Sunday, January 18, 2015

I Couldn't Love You More

       You're not Evan's mommy?
No I'm not Evan's mommy.  I'm Chloe's mommy!
       I'm Chloe.
Yes you are baby. and I lllooovvveee you Chloe!
       Do you love me?
I love you, love you, love you!!
      You couldn't love me more.
You are right sweet girl...I couldn't love you more!

These are the conversations we are having lately.  Conversations of a 3 1/2 year old who is starting to understand more fully the love of a family.  She will also say, "Dis is my home!  I love my home." "Dis is my truck.  It's my pavorite!"  (I guess the "th" sound is not quite developed yet, and for that matter nor is the "f" sound.)  One of my favorite statements that she proclaims at random moments is, "God made me!"  You betcha little one, God made you special and for greatness!

Referral Picture
Forever Family Day 2014

Teaching someone what it means to be part of a family, what it means to have a mom, dad, sister, adn brother, forces you to step back and take stock of the meaning and significance of family.  What does family really mean?  How does having a family change a person?  And simply what is a family? These are just a few questions I have pondered over lately.  A year ago at this time, we were settling in after our trip to China, trying to find our new normal. Normal? Normal! Normal.  I almost think they should take that word out of the dictionary, because really who and what is normal?  Well I suppose that we all have our own normal, it's just that your normal doesn't look like mine, and mine doesn't look like yours. was our "normal" this year!

Wow!  We are giving thanks for all we have been blessed with this year.  Normal is not so bad right?  I have a few answers to the questions I posed earlier, maybe not the correct answers, but the ones on my heart during this season of my life. 
What is a family?  The significant people in your life. 
What does family mean?  Well I believe family are those people you choose to love as you weather the good and the bad.  
How does family change a person?  Well...l I think the pictures tell the story.

So now kick up your feet, wear your Christmas jammies, and live your "normal" life.
Go make a difference in someone's world today!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beyond Words

So much has happened the last few months I hardly know where to begin.  Actually I have tried to begin this blog several times.  My delete button is hot to the touch right now from overuse.  My world has been forever changed, and in case you were wondering, changed for the better.  December 16th we meet Chloe Joy.  She has been a delight, except for the random moments, which are few and far between, when she acts like a child who has just been moved half way around the world to a strange house with strange people who eat weird food and live in sub zero blizzard land. We are amazed everyday with how well she is adjusting.  We have many hurdles to jump over, but many of my fears and wonderings were unfounded.  I don't know why I try to get ahead of God so often.  Silly right?  I guess as a mom you just want to be prepared so you can give your best to the children you love.  Oh I do love my kids...all 3 of them!

I have learned so many valuable nuggets of truth through this entire experience, and I'm sure I cannot express them adequately.  When your heart is changed, there just aren't words sometimes.  When your world expands, there just aren't photos that give it justice.  Yet, I will try to express my heart, so here is my attempt at sharing, through pictures, what I have learned; here is my attempt at giving words to an experience that really is beyond words.

#1.  Sometimes it snows, so enjoy it.  Sometimes it snows again, so enjoy it.  Sometimes it is so cold you can't enjoy it, so build a fire inside and bond with the ones that you love, and that love you. Sometimes it snows again, so try really hard to enjoy it!

#2  Noodles are good with spaghetti sauce, soy sauce, or almost any kind of sauce.  

#3  I have so much to be thankful for and NEED to stop and take record of all of those gifts whether big or small.

#4  God works in mysterious ways and leads us, preparing us for times like today.  I bought a necklace when Em and Nick were little. The necklace was designed to add cute little people pendants representing your children.  For some reason I also purchased an additional girl pendant.  Hum?  

#5  There is nothing better than a dad who loves you!

#6 As Chloe sports Nick's shirt while helping with the laundry, I am reminded that we need someone to look up to; someone that will be an example for us to follow.  

#7  Be creative and think outside the box even if others look at you like you are silly.  (Note the crayons in the bib!)  You never know what blessing will be just around the corner, or right under your nose.

#8  If this picture had sound you would hear...Where's Cwowee?  I know know. Translation:  Where's Chloe?  I don't know.  I guess sometimes you think you are hiding but you're not!

#9  Sometimes you need to laugh.  So if that takes wearing your rainbow colored kitty apron and dad's winter hat, do it.

#10  There are so many truths in this photo I don't know where to begin.  I originally thought I would crop out the potty chair, but then decided that everybody potties and when someone gives you a potty chair and you like it...put it in the living room for all to admire.  (Please don't worry it is in the bathroom now.)  I also really like the duo in the background admiring the whims of a chocolate faced dancer.  So people, eat chocolate and do the happy dance.

#11 There are so much to learn in life. Stop, take the time, and help someone today!  

#12 Relax and drink tea.  Notice that it is a tea set, thus indicating that you need to invite your closest, most trusted people to the party!  We can't make it through this life alone.  Surround yourself with those that care about you.  Surround those you care about.  Relax and drink tea!

Ok so maybe I didn't learn all of these things through the adoption process but many of them are for sure a clear depiction of my learning and growth.  I do think my biggest area of growth was facing my fears head on and allowing God to take care of me (and my family) every step of the way.  It may not have been the way I thought it should be, or anticipated it would be, or wanted it to be, but as I look back through this process, His plans were always better than mine.  Silly me again!  

I am reading the book called Before You Were Mine by Susan TeBos and Carissa Woodwyk.  The following passage resonated with me and the thoughts and feelings I am having right now.  I hope it will with you also.

"We are not sure how God works that out (the miracle of adoption), but he often reveals himself in surprising ways, and there are many things we cannot explain lest we minimize his very self.  Whether he asked us to adopt or we asked him if we could becomes unimportant.  What matters is that the God of the known universe and beyond invites us to respond to many needs...adoption being one.  When we accept the invitation or ask to be invited, the miracle unfolds."

Trust, obey, listen, and go...
or should it be.
listen, obey, trust, and go...
or should it be, ...

Well you get the idea...if God calls, He's got you covered, just go!

Delightful Christmas Miracle

The final leg of our journey home with Chloe Joy!  

Christmas Eve Day in China:  The Van Ride to Hong Kong
  This van ride was an experience that hopefully will be a once in a life time experience. It was a ride to remember, or forget, depending on which way you look at it.  Poor Chloe threw up right as we were arriving at the hotel. It was sorta like riding in a car with a student driver going 80 miles an hour on a highway with 1000 other student drivers.  The driver remembered to never use his turn signal or wait to merge, just went to the lane he wanted when he wanted.  Also he chose to ride the brakes and the gas pedal the entire time.  The driving in China is so different than America.  We took lots of deep breaths; Emily and I tried to focus on something other than the traffic. 
During the van ride I cried several times, not because of the driving, because I was holding Chloe, realizing that she was leaving everything familiar, and coming to a place where we pray she finds hope and a future.  It was an emotional ride for me.

Christmas Eve Night in China: New and Forever Friends 
After recovering and cleaning up at the hotel we had supper with another family from our travel group.  We feel so blessed that they were a part of our journey.  They are an amazing family with an adorable son.  This experience will bond us forever.

Christmas Morning in China: A Day of Travel
After sleeping, or trying to sleep...we were so ready to be home...we boarded our plane for San Francisco.  Chloe was so good during this flight, playing, eating, sleeping a wee little bit, and enjoying the snacks and food.  She had a seat between Tom and I.  Em and Nick were right behind us.  This seating arrangement, and all of our flight seating arrangements, were possible because others, many of whom could not speak English, offered or willingly agreed to change seats with us.  Everyone was so nice.  

Christmas Morning in America: The Miracle is Happening 
After a safe landing in San Francisco, we went through customs and immigration; Chloe became an official US Citizen Christmas Day 2013.  We left China around noon on Christmas Day and arrived in America late Christmas morning;  Chloe had been awake for around 20 hours. She did amazingly well considering, but started to lose her composure in the airport.  She did not want to board another plane, nor did we, but we knew what the end result would be, she did not. She did fall asleep on the flight to Chicago and after landing continued to sleep as we taxied around the runway waiting for planes to be deiced. Needless to say the rest of us were literally on the edge of our seats as we waited for a terminal to become available.

Christmas Night: New Memories, A New Start
The Myers' Rav mobile, loaded with 4  large suitcases, 4 adults, 1 carry on suitcase, 3 overstuffed backpacks, a stroller, a car seat, a delightful 2 1/2 year old, and a random assortment of memorabilia headed toward the much desired  We were so hungry.  We ended up stopping at Steak and Shake because it was open...remember it is Christmas night.  I have never tasted a more delicious burger or fry, nor had Chloe :)  After the food stop we were on our way through the snow to "home".  Home!  The trip was uneventful.  Chloe did very well in her car seat.  This was the first time she was ever in a car seat.  She could have protested in the most wild of ways, but no not Miss Delightful!  When we pulled in our driveway we saw a beautifully handcrafted welcome sign .  Our neighbors win the prize.  Truly the best.  We are blessed.  
(We'll see what kind of sign they make us when summer is over and we have come to swim in their pool everyday!)
Showing Chloe her home was (I need to break right here to wipe tears from my eyes) unbelievable. Everyone walked around the house together and told her about our home.  She probably had never seen a single dwelling home before.  She most likely spent most of her time in one room. I cannot image what she was thinking or feeling.   Just as a side note and I realize it is random: I wonder what it will be like to wander around heaven someday.  Experiencing the treasures that await us there.  
(Please pray that I can meet Chloe's birth mom in heaven and can give her a big hug!) 
** The days that follow are a bit of a blur.  Jet lag does funny things to the memory.  I do know that we had breakfast as a family, willingly, and without protest at 5:00 one morning because everyone was wide awake and having a great time...until around 10:00 a.m. when we all wanted to go back to bed.  

2 Months Since Meeting Chloe:  Final Thoughts
After listening to a sermon by Pastor Sam, which carried me through the last days of our wait for Chloe, I was taught again about the first miracle that Jesus performed.   Right now in my life journey, I feel a bit like the disciples in John 2 who were carrying the jug of water. They were just doing what they were told, fumbling along. Yet, the water in that jug turned into wine. A miracle occurred.  All the disciples did was carry the jug like they were told. Nothing special right?  I am not doing anything special either, just fumbling along, yet God is doing this incredible transformation right before my eyes.  I have no doubt that this was His design. Adoption is something that has been in my heart since I was a young girl, but I had given this desire back to God years ago knowing Tom and I needed to both agree. I knew I wanted to heed the calling to care for orphans and widows, but decided that I would do so through another avenue. 

It was laid on Tom's heart in early July 2011 that we should adopt. Chloe was born June 24, 2011.  That, my friends, is no coincidence.  I'm not sure why I, this flawed inadequate almost middle aged momma, have been chosen to carry the jug I am carrying, but I am more sure now than ever, that we all have a jug to carry, and we can all experience a miracle. 

This little ladybug just discovered the miracle of cutout cookies with frosting! 
Yes miracles come in all shapes and sizes!

Thank you friends for going on this journey with me!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Prayers are Powerful

The last few days in Guangzhou have been wonderful.  I just love my family so much and cannot express how blessed I feel right now.  Tom has been an amazing dad, and Em and Nick have been the best big brother and sister a girl could ask for.  Yes Miss Neff, Nick has rocked his big brother job!  

Quick synopsis:  (I am holding a sleeping princess as I type, so please forgive any grammatical errors, or mis-spelled words.) Wednesday we went to the police do paperwork, we were not in trouble!  Hellen, our guide, has an incredible knack of knowing where to go, when to go, how to get there, and just what to say because we have been first everywhere we go and are finished in no time.  Thursday was Chloe's medical exam.  We were ushered into 4 different rooms and then Chloe had her TB test…they had trouble getting her blood-- like mother, like daughter.  Yesterday was a free day so Hellen suggested we go to the Safari park in Guangzhou…she was right again.  It was not busy and it was incredible.  Today we had a slow start to our day, enjoyed the magnificent breakfast bar that we have been able to feast on each day, and then went for a walk in a park near our hotel.  It was beyond beautiful.  We will meet up with the other 3 families tonight.  They arrived last night late and had to go for their children's medical exams today.  It will be wonderful to see their children.  Tomorrow we will be spending the day with the other families, and Monday we have our last appointment.  Tuesday we receive her passport and head to Hong Kong.  Christmas morning we board our plane for home, Chloe's home; she already has her forever family!

The following pictures are from the Safari Park.  We boarded a train that took us through the first part of the park.  We then walked the remainder of the park.  The animals were so active and we saw so much, but more importantly we had a wonderful bonding time as a family.  Chloe gave us many smiles and was observing everything.  


We have no idea what this animal is because the tour was in Chinese, but pretty cool and unique huh?

Grandma Pat this photo is for you!!!
My beauties!!
It's hard to see but Nick is helping Chloe touch a decorative snowflake hanging from the tree.  She thought this was funny!
Watching the elephant show with mama (Chinese for mommy)!
Props to "baba" (Chinese for daddy) for taking this great photo!

Thank you to everyone for your prayers.  We can feel God's hands surrounding us and watching over our time.  It is amazing to watch Chloe bond with us more each day.  Your prayers ARE powerful!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

He Gives and Takes Away

Yesterday and today have been beautiful, powerful, overwhelming, scary, amazing days. As we boarded our flight from Beijing to Guangzhou I decided I would listen to my music to try and avoid getting motion sick. Distraction always helps right? The song Blessed Be His Name played. I hadn't heard this song for quite awhile. The line in the song that really hit me was, "He gives and takes away." That is what the last days have been. Chloe has been taken away from all the smells, sights, securities, foods, and people she has ever know, and given to us.  Some may say how lucky she is to have the four of us watching her every move; actually I say we are the lucky ones because we have been saved, adopted into a forever family, and have this enormous opportunity to love another person and give her a home and family. More importantly we pray we lead her to her heavenly father where she will ALWAYS find security.

Today's the Day~

After our flight we found our guide Hellen.  She hurried us into a taxi, we rushed to the hotel to drop off our luggage and she gave us 15 minutes to grab Chloe's things, our documents, and other supplies for our "Gotcha Day".  Needless to say it looked as if our luggage exploded inside our room.  

After crying Chloe settled down and we shared a snack and book while Tom signed papers.  She traveled by bus 8 hours with her nanny   She had a very long day before meeting us at 3:00 p.m.  

I look better here than when I gave birth to Em and Nick.  If you would have seen me on the plane ride to China, you wouldn't have thought that though.  

 This is the second day of paper work for Chloe.  She is official our daughter now.  We went through a notary appointment and had an interview.  I guess we are acceptable parents~shew.

I am so proud of Em and Nick.  They have been amazing during the entire trip.  God has been so good to me. 

I believe that Emily summed our day up in such profound, succinct words…"Mom, being on the Great Wall was incredible, but this (the room where 10 children were meeting their forever families) was even more amazing." We witnessed something so much bigger than we can express.  No one had dry eyes nor will ever be the same again!