Stromberg's Adoption Dream

The journey to our little girl in China

Archive for the month “July, 2014”

Firsts

This Summer has been the Summer of firsts for little Lydia.  Between camp, a week at Mormor and Papa’s, and regular Summer days at home Lydia’s Summer has been full of firsts.  First dish of chocolate ice cream, first fireworks show, first visit to a Northwoods lake, first time feeling sand between her toes, first time on a slip n slide, first taste of fresh peaches, first encounter with farm animals, first taste of cotton candy, first visit to a county fair, first time on Papa’s swing, first time driving with the windows down, first swim in a pool, first campfire, first s’more, first twirl in a pretty Summer dress.

The whole family, extended family and all have been soaking up these precious firsts as we watch Lydia.  And we have marveled at her response to all of them.  With the exception of fresh peaches, which she didn’t care for, her response has been the same to each ‘first’ experience.  She simply puts her little hands together and makes the sign for ‘more’.  She does it over and over.  She can’t get enough of each new thing she experiences.  She wants more ice cream, more fireworks, more running, more rides, more swims, more jumps, more sand between her toes.  She is loving life.  She is taking it in, soaking it up and she can’t seem to get enough.

When I think of all that has changed in her life over the last six months I am overwhelmed.  Her response reminds me of  the movie The Wizard of Oz, when the door to Dorothy’s house opens upon landing in Oz and suddenly her world becomes a technicolor dream. Bright and vivid and overwhelming in the best way.

Today I took the kids to the pool and for the first time, Liddy let me take her into the deeper water.  She finally relaxed, stopped clinging to me and just let me hold her loosely so she could feel the water.   And then I watched something click in her little mind.  And she jumped off the edge to me over and over.  Signing “more!” after each jump with a huge smile on her face.  She wanted to play, to enjoy, to splash. She wanted me to hold her on her belly, she even learned to kick.  It was a beautiful first.

And as I watch Lydia I am reminded to experience life the way she does.  To delight in ice cream and sand between my toes, to marvel at the feathers on a rooster and the stickiness of cotton candy, to take it all in and enjoy every moment for the gift that it is.  How sweet and sweetly profound to watch this little girl discover the world.

 

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First dig in the sand

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First chocolate ice cream

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First ‘chocolate ice cream coma’ 🙂

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First 4th of July

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First backyard water table fun!

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First campfire!

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First cotton candy

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First rooster siting!

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First pig! 🙂

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First County Fair!

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First twirl in this pretty Summer dress- she was so proud.

 

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First pose for a picture. J/K – we just happened to catch her looking the right direction. 🙂

 

 

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Peace in the Midst of the Storm

We are fresh off the heals of a wonderful week at Family Camp. Every year, we pack it up and travel 7 hours North up to Covenant Point, a camp in the U.P. of Michigan to enjoy a week of fun and fellowship with some of our church family. We sing and learn and swim and play games and eat great homemade camp food, all while smelling pine trees and enjoying a pristine Northwoods lake in the backdrop of every scene. It’s my favorite week of the year.

The Northwoods of the midwest provide a sort of escape from reality. We are no where near a Starbucks and Target is out of reach- it’s a beautiful thing. We are away. And in this away-ness we have time to think and ponder and run around with our kids and just be.

This year Lars, who serves as camp pastor during our week of Family Camp, worked with the theme of landscapes in Scripture. We talked about mountains, and rivers and deserts and lakes and starry skies. Scripture lead the way to great conversation, both with our kids and in the adult, ‘coffee talk’ time, where we are kid-free and have time to share.

On the day Lars addressed lakes he talked about the storm on the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus lay sleeping in the boat as his disciples were sure they would drown, and how Jesus spoke, “Peace, Be Still” and faithfully calmed the storm.  Lars invited the group of twenty-some adults to share about a time when God faithfully calmed a storm in our lives, a time when God ‘showed up’ BIG to bring peace to a storm.

As the group began sharing I wondered at whether I would have the boldness to share the storm I had faced early in the adoption process.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to share something so intimate, so in a way, strange.  My storm would make some people wonder or feel uncomfortable.  We went around the circle one by one – I was second to last.  And then out it came.  My storm and my story about Jesus ‘showing up’.  I’m a big believer in giving testimony.  I think it’s something often lost in Evangelical America.  So I went for it.  It felt like a safe enough crowd.  Some people who knew me well, others basic strangers, I would never see again this side of heaven.  And on I shared.

My storm began in mid May of 2012.  Lars and I had very recently decided to adopt from China.  Our application had just been accepted by our agency and we were started into our paperwork.  It was a weeknight evening and I was turning lights off, as I so often do before heading up to bed.  Lars had already headed up. I was standing in the kitchen turning off the mudroom and kitchen lights and in a quiet moment while standing in the dark I heard three words very distinctly.  “Don’t do it.”

I stood there stunned.  When I say, I heard, I don’t mean audibly heard, I mean in my head, or heart or somehow, but the words were clear and left a chill up my spine.  I took a breath, thought, ‘what in the world?’, and knew instantly the words were in reference to the adoption, but after standing for a quick moment longer, I swiftly convinced myself it was my own nerves talking.  We had just made the biggest decision of our lives, of course I was nervous and it was to be expected that I might have doubts, right? Except truly, in my heart of hearts, I didn’t feel doubtful.  I put the thought, the words, aside and went to bed, unsettled.  I didn’t mention it to Lars.

Fast forward a couple days.  I stood in the kitchen late at night, turned the lights out, and just as  before, clear as could be, I heard “Don’t do it.”  This time I stopped.  I stood, rather sickened, wondering who’s voice as I hearing.  Is it the voice of wisdom, a voice of doubt or a voice of discouragement.  Two things occurred to me.  One – I was standing in the dark.  I have always hated the dark.   I have always been hyper aware of the link between physical darkness and spiritual darkness.  In the dark you are susceptible.  In the dark you are vulnerable.  In the dark you are blind. And two- the voice was not familiar.  It was not a safe voice.  Not a voice I knew.  Not my own voice.

As I stood there thinking, it became abundantly clear what was going on.  I was being discouraged.  This was not God’s voice and I knew it.  Over and over God had said, “do it!”  God had set this adoption dream in my heart as a teenager.  He had confirmed it in my early college years. He had affirmed the dream as good and he had brought us to the moment of decision to pursue it at this time.  God was saying, Yes, Go, Do this.  This I knew.

So I walked upstairs, fearful of this voice of discouragement but wanting to fight.  But how?  I lay in bed, Lars was already asleep, and I stared out into the darkness of our bedroom.  I wanted the right words.  I prayed for words of truth to come against this lie.  I felt alone and I was shaking.  I continued to pray, asking for words.  And then they came.  I said, out loud, to a dark room, “God is faithful.”  And just like that a wash of peace and calm and tears swept over me.

Those were the words.  The truth that overcame the lie.  The truth is that this dream was from God, and He would be faithful to bring it to fullness. He had propelled us to the decision. He would raise the thousands of dollars we didn’t have.  He would decide it would be Lydia, born a month before our application was even received. He would be in every detail of the process.  And all I had to do to find peace in the storm was to proclaim him faithful.

I rested that night knowing nothing- no discouragement, no lie would ever again seep into the adoption process.  And it didn’t.  It would be weeks before I would share all this with Lars.  And when I did, he was quick to say, “Why didn’t you wake me up?  Why didn’t you tell me?”  And honestly, I don’t know why.  It’s not like me to keep anything from him.  I think the experience felt raw and strange and somehow precious all at the same time and I didn’t know how to express it, how to share it without it somehow losing it’s significance for me.

But there I was up at camp on a sunny Thursday morning, sitting in a circle with old friends and new, sharing this experience.  And it felt safe and good and even exciting to speak of God’s faithfulness.  To give testimony to God calming a storm. To give testimony to truth winning the day.

As I write this Lydia is upstairs sleeping.  She is safe, she is loved, she is no longer an orphan.  And no discouragement, no lie will ever keep me from seeing God’s faithfulness in her, because her precious life is my every day testimony.

God is faithful.

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