Watching Jenna bloom like a beautiful flower throughout this past year has changed me into a "flower girl."
As I think back to one year ago today, when He Tong was placed into my arms for the very first time in a hot government building in Guangzhou, China, it's as if I was holding a tiny, fragile bud that was afraid to show her beauty to the world.
And today, one year later, it's amazing to see the difference a year makes.
Putting into words all the emotions filling my heart on this special one year anniversary isn't easy. I've spent some time reflecting on our time in China and memories from this year. I also continue to think about Jenna's birthparents and hope they somehow know their daughter is thriving.
In this blog over the past year, I've tried to capture some of the highlights of our family and the newest flower added to our garden. Yet as I reviewed what I'd already written, all of those words don't fully express the significance of today.
So when I recently came across this quote, it seemed to state in a few words what my heart is feeling.
When a gardener places bulbs into the ground, she has hope that they will grow and bloom into beautiful flowers. While this requires work on her part, watering the bulbs and tending to the soil, God is the one that makes the flowers bloom. He is the giver of HOPE.
And I've witnessed this fact over the past year in our family garden.
Jenna has bloomed into such a sweet, fragrant, beautiful flower. There are times I look at her and I'm simply overcome with emotion--gratitude, joy, and praise, just to name a few. She has conquered so many fears, experienced so many new things, and embraced each day with spunk, laughter, and joy. As I've said before, I truly feel like I've been part of a miracle.
But Jenna isn't the only flower that has bloomed this year. We are the Preston Party of Six, and there are five other flower blooms in this garden.
Andrew became a big brother for the first time one year ago. In some ways I've noticed that this has rocked his world...he's no longer the baby of the family and that's a big change. But my little bubbalicious has bloomed into a caring playmate for his younger sister and it brings a smile to my heart to see him embracing his new role with joy.
Shelby fell in love with her new sister from day one in China, but she has continued to bloom into such a caring, generous, loving big sister. I am blessed to have a younger sister who is also my best friend, and I pray that Shelby and Jenna will be like that throughout their lives.
Nathan has blown me out of the water with his love for Jenna. The "thinker" of the family, Nathan knew that adding another flower to our garden would create a lot of change...and he was right! But one of the greatest of these changes has been in Nathan himself...he absolutely loves his little sis and she adores him.
Jason has grown into his role as a father of four with grace, patience, and perseverance. The first few months with Jenna were tough, there's no doubt about it. She didn't like him and his heart was broken. But over time, God worked in Jenna's little heart to trust her daddy more...and God worked on Jason's heart to trust his Father more. The result? A bloom that is only going to get more beautiful over the years.
I'm not going to be the one to judge the beauty or growth of my bloom in our family garden. However, I will say that I continue to learn every day my utter dependence on the Lord and I am constantly amazed by His grace. I don't deserve to have such a wonderful husband and four amazing children, but for some reason, He has granted me these blessings and I am so very thankful.