Preston Party of Six

Preston Party of Six

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tarzan and Adoption

Tonight while reading Disney's Tarzan to Andrew before bedtime, a few sentences in this classic book caught my attention like never before. 

When the gorilla Kala finds the abandoned baby boy, the book says, "The baby needed her, and she needed him."  Later in the story, Tarzan (given that name by his adoptive mother, Kala) asks his mother, "Why am I different [from gorillas]?"  Kala replied, "You're not different."  She put Tarzan's hand to his heart, and his ear to her chest.  Tarzan felt their hearts beat together.  "See?"  Kala said, smiling.  "Exactly the same." 

By no means do I believe that gorillas and humans are "exactly the same."  My Heavenly Father created animals and humans very differently, and I have a relationship with Him unlike any animal could ever have.  However, what struck me when reading this book tonight was the fact that our daughter in China is going to look "different" from her family throughout her life, and there will more than likely be times when she even feels very "different."  But just as Kala knew the baby boy needed her and she needed him, we feel the same way about He Tong...she needs a forever family and we need her in our family. 

I've been asked "why adopt when you have such a great family already?"  My heart breaks for people that have this mindset because they miss the essence of adoption.  God adopts each of us into His family because He longs to be in relationship with is His CHOICE.  In like manner, we are CHOOSING to adopt He Tong into our family (that is by no means perfect!) to love her, nurture her, teach her, and share the love of Jesus with her because of what the Lord has done for us! 

I know that Kala didn't bring Tarzan into her family of gorillas for these reasons, but it is amazing how a children's story can shed light on the spirit of adoption that beats so strongly in my heart...and God's heart!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Be still my waiting heart

I recently saw this quote by Pastor Charles Stanley, and although our precious daughter in China is not an "object," I can relate to what Pastor Stanley is saying here VERY MUCH.  Today marks day 50 in the wait for our Letter of Approval (LOA) from China.  In essence, we are waiting for China's final approval to adopt He Tong so she can become Jenna Jean Preston and part of our family. 

We were told that waiting for LOA can take up to 90 or even 120 days, but sometimes LOAs come quicker and sometimes they come slower.  There is no rhyme or reason as to when LOAs come to families waiting to bring their babies home.  And I'll be honest in saying this wait is SOOOOOO VERY HARD!  Every time my phone rings, I hope it is our adoption agency saying "Your LOA is here!"  As the days go by without that phone call, my heart aches all the more.  Knowing who our daughter is and not being able to get on a plane to bring her home goes against every fiber in my body.  BUT....I must continue to trust my Heavenly Father, who has Jenna in the palm of His hands, and I must trust that the process to bring her home is also in His perfect timing.

So in this difficult and emotional time of waiting, the Lord is teaching me many things.  One thing I am learning is the importance of resting in the love of my Heavenly Father.  On Mother's Day, we went to Passion City Church and heard Christy Nockels share an amazing talk focused on motherhood.  I think I cried the majority of her time speaking and singing!  But one thing in particular that she said really penetrated my heart: 

"One of the greatest things we can do for our children is to live knowing we are loved."
If there is one "thorn in my flesh" (oh how I wish there were only one!), it is my struggle to be wait let my Heavenly Father lavish His love and grace and blessings on me.  I am a list maker, a do-er, a get-it-done type of for me to "live knowing [I] am loved" is to allow myself to rest, especially during this time of waiting.  It's much easier to keep my mind and body BUSY because then I have less time and energy to think about Jenna and how difficult this waiting really is. 
However, when I learn to "Be still, and know that He is God" (Psalm 46:10), I am able to focus my thoughts, prayers, and "busy-ness" on Him and how much He loves me.  And in loving me, I know He is also loving and caring for my daughter that I cannot be with yet.
So as we wait for LOA and then all the paperwork that comes after that and then the wait to get approval to travel to China, I will strive to rest (quite an oxymoron!) and show my children, all four of them, that I am loved by my Heavenly Father.  And hopefully as I learn to be loved, they will catch a glimpse of the love God has for them!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Mother's Day Like None Other

Mother's Day 2013 has come and gone, but my reflections and thoughts about this special day are still in the forefront of my mind.  The day was FULL of emotion--tears, joy, laughter, more tears, more joy, and more laughter.  I woke to my precious Shelby with arms wide open wanting to hug me while whispering, "Happy Mother's Day" into my ear.  Then the boys, Nathan and Andrew, came into our room and also hugged me and said those three sweet words.  But while hugging and cuddling in bed with my three precious children, tears welled up in my eyes...tears of thankfulness and joy for the HUGE blessings they are to me and how MUCH I love them; and tears of sadness as I miss my own mom so very much and I also miss our daughter, their sister, Jenna, who isn't with us yet.  The children asked about my tears and I explained this to them...and throughout the day there was more explaining about my tears, as they came often. 

I truly believe it is important for my children to see me cry--to let them know that I miss my mom, I miss our daughter/their sister in China, and that this Mother's Day is like none other I've ever experienced before.  Never before have I had a Mother's Day without my mom.  Never before have I longed to hug and kiss another precious child that is thousands of miles away.  And never before have I pondered what our Jenna's birthmother must be going through 2+ years after giving birth to a baby girl that needed medical help.  I don't know her story, and I may never know many details, but I do know that I am so VERY thankful that she chose life!  I am so VERY thankful that she had the courage to entrust others to care for her sick baby girl when perhaps she felt like she couldn't.  And I am SO VERY THANKFUL that the Lord has blessed our family with the opportunity to love for this precious girl forever!

I will always remember my amazing mom on Mother's Day (and everyday) and miss her with my whole being.  I will always remember Jenna's birthmother on Mother's Day (and every day) and be thankful that she chose life!

But with all of this in mind, there is a never again in this story, too.  Never again will I have three children to embrace on Mother's Day.  As much as I LONG to have Jenna home with our family, I am also reminded that our family is about to change big time...we are going from a party of five to a party of six!  The wait to bring Jenna home is downright HARD, but one of the greatest lessons I'm learning from those that have gone before me in the adoption journey and from professionals with Lifeline, our adoption agency, is to cherish time with the children God has given me TODAY.  I was reminded of this while watching Nathan, Shelby, and Andrew play in a creek near downtown Atlanta on Mother's Day, and today, three days later, I was reminded of this as we played hide-and-seek in the backyard.  Cherish the moments!!!

Jenna...the Lord is using our journey to you to teach me so many things.  I cannot wait to see you, hug you, and one day hear YOU say, "Happy Mother's Day!"

It's amazing how much you can learn on a single day, a day like none other!

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  Psalm 90:12 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day 2013: My Conflicted Heart

This is the first year that I've struggled with looking forward to Mother's Day.  For as long as I can remember, Mother's Day was a time to celebrate my amazing mom.  And for the past 8+ years, I have been blessed with being a mom and Mother's Day has been a day to reflect on the blessing of both my children AND my mom.  But for the first time ever, this year I don't have my mom with me and my heart is aching.  And on top of that, for the first time ever, this year I don't have one of my children with me.  Jenna is on the opposite side of the world and my heart aches to have her here with me. 

As much as my heart is longing to be with my daughter in China and to see give my precious mom one more hug, I am reminded in Psalm 118:24 that "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." I have so many blessings and reasons to rejoice in THIS day.  God has blessed me with an amazing husband who loves me with the love of Christ.  God has blessed me with three precious biological children that make me laugh and teach me more about the love of Jesus every day.  God has blessed us with the opportunity to welcome another child into our home.  God has blessed me with an amazing family that loves me unconditionally.  God has blessed me with awesome friends who love me and speak truth into my life.  And most of all, God has blessed me with the joy of His salvation! 

Mom, I miss you more than words can express.  As much as I rejoice in the fact that you are healed and whole in heaven, I long to give you one more hug, have one more conversation, and watch you play with my children.  I love you, miss you, and am so thankful for you!

Jenna, I cannot wait to have you in my arms.  As hard as it is to wait, I continue to trust that God is holding you in His arms and trust His perfect timing for when you will be with us. 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the many blessings in my life.  I am so thankful for the joys and challenges of motherhood.  Thank You for knowing my heart and that I can entrust my feelings, as raw as they are, to You.  No matter the language spoken, You are LOVE, and in You alone I can rejoice. AMEN.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Anticipation Builds

Dear Jenna,

It's late on May 1st and you turned 27 months today!  As I look at the picture of you on our family room wall and on my phone, I can only imagine what you're doing, how you're feeling, and if you're being well cared for.  I cannot wait to have you in my arms and hold you...hopefully soon after you turn 30 months that will happen.  I'm trying to trust the Lord each day, and I know you're worth the wait! 

Today is also significant because a precious family who is also adopting with Lifeline is headed to China today to meet their two children, and packed in their suitcases is a care package for YOU and your nannies!  It's still hard for me to believe that we have the opportunity to give you things, and it thrills me to no end knowing that hopefully in a matter of days you will have the family photo album that your big sister and I put together for you.  I cannot even imagine what your little mind will be thinking when you see pictures of us, for we are complete strangers to you and you have no idea that we are so excited to have you in our family!  So my prayer tonight is that your heart will be joyful when you see these pictures of us staring back at you...I pray that you will enjoy the toys, clothes, socks, and lovey I sent you...I pray that your nannies will enjoy their jewelry and lotion as a small token of our appreciation of their care for you...and I pray that your nannies will lovingly and gently rub your skin with the lotions we sent for you.  More than anything, though, I pray the Lord is preparing your heart, mind, and spirit to be in our family.  The closer we get to having you in our arms, the more I realize what a HUGE transition this will be for you, so I continue to entrust your tender heart and spirit to the Lord.  I pray that your daddy and I will know how to love you in the ways you need us to love you.  I pray that your big brothers and big sister will shower you with much love and laughter.  And I do I pray that you will be with us SOON!

Love always,