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Today marks one year.

One year ago, today, I met the little girl that now calls me mama. That statement alone causes me to tear up and be at a loss for words. She spent two years in an orphanage. Two years without parents to comfort her. Two years with nannies, foster parents, and other kids that became her family. And then just like that, in an instant, life changed for her.

The first photo I took of her.

The first photo I ever took of her.

Last year we were just a couple of strangers to her. Strangers with food in our hands to entice her to not to cry when we held her.

Now we are her parents. And she is our daughter. One year later I can declare that WE ARE FAMILY.

Her gotcha day was glorious. It was a day that so many unknowns became clear. We are forever thankful for the smoothness of that day.

But the year was challenging. And rightfully so. Our weeks and months went by with high points and low moments. I vividly remember the first few weeks she was home saying, “I look forward to the day when being a family of five feels normal.” Because it did not feel normal in the beginning. There were a lot of rough edges and bumps along the way. And I am here to say to anyone doing this adoption thing, that its ok if it does not feel normal for a while. Expect it not to. Give yourself some grace!

But here we are, one year later and I am thrilled to say that we are THERE! Yes, we still experience some challenging days. But all FAMILIES have those days. I am overjoyed to proclaim that this feels normal. That life with Leia, our adopted daughter from China, feels normal and no longer foreign.

So to any of you in the beginnings of anything; a diet, an adoption, a career change, bringing a new baby home, or whatever it may be I must say this. Get cozy with being uncomfortable. Accept that new things often do not feel normal. Embrace that awkward ground and give yourself time to be all there. So much goodness grows from such places.

File Mar 07, 6 51 53 AM

Now let’s talk about growth! Here are some of the changes we have seen in Leia Joy:

-She did not cry when she hurt herself when we first met her. She could fall down or smack her head significantly and would not make a peep. Most likely because she was use to no one reacting or repsonding when she did cry. She now knows we will comfort her and cries (or fake cries) when she gets “hurt.” We are happy to give her all the attention she needs when she scrapes her knee or pinches her finger. Her tears show signs of trust and security.

-She knew one English word when we met her. Now she knows more than I can count~

-She use to hit her brother and sister when they cried. If they got hurt or were throwing a fit she would walk up to them and hit them. I have no idea why, but I am happy to say that she no longer does that.

-She loves water and baths. She absolutely hated them the first month she was with us.

-She is secure when it comes to food and will actually leave food on her plate. A big change for sure. In China she would not let one crumb be left in her bowl and would lose her mind if any of it fell on the floor. Not so much any more. She is now completely content with tossing a plate full of food on the floor during her two year old tantrum. Not ideal behavior, but I see the growth even in the tantrum.

-She has gained 13 pounds in one year!

Y’all, it has been a good year. A refining year that we would never trade for anything. We are so grateful to be a family of five. We are so blessed to have found our new normal with our sweet and spicy (Thai hot, actually) daughter, Leia.

Adoption is messy and beautiful. And we are honored to be apart of something so beautifully messy.

Happy Gotcha Day to our precious Leia Joy. You make this family complete!

october 2016_ljb_with dad-1

 

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I tried to sit down and write a two-month update a few weeks ago and I could not do it. I wanted to share all the good things and all the progress made, because those things were in abundance and to share anything less would appear ungrateful. We are so grateful for how smoothly this transition as been.

However my heart was in a different space. It was grateful but also overgrown with grief and selfishness. Even in the midst of so much good I was wrestling with so much ugly. I could not convince myself to just write the pretty. I debated with sharing the ugly though, because the ugly was about me and my heart. So what should I write?

After watching my cursor blink for about fifteen minutes I decided to be completely transparent and just write. Write for me. Write to try to process the junk going on in hopes that processing it would help me make it to the other side.

Below is what poured out that evening.

5/7/16

I typically write from the other side of difficult, once the clouds have parted and the sun is shinning again. Not because I am afraid of sharing my mess, but because I am an encourager by design and sometimes it can be a struggle to encourage others when I am walking in so much discouragement.

So this is new to me, writing in the midst of the difficult. But there are beautiful things to learn in this place too, in the thick of it. Refining is painful and pruning starts out ugly. But I know growth and change await me. Thus I share the struggles today to declare that even in the trying times God is good and He will not forsake me, even in my ugliness.

The Bible says that, “in repentance and rest is our salvation” (Isaiah 30:15). Boy, am I in need of some saving. So this is my confession: I am struggling adjusting to life with a toddler again. We have now been a family of five for two months. Everyone is adjusting beautifully. Our sweet daughter is doing way better than I could ever ask for. She is a gem and blessing. She is bonding well and feels safe. She is starting to trust us and even showing us affection. But she is TWO and in full-fledged toddler mode. Totally normal and I praise God that being in the “terrible twos” is the most difficult struggle we are facing. I know that things could be much worse which is why I feel so selfish that I am struggling so much and why I need to confess the junk in my heart so God can clean it out!

The problem is me. Ugh! That is painful to admit, but it is true. Having a new child in the throws of “toddlerhood” has been shock to my system. I find myself grieving all the freedom that I instantly lost. In the blink of an eye I lost the gift that is going to the restroom alone, taking a shower by myself, going for a run, sending an email at my desktop, peacefully cooking dinner… The list goes on and on of activities that I now do with a demanding, yet adorable babe at my feet. I was not that far removed from this stage before our adoption. My other children are four and five. But oh how quickly I forgot how it felt to have strong-willed shadow.

Parenthood is not an easy assignment and I knew going into this that adjustments would have to be made. But knowing and doing are very different things. I confess that my attitude towards the things I lost has not been a gracious one. It has been one of self-pity, a woe is me attitude. And honestly that is robbing my joy and sucking the life out of me. I really need to get over myself. It is either that or be miserable.

The lesson God is trying to teach me is a simple one: life is not about me.

Ouch. Simple, yet still very difficult to swallow. Thankfully God’s discipline is gentle and in His love He is trying to lead me to something better.

This is what I hear Him speaking to my heart:

Life is not about you, Renee.” It is not about your comfort or your gain. It is not about your plans or your agenda. It is about something much greater. And better. If you could just get past all that you seemed to have lost you would see that I am building something greater for you to enjoy. It comes down to this my daughter; do you trust me? Do you trust that my plans are to give you a hope and a future even while you are smack dab in the middle of two-year-old tantrums? Can you trust that I am sowing good seeds even when you have no fruit as proof yet?

I hear this and know that it true and good, but I am just not there yet. I am not ready to concede. I am not ready to stop being grumpy about this loss. I just want to be mad for a minute about it.

Wow. Now there is some ugly truth for you. If that does not sound like a toddler tantrum I do not know what does. Oh God, you must do a work in me.

5/22/16

After a few weeks of wrestling with my sin and the junk in my heart I can now say “yes God, I trust you”.

I do trust Him. And I am thankful that His loves for me is SO deep and SO wide that He patiently waited for me to get over myself and repent and release this junk. It did take me some time, but my few weeks of pouting are over and I can now proclaim my joy has been restored!

So much has changed: my schedule, my routine, my priorities, but most importantly my heart. And God gets all the credit for the heart change! Because of the work He has done I am now ok with all the “losses” or rather “changes” as I am now calling them. Only God can change our hearts and I am thankful for the work He is doing in mine.

 

AND NOW that I am through this rainstorm may I encourage you, dear friend. 

To you who finds yourself in a pruning season,

Do not get stuck in the middle of your junk. Once it has been revealed do not let the enemy condemn you over and over again about it. Wrestle with the sin in your heart. And then confess it. Release it. Lay it down and let God change you and free you up!

In repentance and rest is our salvation (Isaiah 30:15). Let Him save you while you rest in His grace and mercy! His grace is sufficient enough for all your junk. And their is abundant life on the other side.

Praying that somehow God uses my junk to help free you up! In Jesus name.

 

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  • May 24, 2016 - 11:46 am

    Kaci D - I love your honesty! This has encouraged me so much, it’s hard to find people being real about real life and how hard it is sometimes when God wants us to change! I’m an encourager too, so I totally get your desire for positive posts. Thank you for sharing, it does very much encourage me!ReplyCancel

  • May 24, 2016 - 11:54 am

    Amy - Wow- I cannot tell you enough how much I love what you wrote, or how much I feel like I could’ve exactly written the words myself based on how I am feeling except instead of a toddler I have an infant again !!!
    I have a 13-year-old biological son, a seven-year-old adopted precious daughter from china, and now a seven week old miracle infant biological and she has rocked my world !!!
    Both in wonderful ways and ways of making me feel insane and horrible
    I have complained and cried due to the sleep deprivation eyebags and projectile vomiting !!!
    I have sat up with Jesus for seven weeks now in the middle of the sweet night and cried complained and praised him to please give me strength and you are so right when we are patient and we call to him and trust him and lean on him he always comes through and always succeeds in filling our hearts back up again to make us the mommies we have been chosen to be !!!
    Thank you again for your sweet words and honesty and sharing these words that other mamas need to hear to know we are not alone !!
    ~Amy- the struggle is real, I share it with you 💜ReplyCancel

    • March 23, 2017 - 2:54 am

      admin - AMY!!! I am sad I am just now seeing this comment. But I am thankful to know that other mamas were touched by this post. It is so good to know you are going through things aloneReplyCancel

What a glorious day, the day we met our daughter.

A day that God ordained from the beginning of time. One that He birthed in my heart over a decade prior.

A day that could have been so difficult, so painful for a little one being taken from all she had ever known.

However, that was not the case.

It started with a few tears that quickly transitioned to smiles, snuggles, and laughter.

 It was miraculous. It was holy. It was God.

 He went before us and prepared the way.

I am so thankful and truly humbled by the glory of our “gotcha day”.

I woke up early that morning feeling excited and expectant, but still quite nervous.

Fear of the unknown still lingered…until I saw her face.

When we arrived at the meeting place I stood in the doorway and had to pause a moment before entering. I stopped mid-step to catch my breath.

No one told us this, but I had a feeling she was there waiting. I knew when I walked into that room that I would meet my daughter. The reality was overwhelming and I needed to be still for just a moment.

I glanced into the room and saw two little girls. My eye first went to a little one sitting in a chair. I knew immediately that she was not our daughter. Then my attention went to the toddler standing next to her. I knew as soon as I saw her that she was our Leia Joy!

That first sight of her will never leave me.Seeing her little body across the room was a healing moment for me. It no longer mattered if she was sick or extremely disabled. The worry of her rejecting me vanished. Every fear that trampled over me during this journey disappeared as soon as I saw her. Even though so many unknowns still remained, fear no longer had a hold on me. Her face changed that. I cannot explain why. But seeing her changed everything.

I was no longer thinking through me actions or planning my next steps, which is why there is not a photo of me seeing her for the first time:)  As soon as I recognized her I rushed into the room and went over to her.

I bent down next to her and someone stated her Chinese name to verify that she was ours. But I already knew that.

She looked at me for a few seconds and then walked off in the other direction. We followed her around for a bit, trying not to overwhelm her. We extended our hands to her, but she was not accepting our love willingly.

So Andy eventually scooped her up and she protested. The tears came streaming down and rightfully so. To her we were strangers. I expected this reaction and was at peace with her response. She was in a unfamiliar place and we were invading her space.  Even though this was expected it was still hard to see her this way.

I grabbed some crackers per suggestion from our guides and offered one to her. As soon as I gave her food she stopped crying and the tears never came back.  Praise God!

March 2016_LJ_Gotcha DAY -13
Once she calmed down our emotions began to well up and we could not hold back OUR tears. This moment had finally come. This sweet one we had prayed for, who had been birthed in our hearts a year prior, was  in our arms at last.  Glory be to God.

March 2016_LJ_Gotcha DAY -18

We were able to talk to the adoption director of her orphanage. He asked if we had any questions and made it a point to tell us about her health. He assured us that she is a healthy little girl. Hearing him say that gave us so much peace. We are still prepared to face whatever issues and conditions may arise (we adopted from China’s Special Needs Program), but those words tasted so sweet.
After some time Leia actually fell asleep in my arms. I am sure the stress of the morning wore her out. When were then able to just snuggle her and love on her and pray over her while she rested safely in her mother’s arms.

We were given a book with photos from Leia’s first two years of life.  Milestones such as sitting up, learning to crawl, and first steps were all documented. What an amazing gift her orphanage gave us in those photos. A small glimpse at our girl’s life before she joined our family.

Once she woke we started to pass the time by making faces at her. We would make kiss faces and she mimicked right back. It was awesome to watch her interact with us and see her brain work! She started giving us high fives and copied other things we did. She was started to accept us after only one hour of knowing us. Only God, yall. 

We signed some official documents, took a photo for her records, and waited for the other families in our group to meet their kids. It was a glorious day.

I could not have asked for a better experience. Thank you to everyone who covered us in prayer. It was evident that God was present in that place.

And thank you to Christine of Home Made in China for capturing these moments of us.

God is good. So good.

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  • April 16, 2016 - 8:12 am

    Kaci Drapes - This is amazing! What a beautiful process and blessed day by God! Congratulations Booe family!ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2016 - 12:34 pm

    Susan Muckenfuss - I can only imagine what an absolute amazing day this was!! God is so good! I’m so happy to have met her! She is beautiful and blessed to have such a great family!ReplyCancel

  • April 20, 2016 - 8:15 am

    Tara - Oh so precious!!! I have loved seeing the pics on insta but this video was so sweet to see it in real life!
    I just sent my docs to consulate today as I prepare to adopt a little girl from China!
    Can you share what her file said her special need was? Will you discuss the medical side on your blog? I haven’t been matched yet but am with Ccai and have a pediatrician here in my hometown who will assist with reviewing the file for me once I get it.
    I am so happy for your family!! CongratsbReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2017 - 8:43 pm

    Rita - who took these beautiful photos and video? Was it someone from the adoption agency?ReplyCancel

    • March 23, 2017 - 2:52 am

      admin - Hi Rita! WE actually hired a photographer who lives in China. We found her on Instagram actually. Her handle is @homemadeinchinaReplyCancel

  • March 7, 2017 - 12:57 pm

    One Year Home » Spur on Love - […] Her gotcha day was glorious. It was a day that so many unknowns became clear. We are forever thankful for the smoothness of that day. […]ReplyCancel

  • March 13, 2017 - 1:42 pm

    Brett Butler - Thank you for sharing your family’s journey to adoption. I’m not an adoptive Mama or even a Mama at all, but I’m a daughter, sister, aunt and, especially a believer in all we are in Christ…

    Just saw your link in your IG feed and am so glad I did to see this whole video. When she was sleepy and rubbing her beautiful eyes, then waving goodbye like y’all had been leaving together always… These were the scenes that’ll stick with me.

    I hope it’s OK to write all of this here.
    ‘: ) Wishing your family every blessing throughout the years. Brett ButlerReplyCancel

    • March 23, 2017 - 2:51 am

      admin - Hi Brett!!! Thank you so much for writing here. We are happy you are here!ReplyCancel

We leave for China today! Today!

I can hardly believe this time has already come.  It was eleven months ago that we submitted our application to adoption and four months ago that we were match with our daughter. Talk about fast! For international adoption this has moved abnormally fast. But God’s timing is perfect and for that we are trusting Him in the midst of the speed of it all

I went for a run this morning to calm my nerves and spend some time with Jesus. I headed out on the road nervous with fear snapping at my heels. With each step forward the nerves began to fall away. And fear started to lag behind. God just kept reminded me that He has gone before me. That He is with me too.

So here is my declaration as we take this next step:

I am leaving fear behind. This is not about me. It’s about her. Our daughter. The mission is far greater than we will ever know this side of heaven. What I do know is that there is a little girl out there who needs a family. She needs a mom and a dad. And we have the heavenly privilege to be those to her. What an honor. What a blessing God has given us. So we are leaving fear before in the dust and running toward redemption! We are running toward our precious girl and we are not looking back!

 Follow us on Instagram @spuronlove to see the most recent updates on our adoption while we are in China and once we get home.

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Tears. I am in tears, y’all.  Last post we humbled ourselves and asked for help. We needed to raise $5,500 in a very short amount of time to pay an orphanage fee for our adoption.  After just three short days we were gifted all the money we needed to pay the orphanage fee. In just three days our needs were met and then some! More tears.

Every gift has left us on our knees praising God. Five dollars from a stranger, one hundred dollars from a family member, a thousand dollars from a friend…each amount, each generous gift has impacted my heart in a way I have never experienced before. I feel so unworthy to receive such an outpouring of love. In awe. That is where this step in our adoption journey has left me. I am just in awe of the kindness shown to us.

I wish I could sit down with each of you who shared our story, who prayed for us, who generously gave, and express our gratitude in person. I sincerely want you to know how truly grateful we are.  We are so thankful for your support, for your help.  We literally did not have the funds to make that payment and the Lord provided through you. Thank you. From the bottom of  our hearts, thank you.

Many have asked us if we still need help. That blows my mind. People going above and beyond what we asked leaves me speechless. Here is my answer to that question. We paid the orphanage fee in full, but we do have other adoption expenses coming. If you feel led to help you can rest assured that there is still a need.  We have left our YouCaring page active to allow people the opportunity to donate that way. Thank you for giving to help us bring our daughter home. And thank you for even considering to give.

We are in awe of the great thing God has done here. We give Him all the praise.

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