"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalm 127:3-5

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet

Today marks the one year anniversary of Rose’s “Gotcha Day”.  In one sense it is absolutely impossible to believe that Rose has been with us for an entire year; but at the same time, it feels like she has been with us from the very start.  The Lord grafted her into our family so seamlessly, and we cannot imagine life without Rose in it!

During the process of bringing Rose home, I heard a song that spoke of a place where polar opposites collide, finding inexplicable grace.  A place where deep pain can somehow exist alongside unspeakable hope.  A place where brokenness finds true redemption.  A place where joy and sorrow meet.  

"Where Joy and Sorrow Meet"

There's a place of quiet stillness between the light and shadows' reach
Where the hurting and the hopeless seek everlasting peace
Words of men and songs of angels whisper comfort bittersweet
Mending grief and life eternal
Where joy and sorrow meet

There is a place where hope remains
In crowns of thorns and crimson stains
And tears that fall on Jesus' feet
Where joy and sorrow meet

There's a place the lost surrender and the weary will retreat
Full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief
For the wounded there is healing, strength is given to the weak
Broken hearts find love redeeming
Where joy and sorrow meet

There's a place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep
And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep
There is hope in desperation, there is victory in defeat
At the cross of restoration
Where joy and sorrow meet

Within this place, where joy and sorrow meet, is the truth of Rose’s story.  The joy of a precious life entering the world, meeting the sorrow of a child deemed unfit, shameful, damaged.  The joy of a family racing to get to her, meeting the sorrow of her quiet isolation for thirty-two long months.  The joy of a loving home meeting the sorrow of the years robbed from her.

One year ago today, I walked into an orphanage in Tianjin, China, and came face to face with this intersection of joy and sorrow in one of the most tangible ways I could ever imagine.  I was filled with both overwhelming peace—the inexplicable peace that comes only from the Lord and surpasses all understanding –and overwhelming fear.  The most recent information that we had received about Rose was that she had a very serious heart condition, which would require immediate attention once back in the States; and that she was so uncomfortable with people that she literally started writhing in her crib when they stood close by.  We had videos of her crying and arching away from her nannies as they tried to hold her, completely unwilling to engage in any form of personal interaction.  In almost every picture and video that we received of her she was chewing on her tongue incessantly—her chosen form of self-stimulation and soothing.  She had the same cut on her lip in all the pictures (spanning over two years), because her body was too dehydrated and malnourished to heal.  The fear of what I was about to find was very real.  But it was more the fear of our own inadequacy to handle the task before us; our inadequacy to give Rose the kind of love and care she was in such desperate need of; our inadequacy to cope with the struggles and challenges and unknowns that would surely come with this adoption; our inadequacy to guide our other children through the inevitable valleys that lay ahead.  Never in my life have I felt more inadequate as I did the morning of October 22, 2018.

But the very moment that I scooped Rose up into my arms, after she was shoved across that boardroom table, those fears immediately vanished.  Completely.  Totally.  That place--where divine sovereignty met human brokenness--is something which words cannot adequately describe.  The precious little girl that I held in my arms wasn't too different than what we had expected.  She was tiny, and so very scared.  She fought hard against my embrace.  Her eyes were gray and lifeless.  Her body was weak, and she struggled to gather each breath.  It was clear that she had not been bathed in quite a while.  But she was perfect.  And she was ours.  It was like holding a piece of my own heart, a piece that had been missing my entire life.  It was indescribable.  

The moment we walked out of the orphanage doors, into the sunshine and light of day, there was an immediate release in Rose's body.  She stopped crying, and relaxed into my arms for the very first time.  I will never forget that moment.  It was pure.  It was raw.  So, so raw.  It was that "place of quiet stillness between the light and shadows' reach, where the hurting and the hopeless found everlasting peace, where words of men and songs of angels whispered comfort bittersweet, mending grief, and life eternal...where joy and sorrow meet."  It was a moment frozen in time, that will remain etched on my heart forever.

One year ago, at 32 months of age, Rose could not sit up unassisted.  Once sitting, her whole body would shake and collapse back down onto her tummy.  She was exclusively bottle fed.  She weighed 17 pounds, and fit in size 12 month clothes.  She would literally gasp for air.  All the time.  Like she just couldn’t get enough air into her lungs.  Not like a child who has a stuffy nose or is congested.  It was like a person who is suffocating, like the air isn’t getting to where it needs to go and they are desperately trying to get more.  My guide had never heard such sounds before, and asked if I thought it was because of her heart condition.  I truly did not know.  Taxi drivers would peer into the back seat as we drove from place to place, wondering what on earth was going on with this child in their car.  Everywhere we went was a tremendous feat.  Rose would cry and cry until her little body was absolutely too exhausted to cry anymore.  She wanted no part of being held, being shuffled around, being around all these new people and places and smells and sounds.  All she wanted was quiet isolation—the only thing that felt familiar to her.  She could make the sounds of ma-ma and ba-ba, but only very sporadically.  She had no interest in toys or food.  The only thing that seemed to comfort her, was laying down in our quiet hotel room, holding my finger.  That was her favorite thing to do one year ago.

While in China, we had a medical appointment as part of the process to get her visa to enter the U.S.  Basically, the children are examined to see if they are healthy enough to enter our country, and not carrying any communicable diseases.  It is a cursory procedural thing.  Except for Rose.  We walked into the exam room to see the doctor, Rose crying inconsolably.  The doctor leans over the exam table to listen to Rose’s lungs, and proceeds to run out of the room saying something in Chinese.  A few moments later she comes back in the room with our guide, to translate what she needed to tell me.  She asked the guide if I was aware that Rose had a heart condition.  I said yes.  She then told the guide to tell me how important it was that I get Rose to a cardiologist as soon as possible.  I said yes, we have a doctor waiting to see her within days of getting home.  We had sent her medical file to a pediatric cardiologist in Houston to review before leaving for China, who told us to get Rose into the clinic within 48 hours of landing.  The doctor at the visa appointment was relieved to hear this, but then her demeanor shifted from hurried and panicked, to sorrow and pity.  There was a lot of that in China.  Despite the language barriers, it was very clear that most people there saw Rose with sorrow and pity.  Baffled by our immense love for her.  But I digress.

One year ago, Rose had very broken little heart…literally.  Fast forward to her cardiology appointment in Houston after coming home.  The doctor comes in to examine Rose, but first looks back at her medical records from China.  He tells us that they indicate a hole in Rose’s heart—very common among children with Down Syndrome—and moderate pulmonary hypertension as a result.  He explained that the location of the hole meant that it would not ever be able to heal on its own, and that she would need open heart surgery as soon as possible to correct it.  Not the news we were hoping for to say the least.  He then says that they need to repeat the echo cardiogram to confirm the size and location of the hole, because it is not uncommon for those details to be inaccurate in medical reports from foreign countries (meaning the hole might be larger, smaller, or in a slightly different area of the heart that could potentially close on its own instead).   Much to our surprise, they were able to do the echo cardiogram right then, so we would not leave the office that day without knowing what we were looking at.  After the test, we were waiting anxiously for the doctor to come back into the exam room.  The wait seemed to drag on forever.  Finally, he opens the door, walks in, leans back on the exam table with his arms up in the air, and says, “Rose’s heart is perfect!  We looked and looked and looked again, and there is absolutely no hole in her heart!  She is perfectly healthy!”  Not only were our jaws on the floor, so was his!  Just as all the fear had immediately disappeared from our hearts once Rose was in our arms, the hole in her heart had also disappeared.

Over the past year, God has not only healed Rose’s broken heart physically, He has been hard at working mending all the broken pieces of her precious little spirit.  Her broken heart found Love redeeming.  She has gone from being scared of her own laugh, to allowing little silent laughs to escape occasionally, to having full blown belly laughs all the time.  She no longer craves quiet isolation, but instead craves our attention and affection.  She not only tolerates being held and moved around, but she LOVES it!  Bouncing and swinging and dancing are her favorites.  She is silly, and stubborn, and cuter than cute can be.  She is eating all kinds of food, chewing like a champ, sipping from a straw, and gaining weight steadily.  She is picking up sign language so quickly, and has recently exploded with verbal sounds.  She is trying to communicate in new ways all the time, and is very good at expressing herself!   Her muscles are growing stronger every day.  She has recently begun pulling herself up to a stand, and scooting on her bottom to get wherever she wants to go.  Her doctor at the Down Syndrome Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital said that he has great hopes for Rose’s future and her ability to “catch up” to her peers.  He said she is a very good imitator, and that her ability to mimic what she sees others doing indicates very good cognitive abilities.  She is one smart cookie!  Basically, she is just pure JOY!!

There will always be sorrow written into Rose’s story, as in all of our stories.  But God has taken the sorrow—the suffering, the neglect, the words of unworthiness spoken over her for so very long—and turned it into pure and beautiful joy.  Only He can do such wonders, and we are so very thankful to get to witness His work in her life.  It is a gift beyond any measure.  This past year, we have walked in the place where joy and sorrow meet in ways we never predicted.  Other aspects of our life have been quite tumultuous.  We have been continually brought to the "place where the lost surrender and the weary retreat, full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief.  A place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep.  And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep.  Where there is hope in desperation, and there is victory in defeat."  This place is the cross.  

But in Rose there shines a light, a beacon, ever reminding us that this place—where joy and sorrow meet—is where we find restoration. And in Rose’s story, lies the truth that our own inadequacies reveal God’s glory in ways unlike any other.  Hers is an awesome example of God’s power and redemption.

Happy One Year "Gotcha Day" Anniversary to our sweet Rose!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Breaking the Silence

There has been a deafening silence here on the blog since bringing Rose home.  It has been an unexpected silence.  An uncomfortable silence.  I have struggled with exactly what to say and how to say it.  Though there are so many thoughts and words and stories swirling around in my mind, I have been silenced by an inability to capture them all in a coherent, shareable way.  I have been silenced by a paralyzing fear of saying something wrong, or not saying everything in the right way.  A fear of not being able to package things in a lovely “blog worthy” manner.  A fear of not presenting Rose, and her adoption, and her transformation in some beautifully packaged narrative, like so many other adoptive families have presented theirs.  

I can’t tell you how many adoption journeys I have followed over the years, or how many “Gotcha Day” videos I have watched, in preparation and anticipation of our own journey with Rose.  They have shown both the beauty and the raw anguish of children becoming orphans no more.  They have served as guideposts, helping us to navigate the crazy road of international adoption (and in many cases that has meant providing very practical tips on how to manage the actual adoption, and the travel part of everything).  They have provided glimpses into what those first days and weeks might be like.  They have inspired, and spoken truth, and revealed God's heart for the orphan.  They have served amazing purposes. But in reading all those stories, and watching all of those videos, a sense of obligation grew within me.  A self-imposed pressure to record as much of our story as possible--in writing, photographs, and videos—and share it in some sort of beautifully packaged blog or YouTube video.  Just like so many other adoptive families have shared theirs, with such purpose and bringing such glory to God.
But here’s the thing.  That’s simply not the story that I am supposed to be writing here.  It's not the story that God is writing here.  That’s not His purpose for Rose’s life.  That’s not the kind of testimony He is asking me to give.  He is not asking me to share a beautiful adoption story, or create a moving adoption video.  And believe me, if He were, Rose’s story would be so very easy to share, because it is chalk full of sweet, precious, rainbows and sunshine, amazingly joyful tidbits!  Seriously.  I’m not exaggerating or sugar coating a single bit when I say that.  This girl has just blown our socks off.  Every single day we pinch ourselves making sure this is really real.  Where is the hard?  Where is the scary?  Where are all the struggles we had prepared ourselves for?  They simply aren’t here.  It still seems too good to be true.  And in some ways, that is exactly where this story begins.  

According to the Gospel of John 9:1-3, Jesus saw a man who had been blind since birth. His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

God is asking me to testify of His goodness.  To focus not on Rose's adoption journey, nor our family’s experience.  He is asking me to testify—to bear witness—of His power, His sovereignty, His truth, and His glory.  The difference is subtle, and yet glaring at the same time.  It would be like the authors of the Gospels writing about their own personal experiences of what Jesus said and did;  as opposed to only writing, recording, and testifying of what Jesus said and did.  The first would have been them writing their own stories, still containing the truth of God, serving a greater purpose, and bringing great glory to Him.  But the second was them writing His story.  It is in that breath that God has shown me the error of my ways.  This is not our story, it is His story.  

And God's purposes for Rose’s life are not to show the world what the love of a family can do for a child once orphaned. His purposes are to show the world what His love can do. To show the world, or anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear, this glimpse of His nature. God’s goodness far exceeds any human notion of what it could be. It is not "too good to be true". It is good because it is true.

And it dispels any and all lies that our enemy tries to whisper into our hearts.

Here are some of the first words ever spoken to us about Rose: 

She has significant delays, and appears to be more on the level of low functioning compared to other children with Down Syndrome her age.”  

Rose has significant delays that could improve some with therapies, but it should be assumed that she will require intensive, life-long care.  Many children thrive and ‘catch up’ in a family setting with therapies and supports, but Rose will not be one of those children.  

Not many families are interested in little girls like Rose.

Though God had already given us His love for Rose—an immediate, unshakeable love—the attempts to dissuade and deceive us began just as quickly.  Those words rang loud and clear in our ears as we wrestled our way through the adoption process.  She will not thrive.  She will not catch up.  She is on the level of low functioning, even compared to other children with Down Syndrome.  Not many families are interested in little girls like Rose.  She will not thrive.  We began questioning, doubting the truth that God had so undeniably spoken into our hearts.  The truth of His love.  The truth of who Rose is in Him.  Updates would come, with more pictures and videos of Rose, showing how empty she looked.  How she rejected the touch of her caretakers.  How she ignored the sounds of their voices, and showed no desire to relate whatsoever.  Fear crept in.  Can we really love and parent and care for a child like this?  The lies are so insidious.  God hadn’t given us our love for Rose—He had given us His love for Rose.  His perfect, unfailing, unwavering love.  This wouldn’t be a story of how we love her, or how we care for her.  It is to be a story of how He loves her, and how He cares for her every need. 

Here are some of the words that have been spoken of Rose since coming home five months ago (by doctors and therapists):

“She is one smart girl!  She’s no ‘vegetable.’” 

“God has great things planned for this girl.” 

“She is developmentally on the level of a 6-9 month-old, but don’t let that discourage you.  She is going to catch up to her peers very quickly.  Give her six months to a year and she will be right on track.” 

“Every week we have to keep setting new goals for her, and re-writing her treatment plan, because she is meeting all of her goals so quickly.”  

“Look at how she is thriving.”

"She is extremely people-motivated.” (Meaning, she is far more motivated to do things when it leads to interacting with another person, as opposed to being motivated to get a toy or food or something along those lines. She most definitely desires to relate to other people!)

God has undeniably dispelled every single lie that was spoken over Rose, and every single doubt placed in our minds.  He has revealed His awesome power, through the rapid, transformative work He is doing in her life.  We cannot take credit for how smart she is, nor all the markers she has of being very high functioning.  We can’t take credit for the sudden desire to relate to other people that has grown inside of her.  We can’t take credit for the incredible transformation that has taken place within her spirit.  Those things are not the result of an orphan coming into the love of a family.  Those are the evidence of a Power far greater than human love.  That is God saying, “Fix your eyes on Me, the Author and Perfecter of faith.”  That is the story that God is writing here.  

Yes, adoption stories are perhaps some of the greatest reflections and demonstrations of God’s love that we can get. They mirror our own adoption as sons and daughters of God. They reflect the grace and mercy that God extended when He saved us while we were yet sinners. They reflect our own struggles to trust and receive love, and our transformations as we grow in the love and salvation of Jesus Christ. Adoption stories are powerful. They are beautiful. They are reflections of God Himself. But this isn’t an adoption story.

This is a story of God revealing Himself, and asking us to simply bear witness to what we have seen. The work that He is doing in Rose's life is not a reflection. It is the real, authentic, handiwork of God. It is Him displaying His glory.

So I sit here now, extending my apologies for the silence.  The words would not come because I was trying to write the wrong story.

And also, because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words…

The silly, goofy, crinkled smile of a little girl once scared of her own laughter.

The tight hug from a little girl who used to shun human touch.

The many faces of a little girl who used to have little more than a blank stare.  (Photographing Rose is like taking a time-lapse photographic video, her facial expressions change SO quickly!)

The JOY!

Catching up to her peers with more "age-appropriate" play.

Discovering these things called legs that God gave her.  
(With the help of her wonderful physial therapist).

These are the works of God on display, and all I can do is tell of what I have seen.  They are more beautiful and magnificent than I ever could have imagined.  While the rest of our life is filled with the hard, the scary, the struggle, Rose is a constant display of God's goodness.  What a story He is writing.

With much love, 

Friday, February 15, 2019

One Year Ago...

One year ago today, I saw this sweet face for the first time...

One year ago today, this face was forever etched into my heart.  One year ago today, a journey like none other began, in the quiet hours of the morning, as this tiny little photograph pierced the walls I had built around my heart.  It wouldn't be for another two months or so before we actually began the process to adopt Rose.  But from those very first moments I knew.  I knew that our world had just changed and there was no going back.  Whether this child was to be held only in our hearts, or in our arms someday, I did not know.  But there she was.  In an instant she became part of us.

One year later, I lay in bed in the early hours of the morning, with that same sweet face lying right next to me, having fallen asleep in my arms the night before.  One year later, we are standing on the other side of deep valleys, graced by a joy that is simply beyond human words.  There is a light that shines from within Rose that is indescribable; a light that comes from the Spirit within her; a light with the purpose of glorifying her Father in Heaven, so that others may know His love.  I am daily reminded of how blessed we are to be the ones who get to walk alongside her, and help her grow into the fullness of her indentity in Christ.  We get to be the ones to witness the miracle of redemption, transformation, and healing.  To witness the work of God in, and through, her life--to be forever changed by it.  

One year ago today, Rose was born in our hearts.  We never could have imagined the depth of love that we would have for her, nor the joy that would come with watching her bloom before our very eyes.  And to think...that is only a glimpse, a tiny reflection, of our Father's love.  

Thank you, Father, for the gift of our beautiful Rose--for the joy she brings, the light she shines, and the ways in which she draws us closer to You.

With much love,


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Hello from Texas...Six Weeks Later

I feel like this post should be titled something like, "Hello stranger, it's been a while!"  The last time I wrote, Rose and I were still in China, about to begin our long trip home.  When those airplane wheels touched the ground in Austin, TX, on November 3, we literally hit the ground running.  And I have sat down to write this update more times than I can count, but inevitably get pulled in another direction, or six...

The short version of how things are going with our little Rose is that things are simply amazing.  We have been completely shocked at how well she, and the rest of our family, have settled into our new normal.  All the things we were most concerned about in regards to her transition into our family have gone so incredibly smoothly.  From the moment we got home, Rose has seemed to be completely at peace.  Jetlag threw her off for about two or three days, but she quickly acclimated and is the most amazing sleeper we have ever had!  She soaks up the attention from all of her siblings, and is not one bit phased by all the commotion.  We were prepared for her needing quite of bit of "alone time" in her crib, away from all the noise and stimulation.  But that has not been the case one bit.  She is interacting with everyone, forming unique bonds with each member of the family, and thriving with all the hands on attention she is getting.  She is a quick learner, much more so than we were lead to believe throughout the process.  She has learned some hand gestures (blowing kisses and clapping) which indicate her ability to mimic and learn sign language, at the very least.  She says Mama, though not really with intention or knowing that that is me.  But still, it brings a huge smile every time I hear it!!  Her muscles are getting stronger every day, and you can just see the wheels turning in her little head and she takes everything in.  

The hardest part of the transition for our family as a whole has been with our little Luke.  He was most definitely used to being the "baby" of the family, and having the vast majority of my undivided attention.  Fortunately we have gone from, "Mommy, when are we sending baby Rose back to China?!" to "We're never sending baby Rose back to China, she's our baby!" and "I love baby Rose, I just can't stop saying I love her!"  He also loves to come to her rescue...if he hears her start to cry, he will immediately come running to her and make a little motor sound that for some reason is oddly soothing to her, and it often stops her crying.  I think after six weeks he has settled into the role of big brother pretty well, although it comes with his usual intensity! 😉

Since being home, Rose has had a lot of firsts.

She has ridden in a car seat for the first time, which is now one of her most favorite places to be.  This girl loves being on the road!

She has begun eating soft foods, without the help of any feeding therapy whatsoever.  This has been one of our biggest surprises, because after almost three years of being exclusively bottle fed, coupled with the tendency for children with Down Syndrome to have feeding difficulties, we were not expecting such quick progress.  When I first got her, she had no clue what to do with her tongue when anything other than formula touched it.  And really no desire to learn.  But once we were home, and her core muscles strengthened enough to where she could sit in the high chair without tiring so quickly, she took to spoon feeding like a pro.

She got up on all fours for the first time, though she definitely prefers to be resting on her tummy!   

She has weathered her first respiratory virus with a Mama and Daddy to love her through it, which still ended up turning into pneumonia.  It struck me over and over again as I wiped her little nose, or took her temperature, checked her oxygen levels, held her upright in the steam to ease her breathing--all the things I have done with my other kids countless times--that this was the first time she wasn't fighting alone.  The nannies don't have time to wipe every child's runny nose all day, or hold each one in the steam, or keep a close eye on their vitals.  They simply do not have that luxury.  And that is exactly what it is--a luxury, a privilege.  Caring for our children is something that I had taken for granted, even griped about at times as an exhausted mom.  But it's a luxury.  And I am so thankful to get to care for this sweet little girl now.

She met our horse family, and has fallen in love with none other than our big Huey Bear!  Though she had never seen such an animal before, much less such a large one, she immediately reached out her little hands to pet him, and then leaned in to lay her head on his (which of course we didn't get a picture of in time.)

She laughs...a lot!

She snuggles.

Every single day we look at this child in amazement that she is here.  She is safe.  She is home.  She is loved.  She is happy.  And she has brought so much JOY into our lives.

(Blowing Kisses)

As time allows, I will begin sharing more about our time in China--hopefully before all of the most important parts fade from my not-so-great memory!

Thank you all for coming alongside us as we begin walking out the road before us with our sweet Rosie girl.  Needless to say, we don't know all the places it will lead us, nor what it will all look like.  But we do believe that the story of our Rose in bloom is something to be shared.

With much Love,

Friday, November 2, 2018

Hello from China!

Introducing Rose Jia Ning Hadsell

It has been an incredible two weeks here in China, to say the least!  Once we are home, and have had some time to process all that has taken place here, I will share more of our journey.  But for now, I will let a few photos tell the story.  (I only have internet on my phone, the computer can't connect, so this post is coming to you via cell phone, with limited capabilities).

The above photo was taken on our "Gotcha Day"--the day I got Rose from the orphanage.  For some reason this is the only photo from that day that my phone is letting me upload to blogger.  But in it you can see the fear written all over her face.  This little girl had spent the vast part of her 32 months on this earth laying in a crib.  Simply being picked up, held, moved from one position to another was overwhelming and frightening for her.  She would cry every single time someone went to pick her up, even the nannies who had been with her for her entire life.  So, they picked her up as little as they could.  I will share more of that story, and pictures from gotcha day when I get back to my computer. 

Fast forward to five days later, and this is what God had already done.

Those are some of Rosie's first real smiles and giggles.  When she first started to smile, it would be a very quick little grin, which would immediately disappear back into a blank stare.  When she first started to laugh, it scared her.  She laughed and then cried.  But by day 5, when these pictures were taken, JOY had begun filling this sweet girl.  On day 5, she allowed me to pick her up without crying.  She smiled and laughed without hesitation.  Love had already begun healing her tender heart. 

Fast forward to day 10, and this is Rose laughing while blowing kisses (a new trick she has learned), all while SNUGGLING!!!  As in, voluntary physical contact, that she sought out, and was happy about!!!

Today is day 12, and instead of crying when I pick her up, she now stops crying when I pick her up.  She gets so excited when she sees me put on the front carrier, and starts flapping her little arms in anticipation of getting in and snuggling.  We have gone three whole days without any inconsolable crying fits. She has learned to blow kisses and clap her hands.  She makes eye contact when I talk to her.  And she smiles and laughs so very much!  

I don't completely have the words to describe what is has been like to watch her come alive.  It has been like seeing the tangible glory of God right in front of my very eyes.  She still guards her heart fiercely, but Love is making its way in.

Rose and I begin our trek home tomorrow morning, leaving our hotel at 4:50am, and arriving in Austin, TX about 24 hours later.  Prayers for safe travels, and for Rose's ability to handle a massive amount of over-stimulation would be so appreciated!  We have felt the power of prayer holding us up during these past two weeks, and we thank each of you for lifting us up, and coming alongside us as we get our little Rosie girl home.  And a huge shout out to our Mimi and Nana, who have stepped in and helped David with the kiddos at home in my absence.  You have truly been God's hands and feet in our lives, and we thank you!!!

With much love from China,
Ashley and Rose