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Morning by morning

If we sound like a broken record saying how grateful we are for your prayers, know that it is the song on repeat in our hearts. God hears and answers the prayers of His people, and we have been carried along these past two weeks.

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Getting off the airplane in Birmingham with our newest little citizen was one of the happiest days of our lives. What a joyous reunion it was, and we are so very glad to be home. George regressed significantly almost immediately when we got in the car at the airport. Fast forward to today though, and the progress is remarkable. Eating and sleeping are hit or miss, but overall we’re making significant strides. We are still just getting started, and we are humbled to have a front row seat as the Lord makes the rough places smooth.

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In some ways it feels like we just met George. There is so much we have yet to learn about him and so much I wish we could tell him. I wish he knew that he didn’t have to hold his own bottle anymore and how devastated we are that we missed his first two years. When he wakes up his eyes dart around while he remembers where he is, and I wish he knew how much we look forward to loving on him until we’re old and gray, Lord willing.

Music is the one thing that almost always calms or engages him. George’s safe place is on David’s lap, hugging his chest and looking up into his face while David sings and plays the piano for him. It reminds me of the psalmist’s description of abiding in the shadow of the Almighty.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:1-4

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The truth is, on our best day, we are but a glimpse to George of the safety of our Heavenly Father. And we are finite, unable to protect him from evil that would befall him or a plague that might come near his tent (v.10). We can pray and rock and nurture and love him with all our might, but only the Holy Spirit can bind up his wounds. I’ve wept for him so many times seeing his grief and watching him adapt, but I am humbled and comforted knowing the Lord loves little children, not just George, but all those who suffer, and He measures their sorrow.

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8

Today marks two weeks since we tumbled through the door of our little red house in the woods as a party of 7, and honestly, the transition has been brutal. Especially for George. We expected it might be, and it is a joy to endure for our sweet baby, but jet lag hit like a tidal wave and we have been acutely aware of our insufficiency to meet the needs of all the little people in our care. Precious promises have carried us.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

What a gift it has been to feel our need so acutely because we have a Heavenly Father who needs nothing! We’ve prayed for wisdom to know what George needs when and how best to comfort him. Because of Jesus, we have unhindered access to the fount of all wisdom.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” Romans 11: 33-34

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

Our patience has waned night and day, but His steadfast love is inexhaustible.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Desperate for and dependent on sleep, I am in awe that He who watches over Israel never grows tired or weary.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121: 1-4

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:28-29

Looking at 3rd grade, 1st grade, two needy preschoolers, and a traumatized and exhausted baby in the face at 5am with hours upon hours looming ahead, He has lifted my eyes to the hills where I find help, never a moment too late. It hasn’t all been rosy, and these pictures are nothing short of the highlight reel, but our confidence in the One who has eternally secured our biggest need to navigate these light and momentary struggles is stronger than ever. The trials of the past two weeks are so trivial compared to what many of you have walked or are walking through, and He is near to you as well, sufficient in all our weakness.

We’re soaking up our days at home together, but its also hard not to share him yet! To know him is to love him, and the pictures just don’t do him justice. I wish you could feel his hands and see his lips pucker for a kiss. It’s like Christmas morning waiting for him to wake up, especially for his siblings, and watching them bond makes my heart feel like it will burst. I said at the top that in some ways it feels like we just met George and it does, but he is fully ours, belonging to God but entrusted to us, so in other ways loving him feels so natural, so easy.

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I cannot overstate how helpful the groceries, flowers, cards, meals, errands, and texts and emails of encouragement have been. I am way behind on communication, but your messages are received and cherished. We are humbled by and grateful for the outpouring of love and care.

One sweet friend brought us a pumpkin with dinner to perk up our house a little with fall just around the corner. Goodness knows I haven’t done any perking otherwise. But Mac, age 5, exclaimed, “Mama! This is the first time we have had a pumpkin provided for our needs…just when we needed it,” shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s just like the manna!” Yes, even the pumpkin has been a tangible reminder that He knows our needs and that we cannot exhaust the well of provision that is ours in Christ. If you’re still reading this terribly long update, thank you for pressing on with us. I’ll post once more after we see the cardiologist before I retire Brown Party of 7. We love you!

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Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

Great is Thy faithfulnessGreat is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love

Great is Thy faithfulnessGreat is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

 

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Birmingham Bound

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We are sitting at the airport, and I’m watching George and his daddy stretch their legs before our flight. Our hearts are full. As I’ve reflected on the week, Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer has been on my mind and is all I can think of to sum up this week in the Brown family. God has truly hemmed us in, behind and before. Our beloved Chip Stam used it often to lead us in worship during our time in Louisville. Here are the last two stanzas.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

What an absolute joy it has been to give George our undivided attention and to have several days to spend getting to know him before reentry. He is not the same little boy we met on Monday, and we’ve rejoiced over every milestone. We’re still just getting started, but boy are we in love. We’re missing our other babies something fierce and counting down the hours (26 to go) until we are reunited. Lord willing, we will beat Irma to Birmingham, and we can’t wait for hugs and kisses all around.

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We plan to hibernate for a few weeks, or “cocoon” as they say in the adoption world, to facilitate bonding and attachment before we ease back in to the hustle and bustle of life…doctors orders. Part of our hustle and bustle will be a series of doctors appointments and therapy consultations for George as we settle in. George has Down Syndrome and was born with two holes in his heart. We are hopeful that one has recovered on its own, but the doctor anticipates the other one possibly needing intervention.

We mean it very much when we say we are humbled by how faithfully you have prayed for us, and we have seen the fruit of your prayers since the beginning of our journey. All praise to Jesus.

David George Brown

We are officially Brown Party of 7. Bless the Lord, O my soul! George’s adoption is final, and we have in our hands his visa and passport to return home. He slept right through our AIT appointment. I have no idea how to put the last three days into a blog post…

As I type, George is snoring next to his daddy in our bed. I can hardly see the screen to type when I think about it. We are truly in awe of our perfect Heavenly Father, a Good Shepherd indeed, who has gently led us through the last nine months and the last 72 hours as we were united with our precious lamb.

Our social worker has been a gracious hostess and tremendous blessing as we have tried to navigate the week. Monday morning we met George for the first time. He was absolutely terrified of us, hysterical, until he cried himself to sleep in our arms. We are overwhelmed with love for him. That afternoon we spent another few precious hours together that started off the same way. We were able to take a short walk near his orphanage down the Old Street which is world famous for its “stinky tofu.” The street is really beautiful, and we will never forget our first little outing together as a family. He was relieved to return to his caregivers Monday night, and we were heartbroken to leave him.

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On Tuesday, we spent most of the day together and visited our hotel room. We went through the same process when he saw us, but he put up a little less of a fight, and we are so very thankful he will lean in to us and sleep. While it is absolutely heartbreaking to know the grief and loss he is enduring as he says goodbye to everything he has known, we are so very thankful he has developed some attachment to his caregivers over the past two years. This is an answer to prayer. This week we have been praying the Holy Spirit would minister to him in his own language and would be a balm to his soul. He doesn’t say any words in Mandarin, but understands a great deal so the communication barrier is still quite an issue even though he is young. It was almost impossible to return him to the orphanage for one more night.

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Wednesday morning we were united again, this time as a forever family. The bonding process is just beginning, and we are taking the long view. We had our first few genuine smiles Wednesday afternoon, and though we have miles and miles to go we are rejoicing over every baby step along the way.

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George is typically too overwhelmed to play, but is starting to show interest in a couple of toys. He enjoyed some bubbles this afternoon and a “splashy bath,” as the Brown children call it, but most of our time has been spent snuggling, reading, talking, and singing. Oh the singing. George loves music like his daddy. We’ve been through our repertoire many times over, and I promise you David Brown knows a lot. of. songs. It will be our joy to rock and sing to this little lamb until Jesus comes back. We are cherishing every minute together. Wheeler, Tommy, Mac and Betsy are on our minds constantly and we are counting down the hours until he meets his brothers and sister in the Birmingham airport on Monday. What a day of rejoicing it will be!

Thank you for praying seem like such small words compared to how grateful we feel for you. Thank you for the many texts and emails of encouragment. The Lord has answered prayer after prayer after prayer and deserves much praise for what he has done.

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come, let us sing to the Lordlet us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Psalm 95:1-7

 

 

Taipei

We had two days to wait when we arrived before we could meet George. Here are some photos. The first is a picture of Taipei 101 next to our hotel which is one of the tallest buildings in the world. The last one is a view from the 89th floor. We visited the Shilin Night Market which was a neat experience with stall after stall of shops and street food. On Sunday we worshipped with a local church and had our cups filled to the brim for the week ahead.

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“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

We met our baby today. Finally holding our little lamb in our arms was too wonderful for words. We are in awe of what God has brought to pass in the last nine months. Today was one of the hardest and best days of our lives. Our hearts are full, but we are exhausted and conserving our energy for the next few days. We are so grateful for your continued prayers. More updates and pictures soon…

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

A Day at the Airport

Today reminds us of a Richard Scarry book. Polly dropped us off at the Birmingham airport at 5am. We hopped over to Atlanta and then boarded a flight to San Fransisco. Leaving the children with Polly and Jon in the wee hours of the morning felt just like it did when we were getting ready to meet Betsy (except this time I wasn’t waddling.) Saying goodbye was brutal, but we are very thankful to leave them in such wonderful hands. Bea came back in town today to, in Wheeler’s words, “take over.”

We took the MRT (train) into Taipei and the subway to the hotel. It ended up being about 31 hours door to door. The flights were great even though our luggage had a bit of trouble and should make it to the hotel tomorrow. We have a couple of days before we’re able to meet George so we’ll see as much of the city as we can and catch up on some sleep. We’re scheduled to meet George for the first time around 8pm Sunday evening Birmingham time.

Our hearts are overflowing, and its hard to believe we are really here. Please keep asking God to prepare little George’s heart to meet us and for the bonding to begin right away. It is wonderful to be in Taiwan with lovely, gracious people, and we are excited to see the sights tomorrow. We are grateful for you and how your prayers have carried us. Thank you for checking in on us.

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This one is for George