Thursday, December 4, 2014

Officially Ours.

December 4, 2014:
Wow. Today was another BIG day for the Hurley family.  A special day.  A day we've looked forward to and now that it has arrived it seems hard to find words to describe how special it was.  Today, the five of us, went to our local courthouse and officially, legally Brody became a Hurley.   During those proceedings, Brody's name legally became Brody Lawrence Hurley and he is now a United States citizen.  Wow. This is a big deal! 

We were all up early, dressing up for the occasion and filled with excitement.  Brilee said he was a bit nervous and his knees were shaking by the time we arrived at the courthouse.  Brody was dressed in his suit and tie and looked oh so handsome!  This is an occasion worth dressing up for!  We met Judge Rambo in his chambers, just him, the five of us, and our lawyer.  He reviewed the records, asked Travis and I to take an oath of truth, and then asked us several questions.  I wish I could remember each word but to be honest I was crying (of course) and was trying to focus on staying composed.  I know that Judge Rambo asked if we agreed to care for Brody as his mother and father for life and of course we agreed! (I could barely speak.)  As the Judge spoke, Brody was quiet and intently listening.  The Judge's final words were that he declares us a family and our son's name is now Brody Lawrence Hurley.  Brody clapped his hands together and grinned.  What a precious moment for a precious boy! 

And just like that months of paperwork, time, waiting, travelling, appointments, praying, and more waiting  came to an end.  I am continuously amazed by God's faithfulness and provision.  He is SO good.  We do not deserve a thing but thanks be to HIM, all of this has nothing to do with what we deserve! 

It seems Brody has known all day that this is a special day.  He came bounding into our room at 6am with a candy bar in his hand for breakfast.  I said, no Brody not now and he jabbered as if to say, "But Mom, it is a really special day!"  I agree, Brody, I agree.  We received American flags at the courthouse and Brody has not put his down.  All day long.  He has marched about, sang, played, ate, and napped all with his flag in his hand.

Tonight we celebrated the day with a red, white & blue party.

What a sweet time.  Again we are reminded of those who have surrounded us with encouragement, gifts, and prayers.  We want to thank each one of you with a big smile and warm hug.  Thank you for encouraging us on this journey. Words will never express how much your outpouring of love has meant to us.

Just as we departed from the Hong Kong airport, I am again reminded today that adoption brings such bitter sweetness.  With each gain, seems to come loss.  In gaining a family that richly loves him, Brody has loss his birthparents, his home country, his native language, and growing up in his homeland.

This saddens me at times but we know Brody has also gained much.  He has a forever family, extended family, church family, excellent healthcare, love, discipline, structure, a home,  and a new heritage as an Asian American.  The list could go on and on.  I only point this out because so often we see the pictures of smiles, celebrations, hugs, and happiness but do not publicly see the loss, hurt, commitment, perseverance, and faithfulness that people endure to arrive at the joyful times.  Or sometimes the smiles cover the hurt, aching, and loss.  Hug those around you.  Encourage others.  The hardest battles are the ones that bring the sweetest gains.
So tonight as we tuck our wee ones into bed, we do so just as we have the last six months, but maybe with a little extra sweetness on our lips and in our hearts, one that comes from rejoicing.  We are again reminded of God's goodness, faithfulness, and constant provision in our lives.  We know each step forward will not always be easy but we will rejoice now and continue onward for we know who holds each day and life.  God is SO good.  To HIM be the glory!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Four months home: Meet Brody Lawrence!

Four months ago TODAY we flew out of Tri Cities airport to bring our second son home.  The excitement and anticipation of that day are still fresh in my mind.  Every. Single. Day. I miss Hong Kong.  I can hardly explain it.  It brings tears to my eyes now.  Our son's homeland is a beautiful place and I long for our family's return there. 

By this point, many of you have met our Brody Lawrence.  Many of you have seen him blossom, learn, explore, and yes!! even heard him speak!  But.....some of you have not met Brody and so today I want to share a little about our boy's fantastic personality. 

Brody Lawrence is energetic, funny, and sweet.  He is a survivor.  He is tender to those he cares for.  He SO wants to make others laugh.  He ADORES his older brother and sister!  Brody enjoys playing with his baby doll, trains, sandbox, or anything outside.  When Brody wakes up in the morning, he first asks for food and then his shoes!  He does not want to be left behind but wants to be ready to go anywhere that everyone else is going!  Since his siblings have started school, Brody has become good friends with our dear neighbor Margie.  Each day Margie comes to visit Brody and when it is time for her to head home, Brody takes Margie's hand and walks her home (or should I say pulls her home!....He walks a lot faster than Margie!).  Brody enjoys going to church.....of course playing on the church's playground is a huge bonus!  Brody willingly gives hugs and kisses to his family and close friends.  He has learned to smile (albeit crooked....which is absolutely precious in our eyes!) and give thumbs-up like his brother and sister.  Brody is signing many words.  Even more amazing, he is saying many words such as Momma, Daddy, Bubba, Brook-hen(lyn) , bye, all done, go score, dog, outside, amen, and love you.  Brody sleeps in his toddler bed soundly and enjoys sharing a room with his big brother.  Brody loves cookies, candy or any sweets.  Brody is an observer with an excellent memory.  Brody is ours and we are his.:)

Four months home.  We are looking forward to six months home.  Six months is when we will finalize our adoption at our local courthouse and Brody will officially become a US citizen.  Six months home and Brody's case will be closed in Hong Kong.  Six months home and we can show Brody's picture to anyone we choose.  Six months home and we will celebrate even bigger than we do each and every day.

Four months home and our story is just beginning. 

Oh be careful little mouth what you say!

August, 2014:
So tonight was the first time since Brody has been home that I have audibly heard remarks regarding his different appearance.  To hear these words did not hurt me (and of course Brody didn't hear them!) but they did surprise me.  It was not the words that surprised me (I actually thought I would hear comments sooner than this!) but the one who said these words.  It was a young child at a playground.  A child.  He didn't just notice that our boy looks different, he commented on his race, and pointed out the other "Chinese" girl at the playground.  His conversation went on and on about the two Chinese children.  Let me tell you, it was not nice words! 

So, it got me thinking.  How does one this young know these words and thoughts?  What caused him to point out their differences and repeatedly "harass" the two little ones about their differences?  I would guess that his words and thoughts come from an adult influence.  I have been thinking a lot about the words I say around my children.  When I am with my children, I am completely comfortable and let me guard down.  I probably share too many thoughts and they can easily become their thoughts.  Let's be aware of our words to one another.  Words can start an untamed fire or provide a soothing balm. 

What have the Hurleys been up to???

September 1, 2014: the rare event someone is following along on this might wonder where are the Hurleys?  What are they up to?  (I am sure my coworkers have wondered.  I won't mention how long I've been on "leave".)  Hmmmmm....let's see. We have been busy: establishing routines, making memories as a family of 5, getting to know each other, medical appointments, therapy at home, teaching, learning, and lots of time together.  All this added to our "normal" responsibilities such as caring for a home, tending to three children's needs, teaching, coaching, and ministering.  It is probably the "normal" activities that have been the most difficult for us, because nothing is normal anymore.  At times, we crave normal and have even but caught trying to live "normal" but are reminded that none of this is conventional and God does not call us to comfy, normal, easy lives.

According to Matthew 16:24,  Jesus said to his disciples (US!), "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." (NLT)  Our entire adoption journey we have been aware of God molding us, shaping us, and preparing us.  This does not stop once our son came home.  Daily I feel as if the Lord is scouring me, shaving off the selfish in me, and teaching me about grace, love, and mercy.  Is it painful?  Absolutely!  He is pruning me for new growth and though it hurts now and is not easy to understand, I am fully aware that He is holding me.  My prayer has been that we (the Hurleys) will learn to love like Christ. 
"Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  Love bears ALL things, hopes all things, ENDURES all things.  Love NEVER ends."  Love like Christ.  I do not even come CLOSE to loving like HIM and yet I am thankful HE is willing to teach me, show me, mold me, and most definitely forgive me where I fail. 

So what have we been up to?  Living, learning, growing, and loving.  Just like you.....these things are not always easy but they are SO worthwhile. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cake, ice cream & a family!

This was written July 18, 2014....just a little late posting:)

Wednesday we celebrated a very special day.....Brody's second birthday!!!  It was a day filled with joy, laughter, playtime , cake, and ice cream!  At first I wasn't sure if Brody understood that it was his special day, but once he saw his completed birthday cake, he knew!  Brody sat at the kitchen counter talking and singing to his cake.  He did not want to leave his cake and cried when I made him get down from his seat near his cake.

This boy loves to eat!!!  We had a nice family lunch, followed by presents.  The first present Brody opened was a boy baby doll....he lit up and showed each of us his gift.  Each one had to give baby doll a hug and kiss.  I don't think Brody cared to open any more gifts.  After presents, we had cake and ice cream.  The joy and sparkle on Brody's face as we sang "Happy birthday" to him was priceless!  We showed him how to blow out his 2 candles and he did it!  Our day ended with church and then home for more cake and ice cream.  I wonder if Brody is thinking, "Cake, ice cream, and a family....what more do I need?!"  What a special day!

I have been thinking about this date all week long.  I can't help but think about another mother who likely has this date etched in her mind.  I wonder if she feels peace.  I wonder if she is well.  I wonder if she is wondering about her baby boy.  I pray for this special mother.  I thank God that she chose life for our son.  I thank God that she sought help for our son.  I pray that she will know peace that can only come from our Heavenly Father.  I wish that I could tell her how special our son is.  I wish that I could comfort her and encourage her.  I pray that she knows the love of Christ in her life.

What a special day, July 16, 2012, the day Brody was born on the other side of the world.  Then, May 21, 2014, the day Brody became ours forever.  Both dates, written in my mind, special, part of God's plan for our little guy.  Happy birthday, Brody Lawrence!!!  May you always know the love of your Heavenly Father!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Another night, Another day: He provides

God is good.  All the time, He is good.  I've said this.  I've thought it but why is it that this truth is hard to dwell on in the difficult times?

In typical adoption fashion....or should we just say life.....the rollercoaster of emotions and events continues.  Wednesday evening, late in the evening, our church family worshipped and celebrated our country's birth.  We gathered under our church family's pavilion, sang songs, prayed, and focused our thoughts upon freedom.  This night is a annual tradition filled with sweet memories of fellowship, watermelon, ice cream, and fireworks.  I look forward to it every year. This year, July 2, 2014, our church used this special night to welcome our Brody in their untypical baby shower fashion.  We shared cake, refreshments, hugs, and thankfulness that our son is home.  Our church family shared encouragement, smiles, loving pats, hugs, and gifts of money.  How could they?  How could they offer us more than they already have?  We hardly thought on the financial gifts until late that night when Travis and I sat down to read the cards and examine the gifts of money.  Wow.  Speechless.  Undeserving.  God continues to provide.  And I cry again at the thought of this truth.  How many times will He have to remind me?  How many times will I worry and wonder?  He provides in so many ways.  Travis and I went to bed that night full, grateful, and overwhelmed.  How can we say thank you?! 

{The only way I know love like one another (an entirely different blog topic and actually there is a whole book written on it.....the Bible!).}

The sun rose up Thursday morning, July 5th, 2014.  Our calendar had this day marked with Brody's first ENT (ear/nose/throat) physician visit and I honestly had looked forward to it.  I don't know if it is the nurse in me or my type A personality but I was ready for a plan: schedule testing, start assessing, and let's move forward so our boy can hear!  At the doctor's office, we filled out the initial paperwork, answered all the nurse's detailed questions, and waited.  Our kind physician walked in, introduced himself, sat down and asked a few more questions.  Then he gave me the words that I needed to hear but didn't want to believe.  We cannot help your son here.  He needs renowned specialists. A team of doctors to test him, study his case, and form a very detailed and specific plan to meet his needs.  You must go to Vanderbilt's Children's Hospital.  You will need to "free up" your schedule for many appointments and trips to Nashville.

Now let's be honest.  This is not bad news.  Our son is home.  He is doing fabulous.  We are learning to communicate despite the barriers.  We have excellent healthcare professionals available only five hours from home that can meet his needs (we hope!).  We have obtained good health care insurance.  My parents live close to Vanderbilt and can provide a wonderful place to stay on our trips.  I am able to travel and co-ordinate his care at Vanderbilt.....BUT, this news stopped me, Dayla, in my tracks.  See, I thought I had it all figured out.  I had researched the physicians, communicated with them and thought I knew who would be caring for Brody's healthcare needs.  This is not what I had planned at all.  HA!!!  When will I ever learn?!  I left the doctor's office with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.  I knew everything was okay.  I knew the doctor's words were just what I needed to hear but  not what I had planned.  I called Travis, reasoned through my emotional thoughts, turned up my worship music, and prayed out loud.  Thankfully, it didn't take long for the Lord to fix my perspective and my heart filled with gratefulness.  I am thankful we have healthcare available.  I am thankful we are able to provide for Brody's needs.  I am thankful I have the flexibility to go where Brody needs me to be.  I just wonder how many times I have to be reminded that HE is still in control, that HE is always providing for HIS good. 

I went from one evening of mountaintop thankfulness, inexpressible joy, and speechlessness to a morning of surprise and disbelief.  Lord, may I always seek you first.  May you always direct the plans.  Take the reigns.  May my attitude be of thankfulness always, despite the moment's fleeting situation because You are good.  Your love endures forever.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fourteen days

Fourteen Days.  That's how long Brody has been ours. Crazy. Amazing. Challenging.  Beautiful.  Tearful.  Loving.  Growing.

I feel the need to share what our initial days home have been like.  I am not sure that anyone really cares about the details but I desire to share, to educate, to remember.  Often one will hear the comparison of child/family adoption to sinner/Savior's love adoption.  There are many similarities!  When we accept Christ as Savior, it is a beautiful, life-changing moment.  It does not mean life will be easy.  To repent, make a 180 degree turn in life can be painful.  It can be difficult to abandon old ways and realign our self with new ways, new thoughts, new family.  BUT oh the JOYs that await us, when we follow Christ.  So it is in our home.

Having Brody home is like having a newborn and instant toddler all at the same time.:)  Like a newborn, we are just becoming acquainted. Like a newborn, Brody can be frustrated and we are uncertain of the reason. Like a newborn, Brody is adjusting to a brand new life in a brand new world, new home, new family.   Like a toddler, Brody has great understanding, curiosity, and energy.  Like a toddler, Brody desires independence, choices.  We are learning Brody's personality and he is learning ours.  We are learning Brody's wants and trying our best to communicate with him.  Brody is learning about family.  He is learning that families love through good and bad and are always there for you.  We are learning our new roles as Mom and Dad to three, big brother to two, and big sister.  Learning is hard but learning is good. 

When I think back on the past week and a half, I feel great joy because I know God is with us.  I know He continues to guide us and provide for us.  I think of the sweet moments of laughter, smiles, and play.  I think of Brody's excitement when I sign to him, "I love you!" (He absolutely lights up and points to himself.)  I think of Brilee and Brooklyn reaching to hold Brody's hands for dinnertime prayer and Brody now accepting those sweet hands.  (To think a week ago, he would not touch their outstretched hands!)  I think about bath time splashes and smiles.  I recall his first Sunday morning in church and the overwhelming amount of love surrounding him.  I think about  Brody willingly sharing his hugs with his family.  I chose to remember the sweet moments.  This does not mean the difficult moments are not there.  This does not mean challenges are not present.  They are necessary with change.  They are needed to create a new family.  A family of five who loves selflessly, shares more, speaks kindness, protects, tries harder, and pushes beyond the challenges.  Most of all, a family striving to love like Christ.  This will always be a challenge but oh the JOYs that come from loving others!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Mother's Love: story of an adopted child

**This was shared with me by Mother's Choice.  I take no credit.** 
It greatly touched me.

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you called Mother.
Two different lives shaped to make you ONE.
One became your guiding light, the other became your sun.
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.
The first one gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it.

One gave you nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you talent, the other gave you aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first smile, the other dried your tears.
One sought for you a home that she could not provide,
The other prayed for a child and her hope was not denied.
And now you ask me through your tears the age old question,
One answers through the years....
Heredity or environment, which are you product of?
Neither my darling, neither,
Just two different kinds of LOVE.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Journey Home

Wow. Sometimes life is so unreal.  One week ago today, Travis and I met Brody for the first time.  Now, he sleeps in his bed with his big brother sleeping close by.  Wow.  A small little boy that we met only a week ago is now living, eating, sleeping, playing, laughing and crying with us.  God is good!  He is amazing!  My human mind cannot comprehend how God can work these things for HIS good but I am thankful that I do not need to understand. 

So.....because you have been so good to travel with us this past week, I wanted to share the conclusion (or really just the beginning!) of our trip......the journey home.  Travis and I woke up at 4am Friday morning to make final travel preparations.  We got Brody up and checked out of the hotel.  After a short taxi ride and then train ride, we were checking into the airport.  I could sense Brody was not happy.  He was restless and difficult to please (who wouldn't be after being woken up by strangers at 4:30am!).  We boarded the plane for Tokyo at 8am with Travis sitting in front of Brody and myself.  Immediately Brody was restless and irritable.  I had packed a HUGE bag of tricks to use on the trip home (toys, games, coloring, snacks, etc) and very quickly Brody was dismissing everything I put in front of him.  We thought for sure he would be distracted by the TV screen in the seat ahead of him, but he was not interested!  It was not long and the screaming, flailing, and crying began.  People around us would kindly ask, "Is he tired?", "Do you think his ears hurt?", "Have you tried medicine for the flight?".  I would try to smile and politely answer while holding down my flailing son.  Honestly, I had no idea what was bothering him.....let's see, it could very possibly be that he is tired, and yes, his ears likely hurt, and yes we tried medicating him (I was afraid this was some kind of reaction!), and no I have no idea to how to help him.  All I wanted to do was comfort him and he had no desire to receive comfort from me!  I was trying to stay calm on the outside but I was begging for the Lord's help on the inside.  This flight was only four hours long.  How could we survive another 13 hour flight following?!?!  After an hour of intense crying, Travis left his seat and took Brody to the back of the plane.  I don't know what they did back there but it helped calm Brody.  I took a few deep breaths and prayed lots!  Somehow, we got thru that flight.  I don't care to remember the details. 

Once in Tokyo, my emotions were on the verge of crumbling.  I felt like I would cry at any moment.  Brody did fall asleep as we descended into Tokyo so we let him sleep for a bit on a chair at the Tokyo airport.  Travis left us to find some medication and lunch.  And then it happened again.....Brody woke up, I tried to comfort him, and he was mad!  We were in the middle of a busy terminal.  I had too many bags to carry along with Brody and I could feel all eyes on me.  I felt like others were thinking, "Why can't that mother soothe her son?" but maybe it was my own conscience questioning myself.  I could feel the hot tears in my eyes and I prayed "Lord, help me!  Help Brody!"  After what seemed like forever, Travis returned.....said he could hear the crying from far off.  We removed ourselves from the public eye and worked to settle our son.  There in the privacy, I lost it.  I wasn't sure if I could board the plane to Atlanta.  I knew I wanted to go home but I didn't know if I could endure 13 hours of this.  I posted to facebook our need and I am confident the prayers were lifted.  Travis and I prayed together.  We prayed over Brody.  We quoted, "I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me!"  We prayed some more.  Then we boarded the flight to Atlanta.  AND, a peace fell over all three of us.  Praise be to God!  We were able to swap seats allowing all three of us to sit together.  Brody remained calm during the takeoff.  He played, ate, and played more for several hours and then he fell asleep.  Thank YOU for your prayers!  They made a difference.  It was not an easy flight but we were able.  We were strengthened.  We were at peace. 

Once we arrived in Atlanta, the excitement of arriving home was setting in!  We did not realize what a chore customs and visa would be.  We sat for over two hours in customs wondering if we would make our flight to Tri-Cities.  Brody was a trooper!  He waited and played and snacked.  Finally, we were released with ten minutes to make our flight.  We still had to pick up our luggage, go through security, and drop off our luggage again.  Yeah!  We arrived at our gate right on time!  In fact, when we walked on the plane, it was completely full except us.  It was then that I realized our three seats were not together.  All three seats were completely separate.  I told the plane steward and he rather scoffed at me that I had not noticed it before now.  I told him I had been travelling for 24 hours and all was a blur at this point.  People around us started to kindly move about and make room for us to sit together.  The steward said, "Good thing this is a flight to Tennessee!  You would never see this if flying to Chicago!"  We are thankful for our friendly Tennesseans.  Brody handed out the treat bags for those sitting around us and suddenly everyone seemed interested in Brody's story.  We are always happy to share.  It was a peaceful flight to Tennessee.  Brody slept and Travis and I smiled.  We rejoiced and thanked the Lord for bringing us along on this journey.

When we landed at Tri-Cities airport, our stomachs were doing flops.  We were so excited to see our Brilee and Brooklyn.....and friends and family!  Travis and I both commented that it seemed we had been gone six much had happened in one week's time!  As we walked the short hall to the airport waiting area, we could see a crowd ahead of us.  My eyes were first drawn to Brilee and Brooklyn in the front.  Brilee was jumping up and down.

They were both holding the sweetest posters and smiling ear to ear. [Brilee's poster said, "From Hong Kong to Tennessee, we will always love you, Brody."]   I glanced over at Travis and saw that he too was crying. 

We are so blessed.  So loved.  So encouraged.  Thank you!  It was a wonderful and sweet welcome home at Tri-Cities airport.  I will treasure that moment forever in my heart.  Brody had just woken up and as he was greeted by the crowd, a small lopsided grin appeared on his face.  I think he could feel the love.  This little boy is surely loved in Hong Kong and he is definitely loved in Tennessee.

Upon arriving, Brody first met Brilee and Brooklyn.  As I squatted down so he could look them in the face, I am confident that he recognized them.  Brilee and Brooklyn were ecstatic and filled with love for their brother.

After a joyful reunion with so many, we, the five Hurleys packed into our CRV and headed home.  Wow.  That sounds so good even now when I write it.  It has been a long anticipated time coming.  Thank you Lord.  Even sweeter than that, was the sound of our three children laughing and talking the entire ride home.  Brody needed his siblings.  In the one week since I have met Brody, the only times I have heard him laugh out loud is when he is with his brother and sister.  Thanks be to God who brings a family together.

While we have been home for three days, we are learning lots about each other.  Each of us are taking on new roles and trying to encourage one another.  There are moments of pure joy and there are moments of tears but overall it is good.  God is with us.  He is molding us and teaching us.  It seems Brody is doing very well adjusting to us and I give all credit to God, with some help from Brilee and Brooklyn:).  I feel so honored to be the mother to these three children of God.  I am not able but HE is. 
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably  more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us, to HIM be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 6 in Hong Kong: Disneyland?!?!

I think both Travis and I wondered....why in the world are we going to Disney on an adoption trip?!  But now that we are back to our hotel, we realize how valuable today was.  Our current priority as Brody's parents is to establish the parental-child relationship/attachment.  Brody has had many loving caregivers and we must now distinguish between caregivers and Mommy & Daddy.  The best way to form parental attachment to a young child, is for the parents to provide for all of the child's essential needs: food, sleep, bathing, comfort, safety, and some play.  As Travis and I consistently meet these needs for Brody, with time, he will come to know us as Mommy & Daddy, not just two more caregivers.  Our day at Disneyland allowed us to practice this in ways we had not yet experienced.

Our morning started with a final visit from Joy, our social worker in HK.  She has been such a delight to spend our week with.  She is energetic, thoughtful, loving, fun, and anticipates our needs.  She checked up on Brody's first night with us......which was wonderful!  He slept ten hours straight and woke up happy and babbling.  In fact, as Joy visited with us this morning, Brody babbled nonstop.  She said she has never heard him "talk" so much!  He seems very content with us.  Joy also gave us final paperwork and the all important passport and visa!  Let's get our boy home, right?!  It was another tearful goodbye as we thanked Joy for all of her work and preparation.  She provided us with more videos and photos of Brody from the past 20 months.  She also hand wrote him a letter to read when he is older.  The love Brody has received at his home in HK is amazing!

After we saw Joy off, we departed on the MTR trains for Disneyland.  The final train bringing us to the park even had Mickey shaped windows!

The sun was shining as we walked into the park and we were feeling happy to spend the day together.  Then the sudden rain clouds rolled in, Brody had a meltdown over riding in a stroller, and we wondered......are we crazy?  What are we doing here?  But as we have all week long, we regrouped, calmed our boy, and decided to make the best of it.  First, Brody and Travis rode the Dumbos in an absolute downpour.  They didn't seem to mind.  Then we went to "It's a Small World" and Brody loved that.  I think we could have rode those little boats all day long, if he had a say!:)

We stopped for lunch and slowly the sun started to appear.  We all enjoyed the afternoon riding several rides, Brody taking a nap, and getting to see all of the park.  Disneyland HK is much smaller than the US parks and has many of the same attractions.  Travis and I each rode Space Mountain and have to admit that it far exceeds Space Mountain in Orlando!  One of the highlights of the day was Brody meeting Mickey Mouse.  He gave him "five" over and over.

 Once our pictures were completed, Brody waved and waved and waved goodbye to Mickey.  It was a good day overall.  By the end of the day, Travis and I realized that each day we are learning so much about Brody's personality and needs.  He is an energetic, happy, and persistent boy.  For almost two years old, he wants to do SO many tasks on his own.  His speech is very much delayed though making communication sometimes frustrating for him.  We look forward to helping him hear and communicate his needs.  We also learned today that we must provide for Brody's need for safety and comfort.  Several times during the day Brody would feel scared or uncertain and we were able to be his comforter.  This does wonders for building our relationship as parent/son.

So now our bags are packed.  I have such mixed feelings about leaving Hong Kong.  It is a beautiful, diverse, and exciting city and people.  I feel a bit sad knowing that Brody just spent his last day in his birth country.  I also feel SO excited to see our Brilee and Brooklyn and unite these siblings!  I look forward to seeing many of you and introducing our precious Brody to you.  I anticipate with great joy all that The Lord is going to do in and through Brody's life.

We are scheduled to depart Friday morning in HK and arrive Friday night in Johnson City.  It is actually a 26 hour that makes us time travelers!:)  We get to live Friday day twice!  I sure hope it is a good day!  Please pray for safety as we travel, contentment for our little boy, comfort for his ears/head as we fly, rest for all of us, and understanding from those around us.  Travis, Brody, and I do not have seats next to each other on our return flights so we are hoping that others will be kind enough to swap seats with us.  Thank you for your love, encouragement, and prayers during this past week.  Please continue to pray for us when you think of us.  There are many adjustments to be made in the Hurley family but we look forward to watching all that The Lord is going to do.

So with tears in my eyes, I wish you "Goodnight" from Hong Kong!  What a beautiful place and people that have touched my heart.  So thankful that we get to bring one little Hong Kong blessing home to Tennessee!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 5 in Hong Kong: Gotcha Day Goodbyes & Hellos!

The adoption process for us has definitely been a roller coaster of emotions.  Today was no different.   As I look at Brody sleeping peacefully by our sides, I am filled with amazement, joy, and relief that we are to this point.  Earlier today I could not imagine such peace would be on our boy's face.  Goodbyes are never easy.  Especially when you are a 22 month old saying goodbye to the only world you've ever known.

When we arrived at Mother's Choice this morning, we first stopped in to say good morning to Brody. He ran away from us and tried to hide several times.  I am very certain he knew today was goodbye day.  The staff tried to get us to play together but Brody was not interested and we couldn't blame him.  We left Brody to play with his friends for the last time while we met with his speech therapist.  We also were shown Brody's suitcase that had been prepared for him.  Wow.  It was filled with gifts, clothing, new shoes, pictures, his memory book, a box of letters, his past artwork, formula, diapers, a backpack, and so much more.  We were shocked.  Then it was time for the farewell party.  Each of the children gathered in a semi-circle with Brody, Travis and I in the middle.  The teacher brought out a world map and an airplane to demonstrate where Brody would be going when they told him goodbye.  We then sang several children's songs together such as "If You're Happy and You Know It", "Row, Row, Row Your Boat", and Brody's favorite, "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed".  The many volunteers gathered around the children, each sharing a blessing for Brody.  A special goodbye song was sung while we took Brody to each child and adult for a goodbye hug.  One little friend grabbed Brody's head and laid a big kiss on top.  Of course, the whole room of adults were crying!  Some of the volunteers have loved on Brody for the past 20 months of his life.  I am sure they were crying a mixture of happy and sad tears.  As we watched their love for Brody through hugs, sweet whispers, and tears, Travis and I were speechless.  We wanted to tell the staff how grateful we were to them but both of us were crying messes!  I'm so glad we had already written thank you letters.  Once the friend and caregiver goodbyes were over, we took Brody to each of the rooms for a goodbye, such as, "Goodbye playroom!", "Goodbye bathtub!", "Goodbye bed!".  Whew.  This was all so hard but I was trusting the process.  I have been so amazed by the work at this home that I did not want to question what they have been doing for 26 years.  We had final staff goodbyes and then we gathered Brody's gigantic suitcase and walked out of the building.  We, Brody, Travis, our social worker Joy, and I all stood on the curb and cried.  We cried for the joy of the blessing we were receiving.  We cried for the grateful caregivers.  We cried for the children that are still waiting for a family.  We cried because it was all too much and yet necessary.  As we silently walked away from Mother's Choice, I prayed for the home and asked the Lord's continued blessings upon them.  I hope one day we will return there again as a family of five, celebrating all the wondrous works The Lord has done!

We quietly traveled back to our hotel to drop off Brody's suitcase and then went out for lunch.  What a delight!  We enjoyed Thai cuisine that was delicious!  We then took a taxi to the Hong Kong Science Museum.  Now honestly by this point, Travis and I were exhausted and wanted rest but our social worker encouraged more bonding time on an outing.  We spent two hours at the museum with just one short outburst by Brody.  It seems he does well to cling to Travis and I when others are not around.  After the museum, we took a bus to the famous Star Ferry on the harbor.  What a neat ride with a beautiful view for just 22 cents!  Brody so enjoyed being on the water.

I am sure you can see in our faces, we were absolutely exhausted......and hot!  Hong Kong is so very humid.  Add to that, wrestling and holding a toddler and its a workout.We made one more stop by the Hong Kong Clock Tower and then took a taxi back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel, our social worker gave us instructions for the evening and told us goodnight.  Thursday will be our last day in Hong Kong and we are to spend it as a family of 3.  So in the morning Joy will check in on us and then we will say our goodbyes.

After the many goodbyes of this morning, tonight has been filled with hellos.  Travis and I have enjoyed a peaceful night playing, bathing, feeding, reading to, and cuddling our Brody.

 Brilee, Brooklyn, and Brody were able to meet for the first time tonight via facetime.  What a delight!  Brilee and Brooklyn were all smiles at the sight of their little brother.  Brody smiled and laughed at the sight of his siblings.  He didn't just laugh, he giggled.  He waved hello and goodbye and even blew kisses to Brilee and Brooklyn.  Wow.  What a blessing these three little ones will be to each other.

Our day ended with snuggles, a bedtime story, prayer, and songs.  Brody cried for just a few minutes before drifting off to "Jesus Loves Me".  May Brody always know who he belongs to.......God's gotcha Brody.......right in the palm of His hand.  Praise be to HIM!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 4 in Hong Kong: Adoption is hard

Adoption is hard but oh so worthwhile. But let's be honest, parenting is hard but worth the investment.  We arrived at Mother's Choice this morning so excited to see Brody and spend more time bonding.  He was busy having playtime with his friends.  When he saw us, he stared at us for a very long time and then ran away.  In fact most of the morning he ran away.  Travis and I spent the morning trying to interact, play, bond with him but he was not happy to have our attention.  The staff was so helpful getting us to interact with Brody but each time, each touch, he would pull away or cry.  By the time for lunch, we were ready for a change of scenery.  Because Brody loves to eat, the staff decided to have us stay with him during his meal.  This did not go well.  His frustrations continued to increase, getting him in trouble for acting out.  After a two minute timeout, he again was fussy and upset so lunchtime ended.  Travis and I felt so emotionally exhausted.  We were pouring ourselves into this little one and his response was withdrawal.  We were pulled aside for an impromptu meeting to discuss how to manage Brody's frustrations.  I am sure we were both wondering how we would manage all of this change at our home with two other children that need us.

So with a rough start to the morning, we changed Brody's clothes, packed his cute little backpack, and headed out for lunch and a nap at our hotel.  As soon as we left Mother's Choice, his attitude toward us changed.  He returned to the sweet, observant boy, this time clinging to his Daddy.  Brody rode the MTR for the first time.  We ate lunch together at a popular local Chinese restaurant.  Brody enjoyed eating and trying out the chopsticks.

During lunch Travis, Joy, and I discussed the morning.  Travis and I realized it was difficult for us because we were in transition roles.  As his parents, when we saw him acting out, we wanted to respond but we felt uncertain of our role at the time, so we continued to observe.  The more we would try to interact with Brody, the more agitated he would become.  After some time of reflection, we felt much better and able to focus on the afternoon.  We finished up our delicious lunch (hope you can see the photos on facebook!) and walked back to our hotel for naptime.  The goal was to have Brody nap in our hotel room today, preparing him for his first night with us on Wednesday.  While walking, Travis set Brody up on his shoulders.  He quickly became comfy and went to sleep, resting his head on Travis's.

 It was precious and definitely drew a lot of looks on the street!  Once in our room, we easily laid Brody in his crib for a very peaceful nap.

Brody woke up from his nap so happy and ready to play.  We showed him around our room, preparing him for the next night with us.  Our social worker had packed familiar items to Brody that we placed in our room and in his crib.  He SO enjoys exploring new things.  During naptime, a powerful storm came through Hong Kong, flash flooding the roads.  Sometimes God provides through peace and sometimes He provides through storms.  That crazy storm, prevented us from traveling back to Mother's Choice as planned.  We had to wait an hour and a half for the roads to clear.  This allowed us more time to play and bond with Brody at our hotel.

It was a sweet and fun time. We explored together, holding his hand and carrying him.  He seemed very content.

When the roads cleared, we loaded into a taxi and returned to Mother's Choice.  During the 30 minute ride, Brody sat on my lap.  As the ride progressed, he snuggled into me, bringing great joy to my momma's heart!  Thank you, Lord.  You are so faithful.  What a great afternoon we had of rest, play, and bonding!  At Mother's Choice, a social worker from Hong Kong's Adoption Unit met with us and reviewed paperwork.  Forms were signed, tears were shed, and thank yous given.  We were given our very first baby pictures of Brody.  What a cutie he has always been!  We were given children's books about Hong Kong and adoption.  The immensity of the situation seemed to overwhelm me and I cried and then I cried more.  I cried with the Hong Kong social worker, our social worker, and the caseworker from Mother's Choice.  They kindly encouraged me with smiles and pats on the arm.  All of these precious caregivers for Brody will always have a place in my heart.  There are no words great enough to thank them for the work they are doing for children in Hong Kong.  Particularly, our Brody.

Our day ended late at Mother's Choice with a brief goodbye to Brody, assuring him we would return in the morning.  As Travis carried Brody to the caregiver, he leaned his head down on Travis's shoulder and gave him a hug and a smile.  Priceless.

Tomorrow is a day that most adoptive parents greatly look forward to, Gotcha Day!  In the morning, Brody will say goodbye to all of his caregivers and friends.  His things will be packed in a suitcase and he will leave Mother's Choice with his Mommy and Daddy.  This will not be easy.  I can see and feel the love everyone there has for Brody.  I see the love and attachment he has for them.  It will not be easy but it is necessary.  Will you pray for Brody, his caregivers, and us?  Will you pray for sweet goodbyes and peace?  Will you pray for our rest tonight as we are worn yet excited?  Thank you for remaining steadfast by our sides.  We are overwhelmed by your love and encouragement!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 3 in Hong Kong: Brody is IN our arms!

I sit here speechless....wanting to share with each of you who has encouraged and prayed faithfully for us......and yet there seems to be no words adequate to describe the first moment our eyes saw our son Brody and our arms held him.  Amazing. Timeless. Precious. Miraculous.  We felt your prayers.  We felt the Lord's presence.  Thank you, Lord, for your loving care of us.

Our morning started out early by finally (after one year) meeting our Hong Kong social worker, Joy.  And what a joy she is!  The Lord has placed her in the right job!  We left our hotel together to travel to Mother's Choice, Brody's current home.  Excitement was in the air!  We had many questions for Joy and she helped to prepare us for the morning.  After a short trip, we found ourselves standing on the curb outside Mother's Choice.  We were still.  Do you know how many times we have stared at that building via Google Maps?!  Here we were, live and in person!  Joy took us to a conference room  and explained that they would make a dramatic moment for Brody to walk into us.  He would be dressed in a traditional Chinese outfit, prepared special for this occasion.  She encouraged us to keep our expectations low.  We assured her we were fine.  I had envisioned crying, screaming, and him running away so anything other than that was complete bonus!

The door opened and in walked our second son, Brody Lawrence.

 He was beautiful and perfect and immediately the Mommy and Daddy in us kicked in!  We squatted near him, looking at our family book and reminding him who we were.  Oh the look on his face!  He is a smart boy.  He looked at our pictures and looked at us, taking it all in.  We spend several minutes playing with a ball and bubbles.  Daddy reached out for the first hold and Brody gingerly sat on his lap.  After a short playtime, his caregivers asked me to change his outfit to prepare for our field trip for the day.  I picked him up and carried him to his room.  You could feel his uncertainty.  He loves his caregivers and wanted them instead.  Then as I laid him down to change him, an amazing transformation occurred.  I talked to him, cooed my love for him, and changed his clothes.  It was simple really.  But in that moment, he knew I was there to care for him.  The staff said they observed Brody as I changed his clothes and they saw his demeanor change.  He reached for me and allowed me to snuggle him.

The remainder of the morning, he was my boy!  Happy to hold my hand, sit on my lap, and have me hold him.

We quickly left Mother's Choice and loaded on a bus with Brody's friends and caregivers to travel to the Clearwater Bay Country Club.

This club invites the children once per week to play on their playground and feeds them lunch.  What a joy it was to spend the morning playing with Brody and his friends.  He was SO happy!  Playing outside is exactly where Brody is happiest.  As we played, we were able to visit with the caregivers and learn much about Brody.  He is an energetic boy!  Travis worked up a sweat in the HK sun!  Actually, Brody did too!  The staff commented how much Daddy and son are alike: energetic, sweaty:), and matching shirts!  After a wonderful playtime, we went inside to have lunch.  Wow, can this boy eat!  He ate a bowl of spaghetti, a piece of pizza, french fries, mashed potatoes, and several pieces of fruit.  He is so fun to watch eat.  He is particular, taking his time, and washing his face and hands as he eats.  How precious!  Am I really living this moment?
Travis says this is the moment he became emotional.  It was so hard to believe we were eating lunch with our second son!  After lunch and more playtime, we loaded a bus and returned to Mother's Choice.  It was a 45 minute, most precious ride.  Brody quickly fell asleep in my arms (no car seats here!) and stayed there until I laid him down in his bed at the home.  Thank you Lord!  You are SO good!  We are amazed! I became very emotional after I laid Brody in his crib.  His eyes opened and he stared at me from the crib.  I was afraid that he would think we were not coming back for him.  After a few reassuring words, he gently went back to sleep.

While Brody napped we took a short and beautiful excursion to The Peak.  It is a high mountain point that overlooks all of Hong Kong.

 What a view!  We visited with Joy and asked many questions learning more about Brody's first 22 months of life and his culture.  We then returned to Mother's Choice via a cable neat!

Once back at the home, we met with Brody's nurse, physical therapist, and occupational therapist.  Wow.  We can not say enough about the staff at Mother's Choice.  They work very hard to provide a loving, safe, healthy, and educational environment for the children.  Each child has a caregiver that meets their individual, specialized needs.  MOST of the staff is volunteers.  They go through detailed training to volunteer at Mother's Choice and most volunteer two days per week.  God bless them!  There is a mighty ministry occurring on that crowded hillside in Hong Kong.  After our meetings, we returned to Brody, watching him in one of his lesson times, and then playing a moment more.  We quickly told him goodbye (not easy to do!) and told him we would return in the morning with kisses.  He seemed content and happy and ready for supper time!:)  Our boy loves to eat!

Joy joined us on the short trip back to the hotel.  She said all the staff was amazed at how well Brody warmed up to us.  We know it is your prayers at work.  We know this is not easy for Brody.  He is well loved and attached to his caregivers at Mother's Choice.  Do you know they had him a farewell party yesterday?  What a special boy!

So now we sit in our hotel room with full hearts and great joy for what The Lord has done.  We look forward to tomorrow when we will hold our sweet boy again.  Mommy and Daddy are here, Brody Lawrence.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 2 in Hong Kong: Brothers and Sisters around the World!

Today was so deserves sharing more than a facebook post.
It was no coincidence that today we began our day at Calvary Church-Hong Kong.

 Have I mentioned that God provides?!  It is a bit of a story of how we found Calvary Church but as soon as we stepped through the doors, we knew God had provided a church family for us to worship with, learn, and encourage.  We were greeted by a friendly body of believers who made us right at home.  Quickly, we joined into vocal worship with these lyrics "Forever God is faithful.  Forever God is strong.  Forever God is with us. Forever, forever."  Tears were streaming down my face.  Yes, God is faithful!  He has brought us here, to Hong Kong, to a body of believers, to this amazing & crazy adventure we are on.  AND, He will continue to be here.  Highs and lows, victories and challenges, joy and frustration.....God is faithful!  Next we sang a song by Hillsong, "Reaching for You" with these words:

"I stand here before You in wide opened wonder
Amazed at the glory of You
The power of heaven revealing Your purpose in me
As I'm reaching for You

I can't believe the way Your love has got a hold on me
Each morning I wake to find You near
You lift me above my fears and set my feet on solid ground"

Oh wow!  Over and over I am awestruck at how our Heavenly Father provides what we need in each step of life.  These words spoke right to our current moment.  Only the power of heaven can create a family from two different continents, two different cultures, two inadequate believers, strangers.

Our uplifting worship was followed with a time of communion.  How sweet it was to partake with brothers and sisters in Hong Kong.  If you are not a part of a church family, visit a church Sunday.  Ask those around you about what church they attend.  There is something so sweet, so powerful, so treasured when you KNOW that you have family in Christ wherever you go.  

Our service ended with a message from the youth minister, Raymond.  His message was challenging, focusing on the idea, "Are you  M.A.D?"  Challenging us to Make A Decision to follow Christ and then Make A Difference.  He challenged us to study God's Word so that we have knowledge and wisdom to be difference makers.  Wow.  Was The Lord ever speaking to our hearts and minds today? Follow Him.  He will lead you exactly where you need to be! Amazing.

After service we enjoyed time visiting with many members of the church.  I found myself thinking, "I hope I get to worship with them again.  Oh wait, I do!  Either again in HK or in eternity.  Awesome!" Right before we left, Raymond stopped and prayed with Travis and I.  Tears again.  Raymond did not know our journey.  He did not know all the emotions and thoughts running through our hearts and minds but again God provided.  We praise God for Calvary Church and the believers in Hong Kong!

After our time at Calvary Church, we headed on an adventure to find Stanley Market.  Travis and I are staying on the mainland Hong Kong.  This afternoon we traveled via a double decker bus to Hong Kong Island.  Whew!  It was one wild ride!  Imagine driving as fast as possible, winding through narrow roads on the edge of an island, with thousands of other vehicles trying to travel the same path, and making 90 degree turns all from the view of a double decker bus.

 What fun!  We were able to see very different parts of HK.....poverty, wealth, homes stacked on top of each other, fishermen's homes, skyscrapers, mountains, and beaches.  Yes.  Hong Kong is diverse!  At Stanley Market, we walked a boardwalk, walked the beach, visited another open air market and had dinner on the beach.  It was beautiful.

As the day has wound down, we are quiet with the awareness that 12 hours from now we will be with our second son.  The thought takes my breath away.  So many much much love!  I pray that The Lord has softened Brody's heart so that he might be receptive to our love. I pray that we will have the wisdom and tenderness to adequately express our love to Brody in a way that he can absorb.  Thank you dear friends for you prayers!  We feel great strength and peace that we know is from The Lord.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

If you don't mind me asking, how DO you afford adoption?

Yep. We've been asked this question many times and if we have not been asked, I've seen the wonder on many other's faces.  It is a personal question but it is an okay question to ask.  I want you to know the answer.  The answer is simple really.  God provides.  This is not just a saying, its true!  He provides.  He provided for the Israelites in the dessert.  He provided for Daniel in the lion's den, He provided for Elijah in the valley.  He provided safety and a humble start for Mary and Joseph.  He provided a plentiful fish harvest when the disciples dropped their nets.  He provided salvation for each of us on Calvary's hill.  He has provided to bring Brody home.

Fifteen months ago, when Travis and I took the first tiny step forward to pursue adoption for our family, we had no idea where the money would come from.  We decided we could ignore God's clear direction in our lives no longer.  We decided to free up a bit of money, make the commitment, work hard, and trust our Father.  I MUST tell you how HE has provided!  It brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.  Tears because God knows each hair on my head and He cares.  He has not overlooked us, but provided for each tender need. 

Just in the past seven days, God has provided so many ways, I lose count!  Financially, He has given us exactly what we needed to book our plane tickets and hotel and bring our Brody home.  A week ago we received the okay to travel to Hong Kong.  Late that night as I searched flight options, I wondered how would we pay for this trip?  I wondered if maybe we shouldn't buy Brody a seat ticket for the trip home because the cost of tickets were unbelievable.  As I sat at the computer, working the numbers, deliberating the decision, a surprise email came through.  At 11:23 pm, we received confirmation that we were awarded a grant that would cover the final and extra costs of our travel!  Exactly what we needed!  And of course, enough to purchase Brody a seat ticket for the trip home.  Tears flooded my eyes.  God cares for us.  Where He leads, He provides.  God is SO good.  In the days since, He has tenderly provided financially through His loving servants.  We feel so undeserving and overwhelmed but must give God the glory!  I hope you will praise HIM along with us. 

Lovingly, He has provided just we need.  Not only does it appear the bills are paid, but our love tanks are full!  I am amazed by the thoughtfulness of people.  We have been showered with gifts for Brody (even gifts for those sitting around us on the plane!),  sweet and encouraging cards, faithful prayers, and tender hugs.  The Lord provides.  He has provided an enormous amount of loving care for our two children at home while we travel.  This momma's heart is full.  I wish all could know the peace and joy that comes from following, trusting, and leaning on our Lord. 

So how did we afford adoption? The simple and amazing answer is what we often shout in youth group.....Jesus!  If you are craving more nitty gritty details on how the bill has been paid, we would love to share with you.  There are so many ways to pay for adoption.  I believe confidently that God provides through many others, through charities, fundraising, grants, and hard work.  An adoption encourager to me has shared some wonderful ideas on how to afford adoption on her blog  She actually has written a two part post because there are so many ways to cover the cost of adoption! 

And finally, this thought.  So many say, but adoption is so expensive!  Really?  I bet many of you are driving vehicles that cost at least $20,000.  How long do we keep our vehicles?  What value does a car have to you?  When talking about adoption, we are talking about providing a child a home, family, love, support, belonging, consistency, food, clothing, a last name, and the comfort of knowing Jesus as one's Savior.  There is NO price too much.  Brody is not home yet but already I would pay the adoption costs ten times over to bring him home and love him with my hugs, words, and family.  Priceless. last thing.  For those of you who have given to us financially, lovingly, sacrificially, thank you!  Thank you for being willingly used by our Father!  May He receive all the praise!, let's get Brody home!:)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lead me, break me.

Have you ever been listening/singing a song and suddenly you want to stop dead in your tracks and shout, "Hold up!  I can't do that!"  This happens to me while worshipping at church or while driving down the road.  I'm happily singing along and then suddenly the truth of the words pierce my heart, suddenly selfish Dayla thinks, "No way.  Don't sing that with your mouth, heart, and mind.  I am not ready to make THAT big of a commitment."  Some examples that come to mind:

"Where He leads me I will follow.  I'll go with Him, with Him all the way."

"Wherever He leads I'll go.  Wherever He leads I'll go.  I'll follow my Christ who loves me so, wherever He leads I'll go."
......Do I really intend to go wherever He leads, all the way?

"When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, It is well. It is well,with my soul."......I want it to be well with my soul, but is it?

Through the years and life lessons I am learning that Yes!  I do want to sing these words.  Sometimes I am fearful of all that following Him might require but HIS ways are always best.  He provides.  He strengthens.  He guides.   He blesses.  So though my heart is fearful, my mind is trusting and praying that these words will be my heart's desire. 
Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Waiting.... today I saw a facebook post re: waiting.  It said:

Joseph waited 15 years.
Abraham waited 25 years.
Israelites waited 40 years.
Jesus waited 30 years.

If GOD is making you wait, you are in pretty good company.

So it got me thinking.

Most everyone is waiting on something.  Waiting on Mr/Mrs Right. A child.  A diagnosis.  A cure.  A birthday.  A hard earned achievement.  A soldier to come home.  An answer.  A phone call.  A miracle. 

Many, many times throughout the past year, friends, coworkers, and family have asked for an update on bringing our second son home.  Most often I offer the latest tidbit of information but the conversation always ends with......"We are still waiting."  Many days we feel like we are not just waiting but longing for our child to come home.  Our arms ache for him.  Our home feels like a piece is missing.  But will the waiting be over once Brody Lawrence arrives home?

We ALL are waiting.  As Resurrection Day approaches it reminds me that our Father has gone to prepare a place for us and He IS coming back for his children!  Praise God, I am awaiting His return!

But nearly 2000 years have passed since Jesus himself walked this earth, instructed his disciples, and ascended to heaven.  What are WE doing in the waiting?  What am I doing in the waiting?  There is SO much to be done!  So many hands to hold, stories to be listened to, hugs to be given, food to be served, shelter to be provided, encouragement to be given, sacrifices to be made, lessons to be taught, laughter to be shared.  We need to keep on serving others and our Father!  "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me" Matthew 25:40 and in chapter 28 of Matthew, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  There is much to be done.....preach the Good News!  Walk it. Live it. Tell it. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fingerprints, Fear & Faith!

From my personal journal on October 3, 2013:

Well, today I learned I have "fat fingerprints"!  Yep! Straight from the officer's mouth.  Travis and I traveled to Greer, South Carolina, for our immigration fingerprinting.  We had a nice trip just visiting together as we drove 2.5 hours one direction.  Fingerprinting took very little time.  Travis was done in 5 minutes.  Mine took at least 15 minutes.  The official said I was very difficult to fingerprint because my prints start and end at my fingernails.  He worked very hard to get good prints.....I sure hope he did!

We have learned so much on our adoption journey.  I am enjoying the knowledge gained, the exercise in trusting God more, and the like-minded goal for Travis and I.

Every once in awhile, the fear creeps in and I wonder many things.  Things like how will we afford life after adoption--medical bills, higher insurance premiums, less work for me--, how will the children adjust to each other, what therapies/surgeries will Lawrence need, am I equipped to meet all my children's needs????  And the questions can go on and on.  BUT, I make a choice.  I choose to push the worry aside and trust.  "Trust and obey for there's no other way...."  The Lord has clearly brought us this far.....I know He will continue to meet our needs.

Psalm 37:3-6
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and HE will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."
Praise HIM!  Thank you Lord, for being my peace.

Let go......and let God

From my personal journal on November 6, 2013:

Working on adoption education today and this really spoke to me from Michael Monroe:
"The challenge is to hold our expectations loosely, always willing to surrender them to the One who has called us to this amazing adventure.  And as we let go, we find that God's desires for our family are so much greater and better than what we ever expected!"

This is so true......... for families, marriages, couples, friendships, singles, dreams, goals.......any of us!  Let go of our human expectations and follow HIM!  Surrender to Him and blessings will abound!  But, we do not surrender to gain blessings but because He has asked us to obey, to take up His cross and follow.  Abraham, David, Daniel, Ruth,, me.  Each one of us has been commanded to obey.  Sometimes in the tiny day to day decisions and sometimes it is in the great, life changing decisions.  Each choice to obey God, honors HIM!  God's desires are greater than our minds can comprehend!

I Corinthians 2:9 
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him."  Amen!

How did we get here?......a brief (because the journey is long) overview over the past 9 months

The following are letters to Lawrence written the past 9 months (many of these were written before we knew his face or name):

Dear sweet and precious child, 
I cannot wait to meet you, to hug you, to love you, and to learn from you!  I have wanted to write these letters for a long time....though I have not written until now, my heart and mind have been writing you letters, praying for you, dreaming of you, hoping for you for some time.  We love you.  All four of us----love you!  We wait with great anticipation to meet you.

The seed of you being placed in our lives started years ago.  When Dad and I had been married, maybe two years, we were vacationing at the beach when we noticed a Caucasian family with a young Chinese daughter.  Dad and I both felt our hearts tugged and together we knew that one day--we hoped--that would be us.  At times placing you in our lives and home seemed like a impossible, overwhelming dream but we never ignored the desire to have you in our lives.  You were already in our hearts.  I know it is because you are another gift from God.  

About three years ago, we talked about pursuing you.  We set up a meeting to learn more about adoption.  BUT, shortly after it seemed God had different plans.  My sister Dee lived with us for three months and then Meagen lived with us for three months.  We then wondered if we had misunderstood the desire in our hearts~maybe international adoption was not what God wanted but instead He was placing people in our lives that needed love and care.  And so life moved on.........
until February 14, 2013.  On that night as we sat around our dinner table enjoying Valentine's Day heart pancakes, God spoke to us thru a seven year old.  Out of what seemed to be nowhere, Brilee asked about adoption and specifically if we could adopt.  He then went online to learn more about adoption.  Now, surrounding this time, it seemed God used several other methods to prompt us.  A song "Kings & Queens" by Audio Adrenaline was released with stirring lyrics;


a college friend posted on facebook the announcement that her family was adopting from China; several messages and Scripture leapt from God's Word into our hearts leaving both Dad and I confident that we could ignore this calling no longer.  It was time to take a step of obedience. 
So, March 6, 2013, we met Lauren at Bethany Christian Services.  We were convicted, we were ready~ whatever "ready" might require.

April 3, 2013~
Today I was struggling with which country to adopt from.  I felt unable to "choose", wanting God to lead.  After talking to Lauren on the phone and praying, I reviewed the waiting children list and spotted "Eric" in Hong Kong.  My heart started to beat quickly!  I wanted to call and tell everyone, "I've spotted a very special child!"  And yet, I felt very crazy at the same time.  How does one know who their child is in this situation?  By the time Dad returned home, I could not contain myself!  We soon inquired about "Eric". 

{As a side note, our Father placed "Eric" in another family but we are so thankful for this specific moment that opened our eyes to Hong Kong and led us to Lawrence.}

May 29, 2013~
Today was our second homestudy interview with Lauren.  We went to Dollywood yesterday, celebrating the start of summer.  Throughout the day, we thought of you.  We look forward to family outings with you.  Brilee and Brooklyn talk of you often, imagining how they will help and teach you.  We are so excited to have you in our lives!

June 13, 2013~
Our homestudy is complete except two interview sessions and remaining education.  This Wednesday, Dad and I will travel to Knoxville to complete our one-on-one interviews with Lauren.  As I was thinking about this appointment today, I realized I am excited for Wednesday, I look forward to it!  There are two main reasons I look forward to our adoption appointments: 1) Each step brings us closer to you!!! 2) Each appointment is time Dad and I spend together- preparing, planning, getting ready to have you in our lives.  Dad and I tend to keep very busy schedules so time set aside for both of us to be together, getting ready for you, is special.  treasured. unique.  Just like you!

July 27, 2013~
Where are you sweet child??? I've cried today as I pondered this question.  I pray for you and your caregivers.  I pray your needs are met.  Dad and I look forward to having you home with us, where we can take care of you, laugh with you, smile with you, hug you.

We have been closely watching the Hong Kong waiting child list since the completion of our homestudy.....looking for you.  All of this is very exciting and yet it is hard to not know where you are.  Praying our Father is caring for you and will make you clearly known to us.  We also pray that we will be the best family for you- the best to care for you and meet your needs.  We love you, little Hurley!

August 19, 2013~
Each day we think of you with wonder...this past week, Brilee started third grade and Brooklyn started preschool.  As we prepared for school, I wondered about you.  Where are you?  What are you doing?  Are you receiving hugs, kisses, and warm cuddles?  I hope so!  I pray so!  Momma cries often these days-wishing you were near-wishing I knew you were okay.  It is then that I pray to our Father to hold you, care for you, bless you.  I love you.

Friday, August 16th, we noted a new little one named Lawrence waiting in HK.  Is it you?  May God make you known to us. 

This Sunday during communion, Ronnie Fair shared Isaiah 53 with us.  As I read the comforting and truthful verses, I cried again.  I thought of you.  I have been asking the Lord to make you known to us and I believe thru His Word, He has!  Isaiah 53 contains beautiful words-truthful, piercing, promising, and comforting.  Oh sweet one, we are anxious to meet you but waiting upon the Lord.  You are His!  Praise God!  He is caring for you and He will bring you to us.  We love you!

August 30, 2013~
What precious words we received today!  "We look forward to working with you to bring Lawrence home."  Wooooohooooo!!!!!  Our home. Our boy.  We have filed our intent to adopt Lawrence and have been chosen by HK to pursue you.  We love you!  We are excited to meet you!  We cannot wait to have you home.  Brilee talks about sharing his room with you, getting bunk beds to share, and playing cars together.  Brooklyn can't wait to be your big sister, play with you, to teach you things. 

We looked on google maps to find your home in Hong Kong.  Brilee said he couldn't believe how beautiful it is.  We think of you often~ so far away and yet so close in our hearts.

September 24, 2013~
Recently Brilee announced your name will be Brody Lawrence.  He feels strongly that you should have a "Br" name like your brother and sister but also we want to honor and remember where you came from.  Lawrence is a very special name to us~ our dear neighbor Lawrence passed away October, 2012.  I believe God spoke to us thru your name, Lawrence.  You have been called Lawrence since your first days at Mother's Choice.  So now, Brilee tells anyone who will listen that his brother's name is Brody Lawrence.....Brooklyn is proudly sharing the news too!  I guess you have been named by your Mother's Choice family, your Hurley family, and I believe God himself. 

October 4, 2013~
Today while I was working, something told me to check our adoption portal.  I was thrilled to see an update on you- complete with pictures!  It was so good to see you growing healthy and strong.  These were the first pictures we have seen with your hearing aid on.  You wear it so well!  I hope it helps you hear.  You are so handsome.  Dark brown eyes, perfect nose and sweet, gentle mouth.  Mommy cannot wait to kiss you! 

Most days I wish I could get a daily update on you but that just reminds me to pray for you and trust you to our Heavenly Father's hands.  I am so thankful for your wonderful caregivers at Mother's Choice.  They truly love you and want the best for you.

November 23, 2013~
Our dossier has been in HK since the first of October.  Since then we have received two sets of questions from the Adoption now we wait, either for more questions or we hope, Matching Approval! 

This past Sunday night we shared our family's story with our church family.  We told our Southside family a little bit about you~and of course, they already love you too! Really and truly.  They were so happy to know a little bit about you and pray for you.  You have a family, little one!  Across the world, you have a family- waiting, ready to love you.

December 18, 2013~
We have been waiting for an update-----and today it came.  Merry (early) Christmas--we have matching approval from HK!!!!!  Yay!!! This means HK agrees that you are ours and we are yours.  We have cried all evening!  We are so glad to hear that preparations are being made to bring you home!  We love you, Brody, and can't wait to have you home! our arms! 

December 22, 2013~
The Lord's Day. Sunday before Christmas.  I cried most of the worship service---overwhelmed with God's love and mercy for me, overwhelmed with Christ's sacrifice, joyful that next Christmas you will be home, and so longing to hold you.  So many emotions...... God is so good.