Sunday, March 23, 2014

Week 1 in Guangzhou

Week 1 in Guangzhou was extremely hard. I was so homesick. I am a "planner", but I had not planned the grief I experienced. Being in China was way out of my "comfort zone". Brian and I were really missing Beckett, Cathryn, and John Scott, we were grieving the comforts of home (American food, our small town, routine of simple, every day life), and Dottie was still most of the time unresponsive towards us.... very few smiles, very little eye contact, and she was still acting like a statue.

The days and hours that we thought we could not do this anymore, it was too hard, God would send us encouragement through His Word, new friends met in China, phone calls and texts from family and friends at home. He continually remind us that He planned this, and He was not going to leave us. God showed up everyday in big and small ways.

I was reminded that so many times God pursues me with a relentless love, and I am stoic, I am unresponsive, and I ignore Him. He continues to pursue me and love me unconditionally. While there where moments when I was "done", God is never "done" with me. He never stops loving me despite me often unlovable actions or attitude.

We had some many people loving us and praying for us in the US, and God heard their prayers. We saw a little more of Dottie's personality everyday. We also saw evidence that she was trusting us more and more. Praise be to God! Thank you, God, for answered prayers.

Here are a few pictures from the first week. We had lots of appointments, a few outings.

Dottie's first smile with us. Day 2

A little piece of home we picked up at the grocery.

Playing in the hotel room

One of many appointments.

We saw another smile and got a wave. Hi Y'all!!

Shamian Island

Starbucks at Shamian Island

Dottie and BaBa

Through the hard, we were able to see God so clearly.

I knew that the enemy wanted to kill our confidence, steal our joy, and destroy our relationships with each other and our Savior, but we clung to the promise that God came that we may have more abundantly!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"I just don't feel comfortable"

Sunday night I had a breakdown. It was the middle of the night. I was exhausted, but I could not sleep. I was grieved. I was so homesick. Homesick for Beckett, John Scott, and Cathryn, family, my small hometown, familiar faces, Centeal Standard time zone,  familiar smells (the smells here are
very interesting), familiar food, my routine schedule, my favorite shopping spots (I think Deep South Pout would do great here!), my comfortable life. I grieved because my comforts had been removed. What I realized is that I can so easily trust and rely on my "comforts" instead of the maker/giver of
comfort things. A quote from my favorite 6 year old,"I just don't feel comfortable"
The "familiar things" are not bad, but it's when the good things become what my heart yearns for and
desires above all. When I am in my "comfortable life", I can easily forget how much I need my
Savior...every hour of every day. I've been reminded here, and it's been a good reminder. In my "comfortable life", I am the one who loses because I miss seeing God as a personal God that loves me more that I can imagine. I miss out on truly knowing the names of God...Comforter, Provider, Creator, The Great I Am! He has provided peace when my heart has ached for my kids in MS. He has provided encouragement in the form of a text, email. He has provided Protection. He has provided friends and family to be on this journey with us. He has provided a smile and a laugh from our new daughter! God is all around us, in all the little details. When we don't know the language, not crazy about the food, not distracted with clothing/shopping options, we aren't worried about fitting in...because we obviously don't....there He is, and we can more clearly see Him.
He called our family to China (I must remind you, adoption was never my idea) to pick up Dottie. It has been hard, but He has constantly reminded me that He will never leave me...instead He is very present.

I have loved this song for many months, but the words have come to life over the past few days....
"Oceans" by Hillsong. (The parenthesis are my thoughts on how this song has spoken to me)

You call me out upon the waters.
The great unknown where feet may fail (Adoption, You called us to this)
And there I find You in the mystery. (China...this place is a mystery to me).
In oceans deep (we are in way over our heads, the oceans are very deep)
My faith will stand. I
 will call upon Your name (I have called on Your name, and You are faithful in all circumstances)
And keep my eyes above the waves (I will not look at all the overwhelming situations, I'll keep my eyes on You).
When oceans (discouragement, doubt, fear) rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide (I will put my trust in You because You are in control)
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now (I am weak, unprepared, I'll-equipt, and full of fear, but again, I'm reminded that God never fails, He will never leave me). 
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me (we would not be able to do this without God).
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
(Only you can give me the strength, confidence, love, grace that allows me to walk the path You have planned for me. I have definitely  been pushed deeper:out if my 
comforts: places I would not chose to wander, but in the hard, my faith has been made stronger. In the deep, hard water, I know the Presence of God)

I'm clinging to His promises today!

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8

Sunday, March 9, 2014

And the Adventure Begins...

We went to bed Thursday with stomach full of anticipation. So ready to hold Dottie, trying not to think about the logistics to the to the other side of the world, checking and checking again that nothing has been left, and so sad about having to leave our three precious children in MS.

Pops and JoJo arrived at 7:00 am Friday morning to pick up 3 special people....Beckett, John Scott, and Cathryn.

(Say a special prayer for each one of them.)
Brian and I headed to Atlanta to catch a 4:19 flight. We had a small stop in Birmingham, AL. When we got back on the road, several miles down the road, and we noticed the air pressure in one of the back tires was very very low. Prayed that we could make it to the next exit and that the next exit would have a gas station. Next exit was 1 mile away. We got off and there was a huge car dealership on the right and a gas station on the left! We prayed for what we thought we needed, God gave us what He knew we needed....isn't that the same in life? The car dealership took off the flat tire only to have found a bent inside rim. The kind and quick service man put the donout on the car. Just some air from the gas station was not going to get us very far.....

(New Tire: very small.)

We where both a little
uncomfortable about the limited time we had to get to the airport on the very small tire (did you see the picture of all of our luggage). Made it to the Atlanta airport at 2:00...good, time to spare. So we thought! At the self-check in, my passport could not be read. We stood in another line, the lady at the Delta counter pointed me to another tremendously long line. Brian was checked in, I was in the other line (which was not moving). I think Brian began to panic about going to China alone, he told another kind man the urgency of the was 3:15 and we still had to go through security. Very long story, lots of begging, explaining, running, and sweating. we made it to our gate. Just in time!!!

We flew from Atlanta to LAX, had a 3 hour layover in LA and then a 15 hour flight to Guangzhou.
We arrived I. Guangzhou at 5:30am Sunday morning. Thanks so so so much for your prayers...the flight was not near as bad as anticipated.

We had a car pick us up at the airport and we checked in to our hotel. Brian and I immediately got something to eat.

(Slurping some noodles)

After a shower and a little rest, we decided to walk around and see the city. It's beautiful in such a different way than USA. Guangzhou is a city with 17 million people in it...I was expecting something like NYC, but it's much bigger and very very different.

No hotdogs for sale on the corner....squid!

No thank you!! 😁

Brian and I were exhausted at 3pm. We went back to the hotel and ordered room service. We at at 4:30 and went to bed at 5:00pm. So, now that it's 2am, I'm wide awake blogging.

Thanks for being on this adventure with us. We know you are praying for us...we truly feel covered in prayer! We know that we love and serve a faithful God that hears and answers our prayers.

Challenge: flat tire/busted rim

Celebration: "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19

Gotta get a little more rest!

Tomorrow is GOTCHA DAY!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Time to Travel

Wow! We prayed that we would travel March 7th, and God made it happen despite so many obstacles lately. Tomorrow is the big day...I'm nervous, excited, crazy!! Please pray for our family and the families that will be caring for our babies in MS.

Here are some specific prayer requests:

Emily and Brian:
Safety in travel and in China
Endurance for lots of traveling, a new toddler, and a full schedule
That the "wolves of worry" will stay away.
That we will be able to communicate often.

Beckett, John Scott, Cathryn:
That the "wolves of worry" will stay away
Endurance for their caregivers - it's going to take a village :)
That they will be able to  rest, get along with each other, and no homesickness.

Easy transition
That she will attach well to Brian and me

Also, pray for the reuniting as a family of 6. Pray that our transition will be smooth, and that God will bind each of our hearts together.

Here's a brief schedule:
Atlanta to LAX
LAX to Guangzhou
Arrive in Guangzhou @5:45am Sunday, March 9

Monday, March 10: GOTCHA DAY!!!!
We know this will be a very difficult day for Dottie. She will leave the only place, smells, and faces that she has ever known. While we have been anxiously awaiting to pick her up, she has no idea we are coming. Pray for her heart and her transition.

March 11-March 21:paperwork, medical appointments, consulate appointments, visa appointments, some free time, tour days, ect.

March 21: leave Guangzhou
Guangzhou to LAX
ATL to Tupelo, MS

March 22@11:00am Welcome Home Party (Tupelo Airport)
All family and friends are invited!

I'll try to keep the blog updated while we are gone. Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for all the ways you have supported, encouraged, and traveled this journey with us!

Monday, March 3, 2014


The end of our adoption journey is almost here, but the real journey of attaching and bonding as a family of six will begin. We would love your prayers for the Lord to supernaturally knit all of our hearts together and to ease the transition for Dottie. 

We are very thankful for all the ways so many people have supported our family since we first announced our adoption. I know that lots of people are anxious to get their hands on Dottie....and I don't blame you because she is adorable! However, when we initially bring Dottie into our home, we are going to experience a time of "cocooning." Cocooning is an adoption buzz word, which describes a very intensive care season, in which mom and dad are not only the primary caregivers, but the only ones to hold, feed, change, touch, rock and play with baby. We won't be introducing new people (even family), and we will be simplifying our schedules so we can be at home as much as possible.  We will be keeping her world very small, predictable, and simple. A child's ability to attach to new parents is much more easily accomplished when there's no one else around to bond with. 

From birth, our biological babies have always felt secure and loved because we have been "bonding" with them from the moment they entered the world and even before then throughout pregnancy. Sadly, Dottie hasn't felt this sort of attachment to consistent caregivers so we have to build her trust and help heal little losses in her soul. We know God can restore and redeem the lost time with our baby girl, who we haven't had the privilege of knowing since birth. We are so thankful He sets the lonely in families.

The cocooning process allows the children to understand that mom and dad will meet their needs. It allows the children to be acclimated to the new environment with minimal overstimulation. Dottie won't know what a mom or dad is. This "cocooning" process will be new to us too. We will use this time to teach her what any biological 2 year old already knows- mom and dad love you and will respond to you when you cry and have a need. Dottie is already used to being passed around and 
having multiple people respond to her needs- we need to teach her who we are are and that you can't go to just anyone to have needs met- this will allow for her to set up healthy boundaries for the future.  Developing trust and security is the first building block in a child's social-emotional development.

It may seem harsh to not pass her around, or bring her to church for the first few months, or allow others (even family) to hold and kiss her, but we know that the best interest of our daughter is for her to know that mom and dad are the ones who give affection and care for her most. This season of life will be a hard transition for everyone, but we know this is the best decision for Dottie. We must sacrifice a little time now to allow her to transition to her new world in a healthy way.

How long? Until we are confident that Dottie knows us and is attaching to us, we won't step out of the cocoon. This season of life will not last forever, but it is a process. Brian and I know that although this will be hard, this is the best option for Dottie. 

Thanks you for your patience, understanding, grace, and prayers as we all transition. 

"God sets the lonely in families...."  Psalm 68:6

What's in a name....

Many of you have asked about our baby girl's name. The orphanage named her Shen Li Mei. A friend of ours got her Chinese name translated for us. Her Chinese name means "pretty and charming".  
Her name will be officially changed while we are in China to Dorothy Elizabeth Li Lesley. We will call her "Dottie". 

Dorothy: my paternal grandmother's name was Dorothy, and Brian has a great aunt named Dorothy. 

The meaning of Dorothy: "God's Gift"

Dottie truly is a gift from God. She has been picked out by Him for our family.  

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Elizabeth: my sister's name. My sister and I have a very special bond, and I have prayed that God will knit Dottie and Cathryn together the same way. 

Li: we wanted to keep a small part of her Chinese name. It is part of her history. 

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."      Proverbs 22:1

Friday, February 28, 2014

Going Home

Dorothy Hazel Kemp
August 18, 1924-March 20, 2014

She was a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, mother-in-law, but to me her most special name was "grandmother". What a wonderful grandmother she was....overflowing with joy, a giver, a servant's heart, patient always, a lover of her Savior and her family. 

What a special gift from God is a grandmother. She was 89 years old when she died. We were blessed to have her in our lives for such a long time....although today, it seems like her time with us was much too short.

I had the chance to spend a lot if time with my grandmother her last week with us. She was at the hospital, and Brian held down the fort at home while I spent some precious time with her.  I sat with her, reminisced with othe family members, cried, sang her favorite hymns, held her hand, brushed her hair,  and laughed at the fun memories we would recall.  Even though she didn't speak, at times she would open her eyes or smile. She knew she was cherished.

On Thursday, March 20th, the last family member arrived to see her. Every family member was able to come and see her in the hospital, visit with her, remind her, "I Love You".

On Thursday afternoon, March 20, while I was at the hospital, Brian called me with the exciting news of Travel Approval. I was able to tell my grandmother that her namesake would be coming home very soon!

Thursday evening, March 20th, my precious grandmother met her Savior face to face. It was time for her to go Home.

With a heavy heart, weary, and grief stricken, I read this on Saturday evening after all the services were over:

"Why can't we be allowed days indefinitely? How can God ever expect us to say good-bye to the eyes, ears, hands of those we cherish more than our own?
     Is it because His heart awaits us at Home? Because if we don't say goodbye here, when will we meet Him there?
      Precious in His eyes is the Homecoming of the saints. Psalm 116:15"
from  One Thousand Gifts. by Ann Vosskamp

And a saint she was. What a comforting and exciting reminder that God is rejoicing at her coming Home. Her God given ministry on earth did not end March 20, but continues on in each of her children, her grandchildren, and all those that she touch in her life. We carry on her legacy.