Prayers to our Father from around the globe were felt today in an amazing way. Our family is now a family of six!! Esther did amazing, she was very fearful at first but warmed up after some coaxing with candy, bubbles and siblings. We found out she had been in a foster home type setting with a couple, which is amazing. This means she received a little more one-on-one care. She accepted Daniel and I both very well, she might even be slightly preferential to her daddy. We are so blessed to have so many people praying - please continue to lift us up as Esther gets accustomed to our family. All praise and glory to our Father!!
Chinese culture believes there's always balance in the universe - referred to as "Yin and Yang". The sun and moon, cold and hot, soft and hard. On Saturday we were able to witness the significant difference between what tourists see and what exists daily for people living in China.
Yesterday our tour included visiting local Chinese villages, specifically a Hutong village tour. These villages mean "narrow lanes" and provide community for families whom live within the street. We were honored to visit a family's home while the wife cooked lunch for us while her 4-year son played in the common room. I enjoyed interacting with their family, witnessing life for the working class.
The contrast comes after our Hutong tour when we visited the tourist locations: The Summer Palace, an acrobat show, a pearl store, traditional Chinese medicine and a bakery.
God really gave me a love for the people of China yesterday as everyone needs the Father's love. I want to learn Esther's culture; as she grows I can help her to understand her heritage. Her culture includes the tourist sites that represent significant events in China, but her history also belongs to the working class that supports the entire system. Our family feels very blessed and humbled to be able to experience life in Beijing.
We are finally in Beijing, China. Today completed our first of 2 sightseeing days in Beijing. We will then travel to Guangzhou which is the capital city of Guangdong province (in South China) where we will finally receive Esther into our family on Monday July 28. We're trying to absorb facts and details about her culture so we can share them with her as she grows up. We're also hunting for special treasures to hand down to her when she reaches birthday milestones. It's so important to not only welcome her into our family, but also help her to remember who she is culturally.
We are revving up for travel. Planning for all possible scenarios. Packing for every situation. Preparing for everything, but hoping for the uneventful. I am a list maker, I admit it. In order for something to be done, it must be on my list so I can cross it off as completed.
God has been SO faithful to us through this entire adoption. Even when we doubt and show lack of faith God remains faithful. "If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). Despite my imperfections, my weaknesses, my anxiety about travel God is faithful...always. He cannot separate Himself from His children.
Last Wednesday we received our visas right on time. What a blessing! Our burden of travel with entering the country was lifted. We are literally set to go (except for the minor packing inconvenience). Not only has God worked out our visa challenges, He has literally provided our needs with every step in the adoption process.
God is amazing.
Numbers 13 & 14 reminds us of the exploration of the promise land. Joshua and Caleb had faith in God and come back claiming God's promises. They knew He would deliver the land into the hand's of the Israelites. Ten out of the twelve scouts doubted and lacked faith. God's response was, "How long will these people treat Me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in Me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?" Numbers 14:11
We as humans see limitations and walls when trying to understand God's plan. The Israelites only saw problems with God's plan when they were looking at overtaking the land. Our lives can be the same. Do we look as the hurdles that must be crossed or do we recognize God's greatness and glory? Our adoption journey has shown me time and again His hand in every aspect of our lives, down to seemingly insignificant details.
The process of adopting can be tedious at times and lengthy, but God is faithful. Our hope is that people will see our adoption story and praise God for making a dream a reality. We hope our simple obedience to God's will for our family will encourage others to consider adoption. God is great! Trust in Him and He'll move mountains.
“I do believe! Help me to believe more!” Mark 9:24
Often when we are in the trenches waiting for God, it can be so difficult. Patience seems to have a continuous learning curve.
Rewind to July 23, 2013, we were at Navarre Beach, Florida with my family when we received pre-approval for Esther Miao. I remember crying on the balcony of our condo, finally knowing what our daughter’s face looked like. Not realizing the long wait that lie ahead.
We are finally in the last 100 yards. We booked our airline flights today! Even in this last leg of our adoption journey we have had yet another delay this week.
Because of serving in the ministry, Daniel was unable to get his visa for entrance into China until right before travel. We found out that our visas wouldn’t be ready until 7/15 and we were suppose to originally fly out on 7/16. We felt like this was just too close for comfort so we pushed back our travel one week. Our new "gotcha day" will be 7/28. Almost 1 year to the day of being matched to adopt Esther.
We know that God’s timing is perfect. We have been ready to travel all summer, yet for so many reasons we have been in a holding pattern. God has truly provided all of our needs and we are finally ready to travel to China. Really, this is just the beginning. This isn't just a trip, a vacation, but an endeavor to expand our family based on God’s calling in our life. This adventure is scary, uncertain and exciting.
Please be in prayer for Esther, that she will not be overly fearful, that her precious heart will be receptive to the love we can’t wait to show her. Pray that we will not have any complications obtaining our visas. Also, please pray for safe travels. We are bringing our oldest two children, whom are 9 and 6 years old. Finally pray for our youngest son whom we are leaving with MiMi and Papa, it will be a difficult separation, especially for his mama.
God calls us to believe in Him. Often I feel like my faith quivers, like I am unworthy of the miracles I witness in my own life. What a blessing to see His hands and His glory as we set off to become a family of six. I hold firm to this promise from God, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” Mark 11:25
How my heart is burdened tonight. I have been praying since our adoption began that God would grow my heart with love for Esther. Pregnancy only lasts 9 months, but adoption can take double or triple that time. In such a short time period during pregnancy you fall in love with your child, feel them move inside of you and become very protective. Adoption is so very different. Esther is literally 12 hours ahead of us in time zones. I don’t know what her schedule is, I don’t know her favorite games, foods or toys. All I know are the pictures that I am sent as I wait in this journey.
Two days ago was Esther's 2nd birthday. It will be the last day she has to celebrate her birthday without her family. We were able to send her a cake to celebrate with 10 of her friends at the orphanage and I have literally checked my e-mail every 10 minutes to see if pictures have arrived from her party. What is amazing is that God is growing my love for her in my heart even though she is not growing in my body. As the weeks will soon turn into days before we travel, it literally does not seem that I can wait another second.
We are in the final leg of our journey, and we will find out by next week (hopefully) when we can travel to China. We will at long last book place tickets and start to finalize all the little details that are coming together. I pray that God will give my heart rest from worry as He promises in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I feel burdened with concern over our new daughter’s welfare and health. What a wonderful blessing it is to know that God goes before us in all endeavors. Our family asks that you will pray for God’s provisions for our family as we are so close to becoming a family of 6!
When anyone is expecting a child, whether through adoption or biologically, there is always such anticipation. Getting pediatric appointments set, cribs and decorations ready, preparing siblings and also praying that God will prepare hearts for change. Daniel and I had a 4 hour travel meeting last week through our adoption agency, Lifeline Children's Services. Wow! Information overload. There are so many steps that must be taken before we can travel next month.
God reminded me this week that even amongst change and commotion He is still sovereign and in control. James 4:14-15 tells us, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, if it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." God certainly wants us to be responsible and prepared. However, he doesn't want us to get so caught up in our tasks for the future that we forget the present.
Even in Daniel 5, God displayed how He is ultimately in control, even with an ungodly king. King Belshazzar's days were numbered by God, just as ours are today. We may make plans, make to-do lists, and make preparations, but ultimately God decides our future.
Today I find comfort that God is in control. There are so many uncertainties, but our constant strength and comfort should be in the Lord our God.
Allergy season. Not for the faint of heart when you have young, snotty children. Our precious one-year-old had a very difficult time falling asleep tonight, probably because he took too long of a nap today, and because he couldn't breathe out of his nose. I let the precious baby cry as long as I could stand and then scooped him up in my arms and held him on the couch for thirty minutes while his ragged little breathing calmed down from crying (I know what you're thinking, he’s spoiled). Being the youngest for a little while longer, he is in fact spoiled. While reflecting on the day before bedtime I thought of our sweet daughter still in China. Who rocks her when her nose is stuffy, or scared alone at night? These thoughts bring tears to my eyes. But thankfully we are even closer to holding her in our arms.
Our family is currently waiting for LOA (letter of acceptance) from China which can sometimes take over 100 days! After waiting only 42 days since our login to China’s database, we've been reviewed!!! This means that we could receive our LOA within the next few weeks. Wow! God is so good. We have been matched with sweet Esther since last July! We're over the moon that the process is moving quickly. We're still hoping to travel this summer, but several months earlier than planned.
Please continue to pray for our family and other families at Lifeline Children's Services that are earnestly waiting to meet their children.
Another milestone for our adoption! Today we received the news that we're now “LID” which means logged into China’s system. When I shared the news with family my sister said, “Wow you're actually going!” Not that she didn’t believe we would go, but that it's just getting closer each step we take.
The great news is that God is going ahead of us, and already knows when each step will occur. As I have often said before, I am impatient. We're taught in our society that immediate gratification is what should be expected. Fast food is now, texts provide immediate contact and even credit cards give you instant “money” so you can buy anything you want now. But many times God doesn’t work in "now," but in His time.
A lot of times if we're just patient, God will provide far beyond our expectations. Tonight with my children is a perfect example. I planned to take them to Dairy Queen after dinner for dessert to celebrate our LID. After dinner the children requested skittles for dessert. I told them if they waited they would get a better treat as a surprise, but I would let them make the decision. After much discussion they decided to wait, but not without a lot of deliberation. Isn't this us? We want something now that we think is great, but God tells us that if we wait for His timing, it will be better than we can imagine. God “makes everything beautiful in His time” Ecclesiastes 3:11. Please continue to pray with our family as we wait for God to reveal His timely plans with our family as we eagerly anticipate meeting our daughter.
I am not so good at waiting, or patience for that matter. We are SO excited about bringing Esther home; however our travel plans will most likely not occur until mid-summer. The biggest news in our adoption these days is our DTC (Dossier to China). Basically this just means that all our paperwork has now been officially sent to China that we've been compiling since May 2013! Wow, time seems to move so quickly as we look back, but so slowly as we look forward. We are now waiting for China's approval to adopt and this process can take 3 months or longer. In the mean time our precious daughter is waiting for us to bring her home. We pray for her nightly, that she is loved and taken care of - especially that she'll receive the medical care she needs. The Bible verse God reminded me of today was Isaiah 40:31a, "Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength." Relying on God always makes us stronger and perhaps this wait is allowing God to strengthen and prepare our family and myself for our new addition. God does not make mistakes and His timing is always perfect, just as He is perfect. Deuteronomy 32:4 tells us, "His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness." God is our Rock that allows us to lean on His promises as we (attempt to) wait patiently.
We first saw a picture of our daughter when Daniel was driving to the Mississippi Delta this past summer on a mission trip with the church. I remember him saying, "So that could be our daughter." After having a doctor graciously review her file we decided to submit paperwork to China for pre-approval. As we began to get more information about her medical condition we grew more concerned. We prayed that God would reveal His will to us - then the orphanage in China emailed us a picture of her standing - we were amazed.
Every child needs a family - moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and a home. How were we to know this little girl was ours? God clearly said, "Daniel and Sherri, you wanted a little girl younger than Benjamin. Here's a precious girl 5 days younger than him." She is so close in age, we've begun to consider her Benjamin's twin.
At 10 weeks in utero with Benjamin we discovered he had a twin we had lost. This was a difficult time for me, I always wanted twins. But God used a vanishing twin to help us realize He wanted us to adopt our 4th child. God has given us Esther as Benjamin's twin. This is not the way we imagined His plan, but how incredible that God works beyond our imagination.
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This past week my youngest child of only 11 months has started holding his breath until his face turns blue and he almost passes out. This breath holding is triggered when he does not get his way. How is it possible that this precious child of mine has already developed such a strong will?! Surely he must have gotten this trait from his father. The real answer is that sin and selfishness enters our hearts at such an early age.
Just as my children rebel against my authority, God gently shows me that I also rebel against Him. We are Abba Father’s children, yet we drag our heels against His commands daily. “Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31. No problem. I gave my neighbor a cup of sugar yesterday. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor” Luke 12:33. I donated 5 bags of clothes to Goodwill last month. Surely this counts. Do we live radically for Christ like the Scriptures tell us to? I don’t.
I want God to “Create in me a pure heart” Psalm 51:10. I want God to change my desires, so that I am not self-serving but God serving. I want God to use my hands and feet for His purposes, not my own. I have a long way to go. The truth is our children can teach us a lot about obedience in our own lives.
36 years, that’s what God has given me here on this earth thus far. When you’re in your twenties you dread 30, when you’re in your thirties you joke about turning 40. Really though, I am so blessed to be alive and healthy here in the United States. In the U.S. we can expect to live 80.51 years. In Africa the median life expectancy is 45.9 years. This is astounding!
There is a question that has been haunting me for several weeks. Why? Why was I born into privilege? Why is there such poverty that I have never seen. But another good question is "What?" What am I doing to serve God with the time and resources He has given me?
Am I chasing things of this world?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Every time I go shopping God speaks this verse in my heart. Do I need more stuff that doesn’t matter? NO. What will make an eternal difference?
Wanting to do more for God, to be His hands and feet, to serve others are all reasons God has led Daniel and I to adopt. I can’t adopt all the orphans in the world, but God tells us to start with one.
We should take each opportunity God gives us to help others.
If you want to learn more about our adoption you can visit www.ausbun.give5.us
Until I began looking into adoption, I was blissfully unaware of others situations. I did not realize that infants are starving in China. In Africa, mother’s sell their bodies in prostitution just so that they can feed their children one meal a day. Often mother’s will feed their hungry children dirt so that their hunger subsides and they can sleep at night. The thought of defenseless children dying because of a lack of healthcare and food breaks my heart. God created these children and loves them just as much as He loves my family.
Here in America, we have so much food that our kitchens require pantries. I ask my children what they want for dinner because we have so many options. God has recently convicted me of my excess. I’ve been reading “7” by Jen Hatmaker and it’s helping me change my perspective. She says, “excess has impaired perspective in America; we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer. We’re tangled in unmanageable debt while feeding the machine, because we feel entitled to more. What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2 a day, and we can’t manage a fulfilling life on twenty-five thousand times that amount?”
I’m guilty. I’m a list maker. I make wish lists on Amazon. I make lists of projects I want to do around the house. I makes lists for Christmas time. My 5 year old daughter has recently started making lists because I make so many lists. Why can’t I be happy with what I have? Do I deserve wealth when others live in poverty?
I am praying that God will use my hands and feet to serve others. That He will show me opportunities where I can give more. God tells us, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
"We care for orphans, not because we are rescuers. We care for orphans because we are the rescued." -David Platt
Since we have announced that we are adopting we have gotten a lot of well meaning “whys?”
In the United States alone there are over 400,000 children in the foster care system, out of those, 100,000 are adoptable. Worldwide there are currently over 153 million orphans.
In China, there are not foster parents but orphanages. When children are born with physical or mental ailments in China they are often considered bad luck by the families because of a strong belief in feng shui. Instead of receiving proper medical care they are abandoned, not to bring disgrace to the family. If these special needs children are discovered, they are brought to orphanages. Medical care does not await for these children at the orphanage. Due to a lack of financial resources, they struggle daily with medical conditions that can be treated easily in the United States.
While orphanages and foster care are helpful solutions to children in need, it is not what God intended when He created families. “God sets the lonely in families” Psalm 68:6. God created families to nurture and raise children, to show them His love. As children, we learn about God’s love through our parent's love.
Today, Daniel and I start our Give 5 campaign. Please consider partnering with us to help unite our family.
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