Saturday, June 22, 2013

Four Months with Anna Faith and Four Big Lessons

Lessons, oh so many lessons.  Who would think that adding one little person to your family of five would teach you so much?!  I don't have much time to sit back and reflect on what the last four months has done to my heart but will use this opportunity to write a few out.

1: I am so blessed.  When I look at blog posts about children who come home from China with their families and die shortly after due to their medical special need (two in the last month), when I find myself praying for miracles in the lives of two others who have had major heart surgeries in the last week (read one amazing girl's story here: http://ourplacecalledhome.blogspot.com ), when I hear stories of children who aren't adjusting or bonding to their parents after months of stress and tears, I look at my little 22 month old daughter who wakes up from every nap and night's sleep with a big smile, greeting me with a "Hi ya' " I realize how blessed I am.  God knows what each family can handle.  He knows how big or small our faith is, and how much burden we can carry.  He gave us an "easy" little girl because He knows best.  He knows that Kris works 70-100+ hours a week and I need to teach my older children every day while watching the younger ones.  He knows that my boys are in a stage where they are struggling to find their spots in the world among siblings and peers and often need discipline and training.  He knows our heart's desire to fill up this house with even more children and one day see all of them be lights for Jesus wherever He sends them.  He knows.  And He provides and blesses.

Father's Day
2:  Forgiveness is ever so powerful.  The day before we flew to China in February to get our daughter, a tragedy happened in our lives.  Our world fell apart when, with no warning, our church was devastated due to sin in our leadership.  The night before flying out we weren't sitting up with excitement over driving to the airport, but we were instead praying and pleading for God's help and peace for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who we felt we were leaving in their darkest hour.  Anna Faith's arrival home was a glimmer of joy for all those in our church body who had been praying for her.  Along with this heartbreaking time,  there were people we love who remained unsupportive and silent when Anna Faith came home.  Every instance we came in contact with them, they pretended she didn't exist.  It hurt deeply each time and I became angry and bitterness began to set in.  I knew that Satan was trying to steal my joy and destroy me from the inside out.  Since those first days I have found that forgiveness is so hard, but ever so powerful in destroying the cold pain of hurt in my heart.  Loving through service and encouragement heals deep wounds.  I may never see these individuals change their hearts and seek retribution but God has healed and restored me.

Playing in the sandbox
3.  Stuff can wait.  Children grow up.  Making memories with my kids while they are young is becoming even more important now that Anna Faith is with us.  I want to take them to the library, take them to the pool, take them to church events, read to them in bed every night, bring them to choir practice, go to the park, and swing them in the swing or jump in the kiddie pool or hammock with them, even if a meal isn't cooked on time, the laundry doesn't get put up, or I don't get a project done.  Reading several books I've been wanting to get my hands on, having friends over for dinner, leading a Bible study, singing in the choir again, watching movies recorded on our DVR, they are all on the back burner these days.  When we spend time together, I am investing in something so much more important.  They are my highest calling at this point in my life and I will never be able to take these days back.

Vacuuming like Mommy.  This has cured her fear of vacuum cleaners!
4. God will reward the sacrifice.
A: Homeschooling.  It's exhausting, draining, and gives me headaches some days.  I've heard my kids tell me some days that they hate school.  They sometimes get on each others nerves so much I wonder if they will kill each other.  Yet when I see their eyes light up when we do a fun project for history,  when they learn to bake, plant flowers, tend a garden, or repair something for me, when their reading improves and they hit a milestone and we rejoice together, when they recall a Biblical truth all by themselves and I want to hug them and do a happy dance, all these little triumphs would not happen if it weren't for home education.  It is so hard, yet so worth the sacrifice.
B: Giving up our winters overseas.  When we returned from the mission field in 2006, I longed to go back almost immediately.  One winter in Paraguay, three in Canada working with internationals, and two in China pursued.  When we decided to start the adoption process, choosing to begin with one girl from China, Kris told me there was no way we could continue to spend our winters overseas with four or more young children.  Logistically it is nearly impossible to temporarily house and get local transportation for so many children and effectively minister at the same time.  Financially, we would have a greater burden as well with more airline tickets and living expenses.  As much as my heart yearned to stay overseas and share Jesus with those who have never heard, I knew what we had to do.  We were receiving a greater calling to bring the mission field to us, to be a part of our family.  We had to obey the call.  I keep trying to figure out "is there any way we can have both?" but have not found a way yet.  It may never come.  Our season of winters overseas may be over indefinitely, just like our season of being full time workers on the mission field.  We just don't know.  But sacrificing these extended trips with our entire family has brought and will continue to reap rewards.  My heart years to be with my former co-laborers around the world, especially when I hear of the needs and reports from them.  But God has a season for us right now and if I don't submit to that and see the blessings and rewards of being planted here, I will miss out on the opportunities He has placed in front of me to do short term trips (one week a year), minister in my church and community, and tend to the mission field that is under my roof!

Eating rice at a Mexican Restaurant.  
Here are a few photos of Anna Faith this month.  She is continuing to grow (finally moving up a half shoe size!) and is learning more words all the time.  She is definitely becoming a Daddy's girl, always wanting to be with him.  She actually prefers going to men than women right now.  We keep counting down to her first surgery on August 12th.  Her nevi are becoming more bothersome now that hot weather has kicked in, and become dry and crusty.  She itches and they become inflamed.  We are getting more used to strangers, especially young children asking abruptly about her spots on her head and face.  It is so normal that our kids answer for me and assure the curious strangers that a doctor WILL take them off.  Despite her nevi, she greets people and waves when we are in public and they are delighted to see such a friendly little girl.  She doesn't realize they stare at her and even whisper after they pass by.  To her they are new friends.  I love her innocence at this age and am glad she will never remember these days before surgeries began.
With Mr. Stevie

With Gran, Kris' grandmother

Giving Daddy kisses


Sitting with her Grandfather at the boys' homeschool promotion