A Bittersweet Christmas but a Joyous New Year

I suppose I felt like Christmas was a bit bittersweet this year.  Of course Henry and Audrey had a great celebration and loved tearing into their gifts on Christmas morning (regardless of how thrifty we were with our purchases this year) and we had our nice visits with family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  And while I tried to keep a joyful spirit in remembering first and foremost that the holiday is all about celebrating our dear Savior’s birth, it was all I could do but to keep thinking about Lucy and wondering what she was doing that day…deeply wishing she was with us…thinking, most likely, she knows nothing of our Savior and of all the joy that is Christmas Day.

Some of the sweet points about Christmas were that some very kind people gave us some special gifts that were all about Lucy.  One family wrote letters to Lucy that I will treasure and keep in a special place for Lucy to read when she is older.  Reading those letters brought tears to my eyes – knowing how some are already showing this little one love before she even gets here – oh, how that makes this mama’s heart so filled with joy.  Some others gave us gifts like an Asian baby doll and sweet children’s books that are related to adoption that I hope will help Lucy understand that it is OK she looks a little different than the rest of our family.  Others showed their love and support by helping us by giving to our GoFundMe account – each donation means so very much to us.  We are so grateful.  And lastly, I received a birthstone necklace with an amethyst for Lucy’s birthday.  I put that on the day after Christmas and loved feeling like I had a symbol for Lucy so close to my heart.

At the same point, I am practically sitting beside myself as we are starting to look at flight options and are starting to buy little things we will need for the trip (special bottles & sippy cups for cleft-affected kiddos, medications (just in case) recommended by the adoption travel clinic, etc.).  I also recently joined a couple of FaceBook groups for people like us who are about to adopt and travel to China.  Wow!  I am so grateful for all the information and super helpful parents in those groups.  I ask a question and get ~20 different responses from Been There, Done That parents – sooooo helpful.  Although at this point it almost feels like I’m drinking from a fire hose since we may be leaving in less than 30 days now.  (Ack!!!)  So much information, so little time!

Speaking of that time line, here is where we are at:  on 12/19 I submitted Lucy’s US visa application (she will become a US citizen as soon as she touches down on US soil), and on 12/22 we had our Article 5 drop off.  Then on New Year’s Eve, Chuck picked up our Chinese visas which are good for the next 10 years.  Yippee!!  Love having those passports back in our hands!  So, we are hoping to have our Article 5 pick up some time mid to late next week most likely and then will hopefully get our Travel Approval (TA) from the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) a week after that.  Once we have our TA, we will likely be flying to China about two weeks later.  At this point, we are praying that our departure date will be 1/28 and not any later.  There might be one more group that is allowed to go after that (just maybe), but otherwise things halt for about two weeks because of Chinese New Year on February 19th  and how everything shuts down in China for a solid week around those celebrations.  If that were to happen, we would miss Lucy’s 2nd birthday. Ugh.  I do not even want to think about that. But God has this.  He always has.  He always will.  We trust in Him.  He started us down this path and we know He will be faithful to complete this journey with us…in His timing. 

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deut 31:8

Along these lines, a huge answer to prayer was provided just two days before Christmas: the vast majority of the care for Henry and Audrey has now been confirmed while we are gone for 16-17 days in China.  A couple of months ago, this had been a major concern…OK, I’ll admit, I was even worrying about it sometimes (though I was truly trying to pray more than worry – Phil 4:6, right?).  Chuck and I are so incredibly thankful to those who are willing to sacrifice their time and their freedom to protect, feed and yes, I’m sure they’ll even entertain our two (sometimes kinda crazy) kiddos back home.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to each one of you!!!

So, with all this, it is of course with MUCH joy that we look forward to 2015.  Thank you to all of you who have prayed us through to this point.  We are praying that God blesses each and every one of you in the new year. 

 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thess 2:16-17

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