Saturday, July 9, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Friday, December 3, 2010
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.
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!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
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.”
Friday, October 22, 2010
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 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!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
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.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
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!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
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.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
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!
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
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.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
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!
Monday, June 21, 2010
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!