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!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

the first of {many} videos

Hopefully there will be many more to come.  But for now, here's the first of the videos...

Click HERE to watch!

:: Thank you for joining us on this adventure ::

Monday, December 8, 2014

Let the Journey Begin (…or end…)

The adoption journey is coming to an end, but the journey to bring our son home is about to begin!

As hard as it is to believe, Lee and I board a big ole’ plane and head across the ocean in just a few short days!  We will spend 2 weeks in China and are scheduled to arrive home on Christmas Eve!

Needless to say, it’s been a crazy two weeks since we found out our travel dates.

We are excited, hopeful, nervous, anxious, giddy, apprehensive and every other emotion in between…

As we’ve said before, not only does it take a village to raise children, it also takes a village to bring them home to their forever family!!  Because of that, we’re asking that you join us on the journey!

I am listing some of the prayer requests we have as we begin this adventure and pursuit of our son! I am also attaching it as a PDF for you.  Would you please print this out and place it somewhere so that you’re able to pray with us and for us each day?  

And one more request - a selfish request, I admit!  Would you please let me know that you will do this?  That you are praying for us? 

:: Prayer Requests ::
:: Safety, health and protection while we travel ::

:: Elijah’s heart to be prepared for the transition ::
o   I truly believe that the Creator of the universe can plant our faces and voices in Elijah’s mind so that we are “familiar” to him.

:: Elijah’s Health ::
o   We are still a little unsure of all the medical needs our little man will have, so please be in prayer for his health and that we’ll know exactly how to care for him!

:: Addie, Ellee and Sam while we’re away ::
o   They are apprehensive about being away from their Daddy and Mommy for such a long time.  We pray that they’ll be comforted by the One true Comforter until we return.

:: Mindy’s precious mother as she takes care of the kiddos ::
o   She’ll be the daddy, mommy, grandmother, chef, taxi driver and nurse for two weeks…and two very busy weeks full of Christmas activities! 

:: Ease of transition from one city to the next in China ::
o   By the time we arrive home, we will have been in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.  The majority of this travel will be done with Elijah who has never experienced anything like this before.

:: Timely flights! ::
o   We are schedule to arrive home around 5:30 pm on Christmas Eve.  We are praying for the Lord to pour out His grace and allow us to be reunited as a family on time so we can enjoy Christmas together!!

:: The transition to a family of six ::

:: For the Gospel to be displayed ::
o   Praise God that He has adopted us into His family and called us His own.  He relentlessly pursues His children and we pray others see a glimpse of that as we go rescue our son and bring him home.  The love of the Father is so far greater than any love we can offer our children, but we do pray that the Gospel is displayed!!

In a desire to be transparent, I admit that I am anxious about this trip.  I trust the Lord and His perfect plan, but my flesh can be so weak!  My heart finds comfort in knowing that people are interceding on our behalf so that’s why I selfishly ask you to let me know you are praying!

Thank you for doing this.  And thank you for loving us so good.

Our plan is to keep the blog updated as we go, so come along and join us in “the birthing room” …

Saturday, October 18, 2014

beautiful chaos

Well, first let's play "catch up" with some pictures.  Since the last post ( was May!) we have...

  • finished up a year of school...

{Ellee's Honors Day - May 2014} 

{Addie's Honors Day - May 2014}

{Sam sitting through one of the Honors Day.  I mean really, no one can convince me that this child is not the most adorable!!}

:: Blessed precious kiddos received a TON of awards on Honors Day.  Thankful. ::

  • enjoyed summer...

 {Annual Gatlinburg trip.  The cousins.}

{Enjoyed a weekend visit with one of our favorite families.}

  • started another year of school...

On Thursday, July 10th, I received one of the most exciting phone calls.  Our adoption agency called around 9 am that morning with the kind of news that makes your heart skip a beat and time freeze.


Our social worker didn't give me many details; everything I would want to know would follow in an email.  Ok, let's be honest, 'everything I would want to know' is a far cry from the truth.  The email would simply contain all the details that were available.  My girls, being more in tune with the adoption process than the average 8 & 10 year old, knew from my end of the phone call what was going on.  By the time my quivering hand ended the call, the kids were squealing and bouncing off the walls!  I quickly called Lee and told him he had to get!  As hard as it was, I promised not to look at my email until we were all together.  
{The kids were anxiously waiting for Daddy so we could open our email!}

When Lee finally got home (those 10 minutes felt like hours!!) we opened the email and stared into the face of the most precious little China doll on the face of the planet.  Our son.  Those cheeks.  Those beautiful brown eyes.  Those hands.  My baby.  My child.  My heart.

We were all totally and unconditionally in love with the face that stared back.  You are "warned" during the adoption process to not get emotionally caught up in the face and the pictures until you review all the paperwork and have a physician review their medical records.  But come on, look at him!!  How could we not?!?

We did, however, follow all the proper protocol and had his file thoroughly reviewed and spent time praying through the information we received.  It didn't take much time though to officially accept the referral and claim this beautiful child as our own!!   All praise be to God!

So the months since then have been filled with paperwork, more paperwork and even more paperwork.  It is really insane the amount of paperwork that surrounds adoption. Sheesh.

We've since then been given updates on our Elijah along with more pictures...

We even celebrated his birthday in July!  He turned 2!  Per the girls' request, they were in charge of the party...

So the million dollar question that we get asked, almost daily, is...When will we get him?

Well, praise the Lord, we are nearly at the end of the process (!!!!!) and are told it will probably be the end of December, maybe early January.

We were able to send a care package to him recently!  It included several "suggested" items from our agency - an outfit, a blanket, a small stuffed animal, a picture book and disposable cameras.

We washed all the fabric items and let them sit in our house for several weeks before sending the items in hopes that our "smell" will get to Elijah.  Far fetched?? Maybe.  But this was suggested to us by several other families so it's definitely worth a try!

We also bought an identical blanket and stuffed monkey to keep here and take with us to China when we travel.  The hope is that he'll recognize the items we have and make some sort of connection with us.  Again, it may seem far fetched, but we want to do our part in doing whatever we can to help the transition for our baby boy.

I think the most exciting part of Elijah's care package was the picture book I made for him!  I put together a very simple and easy fabric picture book for him to have so he can begin getting familiar with our faces.

I prayed and cried and pleaded with the Lord over each item I placed in the box.  I desperately want our faces and our smells to somehow be etched into my baby's mind and into his heart.  I truly trust that the sovereign Creator of the universe can make that happen.  Would you please begin praying that with us?


I believe that brings us up to date for now!  I am thankful that the next few months are very full with holidays, celebrations, birthdays and other exciting dates so that time passes quickly!  We are all beyond ready to have Elijah home and have a house full of chaos - beautiful chaos!!