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But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD-Joshua 24:15

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day and our 17th Anniversary

My first Mother's Day with my 5 blessings!  I can honestly say that I am feeling overly blessed! Lily is precious and we couldn't imagine life without her.  In only a little over 2 months life here at the Painter household is just as it should be.  Sure, it is busy, we have moments, but I wouldn't miss it for anything.  Today, Darren and I, also celebrate our 17th anniversary!! What a blessing our marriage has been and I am so excited to be married to my best friend!  I received this video earlier in the week, but did not get to view it until today...which was fitting.  Get a tissue and take a look...God is so good and marriage is such a gift from Him!!


"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Sunday, April 22, 2012

God is so faithful

Now that we have been home for 5 weeks (I can't believe it!!), I can really look back on our journey and see just how faithful God has been to us. Last October we saw pictures of our little girl and fell in love with her sweet little face for the first time.  We also saw pictures of her birthmarks and we were concerned for her and how she would handle them, especially in the summer and in her adolescent years. But we said God made her this way...she needs a loving family...if not us...then who?  We heard God's gentle voice saying, "this is the daughter I have chosen for you.". We said "yes", we can do this!  They are just birthmarks.

A few days later we received additional medical reports in Chinese. We had them translated and a doctor who specializes in International adoption looked at them and told us she had been diagnosed with Incontentia Pigmentosa (IP for short). It is a rare disorder that could have many different symptoms. The birthmarks are just one of the symptoms.  Other symptoms include loss of hair, pegged teeth, blindness, seizures, and retardation.  Again, God was so faithful.  We believe another family had accepted her referral, found out about this information and let her go...were we going to do the same thing?  Were we going to let fear take over and not proceed with this adoption?  Fear did kick in quickly for me, but Darren still felt confident that this was our little girl,  Ya Bei.  He felt that she was to be our daughter.  That helped me feel more confident, but we still both waivered between trusting God and fearing what was ahead over the next few months.  God was patient...and we kept hearing His voice...leading us to continue trusting in Him and His plan.

So, with a few pictures, a diagnosis and not much else to go on, we continued our journey to adopt this little girl.  We just had to pray for her and remember that God created her and seek wisdom on how to handle whatever her future may hold.  I prepared myself for any or all of the symptoms.  We tried to prepare the kids as well.  We did some research which just seemed to increase our fears and without knowing her particular case, we decided to just trust and wait.   I will be forever thankful that fear did not find victory in our home.  Fear did not stop us from pursuing this precious little girl.  We have come so far in such a short time.  Little Ya Bei Wei who was once a little orphan is now Liliana Lee Painter and has a forever family.  We have taken her to a dermatologist and have been encouraged.  The doctors believe we would already be seeing these other symptoms is she had them and...in time the birthmarks may even fade...birthmarks...what birthmarks?  It is so amazing how perspective can change.  I don't even see them anymore.  I mean...I see them, but I believe they are beautiful.

God has also been faithful in that Lily is transitioning into our family better than we could ever have expected.  We are amazed daily by her.  She communicates with us so well and she attached quickly.  That isn't to say we haven't had some moments.  She has grieved, but we are thankful for that.  We believe her foster family cared for her and she was with them almost a whole year.  So we wouldn't expect her not to miss them and grieve over what she has left behind.  I have been amazed  that every morning since Lily has been in our family her first word every morning is "Momma."  And as she says it throughout the day it warms this Mother's heart.  Just recenly, I told her, "I love you," like I do so often and she said, "so much".  It was adorable.  I guess I say, "I love you so much" and she just finished my sentence.  I told the kids, and now we say "I love you" to her and she says, "so much".  We love it!!

We celebrated our first Easter and read the story about Jesus and how he died on the cross for our sins, but was risen!   She already says the name Jesus or "Ezus"...close enough....God knows...and I pray that it is just the beginning of teaching her about our precious Savior and what He has done for us on the cross.  What He has done for all the nations, all races, and all cultural backgrounds.  We pray that she will profess a  love for Jesus Christ and that her true heritage, her true identity will be found in Him.

We don't really know what Lily's future holds nor do we know the future of any our children.  There are no guarantees in life, but with everything we do, it is just another oppurtunity for me to be on my knees at the feet of Jesus trusting, praying, waiting, and seeking.

I shared most of this with my church this past Sunday morning.  However, I did want to add that God is faithful no matter what...I don't want it to sound as if God has been faithful because Lily does not, as of right now, have these other symptoms and if she were to have these symptoms, God would somehow stop being faithful.  He is good and I trust Him.  He is fatihful and we have been recipients of his faithfulness.  I believe that He has given us new eyes to see and a new peace to trust in Him and that He will give us grace and wisdom with each step.  We thank so many of you for everything...your support, your puzzle donations, your encouragement through the blog, e-mails, cards, phone calls, etc.  We thank you for your prayers.    God is so faithful!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2 Weeks Home

Wow!! I can't believe we have only been home a few weeks and yet I feel like we have come SO far!  We have been settling in and adjusting to having a 2 year old again....and she is ALL 2...if you know what I mean!  Before we left for China I was obsessed interested in looking at other blogs waiting for God's perfect timing to send our family on our way to bring home our daughter.  Most of the blogs seemed too good to believe.  However, I shouldn't be surprised...God is so good and He has a heart for adoption.  Sometimes it is hard to document the difficult moments and we definitely have had some of those. However, it is amazing to see how faithful God has been. When we first brought Lily back to our hotel room in China on Forever Family Day, we were just getting to know her and she was just getting to know us. Like any 2 year old, she was testing her boundaries. In just 4 weeks we have seen our little Lily grow so much. She's learned how to communicate. She uses signs and is now speaking several english words. She seems to understand a lot of what we are saying to her.  It feels like she has been a part of our family for a long time and we love her so much.  We can't wait to see how God continues to help us grow in our faith and we are so thankful for this precious gift that He has given to us. To think that there are times when it is hard to step out in faith....could we have missed it?  I am so thankful that we said 'yes' to His calling.  Here are some pictures of Lily at home!


Lily signs "night, night"

Lily takes a break from her noodles!

They're back

Relaxing in the hammock

Happy at home!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Homeward Bound

1 bus ride
2 flights totaling 17 hours
1 car ride 2.5 hours

... and we are officially home. What a journey! We flew from Guangzhou to Beijing on Friday morning to catch a 6:25pm flight direct to Dulles Airport. The flight went very well as Lily slept over 8 hours of the 14 hours we were on the plane. The people sitting around us were very pleased as she was the only infant or toddler we saw on the flight.

After arriving at Dulles we boarded the transport vehicle and headed to customs and immigration. It was only a little bit painful as we presented all 7 passports and Lily's special immigration envelope. Once that was complete we were able to leave. As we came out we saw most of Heather's family and our niece, Julia and her husband, Eric. What a welcome sight after two weeks in China!

Lily was great in the car. We made it home at 12:20am... we had a big surprise waiting for us. Our friends had put balloons on our lamppost. When we opened the door we were welcomed with flowers, more balloons, a cake, cards, books for Lily, and some delicious food, so we didn't have to rush out on Saturday morning. Thanks so much. It was perfect. What an awesome surprise! In addition, Julia and Eric made a Welcome Home sign and hung it with a note. It was a great welcome home.

Here are a few pictures of the adventure

Airport in Beijing. Now that is a lot of bags

With quite a bit of time until our flight to Dulles, Lily and Ryan had time to share a drink

Lily traded for Ryan's drink

Lily liked the food on the airplane at least a little bit

We were blessed with some extra seats so Lily spread out for a long snooze. The Passengers seated around us were quite pleased as it was touch and go for a while with a lot of crying before she dozed off

Stickers were a big hit as well

Welcome Home!

Our welcome home balloons

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1 more day before we travel home

Today was a big day as we headed off for the US Consulate to take the oath and submit Lily's final paperwork to obtain her Visa so she can become a United States Citizen. We took a short ride to the consulate and were joined there by other adopting families. We were there for only about an hour. This was the final step in the adoption process. Tomorrow we will get Lily's visa and we will be ready on Friday to travel home, as a family of 7!

We have met a lot of amazing families and have seen God's hand working through the hearts of many. There are about 30 families adopting just in our hotel. It is an awesome witness of God's love for His children. There are so many great stories including a child who was adopted just days before her 14th birthday when she would have not been able to be adopted. We have also met several families that have adopted 2 or more children...many with special needs. We've heard about many different ways that God has provided finances for these families to adopt through friends, family members and their Church. God is clearly at work as James 1:27 is lived out. It is great to see God's people praying, encouraging and supporting families pursuing adoption.

Just a couple pics of Lily waking up from her nap today

Xiangjiang Safari Animal Park

Today we ventured out to the Safari Animal Park in Guangzhou which is located about 45 minutes from our hotel. The whole family was excited to see all the different kinds of animals. We were really excited about 3 in particular. Elephants for Megan, Tigers for Matthew, and Pandas for the rest of the family. We went with 4 other families that are part of our group. The weather was overcast and cool but we still had a great time. We took a lot of pictures of the different animals.

Group shots of all the kids

Emily and Lily

Megan and her friend Brooklyn, who found her forever family and will be traveling to Wisconsin in the next several days

Heather, Emily,and Lily

Our guide here in Guangzhou Jack, walking with Ryan

Darren, Jack, and Steve, a dad from our group

Matt giving Lily a ride in the stroller

Matt feeding the tiger cub

Meg and her elephants

Mom and Lily at the Panda house

Stephanie and Heather

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recap of the last few days...

Here we are at The Garden Hotel.

Our Sunday medical appointment with Lily went great. Thanks for all those back at home who have been praying. Here are a few pictures of our brave little girl.

After a busy morning at the medical center, we went to a familiar restaurant from home, Pizza Hut.

We are so priviliged to be on this journey. Lily is a remarkable little girl and we are so excited to call her a Painter. More to come tomorrow.

Good Night from Guangzhou!