three years later

3 years ago.  My mind and heart and emotions are full of a billion thoughts from those moments and all the moments that came after until this one right now.  I know I have tried to convey parts of this story over the past few years on this blog and maybe what I write today is just a repeat but it is a story worth repeating.

I love this picture because I feel like it captures the essence of the moment.  This was taken the day after we first met our daughter.  The day after we walked into a room and about thirty minutes later walked out with a scared and confused five year old little girl.  She recognized our faces from the photo album we had sent.  And we recognized her face from the pictures and reports we had received.  But we did not know each other.  In fact, our daughter had never been given a chance to know who she was for herself and so she had become whatever was needed to survive.  Excessively charming and in the next moment wildly aggressive or completely emotional.  She had been given few chances to develop her muscles and the results had allowed the cerebral palsy to claim total power of the right side of her body.  We quickly discovered though she had fire and determination and a passion to get what she wanted.  All good things that have proved to serve her well but also so challenging to mother and steer in the right direction.

Those first days... weeks... months... were just hard for everyone.  The reality is the healing is not over and we still have hard days.  Definitely fewer than in the beginning, but they still come.  It is normal for them to still come but never easy.  Her pain is now I burden that I carry with her and it is frustrating that I cannot always fix hurts from days before she was in our arms.  Our family changed when our daughter came home. In those first months my son longed to get away from home.  My other daughter detached herself from me and I felt, for a time, that I had lost her completely.  We were all tired and confused and just trying to do the best we could.  The warm fuzzy feelings that I had felt during the waiting time period were replaced with a "fake it till we make it" mentality.  And so we did.  It took many hours and many tears but I did finally come to where there was no more faking and my  new daughter actually felt like she was MY daughter.  However my attachment to her came long before she began to attach to me.  In fact it would take over two years for us to have a major breakthrough.  It took a difficult surgery that left her completely dependent upon me to begin the process of allowing herself to knit her heart to mine.

I love the picture of us in China because it reminds me of how far we both have come.  It reminds me of how we have changed each other.  It reminds me of the faithfulness of God to not leave us in our mess but to call us to lay our lives down and in the process discover His amazing love for us.  It reminds me that sometimes what is good is also what is hard and that truly living is not always comfortable.

Just as this one reminds me that God can heal all wounds... it causes my heart to rejoice for the challenges we have conquered together and hope for the healing that is still yet to come for both of us.  The enemy had counted this one as his and he is not going to let go without a fight.  But look at that smile.  Her true, natural smile.  A smile that we see more and more as the days go by.  Though it is not easy, she is working hard to learn to move and add and read and write and memorize Bible scripture.  She loves to sing and lose herself in her art.  She adores babies and is a great playmate for toddlers.  And every night she says the same prayer..."Dear God, help people in other countries to tell lots and lots of people about Jesus."

When she came home she sang this song every day.  I believe in her own way it was a song of hope and I pray she is finding that in our family.

Little Swallow
Wearing colorful dress
she comes visit every spring
i ask her why and she says
the spring here
is the most beautiful place


  1. I have been truly blessed to be her grandmother. Watching her learn English and do many things that were new to her are precious memories. Among those memories is the first time that she spent the night at our house. It was so moving when I thought about her first years without a grandmother. The other grandchildren all had spent the night with us at an early age. She didn't have that opportunity. But, that weekend, she did. She had a sleepover with grandparents who loved her and enjoyed her very much. And we always will.


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