Monday, February 27, 2012

Adoption Meeting This Saturday!

Your First Steps Towards Adoption

After I watched a documentary on Russian orphanages when I was in high school I made a vow to God that I would adopt one day.  Before I married Husband I shared my calling with him and he agreed.  In my mind I had always imagined that I would have a baby biologically and then adopt and then have another baby biologically.  Maybe I thought it would make the adopted child feel like we had planned them, and they were not a last resort...I don't know why.

While I was having my three children I did not ever seem to be at the place where I could even entertain the thought of adoption.  I was a stressed mother of babies.  Three great kids....but lots of work.  I pushed my dream, my calling, to the background.  After Johnny was a few years old I found my adoption information packet that I had ordered years before.  Without thinking too much of it, I threw it in the trash.  I told God in my mind as I was doing it that it must not have been meant to be and that maybe our role in adoption would be that we would help fund or better yet single handedly fund someone's adoption.

The next day I had a horrible empty feeling in my gut.  I knew immediately what it was.  There have only been a few times in my life that I have felt so confidently that I heard the voice of God speaking to me.  I do not use the phrase lightly.  But I knew that day beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were supposed to adopt.

When I mentioned it to Husband he reacted the same way I had before I threw the packet in the trash.  He just assumed that our perfect timing had passed.  And besides, I thought, we already have three healthy beautiful children.  And we were even out of the baby stage!!!!  Who would want to go through that all over again!

I felt confident that God would reveal it to Husband as well that we were meant to adopt.  I got an email from the agency whose information I had that they were having a meeting in OKC at a church during the summer.  I tried to make it happen, a surprise anniversary trip and an adoption meeting thrown in as a surprise!  It didn't happen.  The next March another meeting.  This time in Tulsa.  I told Husband that I had something for us planned on Saturday and that it was a surprise.  He knew I was up to something but went along!

I still remember when we drove up to the church that Saturday morning in March of 2007.  He said, "Where are we going?"  I told him.  He will admit he felt a bit "ambushed" but being the awesome husband he is of course he went along.  I told him that if he did not feel after the meeting that adoption wasn't for us then I would respect that.  After the meeting with tears in both our eyes he indeed told me that of course we were to adopt!  How could we not were his words!

You know, sometimes I feel like we use the phrase "if it's meant to be, it will be" to excuse away a lot of our laziness or selfishness.  I think in my mind I thought that if God really wanted me to adopt one of his orphans when I already had a full family and not any extra time, then He would have to drop the orphan in my life.  But God doesn't work like that.  His Holy Spirit doesn't push.  He gently guides.  And I am so thankful that He got a hold of me that day and I was able to recognize His voice.

I do not believe that everyone is called to adopt.  Many circumstances and situations prevent this.  Even though it is my greatest passion and cause in life...adoption....I will not project that upon everyone I meet.  But I cannot count all the people who have told me and Husband over the past few years that they "have always wanted to adopt."


The first step is to come to a meeting.  Many adoption agencies have meetings at many locations.  Our adoption agency has many meetings planned right now.  You can look one up here now. Or you can come to our church's meeting this Saturday at 10-noon.  It's listed on the link above.  Take the first step to hear what is involved and what God's Word says about adoption.  Take the step to find out if this is something you and your husband can do.

                                               There might be a little Po out there for you!

Or a precious little girl who has never been held or loved in her life.

Never underestimate the power of saying YES!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gotcha Day Video

We've never showed this on our blog before because we have been so busy and we forgot!  Seriously.  Here is our gotcha day video from one year ago!  
We had just flown from Beijing to Lanzhou and it was around 9 or 10 at night when we finally reached the hotel.  They were in the lobby waiting for us!

Monday, February 13, 2012

GOTCHA! one year since they became ours!

On this day last year we were getting the girls! It was the 12th here in America but it was the 13th in Lanzhou, China. Here I posted about my feelings that morning when I woke up before we got them that night. Here I posted about our first moments with them. Wow, I still remember it like yesterday!

Here they are on the first night. Already ours....

I can remember walking in that hotel lobby to my little Lily (I purposely went to her first) and kneeling in front of her blank face and loving on her. I have loved Lily since the summer of 2010 when I first met her. God placed her in our family. No doubt. No matter what challenges we have, I have never found it difficult to love Lily. She has my heart forever.

And then turning to grab my little Po out of the Chinese lady's arms. I cannot describe the feeling. You know I had always wondered what I would think when they handed her to me. Would she smell weird? Would I feel uncomfortable (kinda like when you are asked to hold someone's baby for a moment while the mom does something...and you don't really want the baby to drool on you or grab your face!)? NO NO NO! I grabbed her and held her as if I just gave birth to her and the doctor was placing her on my chest. Oh my little Po. You have won everyone's heart!!

This was the first moment Husband met Po!
Already a fun family in China. Lily was still learning how to smile for photos. She didn't understand.

So it's been a year! One year since these little Chinese twerps (as Husband affectionately calls them) became grafted into the Hook family! As I made a collage of photos from our China trip last week, I saw photos of us before we got them and I just thought how weird it looked. Three kids. Whew. That was easy!!! My friend Adri who went with us last year has always said, "I cannot imagine your family without them." And she is right. They are 100% Hooks now. It didn't take a year though....a moment.

Hope's journey

Hope came to us at 14 months old after living in an orphanage since she was abandoned just days old. She couldn't sit up by herself. She could barely roll over on her tummy. She would barely push up on her knees sometimes and rock gently while saying "ya ya ya ya ya" and soothe herself to sleep. She would suck her thumb through the giant hole in her face connecting her mouth and nose. She was emotionless. Never crying. Never whining. But she stared straight in our eyes, as if she knew we loved her!!! Oh PO!!!

Little Xiaodan admiring her new admirer.

Now Po toddles and runs around the house sqwaking and imitating sounds she hears. She cannot talk that well, she is delayed in speech due to having the cleft lip and mouth. Children usually always need speech therapy to learn how to pronounce words correctly. She can say some words perfectly like no, mama : ), Ei Ei O, and Hey! She can sign and mumble more when she is hungry.

Po is sweet as pie!!! She rivals Rob in sweetness so she must take after Husband. She is spunky and will fight for her freedom when a big sibling is trying to make her do something she doesn't want to, but oh she is sweet. She loves music. She can hum tunes to LOTS of songs correctly. Songs we didn't even know she knew! Chinese genius, I tell ya! And I think she will have grand musical ability and we will be able to say, Oh when she was born she had a cleft lip and palate and the doctors said she would always need speech therapy..... Can't you see it???

Lily's journey

Lily's came to us at 9 and half years old. She had lived in the same orphanage (that we know of) all her life after she was abandoned a couple of months old. We expected her to be shy and quiet and mentally challenged. We knew that she was able to learn a bit after spending a week at her orphanage, but we didn't know how much of her mind was sound. But it was ok...we didn't care. On day two we realized she surpassed every expectation we had. She was LOUD, WILD, A TOTAL SHOW OFF, HAPPY, FUN-SEEKING, and eager to learn.

Lily on the school bus after a field trip to a retirement center to sing Christmas carols!

In the year we've had her Lily has learned how to speak English amazingly. She knows her numbers, letters, and colors. She can write and she is now learning blends and reading three letter words with help. Lily's hair has indeed grown (we didn't know if it would, but now we realize they just kept it shaved) and she has grown ALMOST TWO INCHES. Lily is still extremely small for her age. She is the size of a 4 or 5 year old and she is now 10 and a half. But she doesn't care and neither do we. She's growing and that is a good thing.

Lily's main challenge in life will not be education or height, but emotional development and attachment. We have made leaps and bounds over the year but her wounds are deep. She has still got a tremendous wall built up around herself concerning me. I suppose it will takes her a while to release all the hurt she has felt from receiving no nurture. I feel very sad for all she has endured in her life. But we have provided such a loving and free environment for her over this past year that she has zero fear. She found a good home. God knew.

One day when Lily is traveling the world on behalf of orphans and telling her story, she will be able to tell of how God restored her life and rescued her from a lifetime of loneliness and sadness. I will be on the front row smiling!

I can only imagine me sitting down next year to post of all the great things that this year will bring! God is good. Adoption remains to me the greatest thing anyone can do in life! Our lives are so blessed because of Lily and Hope. Every day is a new adventure.

Fun at Disneyworld.

Christmas Po!

Po learning how to drive....Chinese genius.

Almond eyes!

Johnny and Lily have the most fun.

Christmas light cruising.

Po keeps us all young.

Po primping.

the twins sleeping. this is Lily's favorite place on weekends.

The twins picnic

Po and her cousin shared a birthday party.

Lily and her sweet uncle.

Christmas Eve

Lily sleeping with her grandparents at Christmas!

They give the best pedicure!

Rob loves his Po.

my lovey

happy girl

Po and Lily help around the house!

Po helps daddy decorate for LSU games.

sister bonding

Daddy and his girls

Po and her flamingo friend

Po has learned how to escape the crib!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

And the winner is...

Kerri O! Kerri has won the book giveaway! Thanks for everyone who left messages! It was so fun that maybe I should give away something else! Maybe cupcakes!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My first ever giveaway...7 by Jen Hatmaker

Last year I discovered Jen Hatmaker and now I tell everyone we are new best friends. It all started at my connect group when a friend mentioned her book Girl Talk for our book club. I listened to her describe the book, but honestly, it sounded too fun for me right now. I am in a season where I love reading books that hit me in the gut and cut deep, make me want to expose secrets and move to Africa! When I read about the book I thought it seemed nice and happy.

THE NEXT DAY I got a group email from my adoption board from another mother in the adoption community saying everyone who has adopted should read this blog post. So I did. I clicked on the link and read it right then. Every word. And I loved it and I loved the person who wrote it. I then googled everything about this girl. I wanted to read everything she had ever written! And then I realized...this was the same girl who wrote Girl Talk..the book that just hours before had not interested me.

Since that time I have read all Jen's blog posts and have followed her every move on Facebook and Twitter. And I was delighted to see that she had a new book coming out at the beginning of this year! I sent a nice email asking (begging) her to please include me in a group of women to review the book so I could get an advance copy. I was so delighted to get the email with the link to the preview copy but my email wouldn't work on my iPad or iPhone and Husband is always on the "real" computer "making a living!"

I ordered a copy off Amazon and waited patiently. Once it came I thought I'd devour it in a day, except I had shame and guilt on me from not reading my Francine Rivers novel that was our January book club choice! Now that my book club has met I am happy to say our February book choice is indeed Jen's latest book 7 and that I did indeed devour it in 24 hours!

Jen is like Francis Chan but prettier and FUNNY! She makes you feel you are her best friend (even though she has 4900 on Facebook currently). Her life has been Interrupted and it is beautiful!

7 is "an experimental mutiny against excess," as Jen puts it. She takes 7 areas of her life and focuses on each area for one month long while seeking God to reveal to her what excess lies in each and how to change it. Eating only seven foods for a month, wearing only seven articles of clothing, spending money in only seven businesses that get where I'm going.

The book is amazingly laugh out loud funny, yet treads in deep waters. Jen reveals her and her family's life and thoughts without pretending to be a perfect Christian. She clearly makes room for the Holy Spirit to move and change her life and her families. The focus is placed upon others.

One of my top 5 favorite books is Matthew Sleeth's Serve God Save the Planet. I bought about 10 copies a few Christmases ago and gave them to all my close friends and told them how much the book meant to me and how I couldn't wait for it to change their life the way it had changed mine!!!! Maybe three of them read it (and that's being optimistic). One friend was afraid they might have to start recycling! And then I found Francis Chan. Ah!!!! Another author who was challenging readers to think and live differently, in a way that seemed odd to normal America, but not to THE BIBLE! It seemed like everything in my life was being directly to this one area....I was tired of the "American Dream." I didn't want it...none of it. And what all these people were saying was confirming things in my heart.

And along comes Jen. The perfect Christian woman to relate to! She's got all the depth and sincerity and knowledge and theology that Chan and Sleeth and others have, yet she's FUNNY. I love a smart funny woman! It's the perfect woman! Women don't have to pretend to be stupid to be funny (which seems to be a trend in the last few years). Stupid isn't funny. Stupid is sad.

I am so ready for the Bride of Christ to BE pretty! We may have makeup on and our hair in a tousled up-do but our insides are anemic! I really feel like there is a whole bunch of people in the Body, Jen included, that are leading us into a better place. Jen writes about how her family is challenged to reach out to the poor and homeless more AND to be a better steward of the earth. It's not that hard to do what Jen is proposing to us. But it's SO FAR away from the typical middle class American Christian life. How did we get so far away from what the early church in Acts looked like?! People like Jen and her husband Brandon are trying to inch closer back to that place.

This book has lit a fire under me! I am excited to be part of the Body with people like this! It makes me proud to be a Christian! I want my life to be different from unbelievers. I want them to notice something amazingly, undeniably different about me and my family. I want them to say, "I want to serve YOUR GOD!" I want to raise my children the way Jen challenges us to do in 7! I want to move to Africa!!!!

But while I am here, my heart is to see the Body of Christ transformed. Transformed. Transformed! And this book has won a place in my heart forever, as it will serve as my Beginners Guide to Messing Up My Life Forever! (in a good, Kingdom kind-

of way, of course!)

Anyway, if you are still with me as I ramble, I have a brand new copy of Jen's book 7 and I am giving it away to someone who leaves a comment. And since I feel bad for getting my review posted later rather than sooner I would love it if you would post in your comment if you found out about this book already because of my facebook posting. Even if you have already read it and own the book, you can pass it along to someone if you win it! So leave a comment and I'll pick a winner randomly (as soon as I ask my friend who is the giveaway queen how to do that)in a few days!

If you are sick of buying $45 Easter dresses for your daughter, tired of eating pesticide laden food and spending too much money on processed food, feeling the call to adoption, struggling to find peace in your soul and in your home, addicted to buying clothes you never wear or feeling like you have to wear certain clothes, wanting to actually DO ministry instead of just hear about it, tired of the boxes and boxes of junk in your closets and attic that you may or may not care about one day, wanting your family to do something together that does not involve an on/off switch, or wanting to truly try to live like the Bible describes as the Christian way...this book will satisfy!

Here is a video trailer for the book.

my "best" friend Jen