Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where we are

OK, I think I've been in some kind of "delay denial" by not posting our travel news. Our original day of departure was next Thursday, June 5th. Then the whole swine flu thing marched up from the south & spread around the globe. We actually received our Travel Approval at the end of April, and that should have been a very exciting day for us. (Thank you, Lori, for reminding me on that day to not let the enemy steal my joy. It's not his to take.) Unfortunately, provinces all over China began cancelling appointments as well as not scheduling new ones.

We were given new tentative travel dates of June 25-July 9, with a Consulate Appointment scheduled for July 7th...BUT we were told with the flu in China it is a day-to-day situation, so we should not purchase any airline tickets yet. This has been beyond frustrating, and if I didn't know the One Who is ultimately in control of it all, I would go crazy.

Each day brings us one day closer to our girl, so for that, I am truly grateful.

"You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by."
Job 11:16

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our Sweet Girl

Last Friday we received a much prayed for email update on Gracie from our agency. We were told (after repeated inquiries...what is it with these mothers-to-be?!) that we would probably receive no updates before we travel. The last pictures and medical information we had was from when Gracie was 8 months old. Well, on Friday we not only received our passports with our China Visas, but we also got this update!!

Gracie Jia Shu is now 15 months old.
She weighs 20.9 lbs.
She is 29.9" tall.

My biggest hope was to receive updated photos, and when I scrolled down,
I saw this beautiful face!

Thank You God!

"Thus far the LORD has helped us."
I Samuel 7:12

*More to come this week on our travel situation - Please keep praying!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yard Sale Part Deux

We are very tired, but are PRAISING GOD for His provision. We still had enough to set up another yard sale this weekend. (Dodging raindrops once again...What's up with that?!) Brian's parents came for two days to help us out. They did way too much and we are so grateful for their help!

When everything was totaled from our two day sale, including some generous financial donations today, we made over $1,400!!!! In the words of my new friend Linn.."Yippee Jesus!"

More to come next week on our current travel situation (please pray) and an update we received on a certain sweet little Asian girl!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


This sign has been on our sweet Erin's wall for one year.
Today marks the passing of one year since the death of
Steven Curtis Chapman's 5 year old daughter, Maria Sue.
Erin has been so faithful to pray for their family,
and we plan on holding them especially close in prayer today.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more
death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order
of things has passed away."
Revelation 21:4

Monday, May 18, 2009

Showered With Love

Yesterday the girls and I were able to share a wonderful afternoon with family and dear friends. Our little Gracie was celebrated and showered with wonderful gifts!
My sweet friends Amy and Lisa gave so much of themselves to make our time special. I can't wait to see the finished scrapbook Lisa began for Gracie. Everyone there was asked to write a special note to, or prayer for Gracie. Lisa will finish the scrapbook with those notes and pictures from the afternoon!
Everyone present has been with our family, and faithfully encouraged all of us from the beginning of our almost 3 year journey. Thank you for not forgetting us and our new daughter during this long wait!
My brother Tom and his family surprised us & drove down from Charlotte. That made my day! I wish we had more time to visit & laugh.What a crazy, wonderful family our sweet girl is getting!

This candle was one of my favorite gifts.
It says "Home is where my mom is." :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trivia question

The term "stormy weather" can refer to...

A. The title of a jazzy tune sung badly by at least one contestant at every state level beauty
pageant in the United States.
B. The title of a 1943 musical motion picture.
C. The condition of the weather for our fund raising yard sale this morning.

If you said all of the above, you were correct!!! The morning began around 5:30 for us as we were up early to set out everything for the sale. Our trusty local weather reporter said there would be no heavy rain until the afternoon. A little after 8:00am it started POURING!! Between our family, my sister, & niece, we managed to get everything that needed to be covered either in the garage or on the porch. It truly was a crisis of faith for us. My initial reaction was a tearful "let's pack it up". Can I tell you we learned that a die-hard yard sale shopper literally will tough it out "rain or shine".

We all were drenched, and total strangers were packed like sardines in our garage wheeling and dealing for everything not nailed down! We had to laugh! On what was a truly terrible morning for a yard sale, God allowed us to make over $700.00!! Whoo Hoo!We have a good amount of great items remaining, and will probably set up shop again next weekend. God was good.

We had a tough week with some very discouraging travel news. (more to come on that next week) This process continues to teach our family to trust God more and more every day. We choose, in spite of our human "feelings", to trust His timing in regards to travel and financial provision. I love Him so much, and want to honor Him with my trust. He is so real. He is so faithful. He is loving and good. He is all powerful. He was the Alpha and will be the Omega of this adoption.

We want to thank every single person who helped make this sale possible. Our church family at CrossRoads was overwhelmingly generous with their donations. We don't know the name of every person who gave, but PLEASE know we are so grateful for your love shown to a sweet girl that will soon be a part of your church family. Thank you to Jennifer and Kim for your great donations. Thank you sweet Missy for your precious time spent pricing items & for your priceless encouragement. We could not have made it today without the help of my wonderful sister and niece. Thank you Sue & Katie!!! (Hope you don't get pneumonia.)

The calm before the storm

Still hopeful!

Drenched sisters and one sweet cousin

More drenched sisters

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One day, 420 miles, and God's favor

We've had a crazy two days. Yesterday began with the news that the Chinese consulate is now requiring Visa applicants to sign a declaration stating your location for the past 2 weeks. (Thank you swine flu.) We were also told that the Visa process itself will now take six days instead of four. So five Woodard declarations were signed and sent overnight to Washington DC. I think the express mail guy and Brian are becoming tight friends.

The next document we are waiting for from China is our official "Travel Approval". Once we have this, our Consulate appointment in China can be set, and our travel dates will in turn be set around that date. To make this important appointment, you must have a current I 171-H form. (Basically a paper stating that you are approved from the US side to adopt.) Our actual form is current, but our fingerprints are due to expire in 2 weeks. So... After an e-mail-a-thon with our agency yesterday we were basically told to go TOMORROW to try to be re fingerprinted (For the third time in two years I might add) and to ask for the paperwork to be expedited.

So this morning, Brian, Quinn and I left at 5:30 am for Charleston and the USCIS office. (Citizenship & Immigration) We began yesterday asking God to prepare the way before us, to prepare the heart of the one who would hear our "case" and to give us favor in every detail. So, OK, God showed up huge!

We did not have an official appointment, but "kind desk man" allowed us each to take a number to be fingerprinted. We waited for only 30 minutes and we were done! Before we left, Brian wanted to try one more time to speak with "kind desk man" and explain our situation. When Brian walked up to the window, another woman walked up at the exact same time. When Brian asked how we could possibly have our paperwork expedited, the woman asked to see us at the next window. This is when we met an angel in the flesh. She "just so happened" to be the immigration officer over adoption affairs!! If any one is familiar with this process, you know you CANNOT get a hold of anyone associated with the USCIS by phone, much less in person, and believe me, we have tried! She informed us that she was an adoptive mom as well, and understood the emotions we were feeling. She took our names and promised to handle our paperwork personally. She then gave us her contact information, which we have found is like gold in these government agencies. To her, we were people with a story, not just case numbers on a document.

I could barely hold in the "ugly sobbing cry" until we walked out of those doors! The thought of having to wait even one more day at this point because of a paperwork issue such as this was too much. God heard, and God showed Himself mighty on our behalf.

We were able to spend a little time relaxing before heading home to get the girls from school. We're exhausted, but so full of joy for how our Father intervened today!

One sleepy boy

At the Battery

Y'all gotta love the south

Battery Park

Ravenel Bridge

"Ah, Lord God! You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You."
Jeremiah 32:17

Monday, May 4, 2009


We are feeling so blessed by the children at our church. Our friend Shawn has shared our story with the kid's ministry and we have received some of the sweetest sacrificial gifts. WE DO NOT TAKE ANY DONATION LIGHTLY!! Every penny given to bring Gracie home will be used for just that, and when we are blessed over the top of that need, we greatly desire to pour blessing into other adoptive families. The basket shown contains change saved by Shawn's daughter Shelley, and yesterday we received some change from two of our pastor's precious grandsons. Thank you Shawn, for teaching the concept of seeing beyond the present, and giving to something that is eternal -a human Life!
This has been one of our biggest prayers for our children. It can be really tough in this world, especially at times with teenage daughters, to instill a desire to store up treasure where it truly matters. We don't have a huge house, or many of the latest gadgets. We live pretty simply, but I wouldn't trade where we are right now for anything. Compared to the majority of humans on this planet, we're quite wealthy! We are no better than anyone else in any way. For some reason, God is enlarging our hearts for the cause of orphans right now, and we are humbled to be able to have the chance to bring one of those little lives home.

"Money can be converted into food for the hungry
and clothing for the poor...Whatever is given to
Christ is immediately touched with immortality."
A.W. Tozer

"Our real capacity lies not in how much we retain
but in how much has been poured out...The power of
love is attested by love's sacrifice."
Watchman Nee

"Five minutes after I die, what will I wish I had given away while I still had the chance?" Randy Alcorn

"Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven...For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:20-21

Friday, May 1, 2009

This is NOT Happening

Adoption is not for the faint of heart...Never in all my wildest dreams could I have remotely imagined that we could be delayed in bringing home our little girl by something called the swine flu! We have been advised by our agency that the China Center for Adoption Affairs is recommending extreme caution about traveling at this time. There was even a rumor that families might not be able to travel for a while. If you choose to travel, you are basically at their mercy in China if you get sick w/ the flu. Families are not allowed to visit their child's orphanage at this time either.

What does this mean for us? We had been given tentative travel dates of June 4-19. Our passports are in Washington DC right now awaiting Visa stamps. We anticipate hearing more specific information from our agency next week because the CCAA is closed for the weekend. Another rumor has been that Travel Approvals and referrals will not be granted for 20-30 days. We are so praying that this is not true! We should be receiving our Travel Approval at any time now.

The verse running through my head this morning reminds me that faith is the evidence of things not seen. In the middle of shock, uncertainty and sadness, faith needs to rise up & trump those feelings. God has shown Himself clearly in every detail so far, and we must trust Him in this possible roadblock. He can bring this crazy flu illness to a screeching halt, His hands are on every piece of our paperwork, and He knows that Gracie needs to be home with the family that already loves her, and brought to a place where her medical needs can start being met as soon as possible.

A couple of things I know...Our Jesus has had experience with swine (Mark 5) and healing every form of sickness (Matthew 4:23), and my house is the cleanest it has been in a long time. I guess some stress can be good for something! Thank you in advance for your prayers. We want to see this mountain moved to God's glory.

"Has He said, and He will not do it?
Or has He spoken, and He will not make it good?"
Numbers 23:19
"The LORD is a God of justice; blessed are
all who wait for Him."
Isaiah 30:18