Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Webmaster needed

Hey y'all, I'm in Cincinnati blogging on my iPad these next two weeks and I don't know why the last post posted without paragraphs I added! And I don't know how to add photos to my posts. I can only upload them by texting them on my phone. So I know I'm not gonna win the blogger award like Ree but at least I can keep you updated on little Lily!

Stranger in my bed

Last night I couldn't sleep. I went to bed too early because when you are in a hotel room when the first kid goes to sleep everything has to be dark. So that was at 7 pm. And I went to sleep. And I woke up wide awake at 1:45 and stayed up until 4:00 am. I spent most of my time on pinterest building my virtual bulletin boards that no one cares about. But in the midst of this I had some amazing thoughts. Lily was smashed up next to me with her face near my hip and her legs intertwined with mine like a pretzel. I would get so closterphobic that I would take it as long as I could and then I would shove her as far as I could to the other side of the bed to which she would roll back half way immediately and slowly inch back. In her sleep. I just thought, "Who is this stranger in my bed? Who's kid is this? Where did she come from? How did she get here and why is she stuck to me like glue?" Lily has zero boundaries. She gets all up in your face. She doesn't care if her breath is fresh or who you are! She is going to get noticed and going to get her needs met no matter what. And she had her legs all over me just like I used to do to my mom growing up. Because I watched too many scary movies growing up I would wake up every night and run down the long hallway to mom and dad's room where I would always be accepted on my mom's side. I did this until I was about 13 I would guess. And every night as long as I wrapped my legs around mom's I felt safe and happy. I would ask her if she minded if I put my legs all over hers. She would say no. Then I'd say, "Is it because I'm your daughter or would you let anyone do this?" (This became a game and I'd ask her this many times over the years as I slept with her). She would always laugh and say she wouldn't let just anyone put their legs all over her! Then I'd proceed with the game and call out certain people, family members or friends names and she would tell me if she would let them put their legs all over her legs! I have a fun mom, for those of you who don't know her! We would laugh lots and she would always say she wouldn't let a stranger! So when I found myself in mom's position last night I thought to myself, this IS a stranger with her legs wrapped all around mine! And then I thought, wait a minute, this is MY DAUGHTER! It still takes me by surprise sometimes. With Hope it's different because she's a baby. She kinda is becoming a product of our family. You can see how we've already influenced her this way. But with Lily, there's more there. She was already shaped for almost 10 years by others and circumstances not us. So she is like a stranger. But she's our daughter. Weird. The three originals have been so great about it. I cannot say enough good things about them. They are such great kids. And they must have had a solid foundation of love and trust built to be able to let their grips loosen on us and share us with Hope and Lily. They demand a lot of time. So in my deep thoughts last night I thought......what makes a person my responsibility? Who are my kids? Why will I let this kid into my heart but not others. And then I thought of my Aunt Penny and Aunt Suzie back home and how they loved every person and every kid like their own. They reached out to kids, always had their doors open to them, and always had a stove full of food for any kid that dropped by. And then I thought. All children are our responsibility. Just last week I read a story online about a mom in Tulsa that left her three children under the age of 6 home alone while she went drinking. Who's looking out for them if their own mother is not? In today's world we like to keep our distance and stay out of other people's business so we don't endanger ourselves. Hmmm. We all know the mother who speaks up in a crowd and takes on the maternal role when some kids get out of line or are in need. While others sit back and do nothing, they are in the kids face either nurturing or rebuking them in a way only a mother can. Those type of women get out of theirselves and into the needs of children and cannot stay silent. I don't just want to love my own kids and be annoyed by everyone else's. I don't just want to raise MY children right while neglecting their friend whose mother never makes them a lunch or buys them new shoes. I want to get outside of myself and see the hurting children around me. Whether they are in an orphanage in another country or down the street. Little Lily never had a momma to wrap her legs around. She didn't ask me if she could. She's beyond that. She's got to survive. Shes got to take everything she sees the opportunity to take! She NEEDS to be nurtured and loved and touched and smiled at and told she is so good! (She always says Momma I'm goooood!) We opened our hearts and home (and bed) to a stranger from the other side of the world who doesn't look like us or talk like us or smell like us. We don't need to be commended. We don't take credit for this. We heard from God. We didn't even have a choice when it came to Lily. We were more certain than anything in our lives that we were to bring Lily home. I say that sincerely. It's all God. Not us. And since we did this, I realize how there are so many others. Not just orphans. Kids with moms and dads that are too consumed with work or money issues or can't even hold their marriage together for the sake of their family to meet their children's needs. I am gonna keep my eyes open. And if all I ever do in my life here is be a mother, that's good enough for me. I'm gonna strive my hardest to do it well! I may not let them sleep in my bed, but I can certainly let them into my heart.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun with photo collages! : )

I need to go to sleep, but I got a new app and I am having fun!


Look at this! The first photo is of Lily around September of last year at the orphanage. They had just started letting her hair grow for the first time in her life because they knew she had a family now! The newspaper photo is the required posting of abandoned children's photos in the local newspaper to give their moms a chance to claim them.... sad. Lily looks so sad and lonely. I think she is less than a year old here but I HAVE NO IDEA. The next one of Lily in a yellow coat is from around when she was 5. I know this because she is walking or at least standing in the photo and they said she did not do that until she was almost 5 years old. Ugh, her little face. Whenever I am tempted to lose patience with Lily I remember this photo! I have it framed in our living room and in my room. I wish we could've gotten her years ago. For Lily's sake and for my heart's sake. She already has the giant scar on her forehead that we don't know how she got it....Again, she looks SOOOOOO sad, doesn't she. Her eyes, her mouth...it's all frowning! And then last, Lily NOW!!!!! Praise GOD!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You Betty?

Words Lily says funny:

Gulls and Buoys- girls and boys
Fluer- floor
sank you...then turned into dank you- thank you (one day I gave something to Rob and he said, SANK YOU MOMMY!)
Looderbeck, then turned into Lutherbeck- her teacher's name...she doesn't say Mrs. though! Just Lutherbeck!
Chicken- instead of KITCHEN... hey's it's close, right
wha...instead of what
PeePee dog instead of Puppy dog
Baby dog instead of Baby doll (LOL!)
Yak- for Zach
Uncle Tuna for Aunt Tina (HAHAHA...that's my sister! and she is nothing close to a smelly fish!)
Mommy, can I check?-- Mommy, can I text? seriously...she likes to text Husband
YOU BETTY? instead of you ready? ( this is my favorite. i think me and Husband will say this forever!!)




she used to say filler words like Doosy (who knows) for a while...she said doosy all the time while she thought of the next work.

she likes to wear socks ALL the time. and she wants to wear a hoodie all the time, even when it's not hot. this isn't too far off from the behavior of my (EXTREMELY PERFECTLY NORMAL--wink) son Johnny!

she still doesn't care for sugar or milk. she doesn't like oatmeal or malt o meal. she loves chicken and meat and ANYTHING POTATO! she eats more than anyone at the table, including Husband.

she loves to get HOT LUNCH at school. this happens when I am too tired to make lunch or didn't get to the store last night. The first time she came home talking about how she got TWO HOT LAWNCH! and I quickly had to shut that down or we would be broke! I already have one kid addicted to hot lunch draining the bank account. Plus she was drinking chocolate milk, which we can tell milk products make her, musical, so we try to avoid them at all costs!

Husband and I saw this ad in the mall at Banana Republic. It reminds us of how Lily asks us, You Betty? instead of Are you ready?!

Surgery Time Soon for Lily



Well, Lily can hardly contain the smiles and excitement...it's time for her surgery! Bless her heart, I am sure she doesn't know exactly what surgery really is but I am not about to crush her excitement and tell her she will feel lousy! She only knows that surgery is what Hope had and she was the STAR OF THE FAMILY for those times! So she knows it's her time to shine!

Surgery is a word Lily learned very quick. It was one of her first words. She knew Hope was going to go to surgery to get her mouth fixed. And she saw how wonderful it turned out...so surgery must be fabulous! Surgery is what Lily judges everything against in the timeframe of her life. Back in March, how to I explain time to a kid that to our knowledge had NO UNDERSTANDING of days of the week and months and years. So she's say, "Lily surgery, then school? Lily school, then surgery? Lily surgery then birthday? Lily surgery then Disneyworld?"

In fact the other day we were talking about God. I know she doesn't understand, but she likes this GUY!! So I said, Lily don't you want to meet God...this wonderful person who has done so much for you?? (She knows God told us to get her!) She said, YES YES! And I said, One day Lily you will get to meet Him face to face and you can hug Him and tell Him thank you for telling us to come get you! And she got quite, made a thinking face, looked down then back up and said, "Lily surgery then meet God?" I chuckled and said, No no no....not after surgery! A LONNNNNNNNG time from now!

So it's surgery time on next Thursday. Me and Lily and Hope and my sister Christina head out to Cincinnati Children's Hospital on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday Lily will have appointments and MRIs and Xrays and such. Wednesday she gets admitted into the hospital. Thursday she has her surgery. Then Husband and Po will go home and me and Lily will stay in the hospital for 7-10 days while she recovers. I am looking forward to special bonding time with me and Lily but totally dreading not seeing my other kids for such a long timeframe!!! : (

But these two weeks are gonna be about Lily getting her time to SHINE!

We are so grateful to have THE BEST surgeon for this specialty in America to perform Lily's operation. His name is Dr. Pena and he "wrote the book" on the procedure used to correct the area that the surgery in China when she was an infant failed to do. It will be a relief and blessing to us and Lily to have this surgery done correctly. I am sad Lily had to wait 10 years to have this done properly. She has a lot of blessing and joy ahead of her in her life to make up for lost years.

Photo time!

Lily put on Rob's baseball belt to create this stylish outfit. She gets cuter everyday. She's never had her hair this long in her life! The orphanage always kept it buzzed. She loves it and cannot wait till she can "sake" it (shake it)!


Po learning to climb stairs at my sister's house. This photo captures how her personality has all of a sudden turned or come alive! She is wild!


I love this photo of Lily. She is such a beautiful little girl. When I see this photo I think of OPPORTUNITY! She never had the opportunity to go to school for 9 years...and now look at her! She loves school. She loves learning. I bet her brain grows every minute. Maybe that's where all the food goes she eats!!!


Preciousness


When we first got Lily just 7 months ago we had to teach her how to smile. We would point a camera at her and say, "Lily, say SMILE!" and she would say smile with a frown on her face. It's like her mouth wasn't used to moving into the smile position. Look at this smile! No prompting necessary! She's caught on. Smiling is FUN!


Preciousness again...I like to say precious is a verb for Po. That's what she does all day long...preciousness!


9 years old and never ridden in a walmart buggy!!! Tragic! She loves it so much! She fits easily. The lines are blurred between age 3 and 10 for her. When it comes to riding in the buggy, she can be whatever age she wants! And she missed out on all the baby and toddler stuff. When she asked to sit in the buggy she kinda got embarrassed like we were gonna say, oh no, that's for babies and Lily is not a baby (which we say occasionally). But I said YES to this and she couldn't contain her joy!!!!!!!!


Phoebe, my oldest, kissing Po thru the car window after her piano lesson. Po responds by putting her forehead to her lips...something she has done with Phoebe since the beginning! It's preciousness!

Cupcakes for others. Hot dogs for Lily.


We made hundreds of cupcakes for Lily's first ever birthday party! We had over 125 people come and it was a very special day for all of us. My birthday was a couple weeks later and Lily wondered why I didn't have as many people come to a party and bring me lots of gifts! The funny thing about these great photos is that she doesn't even like cupcakes! In fact, she won't eat them!!! Oh well, more for me! We had hot dogs too and she ate plenty!






In fact, maybe I should of placed her behind a table full of 200 hot dogs instead!

Uh Uh

video

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unbreakable

Lily has an unbreakable spirit. If you think about living in an institution without a sole nurturer and comforter for 9 years, and then being able to come into our family and respond so well, it amazes me. She has such JOY in her spirit. It appears like she has separated herself from her past so much so already that she does not even want to think or talk about it.

Today I noticed someone had completely messed up my new and newly organized bookshelves. Books were out of the shelves in stacks and piles everywhere. I had worked for hours to get them organized the way I wanted them. Books for Rob here. Books for Lily here. And so on. I was so frustrated when I saw it and then I found out Lily did it. I calmly told her to put them all back the way they were and that it meant a lot to me to have them the way I wanted them. As I was examining her work once she was done I was explaining things that were still out of order. She could barely hide her little grin.

Lily has this little grin she gets. It comes when she knows she should clearly NOT be grinning or happy but she cannot contain it. For example, one day she had told a lie twice and we were really trying to instill in her early on that we DO NOT tolerate lies. She had been telling and teasing Daniel so much that she wanted a spanking. She had seen us spank other kids when they required disciplining, and she was SO curious. So when this came up, Daniel thought it was a perfect time to grant her wish of getting a spanking! We thought that she was really joking, but no, she really did want Daniel to spank her. So Daniel and I calmly explained to her about lying and truth and how she was going to get a spanking just as one of our biological kids would for this. Then she grinned. She was thrilled! She couldn't stand the anticipation. Needless to say after the spanking she realized how foolish it was to beg for a spanking, and she has not since!

Well this grin she's got that is somewhat or extremely annoying because you are trying to get down into her soul so that she learns a lesson but she is grinning. And you know what it shows me? She is fearless. She is probably thinking, sure, go ahead, give it your best shot trying to break me and make me feel guilt for doing something wrong! It's fun for Lily to get in trouble, because she is getting special attention. (Let me insert in here that Lily is out most obedient child, by the way!) She is unbreakable. She is not going to let me telling her she messed up my little bookshelf make her feel bad about herself and ruin her glorious life out of the orphanage. And I love that.

Lily doesn't have a self-esteem problem. She thinks she is smart and pretty just as we tell her everyday. She doesn't enter a room with timidity and wonder what people will think of her and then act accordingly. She bounces right in between whoever she wants and demands attention.

This is partly a symptom of attachment disorder. And for those of you familiar with adoption and attachment, you are probably saying most of the things she does is a result of that. But you know what, I believe that God did a great work in Lily the day she was transferred into our care. I describe it as two separate people. It is hard for me to believe she is the same child. She seems to be...new.

And I love the fact that Lily can put her past in the past and not look back and move forward. And you cannot tell me that she doesn't have the capability to be sentimental and hang on to moments because in the 7 months we've had her she is very sentimental about things in her past few months. She looks at photos and videos on my phone and relives things all the time.

I just love Lily. I think that she's a fighter and a survivor and if I think that I can parent her by making her feel guilty about doing wrong then I am foolish. She is not motivated by guilt. She is motivated by life and love!

So many of us live our lives motivated by guilt. We do things because someone tries to make us feel guilty if we don't, then we do it and then we resent THEM because WE said yes to it. Lily teaches me so much about God everyday. She teaches me about life. Maybe you might need to learn something from Lily right now. Maybe you need to get over yourself, get over past, and start loving freely and being grateful you aren't bound by sin and going to hell. Isn't that reason enough to get over ourselves!

I picture myself going to Heaven and standing before God when I leave this earth. I know He will accept me with open arms because I am confident in my salvation. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. But I also have this haunting feeling in my gut that my life will be laid out before me and God Almighty for review. I do not want to be ashamed of my life. I do not want God to lovingly tell me how much time I spent worrying about my insecurities, my failures and my intimidations while the world around me is in need. I do not want HIm to show me I spent thousands of hours watching mindless TV and movies and playing cash cow on Webkinz while I could have been seeking His heart and being used by Him to make a difference in someone else's life! I'm tired of living for myself and my gain! I want to live for others!

Lily is teaching me how.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

She just wants to jump

Today Lily strung a jumprope from the couch to the TV. She tried to jump over it. Two things hindered her. First, she has a disformed hip (that she will be having surgery on early next year). And second, she has never jumped before in her life. When Lily runs through the house all of her 40 pounds sound like an elephant stampede! When we first got Lily six months ago, we were shocked at how she had zero muscle on her body. You could tell this was a little body that had not moved much in 9 years. Now Lily is getting muscle on her body. She loves to show us! She could barely walk ten steps in China without stopping and begging for someone to carry her. At first we thought she could not walk distances. We thought it must be her bad hip. And she clung so tightly to Daniel and didn't like me in the beginning that I didn't want her to be carried. I felt like she was getting royal treatment while being mean to me. Then one night she woke up crying and when I went to her she was grabbing her knees saying hurt, hurt. I felt horrible...like a mean step mom. So I thought, yes her legs are hurting, she must not be able to walk. So my new plan was to carry her as much as I could.

Now that six months have passed, I realized that she can walk....she just didn't have any muscle and wasn't used to walking any significant distance at all! From what we can gather, her records say she didn't walk till she was almost five years old. That means she probably spent most of her five years in a crib...I'm guessing. And she clearly tells us that she didn't go outside to play. When I ask her about what she did all day long she says "bed."

Lily has spent her life in a special needs orphanage in a poor little city in China. Some orphanages I hear are more like a day care than an institution (Maria's Big House of Hope, A New Day). And I have no idea what normal orphanages are like in China. I've only been to one, special needs orphanage. And with so many children with challenges and handicaps and illnesses, I am sure that going outside to play red rover isn't a top priority. Also, in Lily's orphanage there were only three children older than her. One precious girl is almost completely blind, one girl is crippled, and one boy has cystic fibrosis. So you have my Lily. Her special need in the orphanage was a medical issue that did not prohibit her movement. (Her hip wasn't her need. We didn't know about it until we got her home and had X-rays.) They also said her other special need was mental delay, but that wouldn't prohibit movement either. So it just so happened that Lily was grouped with precious children that couldn't really go outside easily, so they never got to.

So from what I can gather from Lily, and from what we saw while we were there, the extent of Lily's walking everyday was maybe down the hallway. She ate in her bed and slept in her bed and spent most of her day in her bed.

When I asked Lily why she didn't jump in the orphanage she pointed to the jumprope and said she didn't have one of them (in her sounds-rude-but-isn't-trying-to-be Chinese voice like HELLO MOM...NO JUMPROPE!) But then I ask her again why she couldn't have just jumped without one. She looked at me and said, "Mommy, nobody jump!" And then I remember the three kids she spent her days with. None of them could jump. Nobody jumped. Or wanted to for that matter. What in the world would Lily have to jump about?
After about 20 tries, Lily finally got the hang of how to jump across a jumprope. You could tell she thought she was the most talented kid ever! She was so proud of herself! I just thought how in the world did little Lily survive in that orphanage without going crazy. The way she has blossomed here. The way she relates so well to children and plays and follows rules and learns! What would her life have been like if we had not seen her and said yes, we can take her? We never would've adopted Lily had I not actually spent time with her and fallen in love with her. From her poorly documented life, and her extremely inaccurate medical records (that said she is deaf and severely mentally delayed) to the photo that was about 7 years old of Lily on her file (that she was bald in and totally looked like an alien due to the weird shirt she was wearing and her odd-shaped bald head) we would've never said yes to her. Besides, we didn't even think China would allow us to adopt two children at once. But look at her now! The medical records were so wrong and now that we let her hair grow and have given her good healthy food and supplements and lots of lots of love she looks like a normal pretty little girl!

Adoption is so scary at first, but it's so worth the risk. And if you are saying that I had it easy because I got to meet Lily first before I adopted her, then I'll give you the email to our adoption agency and you can sign up for a trip to the same orphanage and maybe meet your son or daughter to be!

What I cannot get over is how bleak and dry and sad and misfortunate her life was. It was bad. When your kids whine about stupid things you should tell them about Lily's first 9 years of her life. Her mind has a lot of stuff in it that will work itself out and we will work through together, but she is doing SO SO good.

Daniel and I don't take any credit for choosing Lily. I'm not bragging on what great people we are for taking in Lily. God got a hold of us and we had no choice. The decision was made and we have never regretted it. We knew a lot of uncertainties and a lot of unknowns and a lot of fears, but one thing we knew for sure...we could not leave her there.

And every day we thank God that He used us, that He chose us, to be Lily's parents in this lifetime. We love her. She is such a joy. She is a miracle. To watch her life is like watching a movie. A story of a little girl who had nothing who transforms before our eyes. There is so much power in the decisions we make.

We make decisions every day. How we spend our money. How we spend our time. How we feed ourselves. How we treat others. How we spend our emotions. And at the end of the day if we haven't spent all these things on Eternal things, it means nothing. And it's not even about just doing it for Eternity. You feel better right now in this lifetime when you reach out of yourself to others. You get out of your pity party. Probably none of us reading this have it worse than Lily had it. But Lily doesn't want pity. She just wants to go to school, she wants to jump, she wants to go outside and she wants to go shopping!

What do you want? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? I challenge you to open your heart to adoption. You are not too old or too poor or too anything that God cannot use you. YOU ARE PERFECT FOR ADOPTION. And if perhaps you don't make the age cutoff or physical health requirements, then I can give you two names right now of families that are in the process of adopting and would love to receive a love offering from you to help! I think that so many people just say they aren't called to adopt. I have struggled with this. I don't want to sound mean or insensitive or wrong, but why wouldn't God want you to adopt? Not enough money....make cupcakes! Not enough patience....maybe you need to grow some. Too old...I think the cutoff for most countries is 55. Too messed up and in need of constant attention yourself....maybe you need to go to Lowe's, get yourself a ladder, and get over it (sorry, I couldn't resist, that was my favorite quote from church last week from Larry Stockstill).

I think that most of the problems we face in America these days are laughable sometimes. Most of us get offended by other church people, argue church doctrine with other Christians, can't decided where we should eat, want the latest gadget, and can't get along with our husbands or wives long enough to think about what kind of problems could be affecting other people in the world.

Missions isn't just sending a team or sending money. Missions is a way of life. On a mission to get outside myself and do something eternal for others!

There are other Lily's and Hope's out there that just want to jump! Or go outside! Do you know India has so many orphans they line the streets at night sleeping!

There are many missions in life and causes we can support, but God calls helping widows and orphans TRUE RELIGION. Children need so much help. We have got it. We have been helped long enough. Now we need to help someone helpless.

Mother Teresa said that when she looked into the face of the poor she looked into the face of Jesus. Jesus tells us to love others as we love ourself.

Most people who have biological children did not pray and ask God if it was His will for us to get pregnant and give birth to a child. Why do we feel like a lightening rod from Heaven has to strike us to tell us that we need to adopt?

If you are reading this and you have the slightest desire to adopt, what is holding you back? Just today I met someone who said they have always wanted to adopt and they hope it might happen. But if you don't apply to adopt an orphan, it will never happen. We can't just wait and see if it happens naturally. Live intentionally. With purpose and drive and significance.

If you have a cause in life you are passionate about and know it's your calling, then you have found your place. We should all do what the Holy Spirit leads us. However, if you are living by your own safe American plan and are feeling there is something more, consider the 170 million children in the world who need a family to keep them safe, feed them, love them, and give them a chance in life. Just consider it...