Preston Party of Six

Preston Party of Six

Saturday, June 22, 2013

One Big Year

It's so hard for me to believe that today marks one year since we stepped out in faith and said "YES" to adopt a little girl from China.  I'll never forget June 22, 2012.  I was very sad knowing that my mom had to be admitted to the inpatient hospice unit on that day...the cancer that had ravaged her body for so many years was taking its toll.  Yet I was also thankful knowing that I would see her the next day since the kids and I were driving to Ohio for the week. 

Then that night, Jason said we needed to talk.  I thought he lost his job or that we had to move...but what came out of his mouth and heart shocked me!  He proceeded to say that after a lot of wrestling with God, he knew he was ready for kid #4!  After many months of me being quiet and only sharing my heart's desire to adopt with the Lord, I was stunned...and THRILLED!  We cried, laughed, and prayed on June 22, 2012 as we embarked on a journey that we knew the Lord was leading us on...but had no idea what to expect!

One year later, so much has happened!  I'm writing this from the same lake house on Boone Lake in Tennessee that we came to last summer after submitting our application to adopt with Lifeline Children's Services.  Last year while at the lake, I spent some time writing my autobiography and reading about China, both requirements for our home study, as well as looking at the waiting child list on Lifeline's website.  But this year, in addition to enjoying time with my family, I'm looking at pictures of the little girl that we know will one day be in our family and reflecting on all that has happened over the past year.  I've also been thinking about what this coming year will hold as we anticipate welcoming our new daughter, Jenna Jean, into our family.

It's hard to put into words all that has transpired this past year, but I want to capture a few to share with Jenna one day: 

*The most difficult thing for me this year was the death of my mom, Jenna's "Mimi," that she will never meet this side of heaven.  It has been almost nine months since my precious mom went to be with Jesus, but not a day goes by that I don't want to hear her voice, hug her, or send her pictures of her growing grandchildren.  The finality of losing someone so special in my life is still hard for me to wrap my finite mind around, but I am thankful for the many special memories I have with my mom.  I hope that I can keep these memories alive to share with Jenna and her older brothers and sister. 

*The most amazing thing for me this year is how the Lord has changed my heart and the fear I had about whether or not I could love a child that I did not give birth to as much as my biological children.  I can honestly say, without even meeting Jenna yet, that He has given me a love for her that I cannot describe.  I know there will be challenges as we bring Jenna home and become a family of six, but I am so thankful that the fear I had prior to making the decision to adopt is GONE!

*The most important thing for me this year has been cherishing the family of five that we currently are and trying to "live in the moment" more.  As much as I long to have Jenna here with us, this lesson of planning for the future but living for today is one I have needed to learn.  I am a planner, do-er, and list-maker, yet MOST of the things in the adoption process are completely out of my control.  Once I finish all the necessary paperwork with each step in this long process, there is A LOT of waiting.  So in these waiting times, I'm learning to cherish moments with the amazing husband and three biological children the Lord has given me.

*The most joyful thing for me this year has been hearing my children tell me about their excitement to have Jenna home with us.  I fully realize there will be an adjustment period--it may be a LONG adjustment period--but to know that Nathan, Shelby, and Andrew are excited to welcome a precious little girl from China into our home and into their hearts makes MY heart swell with JOY!!! 

*The most rewarding thing for me this year was organizing the inaugural RACE for the Orphans 5K ( for Raising Awareness, Compassion, and Education for Orphans.  This inaugural RACE served as a fundraiser for our adoption and we were overwhelmed by the support with 363 runners and walkers!  It was an awesome experience, and we are excited to be planning the second annual RACE which will be held on May 10, 2014 in order to benefit other local adopting families with their fundraising needs.

*The most humbling and surprising thing for me this year has been all the generous people willing to give of their time, talents, and resources to be part of our adoption journey.  From the 363 runners and walkers at RACE for the Orphans to people donating and buying items at our yard sale to generous donations given on our behalf to Lifesong for Orphans (, we have been SO VERY BLESSED!  The MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group that I have coordinated for seven years threw me a surprise baby shower and provided us with items for Jenna that will be so VERY helpful!  People are praying for us and Jenna as we prepare to become a family of six.  While it isn't always easy to ask for help, I have learned this past year that so MANY people are willing to be part of something bigger than themselves and if we don't allow them to bless us, we are denying them a blessing, too!  By joining hands with our family as we prepare to bring Jenna home, every one of these amazing people will forever be part of her story...and for that I am eternally grateful! 

It truly has been ONE BIG YEAR!!!

But today not only marks one year since we stepped out in faith to is also day 80 in our wait for LOA (Letter of Acceptance) from China.  Several changes in China have slowed down our process (and the process for ALL adoptions), including computer system changes and the U.S. Consulate in China moving locations.  All of these changes impact our lives because they affect when we will be able to bring our sweet Jenna home.  But I'm reminded with each passing day, as hard as it is to wait, that time goes by quickly--this year that has been so meaningful has flown by!  So instead of wishing the days away, I am choosing to cherish each day and what it will bring. 

And ONE DAY, Jenna will be in my arms!!!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Defining Beauty

Over the past few days, since getting updated pictures of our sweet daughter in China, I have been pondering and reflecting on how our society defines beauty.  Beauty is fleeting...what is viewed as beautiful one day is not beautiful the trends come in and go out so culture defines beauty in a particular way while other cultures define beauty very differently. 

So why is this so heavy on my heart right now?  Because I have a daughter in China that by many societal standards may not be viewed as "beautiful."  Some would say that her outer appearance is "flawed" because her skin is dry, leathery, cracked, and peeling due to the genetic condition she was born with over two years ago.  Some would say that she is not beautiful because her appearance is not appealing or attractive to the human eye.

But I am SO VERY THANKFUL that the eyes God has given me are able to see beyond the dry, leathery, cracked, and peeling skin of our daughter.  When I look at my daughter--still only a picture on my computer screen--I feel like I can see straight through her beautiful dark brown eyes into her soul, and she is crying out to be loved.  She is a beautiful creation of our Heavenly Father, and I cannot wait to see her in person, hold her in my arms, and hopefully bring a smile to her face...her beautiful face! 

I believe that true beauty is found on the inside.  I have been teaching this to my three biological children and will certainly be teaching it to Jenna.  My concern is that this truth will be harder for her to believe since she has a visible medical condition that goes against the worldly definition of beauty and that will require lifelong care.  However, my prayer is that the love of Christ and the love of her family will provide Jenna with deep-rooted confidence in who she is as a child of the Most High God!

The saying, "Beauty is only skin deep" now takes on a whole new meaning for me.  Jenna's skin may not be "beautiful" in the worldly sense (hopefully with good medical care, it will become much healthier), but the Lord and I both think she is beautiful no matter what her skin looks like.  And oh how I long to discover all the BEAUTY that is on the inside, behind those amazing eyes and in my sweet girl's heart!  She has gone through more heartache in the first 28 months of her life than I can ever imagine, but God's word promises beauty from ashes.  And this is no worldly beauty!  Our awesome God promises beauty that the world cannot define...and my prayer is that Jenna will find her strength, identity, confidence, and joy in the Lord who created her with an eternal purpose that is beautiful!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Emotional Roller Coaster

Today has been one of those emotional roller coaster days!  This morning I got an unexpected call from my dear friend Andrea with our adoption agency, and I will say that my heart skips a beat every time I see her name/number pop up on my phone!  Much to my surprise and delight, she informed me that she was downloading FIVE PICTURES of our sweet Jenna!!!  The orphanage provided them for us and confirmed that the care package was received, so hopefully our sweet girl has seen pictures of our family in the photo album that I sent. They also stated that they do not think the lotions we sent are helping Jenna's skin, and once I saw the five pictures, I began to wonder myself...'

So I was at the top of the roller coaster, ELATED to be getting updated pictures, and I stayed up there for a few minutes when I saw the first picture...I just wanted to somehow leap through my smart phone and hold that sweet girl in my arms!  But when I saw the second picture--a close up of our sweet girl's face--it was like a punch in the stomach and a quick drop to the bottom of the roller coaster.  Our daughter's face looks worse and her eyes look so sad...and this made me feel so sad, concerned, and virtually HELPLESS!  After scrolling through the other three pictures--her torso looks pretty good but her legs are very dry/scaly--I just prayed and asked the Lord to wrap her in His big hands and bring her to us SOON!

Another rise to the top of the roller coaster came after sharing my conflicting emotions on the phone with Andrea (I cannot tell you how VERY thankful I am for her and the entire Lifeline staff...they truly love Jesus and orphans and do the VERY best they can to show us His love during the journey of adoption).  She helped me realize that my joy, sadness, concern, and helpless feelings are all very normal.  It's SUPER EXCITING to get updated pictures but then reality sets in and the wait to bring her home to shower her with love and the care she needs continues. 

I got to stay on this "high" for a while because I soon received a VERY encouraging e-mail from a fellow adoptive momma who recently brought her daughter home from China with a genetic skin condition very similar to our Jenna's.  This sweet momma shared about their daughter and encouraged me like no one else could, for she's truly "been there, done that."

Like all roller coasters must come to a stop on level ground, I'm reminded as this day is about to end that the highs and lows of this journey will continue.  In fact, they will probably increase as we get closer and closer to traveling to China and bringing our sweet girl home.  Today's ride was hard but helpful for what lies ahead.  We will most certainly be faced with questions, stares, and remarks about our daughter and her very visible "special need."  But as the roller coaster continues throughout each of our lives, I must remember and I must show and tell Jenna that all that truly matters is the love of Jesus Christ--He is our constant, our anchor, our strong tower--and He loves us through all the highs and lows.

Ready to ride!!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Someday...not always an easy word to hear.

Two months ago today we got PA (Provisional Approval) to adopt He Tong, and today marks 62 days of waiting for LOA (Letter of Approval).  These past two months have felt SUPER long.  I know in my mind that every day has 24 hours, but the 1,344 hours since receiving the news of PA has felt more like 10,000!  And to be honest, I feel discouraged today because there is no end in sight for when we may get our LOA.  The Chinese government is making a lot of changes to their computer systems, the U.S. Consulate is moving locations next month, and we were told we may never find out if the care package I put together for Jenna was given to her since we didn't use an official "service" for delivering care packages.  SO MUCH IS OUT OF OUR CONTROL!  The only things I have "control" over are how quickly I complete the necessary paperwork at each step along this process.  Other than that, we are at the mercy of the Chinese government and ultimately, the Lord's perfect timing.  Thankfully, I trust Him and His timing, though my flesh cries out to speed things up!

Someday...not always an easy word to digest.

As I sit in a hotel today in beautiful Southern California on a VERY RARE trip with Jason (he had a business trip out here and it coincided with all three kids being in N.C. with grandparents for the week), I am encouraged to know that SOMEDAY will come!  I've been reading about other families traveling to China to bring their children home and this brings me encouragement that SOMEDAY will come.  There is a light at the end of this long, winding, stressful tunnel and Jenna Jean Preston will be with us SOMEDAY!

Someday...not always an easy word to surrender to the Lord.

Aside from being in "control" of completing the necessary paperwork for each step of this adoption process, I am also in "control" of how much I decide to surrender to the Lord and how much I decide to worry.  There are SO MANY Bible verses that talk about the battle for our mind and how we must CHOOSE to surrender the worries in our mind unto the One who is in complete control.  One in particular comes to mind today:

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you."
Isaiah 26:3
Perfect awesome is that?!?!  But it's only by keeping my mind steadfast on the Lord and trusting in Him that I can achieve perfect peace.  So instead of worrying about the following (just a few concerns weighing heavily on my heart): when our LOA will come, is Jenna being given the lotions I sent in the care package, is Jenna sleeping and eating well, how is Jenna's skin doing, are my biological children ready to have another sibling, am I ready to have a fourth child, and how will Jenna bond and attach to our family...
...I must choose to keep my mind steadfast on the Lord.  It's a simple concept but not easy to do.  My mind is often in overdrive, moving from one thing, one activity, one worry, to the next.  Yet when I slow down enough to hear God's voice, I am reminded that He is with Jenna, He is with our family, and He is the author of all of our SOMEDAYS!