Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Simple Kiss

I am writing tonight because I want to mark a long awaited milestone.  Tonight, for the very first time, Mercy impulsively kissed me.  She has kissed me a thousand times, but not without some sort of prompting.  Whether because I kissed her or because I ask her "can I have a kiss?" or someone else prompting her to "give mommy a kiss."  But tonight she was simply sitting on my lap at the kitchen table and out of the clear blue, no prompting what.so.ever, on her own accord leaned in and planted the sweetest, gentlest kiss right on my cheek.   I don't know if I can even describe what that moment felt like.  It was a wave of emotion.  From shock "did she really just do that?"  to surprise "oh my word she just spontaneously kissed me at her own will!" to overflowing joy because a new victory was won tonight.  It will be 10 months tomorrow that this fragile little girl was hoisted on a plane by two strangers who she barely knew and flown half way around the world to a unfamiliar and foreign land.  Ten months of hard work, hardship, hard times intertwined with easy days, good days and moments like tonight.  Moments where everything stops, including the beat of your heart because it has just skipped a beat as a surge of joy passes through it.  Moments when you remember this kiss from her marks a milestone.  It came with a price.  She let her guard down tonight and allowed her heart to love, spontaneously.  It has taken 10 months of her taking in and testing our love to bring her to a moment where she could lean in a kiss a cheek of someone she is growing to trust and love.  I am so so so thankful I get to be that person!!!!!   Thank you Jesus for a simple kiss, a memory I will cherish for as long as I live.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mercy's First Valentine's Day

We have a few Valentine Day traditions at our house that we couldn't wait to share with Mercy this year. Sure it's a "Hallmark" holiday, totally man made, totally a money-making kind of day.  But it's still a celebration of love, and who doesn't want to celebrate that? 

Making silly faces with her brother, who loves her very much.

Receiving her very first flower from her Daddy.

He is smitten with her!

Pink, heart shaped pancakes made with love by her big sister.

Yum!

Chinese New Year

A little past the day, but wanted to post a few pictures of Mercy celebrating her first Chinese New Year with us.  We attended a luncheon hosted by Living Hope Adoption Agency.  They are the agency that did our home study as well as does our post-adoption follow-up visits and reports.  They had it in a banquet hall with a Chinese buffet and brought in some Chinese Dancers. 

Mercy with her little friend Brynna







Mercy reading a Chinese New Year book from her friend Brynna.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

First Christmas

Mercy's First Christmas 

First Christmas Tree outing


First time seeing Christmas tree lights

First time on a ladder (sorry, couldn't resist making this one public)

First Ornament

First Christmas Tree group photo (notice how happy she is about it)

First time on a sled, very unsure about this

First Snowfall, not a fan
It has been a long standing tradition for many years that we eat Chinese on Christmas Eve.  This is her first time though.  We never knew when we started this tradition that so many years later China would hold such a special place in our hearts.

First Christmas Eve gift (PJ's)

First Christmas Morning wait

First Christmas stocking

First Christmas morning sticky bun.  YUM!!!

First time hearing Jesus birth read from the book of Luke

First present

Just because

First birthday cake for Jesus
And let's not forget her first New Year's Eve!  


What a wonderful Christmas we had this year celebrating our Savior's birth 
and celebrating Mercy's First Christmas with us. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mercy Came Running

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving.  This year we have so much to be thankful for.  The obvious would be that Mercy is here with us to celebrate her very first Thanksgiving with her family.  This year brought so much change to our life, and hers.

While we have so much to be thankful for in regards to all that has happened in 2013, yesterday's celebration brought a few thankful moments of it's own.  Mercy seemed to be much more comfortable around her extended family.  She didn't fuss or cry while visiting at my Aunts house.  This was a first for that.  She let Grandma Jane hold her, her cousin Mark play with her, and she sat on her Uncle Steve's lap and listened to music on his phone.  These are all people who she has been with many times, but this was the first time she let any of them get close to her.  It was nice to see her opening up and letting them into her heart.

The biggest blessing came in the way of Aunt and Uncle's dog Ruby.  Ruby is a gorgeous, sweet, friendly boxer.  Mercy was standing in the doorway of the dining room when she was gently greeted by Ruby's presence.  Mercy turned away from Ruby with a look of fear on her face, a bit of a wimper came out and she ran.  It wasn't a dramatic scene.  She didn't scream or anything.  She just made a sad face, cried a little and ran as fast as her little legs could go.  So where did the blessing come in?  Mercy ran straight for ME!  She ran in my direction and right into my arms where when she got there all the wimpering and the scared face disappeared.  She got scared and she turned ran to mommy for safety and comfort.  My tears swell up just typing it!!!  This is the greatest blessing I could have asked for this Thanksgiving.  She is growing in her trust of us and because of her growing trust she is finding security in our arms.  Mercy is learning that her family is there for her when she needs us.  She is learning that when something doesn't seem right she has someone to lean on.  She is learning that when she is scared Mommy (and Daddy) are here to protect and comfort her.  It's been six months since she came to live with her new family.  Six hard months.  Yesterday some of the hard stuff we have faced was blessed with the fruit of our labor.  We are thanking the Lord for His work in Mercy's life and in ours this Thanksgiving.

Ruby

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mercy's Child Dedication on Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday.  It's one day in the a year where many churches come together to bring awareness to children in need around the world.  It's also a great time for pastors to remind their congregation that we are also orphans, that is until we are adopted by God through Jesus.  "he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."  Ephesians 1:5-6  

Today our church family recognized Orphan Sunday by having a Child Dedication Service.  Three families whose lives have been changed by adoption dedicated a child today, our Mercy being one of them.  Three very different testimonies of how the Lord has brought three different children into three different families.  All with challenges, all beautiful, and all changed for the better.


Last year I wrote a post about Orphan Sunday, you can read about here:  To Jesus Everday Is Orphan Sunday.  Not much has changed since this post.  There is still an orphan crisis.  There are still millions of children living in situations that make them fatherless, without a family, in need of love, in need of Jesus.  And the gospel hasn't changed either.  Today, tomorrow and everyday is Orphan Sunday to Jesus.  

Here is what has changed since last year.  Last year on this exact same Sunday we didn't even know the face of our child.  We were still waiting, praying, dreaming of a future day.  Today that dream is reality.  We not only know her face and her name, but we hold her, we kiss her, we love her on a daily basis.  She is a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin and she is ours.  It was a joy filled day to have her in our arms, up on stage, dedicating her the Lord.  It was a joy to share this with our family, friends and church.  It is a day to celebrate because this little girl that the Lord hand picked just for our family, she is His.  We are just the fortunate and blessed ones that get to love on her and care for every day and teach her about her Heavenly Father who loves her more than we do. 

Scott shared a testimony today.  It's as follows:  

"I’m Scott Miller and I was born in Kansas. I don’t remember that time of my life, and it doesn’t define who I am.  It’s really become just a footnote on the pages of my life – because God had another plan for me.  My family moved back to Pennsylvania where I grew up, eventually met my beautiful wife, and started a family here – with Mercy as our latest addition.  God had a plan for her life too, that was not defined by where it started.


Many people have said to us “what a lucky little girl, or how great of you to rescue this little girl…”, but that characterization is so far from the truth.  I wish I could say we were that noble and fearless and strong, but we’re NOT – we’re just a regular family trying to follow the Lord’s will for us.  And His plans for us just happened to overlap His plans for her.  But make no mistake; He had a plan for her.  A great plan to love her and care for all her needs.  And His plan would not have been thwarted if we had given in to our fears and said no to His voice.  No, He would have taken good care of her without us.  She would have been fine.  But we would have missed it!  We would have missed out on the great privilege of being a part of the Master’s plan, and being a part of Mery’s life!  Our family would not have been all that He intended it to be without her.

This journey began with small steps, each one bringing about new fears.  It challenged our hearts, revealing a lack of trust in God.  Yet God met us in each one of those fears and showed us He is trustworthy.  He didn't beat us down for doubting, He didn't condemn us for having little faith, instead He lead us with grace; gently, faithfully, one baby step at a time.  With every decision and obstacle we faced God guided us.  From the decision to pursue adoption from China, leading us to fundraise for financial support, through processing the endless paperwork, to the night we received our referral.  This was the night we saw Mercy’s face in a picture for the very first time.  We thought we would open her file from our agency and know instantly that she was the one.  But surprisingly, more doubt and fear came.  But once again God was faithful.    Jeremy and Julie took time to sit and listen to our fears and pray with us, the Reinfords, Mellingers and Witters prayed for us and in the end God was faithful to assure us this was the very child He chose to bring into our family.  Then came our trip, where God provided more blessings: airline seats became available on a fully booked flight just when we needed them, Annie and Becky signed up to get us to the airport, the Frank’s to get us home again, Jane’s mom, the Godshalls and the Stehrs stepped in to care for our kids and best of all, in the midst of the chaos, an incredible, unexplainable peace filled our hearts and minds.

The day we met Mercy was one of the most amazing days of our lives.  In the most surreal moment all those fears, all those doubts just faded away at the sight of this little girl.  The one we prayed for, dreamt about, held in our hearts for what felt like forever.  There she was right in front of us, we could finally hold her, kiss her, and touch her.  She wasn't too sure about us, but it didn't matter because we had a determination to win her heart. This first meeting was only the beginning of a new chapter in our story: to earn her trust, teach her what love looks like, and work hard to gain her affection in return.  We could now see a new purpose to our Lord’s process in leading us to this point: as He walked patiently with us, building up our trust, assuring us of His love and erasing our fears and doubts one by one – He was preparing us to do the same for her.  Mercy grieved hard in China.  Our gaining a new daughter came at a very great loss to her.  She was giving up the only life she had ever known, the only people she had ever known, to be with complete strangers who didn't even speak a language she understood.  She was terrified.

Trust and security came slowly – in fact the process is still continuing today.  She has been home five months now and at times she still seems unsure if we’re going to leave her and not come back.  So keep praying for us, that God would continue to build her trust and soften her heart, and give her confidence that she is part of our family forever.  Very much the same as it was with our other kids; it didn’t take long before it was hard to imagine life without her.  Even with all the headaches that a two year old can bring, everything’s washed away with the wave of joy that just one little smile can bring.  Our heavenly Father really does delight in giving us good gifts doesn’t He!

Praise Jesus that when we kept coming to Him with the same fears and concerns, He met us with comfort.  And every time we said “But what if?”, He met us with peace.  And when we demonstrated again and again by our every anxious thought that we just didn’t trust Him enough, He met us with grace.  Thanks to each of you who prayed with us and prayed for us through those hard days of doubt and uncertainty.  Thanks to those who cared for our kids and our home when we traveled so far away.  And thanks to everyone who continues to encourage and strengthen us now in these times of change and adjustment.  It means a lot to us that we are not in this alone.

On this day, even as we celebrate the joy of having these three new additions to our church family, we wanted to remember the countless thousands of children around the world who are in need, and the call of the Psalmist “to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed.”  Our Lord and Savior has a plan for each one of them too.  Be attentive to His voice; He may be asking you to be a part of one of those plans.  You heard about Operation Christmas Child last week, and this week there’s another resource in the hub in the form of an advent calendar from Lifesong for Orphans.  It’s another great organization whose mission is “bringing joy and purpose to orphans”, which they do through child sponsorships, providing resources to adoptive families, and many other services.  These calendars provide a scripture verse each day, as well as a fun family activity such as collecting twenty cents for each winter coat you have in your closet to help provide for children in need around the world.

These are just two of so many ways you can act as the hands and feet of Christ in this area.  And maybe, just maybe, He is speaking to some of you right now about adoption.  Let me encourage you to listen carefully to this call.  You may think you’re not prepared for something that big.  Guess what – you’re not.  We’re not either!  But He is bigger still!  If He is truly calling you to this, He will surely equip you for it.  He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”  The Lord doesn’t call everyone to this particular mission, but if you feel His prompting in your heart – please don’t give in to fear.  His plans will be accomplished anyway, but you don’t want to miss your opportunity to be a part of them.  The rewards are too great!

These kids all belong to Him ultimately.  And as we celebrate that these three are now part of our families, and part of your family!, we also commit them back to Him today, and pray that they would grow to find their purpose in Him.  We look forward to a future day when our little girl will not think of herself as “I’m Mercy and I was born in China.” or even “I’m Mercy, daughter of Scott and Jane Miller.” but as “I’m Mercy, daughter of the King of Kings!"


We ended our celebration at a local Chinese Restaurant with family.








Monday, October 21, 2013

Two Year Old "Extreme Tantrum" Edition

Today was appointment #2 with CHOP Ophthalmology.  It was a traffic fighting morning on the way, but Mercy did great in the car.  It was once we got into the patient room that she decided to put her grumpy on and well see for yourself...

Tantrum #1

And she's getting back up

Nope, she's down again

Refusing to sit on Daddy's lap

If I can't see you, you can't see me.

Head tilts up, "Is mommy still looking at me?"

Oh Good, now back to my fit!

I will not cooperate

You cannot make me wear my glasses and take your test, so there.

Crying

Screaming!

SCREAMING!!!

I will drink my cup with an attitude and I won't look at anyone.

I will hold the water in my mouth and spit it on you when you make me mad.

Who needs glasses anyway?

You might make me sit on the chair, but I will not look up!

And back down she goes.

The End!

This may be one of my favorite posts to taunt her with when she is older.  On a medical note, she doesn't need to go back until next July.  Her vision is no longer (probably never was) 20/190, but is now stated to be 20/400.  The reality is that with Albinism numbers mean very little, and we know she is living life loud and her vision doesn't hinder her.  There is still talk of a future surgery to correct her head tilt, but nothing we need to worry about for a couple more years, in the meantime we pray.  Hope you found this post as funny as we did!