So Much To Choose From

Things are super wonky in my head currently which makes me think through and question just about everything I think about posting in this space.  Life is a bit weird right now for lots and lots of reasons, but mainly the big ones consuming our minds are of course Everett’s heart, adjustment & bonding and our littlest.  I can feel the weight of all these big feelings every day and have found myself having to fight for joy…having to choose to see the light all around because it is very much there.  Our life isn’t desolate…it’s full of beauty and joy…sometimes I just have to be really deliberate in choosing to look for it and see it when circumstances weigh heavy on us.

I feel very out of whack on so many levels.  I don’t feel totally like my normal self.  I don’t do well with uncertainty and waiting and right now they both swirl wildly around Everett and our littlest.  I keep being reminded that God’s goodness is not circumstantial.  So in the darkness…in those moments that make you question everything…in those moments of complete uncertainty…in those moments when the miracle doesn’t happen…in those moments of desolation…He is still good.  When our troubles ebb and flow God’s goodness does not.  He is steady and dependable.  He does not waiver not for a moment.

We’re still waiting to hear and know and decide about Everett’s heart.  He’s having a procedure on Wednesday that will give the team more information they need before making big decisions.  Then Josh and I will be making big decisions from there.  I don’t like how I feel right now, but we are ready to get this ball rolling wherever it may roll.

It was funny being in China because I sort of forgot about our role as foster parents.  I let my MIL take it over and honestly didn’t think too much about it.  We Facetimed almost everyday with Amon and our littlest, but we were far removed from all the paperwork and scheduling and emails and visits and drop-ins and court dates and so on and so on.  We were flung back into our roles upon arriving home and our littlest is just struggling hard to figure out her place especially with Everett now home and him requiring so much of our attention.  Things are just hard for her right now and the emotions that come with a struggling, confused 3-year-old…well, you can imagine 🙂

Even when things are weird and wonky and hard God never ceases to amaze us.  Since arriving home just a mere 14 days ago I have been absolutely astounded by Jesus every single day…meeting us in the most creative, sweet, gracious and loving ways.  He seriously never ceases.  Even when the joy feels hard to choose there is always so much to choose from.  Always.

For us joy has looked like big kids who are embracing Everett like he’s always been here and with such compassion and empathy.  When Harper learned Everett’s procedure would be on her birthday the tears just streamed.  She was so looking forward to introducing him to all her friends at school when I brought treats for her birthday.  She was devastated to not be celebrating with Everett.  She decided to bump all celebrating until he’s home and he gave her some sweet loven’ when he saw how upset she was.  Nothing is quite like his little arms beckoning you to him.

The sky always speaks God’s goodness straight to my eyeballs and down into my soul.  One morning this week I didn’t even need groceries, but after our workout I made a beeline for Kroger to watch the sky.  I could see it from afar and it was just what my heart needed.  I sat there and prayed over Everett’s best friend we met in China…this little boy who has been with Everett for a long time and who stole our hearts while there.  I prayed over him and his forever family.  What an honor to love these children.  What a honor to serve a God who just blows us away with all the crazy stuff He does just so we can be apart of and experience His goodness…to feel His love through tiny little arms.  I’ll never understand it.  Truly I won’t.  It takes my breath away every single time.

His goodness has looked like a fun movie and popsicles from Aunt Jen when we have to cancel all plans and stay home because Everett simply cannot get sick before next Wednesday.  It’s been dinner delivered to our door on hard days when Everett is struggling and wants snuggles all the live long day.  It’s friends and family completely overlooking how long it’s been since I’ve showered and how filthy our house is.

It’s being able to text friends for the 10,000th time to ask for prayer again and it being met with encouraging replies and not one ounce of annoyance or contempt.  I don’t like that I am the person who currently always needs prayer.  It has taken my pride down a few notches to say the least which I ask God to do every day.  Why am I surprised when He agrees that my pride is a problem too 🙂

I found joy in a quick run to Target when I discovered our littlest and Harper had out grown ALL THEIR CLOTHES.  What a luxury it is to casually walk through a store and pick up some clothes for our kids.  And don’t even get me started on the luxury of grocery shopping.

I’ve found it in His word.  I really love Jesus, but while in this funk I have not wanted to read my Bible…especially since I’m currently in Exodus.  No offense Exodus, but, ummmmmm, we’ve just been together too long…it’s not you, it’s me.

I knew I had to do something to combat the darkness I was feeling so I pulled out my alphabet of who I am in Christ my friend Amber had shared.  I chose the first name from the Old Testament and found myself in Isaiah 61.  I’ve been on this Bible journaling journey for 2 1/2 years and for the first time I journaled a random chapter and it was exactly what I needed.

So I decided to stay in Isaiah a bit.  Here’s what I love about Bible journaling…it is so personal…it’s a relationship between me and God and doing what works for my heart at the time is a-okay.  There are no rules to this.  Isaiah is proving to be my water in the desert.  It’s giving life and speaking words I need to hear right this very moment.  Every day.  I haven’t abandoned Exodus…I’ll still come back to it, but I’m going to hang in Isaiah a little longer.

And we’ve seen God’s goodness and joy mostly in Everett.  With every child who joins our family God just humbles us before Him again.  We cannot get over them and why, oh why, God would think we’re good enough to be their mom and dad.  They’ve each come from different places and in all kinds of ways and with all kinds of stories, but each one so uniquely designed by their Father.

Everett is smart and sweet and cuddly and kind.  He understands so much and his favorite new saying is, “Mama, I need to tell you something.” which Amon says 5,000 times a day.  He is really adjusting so well.  I feel like we prepared for the absolute worst and this kid has just blown us away.  He is amazing…God is amazing.  Please continue to pray with us for his heart…it is crazy beautiful, but very broken.  We’re asking God for miracles and soaking up every moment with our boy.  His goodness is so evident in our son and joy spills out of this kid.  What a gem.  What a gift we’ve been given.

Spring Breaking

Our kids got out for spring break last Wednesday.  We had zero plans considering we’ve been home from China for 11 days.  Right now our main goal is attachment and bonding and hanging close to home and eating Rice Krispy treats and fun cereals and ice-cream.  Hahahaha.  All the important things.

We’ve survived 5 days of spring break so far by playing all the things.  Harper and her cousin Meiya have made approximately 32 dirt bricks.  Basketball is a hot sport amongst our crew right now too.  They play at their Big Daddy and Nene’s and also take their basketball to the park when we go so they can shoot hoops there too.  We recently won a desktop Chrome computer thing…I’m cleary very into technology…anyways, Harper cut the box sides into wings and made Amon and Everett an airplane.  They have colored and played in it like there’s no tomorrow.

We’ve  also been going to the doctor like it’s our job.  All.The.Doctors.  We seriously have the best doctor’s around + the best family so I’m kind of madly in love with this picture.  My SIL Becky not only speaks mandarin, but is also a nurse so needless to say she’s invaluable.

And seriously, look at that smile and those cheekies.

I busted one kid spying on our neighbors…cough cough…we’ve played blocks and cars and snuggled and watched movies and even did a fun volcano experiment.

We’ve walked to the park twice, Dairy Queen once and discovered Everett has the coolest grape trick. He puts the whole grape in his mouth, chews and chews and chews and then voila…the grape skin appears in my hand.  This kid and his funny fun quirks…it’s like he’s always been here.

And today actually feels like spring.  It has been the nicest day out and we have certainly soaked up some sun.  We’ve got 7 more days of spring break, 2 birthdays, more doctor’s appointments and more nothing planned.  Here’s to partying hard Spring Break 2017.

On Adjusting

We have been home almost one week and Everett is adjusting so well.  Josh, Harper, Hudson, Solomon and myself are still recovering from jet lag, but today is the kids’ last day of school before spring break so I’m hoping we can catch up on sleep soon.

Everyone did finally sleep through the night the last 2 nights so that has been glorious.  And Shuai has been sleeping in his own bed upstairs with all the boys.  Currently we bounce between calling him Everett and Shuai…he actually responds to both now.  You guys, he really is amazing.  He’s been trying new foods and eating some of his familiar favorites.  My BIL & SIL brought him a bunch of yummy Chinese snacks he loves and the kid ate 3 pieces of pizza last night for dinner.  He is devouring grapes and oranges and bananas and blueberries.  He loves yogurt and nuts and noodles and chews gum like a teenager.  He is just ridiculous.

Amon loves him.  He loves Amon.  Our littlest is still figuring it all out and trying to understand her place in our family.  She has big emotions already so throw in a new kid who is smaller than her and she’s struggling.  There are lots of fits and crying and verbal processing and lots of frustrating feelings and down moments and hugs.  We’re working on it together.

All the kids went back to school on Monday so that left me and Everett solo for a few hours.  We went to Target and the bank and he was fantastic.  He doesn’t like when the family separates so he was sad when Josh and the big kids left in the morning and was sad again when I dropped Amon and our littlest off at MDO, but we recouped and had the best day together.  Yesterday me and the three littles even conquered a doctors appointment together.  It totally reminded me of my little Harper, Hudson and Solomon days.

Today we’re solo again and there were only tears when Josh and the bigs headed out this morning.  He’s currently chewing his gum and pulling everything out of my purse like he’s looking for something in particular.  And I’ve drawn multiple hearts on his hands already today.  He loves when we draw little things on his hands.

Tomorrow we head to another doctor’s visit.  My SIL so graciously offered to go with us this time so she could tell him what was going on and what will be happening.  She is an absolute God send and such a sweet comfort to Everett.  It’s really great having an entire small Kelley family (Josh’s brother even teaches Chinese at a local school) who all speak Chinese and can talk back and forth with him. We’re really hoping he can hang onto his Mandarin and not lose it.

It’s incredible to watch him.  He has just kind of jumped in and is just doing his thing.  It’s funny to see him already playing and shooting play guns and watching shows and eating snacks and laughing just like he’s been here for forever.  He’s picking up on some words already and understands SO MUCH.  My two current favorite things he says is “Lub you” for love you and every time I give him a kiss he says “Thank you” which he totally picked up from me because every time he gave me a kiss in the beginning I was so elated I would thank him over and over again.

He is so patient with us while communicating.  We are shocked at how not frustrated he gets with us. Such a patient guy.  He points and leads and is really good at figuring out how to let us know what he wants or needs.  He loves hugs which is a far cry from the little boy who just 2 weeks ago hated to be touched.  He lifts those hands high and loves to be swooped up into our arms.


He is funny as all get out too.  He cracks himself up and us.  I cannot wait until I can understand everything he is saying.  He loves to make silly faces and noises and he has impeccable timing on all his little jokes.  Totally a little clown and fits right in…we love to laugh around here…keeps us all a little more sane.

Do I think we’re out of the woods already?  Nope, not by a long shot, but  I do think Everett is insanely amazing, brave and strong.  He is really doing so well.  We fully know he will likely ebb and flow and things will slowly come out the more time passes and the more he gets use to us, but man oh man, this kid is just blowing us all away.  Once more I sit in awe and wonder at why on Earth God would think we were good enough for this boy.  What an honor.  What a gift.  I am absolutely humbled by God’s goodness yet again.

Home & Heart

We left our hotel at 8am on Thursday morning and arrived in Nashville at 9:30 Thursday night.  We gained about 14 hours coming home so it was actually a crazy long travel time.  We first flew from Guangzhou back to Beijing.  Security was a little troublesome, but we got through and Everett had his first flight.  He was insanely cute.  He kept saying airplane in Chinese over and over again and ate about 1000 M&Ms.

Once in Beijing we had about 3 hours until our long flight to Detroit.  Security was hell.  It ate up every bit of time we had in between flights.  At one point Delta was holding Everett’s passport and paperwork and wouldn’t print his boarding passes.  Harper and Hudson cried.  Solomon was spent.  Josh was pissed.  I just sat there baffled.  Everett was still adorable 🙂  Delta was the worst.  I hate to say that, but we had nothing but problems all from them and because of the oxygen machine and batteries they made us get through a certain Delta related O2 company.  It was absolutely baffling and such a mess, but we finally made it to our gate, grabbed a few snacks and boarded our flight to the US.

We could not believe how great Everett did on our long flight.  He was amazing.  He cried very little, slept a lot and did not need his 02 machine not once.  A total dreamboat.  We were all so crazy excited to get off the plane in Detroit knowing we just had one little short flight left before home.

On our flight from Detroit to Nashville it took longer than expected due to weather and they almost had to land us in Chattanooga instead of Nashville.  I cried.  I mean we were so close to home, but thankfully they we’re able to land in Nashville.  It was quite the hilarious strand of traveling escapades and my emotions we’re every which way.

Family and friends we’re waiting for us in Nashville along with our beloved friend and photographer Cheyenne.  Cheyenne has captured countless family moments for us and even though she just had a baby she was at the airport waiting on us ready to capture yet another special moment for our family.  I sobbed looking through these.  Such sweet emotions.  What a gift she has and shares with others.  And gosh, we have the best family and friends.

Amon made me cry so much.  He really missed us and when he saw us coming he broke down into the hardest little sob.  We could tell every time we facetimed with him and our littlest that he was processing more inwardly and quietly and that she was proceeding more outwardly and vocally.  Amon had lots of little emotions bottled up in that adorable little body and it was like they all came pouring out when he saw us coming.

When we we’re walking to our car that night he grabbed my hand and said, “Mama, I didn’t think you we’re coming back.”  Oh my, how we missed him and our littlest something fierce.

Everett can still get easily overwhelmed so we weren’t sure how he was going to do, but he was so sweet and amazing.  My SIL started introducing him to everyone in Chinese and he just started giving out hugs.  It was the cutest thing ever, ever, ever.

It was so good to be back in Tennessee and with our people.  We hugged everyone what seemed like multiple times.  We missed home so much…China was gorgeous and amazing, but man, nothing beats home.  I chatted with my Aunt Martha today who stopped by to meet Everett.  She asked me if we thought we could move to China…not unless all our people move with us.

We seriously know and are loved by the best people around and it makes me cry a giant river to know such amazing people.

We went to bed so late that night and the next morning hit the ground running with Everett’s first cardiologist appointment.  The news was not good and very discouraging.  Our cardiologist is not sure exactly how or if his little heart can be repaired…it’s just very broken and very complicated.  This week she is going to share his case with a team of surgeons and transplant team to see what they can come up with.  Obviously not the news we we’re hoping to hear.

Over the last 3 days we’ve been trying to process this the best we can, but honestly right now I’m just asking God for 2 things:

1. Miracles

and 2. To please help me not to dig myself a hole too deep

Jet lag is wildly legit in our house…everyone is exhausted…our littlest is struggling with the new addition of Everett…we’re still foster parents and are back in that role as well…everyone feels wonky…and truthfully I am a massive combo of gratefulness because Everett is a freakin’ dream and I’m the luckiest mama on the planet + deep sadness.  I just feel like I’m in a bit of a hole and I really really don’t want it to get too deep that I can’t see out.

I told some friends today when I asked them to pray for Everett “I feel like a broken record to keep asking for prayers over Everett…” but here I am again.  Would you please please please pray with us for his little heart and for discernment and wisdom for the team who will hear his case and for miracles.  All the miracles.

I want to trust God with him.  Miracles are His thing.  He pulls off the greatest stories.  He’s an expert at making jaws drop.  He is supernatural and wondrous.  I am waiting nervously & anxiously, but expectantly too to see what exactly is up His sleeve.

Thank you guys so much for all the love and prayers and kind words.  They have been so life giving and we are forever grateful.

Chimelong Safari & Headed Home

Today was our last full day in China and it was the perfect end to such a special trip.  We meet in the lobby of our hotel at 8am to head for the airport and we are beyond thrilled.

Before heading home we spent one more full day enjoying the Chimelong Safari.  It was incredible and the weather was just perfect.  We saw tons and tons of different animals.  Giraffes, lions, cheetahs, elephants, camels, wolves, brown and black bears, caribou, ant eaters, peacocks, parrots, hippos, rhinos, pandas, zebras, flamingos, toucans, orangoutangs, chimpanzees, koala bears, kangaroos, wallabies, rams, horses, mini horses, goats and the list goes on and on.  SO MANY ANIMALS.

We spent about 5 hours at the park and just had so much fun.  We started first with a train ride that took us through tons of animal exhibits.  All the animals we’re just walking around and it was so crazy fun.  There were too many different animals to even count and we couldn’t understand the Chinese guide so we weren’t even sure what all the different animals we’re even called.

I love this picture because you can see how close the giraffes were.  I laughed so hard because one stared Hudson Kelley down and I was sure he was going to swoop his giant neck in for a smooch.

You could feed the giraffes and elephants.  Shuai LOVED the giraffes so much he even cried when we left the exhibit.  He just couldn’t quit them.  Thinking we need to pick this boy up a giraffe toy when we get home 🙂

There was also a large area about dinosaurs and reptiles.  The dinosaur part was really neat, but then it became a tad too real and we thought Everett might be too scared, so we turned back.  All the parts we did see though we’re really cool.

There we’re lots of shows and interactice exhibits which was really fun.  The park in general was gorgeous.  Really lush and green.  Chimelong is the only park in the world to have panda triplets so there we’re panda statues everywhere painted all completely different.  Everything was in Chinese, but from what I gathered each panda statue was painted by a different artist.  They we’re so pretty and really neat.

 

There were several kid areas that had little rides and mascots walking around.  Everett walked right up to the panda.  He was super into him.  He also got really tickled when we would wave to him from the swing ride.  Harper, Hudson, Solomon and I all waved and yelled like total fools because he would giggle so hard.

  It was a really great day.  Added bonus, there was popcorn and it was yummy.  And the kids had emoji popsicles 🙂

When we got back to our hotel we headed out for our last delicious Chinese dinner.  We devoured pan fried pork dumplings, noodle beef soup, the most amazing spicy cauliflower EVER!!!!! and rice.  About that cauliflower…we’ve eaten it three times and I am absolutely going to try and figure out how to make some.  We know the dish has cauliflower, lots of garlic, whole red peppers annnnddd that’s all we’ve got.  Hahahahaha.  It might take me a long time, but I will track down this recipe.  It was so so good.

So we’re all packed and all the kids are asleep.  We meet in the lobby bright and early to head towards the airport.  Everett has tried on his O2 machine several times and we’re hopeful if he needs it he will be okay with it on his little face.  We’re basically praying we won’t even have to touch the machine, but if we do that he won’t panic.  We are so ready to be home.  We miss Amon and our littlest something awful.  I cannot wait to squeeze their little bodies.

We land Thursday night and hit the ground running first thing Friday morning with his cardiologist appointment.  We are absolutely praying big prayers over his amazing little heart and for guidance and wisdom from our beloved and trusted cardiologist and pediatrician.  What a journey we’re about to begin.  What a gift and honor it is to walk this road with our boy.  I keep telling myself to keep my eyes open…watching and waiting expectantly…anticipating what all God has is store.  Cannot wait to watch Him work yet again.  Praying He will heal Everett’s heart like only He can.

Ready For Home

Well it took Josh Kelley 2 days, 2 meetings with 2 different airlines and a trip to the actual airport to get our flight fiasco all worked out, but Everett and his oxygen machine are approved to fly.  God is too good.  Thank you so so much for praying.

Josh met with Delta yesterday, but they ended up not being helpful.  Today he was gone for 3 hours to the China Southern office and then to the airport to talk with security.  I was feeling quite nervous when we reached the 3 hour mark.  I was already assuming bad news, but he walked in with good news.  We are just so relieved, thankful and cannot wait to get home.

The kids are with Josh at the pool right now.  It’s 8pm and raining, but they deserved a trip to the pool after being pretty cooped up in the hotel most of the day.  Josh’s trip out fell right around Everett’s nap so we just stayed in until he got back.

No sight seeing today.  Just movies and school work and playing in the hotel room.  By the way, Shuai is a lefty and it’s the cutest.  He also loves love loves to cut paper.

Tonight the hotel invited all the families who we’re adopting to a free dinner.  It was super nice.  There was lots of good food and drinks, but the sushi was THE BEST!!!!!  Seriously.  I actually stalked the sushi table once all the California rolls were gone because I really needed more of those rolls.  Solomon also brought Shuai a little bowl of mini chocolate chips.  It was the funniest thing watching him eat them.  Major love between him and mini chocolate chips.

Tomorrow is our last full day in China.  We’re heading to a safari park in the morning and I’m pretty excited to get out and about some more.  Then Thursday morning we head to the airport.  2 more sleeps.  We have so enjoyed China…deeply, but we are all ready for home and cannot wait to squeeze Amon and our littlest to pieces.

Tonight at dinner we went around and listed things we missed from home.  Amon & our littlest, our family & friends, sleeping in our own beds, Legos, karate class, classmates, teachers, bikes, the kids rooms, my morning workouts with Ashley & Alissa, my water bottle and filling it up at the sink.  It was nice to talk about home, but it’s even nicer tonight going to bed knowing this flight mess is done with.  Josh Kelley is relentless  and God opens doors.  We are incredibly grateful and know He is absolutely to be praised.  What a God we serve.

One Week.

One week ago today we sat nervously in the adoption center in Zhengzhou and watched as our little guy walked through those doors.  One wild and precious week.  Watching him grieve is hard and sad.  I told Josh, I wonder what he’ll be like even just a week from now and here we are.  He is still absolutely processing what all is happening and I assume will continue to for a long long time, but man, what a difference just a week has made.

I met another mom at breakfast one morning and she and I sat by each other at our visa appointment this morning.  We talked about that one week…seven days, but wow what a difference we had seen in just that short time period.  It made us both teary.

Everett has been warming up so much faster in the morning.  Yesterday he was giggling at breakfast and this morning he was giggling before we left the room.  Every day we just move ever so slowly together in the direction of trust.  I cannot even fathom what his little mind and heart are feeling.  I’ll never come close to grasping his sense of loss…or Solomon or Amon’s for that matter.  So I pray.  I pray and pray and pray asking God to be everything they need…to fill in the gaps and mend hearts.

Everett isn’t refusing food anymore.  He eats and eats.  His initial reaction isn’t no every time now.  He’s less angry acting.  Less emotionless.  There’s less hitting.  He has not stood at the sink and let the water run over his hands any the past 3 days.  We are seeing what a funny little guy he is and how he throws up dueces in pictures all by himself.  He loves snacks and naps and funny faces and belly tickles and his medicine and watching himself in videos.

He does not like dirty hands or big crowds or a dirty pull-up 🙂  He still loves his sippy cup, but it’s less of an attachment now and more of just a way to get water.  He understands so much already and is such a good listener.  He mimics easily and knows who we are in photos.  He loves Josh to hold him when we’re out and about and he likes me to hold him at night when he wakes up.  He has snuggled in my arms and fallen asleep 3 times.  And why yes, I am counting.

He breaths so heavily his little chest moving so quickly, his heart rate is fast and his O2 levels are low.  He’s got the sweetest little purple lips I could kiss a million times over.  We’ve seen him run twice both times towards the spinning hotel door and it was the cutest.  We are so anxious to see what’s going on in his little heart and hear what the game plan will be.  The day we see pink lips and your typical colored & shaped fingers and toes will be a mighty good day.

Harper, Hudson and Solomon are smitten.  Their goal since meeting Everett has been to make him feel better.  They make him smile and giggle and do silly things.  They talk to him and he will say pretty much anything they will.  Sometimes we have to remind them he will be with us forever so there is time…no need to rush…no need to smother 🙂  Sometimes he gets overwhelmed by all of  us so we have to give him the space his little self needs.

We are incredibly anxious for Everett to meet Amon and our littlest.  We have all decided they are sure to be the best of friends and no doubt our littlest will probably boss him around the way she does Amon.  We imagine Everett and Amon are going to be the best of buds.  They are so similar in so many ways.  They love their naps and sleeping in random places and relaxing so chill like…hands behind their heads and legs crossed.  They love bubbles and bananas and shift their eyes to the side & up or down when thinking.  They make funny faces and love silly games.  And they both adore a bath.  Amon will be tickled to have a bath-mate again.

We’ve got a long way to go I know.  I do not want to fool myself, but I also do not want to overlook how God has moved in our son and in our family in just one weeks time.  One week.  One wild & precious week with this boy.  We sit in awe of Jesus everyday…His love, His grace, His redemptive ways, the good gifts He gives.  It is simply too much and our hearts are incredibly overwhelmed by His goodness.

Everett Louie Shuai, it has been an honor to be  your mama for an entire week.  Here’s to forever!

Chen Family Temple & 5 Goats Statue

Well China just keeps getting better and better each day.  Just when I think I’ve seen and learned about my most favorite thing a new day arrives and I sit amazed yet again.  Today might have been my favorite site seeing thus far.  Of course The Great Wall was thrilling, but so far at the top of my list had been the Hutong Courtyards & The Sun Yat-Sen Memorial, but today took the cake for many reasons.

Everett was more quickly comfortable this morning than he’s been so far.  I told Josh Kelley the other day I feel like Shuai feels like he’s in Groundhog’s Day where he wakes up thinking it’s a new day…back to his regular life he’s been use to… and to his shock he is with us…again.  Each morning he has been so somber and it usually takes him a while to warm up and show some of his funny little personality.  This morning Josh had him giggling at breakfast which was just the sweetest thing in all the lands.  A) Josh was touching him and he was not ticked about it.  B)  He was laughing and being silly back.  And C)  He was okay with all of it.  Every day we are seeing these small steps as he moves in the direction of trusting us.  It is such an honor to try and prove ourselves to him.  And Hudson’s face as he watched on…oh my goodness do I love that kid.

For the afternoon we headed out first to the Chen Family Temple which is basically a giant folk art museum.  This was my favorite thing!!!!!!!!  There were all kinds of art pieces…woodcarvings, stone carvings, vases, lacquered hanging art, ivory carvings, scrolls, furniture, ornate carved houses for gods and on and on and on.  So so gorgeous and interesting.  It was also all outside with little rooms off beautiful courtyards with blossoming trees and flowers.  Absolutely my favorite.

Each room of art was usually done by one artist, but the insane carvings done all through out the temple and on the roof were done by lots of different artists.

There was also a scroll shop with tons of painted scrolls and a calligraphist in the shop who would write on the scroll you purchased.  We picked out an incredible scroll and figured the artist would just right Kelley on it, but then they brought out a Chinese/English Bible and asked if we wanted a scripture.  I looked over at Josh and he looked down at his panda shirt.

We watched as she wrote in Chinese calligraphy Romans 12:12:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

I cried watching her work.  Those words.  That promise.  From our God who knows, loves and sees us so deeply and truly.  One of the things I have told myself over and over and over again during this fast and furious journey to Shuai is that God knows and loves him more than I ever could and that His plans for him are perfect.  Trust that immeasurable love Laura.  Tomorrow we have our visa appointment and head over to the local Delta office so reading over those words and watching them written out in the most special way in this special place just floored my heart.  Isn’t God too good?!?!?

After The Chen Family Temple we headed over to see the Five Goats Statue.  Earlier in the day Hudson told me, “Mom when I heard we were seeing the Five Goats Statue all I could think was that it would be like 5 goats stacked on top of one another.”  Nailed it.  That’s exactly what it was and it was so interesting and quirky and fun.  This went to the top of my sight seeing list too.

We walked through a lush shaded park with red lanterns and flowers everywhere.  Then we walked to the top of a long staircase and there was the giant 5 goats statue.  There’s a really neat legend behind it about a famine and how 5 celestial beings riding 5 goats came down to the city of Guangzhou and gave the people grains of rice.  Since then Guangzhou has never experienced another famine.  We have really enjoyed all the stories and tales about Chinese history.

Laura Kelley China Fun Fact:  I have received zero of the funny attention that everyone else in our family has the entire trip and I am fully okay with that.  The kids are basically famous people here, Josh Kelley has signed autographs…totally a true story…and Shaui is even quite popular because of his signature sit while out and about with his legs crossed and hands behind his head…the Chinese people think he’s a trip too, but me, nada.  Nothing.  Zero.  Zilch.  On the interesting meter I am a -3.  🙂  Until today.

A young man walked over and said, “Can I take your picture?”  I was totally taken back by this, but agreed and then stood there all alone in front of the giant goat statue and smiled like a giant dork for this random guys pic.  Just call me famous you guys.  Now, we all know what will happen with that picture right?  It is inevitable I will now be the face for some Chinese Refresh Beauty aging cream that claims I’m really 53, but now only look 43 and later will claim I’m really only 47, but now look 37.  Ahhh, fond memories.  That was seriously I could think as I stood there grinning ear-to-ear for this random dude.

We’re winding down now for the night.  We ate McDonalds of all things for dinner.  And you know what, it was delicious.  My BIL Andy said it was better here and he was correct.  We all thought so.  Josh took the kids to the pool and Shuai is sleeping.  Last night I had the sweetest 2 minutes with him where he fell asleep in my arms.  He didn’t fight me or hit me or cry.  He felt comfortable enough to let his little guard down and fall asleep snuggled in my arms.  It was brief before he woke back up, but I counted it a major victory.  And tonight he did the same thing, but this time a little longer.  I could have sobbed a river on his little body.  It was the sweetest thing snuggling our new guy.

So tomorrow we’re up bright and early…7:40am to be exact…for our visa appointment and then on to the Delta office.  Thank you for praying with us and over us and for us about this flight fiasco.  We are just trusting our God…the Creator of the world…to open these doors and make a way.