I can not believe it has been a year since Ren was placed in my arms and she forever joined our family. Though I have watched the following videos many, many times, I found myself thinking today...who was it that placed her in my arms. For a few brief seconds I couldn't remember if it was her care giver or another staff person from the orphanage. While I was thinking about that today, I was almost panicked that I couldn't think of who it was that handed me my daughter. Then a small, still voice whispered to my heart, it was the Lord. He handed me my daughter, His creation, His treasure, to call my own.
We arrived in Beijing On Monday, August 23, 2010 around 11:00pm. The next day was a free day. Tyson and I slept most of the day. When we got up we went walking around Beijing. We went to a local grocery store that was a few blocks from our hotel. I remember thinking, "Wow. We really stick out"! I guess I thought Beijing would be like large cities in the US, lots of diversity. Nope! Beijing is lots of Chinese people and then me and Tyson.
It is hard to believe that a year ago Tyson and I boarded a plane and headed to China to pick up our daughter, Ren. I have been looking at pictures, watching videos, and reading emails from our China trip and I stand amazed. I wanted to share some "unseen" and "seen" footage from our time in China. The video on today's post is from the Atlanta airport on Sunday, August 22, 2010. It is crazy to me how I explain we are going to get Ren as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world. When I think back to those days, I am still completely shocked at how calm I was. I can honestly say the Lord guarded my heart from anxiety and fear and blessed me with peace and assurance.
Here's the first video in the "Returning to Our Road to Ren" series!
* Don't forget to scroll down to pause the playlist before watching the video.
I can not believe Ty is a first grader! I have a confession to make. When I was a homeroom teacher I would always get frustrated with parents who walked their kids in to their class EVERY DAY. I mean, really, they can get to their room by themselves. Cut the apron strings people! Well, that was until "my baby" came to school. I walk him to his class EVERY day. He wants me to. He holds my hand. The other day he said, "Mommy, you are so beautiful"! I just wanted to cry because I am painfully aware that there is a day coming when he will not want me to walk him to his class. He will not want to hold my hand in front of everybody and he certainly won't think I'm beautiful. But....not yet!
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
Well, I have to say planting a garden was something I thought I would never do! It was a very rewarding experience. We planted about 40, YES 40, tomato plants, 9 cucumber plants, peppers, okra, watermelon, squash, sunflowers, and some herbs. I was showing the garden to my friend Jennifer. She discovered the first tiny little squash. I squealed and got a little teary eyed. Jenny laughed and said, "I didn't see you get that excited when your kids were born!" I have to say it was an emotional experience. I also have to say, "note to self, 40 tomato plants and 9 cucumber plants was a little much". So, I don't know if I will continue to eat my food by the sweat of brow until I return to the ground, but this was definitely the first of many gardens.
Oh Happy Day...... After the pastor announced, "I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Tyson Griffin"... applause.....we walked down the aisle to "Oh Happy Day". And it was a happy day. In my mind, it was the happiest day ever. At that time, I couldn't imagine a happier day. I was even slightly depressed thinking nothing would ever compare to this day. It couldn't get any better. I had no idea.
Our wedding day wasn't the culminating event to our loooooonnnngggg dating relationship, it was just the beginning of an amazing journey. Tyson and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary. Including the 6 1/2 years of dating, (the reason our song is "At Last"),we have been together for almost 17 years!
We met at Dalton College. I was 18. Tyson was 19. It was the second semester of our freshman year. We had almost every class together. We even had ping pong class together. Let me say, he acted so crazy in that class. Diving and turning flips just to return a ping pong ball? Well, he had me! And that is how it all began.
The last 17 years of my life have been amazing, not because they have been perfect, but because I have spent them with my best friend. We have laughed, cried, yelled, had children/gotten children, traveled the world, and just done nothing together. For our anniversary we took a trip to Punta Cana, Domincan Republic, (no children allowed). I have to say, I love my kids, and I love to go places with them, but there is nothing like being with my husband and actually talking to him. Sometimes I think our culture tries to make us moms feel guilty for leaving our children. How could we leave our children for that long? How could we be that far away from them? To anyone who feels that way, let me assure you, it is one of the best things we have ever done for our marriage and for our children.
To my husband, my best friend, Tyson, I always tell you that you are the man of my dreams, but that isn't true. I never dreamed I would be married to a man like you. You love me, which is amazing in itself. You support me and applaud me. I love to watch you with our kids. The crazy loud wrestling with the boys, and now a little more gentle side with our daughter. More than anything, I am so secure with you because you are so secure in the Lord. Thank you for leading our family to the Lord. I can not wait to see where the Lord takes us next!
We are so blessed to have friends like Mark and Greta Beckler. They invited us to join them at their lake house for vacation. It was a great week. There are few friends in life that you can spend a week with and love them even more. Our kids even get along great!
To my friend Greta, you are a rare find! I appreciate your desire to follow the Lord, your heart for holiness, and the way you "put it all out there"! You are real and I am honored to be called your friend. I am so excited to see how the Lord works in our lives.
My sweet Ty is an amazing boy. It is hard to believe that he is already finished with kindergarten and will be a first grader soon. He is a thinker and a dreamer. He is always planning something, building something, or dreaming about something. I am always telling him, "I love your brain". His thoughts amaze me.
Several months ago, Ty began asking me some tough "life" questions. He wanted to know "does everyone die"? Being in the ministry, the funeral home is something fairly familiar to my kids. I know some people do not think children should be exposed to funeral homes and death at an early age. We do take our kids and I think it's good. I want them to know that death is part of life, (always sad, sometimes tragic, but certain). When Ty asked this I didn't want to say, "Yep, part of life". Instead I said, "No. If you know Jesus, you never die. Your old yucky body goes to the grave and you will be with Jesus". Well, that just stirred up more questions. This went on for months.
Ty's next big question, "Does everyone go to Heaven?" Tough question. Tough answer. Based on what Jesus taught I said, "No Ty, not everyone goes to Heaven, only the people who have trusted Jesus as their savior". He said, "Well I trust Jesus. I want to go to Heaven". So I did what every good woman who is married to pastor does, I said "Talk to your daddy"!
When Tyson came home, he had a long talk with Ty. After all, he is only six. I didn't want to push him. Tyson talked with Ty. A tearful Ty admitted that he had sinned, (he didn't listen to his mom), and that He wanted Jesus to be his savior.
Not only is Ty my precious first born, he is now my brother, adopted by the Lord, Himself, to be part of the family of God.
Several weeks later, on Father's Day, Ty was was baptized by his daddy. It was an unbelievable day!
What??? You have never heard of the Hair Fairy. Well, grab a cup of coffee and read the "true"story of The Hair Fairy.
Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, (Tunnel Hill, GA to be exact), there lived a mom who rarely fixed her hair, (me), and her roots were in desperate need of being dyed back to their "natural" color. She was totally unaware of her condition and was relying on the sun to bleach those roots. While going along merrily in her daily life, the young prince, (Ty), made a profound declaration. He said, "Mommy, your hair is changing. It used to be blonde and now it's brown on top!" The poor mom was astonished at this proclamation. She began to share this predicament with her friends. Not wanting to spend money on her hair, the mom determined in her heart to allow the sun to work it's magic. Little did she know that The Hair Fairy was taking notes. Then early one Saturday morning, she received an unbelievable text stating that she needed to report to Julie at Lux Salon. There her hair would be transformed and best of all, it was paid for in full!!! The mom was astounded at the kindness and generousity that had been bestowed on her by The Hair Fairy! The mom went to Lux Salon and was changed into a queen. And from that day forward, the mom felt like a queen because her once dreary, two-toned locks were now back to their dazzling, "natural" color!
This is a very true story! I changed the names in the story to protect the privacy of the parties involved! HA!.. In all seriousness, I do have a Hair Fairy. Her name is Paige Buckner. She really did pay for me to have my hair done. And yes, Ty really did say that about my hair.
To my friend, Paige, you will never know how much your gift meant to me. Throughout this last year you have been my Hair Fairy, my faithful blog follower, my encourager, and above all, my friend. Thank you for all are! I love you sister! Thank you for being my friend and I appreciate your advice, (especially concerning my hair)!
Psalm 27:9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
My roots have been rescued by The Hair Fairy, AKA Paige Buckner!
I was talking with my dad the other day and saying I have done things since I have turned 35 that I thought I would never do! He asked what those things were. So here is what I told him:
1. Plant a garden! ( I have never been a fan of bugs, dirt, or sweat).
2. Run a 5K and my 10K is coming up! (Again, never been a fan of sweating or exercising).
3. The craziest of all, taking part in an American Idol Home Town Parade! (Not big on mass hysteria).
To which my dad responded, "Don't forget, adopting a child from China!" I just laughed and said that was the most logical and easy to believe thing that I had done!
The picture above was taken before the American Idol Parade for Lauren Alaina. We were invited to be in the parade to represent The Good Stuff, by my friend Christy McCain. She is an amazing woman. She is a Christian, wife, mother, writer, entrepreneur, and much more. She submitted an article to the Chattanoogan.com online paper and featured me and the girls in her article! Here is the link to the article. It also contains a link to her website. She has an awesome product line that features wonderful gift items. The candles and bath salts are my favorite.
My friend Tracy Jennings brought her sweet daughter Mia home from China last spring. On Mother's Day last year she planted a rose bush in honor of Mia's birth mom. I thought that was a beautiful idea. So, this year we planted a rose bush in honor of Ren's birth mom. I always want to hold her in high regard. After all, she carried my daughter for me. She chose to give Ren life. She chose to leave her in a place where she knew she would be found and cared for. She is always near to my heart. People often ask me if we know anything about Ren's biological parents. The answer is no, we know nothing for certain. We do have a hand-written note that was attached to Ren's clothing when she was found. I am sure her birth mom wrote it. It gives her date and time of birth and then says, "Please kind person, save this baby". The one thing I believe to be true about Ren's birth mom is that she loved her. So on Mother's Day and everyday, I remember and honor the precious Chinese woman who chose life for my daughter Ren.
I can not think of anything better than being a mom. I asked my mom the other day, "Do you remember when I said I was NEVER having kids?" She laughed. Can you believe it? Back in the day, when I was completely all about myself, my plan was to move to Atlanta and work for some big corporation. I thought I might get married, but kids were not part of the equation! When I think back on that, I first have to laugh. But my next thought is, "Thank you Lord". I am so thankful that He saved me, well, from me. Don't get me wrong, there are days when I think I will loose my mind if I have to change one more diaper, clean up one more toddler mess, or hear "I don't want to go to bed", followed by stomps and deafening crys! But, in the few seconds of quiet, when I look in on my sleeping children, two from my womb, one from the inner city of Chicago, and one from an orphanage in China, I just want to hit my knees in worship. I want to worship the Lord for His plan and His deliverance and for allowing me to be a mother to children that ultimately belong to Him!
My hope is that I would follow what the Lord says.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds. Teach them to your children!
Isn't it weird that the day Jesus was crucified is referred to as "Good Friday"? My husband shared a very stirring message about Easter with our youth this past Wednesday. He began with the following video clip.
*Remember to scroll down and pause the playlist before playing the video*
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.[b]
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.[c]
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave. 10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
**Maybe today is called "Good" Friday because Isaiah 53:10 says that it was the Lord's good plan to crush Him....to crush Jesus....a perfect man.....part of the trinity....His Son. It was his good plan to crush Jesus for a sinner. It was His good plan to crush Jesus for me, chief of sinners, helpless and hopeless. Because He crushed His son and made a bridge for me I now walk in freedom. How good is that??
It is hard to believe that my baby boy has turned 3!
He had a "Despicable Me" cake. We have only watched that movie approximately 200 times!! The sad thing was that he was just getting over a terrible virus and didn't eat a bite of his cake. But he was well enough to tear in to his presents.
For those of you who don't know, Henry was our "surprise" from the Lord. When Ty was one, we started the adoption process. When we found out that the wait time for China had turned into years, we decided to try to get pregnant again. After a year of trying, no baby. So, we thought we should stop trying. After all, we would be adopting soon; or so we thought. Well about a year later, I was all of a sudden deathly ill. I was weak, dizzy, and so sick. That was the beginning of Henry P!!! For me to say that he is a joy would be an understatement. All of my children are a gift from the Lord but my sweet Henry is our special surprise. He loves the outdoors. He dreams of tractors and mud. He is so stinkin' cute and he knows how to work his mommy. He always says, "I just want to snuggle you", and "I just love you". And honestly, he "just" grips my heart and reminds me of the Lord's goodness. I am so thankful that though Henry wasn't "planned", he was always God's plan for our family.
Proverbs 16:9 A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.
When we were first matched with Ren one of our concerns was for Henry. They are so close in age, (exactly 8 months apart), and he had been mommy's baby. If you know Henry, you know he has always been my extra hip accessory. I didn't want him to feel neglected when his new sister came. Don't get me wrong, there were several weeks of rough transition. Learning to share mommy wasn't easy for Henry or Ren. But look at them now. They are two peas in a pod. They play, laugh, run, scream, boss, tattle, and get in to trouble together. They love each other and it is a miracle to see how the Lord has joined them as brother and sister.