Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hope and a Future

This is the room that our daughter has been sleeping in for the past 13 months. In fact, as I write this, that's where she is. This picture is bleak, sad, and rather depressing. This picture is what makes our so far more than 100 day wait for our LOA (letter of approval) from China so difficult. This picture makes me want to cry. However, this picture is also one of hope, redemption, and love.

This is where our Lily is coming from. This does not define who she is, or who she will be, but only her circumstances at this moment in time. This is merely her starting point.

Some parents who have adopted from Lily's orphanage have said it's rather gloomy and grim, without many toys or smiling faces. Some say that they felt their children were truly loved and taken care of while they were there. Either way, it is not the same as being part of a loving family. It falls far short of the ideal. But it allows so much room for God to redeem our daughter. Right now she doesn't know what she's missing. She doesn't understand that she's supposed to be loved better than she is. In fact, she might be really upset when we come to take her from the only home she's ever known. She can't see the other side. She doesn't know what true love feels like. She only knows this bleak, white room with a wooden mat in a metal bed. And to her, that is safe and familiar. That is home.

A few years from know she will know the love of a mom, a dad, and two siblings. She will have a bright, cheerful bedroom with a soft bed. She will have toys and books and food readily available to her. The time at her orphanage will probably not even be a memory. She will be redeemed as a daughter.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and future." Jeremiah 29:11

God has great plans for our daughter. He is giving her a hope and a future. While every day of this wait seems unnecessary and excruciatingly long, the end result will be the same. She will come home to us. She will know true love. She will have hope and a future. She will be redeemed. And the beauty of it is, she doesn't even know it's coming!

Lily is like us - we don't recognize our need for redemption. Our lives are familiar, and we are perfectly happy living them our way. We don't know that there is anything better than our own bleak, white rooms with wooden mats in our beds. It is only when we have truly experienced God's love and the hope that comes from Him that we realize our need. Then we see what we have been missing. We see the potential of what our lives can be like, and we never want to go back to the way it was before: familiar, but falling far short of the ideal.

Please join me in praying for our sweet Lily as she sits on the other side of this redemption. Pray that our LOA comes soon and that we would be able to bring her home. Pray for us as we transition into becoming a family of 5 and for all the hiccups and obstacles that will come our way as a result. And in turn, I pray that you experience the true love, hope and redemption that come from following after God.

Monday, July 8, 2013

4th of July Week

We have had quite a busy, fun week! One of my favorite things growing up was to go out to the beach and watch the fireworks. There are actually 3 different days to do this, so we decided to go out on the 3rd of July. We invited Scott and Catie to come with us too. The plan was to meet around 4:30, go pick Brian up from work, and then head out to the beach for a picnic dinner and fireworks. At about 3:00 the rain started, and kept on going. I keep hoping that the beach would still be clear, since it rains by us every day but not by the water. No such luck. We continued with the plan anyway, driving through monsoon rains to get Brian. Then Scott had the brilliant idea to go to our parents' house and wait out the rain. They were in Italy at the time, so we conveniently let ourselves in and ate dinner out on the patio under the cover of the roof. (We wanted to feel a little bit like we were having a picnic.) Around 6:30 it finally seemed to clear so we decided to make our way out to the beach. The rain definitely helped with the usually horrendous traffic and parking, and we found a spot right on the beach!

The kids had a great time playing with Uncle Scott and Aunt Catie, digging in the sand, and running from the waves. We had some sparklers but forgot a lighter, so when we saw the people next to us lighting sparklers we borrowed theirs and quickly went through 6 boxes of sparklers! Matthew loved sticking them in the ground and watching them. Finally it was time for fireworks! Unfortunately there were people about 50 feet away that were setting off pretty big fireworks, and Caroline was not a fan of the noise. She was pretty upset even when the actual firework display began and it wasn't nearly as loud, so Brian took her to the car to watch. Matthew on the other hand, loved them! He kept pointing out the gold dust and naming the color of each one. We both liked the ones that looked like palm trees the best.

On the 4th of July we decided to take advantage of our annual passes and head up to Sea World for the day. It was HOT!!! We got up there around 10:00 and started with the kids' section of the park. We did the helicopter simulator that Matthew loves, rode the train (of course), and then (literally) lost Matthew in the big net climbing area. We regrouped for some lunch then let the kids ride 2 more rides.

We headed across the park to see the new penguin exhibit, and unfortunately discovered that the only way to see the penguins is to wait in the 100 minute long line for the ride. No thanks! Instead we saw some Shamus swimming in their tank, baby dolphins, and super loud sea lions. We decided to watch the Pirate Sea Lion show, but after that we were pretty done. It was crazy hot and humid, and the kids were starting to lose it.

My college roommate and her family live in Orlando, so we made a little impromptu visit to her house. The kids had fun playing with Violet's toys and doing crazy daredevil stunts on the slide and trampoline. We decided to go get some dinner, but the first two places we tried were closed for the holiday. Thankfully Jason's Deli was open. We headed back after dinner and everyone (except Brian of course) fell asleep on the way home.
Friday, July 5th, was our 10 year anniversary! I am not quite certain how this is possible, since I am definitely not old enough to have been married for 10 years! Brian had to work during the day, and I was pleasantly surprised to have flowers delivered to our door around lunch time. In the evening we we had a fancy dinner at The Bijou Café. They brought us a free appetizer bite to start the meal, and since they knew it was our anniversary they brought a fancy chandelier lamp to the table with some dark chocolate bites for dessert. It was nice to be able to sit and talk over a meal for more than 15 minutes before the kids start needing something or having a meltdown :o)
When we finished we were going to try to head out to the beach to watch the sunset, but as we were driving we noticed lots of lightning in that direction, so we ended up just pulling off at Bird Key and sitting on a bench and talking for a while until it got dark. We even saw a pod of dolphins surfing the waves!

This week we are heading to Ireland for 10 days to continue our anniversary celebration. We can't wait!