God is writing another story

God is writing another story. It starts with 3 Johnsons, a ministry to unwed mothers in Taiwan, 2 passionate God-loving ladies, an 18 year old girl and 1 tiny baby. Let's see where the story goes...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reflecting on Four Months with Selah

(Edited with additional content:  See below)

I can hardly get my mind around the fact that 4 months ago today we held Selah in our arms for the first time.  She felt so good in my arms, yet she held herself very stiffly.  The expression on her face for the first few hours was one of curiosity and mistrust.  She did not cry one tear, yet we could tell she was very uncertain of her new arrangements. 

She must have been thinking something like, "Who are these odd looking folks I've been handed over too?  Are they some new His Hands volunteers I will hang with for a few days?  Will we laugh and play and have a couple bottles of milk together?  Or is this something completely new...?"

Selah did start to relax over the next few days.  We began to see some lovely smiles and she even broke out her infectious laugh on a few occasions.  She didn't have a clue who we were or why we were together, but she did seem to trust that we would take care of her.  She had a long way to go, however, to begin to understand the permanent and unconditional love of a family.

I am pleased to report that Selah has come far in attaching to her new family members.  She connected with me first and would get nervous if I wasn't close by and now has started to cry if I leave the room.  It took a bit longer with daddy, but sure enough, she wants this strong, handsome fellow to be around her as often as possible.  She cranes her little neck to see where he has gone, and gets quite fussy if he doesn't return soon.  Noelle, on the other hand, had an instant connection with Selah.  I think Selah saw and felt something familiar in her new sister.  These two laugh and wrestle and squeal and play like nothing I've heard.  Eric and I LOVE it. :)

Selah has also started to call us "Mama" and "Dada".  Oh what a wonderful sound!  She only says it when she's in the mood, but when I hear that simple word, my heart sings!  One other new development is that Selah is learning to cuddle--one of my favorite things to do. :)  It was many, many weeks where she would sit stiffly in our arms when we held her, but now she will relax and snuggle right in.  Ahhhhh... :)  Our baby girl is learning about Family and Love.  Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!!

Now for some developmental milestones---
~Selah has learned to eat solid food, pretty well. ;)  She is cutting tooth #9 and does a little chewing, mostly sucking and mashing her table food and some stage 3 baby food.
~Selah learned to clap...and knows what it means (i.e. "Good job, Selah!"). She loves to join in the applause at church or if she sees/hears it on tv.
~Selah is learning to wave hello and goodbye.
~Selah's sense of humor is really developing.  She loves to make goofy faces so everyone laughs.  She thoroughly enjoys diving her whole body onto anyone laying on the floor.  And she finds it extremely amusing to try to feed her bottle to family members, or stick her paci into mama's mouth.
~She recently starting walking!  Not a lot, but several steps here and there, until she realizes what she's just done and gets nervous. ;)  I suspect it won't be long before we are chasing that short chubby legged girl all around the house!
~Now this is a big one. Selah is learning to sleep through the night!!!  What an answer to prayer!  Seriously.  Going to a comfort a crying child or calm a laughing child several times a night leads to extremely exhausted parents (and big sister, who is also often awakened).  It is a challenge to parent effectively, or do anything effectively, for that matter, on little sleep.  So I praise God every night Selah sleeps through, or even makes it past 5:00am.  We are starting to feel energy again--woot!!
~more to come...

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Miss This Ministry!

It's been less than 2 weeks since we were last with members of the His Hands Taiwan ministry team, but boy do I miss them.  What amazing folks, with such a heart for God and a heart for the vulnerable and hurting young women of Taiwan!  Please click the link below to watch the video.  It gives an excellent overview of the purpose behind the ministry and how it came together.  And if you are me, it will make you smile a bittersweet smile, because you wish you were back in Kaohsiung with all of the wonderful His Hands people!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

After The Airport...What do YOU think?

This recent post by Christian author, speaker and adoptive parent Jen Hatmaker will move you deeply and open your eyes. 

"I'm going to tell you something; a little confession, if you will. Some of you will pull your hair out and smear your faces with ashes and put all my books on eBay and quit believing in God, but I'm willing to take that risk..."
Jen's post has stirred up a fair amount of controversy in the adoption community--the message boards are alive with responses.  I also have a lot of thoughts on this topic.  I would love to hear your thoughts.    So please post comments! :)

(After you post your comment here, go read the rest of her blog.  You will love this gal's way of communicating and her story will challenge and encourage you.  Ok, now get going!)

We Meet Selah's Grandfather

(video error)

We feel very fortunate to have met Selah's grandfather.  He had planned to meet us only briefly for tea, but ended up relaxing greatly and stayed for an hour or so.  What a wonderful and important visit!  Sadly, Selah's mother was unable to attend our rescheduled lunch meeting (she had taken off work the previous day but the typhoon messed up our plans).  Our hope is to connect regularly via email and see where God takes the relationship.  We know God has a bigger plan in mind... :)

Jet Lag / Drs Appoinments / Dedications / Blogging / Sibling issues

Jet Lag--
Don't worry.  I haven't forgotten the blog.  We are, however, just starting our recovery from jet lag.  Praise the Lord.  Although Selah is unfortunately still on Taiwan time, which means she wants to be awake at night.  We are functioning.  But until today, just barely. ;)

Doctor's Visit--
We did visit Selah's pediatrician on Friday and thank goodness, we are starting our 10-month-old on baby food!  This should mean a fuller tummy for longer periods.  Which also translates to longer periods of sleep at night.  Woohoo!!  Dr. Jeanie is also making appointment for Selah to see a pediatric cardiologist to evaluate the hole in her heart and a poorly functioning valve.  We will also see an opthamologist to evaluate her retinopathy.  A dermatologist is next to help determine the cause of the mysterious itchy bumps on her head.  Sometime in the midst of all this we will go to the children's hospital for blood tests - oh fuuuuun!  Everything is rounded out by her 1-year physical the end of October.  All in all, the pediatrician was very pleased with Selah's size and development.  She may have come into this world a couple months early, but she is trucking right along now!

Baby Dedication--
Today before our church congregation we had Selah dedicated to the Lord.  This is a very important commitment Eric and I choose to make to God on behalf of each of our children.  Our children are a gift from God--in fact they are "on loan" from God and we are merely stewards of each precious soul.  We strive to honor God in the way we raise our kids.  Our highest aim is that 1) they grow to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, and 2) that they are secure in the unconditional love of their forever family.  Our children's pastor, Roberto, performed a lovely and personal ceremony.  We were also blessed to have Eric's parents in attendance, all the way from Illinois.  My dad was also up front with the group, but my mom, who had surgery on her shoulder that past Tuesday, was unable to make it (please pay for her pain and for a swift recovery).  This is one of those special memories we will always cherish.  I'm glad we got video of the ceremony. :)  I will upload that later.

I am working on a "comprehensive" day-by-day travel post.  Once I started I realized I had lots to share.  I also have lots of pictures and video.  It may take several days, but I will eventually post it...

Sibling Issues--
Being first time parents to an infant (Noelle was almost 19 months when we arrived home from China) has been a very interesting experience.  I can see that it will take a few weeks of caring for Selah's particular needs for it to become second nature.  Every day does get easier than the day before.  And every day we fall more in love with this second blessing God has sent our way.  Regarding Noelle, we would ask that you keep her in your prayers over then next several weeks and months.  She is struggling with "sharing us" with Selah.  This is normal for all first siblings.  However...she has been experiencing some big insecurities related to how she entered our family back in 2008.  She has expressed some deep fears that have Eric and I very concerned.  Only God can unravel these hurts and doubts our sweet daughter feels within her soul.  Thank you for those prayers.  I should tell you one very positive development.  Selah totally loves Noelle.  She thinks her big sis is tops and grins, giggles and belly laughs at almost everything Noelle does.  Every time Selah giggles at Noelle antics, Noelle starts to enjoy having a little sister.  We thank God for this connection that is starting between the two girls. 

Hmmmm I'm trying to think if I need to share anything else before I sign off.  Well, if I think of anything of value, I'll just write another post.  Later~

Friday, September 2, 2011

Last day In Taiwan...

Tomorrow we leave Taiwan and I realized I hardly touched this blog.  I had grand ambitions to blog every day during our adoption trip and post pictures and videos.  As it turns out, I just couldn't pull myself away from our gurgly, drooly, giggly, big-toothy-smiles 10-month-old baby girl!  Selah is irresistible and when it came down to choosing spending time bonding with her and creating special memories with Eric OR blogging about what we've done and where we've been,,,well I chose the former.  I'm sure you all understand. :)

In the coming days, however, I would like to share the details of our trip with you.  I'd like to share our packing list, travel advice and tips, do's and don't's, hotel reviews, Taiwan must see's, fun moments, scary moments (yes, there were a couple) and moving moments (including meeting with Selah's biological grandfather).

I am passionate about adoption.  I am passionate about the ministry of His Hands Taiwan.  I am passionate about our daughter.  I am passionate about sharing lessons I've learned and am still learning.  Hopefully the information will be helpful.  Maybe it will encourage some.  Maybe it will challenge others.  So please stop by again!

Just The Facts:
Saturday September 3 - We leave Taipei at 9:35AM
Switch planes in Tokyo
Switch planes in Atlanta
Saturday September 3 - We arrive in Chattanooga at 8:25PM!!!

And we get to hug and kiss our daughter Noelle (who turned 5 years old today!)!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our first moments together

(Having problems uploading the gotcha day video...will try again later)

(check out facebook to see a few gotcha day pics)