Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Painfully Patriotic

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
-- The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Most people would probably not know this about me, but I am "painfully" patriotic.  I still cry every year when we watch the fireworks on the 4th of July, I tear up every time I hear Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA", I even get choked up at the National Anthem at the Bruins games.  And trust me, you don't want to be anywhere near me when I watch Mel Gibson's "The Patriot".  I am a wreck after watching that movie and getting some glimpse of what men and women went through for the freedoms we now have and often now abuse.  I am not sure why I am so emotional when it comes to thinking about our country.  It may be that I actually am an "ARMY brat".  I was born in Columbus, GA on the ARMY base at Ft. Benning.  My Daddy and Grandfathers served in the military.  I have uncles and cousins that also served.  Unknown to my parents, one of my favorite childhood memories forever burned in my heart, pride and love for my country.  I think I was in middle school, when my family went to stand on Tibbs Bridge that goes over Interstate 75.  We were there with many other people who were holding signs and waving the American flag.  What were we doing?  We were cheering and showing support for the troops that were being deployed to serve our country in Operation Desert Storm.  And yes, even as a kid, I cried. 

What does any of this have to do with Ren?  Well, the most emotional day for me in China, was not the day I met her.  It was the day Tyson and I took an oath on her behalf  for her to become an American citizen.  I could barely utter the words.  Even though we took the oath a few days before coming home, she wasn't technically a US citizen until she landed on US soil.  Though I was a little sad that she "officailly" became a citzen above the mason-dixon line, (just kidding), it was very emotional to see her waving her American flag through immigration in the Detroit airport. It wasn't just that she was becoming an American, but all that it meant for her.  Her life would never ever be the same.  Though she will always be a "Chinese American", she will never have to worry about being abandoned again.  She will grow up where public education is a right for all children.  She will grow up with the freedom to Praise our Lord openly and unapologetically.  She is free to be who God created her to be.  Our prayer is one of thanksgiving that Ren's physical citizenship has changed, but we also pray that she will fall in love with Jesus, and become a citizen of Heaven.

Ren entering the US Consulate as a citizen of The People's Republic of China
Ren leaving the US consulate as a citizen of The United States, "Almost"

America's newest citizens!  Watch out!

She's a citizen!

Home in Georgia!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our Last Day in China

It seems like only yesterday when Tyson and I were living in Chicago.  He was a student at Moody Bible Institute; I was teaching.  It was a great time in our life.  That was  four kids and almost 10 years ago.  While at Moody, we met wonderful people and formed life long friendships.  The thing about so many of our friends from Moody is that we can go years without seeing each other, but still continue to have a special bond.  Mark and Alice Lam are friends of ours from Moody.  They are a couple from Hong Kong.  Mark was a student at Moody with Tyson.  We met Alice only once when she came to visit Mark in the states.  Though our time in Chicago was brief, they have always had a special place in our hearts.  We have always said if we ever made it to China, we would visit Mark and Alice.  Tyson contacted Alice through Facebook and the rest is history.  We were hoping for at least a brief visit with them.  We had no idea what they had in store for us. Mark toured us all over Hong Kong.  He took us to "The Peak" where we could see the magnificent views of Hong Kong.  We strolled along "Star Avenue".  They treated us to a delicious dinner and an unbelievable light show over looking Victoria Harbor. They also took Ren to Toys R Us and bought her a Hello Kitty toy.  It was her first trip to Toys R Us and she was amazed.

We, too, were amazed.  It wasn't the toys, the dinner, or even the breath-taking views.  We were amazed, once again, by the goodness of our Lord.  Who would have know that ten years later, we would be in Hong Kong, China, with the Lams and introducing them to our Chinese daughter?

To Mark and Alice, you will never know what today meant to us.  The love and hospitality you showed to us was unbelievable.  WE could not think of a better way to spend our daughter's last day in her native land.  We love you both and can't wait for our paths to cross again!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

guest blogger

Hi, I'm Tyson Griffin.  You will know me in the virtual world as "a guest blogger".  I was politely asked by my internet savvy wife, Renee, to be "a guest blogger".  I feel privileged. I feel important. I thought I’d start out similar to Renee’s polished blogging style using scripture to eloquently hone my point of truth.  2 Samuel 15:11b says: "They were invited as guests knowing nothing of the matter."  Taking this verse strangely out of context and stretching it's meaning to mean exactly nothing pertaining to the original...I, having been invited as a guest, know nothing of the matter of blogging.  I do however know that God has blessed this guest blogger with a beautiful, intelligent, godly, and thorough wife who has been planning this trip for four almost five years now.  I signed my name a few times, but Renee has been compiling, filing, reading, praying, dreaming, re-filing, re-reading, and organizing the mounds of paperwork needed for this trip.  A trip that has brought me to realize how blessed I am to have a wife, partner, co-minister and friend like Renee.  I guess the weird reality is that while I was here to fall in love with a daughter I had never met, I fell in love with a spouse I already knew all over again in a fresh realization of just how wonderful she is.  …By the way Ren-boo is also stealing my heart at a record pace. 
The paperwork says that Ren is officially a Griffin now.  How do you tell that to a Chinese speaking, crooked nosed, 21 month old who knows nothing about legal documentation, notary seals, Consulate appointments, i-600 forms or even a real family?  “Officially a Griffin” to Ren means practically separated from everything familiar and comfortable.  So…It’s fun to watch as every day she gets a bit more comfortable, a bit more real, a bit more founded, a bit more “official” in our family.   You can tell by watching her react to life.  At first her smiles were absent.  She didn’t laugh or cry.  She didn’t really do much of anything other than hold tightly to Renee and her orphanage sheep toy called “Shi-yang yang.”  Her heart melting smiles and laughs are more frequent now. The “I’m a princess fits” are also becoming noticeable.  She cries when mom is busy and can’t hold her.  She whines when she drops her toys or wants out of her stroller.  She stomps her feet (in her squeaky shoes) and shakes her head when she reaches the peak of her fits now (like real fits should be).  She reaches for my hand now as we walk down the street when I offer her my finger. 
We can do the two parent arm swing thing and she laughs and smiles.  She brings me toys to fix with a confident smile.  She laughs spontaneously at nothing apparently funny.  She even leans in when her daddy bends over and says “kiss kiss.” Her cute head movements (twisting like a puppy when she admires something she’s holding) are beginning to be the norm. She says “momma” quite often and I’m fairly certain she said “dadda” the other day while in a good mood.  She is letting us see much more of her personality as she feels more “officially” part of our family.  My prayer is that the fits, stomps, laughs and smiles keep coming as she continues to learn that she’s a Griffin like it or not. One day I hope she realizes that she is loved with a father’s love that will always be there for her, always seek to protect her, always help her, and always seek her highest good.  And as she grows, I hope she never feels…well…like a guest. 
Ephesians 1:3-5
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 


Proverbs 31:28  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Most of us girls know all about the "Proverbs 31" woman.  And most of us wonder how in the world did she do all that, (don't forget she did have servant girls, vs. 15), and get her children to rise up and call her blessed?  If you are like me, my children have never rose up and called me blessed.  It's usually, "I want juice!  I want to watch cartoons!  Hold me!"  But preceding all of those demands is usually the word, "Mommy."  Well, sweet little Ren hasn't called me blessed either, but she does call me "mama"!  Out of no where, she just started saying mama.  It is so unbelievable.  She will go in the bathroom, poke her head out and call, "mama?"  Of course I run to her, clap, and smother her with kisses.

I may never hear my children call me "blessed", but they call me something even better.  
They call me their "mama!'

By His Mercy

Church in Guangzhou, China

Psalm 5:7 But I, by Your great mercy, will come into Your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your Holy temple!

We attended church in Guangzhou.  How amazing it was to worship the Lord with our Chinese brothers and sisters.  It truly is by the mercy of the Lord that we "get" to go to church.  It is also by His mercy that I get to be the mother of Ren Griffin! 

Ren's first church service!

A Day with Daddy

Psalm 92:5 says "How great are your works, O Lord!  Your plans are very intricate."
The adoption agency that we are using has a great blog and forum available to its adoptive families.  It is a great way to get connected with families who know what you are going through.  In January, when we were matched with Ren, I met a dear friend through the Bethany Forum.  Her name is Shari Bentzel.  She is from Maryland.  We have been emailing and talking for months now.  We finally met on Ren's forever family day.  We both know the Lord has put our hearts together in a very unique way.  But I had no idea our friendship would take us to the Beijing International Hospital.  It all began around 10pm Wednesday night.  I have had a stomach virus a couple of a times a year, but this was no typical virus.  The next morning I had to go to the hospital.  There was no way I could take Ren and I did not want to leave her with anyone besides Tyson.  So my precious friend, Shari, went with me.  We spent most of the day in the hospital.   After several bags of IV medications, blood tests, etc, the doctor said he would treat me for a bacterial infection, possible strand of ecoli.   I asked Shari if she would have ever guessed back in January that she would end  up in the hospital in Beijing with me.  We both laughed!  But the wonderful thing is that in January the Lord already knew all about it.

My precious friend Shari!
While I was at the hospital, I was worried about Tyson and Ren.  She had been warming up to her daddy, but he still hadn't been able to hold her much.  Turns out all my worrying was in vane!  Little Ren had a great date with her daddy.  She laughed and played.  She held daddy's hand and took a walk around town. Who knew that a terrible day in the hospital for mama, would end up as such a blessing.  Again the Lord knew.  How are great are His works!  How intricate are His plans!
Day with Daddy

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Karate Kid & The Temple of Heaven

Back in the day, sometime in the 80's, I knew I was destined to marry Daniel Larusso, "The Karate Kid".  Well, as you already know things didn't work out for us.  But little did I know, I would meet my very own karate kid.  Yes, that's my man, doing the "crane" in front of lots of laughing Chinese people at the famous "Temple of Heaven" in Beijing!!!!