Preston Party of Six

Preston Party of Six

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Gift That Keeps on Giving

This past Wednesday was my birthday and our three children presented me with a special "Momma's Birthday Coupon Book" filled with things such as "Wrap Around Hug," "Cuddle Time," "Do a Drawing," and "Clean Back Porch."  Needless to say, I look forward to cashing in on these special coupons, especially the hugs and cuddles! 

I also received a gift on my birthday that I didn't anticipate receiving.  Jason and I applied for adoption fundraising support from Lifesong for Orphans (, a wonderful non-profit Chrisian ministry dedicated to help meet the needs of orphans around the world...and I found out on my birthday that we were approved! 

What does this mean?  Lifesong has created an account for us by which individuals who want to support our adoption with a financial gift can do so and it will be tax deductible.  We estimate our total cost for adoption fees, document preparation, home study, airfare, travel, and other fees to be approximately $30,000.  While this is certainly money we don’t have, we know God is faithful and is calling us to trust Him.  Through God’s provision we have been able to pay the initial $10,000, but that leaves a balance of $20,000 that we need in order to bring our precious daughter, Jenna Jean, home from China.   

It is hard for us to ask for help (because of our pride), but we also know that many people want to help in our adoption process, and this is one tangible way to support our family...and it is definitely a gift that will keep on giving!   Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on Jenna’s behalf, and will pay adoption expenses out of funds received.

So if you'd like to contribute financially to help bring Jenna home from China, here is the information you need to know:
Please make checks payable to “Lifesong for Orphans.”  In the memo section of your check, please write “Preference: Preston #3393 Adoption"  Mail your check to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Att: Preston/Acct #3393
P.O. Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

If you would prefer to contribute online through Paypal*, you can go to  Under "Gift Preference" you would select "Adoption Funding."  Then under "Adoption Gift Preference" you would select "Family Specific."  Our Family ID Number is 3393 and our Family Name is Preston. 

*Please note that PayPal will charge an administrative fee (2.9% + $0.30 USD per transaction). Your donation will be decreased by the amount of this fee.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you in advance for your support.  But more important to us than any financial gift is the gift of prayer.  Please pray for God to care for Jenna, wherever she is in China, and pray for Jason, Nathan, Shelby, Andrew and I during this time of waiting and preparing for the changes that will come to our family in 2013.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Big Week!

This week has been a big week with more progression towards bringing our daughter from China HOME!!!  As of last night, our home study is fully approved and on its way to Birmingham to Lifeline, our adoption agency.  This 18 page document that tells our life story...the good, the bad, and the ugly...will be submitted along with other documents to the U.S. Center for Immigration Services (USCIS).  After their approval (I am thinking positively!), the home study and several other documents make up our dossier, a collection of documents necessary for international adoption, will be submitted to China in order for us to be approved for adoption.  So although we have many more steps in the process of the Lord uniting us with our daughter, I am elated that as of last night, we are moving one step closer to that glorious day!

Not only was our home study approved this week, but Jason and I made it public this week that we are organizing a race that will serve as a fundraiser to help us bring our daughter from China home.  R.A.C.E. for the Orphans will be Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Coweta County Fairgrounds.  There will be a Tot Trot (ages 4 and under), a 1 mile Run for Fun, and a 5K race.  Walkers are welcome, too!  Not only will the inaugural R.A.C.E. for the Orphans be a fundraiser for our family’s adoption, but our greater goal is to Raise Awareness, Compassion, and Education with regards to the 153 million orphans worldwide in need of a loving, forever family.  Jason and I are very excited about this opportunity and pray the Lord will be glorified through our efforts now and in the coming years, as we would love for R.A.C.E. for the Orphans to become an annual event in our community to help fund adoptions for other children needing a forever family. 

Finally, we are excited to announce that our daughter’s name will be Jenna Jean.  We believe a person’s name is important and should have meaning, and the name Jenna Jean definitely has meaning for Jason and I.  We have always liked the name “Jenna,” but it also has significance to us.  A dear family friend of ours from college is named Jenna and she was adopted as a baby.  She grew up in a wonderful, loving Christian family and once she was married and a mother herself, she embarked on a journey to try to find her birth parents.  Her adoptive parents were fully supportive of Jenna doing this, and not only was Jenna successful at finding her birth parents, but her birth parents and adoptive parents have spent time together over the past several years, enjoying life with their daughter, her husband, and their grandchildren.  To Jason and I, this is a beautiful picture of God’s grace and how He delights in adoption. 

The name “Jean” is also very meaningful because it was my mother’s middle name.  As I sit here writing this in Ohio from the home she lived and died in, I think back to this past summer when I told her about our decision to adopt.  She was so excited for us to welcome a daughter from China into our family.  My mom’s legacy will not only live on in the lives of our three amazing biological children, but also in the life of our precious Chinese daughter that never got to meet her “Mimi,” Linda Jean.

In order to preserve Jenna’s Chinese heritage, we plan to incorporate part of her Chinese name into her American name.  But just as God changed the names of several people in the Bible after a significant encounter with Him (Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul), our prayer is that Jenna’s new American name will be one way that demonstrates her new life.  Ultimately, our prayer for Nathan, Shelby, Andrew, and Jenna is that they will each experience the reality of II Corinthians 5:17, which says “...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  The Lord doesn’t just want to change our name, but our entire life.  Our prayer is that Jenna Jean’s life will be forever changed by becoming our daughter and a daughter of the King!


Friday, November 23, 2012

A Thankful Heart

Yesterday was quite an emotional day for me, for it was the first Thanksgiving without my precious mom here with family to celebrate all of God's blessings.  Although my mom wasn't usually in our home on Thanksgiving Day because she was too sick to travel to Georgia from Ohio, she was still just a phone call hear her voice, to ask her when I should put the turkey in the oven based on its weight, to ask her how much broth to use in her perfected gravy recipe, to hear her talk to our children, and to tell her how very thankful I am for being such an amazing mother and "Mimi."  However, yesterday I wasn't able to do any of that.  I got really emotional as we went around the table with Jason's family sharing things we're thankful for this year.  I have SO MANY things to be thankful for, but at the top of my list for this past year was my mom and the life she lived, the legacy she left behind, and the love she gave to me and to so many others in her 63 years of life.  I miss her so much!  Our sweet daughter, Shelby (6 years old), got quite emotional after seeing me cry.  I tried to comfort her and share with her that Mimi is experiencing God's blessings of joy and peace and healing in heaven.  I gave her this picture of my mom to hold and that seemed to help, and she carried it around with her the rest of the evening.  Life and death and all that happens in between are hard to explain to a child--I have plenty of questions myself!  Yet I have no doubt that Shelby found joy and peace holding that picture of her Mimi that loved her and all ten of her grandchildren so very much!

My mom was so excited about our adoption, and that was most definitely second on my list of things to be thankful for this year.  One year ago, the desire to adopt was deep in my heart yet as I've shared before, Jason wasn't on the same page at that time.  So yesterday, as I looked into my husband's eyes and shared how very thankful I am for us to be walking together on the journey to adopt, tears of joy and thanksgiving flowed from my eyes.  There is still so much waiting to be done and so many unknowns to walk through, yet my heart overflows with thanksgiving at the thought of it all.  I hope and pray that wherever our daughter is in China, the Lord plants a seed in her heart...a seed of peace and joy knowing that there is a family in Newnan, Georgia that can't wait to embrace her and welcome her into our family forever. 

In Colossians 3:15, Paul says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...and be thankful."  I confess it is HARD to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.  I am quite often impatient, anxious, and worried about too many things, including "who and where is our daughter?"  It is a very surreal feeling to know that God has a daughter for us, but I don't yet know who or where she is in the vast land of China.  There are so many unknowns, so much waiting, and so much that is out of our control with adoption.  So for those reasons alone, I am learning more each day to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.  But Paul doesn't stop there...he says to "be thankful."  Be thankful for the unknowns.  Be thankful for the waiting.  Be thankful that I am not in control.  Seriously?  This goes against my human nature!  Yet isn't that what the peace of Christ is all about?  I can only have peace during the unknowns, the waiting, and the uncontrollable things when I am thankful...thankful that Christ is all-knowing, thankful that Christ's timing is best, thankful that Christ is in control. 

A thankful heart indeed!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

He Can Move Mountains

Rocky Mountains
Today I've heard several songs on The Joy FM about how God can move mountains. Then I got a text from Andrea, an International Adoption Specialist with our adoption agency and an amazing woman I consider a friend.  She texted me some song lyrics about the Lord moving mountains.  Obviously, God knew I needed to hear this truth today.  As I wrote in this blog a few days ago, there are so many unknowns in life, including this adoption process.  Yet amidst these unknowns and "mountains" that seem overwhelming and daunting, I've been reminded again today that God can and does move mountains.  I hope these lyrics that speak truth encourage you today, too! 
Mighty To Save by Hillsong
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

One Thing Remains by Jesus Culture

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me

I Have To Believe by Rita Springer
I have to believe
That He sees my darkness
I have to believe
He knows my pain
I have to lift up
My hands to worship
Worship His name

I have to declare
That He is my refuge
I have to deny
That I am alone
I have to lift up
My eyes to the mountain
It's where my help comes from

Oh yeah
He said that He's forever faithful
He said that He's forever true
He said that He can move mountains
If He can move mountains
He can move my mountain
He can move your mountain, too

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Paper Pregnancy

Several of you have asked me where we're at in the long process of international adoption and the answer to that isn't simple.  Several adoption resources refer to the process of getting a son or daughter through adoption as a "paper pregnancy" because there is SO MUCH paperwork that is required...from the beginning application to numerous fingerprintings to writing your life story for the home study to preparing your dossier (a collection of personal documents sent to the foreign country).  Our home study is in the final phases of being completed by our amazing social worker, and last week I mailed all but one of our dossier documents to our adoption agency...the final one will hopefully be completed soon, but it is one that I have no control over the timing of its submission since it is a governmental immigration document. 

So that's my answer to the question of where we're at in the process of adoption...quite a mouthful!

But the key words in that answer are "I have no control."  In essence, that is what I'm learning more and more in this journey and it's NOT an easy lesson to learn, but one that the Lord is constantly trying to teach me because I like to be in control...I like to be organized (as much as possible with three kiddos in the house)...I like to know the plan and if something goes astray from that plan, I feel stressed...I want to know the answers to my questions and feel out of control if I don't have those answers...I have a hard time trusting others to do what I feel capable of doing and I feel anxious if it doesn't get done the way I feel it should get done. 

Can anyone else relate?

I hope I'm not alone! 

But I do know there is good news...GOD IS IN CONTROL!  I believe this with all of my heart, and as much as I often try to yank that control from Him, He lovingly directs me back to the truth that He is in control and He has a perfect plan.  I may not always see that perfect plan, nor will I always "feel" as if He's in control, but I KNOW HE IS BECAUSE I TRUST HIM AND I TRUST HIS WORD!

In Psalm 32:8, the Lord says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you."
Just what I need to hear EVERY DAY!!!

So as we continue on this journey to our daughter in China--through the myriad of documents, appointments, and WAITING--I am reminded each day that life this side of heaven will be filled with ups-and-downs and yet through them all, God is love, God is good, and God is in control!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

National Orphan less more hour

Tomorrow is National Orphan Sunday, a day set aside to specifically remember the 147+ million orphans worldwide.  Christians are called to defend the fatherless (Psalm 82:3), so as Jason and I embark on this journey of adopting an orphan from China into our family, I feel more convicted than ever by this verse.  I realize that not everyone is called to adopt, but all believers of Jesus Christ are commanded to defend the fatherless.  That can take on various forms in addition to may mean being a foster parent; it may mean giving financially to families in the process of adopting; it may mean starting an orphan ministry in your church; or it may mean praying diligently for the 147+ million orphans in need of a forever family.  I am so thankful that one day there will be one less orphan when God brings us our daughter from China!

Tomorrow is also the longest day of the year...don't forget to "fall back" and change your clocks before your head hits the pillow tonight so you can get an extra hour of sleep! As I've thought about having one more hour in the day, my mind can't help but think about my mom and how much I would love to have just one more hour with her!  I miss her so much, but I know she is full of joy and fully healed in the presence of Jesus.  Having "one more hour" reminds me of the importance of relationships...when all is said and done, all that really matters in this life is our relationships--with God and with others. 

Something I found before my mom died that I will cherish forever is a hand written note she did in 2001 while attending a cancer support group I coordinated at my church when Jason and I lived in Birmingham.  I had asked each of the participants to complete acrostics of various words, including LIFE.  My mom wrote:

L--Love is most imporant part of it.
I--I want to make a difference before I leave this place!
F--Family bonds are everything!
E--Eternity with Jesus

My mom "got it"--she understood what mattered most in this life and the life to come.  She knew how to spend all of her hours.  So what does this have to do with orphans?  A lot in my mind!  My mom was the first person I told about our decision to follow God's call to adopt and she was thrilled beyond words.  She knew that every child needs and deserves love.  She knew that Jason and I want to make a difference in all of our children's lives, including our daughter from China.  She knew that every child needs and deserves to be in a loving family forever.  And most importantly, my mom knew that our daughter from China would have an opportunity to hear about the love and salvation found in Jesus Christ, just like our biological children, and hopefully one day spend eternity with Him!

So how will you spend your hours?  Every minute counts!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Let the journey to China begin!

A Chinese legend says that when a child is born there is an invisible red thread that connects him or her to the people who are destined to be part of his or her life.  While we cannot see the thread, over time its effects are seen as people become connected and their lives are interwoven.

We don't believe in legends, but we most certainly believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is calling us to the ministry of adoption, whereby our lives will be interwoven forever with a little girl from China.  This is the story of our family's journey to our new daughter, known only by God at this point in time, but known in our hearts as one we will call our own, for we believe that "God sets the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6).

The journey to our daughter in China started even before we knew it in our finite minds, for God had adoption planned for our family long before we made the decision to adopt.  Yet I will say that it took Jason and I several years to listen and obey the Lord in this calling.  At one point Jason would be ready to adopt and I wouldn't, and the next season I'd be ready to adopt and Jason wouldn't be...and so the story went.  Then towards the end of 2011, I began doing a lot more research on international adoption, agencies, and countries. Jason and I talked and prayed A LOT about whether or not God was leading us to adopt a daughter.  Then on a night I'll never forget, January 19, 2012, Jason sat me down at the dining room table and told me point blank that he was not ready for another child for a variety of reasons.  I was stunned...sad...disappointed...angry.  Yet I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could not force my desires on my husband...if we were going to embrace another child into our family, it would need to be a joint decision that we were both 110% committed to.  So despite my feelings, I "closed the book" on adoption and didn't speak another word to Jason about it, though all the while voicing my heartfelt desires and feelings unto the Lord. 

Fast forward to June 22, 2012.  I was preparing to leave the next morning for the 10+ hour drive with the three kiddos to go see my family in Ohio, including my very sick mom who was presently spending the night in an inpatient hospice unit because she was not stable at home due to the ravages of advanced metastatic salivary gland cancer.  Jason told me we needed to talk and the tone of his voice made me concerned...had he lost his job?  Did we have to move?  Did someone die?  I had no idea what he wanted to talk about!  So we sat down on the sofa, and he told me that he'd been fighting God on something and yet he knew it was something God wanted us to do.  And then he said six of the most beautiful words to my ears:  "I'm ready for kid number four!"  I WAS SPEECHLESS!  I honestly had no idea that this is what he wanted to tell me because I'd put adoption out of my mind, though still heavy on my heart.  We hugged, we cried, we was a beautiful moment as we surrendered to the Lord our hearts, our fears, our plans, our desires, our family, our future.

It is now the end of October, and so much has happened in the last 3+ months.  We have been blessed to work with a WONDERFUL social worker from Lifeline Children's Services (based in our beloved Birmingham, Alabama!) to complete our homestudy...a series of interviews together as a couple, as a family, and as individuals, to help determine our readiness to adopt internationally.  We were fingerprinted numerous times.  We completed countless hours of training--online seminars and reading books and articles on topics ranging from how to deal with prejudice to the attachment and bonding process with an adopted child.  We recently submitted our paperwork for immigration purposes...and will soon be fingerprinted yet again.  And we've paid portions of the overall fees that go towards adoption, which will be nearly $30,000 when all is said and done.  The reason I share this staggering figure on the cost of adoption is three-fold: God is bigger than any amount of money and while this figure seems overwhelming to us at times, we know that our God is greater and what He has called us to do, He will accomplish regardless of the dollar figure attached to it!  Second, our daughter, wherever she is in the vast land of China right now, is worth way more than any amount of money.  God loves her, has a plan for her, and we feel blessed that one day--hopefully soon--we will be united with her and become her forever family!  Third, we are in the process of developing a fundraiser for people that may be interested in partnering financially with us in our adoption journey.  More to come on this in the coming months!!!

We know that the journey ahead with be full of ups-and-downs...that's just how life is!  But we are also confident that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).  We covet your prayers: for our marriage to grow even stronger through this process; for our three precious biological children, Nathan (8), Shelby (6), and Andrew (4) as they prepare to welcome another sibling into our family; for our patience and wisdom as we walk through the coming months of paperwork and waiting for a referral; and for our daughter in China...God knows who and where she is, so we entrust her to Him to nurture her and provide for her.

Let the journey to our daughter in China begin!