Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"God. Thank-You Home!" {repeat night after night}

7.21.2010: You know this prayer if you've been following along with US on this journey to Izabella that is now "Izabella's Journey". This is now her only prayer at night. I mentioned earlier how I prayed before we met her that God was whispering in her ear comforting words of Hope, and Love, while she made her way to us, through the loss of her first family (alone in the world and old enough to fully understand that she was truly alone), the surgery (alone without the comfort and circle of love a family provides at such a traumatic time), the time she spent separated from the others because of her special need (alone in her crib, and on a mat watching the other kids play on the other side of the gate barrier, just a few feet from where she sat and played), and even though she was with us--we were mere strangers to her at the time--, alone on a trip around the world to a new home, a new land and a new life. I have always believed He did just that. He was holding and comforting and talking to our sweet Izabella the entire time. It is and always has been so obvious to me this is true. Her first prayer was really not her first, she chatted with God long before we met, even if it was a one-way converstation--from Him to her. She heard Him and she was comforted.
Izabella Referral Picture Pre-surgery (China-14 months old)

Izabella July 2010 (Home 8 months)
You can see from these comparison shots--she has always had that JOY in her--no matter where she is! It's so precious--so strong--so resilient--so amazing--so God.

I think there are a lot of things that formed this precious child's love of life, resiliency, joy, inner strength, compassion and all the beautiful things that we're still learning about her. Her birth parents clearly were a huge part of her-not just by giving birth, but by lovingly giving their precious daughter, life the only way they could, by sacrificing a life with her, to save her life--a love that is truly un-matched by any other in her life. The caretakers and her homeland China, that held her and loved her, provided her the surgery she so desperately needed and held her hand and brushed her hair with their caring fingers as she recovered and her heart healed and pumped new life into her little body. Finally--her forever family, that has only begun to be a part of this amazing life. Her birth-parents had the privilege of holding her for 10 months, China's caring hands held her for 18 months, and we have had her in our arms for the smallest amount of time, 8 months. BUT--God has had her the palm of His hand for her entire life--and I think He is the biggest influence of all. I do not believe He planned her life to be this way--but I do believe He was with her every step of the way! Thank-God she was not "alone"!

These thoughts are prompted by Izabella's very succinct  and recurring prayer, "God. Thank you Home." I always say after her prayer, "Yes indeed. Thank-you God Izabella is Home." I can only imagine what He whispered to her in her darkest hours. No matter what they were, I am grateful, so very grateful.

Today, Izabella is still very independent and loves to play alone--even in a crowded playground. Others come to her--as she just does her thing. She's so content and at peace with it that way. She loves to interact with people, but she doesn't have to be constantly entertained. She is just plain happy and content with life--in it's simpliest way. I look at her and think how amazing it is she's not constantly whining--"Mommy! Read to me. Mommy, Take me for a Walk! Mommy take me Swimming! Mommy, play with me!" She just does her thing and goes with the flow and is very happy doing it. When it is time to do something or go somewhere she's engaged 100% and loves it just the same. Even in times when I am stressed and overwelmed with life--she is still running on "happy", doing ok and right there to sooth my stress and calm my fears with a sweet kiss, or touch of her hand. No hiding anything from this sweet sensitive girl. Surely, God is whispering still--and she's listening very carefully.

I'll end this post with an article I linked through to on one of my new favorite blogs "Life of a Pilgrim". She is an american, living and working with children in China, which in itself to me is a point of view I am very interested in seeing. But she is very articulate, an amazing writer and her insights and observations are so fascinating, informational, inspiring and revealing.  I found her through Stephanie's [Sunday Snapshot] links--thank you Stephanie. She just posted a couple articles on her latest post (both short and easy to read). This article by NPR on (the Body of China) is one that was eye-opening to me about the strength of Christianity in China. The more I learn about Izabella's birth country the more I understand her. It's an amazing journey of discovery indeed.

When I was watching this video--I couldn't help but ponder Izabella's lifelong relationship with God--and it occured to me she not only in the palm of God's hand--but very likely was surrounded and comforted by prayer warriors as well.

I wanted to share this enlightening article here as well--for you--and for Izabella down the road--as she learns about China and her God that she already knows in her heart--but is still learning about in her head.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: { Milestones...old and new}

Ni Hao Y'all

Post update on Izabella's first night in her "Big Girl Bed". I awoke three times to check on her--and all three times she was on the floor next to her bed--sound asleep--so I put her back in her bed each time. We suspected this might happen so we piled blankets and pillows next to her bed so she wouldn't get hurt--as she learns to sleep without rails. This morning when I checked on her she had her pillow with her on the floor--so I wonder if she actually just got up and decided to sleep on the floor. She often falls asleep on the floor for naps. Her bed in the orphanage was very hard--perhaps this is the case--more than falling out of bed. All in all--she loves it!

When she woke up this morning on the floor--instead of calling for me--she climbed back into to her bed! And she's a such a big girl--she even made her bed before heading down stairs for the day! So sweet. I tried to get pictures of these events--but she woke up before I could get it.

Saturday 7.17.10: was our 3rd year LID (Adoption China Log-in Date) anniversary! An old and very important milestone in our journey to Izabella. As we hit our 3rd anniversary of this milestone--I am reminded of how the anniversaries of this milestone each year played out.

  • Our LID Date July 17, 2007, I remember getting our paperwork done and off to China (via Shanghai-how cool is that!) how relieved and excited I was that we were officially "waiting" to see who God would chose to be our daughter. That feeling was short lived--as we soon learned the wait looked more like 5 years rather than the 18-24 months we expected before starting the paper-chase. Although, I was blessed from God with an inner peace about this crazy long wait--as I knew God would not abandon us on this journey--and although it looked bleak and some might said "hopeless", I just knew He would unfold a miracle for us, defying all those statistics that were telling us it was over. And instead He had this time planned for us to prepare our family, our marriage and our lives for this amazing miraculous child.
  • The first year anniversary of our LID (July 17, 2008) was rather un-eventful--we spent it with my sister and her husband--and frankly, at that point knew the wait was a long way away--and I had a FEELING from the day we were logged in--something huge would happen in July 09 and we would get our referral to her sometime in the month of "A" July sometime. So we were anxious--but stayed busy through it--just doing what we needed to do to keep our dream alive (renewing paperwork and updating our homestudy) and not let anyone take our Hope away!
  • The second year anniversary of our LID (July 17, 2009)--was bitter sweet. Our dossier made it through review by the Chinese government--now we actually could get a referral! And that review couldn't happen fast enough--as we had moved to the Waiting Children Program and a referral in that program also hinged on getting through review FIRST. However, we were not called with a referral in July, and if we didn't get a referral in August we'd have to renew our paperwork again--a financial hurdle we were hoping to avoid. So we were on pins and needles yet again--waiting to see what we'd be asked to do next. Almost a month to the day later--we saw her precious face (August 11, 2009). We avoided renewing our paperwork and as only God could have planned perfectly--our fingerprints expired on November 26, 2009--we returned home just 19 days prior on November 7th! God is so good!
  • The third Anniversary of our LID (yesterday, July 17, 2010) and as you know-- she is home. We were invited to take part in a photo shoot (farm themed) for a new friend's husband's dental office decor. They'd be shooting over 30 children and using the best of them for his office decor. So we headed off just to a barn/farm just a few blocks from where we live (although we got lost trying to find it--we had no idea it sat right in the middle of suburbia!) for Izabella's photo time. She did pretty good--we haven't seen any of the photos--won't for a few weeks--but they said they got some good ones. I always get some great shots of her--but usually those are when she's here at home with us. She is NOT comfortable out and about standing by herself. So when we back away--she gets pretty nervous. As I was signing the releases--it hit me it was our DAY. I got goose bumps from head to toe, as I looked over at my husband playing on a cow hide laying on the ground under an apple tree giggling and laughing together--we are a FAMILY--this LID! Amazing! Praise God!
We started out our day washing mommy's car! She had a you can see!
That tongue always helps her in whatever she needs to do.
It's a stretch..but she can do it.
So proud of herself!
This is her looking at Papa saying, "Help me papa! Heavy!"
After the photo shoot--we celebrated at a Chinese Restrauant for dinner and on the way home stopped by this field full of hay rolls and took a couple photos.
Then Sunday--Dan actually picked up the camera and spent almost an hour with Izabella in the front room--giggling, playing and snapping photos--while I picked up the kitchen from breakfast.
She loves the microphone Katie (my niece) gave her for Christmas!

Love this shot of her telling Sadie, "your turn."
Then I joined them just as Dad put Justin Beiber's "Baby, Oh Baby" song on and started to dance together. I love that song--so fun to dance and have fun to.

These two shots are my favorites of the morning! She would come running in and sing (like in the animal house movie) and then run into Dan's arms and giggle and laugh and do it all over again. I have some wonderful video of them both doing this--I'll put a video together soon--this will be included! All I can see in these pictures is un-adulterated JOY in both of them! Warms my heart like no other!

Our NEW Milestone (as my post header suggest) is Izabella got a "new bed" (as she calls it). We decided to mark this LID anniversary with converting her crib to a toddler bed. She's been falling asleep on the couch in her room and taking naps there for a while now. So we decided it's time. Needless to say, tonight is the first night she couldn't wait for "Night, Night Time". She was soooo excited. She wasted no time--cuddling up to her new pillow we got her today--she grabbed a book and started to read. She said, "this is cool! New bed Mommy! New Bed!" She's growing up soooo fast! My little baby isn't a baby anymore--she's a full fledged toddler--going on pre-teen--cell phones, reading in bed and all!

Then she ran over and grabbed a foam phone (from a "purse book" my friend Liz gave her before we left for China) and started to talk on her phone. She was telling Snow White (who BTW she has lengthy conversations with)
she got a "new bed!" Pretty darn cute.

Then the late evening light started to filter through her window and hit her sweet face in the most beautiful way--so I had to get some close-up of our beauty on this big milestone weekend.

The wait is over! Isn't she breath-taking? There are nights when I'm exhausted and want her to go to sleep quickly--so I can go to sleep--but most nights--I just hold her and stare at her and want to visit with her--wishing neither of us had to do anything except sit and visit. This time is clearly beginning to be a time to "chat" about her day. So love this time together. Right now it's pretty simple--"Busy Day Mommy!"

Another little milestone--she hardly calls me "mama" anymore--it's now "mommy" and the way she says it is so precious. I have to catch it on tape soon. The other thing she has been saying lately is "oh my gosh!" It's seriously so sweet when she says it--always brings a smile to our faces.

We marvel at her everyday--and each day we are so blessed with a front row seat to the unfolding of our miracle--as she opens up and grows right before our eyes. It's precious beyond words. Those days of waiting--are insignificant now--just as others that went before us had told us they would be. And those "waiting" milestones have turned into "Izabella's now doing.." milestones. Thank-you God!

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Mommy! Mommy!"

7.11.2010: Yesterday was a really lazy day. So I got my zoom lens and camera out for some fun. Didn't go anywhere special--just wanted to shoot as we did our day. Dan and Izabella took an extra lap around the block, I stayed back to get her coming towards me. I didn't expect her to be so excited to see me. Since I'm with her all the time--I don't get to see the "I missed you Mommy!" excitement Dan gets every week-night. So I took some shots of this happening.

You can see she is waiting for me to drop the camera and greet her! Love these shots.

 There are just hanging out. But they're gorgeous shots of her eyes! 
They melt my heart...every day...all day!

 My baby's toes...

 That tongue!