
Because though we feel at complete peace with where we are at in our family now doesn't mean our hearts aren't still crying out for those left behind and our hands are eager to serve in some way.
What that way looks like exactly is up to Him.
Ever just opened up your arms and your heart to God and said,
Your will be done.
Whatever you would have of me.
Here.
I.
Am.
Total & Complete Surrender. 


Scary.
Exciting.
Smack dab in the center of His will.
Just where I want to be
no matter where in the world the AF sends us.  

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and the vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
James 4:13-15

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Backpack.

I think so often while paperchasing you obsess over envision how exactly things will go down whilst you are on your adoption trip.
And for us it just so happens.....barring the losing Justin incident that we still aren't talking about.... {shivers}....
ours went kinda like I thought it would.

Happy boys.
Happy family.

But then there is the little things like
-I forgot to take a picture in the airport when we landed in GZ..who knew that being on a plane for 15 hours would cause one to not think entirely clearly....
-I forgot to go find that shop that is run by volunteers whose profits support the orphans left behind.
-I didn't get a picture of the boys with that statue of all the kids in the row on the island.

and then there are the even littler things that you think that you will do....but you don't.

like dig through their backpacks that first day. 

I would have thought that on that first night after their bath, after they were sleeping soundly in their brand new jammies that I would have torn through those gigantically loaded backpacks to see what they came with....
but I didn't.
Instead?
Well, instead
I
went
to
sleep.

It was like my brain just turned off.
So much emotion.
Such a culmination of nearly a years worth of longing and long distance love.
Such a powerful day.
And my brain had had enough and
simply
turned
off.

Truth be told those backpacks sat against the wall in that hotel room for the next 10 days until we were packing to head home.
And that's finally when I saw this


A scroll.
A scroll that turned out to be this inside


Yeah.
I know.


Precious right?
Turns out this is an advertisement for the school that they attended.
Yep.
Amazing.

According to our guide, the advertisement talks about how large the school is, the amenities that they offer, the fact that they teach English and how high the test scores are.
If you know anything about the social makeup of China and the way that orphans are viewed there, the fact that they chose my baby as one of the children they would use to promote their school is nothing short of amazing.

All of this to say, if you are heading to China, check your kiddos backpack....
you just never know what might be hiding in there for you.

As for the missing airport and statue picture.......I'm thinking that's what photoshop is for. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's How We Roll.

Sports.
It's how we roll around here.

With 6 boys in this house it was inevitable that they were either going to all be sports fans or
competitive eaters
-gasp-
and....
well.....
there wasn't any way I was going to spend my evenings at the dining room table judging who could shove the most hot dogs and sauerkraut into their mouths....
so sports it is.
Consequently, as my husband so -ahem- eloquently, said in the middle of shooting an adoption promo for our church the other day,
"There are a lot of balls in our house."

No.
No I am not kidding.
He really said that.

Yes.
Yes I am still mortified
and I remain in a constant state of prayer that they will edit that part out before it is aired.
Will?
Bueller?
Anyone?
Edit my friend I beg of you.
Puh-lease edit. 

Truly, there are indeed a lot of balls in our house....and by that he meant that we have near every sporting equipment ever made.....ahem....just so we are clear about that.
Put a baseball glove in their hand,
and a pot roast in their stomach and they are happy people.

One of their favorite times of year is the fantasy drafts.
They get together, select their players, organize their teams, manage the positions, every sport, every season.
Football.
Hockey.
Lacrosse
just kidding
Skeet shooting
still kidding
and most recently, baseball.

So it was only a matter of time before we branched out.
May I present to you
The Lego Man Draft.
oh yeah baby.

Because when your youngest four boys are consistently having arguments firm, in-depth discussions as to whose Lego guy is whose, you problem solve.



Thus was born, the Lego Man Draft of 2011.





This beats the heck out of competitive eating any day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hong Kong Disney

Yesterday we had nothing on the agenda so we packed everyone up.....again....loaded up, left on a jet plane and went to Hong Kong Diz.

Ok
Errrr....maybe not.
The thought of getting on an airplane again kinda still gives me the shivers. 
But we did go on our way home from our China Adventure 2011 and because I am just that far behind I have failed to share that nugget with you.

In case you were wondering, when your itinerary has one free day in Hong Kong and you are surrounded by 6 boys....you go to Disneyland.
It's like the law and stuff.

We took the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong.
1 1/2 hours of beautiful China countryside...

and then you arrive in Hong Kong and it's though you have suddenly been time warped 50 years ahead.
It's modern.
It's bright.
It's enormous.
It's...well....if I may be so blunt.....rich.
It was so vastly different than mainland China.

It was a great train ride but then a funny thing happened.
We arrived at the train station, made our way through immigration again and then attempted to hail a cab or two to take us to Disney.
Yeah.
That's where our grand plan went south.

Ever tried to hail a taxi in Hong Kong with 8 people, 9 suitcases and 5 backpacks?
Well, let me save you the trouble.
Don't.
They won't take you.
They may even chuckle at you a time or two or twelve as they drive right by you.

Yeah.
But God, being the absolute amazing God that He is, had a travel agency open and readily available to serve us.
1 hour later and we were being escorted to our private bus. 
No.
No, I'm not kidding.
That is the side show we had become in China.
A private bus.

Ha.
Still makes me laugh.

So after a comfy ride to we disembarked half an hour later at the Disney Hollywood Hotel and settled in for the night.
The next day we were up and at the park when it opened after spending an obscene amount of money for breakfast in the hotel because we were out of snackage by that point and there were no other options and had such a magical day.

The sound of their laughter that day will never leave my ears.
The sight of the wonder in their eyes will never leave my heart.
From orphanage to Disneyland in 12 days. 
Truly a great day.
Everyone was crazy excited to be there as we were getting ready to go. See?!


Ok well, maybe the sleep hadn't quite worn off yet.
You'll just have to take my word for it.







Catching You Up On Things We Did In China That I Am Just Now Getting Around To Sharing With You Volume 1: 
Done.