Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Maria

I've been in kind of a funk for the last week...haven't felt much like blogging. I know all too well the pain the Chapmans are going through. No, I have never lost a child, but I know what it's like to feel like your world has ended as the bigger world out there continues on. You wonder how...don't they know what has happened? How can they keep going when everything you know has stopped? We are so small, but God is so big. Thank you Lord. I found this video someone put together on YouTube...a wonderful tribute to a precious little girl.

"Each gift from God is only yours and mine...for a time.
So we laugh, and we cry,
And the hardest part of life is letting go
To trust the One we know for sure.
We'll place you in the Father's hands,
The only One who'll ever love you more.
He'll hold us safely in His hands
'Cause no one else will ever love us more."
From the song "Heartstrings" on the CD titled "The Mercy Project"
Written by Jeff Borders, Gayla Borders, Grant Cunningham and Wendy Williams

Thursday, May 22, 2008

With Hope

This song was written by Steven Curtis Chapman after a very good friend of their family lost their daughter in a tragic car accident. It's a beautiful song and goes along with the scripture I quoted in my previous post. As believers in Christ, we do have the hope that we will see the faces of the ones we've lost again one day.

This is not at all
How we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end
We can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll see your face again
Never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
Never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father smile and say "well done"
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home and now you're free
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end
We can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true
So we can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end
We can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place
By God's grace
There's a place where we'll see your face again

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Our Hearts are Broken

(Left to right Will Franklin, Maria, Steven, Shaoey, Mary Beth, Stevey Joy, Caleb and Emily)

It is because of God's work through Steven Curtis Chapman, and even more so, his oldest daughter Emily, that we have Lily home with us today. Please join us in lifting this family up to the God of all comfort.

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

NASHVILLE - The 5-year-old daughter of contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman was struck and killed Wednesday by a sport utility vehicle driven by her brother, authorities said. The girl, Maria, was hit in a driveway on the family residence Wednesday afternoon by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by her teenage brother, said Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol. McPherson said no charges are expected.
"It looks like a tragic accident," she said. She said several members of the Chapman family witnessed the accident, which happened in Williamson County just south of Nashville. The brother apparently did not see the little girl, McPherson said. She did not have the name or exact age of the brother, only that he is an older teenager. The girl died later at Vanderbilt Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Laurie Holloway said. Chapman, originally from Paducah, Ky., and his wife have promoted international adoption and have three daughters from China, including Maria. Chapman has won five Grammy awards and 51 Dove awards from the Gospel Music Association. The singer's Web site said that Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, were persuaded by their oldest daughter to adopt a girl from China. The experience led the family to adopt two more children and create Shaohannah's Hope, a foundation and ministry to financially assist thousands of couples in adoption. The Chapmans did missionary work at Chinese orphanages in 2006 and 2007, according to the Web site. "After our first trip to China, my wife and I knew our lives were changing - our eyes and hearts were opening to how big God really is, and we have wanted to experience more of that," Chapman says on the Web site. "We've really wondered whether or not we should just go to China and stay there. But I don't think so. I believe God is saying, 'I want you to go, get your heart broken, your eyes opened, and then take this story back to the church in America and around the world." ' Chapman also has released a book about being a father entitled "Cinderella: The Love of Daddy and his Princess."

For Those of You...

...who may not venture over to Robert's blog (Thoughts of a Father), here are some of my favorite pictures he has taken recently (and a few more pictures of my recent Stampin' Up creations).

These were taken on Mother's day...

Lily's sweet little toes, taken Monday night.

And some more of my creations. I'm giving this little box to a friend of mine who is hosting a workshop for me next weekend. Included in the box are the little tags you see below.

Another fun little box.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lovely Lily Moments

Monday night I was getting ready to warm Lily's milk for dinner. I just so happened to pull out a purple bottle from the cupboard and showed it to her...she loves to tell us what color her bottle is. When she saw it, she surprised me by saying she wanted yellow. Huh? First, how could the daughter of a purple-loving mommy ask for yellow? Second, she had never asked for a specific color before. I figured I could honor her request in this instance so I returned to get the yellow bottle. Lo and behold, her sole yellow bottle was dirty and in the dishwasher. I looked at her and said, "I'm sorry baby. The yellow one is dirty. We have to use purple." She looked up at me and said, "It's aw-wight." Talk about melting your heart!

As we were eating dinner and talking, Robert turned to her at one point and asked her to say her name. She has never once even attempted to say her name. Of course she knows her name...when we ask her, "Where's Lily?" she points to herself. But if you point to her in a picture or ask her her name, she always says, "Baby!" So we fully expected the typical "Baby" in response to his question. Boy were we surprised when she blurted out, "Yi-yee!". Ha! She said her name! She only did it one more time during dinner, and not once since then. I guess she figured she'd appease us by letting us know she could in fact say her name, she just doesn't want to!

And on a funny note...Lily seems to have developed quite an aversion to fur. In this house, with a dog and a cat that never. stop. shedding, this has been quite challenging. As I heard her rousing yesterday morning and playing with her stuffed "friends" in her bed, I heard a very sudden and loud cry. It became very persistent which is pretty unusual in the morning. I had just started getting her breakfast ready so I went in to see what was wrong. She was just sitting in her bed staring. As soon as she saw me she pointed at her sheet and cried out, "Fuuuuuuuh!!". I looked in her bed and saw a little black tuft of "fur" that had fallen out of one of her stuffed animals. As soon as I took it out and threw it away, she stopped crying and all was well again. Boy oh boy...this is going to be fun!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Do I Really Trust You, Lord?

It's easy to say we trust Him when all is well, but...

I had a very interesting experience yesterday. Every Wednesday morning for the last 4 months or so, I have been attending a women's bible study group at our church. Every week I drop Lily off at the nursery where she plays with about 3 or 4 other kids her age. I then leave the nursery and walk across the parking lot to the building where our study is held. Each morning begins with the usual chit-chat amongst the ladies as we load up our plates with whatever food has been brought and fill up our coffee mugs and prepare for what God has in store for us that day. This day started just like every other, except it was the last meeting before the summer break. We had our morning announcements, then sang some wonderful hymns to prepare our hearts for worship. As the music ended and we took our seats, the speaker for the morning walked up to the microphone and asked in a very calm and sure voice, "Who is in control?" Of course we all answered with a resounding, "God!". She asked again, "Do you really believe that?". We answered again, even louder, "YES!" Then she announced that she had just been informed there was criminal activity outside of the church and we were under lock down. My heart stopped. I had been under lock down before at the school where I worked, but I never really thought much of it then. It usually never lasted long and nothing ever came of it. However, I was not a mother at the time with my child in another building across the parking lot from where I was. I had never felt so far away from my baby. My mind raced to the moment I dropped Lily off. She was crying. How could I have left her there crying and now this? (Like I could have known!) What if something happens to her, or to me? I could hear the helicopter circling overhead, and the clanging sounds of the gates to the campus being closed. Then I took a breath. "Lord, do I really trust in You? You have brought me through so much to this exact moment. You have answered so many prayers and been so faithful to me. How could I not trust You now? Of course I trust You. Whatever happens, it will be okay because you are a holy God who has promised to never leave me or forsake me. I do trust You." I was suddenly filled with perfect peace. I rested in the knowledge that God is so much bigger than whatever was happening outside. Several minutes later, someone came in and gave the all clear. We thanked God and went on with our study. Afterwards I stayed to help clean up, said my good-byes to the ladies, loaded up my stuff in the car and went to get my daughter. I walked in to the nursery and saw her running around, laughing and happy. I picked her up and hugged her a little tighter that day.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4: 6-7

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Different Mother's Day

This day last year, I was a mother, however, I had not yet held my precious baby girl in my arms. All I had was a picture of a cherubic face with beautiful deep brown eyes. I stared at that picture constantly...longing to hold her and see her smile. This year was much different. We went to church this morning, and when we picked Lily up from the nursery, I received my first Mother's Day gift from her. She "made" me an adorable mug that says "I Love Mommy" and has her sweet little hand prints on it. I will treasure it forever! Our pastor asked all of the moms to stand up today. It took me a second to realize, that was me! I started to cry. I am blessed.

I am reminded on this day of everything I want to be for my family...for my husband and my daughter. I want to be the best for them. I am certainly not perfect, nor will I ever be. But I can aspire to be the kind of wife and mother that God wants me to be for them, and if I put Him first, I know I will be.

Proverbs 31:10-12
"An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. "

Proverbs 31:25-31
"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all." Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Random (Mostly) Lily Pictures

I say "mostly" because this first picture is obviously not of Lily (believe it or not, there are actually a few other pictures without her in them!). Some people have asked me to post my work. I am a new Stampin' Up! demonstrator, however, I am not new to Stampin' Up! I've been stamping for probably 9 years or so. I don't usually take pictures of the items I create, but maybe I will start doing that and posting them here. That will probably also help me remember what I've made since I give most of the things I make away!

We went out for dinner on May 1st. It was not only the anniversary of the day we received our referral for Lily, it is also Robert's mom's birthday. I made the gift tag that's on the bag, the wrapping paper and the card. The card isn't pictured though...just the envelope.

After church recently, we went to lunch at the Claimjumper with some friends. Talk about a kid friendly place! They had plastic bibs, a placemat that stuck to the table, and they brought beautiful plates of food for them. There was applesauce, cheese, sliced turkey and mandarin orange slices. We didn't even have to order them any food (nor did we have to share any of ours!).

The plastic bib didn't last too long though, so we had to eventually use one of ours.

After lunch we went outside to the play area. We discovered on this day that Lily does not like sand. We thought she'd love it. Nope. She started crying immediately. I took her shoes off thinking maybe she didn't like the way the sand felt between her feet and shoes. Nope. After that she refused to be put down on the sand. She kept raising her legs up so we couldn't put her down. Going to the beach this summer will be interesting. I told Robert we may need to be on the lookout for the worlds largest beach towel!

Another crying Lily picture for posterity.

I took this one day while we were folding laundry. Talk about a lucky shot...I love this picture.

Another fun day at gymnastics.

Poking around out in the backyard. Her favorite place to be is outside. As I'm sitting here typing this, Lily is sitting on my lap looking at the picture of herself outside and saying, "Ow-sigh! Ow-sigh!". I guess it's time for us to go outside for a little while.:o)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

One Year Ago Today...

...we got the phone call that would change our lives forever. There was a little girl in China...our daughter...waiting for us to bring her home. She was then known as Yu Lian Wang and is now forever Lily Grace. She has been such a treasure. We love you so much baby girl. You are a precious gift from God and we are blessed to have you for our daughter.

This is the first picture we saw of our baby, although we didn't actually see it until May 2nd, 2007. She looks so chubby in this picture...we thought we were going to have a big girl. As it turned out, she only weighed 15.4 pounds when we got her.

Lily in April 2008. What a difference! She is now a very healthy 24 pounds and is
turning from a baby into a little girl. She is a beautiful miracle.