"Be that as it may, my Father knows best, and I'm confident that He has placed me here; my task is to labor quietly until the pillar cloud removes and leads farther, working out God's purposes in God's time." -Jim Elliot


Good news and bad news

So today we received good news and bad news. We will start with the bad news, as the good far outweighs the bad! The bad news is that the US Consulate cannot issue Selah's visa today, and they are unable to ensure when they will be able to issue it. So in a way, we feel as though we are temporarily yet indefinitely stuck in China. We will definitely keep everyone posted, but please pray for this issue to be resolved. We are officially homesick more than ever, and we want to get home to our boys as soon as possible.

Wren crying tears of joy after watching videos of Selah this past week with us. She is so thankful that her Mei Mei has found a forever family!!!
Now on to the good news! We have been in touch with the adoptive mother of Selah's best friend and big sister "Jie Jie" from her orphanage. Her name is Wren, and her mother expressed interest in allowing the girls to continue a relationship and connection in America! They live near Peoria, Illinois, only about five hours away from us. What a small world! We cannot express the incredible answer to prayer this is! Not only does Selah get to come home to her forever family, but she also gets to maintain a friendship with a sister she has known since she was one year old when she was brought to the orphanage. Wren's mom also said that they maintain connection with her favorite Nanny from the orphanage too, so there will possibly be a way for her to keep in touch with this young lady as well. We are already planning a visit to get these two sisters together. ;) Here is a picture of Selah, Wren, and their Nanny (who is wearing glasses).

Selah, her Nanny, and Wren by a river near their orphanage
Another really neat thing that we were able to receive back in Nanchang was a picture and name of her foster mom who cared for her during her first year of life following her time in the NICU. We are going to be able to write her letters and send pictures through the orphanage to keep in touch with her. One day, we will return to China if Selah wants to see her homeland, visit her orphanage, and meet her foster mom who cared for her during her first months out of the hospital. This is such a huge praise, for we can rest knowing that she is not saying goodbye forever to these important relationships from her past, but we are able to foster those relationships to continue to grow in a different way. What a blessing!

Selah with her foster mom


Zoo, Visas, and a Taste from Home

Today we visited the Guangzhou City Zoo with the four other families that we are traveling alongside. Selah loved seeing the animals there, and this was her first experience at a zoo! We love being a part of her "firsts", she really enjoyed checking out all of the animals! Here are some pics!

Also, we found out today that the Visa database glitch has been fixed, so we will not be delayed in returning home! Yay!!! We are truly celebrating! 3.5 more days in China to go before we board a plan to bring her home. We are ready to see our boys, and for her to meet our loved ones waiting for our return.

Lastly, this afternoon I found some solice during nap time in a taste from home that is right across the street from our hotel. I took time to pray and talk with God about all that has been going on. I also shared some things with Him that have been heavy on my heart in navigating these waters, especially in the area of Selah's trust with mealtimes and that we are going to take care of her needs. I really felt the Lord closely draw me in to say, "I have appointed you to be this little girl's mother. Give her time." I truly walked out of this coffee heaven with a sense of peace and assurance that God's got this. Even when it is hard, He knows and He cares. And He has already written the story to reveal His redemption in the end. But I can truly say from across the world, Starbucks never tasted so good! 


The many moods of Selah

Today we visited a beautiful little island in Guangzhou called Shamian Island. It had fun shops where we could buy little silk Asian dresses for Selah for $5 each. We also ate some American food at a great little diner called Lucy's Cafe. Selah had such a fun time playing in the garden area with the leaves and her doll. As we get to know her heart more and more, we are learning that mealtime and sleeping schedules are incredibly important to her. (Which is very typical for kiddos who have lived in orphanages.) We continue to try to build trust with her to reassure her that we will feed her, care for her, and provide breaks for her to rest and recharge. All of these needs can sometimes feel overwhelming at times to us, because things can change very quickly if she senses that her needs aren't going to be met. We have found this especially while traveling and being on a set schedule that is crucial to getting in needed appointments, and to attend outings that were arranged for all of the traveling families to enjoy. As she gets more and more comfortable with us, we are seeing more of her needs being expressed. This is all a part of the bonding process, as many adoptive families refer to as the "trenches". ;) Sometimes it's pretty, sometimes it's not. Overall, we understand that bonding and attachment will not happen overnight, and that it will take years of building trust with her for a secure healthy expression of needs to be the norm. For now, we are just taking each moment as they come, desiring to show her that she can count on us to meet her needs as much as we are able to. We want her to always know that we care, and that we have compassion for the last several years when her needs were not always attended to. It helps us to keep this in mind when we have tough moments. We were able to capture several pictures of her in the garden today, reflecting several of her moods! She is our delight! Enjoy!

Full belly happy!


The Loss and Gain of Adoption

Selah Grace AnLi's last minutes in Jiangxi Province before boarding the airplane
Getting on a plane and flying from Nanchang to Guangzhou was a pretty emotional experience for me yesterday. As happy as we are to be with AnLi, we also are experiencing a range of conflicting emotions surrounding the loss she has gone through and will continue to go through. As we arrived at the airport, the weight of the truth that we were taking her farther and farther away from her homeland really hit home. I burst into tears when saying goodbye to our wonderful guide, William. He was with us when we met our daughter for the first time, and he will never know how his support and encouragement in our first five days with her really helped us through this transition. If it had been culturally acceptable, I probably would have thrown my arms around him and given him a huge bear hug with lots of tears to thank him for celebrating this beautiful addition to our family alongside us. But I didn't. ;) I just shook his hand and thanked him for all that he did for us during our stay in Nanchang. And then we walked away. It stuck me then how we just said goodbye to her last relationship in her homeland province. It is heavy. I don't think that truth should be an easy pill to swallow. This is not just about our gain in being with our daughter and her gain in having us as parents. But it is about the entirety of the package as a whole. There has also been incredible loss of having everything taken from her...her birth parents, her homeland, her relationships with her foster mom, orphanage nannies, and friends. This is one of the reasons we retained part of her birth name as her middle name, so that she has something that she has held onto from the beginning. Something that hasn't changed. The immensity of what is taking place is not lost on us. To be honest, when we got to Guangzhou last night, the dam of emotions broke, and I was finally able to grieve. She was playing so joyfully and freely in our new hotel room many hours past her bedtime, and I was just overcome with the reality of our gain and yet her birth parents' loss. Selah's gain of us, and yet her loss of everything else other than her name. I watched her play so happily, running around our room like she owned the place, and was amazed at how resilient and adaptable this little person is. All she needs is love to feel secure that this new hotel room is her home. She has learned to find her way through all of these changes with an open heart, and for that, I thank God for doing the miracle work. 
After bath cuddles!
As I laid her down to sleep and kissed her sweet head, I allowed my grief for her to flow. For the first time since coming to China, all the defenses came down within me, and God stepped into the spot in my heart that hurts deeply for her. For her birth mom and dad. For the broken family that for some reason could not stay intact. They took her to a doctor's office to be found when she was born premature. They wanted to give her life, a life they could not provide for her. And yet God had a plan to meet every one of her needs before her life even began. And hence the story unfolds of her adoption. I love her birth mom. I pray for her everyday. As I gaze upon this beautiful little girl I call my own, I am reminded of the truth of what her birth mom is missing. She will never hear these sweet squeals of laughter, see these bright eyes full of wonder. There was a short but real moment tonight when I felt guilty for being able to delight in her when her birth mom cannot. I know that this is all a part of grieving and letting go. Yet there is not one day that goes by that her birth mom does not think of her and miss her. And the same will be for us. We are so thankful for this woman who chose life, and who offered all she could to give Selah the hope she now has. I look forward to the years ahead when Selah and I will go out for a treat on Mother's Day to have a special carved out time to celebrate and pray for her birth mom. She will never be forgotten.

Evening family stroll in Guangzhou
As I embrace this grieving process with our precious daughter, I am also reminded of the hope of the Gospel and the incredible family and friends who await us in her new homeland. Her adopted homeland. There are so many who love her, who knew her before she even meets them, who call her by name, who pray for her. This is the hope she is entering into, and this is how I can rest in the truth of adoption being God's plan and purpose for so many children in this world. He has redemption planned for all of us in this. He is rescuing us. And we receive the greatest gain not in being with our daughter, but in being a part of His plan to redeem her life in extraordinary ways. We are so blessed to have a front row seat to witness His healing work in her little heart. Selah Grace AnLi means to "ponder grace in light of truth". We continue to ponder the grace that has brought us all to Guangzhou today. The grace that has truly been what allows us to stand and not crumble. The grace that calls us by name and says, "You are Mine." This song called "Come As You Are" by Crowder Has spoken hugely to us in light of all that God is doing in the midst of our adoption of Selah. Our favorite line in the song is "Earth knows no sorrow that heaven can't heal." There is hope. If you would like to listen to this song, it is worth the time. Much rest is found in these words. Here is the link: Crowder "Come As You Are" .


Finding Each Other

So God is at work as always. We are finding each other! We have noticed that when we come back to our hotel room and play after a morning outing, Selah's little heart just comes alive. She smiles, plays, and often will play peekaboo with us while following us around. We have even heard some adorable giggles!!! There is a light in her eyes, a pep in her step, and a letting down of her guard that happens when we are back at "home base". When we are out with others, she immediately goes back into her turtle shell. With time, love, and growing in trust, we know that she will show the world her smile too! The last few days have been filled with sightseeing at the Tengwang Pavilion, the Peoples Park, and Porcelain Street. We were able to get Selah a porcelain tea set that will be her special keepsake of what her homeland is famous for in Jiangxi Province. The worker there gave us a free porcelain pot with a picture of a mountain near Pingxiang, her birth city. I was bawling like a baby, and no one was surprised. I think in that moment it hit me that we are taking her as far away from her birth land than we possibly could, and the immense loss (and gain) that is involved with that just really sunk in. Also, I was so deeply touched that this native Chinese women wanted it give this to AnLi for her to have a memory of her roots. She really cared, and that meant the world to us.
I am going to just share many pictures from our adventures this week. We have focused our time on AnLi, getting to know her more and more everyday. It is hard to imagine life before her, even though I know that sounds wild. It's like she has always been here with us.
First apple juice

Tengwang Pavilion 


People's Park