Saturday, July 9, 2011

AUNT LILY!

To say that Lily has had an extreme life so far would be putting it very mildly.  Left on the steps of a health club at sixteen days old, she never knew her birth mother.  She spent the first two years of her life in a Chinese orphanage being cared for by her second "mother";  a woman she calls "DAH JAH" when shown her picture. Then last year she finally came home to us, (known in the adoption community as her "forever family"). By the time she was two years old she had been a citizen of two superpower countries.  And now, at the ripe old age of almost three, Miss Lily is going to be an aunt. That's right, sometime around Christmas Blair and Jeff are going to have a baby.  My first baby is having a baby.  It is hard for me to believe.  Not the part about them having a baby. I get that, and I am very excited.  What is hard for me to comprehend, to fathom, to wrap my arms around is the glaring fact that I am going to be... married to a grandmother!

AUNT LILY!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FOR MARSHA

 
I have not blogged in a really long time. I haven't really felt like it, and I had only really planned on doing this thing to keep our friends and family updated while we were in the "bringing Lily home" stage of our lives. However, our wonderful friend Marsha has given me two good reasons to keep it up for a little while longer.  First, she reminded me that this blog will serve as a living record of what is a most extraordinary chapter in  the Chip Cheek Family Chronicles. Second, Marsha has accused me of cutting the apron strings a little too completely when our older kids leave home.   She claims that while our kids are still living at home we hover and dote on them to the point of ridiculousness, but when they leave the nest, we cut off financial support, shut down their rooms, smile and wave ...."see ya"!  While both sides of that may be a slight exaggeration, we do expect our little birds to fly on their own at some point. Anyway, she has also pointed out that I rarely mention our oldest daughter Blair and our son-in-law Jeff in the blog. Personally I do not think it is unusual that I don't spend loads of time talking about the guy who moved my daughter hundreds of miles away and taught her things like how to shoot guns and drive a monster truck.  Don't get me started. 

Last week-end Blair and Jeff came to see us.  We had a fantastic time, and the picture above is from that visit. It is really a remarkable picture. Not because the girls look so beautiful, and they do. It is remarkable because of what the photo represents.  Good grief, my oldest and youngest child are 25 years apart in age. Astounding and exciting! Raise your hand if you can say that! Oh and before you do, it only counts if you still have the same wife you started with. 

Anyway,  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I have read the book Radical by David Platt.  After I read it, I felt compelled to buy a bunch of copies and pass them along to guys I was sure would be as convicted and excited about the book as I was.  Turns out, not so much. Only a couple of guys were  "moved' by the book.  Fortunately, because of my deep and superior spiritual maturity, I suppose I can understand their reticence, after all, the book is a tough pill to swallow.  In all seriousness, Platt does make some very valid assertions about modern day Christianity, and I have to admit that in many ways I felt like a miserable failure in relation to how I practice my faith after reading the book.  In my mind, I certainly had never done anything really "radical" in living out my life as Christ's follower. But then it dawned on me, "yes I have by golly"!  I flew to the other side of the world and at age 51 and adopted an orphan.  Don't tell me I'm not radical. I'm the man!  And I was feeling pretty good about that thought process until yesterday.  Yesterday, I met a family who was visiting our church for the Global Impact Celebration. The parents were around our age, and have adopted 5, (I'm serious) orphans in the past few years. They already had 3 children. Three of their adopted children are deaf.  This immediately threw me into despair over my minimal radicalness.   Then I found out something that should not have surprised me.  That's right, they were members of David Platt's church in Birmingham. A place where I bet that kind of sacrifice is not so unusual. What kind impact do you think Christians could have on the world if that brand of radical was simply the norm.  Just wondering?

On the lighter side, Lily is fabulous.  She is putting two words together now, and has a fantastic sense of humor.  She laughs all the time and loves her family. Playdough is her favorite toy, and she insists on picking out her clothes, and we let her.  She is sleeping through the night consistently. (At least last week she did.) She loves fast food and starts screaming "fries" to the top of her lungs when we pass a McDonalds. She loves to help me grill out every Thursday night.  Her favorite is grilled bacon. Don't tell me she is not my child. Her transformation is nothing short of miraculous.  

Here are more pictures of Blair and Lily, and maybe one of Jeff! 

Chip

Yes, that's Jeff.

This is Lily wearing the first Easter dress Mimi made for Blair. Mimi lengthened the dress to fit Lily.


video



Friday, December 3, 2010

THE FIRST THANKSGIVING


Our family has been through a lot of change this year. Emily graduated from high school, Teddy graduated from college, and as Daniel would say, "we brought home an Asian"!  Since most any change is outside my very confined comfort zone I have felt a little "off kilter" at times these past few months.  Consequently, I have looked very forward to the holiday season, along with all of our familiar and comfortable and wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. Emphasis on the word tradition.

This year however, thanks to my mother-in-law, who spent a large part of the last year very ill,  I had to cope with a serious "Who moved my Cheese" situation.  For the past 30 years we have eaten Thanksgiving dinner at her house.  Not just any Thanksgiving dinner,  I'm talking a feast beautiful enough to be featured in a Norman Rockwell painting, and delicious enough to serve the Queen!  This year, because she had not been well, Susan's sister Julie offered to do the whole shebang at her house. And I'm thinking, "O.K., so you had a little near death experience Dolores, get up, shake the dust off, get to cooking, it'll do you good!"  But, everyone else insisted, they all felt she needed a break, so I was over-ridden. 

Turns out, (and I'm not sure exactly how long it will take me to finally get this) change IS good! In fact, in this case it was GREAT!  Our first Thanksgiving at James and Julie's house (and Lily's first Thanksgiving ever) was one of those "never want it to end" kind of experiences. The food was great, and there was a lot of it!    Notably, there was the largest container of macaroni and cheese I have ever seen. It probably weighed 75 lbs.  Julie and James spent the entire time making sure everyone was well fed, comfortable and having a great time. 

Our beautiful niece Lori, transformed her parent's master bedroom into "The Lily Pad". It was a place for Lily to go and de-stress if she got overwhelmed in this very new situation.  There were dolls and stuffed animals, and books and music and a huge comfortable place for Lily (and me) to take a nap. Lori even had a special CD in the boom box that was soothing and sleep inducing.  It worked!  

Anyway, we all had a blast, and my poor recovering mother-in-law got some well deserved time off! Oh, I forgot to mention that she did in fact cook the turkey. And strange as it seems, she had apparently gained enough strength to leave the following Monday for a whirlwind tour of Germany.   Guess that "cooking break" really did the trick!

Anyway, I guess God is getting me used to change, and letting me know that maybe it won't be so bad. As I mentioned a blog or so ago, I have been totally upended by David Platt's book Radical, and I can guarantee you this, change is indeed coming for the Cheek family.  Stay tuned!

Oh and I promised my nephew Gregory,  that I would mention him in my next blog. So there you go Gregory!

AND, my son Teddy's band's first music video!  MAGNIFICENT!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s6IXP_ZA5M

Chip

                                        Lily and Confetti

Sunday, October 31, 2010

HECKLER

"Two ducks walk into a bar..." 


I'm starting this time with a a joke.  Since after I posted my last blog I received a call from my first heckler. My phone rang and a familiar voice said. "Hi Chip, I just read your new blog."  I waited, hoping the caller would tell me how the "deep" message from my latest post had been both convicting and compelling.  "It was...well, different" she went on.  "I didn't like it as much as the other ones."  Oh, I said, Why not?    "It just wasn't funny.  Not funny at all... sorry," she said. 


So, this one's for you....................MOM!


Two ducks walk into a bar. The first duck orders two drinks, the second duck whispers “How are you going to pay?” “It’s all right,” says the first duck, “I’ll get him to put it on my bill.”  

There you go!         And, to top it off, here is a picture of Lily in her bath-time Duck towel to tie the whole thing together.




UP NEXT: I have finished two more books, Radical by David Platt and Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.  Both have revolutionized the way Susan and I look at our faith and our lives. Hope you will continue to follow along with us as we forge a new path for our family.

P.S.  Lily LOVED trick or treating. We thought she may be apprehensive about approaching houses and new people, but NOT AT ALL.  She held Daniel's hand on one side and she held his friend Jackson's hand on the other, and I am pretty sure she would have collected candy all night if we had allowed it.  It was a lot of fun to watch!  Here is a picture of her chowing down in true "Cheek" fashion!


Friday, October 22, 2010

"WHAT'S YOUR STORY?"

Well, a lot has happened since my last post. Most notably perhaps, Emily left for college.  I am still pretty mad at her about that since she promised me when she was four that she would not grow up too fast. She lied.  It took all of about ten minutes. We all really do miss her around here, and Lily is no exception.  She picks up pictures of Emily and hugs them.  When Emily "skypes' with us on the computer, Lily jumps up and down with excitement and kisses the screen. Needless to say, Emily coming home for Fall Break was a BIG celebration around here.

OK, so what does all that have to do with the blog title, "What's Your Story"?  Nothing. So I'll get to it.

Christian author Donald Miller's latest book A Million Miles in A Thousand Years is a must read for all Christians.  Especially if you are willing to have your toes stepped on a little bit.  In the book, he explores how the concepts of writing a good story also apply when it comes to living a good story—living a beautiful, meaningful, fulfilling life.  He makes the assertion that essentially we have been brainwashed by lifelong exposure to marketing and advertising campaigns. Campaigns that convince us that we must have certain things to be truly happy and that if we don't have the biggest house and drive the most expensive cars and on and on and on, we will never be fulfilled. Miller contends our personal life stories have been watered down and made silly and boring and stupid because we had fallen hard into the consumerism trap.  Recently, my daughter Blair who works for Dave Ramsey in Nashville interviewed Donald Miller about the book. Don explained, “If you went to a movie about a guy who just tried to buy stuff all his life, at no point would you think that movie was rich, meaningful, beautiful or inspiring. And so if it wouldn’t work in a movie, it’s not going to work in your life."

I think the devil must get a huge kick of it. Especially that Christians have bitten the apple so hard. Financial resources that could so easily have been used to do God's work have been diverted for our pleasure. Makes me kind of sick that think of all the money I have wasted that could have been more wisely spent.

I am thinking we should all take a long look at how we use the resources that have been entrusted to us. We need to consider our life story so far and make a decision to make the next chapters more compelling, significant and outwardly focused.  So for Susan and I, that is our plan. We want to sell our house, size wayyyyyy down and focus on the people scripture refers to as "the least of these".

God has really used this adoption thing to get a hold of me and I am praying He will get a hold of all of us and shake us up a little to get us more focused on His purposes, not our own.

As for Lily, my little princess is FANTASTIC.  We are having the time of our lives, albeit pretty exhausting for an old man like me.  Below are pictures of our search for Lily's Halloween/Fall Festival costume,  (depending on what your view of Oct. 31rst is). She LOVED one of them and HATED one of them. The pictures make her feelings very clear. So, I think we are going to repackage Tinkerbell for her friend Millie's birthday!  "Only worn once for 10 seconds by another little Chinese girl who hated it."

Thanks again for following along with us.  New blog shortly!

Chip


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

DANCE!

We found out early on in China that Lily loves music. When songs she liked were blaring on a loudspeaker in the park we went to in Qingdao, she immediately started bobbing up and down and waving her hands in the air. We got back home and were listening to some of the new music from Teddy's band, (check out www.myspace.com/halfpricedhearts) and Lily started really showing us her moves. I am attaching a short video of one of her performances. Originally it was much longer, but we edited it down so you only have to watch a minute or so.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Chip
video

Monday, August 9, 2010

FULL DISCLOSURE!

I found out when we finally got to China that there are quite a few things about the international adoption process that they don't tell you up front. Since I know that many of you are probably now considering an adoption yourself, I think we should tell you ten important things you have to know before you make the final decision.




10.  In China, the Colonel's 11 original herbs and spices have been DRAMATICALLY altered to appeal to Asian taste buds, or perhaps to enhance the flavor of drumsticks, and thighs, and things that don't necessarily come from a chicken. Stick with Pizza Hut and McDonalds. The taste is pretty close to what we are used to.

9.  An American man in bright orange and green plaid shorts draws a lot of attention in Chinese airports and government buildings.  I suggest gray or khaki.

8.  At some point on the trip you will probably have to use what they call a squat potty, which is a hole in the ground with a toilet seat on it. Sometimes there is a sign that says "out of order".  How can a hole in the ground be out of order? Please note: No toilet paper is provided so bring your own. There was a "community roll" at the Guangzhou airport.

7. Before you travel, try to get into the greatest shape of your life.   Chances are you will have one of those "full body scan x-rays" at an   airport.  You'll want to look your best.

6.  I did realize that we were traveling to a communist country.  What I did not realize, was that even at a five star hotel, you are not allowed to select your own room temperature. If you are not always comfortable at 78 degrees Fahrenheit, bring a fan.

5.  Every Chinese conversation sounds like a confrontation. I thought our interpreter was about to have a fistfight with the parking attendant at the train station. Turns out they were discussing the weather.

4.  There are traffic lights, stop signs, crosswalks, and police officers, just like in the U.S.  There though, those things are apparently for decorative purposes only. Venture out on foot at your own risk!

3.  Read this one very closely. I did not hear anything about it until they brought Lily to us.  Before they leave you with the child for the first time, you are required to sign a "Harmonization Agreement". It is written completely in Chinese and you must depend on your interpreter to read it to you. Basically it says that the child is being shifted temporarily into your custody for a period of 24 hours in order to determine if you are compatible with each other.  AND, here is the big thing, if anything happens to the child during that time something really really bad is going to happen to you.  Ruby, our interpreter, never exactly would tell me what the bad thing was, and I don't think it rose to the level of a firing squad, but it was pretty scary nonetheless.

2. Starbucks abound. You can get a Seaweed and Green Tea Latte 24/7.

1. There is a phrase "the miracle of adoption", and now I understand it.  My biggest fear through this whole process was that I would not be able to love an adopted child as much as I do my wonderful biological children.  I am not sure if I can express this adequately, but at this point, besides the fact that she looks chinese, in my heart I absolutely cannot tell any difference.  This is truly an amazing thing. I hope some of you out there will choose this road, or rather, like us, God chooses it for you.

Chip








Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BREAKTHROUGH!

She likes me. She really really likes me!  In less time than I had anticipated Lily and I have become buddies. She definitely prefers Susan, but I am making headway. When we first got back from China, Lily would get very upset if Susan was out of her sight. Now, she will actually comes looking for me...occasionally.

She calls me papa which is Chinese for daddy, and lately she is a girl after my own heart.  We sit in my big chair and watch TV.  I love it!  She likes to push the buttons on the remote control which can be a little aggravating with the channel changing every two seconds and volume fluctuating, and the power going on and off.  So, once I get the channel set, I give her the remote (upside down so the sensor is not pointed towards the television).  She pushes to her hearts content.  When she starts to get sleepy she hands me the remote and grabs my hand and puts it on her head.  I am supposed to pet her head until she falls asleep. Lily also likes to get a book and sit on the fireplace hearth.  She yells for me and then pats right beside where she is sitting so I will sit down and read. And today, when I got home from work, she threw her hands in the air, yelled papa at the top of her lungs and ran into my arms!  I am definitely starting to get that "wrapped around someone's little finger" feeling again. And I like it!

Chip

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

YOU CAN'T GO BACK!


They say you can't go back. Well, last night I spent several hours pouring over countless pages of  directions and sifting though hundreds of plastic parts putting together a play kitchen that Susan bought for Lily's birthday. I have such memories of late night Christmas Eve and pre-Birthday assembly sessions. Twenty-five years ago when I first started doing this, I would "sometimes" grumble and complain about the incoherent instructions and the impenetrable packaging.  I would lament my loss of sleep as I tried to figure out how to attach Part A to Part B at 2 a.m.  But as you long time parents know, in less than a blink, toy castles and kitchens and swing sets and basketball goals give way to clothes and make-up and fishing poles and electronic gadgets. No assembly required. OK, this is starting to get sappy. Anyway, I had a blast constructing Lily's Disney Princess Kitchen Extravaganza.  And even though I did not make it to bed until after 1:30 I still could not get to sleep.  I just kept thinking how blessed Susan and I are to be able to experience these special childhood moments again.

So, as it turns out, you can go back.  However, it does cost around $30,000, and you have to take a trip across the globe.  It requires being investigated by numerous government agencies, and produces countless other inconveniences and aggravations.  Worth every bit of it. Guaranteed!


Chip




Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ADJUSTMENT!

If I tell you that our lives have been sort of upended for the last week or so, that would be putting it mildly. Susan and I had explained to the kids about, and prepared ourselves for the "adjustment period" that we are now in the middle of.  But truthfully, and I and don't want to sound too self-focused here, I am the one that seems to have the most adjusting to do.  It started Lily's first night here.  We were told that it would probably be best if Lily slept in our bed for  "a little while" to help her "feel secure".  Now I have never been a kids in my bed kind of guy, but in the spirit of compassion that I am so famous for, I agreed.  Susan and Lily got settled in and as soon as I started to get in the bed, Lily, in her plainest English to date, waved at me and said in a very stern tone "Bye Bye Papa, Bye Bye!" I ignored her and got in bed. Susan says to me " well you could lay on the floor for just a few minutes until she falls asleep".  WHAT???????  I guess I have just not come far enough along in my spiritual journey to eat that slice of humble pie.  I refused. Lily eventually calmed down, and now is sleeping happily through the night in our bed. Susan has transitioned her to napping in the crib, so hopefully she will be out of my room and sleeping solo very soon.

I have also had to admit to a new and most glaring reality...  It is not all about me! That is the biggest adjustment I think, brought on by this situation. Adoption shifts your focus outward. This child, who I do not know, from another culture, who speaks very little english, and has only recently started to like me, needs love and protection and provision.  She needs to know Jesus, and we have been called to the task. It has interfered with my sleep, my bacon wrapped shrimp dinners, my free time, time with my other children and just about anything else you can name. You know what?  And I'm thinking this as I type. Maybe that's why God speaks so much about adoption.  It ties in so well with other biblical themes like servanthood and dying to self and looking out for the interest of others. Those concepts to me are much simpler on paper.  Living them is difficult sometimes. But adoption forces the issue and through the process I can already tell that our family is growing spiritually.  We are changing.

I am changing.  About time!

Chip


Oh yea, I mentioned last blog the problem Lily was having a problem with our dog. She literally screamed like she was being tortured every time Rocket was in the room. Now the tables have turned, a couple of times.  Lily, when Rocket came up and tried to lick her leg, screamed and bopped him on the head.  I guess he decided that Lily was alpha dog, and became terrified of her.  She loved the change and chased him around the house relentlessly trying to bop him. Now, in just a couple of days time they have become friends.  She hand feeds him and pets him kind of gently.  We are thankful that the two have adjusted to each other.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

BANGING THE FIST!

It took over 31 hours door to door, but finally, the girls are home! All by herself, my wife navigated an international trip that included 5 airports. With Lily in tow, she had to retrieve her luggage several times due to customs and security, handle a stroller, a backpack, and go through immigration at JFK in New York in order to handle Lily's citizenship.

Additionally, since Lily is under two, we only purchased a lap fare for her because, you guessed it, the price was only $350 vs $1300 for full fare.  The travel agent tried to warn us that a 14 hour (one way)  airplane flight with a child in your lap would be horrendous. I haughtily assured her that we weren't first time parents, that this was not our first rodeo,  and that we were fully capable of deciding whether or not Susan could handle a two year old in her lap.

 Of course that was BEFORE Susan and I, who haven't traveled any further than Orlando in the past 15 years, were squashed into the pea  sized economy seats of the Air China 747.  It was after about an hour on Flight 982 that I realized the lap fare thing was a huge mistake. I knew Susan and I could tolerate it, but I began to worry about Susan and Lily on the return trip. I decided to put my foot down. After all, as a Christian husband, I know my role.  Provider, protector, and IN CHARGE! I told Susan that I was not taking no for an answer.  We were going to pay the extra fare and get a seat for Lily on the flight coming back!  Well, those of you who know us best, know how that went over.  Guess I'll have to settle for provider and protector. We were still "discussing" it when we landed in Beijing over 7 hours late. Because of the excessive delay we missed our connecting flight.  Air China was supposed to have a bus waiting at the Beijing airport to take all of us to a "hotel very wonderful" to await our rescheduled flight the following morning.  It was already 1 a.m.  Susan and I were exhausted.  After waiting about two hours for the promised bus, I noticed a Chinese gentleman banging his fist on the counter and screaming in Chinese at the Air China representative.  Since I had seen the same gentleman speaking English earlier, I asked him what he was saying to the clerk.  He told me that with this particular airline it did not matter what you said, but if you banged your fist on the counter, they would give you what you want.  The bus arrived in moments!

Fast forward. After I got home I still worried a lot about Susan traveling back such a distance with Lily in her lap.  I thought several times about upgrading the fare and facing the consequences.  I told a friend of mine about how concerned I was. He gave me something to think about and it helped a great deal.  He said that "behind her slight frame and gentle demeanor is a formidable force who has handled you for the past 29 years plus 4 kids.  She will be FINE! "  Last Thursday morning, the folks at Air China got to see that formidable side that I am so familiar with.  I received the following text message from Susan just minutes before she and Lily were scheduled to leave Beijing. "Everything is wonderful here. Banged my fist on the counter, got a free seat for Lily."  BAM!  That's my girl.

Lily slept 7 hours on the Beijing to JKF flight and Susan 4. For two hours Susan stood in the aisle so Lily could sleep across both seats.  And while Lily wasn't exactly an angel  while she was awake, the down time was extremely helpful to Susan.  They arrived in Montgomery at about 10:45 p.m,  I don't think I have ever seen Susan look better. Emily and Daniel were thrilled to see their mom and to meet Lily.  Daniel said it was the best moment of his entire life.  Pretty strong statement from a 13 year old boy. It was Emily who actually first brought up the idea of international adoption to us,  so it was an exceptional time for her as well.

We are settling in to our new normal and everything is going very well. There is no way we can adequately thank you all for the prayers, and phone calls and gifts and food... especially the food.

Prayer request. Lily is terrified by our 9lb little dog Rocket.  Makes things kind of difficult to have to keep the two separated.  Rocket actually seems a bit terrified himself.  Pray they will get comfortable with each other.

Thanks for reading.  More later.

Chip

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

LANGUAGE BARRIER




Certainly I expected there to be various communication difficulties while we were in China.  However, we were told by our interpreter that the reason our agency booked us in 5 star hotels was because the difference between 5 star and 4 star hotels in China was that the staff in the 5 star establishments were required to speak "very well english".  To some degree we found that to be true. Nevertheless, there turns out to be a little, and sometimes a lot of  disparity between "very well english" and actual english as you and I know it.  If for example, you ask the waitress for cold milk in a paper cup with a straw for your child, they bring you hot milk in a glass. When we asked for more napkins, we got paper bags.

We were told by our server that they did not have cold cereal in China. "Only hot, only hot", the lady said.  When we got to the actual buffet line though we found a glass canister of  Cocoa Krispies labeled "PooPoo Krispies" next to a pitcher of warm milk.  Decided against that.

As it turned out, there were quite a few labeling difficulties on the "Western" portion of the buffet. Trying to be helpful, I pointed out to the chef that the carafe that was labeled orange juice was actually pineapple juice.  He bowed to me several times in apology and returned shortly with a new label.  This time the card said "Mango Juice".  Still trying to educate, again I pointed out the mistake. This time he was visibly embarrassed and consulted with several other staffers. They began rummaging through a stack of printed labels and then all started smiling and nodding in agreement.  He ran towards me with the label held high in the air. It read "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake".  I nodded and acted as though he got it right this time. He proudly placed the card in front of the juice.  Right next to the pineapple juice was a container of apple juice, labeled of course, and I'm not kidding, "Apple Pie"!  

If you have not experienced it, I can't explain how out of sorts you feel being plopped down in another culture. Nothing is familiar, and the language barrier makes it so difficult.  I told Susan while we were there that I felt kind of like an alien on their planet. Then it occurred to me that as Christians, if we really believe what God's word tells us, we should probably feel that strange and awkward in our secular world. But, if you are like me, you don't.  We fit in all too well here don't we?  We are just like everybody else.  Because it is comfortable I think.  I'm going to have to work on that.

Anyway, Susan has officially flown out of Guangzhou and is on her way home!  26 hours and 45 minutes and counting.  I have found in her absence that it definitely takes two people to manage my life.  I am A LOT of trouble. We can not wait till she and Lily get here.  Thank you for all your prayers and calls and help.  Susan will have more pictures when she gets home, so I will post them in a few days.

Chip

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ A THING! JUST PHOTOS.



 





OK, SO YOU HAVE TO READ THE CAPTIONS.





ORPHANAGE PLAYGROUND



PLAYROOM


BATH

WAITING FOR TRAIN



LAUGHING AT SUSAN


ROAD LEADING TO ORPHANAGE




MUSIC ROOM 

\


QINGDAO CITY

Friday, June 25, 2010

The way she looks at me!

My father always told me that you can tell a lot about how a girl feels about you by the way she looks at you. Note the photo on the left. Lily is looking at me. Clearly, I am not her favorite person...yet.

I can't tell you how flattering it is to have my new daughter laughing hysterically while playing with her mom and then in a millisecond, start scowling when I enter the room. Oh well, eventually she will want a wedding or something. My day will come!

On day three of our trip we went to Qingdao (pronounced ching dow), Lily's orphanage city. We traveled by high speed train and clocked around 280 miles in just over 2 hours. The sailing competition of the Summer Olympics 2008 was held there. It is a huge beautiful city, but the thing that stood out the most was the orphanage itself. Situated on the side of Fosham mountain, the compound overlooks the ocean. It is really a beautiful place. Immaculate. There is a playground that rivals any I have seen. This particular center is sponsored by an organization called "Half the Sky", and is staffed with caring workers who are trained to love, cherish and teach the children. I think Lily has had care and attention that far surpasses what is available in most social welfare environments. We are very thankful for that. And since up until now she has had no idea that there is any other kind of family, I thinks she has been very happy there.

Her caretaker has been nurturing Lily since the day she was found. I never could understand what they said her Chinese name was, but she was literally bawling as it came time for us to take Lily. She was holding Lily and clearly did not want to give her up. This presented a problem because we were afraid that if Susan took Lily from the woman, Lily would get very upset and the relationship that she and Susan had been forming would be set back. So instead, I took Lily from her. Believe me when I tell you, Lily literally threw herself into Susan's arms to get away from me, and never looked back. Crisis averted.

One of the most awkward moments of the trip came when we got to the orphanage. In order to show us how much they appreciated us bringing Lily into our family, they prepared for us a huge traditional Chinese lunch. I have already mentioned in an earlier post how much I like to eat. Well, when they brought out the meal it was clear that for me to eat it was going to be a big problem. First, I could not identify anything on the plate except for a lone shrimp sticking out of a gray looking paste that was slathered on top of some sort of thickly sliced something. I was kind of in a panic because I knew it would be offensive to the Chinese people there for me not to eat. However, I decided that throwing up all over the place might be even more offensive. I spoke with our interpreter. I told her that I used to be very very fat, and that I had lost a lot of weight. I told her that now I only eat two meals a day, and that I had already had breakfast. I said that I was very afraid that if I ate all of that delicious food that I would start to get fat again. She passed that along to our hosts. They all looked at me up and down trying to decided how I looked as a fat man. They started laughing in Chinese (sounds like our laughing except higher pitched). They were satisfied with my answer. Later they offered me a seaweed wafer. I held out my hands in front of my stomach to remind them of my former fatness. They nodded in understanding and then the the director scolded the woman who offered it to me. For tempting me I guess.

Whoa, I have been going on for too long. Here's the rest of the day. Toured the city, went back on the train. Lily entertained the passengers by blowing kisses to everyone. They all gave her various forms of Chinese "treats". We got back to the hotel and I immediately walked across the street to Pizza Hut and Kentucy Fried Chicken and bought a lot of "Western Food". Packed, slept, got on plane and came home. Waiting for Susan and Lily.

Chip

Thursday, June 24, 2010

TURBULENCE

TURBULENCE

Today, I learned a lot about turbulence. The kind that happens on an airplane. I learned what it is, and what it is not. I used to believe that every little bump and jump during flight was turbulence. Prior to this trip to China, I found flying to be extraordinarily stressful. So, anytime someone would ask me about my flight, I would always answer, “It was horrible, a lot of turbulence!” Turns out I did not have a clue. That is until today.

Actually, as it turns out, turbulence is where the plane is jolted and knocked around (sometimes violently) by airwaves moving at different speeds. It is random and unpredictable. Objects float temporarily during especially large drops. The flight attendants slam their serving carts shut and hurriedly dash for their seats. And even though it was my “fasting” day, I snatched a bag of peanuts from the cart as the attendant whisked by. She screamed something at me in Chinese to express her displeasure at my disregard for the “food service discontinuance” announcement. I did not care. I had no intention of going down starving! While we were still bouncing like a rubber ball, I calmly opened them. There were exactly 8 peanuts in the bag. Seriously! I decided to die hungry. About that time the pilot came over the loud speaker and in a frenzied Chinese voice made an announcement. I assumed he said “BRACE FOR IMPACT”. I did so. Then he made the announcement in English. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologize for the light turbulence we have encountered. We hope the rest of your journey with us will be enjoyable. Have a nice day, and thank you for flying Air China!”

Light turbulence? Really? So much about life is perspective isn’t it? Sometimes the things in life that we think are such a big deal are really no big deal at all. We just don’t usually figure that out until we face a bigger deal. Visiting Lily’s orphanage made me realize that the things that I fret and sometimes agonize over pale next to a world of children with no parents. This really bothers me. More so now that I have seen it up close. I kind of hope it bothers you too. Is there something you’ve been losing sleep over? Maybe it’s just a tiny thing and the devil wants you to focus on it so much that you never have time for weightier concerns. Issues important to God. He tells us what those are by the way. For you it may not be orphan relief, but for goodness sake pick something and get busy fixing it.

Ok enough preaching. I am home! I miss Susan and Lily, but am so happy to see Em and Teddy and Daniel. I am putting a picture up with this post and tomorrow I will put all the sermonizing aside and tell you about our trip to Lily’s orphanage. Great stuff! More pictures too.

Thank you for your support, your prayers and all your great comments. Susan and I love reading them!

Chip

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gotcha Day!

I am writing this blog in Microsoft Word and sending it to Teddy to post on my blogspot because I have been unable to access to site from here in Jinan China. A few updates: Since last I wrote, we have done A LOT! The 13-hour flight from New York to Beijing was tough but incredible. We flew over the North Pole and it was amazing. Flew into Jinan the next morning and within 3 hours they were knocking on our hotel door with Lily in tow. Can you imagine the emotions we all were feeling? If you are thinking adjectives like thrilling, and ecstatic, and happy and excited, you would be completely wrong. At first, all of us, including Lily were more like terrified, and overwhelmed and helpless. Honestly, I was thinking, why am I here, what were we thinking? The same things many of you have been asking all along. Lily screamed to the top of her lungs for three hours solid, which we were told ahead of time is a very good thing. It certainly did not seem to be so good to me. However, in my heart I was screaming as well. After meeting with the orphanage director, we all went to the Chinese Wal-Mart for supplies. If you haven’t googled the Chinese Wal-Mart, you really really should. Although the online pictures don’t really do the experience justice, take a look anyway. I had seen the pics earlier, and still I was startled! Much of the meat is so fresh it is still breathing. Seriously! And, to make me feel even better, almost EVERYONE here is China that we have met, and those who come up to us on the street ask how someone so old could be married for so long to someone so young, and that Susan looks “normal’ to have a child Lily’s age and that I look like the grandpa! So, they treat me here the same way they do in the U.S.

Anyway, somewhere in this process Lily started to get very comfortable with Susan. Still not so much with me. They hold hands and walk and she calls Susan mama. I was so excited when finally she held her hand out to me. I reached to hold it and she let me know it wasn’t my hand she wanted. It was my goldfish crackers! Oh, by the way, I left the camera transfer cord at home so I cannot download pictures. I will do that when I get home. I know I am rambling here, but I want to tell you as much as possible and not go on and on.

Ruby (her English name) is our translator and she has handled everything for us so beautifully. Today was the official adoption and it went very smoothly. Details later, but Lily is ours officially. Thanks to Doc (Susan’s dad) we learned how to Skype, and Emily and Daniel and Teddy have seen Lily online so they can fill you in on what they have seen! Blair and Jeff are on an anniversary trip so they have not met her yet but can't wait. She is laughing and blowing kisses and eating a whole lot. Definitely a “Cheek”!

Now back to the emotions thing. NOW, we are very thrilled, happy, ecstatic and excited, and can’t wait to get her home. When I get in, I will post pictures and more updates. Tomorrow we go by high-speed train to Lily’s orphanage city and then Wednesday morning (Tuesday evening for you) I begin the trip back. Please pray for Susan and Lily as this very unfamiliar place is logistically a challenge. Pray for the kids at home and our flights. We love you. Look forward to seeing everyone!

Chip

Thursday, June 17, 2010

THE LORD OF THE RIBS!

Ok. I love to eat. I mean I really really...REALLY love to eat. Having said that, I am a fairly picky eater, but I consider great food one of God's most beautiful gifts. And Wednesday night, I was blessed with one of the most wonderful meals of my life, provided by "The Lord of the Ribs", aka Charlie. It was a trilogy. Boston butt, pork tenderloin, and baby back ribs. After dinner we were prayed for by dear friends. What a send off to China!

We have been stuck in New York all day at JKF due to a HUGE delay caused by bad weather in Beijing. In a couple of hours we will be on a 13 hour Air China flight to Beijing and then on to Jinan via Shandong Airlines (China's little rickshaw in the sky!)

More later.

Keep praying!




Tuesday, June 1, 2010

If We Can Do It


I have never blogged before. I have never wanted to blog. I really don't want to now. Not any more than you really want to read this. And you wouldn't except that you have been directed here by an "invitational" email from my wife. Many of you, even though you have not expressed it to us directly, think we have lost our minds. You ask questions like "Exactly what is the age limit for adopting a child over there" and "Really, can people your age do that"? After all, Susan is 48 and I am 51. Yep, each of us with one foot in the grave. What ARE we thinking? Let me fill you in.

The Bible talks a lot about orphans, and when the Bible speaks about taking care of orphans and widows, the actual translation for "taking care of" means to relieve the problem. Now to me that is a pretty clear directive. I am definitely not sure of the exact numbers, but I'm thinking there are millions of orphans out there. Sadly, there are probably millions of families who could offer those fatherless, motherless and abandoned children hope, and love, and provision. Families who could relieve the problem! But they don't. As a family, we want to do what we can to relieve the problem. In these times of great economic uncertainty it would sure be easier not to do this. At our age, it would be easier not to do this. Considering my extreme fear of flying, it would definitely be easier for me not to do this. I did everything I could to have Lily delivered to my door. Sadly, China would not acquiesce so I am reluctantly, but also excitedly preparing for the 23 hour trip. Since I don't do medications it should be fairly miserable. Even worse, since Susan and our budget do not allow for first class air travel, it should be very miserable.

Nevertheless, here we go. After an arduous four year wait, on June 18th we head for Jinan, China to adopt our little girl, and our whole family can not wait. We have jumped through countless adoption hoops. We have been fingerprinted, background checked, tested, re-tested, home studied (and yes, I passed), expired, renewed, mismatched and then finally matched with the little girl God has picked out for us. We really are overjoyed to be near the end of the first part of our adoption journey, and excited to be parents again.

I hope you will follow us as we head into this new and uncharted chapter in our lives. And while you're at it, why don't you see what you are willing to do to help relieve the problem!

Chip