Preston Party of Six

Preston Party of Six

Friday, June 26, 2015

Her Eyes Tell the Story

Six months after train T803 arrived in Hong Kong “delivering” me from my week in Guangzhou to the airport where I departed for the journey back to America, I carried considerable heartache and pain caused by the rejection of our new daughter, Jenna.  However, through that pain God ushered in a new discovery in my heart…and with that discovery came hope.  Hope in a love that never gives up on me and hope that one day Jenna would understand my love which would never give up on her.  Little did I realize how this hope would be tested back on American soil.

In the months that followed our return from China, instead of hope I felt hopeless.  While I took pleasure in watching how well Jenna bonded with my wife Kelly and our three biological children, it’s something I had to do from a distance.  Jenna would never allow me to get close…physically or emotionally.  Whenever I would get close, she would run.  I tried everything, but nothing worked. My overtures were met with rejection.  Her eyes told the story…they always have.  Even in the first pictures we received from the orphanage they told a story of sadness and abandonment…even at an age too young to know…she knew…something wasn’t right…it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be.  Those eyes continued to tell the story back in America.  They were always moving, always perceiving.  She picked up on any nuance or change in routine…especially that of Kelly.  She could pick up on the slightest indication that Kelly might be leaving to run errands or whatever the moment needed.  I’ve never been around a child with such a deep level of perception.  I often wonder if this is seeded in her fear of being abandoned again.  Either way it was clear that the thought of being left with me was equated to abandonment.  On one occasion, Kelly left and Jenna would not stop freaking out!  I basically followed her around for what seemed like hours (probably more like 30 minutes) as she went inside and out screaming “mama, mama, mama”.  At one point she was literally yelling into the field behind our house like Kelly had just decided to take a walk in the meadow.
Not only did those eyes have a keen “eye” on Kelly…they had a keen eye on me!  Every time I walked into the room she would immediately look to see who could save her.  She would sometimes sit on the counter while Kelly was fixing supper.  If I came in the kitchen she would scoot as close to Kelly possible in the event I tried to get close.  Every move she made was like a dagger in my heart…a heart that had so much love for her.  All I wanted was to wrap my arms around her and tell her how much her daddy loved her.
And then one day it happened...instead of eyes of fear she had the eyes of realization.  It’s a moment I will cherish the rest of my life.  It’s the moment I’ll cry about on her wedding day.  I was walking home from the gym (just a few blocks from our house).  As I approached our house I see that Kelly and Jenna are playing in the front yard.  As Jenna turns to see who mommy is greeting I brace my heart for yet another rejection.  Instead…her eyes tell a different story.  They were eyes that realized I wasn’t going anywhere…that I was always there…that my overtures for her love would never end.  And with that realization she ran…and for the first time it wasn’t away from me…it was too me.  With total abandonment she lifted both arms up in the air and jumped into my arms.  I was too shocked to cry but I cherished the full wrap-around kind of hug that I was receiving.  It only lasted a few moments but they were moments I’ll never forget.  So just as train T803 arrived in Hong Kong carrying a new heart in me, Jenna arrived in my arms carrying a new heart of her own.  A heart that knew she had a forever daddy.
As I embraced the significance of that hug in the days that followed I once again start to see the picture…the picture of God’s love.  It’s an enduring love that never ends or gives up on me.  Despite my eyes turning away from Him, despite me running from Him, despite me rejecting His overtures of love for me, He never stops pursuing me.  He doesn’t care that I’ve rejected him over and over again in my sin…He is constantly pursuing my heart.  As I press into what God’s teaching me I realize the real lesson is this…just like I would no more reject Jenna when she finally ran to me would Jesus reject me when I finally run to Him!  In fact, it’s like the prodigal son’s father in Luke 15…He runs to me with open arms!  And with total abandonment I raise my arms to be held and accepted by my Father…and He cherishes the embrace. 
While Jenna still prefers “mommy,” our relationship has grown and flourished.  Has it been perfect?  No, but neither is my relationship with my heavenly Father.  Despite those imperfections she has grown to know that my love for her will never end.  She recently said in her broken English, “Daddy, you my daddy fo-ever”…And so I am Jenna, and so is He.
This whole experience has reminded of the verse in I Corinthians 13 which talks about faith, hope, and love.  My faith called me to the journey of adoption, hope helped me endure its hardships, but ultimately it was love that won the day. 
I love you, Jenna Jean Preston!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Amazing RACE

It's been a while since I've had time to sit down to write, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to share what's been on my heart since the 3rd Annual RACE for the Orphans took place almost a month ago. 

Leading up to RACE day on May 9th, I have to confess that I was nervous about several things...would the weather be good?  would we have enough volunteers?  will we have enough sponsorship money to cover our costs?  will we have a lot of runners and walkers so more money can go to the RACE grant fund?  And on and on and on my concerns went...

Thankfully I have an amazing husband who doesn't worry as much about things.  He kept reminding me that God is in this RACE and He will provide.

And you know what? 

That is EXACTLY what happened! 

In fact, God did more than just provide...He did what only He can do and provided more than I could've ever asked or imagined, just like He promises in Ephesians 3:20...

In my eyes, this truly was the amazing RACE...much better than the hit show on CBS!

God showed up BIG TIME!
  • The weather was great.
  • We had plenty of amazing volunteers.
  • Corporate sponsorship more than doubled from last year's RACE, so all expenses were covered.
  • This was by far the biggest RACE with more than 450 adults and children running and walking to show their support for children in need of forever families.

Due to this great turnout as well as overwhelming support from corporate sponsors and individuals, RACE for the Orphans was able to give $19,500 in grant money to the Williams and Jordan families. 

I was brought to tears several times on RACE day...

Watching our little Jenna run her heart out in the "Tot Trot" race was absolutely awesome. 

Seeing countless hands raised in the air when Jason asked at the start of the race, "If you've been adopted or have adopted a child, please raise your hand" was pure joy.

Seeing Wade and Brooke Williams hold their precious baby girl, Olive, who was once in need of a forever family, was priceless.

Watching Mark and Tiffany Jordan run and walk with their "Mia's Minions" Team in honor of their sweet daughter waiting for them in China was amazing.

Hearing John Waller share his family's inspirational adoption story through songs like "Crazy Faith" and "Orphan" was powerful. 

Watching hundreds of runners and walkers make their way around the Fairgrounds on a beautiful May morning when they could've been doing countless other things was absolutely B-E-A-UTIFUL!!!

God taught me several things from this year's RACE, though I admit I still need to work on not worrying about all the details so much.  But one thing I realized more than ever is this truth: when our passions and desires are aligned with God's passions and desires, He will be glorified! 

I absolutely love organizing and directing the RACE (alongside my amazing partner, Jason).  I love watching adoptive families get blessed by the outpouring of support from the community.  I love watching people run and walk to help bring children home to their forever families.  I love seeing people accomplish their goal of finishing their first 5K for such a worthy cause.  I love hearing people share how their hearts have become open to adopt a child and/or more aware of the needs of orphans around the world.  I love seeing God glorified in all of these ways.   

All of this love is from an overflow of my passion for the Lord, adoption, and running.

Our Heavenly Father is crazy in love with His children.  He chooses to adopt us into His family and runs with open arms to lavish His grace on us. 

Simply amazing!