Friday, January 9, 2015

my little Elijah ... the last leg of the journey

I'm so excited to report that we are feeling better and are finding a new "normal" around here!

Elijah is doing great and adjusting well, but yes, we are also experiencing some of the typical struggles that can come with adoption and with loving a precious child that is all too familiar with trauma and loss.  These are the {ugly & hard} things most people don't like to talk about, but it's the reality of it all. That, however, is another post for another time...

Because the crazy has started to settle down, Lee was finally able to put together our final "We Are Home" video and like all the others, he did a great job.  I love that he has captured so much of our journey in this way.

:: click {{ HERE }} to watch ::

...and here is a small glimpse into our life at home with Elijah...

:: first time out for ice cream ::

:: yes, we really did buy this shirt and yes, he really is wearing it ::
"made in China"
:: my boys playing with shaving cream ::

{that is Sam's wink ... such a cutie}

:: eating chocolate ::
 ... and loving it ...

:: all my munchkins ::

I know I've said it a million and one times, but thank you again, so much, for praying us through this season of our life.  Even after we've been home, so many people have continued praying for our health and adjustment and we have been encouraged and upheld by that.  
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

we. are. home.

Yes, we made it  home.  And we've been home for a week now.


I wish I could share cute pictures and a fun video of our homecoming (like we had for Sam HERE) but I can't quite do that yet.  Our homecoming wasn't exactly "picture perfect" but we made it none the less!  God's grace continued to be sufficient, and His hand carried us through.

As you may recall, I asked y'all to pray for Lee and I because we were not feeling well a day or so before we were to begin the trek home.

Thankfully, Lee began feeling better, but I took a nasty turn for the worse on the Tuesday evening before we flew out the following morning.  Needless to say, Lee had to practically carry me onto the plane Wednesday morning and much of that day is a blurry haze.  It was awful. Seriously...awful.

I remember calling my Mom once we landed in Chicago and I just cried and cried.  I was so thankful to be on American soil and was in awe that we had actually survived the 15 hour flight.
:: apparently this is how I spent most of the flight ::

I remember that morning looking at Lee and telling him that I couldn't do it. That sweet man told me that I could and I would!  He managed to maneuver all of our luggage, our 2 year old treasure and a barely conscience wife through the airport in Hong Kong, customs and then through O'Hare.

After we were in Chicago, I started to feel somewhat human again and just couldn't wait to be in east Tennessee.

Just a few hours later, that's where we were!

I was beyond thrilled to see my other munchkins jumping up and down at the airport and couldn't stop praising Jesus for bringing us through.

What an adventure it was!!

So the last few days...

They've been good and hard and fun and exhausting and challenging and crazy!

I've still been battling a nasty, nasty bug that the doctor called a "foreign virus" and that, combined with the still lingering jet lag, has gotten the best of me.  I'm physically beat and that is why I don't have any cute pictures or exciting videos to share yet!

:: my loves on Christmas Eve ::

Elijah is doing great - he's eating, sleeping, laughing and playing like a champ!   All of the kiddos seem to enjoy life together {so far!} and being a family of 6 feels... well ...natural! :)


How can we ever say thank you to all of you who have loved us, supported us, prayed for us, encouraged us and walked this road with us??

Words will never accurately portray the gratitude we have for every single one of you - from those who have prayed, to those who have given financially, to those who kept our kiddos while we had appointments, to every single person in between.  We pray that God will show Himself to you in a mighty way for the way you have helped us...

make one less orphan!

Monday, December 22, 2014

missing home...

I know in the grand scheme of things, being away from home for 2 weeks is really not a big deal.

But...when you've been on the other side of the world, away from your kiddos for 2 weeks, it seems like an eternity.

We are so far beyond ready to be home!!

For fun, Lee made a video capturing our past 2 weeks and our desire to be home.  Click HERE to watch!

So this is the plan and a few things to be in prayer for ...

We will leave Guangzhou in a few hours and head to Hong Kong by van.  We'll stay in Hong Kong tonight and then fly out in the morning.  We should arrive in Chicago around 11:00 am on the 24th and then fly to Knoxville a few hours later!  By the grace of God, we'll land in Knoxville around 5:30 pm on Christmas Eve and have our babies all together!!

Can. Hardly. Wait.

We're told (not sure how valid it is) that our temperature will be checked at the Hong Kong border and that they're quick to "detain" people with a fever due to Ebola fears.  Normally that would be no big deal, but Lee and I are both struggling with a sinus infection and feeling icky.  So please, please pray for no fevers as we cross into Hong Kong.

Also, there's potential for some nasty weather in Chicago on Wednesday, so please be in prayer for our flights and that we'll not experience any delays or issues.

Having said all that, take another look at my cutie in action.  I seriously cannot get over how beautiful and amazing he is.

But like I said on Facebook, I don't want to give the illusion that it's been all bliss, all the time.  Social media can easily create unrealistic scenarios and I don't want to be a part of that. So here are some pictures of the REAL.  But even then, I cannot get enough of that face...

:: The little munchkin does NOT like to be without shoes, so you're likely to find him in shoes all the time...even sleeping!  Some battles are not worth fighting right now! ::

We will keep everyone posted as this part of the journey comes to a close.  As we've said before and will continue to say.... 


Friday, December 19, 2014

cuteness overload

The days seem long and the nights seem short because our bodies are still time-zone-confused-and-messed-up so I thought I'd just quickly share some pictures of the most beautiful and amazing two year old on the face of this planet.  He seriously is.  See for yourself...

:: cramming in some muffins ::

:: his smile can light up a room ::

:: admiring his daddy ::

:: i mean words ::

:: mommy is so in love ::

:: first mcdonald's french fry ::

:: umm...attempting a 'selfie' in shanghai - can honestly say we have no experience with that ::

:: oh comfort and JOY ::

:: pure preciousness ::

:: showing us how to 'honk, honk' with his nose ::

:: looking out over shanghai - the city that gave us an amazing little boy ::

:: playing with books ::

:: sweet, sweet child of mine ::

:: again - no words ::

:: at court, making it official - he is a BROWN ::


We are currently in Guangzhou and will stay here until Tuesday afternoon.  We have an appointment with the US Consulate to obtain Elijah's visa and that is our last formal/official appointment.  Once we have his visa, we'll head to Hong Kong and then finally begin our long trek back home.  

I miss my babies.  I miss my bed.  I even miss my Christmas tree.  Please, please continue to pray us through as I know you have been!  The Lord has been more than good, more than graceful and more than sufficient and I trust He will continue.  

Christmas Eve - 5:30 pm - cannot get here soon enough!! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

words will never do...

As I sit here typing, the most precious 2 year old boy is sound asleep beside me ... words will never capture the peace in my spirit because of that.
He fell asleep in my arms last night and this is the reality - I'm almost certain it's the first time he's ever been rocked to sleep ... words could never capture the gratitude that God chose me to be his mommy.

The transition was amazing.  He has laughed, smiled and played with us for hours.  He has already called me "mamma" ... words escape me when I think about the amazing grace that has been lavished on us.

I know we've been prayed for and thought of by so many of our family and friends ... words could never explain the gratitude I have for all you.

Because words will never do, maybe this video will give a glimpse into one of the most precious days of my life.  I will never forget the moment when I first laid eyes on my Elijah - just like with all my babies.  God's goodness leaves me speechless...

:: click HERE for the video ::

Saturday, December 13, 2014

a glimpse into the last few days...

What an unbelievable few days we have had on this side of the globe!  We have experienced things we never thought we would, so for that, I'm grateful for the highly "suggested" sightseeing that takes place prior to receiving our lil' punkin!

As I type this, it's 4:30 am Sunday morning.  We are preparing to leave Beijing and fly to Shanghai where we'll spend the next several days.  In the morning (Sunday night for y'all!) we'll be taken to our Elijah and hold him in our arms forever!

I can hardly stand the wait. 

We miss our babies back home like crazy, and the reality of how much longer we'll be gone doesn't settle well in my mind.  We've been able to FaceTime them and we're all wearing our bandaids too!  I've left several surprises back home for them along the way, so I trust they know they're being missed!! It sounds like everyone is having a blast with Mimi - craft projects and movie night slumber parties galore!

And it would be impossible to acknowledge the past few days without shining the spotlight on my amazing hubby for a moment.  One of the hiccups with our travel dates was that his graduation from Southern Seminary with his masters of Divinity fell right in the middle - he was scheduled to walk on December 12th.  Like the man he is, he quietly pushed aside his desire to be a part of that ceremony - without any hesitation - in order for us to run to our baby!!  This degree is many years in the making and I have watched a true example of perseverance play out before my very eyes.  The Lord has been good.
:: thank you William for the picture ::

To view the video version of the crazy, click :: HERE :: and continue on this journey with us...

And PS - words cannot properly express our gratitude for your love, prayers and encouragement!!  Every single time I get a message saying that someone is praying, my load feels a little lighter and the steps feel easier!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

this is the hard

Since the moment we decided to journey down this path again, I have been dreading this very day.  I knew I would have to kiss my babies good-bye and fly around the world for two weeks.  That's hard.  Pit in your stomach, can't eat or sleep, gut wrenching hard.

But what's also "hard" is having a baby on the other side of the world that has never felt the warmth of mommy's hug or the safety in daddy's arms.  He has never known tickle wars with siblings or arguing over who gets which color cereal bowl.  

So because of this, we leave one 'hard' and run to the next.  All the while praying for God to reach down and "make beauty from ashes" in all these situations.

You may recall from the last adoption journey, one way we stayed connected with the girls while we were in Korea?? Bandaids!  Well...they've made their reappearance!  :)

This morning, each child opened their own special box of bandaids and they were given the "assignment" as to the location they are to wear them each day.  Lee and I also brought our own box too!  So each day, all 5 of us will be wearing a bandaid on the same finger.  For example - today is the right index finger.  This is just a small, simple but visible way for all of us to stay connected.  It reminds us to pray for each other and know that we are all thinking of each other every day!!

So what's next??  On to Beijing!  We depart from DC at 12:25 pm and will arrive in Beijing about 15 hours later (aaahhhh!!) !  It will be 3 pm on Thursday afternoon for them, but about 2 am Thursday morning for my loves back home!

Thank you so much for the love, support, prayers and encouragement so many of you have shown!  God uses every word to encourage us and spur us on!  May He receive the glory!