Before we get going, I want to publicly thank the Chapman family, Scott Hasenbalg, Charley Redmond, Cathy Troyer, Nick Lyndon, Mindy Cook, and each and every Show Hope staff member for making this weekend possible for us. We cannot say thank you enough for everything you have done for our family - because you have been faithful to God's call on your lives, thousands of lives have been immeasurably blessed and changed for good forever.
We would also like to thank Erik Dellenback, Brandi Cook, Tim Tebow and the Tim Tebow Foundation for standing in defense of orphans - we are so blessed to be amongst the first families so generously blessed through your partnership with Show Hope (more on this later!)
And to Joyce and Robin, who have given their lives to serve the broken children of China, your sacrifice is what has made our family possible. Your courageous love inspires and heals - we cannot thank you enough.
Together, united, you all create one tremendous team, and with the Lord at your helm, the work you do not only reaches into thousands of grateful hearts, but also into all of eternity.
We had packed our bags and were heading out the door - we were on our way to Tennessee! As recipients of two Show Hope grants (one for Sarah and one for Sam), we had been invited to help them celebrate their 10th Anniversary and we couldn't wait to meet all the wonderful staff we had the privilege of connecting with in both big and small ways over the years.
For those who might not be familiar with them, Show Hope (www.showhope.org) is a non-profit org, founded by Marybeth and Steven Curtis Chapman (Steven is a Grammy Award winning recording artist and is a household name in christian and gospel music circles). After their first adoption, they began to realize just how many orphans were in desperate needs of families and so helped to personally fund several adoptions. It was then they realized God was inviting them to do more by taking the next step to create an organization that would eventually unite thousands of orphans with loving families by simply helping them overcome the financial hurdles of the process. We are one of those families.
So where were we? Oh yes! We were out the door early that morning, with the two kiddos in tow and all of us were beyond excited. It was Sarah's first time on a plane since China and she was giddy at the thought of flying. "Because I don't remember flying to China mama," she told me over and over again that week. My little girl had counted down the days until finally, in our seats on the plane, we began to take-off.
At this point, Sarah had the sudden realization of what an airplane really was and desperately clung to my arm. As I whispered into her ear. holding on to her as the plane barreled down the runway, I observed Sam just one seat over from Sarah, who, being his normal free-spirited self, had raised his little hands like he was on a roller coaster and laughed like a little madman as we were pressed back into our seats.
We landed four hours later in Nashville and stepped out of the airplane and into our rental car, which, like so many things on this trip, was just one more thing that God blessed us with. We were upgraded from a small Ford Escape, to a brand new, fully decked out GMC Terrain for free, when the gal at Enterprise noticed it would be a tight fit for us.
And so, as we drove away with the moonroof open, the clean and crisp Tennessee air breezing in through the windows, there was not one mouth that was quiet - all of us were wahoo-ing and yippee-ing and yeehaw-ing, celebrating the goodness and grace of a God that had gone ahead of us to bless us with even the little things on this trip.
Once we settled in at our hotel, it was time to find food and apparently, Nashville isn't a fast food kinda city, so after driving around in "exploration mode" for the better part of a half hour, we decided to hop back onto the freeway and see if we could spot something from there. And it was then that we saw them...the golden arches!!! We all laughed as me and Mike did our best impressions of an angelic chorus as we drove towards the light. I do believe that will go down as the best fish sandwich I've ever had.
Later, with the kids finally in bed, me and Mike couldn't help but talk about many of the blessings, both painful and joyful, that had led up to this one moment in time. It was indeed a time for celebration. "What an adventure You have set us on Lord..." was the last thing I can remember lifting up to Him as I drifted off to sleep.
|Sarah and Sam the first night at our hotel, celebrating the joy of life.|