I hope this won't get too long winded.... I knew this would be a journey of the soul and I also knew this journey was not just for us but for others to be encouraged in their faith.... so I KNEW there would be hard & teachable moments. Now that I've had my own time to process a recent "moment" I can share it with you.
When the birthday photos came last week, all I can say is that Derek and I both had a pit in our stomachs. I shared the cute ones from the beginning of the celebration, but from there the situation somewhat deteriorated. As the photos go on, Mei Sims looks very detached from all that is going on around her, is staring intently at a piece of candy in her hand, holding her arms in a very awkward position and then sobbing. It doesn't help that she progressively has more and more cake on her face. I'm sure she was wondering what the heck was going on. I spent most of the day in tears.... not a small trickle but as if a dam had been broken. And I couldn't stop. To be clear, I wasn't questioning if she was our child (that has been made abundantly clear to us) but was feeling helpless.... like something is wrong with my child, I can't go get her and make it right, and just scared. I felt gripped by fear and sadness.
God used this to shed light on a bigger issue I was having. I seriously had checked my e-mail no less than 5,000 times looking for the birthday photos. Keep in mind she was 8 months old in the referral photos and we hadn't seen her since. Part of me thought, she'd have pigtails, bows, a smile and be holding a sign that said "Hi Mommy" as unrealistic as I knew that was. I had put so much hope in what these photos would "do" for me and then they failed. They left me feeling scared and worried.
Part of me wanted to run the other way screaming in fear and wondering "what are we even doing adopting??" ... but in the car that day, God directed my thoughts to how HE should want to do the same thing when he truly sees me for what I am but PRAISE THE LORD that He doesn't! He continues to pursue me even when the way I am has to be unsettling to him to say the least. I think adoption is so at the heart of God and it really is a battle for our children that satan would love nothing more than to destroy. I feel more resolved to kind of dig my heels in and say NO to the darts that satan tries to throw at me.... the fear, the anxiety and the unknown... and to stand firm with the Lord & in His word in this pursuit of our little girl.
It was interesting that once I got out from beneath a cloud of fear, I looked at the same pictures that scared me and now thought they are adorable. Amazing how your perspective can change when the circumstances don't.
I was in my car that night, going to get dinner when God totally ministered to me through a song on the radio.... reminding me that my hope cannot be in an updated photo or updated information on how our daughter is doing.... my hope must be in God alone. Here are some of the lyrics to the song by Aaron Shust:
I meet with you and my soul sings out
As your word throws doubt far away
I sing to You and my hear cries
Father, You're near!
My hope is in You, Lord
All the day long
I won't be shaken by drought or storm
A peace that passes understanding is my song
And I sing
My hope is in You, Lord
I wait for You and my soul finds rest
In my selfishness, You show me grace
I worship You and my heart cries
Father You're here!
(A funny aside, when the song ended, I heard "meow" and realized my cat was in the car with me on Highway 31! Glad to have a laugh after all my tears!)
I also saw the value of friends who will speak His truth to you when you really need to hear it. My friend Tricia (who also has a daughter in China) pointed me to an awesome passage in Hosea 2 that says "And behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. I will make the valley of achor (valley of trouble/suffering) a door of hope." She reminded me that in spite of any suffering or hardship our girls are going through... even now, God is opening that door of Hope for them...
God calmed my heart in a way that only He can do. The next day, I was able to speak with our international doctor who further calmed me by saying the photos do not scare her in the least...
but they look like a typical chinese orphan who is showing signs of anxiety/ depression as she tries to cope with a new situation (i.e. the cake, candles and attention). And yes, I feel bad for putting her in that situation but have already seen God bring so much good from it.
He has used it to prepare us for what we might see when we take her away from all that she has known. We know now what her "I'm shutting down" looks is like and I think it won't scare us as badly now. (Think being the key word.... I'm sure we will have more freak out moments! :) ) It also concerned my social worker enough to request more photos and video and a written update so that we can be prepared as possible when we go to get her.
I have no clue why but they went above and beyond to honor her request! Mei Sims actually got a mini vacation and got to travel 3 hours away to the city where we will meet her and she got to hang out with Lifeline's employee over there (Rebecca-- who will be our guide
when we go)! I have never heard of this happening before?!? We woke up Thanksgiving morning to a message from my social worker to call her..... she had 16 photos and 3 videos of our little girl!
When you put these photos beside the old ones, it is like a different child even though they were taken a week apart. She seems so happy to be chillin' in a hotel room with just her and a nanny. Any fears we had about her are totally wiped out. What a blessing!
Another cool thing is that now when we get her, it won't be the first time she has left the orphanage or been on a bus.... she got to experience that all last week. I've gotta think that will help somehow when we come to get her.
If we hadn't gotten the disturbing photos, we would have never gotten this flood of precious treasures and learned something in the process.... I guess I needed a gently nudging from the Lord to remember where my hope must be placed and to be reminded that He delights in blessing his children.
So, the update basically says she is a happy camper who is very curious, crawls fast, loves music and is walking with assistance (the dislocated hip isn't slowing her down!) Click the link below for the video and the password is waltchak2 (not a typo, spell our name wrong)