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!:)