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Love is awesome! It has been several days since Mia Kate made our family complete.  We are now back in our house together and it feels like a home once again.  Many people have asked me the highlights of our trip and I would definitely say the biggest was seeing the smile that seemed to go on and on in the sweet girl I now call daughter.  Tonight as I write this I can’t help but reflect on the blessings God gave us during the 2 weeks we had together, all 6 of us, in China.  We went from one side of the world together, hand in hand to make our family 1.  But that blessing was so much more then those two weeks.   We realize now more than ever that we could not have made this journey alone.  Thank you to the hundreds of you who pray and support us as we continue to walk this adoption path.  We could not have made it without you, and pray that you also are blessed through our lives, together.  I could write for days, but I have learned moving images can say so much more than I could ever express in words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet words from Mama

Mama is Mommy in Chinese. I know it is simple but when you hear those words for the first time it makes your heart leap.  My sweet wife and “mama” to our kids wrote this on Facebook today.

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It was one week ago today, just seven days, that Xiao Min came into our lives. I would hold a scared and fearful, yet incredibly brave girl in my arms and in an instant she would be orphan no more. And our family would be complete. It was such a joyous day for our family but for Mia Kate, it was a day of great loss. She would loose, yet again, everyone she held dear to her and although it wasn’t a family, it is all she knew. And they did love her. I will never forget laying her in the bed on that first night, only have met her five hours before and staring into those big beautiful almond eyes. She was beautiful. And she stared back at me and put her hands in mine and fell asleep. What a brave soul my sweet daughter is. She has been through more in her little two years of life than all of mine. She’s been so sick that she almost died and now she is a walking miracle. Mia Kate- A fierce, brave girl that I’m proud to call my daughter. A week later and the tears have subsided for the most part and she is fitting into our family the only way God knows how to do. We have lots of learning and growing but how much she has blessed our lives already.
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

 

 

 

Dancing Shoes

 

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These shoes were made for dancing…

Each day with Mia Kate is a new discovery for us and for her. Those of you who have adopted probably can relate. We are meeting and learning about our daughter in new and interesting ways each day. We are introducing her to things like pizza and French fries. The also are discovering the things she already knows, like how to peel and eat a hard-boiled egg, play with something like playdough, and dancing – and boy does she love dancing. You turn on music and she can get down with the best of them. But my favorite thing is that she loves shoes. The first day we got her we gave her a pair of brown boots, and she spent hours putting them on and taking them off. Even when we went back to her orphanage she showed the caretakers her boots as if they where a brand new pair from the runways of Paris. We then progressed to a pair converse, which she proudly put on and danced around the room showing everyone. I am learning that she/we were made for dancing. Each day we spend with her, her smile grows another few inches, her laughter gets a little louder and her dancing moves us all. It’s as if she is saying to us and to the world watch out because these shoes were made for dancing.

Monkey

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If you know Eli then you have met monkey, his beloved mascot.  Monkey seems to go everywhere Eli goes.  He hid out in his backpack all through Kindergarten providing comfort when he was unsure.  He gave him hugs when he got stitches from being a little to adventurous.  He consoled him on those lonely nights after we lost maggie our great dane. And now he has come all the way to china to say hello to his new sister.  If you know Eli then you know our sweet boy was giving Mia his heart when he gave her Monkey to hold.  If you know Eli then you know this pictures says so much more then I could write…

Love & Greatness

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Today we drove to see the beginnings of a great life…

I have come to the conclusion Mia Kate is destined for great things and God is just allowing us to have a front row seat on this journey. The truth is we are all destined to do great things if we allow God to work in our life, because greatest comes from overcoming obstacles. Some of us just have bigger ones than others. As I stood in the room where Mia had spent much of her life I was caught off guard. In my life I have been blessed with visiting orphanages all over the world, but today I had different set of eyes. I was not here to make a video or tell a story of a ministry. I was here to see where my daughter had her humble beginnings. So many times I have thanked social workers and nannies for the ministry they are providing for the very least of these. Today I came face to face with the angels in the form of workers and foster moms who helped to mold my daughter into who she is and who she will become. And in the eyes of all I encountered I saw love. They had truly loved Mia Kate. They had invested in her so that she might become something great. The conditions Mia lived in where not good by many standards, but the love she felt each day was incredible. Today I am thankful because these women have laid the seeds for a beautiful women to grow and blossom. The baton has now been passed to Melissa and I. We are honored God has chosen our family to impact the life of Mia Kate. Our obstacles make us who we are, and I believe that Mia will change the world and it has started already with ours.

Beyond the tears

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We opened the elevator doors and walked out taking our last steps as a family of five.  As we rounded the corner in the lobby and there she was.  A quiet scared girl, dress in panda pink, unsure of what was taking place.  We reached for a hug but she was scared, and as her dad I was torn.  I wanted to reach out and dry the tears welling up in her, but I knew things must progress because Mia’s life was forever changing and it is a lot to take in for a 2 year old. I could see the same mixed emotions in the orphanage director’s face and the caretaker she clung to.  They were losing a loved one, but she was gaining a family.  Over the past few weeks, I had tried to put myself in their shoes and realized our gain was their loss.  But everyone in that room knew this was, as my dad always said, the right thing to do.  But it was so much more than that, it was the seeds of love.  Seeds were being planted in that little girl that we all will see blossom in the days to come.  We asked a few questions, signed some papers and then just as quick as we walked into the room to meet her. The director and caretaker left.  If tears could talk at that point they would be screaming in fear, and Mia was both crying and screaming.   Once again everything Mia Kate had known was being turned upside down, but if you look at her history each upside down turn got better and better.  And as a Dad I will fight to make this the best turn of her life.

As she cried, we made are way to a playgound seeking the joy that overflows from there might calm her down.  The bright spot was she clung to Melissa with all her might as if saying we are in this together from here on out.  One by one each of our kids tried to get her to smile, to stop the tears and tell her it was ok we loved her.  It was as if to say if we saw that smile, we all knew that yes there would be tears and yes there would be joy, but that smile would bond a family…forever.  But with each attempt she rejected us and became more fearful of what lay ahead.

As a dad, memories of the conversations over the past 3 years echoed in my head.  Things like “let her grieve” or “she might not like you at first” things you never want to happen but you know might.  I was trying to console her with hugs and silly faces, but nothing worked.  I knew it could be days before we saw that sweet smile.  A smile I know we will grow to love.  Then it happened, as if God at that moment gave me a smile himself.  I offered a simple high five to Mia Kate and she reached out and gave me five with all her might.  At that moment both corners of her face lit up and a smile crept out from behind those tears.  For me, it was if I was high fiving after one of the greatest plays of my life. It was so much more than just two hands touching, it was as if in that moment we connected. For the moment our family had unlocked the secret to get her smile.

One by one each member gave her five in their own special way.  Champe did the high five/hug (which she was still not to keen on the hug.) Genevieve did the high five twirl.  To which she mimicked her spin. Eli went all out and did the high five followed by some silly fall on the floor too, which Mia Kate erupted to laughter.  Then Eli repeated this fall over and over to which he gets the privilege of saying he made her laugh first..   We had succeeded and by the joy in her laughter I knew she would fit right in to this crazy Presley clan.  There it was I looked at Melissa and thought this daughter of ours is going to fit right in.

I know the coming days will bring heartache and loss as Mia Kate says goodbye to all she knows as a 2 year old.  But I also know we hold the secret to getting over the bad days and it is so much more than a high fives… it is love.  And this family is filled with that.

Thank you to the many of you who prayed for years for this moment, even as I write this I am overwhelmed at the love you have shown for our family.  Now a family of six…

The sander that never quit

 

My father provides even when he is gone…

When I started making letters a few years ago I used my dad’s Rigid hand sander to painstakingly sand each letter.  It was a used sander that was not that old, but it was still good with a lot of life in it.  I had borrowed it from him a year or so before he died, and just kept it in my shop after he was gone. The other day on my last set of letters before we left for China, the sander stopped working.  3 years and 1000 letters later that sander had smoothed out each letter that came out of my shop.  As I told my wife the sander was broken she said ,”Do you realize each letter we sent out your dad touched through that sander.”  My father, whale, passed away several years ago, but in that moment I was reminded that he was there in the garage with me, smooth and sanding each letter.  Each letter that was helping us pay for our adoption.  As if he was there looking over my shoulder in approval helping us bring our daughter home.  I realized then his legacy is being lived out in each of my children, and now even Mia Kate. That is a great dad, and an even better man.  A man I can only hope to become.  So if you purchased a letter or a table or even a star from us in the past 3 years, please know that part of my dad’s legacy is in your home.  I am even more excited part of my Dad’s legacy will be coming to our forever family in just a few short days.

Thank you Dad for providing for my family and teaching us all what legacy really is..

 

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