Monday, August 15, 2011

Tears in a Bottle

...put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? Psalms 56:8

When we first started our journey to Mei Mei, it was not without concerns and questions....
Our second China-born daughter, considered Special Focus, has a heart condition.  Not understanding medical jargon we sought the counsel of a doctor, but before we did that, I went to my Father lamenting, "Father God, I don't understand.  Are you asking us to adopt a child who doesn't have long to live?  Are you asking us to adopt a daughter who will leave Sonya after we promised her a sister and a friend to grow old with?" 
Immediately came His response, "She has a broken heart, and your love will heal her.  I will heal her."
With those words tucked securely in my heart, I initially sought the help of this aforementioned doctor to look over Mei Mei's medical records so i could have a firm handle on what I might be asking my husband to do.  For those of you have been following our journey, you will remember that Randy was not "on board"  with this idea of a second adoption at this juncture.  I thought that by procuring the help of a doctor to better understand Mei Mei's condition, it would serve to keep me from glossing over with Randy in any way her physical state just so i could get my way in this matter because, friends, let me just say for the record, I knew I was staring at the face of my little girl the minute, no, the second, I laid my eyes on her. That feeling, that knowing, that revelation of who she was and who she is to me has never left me, not ever.   
But the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, showed me that we needed to trust Him and in order to follow Him in obedience, we needed to make a decision as a married couple on Mei Mei's behalf without gaining any further medical knowledge of her condition.   On a Friday night, only four days after seeing her sweet baby face for the very first time, I decided to pour out my deep love for this child to my husband.  Randy did not feel the same way as I did, although he had a great deal of compassion for me and for Sonya who said from the very start, "I want her to be my little sister".  
Hence, moved by said compassion, Randy called out to the Lord in prayer, our hands interlaced with one another, our heads bowed, and as he spoke came this plea from Randy's lips, "Father, if it be your will, move on my spirit so that I feel it too."  And i thought to myself, "Perfect" because you see, it really doesn't get any better than that.  i knew because Randy was sincerely seeking the Lord's will, then Randy would obey the Lord when called.  You know, it takes a real man to humble himself before the Lord and call out in perfect submission and obedience, seeking not to deny the existence and sovereignty of his Father in Heaven, but rather making known in both word and in deed his allegiance to his Father's good and perfect will for him
Within twenty four hours of that prayer, Randy was completely on board with bringing this beautiful child home!  Praise the Lord forever and ever.  Praise His Holy Name forever and ever!  It was only after filling out the initial paperwork to adopt this precious one and putting down our application fee that we received an email by the doctor who offered to help translate into common english Mei Mei's records.  In the email, the doctor addressed the various conditions assigned her.  While i read this report to Randy, i kept revisiting in my mind my  Father's promise to me that He would heal our child!   
Through the months, choosing not to look at Mei Mei's records again, a battle waged inside of me, threatening to engulf and enslave any evidence of hope or joy.  All i could think about was how far Mei Mei was from us, and how desperate I felt to get her home and get her to a doctor!  Because i didn't know... I couldn't see her.  i couldn't touch her. I couldn't minister to her needs, and this thought was plaguing me, causing me to cry every day for my daughter, filling me with such anguish and fear, thinking the worst because i chose to remain in the dark.  
Then one day not so long ago, as i sat at the computer, silent tears streaming down my face for my girl, the Lord encouraged and coaxed me to review her medical records for myself - so that i could arm myself with knowledge about Mei Mei's overall physical condition and state of health.  So i listened.  I obeyed, and it wasn't hard to do.  He waited until I could listen and obey Him, so that it wouldn't take courage to do it. 
What I found as i researched the various conditions assigned her in matters of the heart, my ever-present fear vanished and was replaced with hope again.  Because you see, everything i read about is fixable!  It's operable!  And her prognosis is most favorable!  
Still, I will tell you, I kept returning to my Father's promise and i started wondering if it would be wise to pray to the Father about our very specific need for our daughter, and that is namely to heal the hole in her heart and restore fully her heart and her health.   I sought the wise counsel of a deacon at our church one Sunday afternoon following service, and he confirmed that even though the Lord knows what we need, He still wants us to come to Him and ask Him specifically for what we need, reminding me further the Lord will then go about answering our prayers in His good and perfect time.  
That night following the Invitation as Randy and I stood before the congregation at Waynedale Baptist Church, I explained to everyone Mei Mei's situation and our need as parents for her.  I shared with them the Father's promise to me, and I proceeded to ask them to pray with us to the Father for the hole in Mei Mei's heart to be closed up and for her full recovery.
As the deacons surrounded us, laying their hands on us, Randy and I stood in the center of them with our hands firmly clasped in one anothers, with heads bowed as I wept silent tears.  One of the deacons was asked to pray on behalf of Mei Mei and as he began his prayer, I sensed, i felt as though the words leaving his lips floated in the air directly in front of us as the complete prayer formed and took on shape and substance, and i felt God's ministering angels swoop down, collecting the prayer in their wings as they carried it directly to the Throne Room of God Almighty, and within an instant, the Holy Spirit was sent to our little girl and He touched her!   He touched her on her heart!  And i could only stand there and cry silent tears.  

It took me a couple of hours before i finally understood or could even begin to articulate what had actually transpired in the midst of that healing prayer.  I am sure, as sure as i need oxygen to breathe, that the story I just conveyed to you is REAL.  It really happened, and whether our God has just begun a healing in Cassie or completed a healing in her through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can rest in the calm assurance that our God always keeps His promises. 

Since that night, I have had the great privilege of asking another mother whom I'd never before met to please check on my girl while she was visiting Mei Mei's orphanage the week following.  This mother, Caroline, was scheduled for a final goodbye visit with her four year old son whom she and her husband adopted from this very same orphanage only a few days prior.  In an email, beautiful Caroline took the time to share with me at length her impressions of my beautiful girl while visitng that day at the orphanage.  I will be forever grateful to her for the kindness she demonstrated to this momma's waiting heart.  Please allow me to share with you now some of what she penned on Mei Mei's behalf:
Hi Cheryl,
I feel strongly in my heart that Cassie's heart problem will be mild when you get her. I wanted to tell you this in person, but I do not want to make it difficult to get together, so here it goes.
The night before we went I got your picture of her. Honestly I thought to myself (and bear with me on this) this lady must be crazy. How in the world am I going to recognize her daughter amongst all of the children that must be in the orphanage?

We met Ms. Zhong and sat down for a while in the meeting room and just talked. I was itching to get into the place, but I was patient. She was very gracious and acted like she had all the time the world. We went first into the dining hall. Some children were starting to eat lunch. My Jack ran across the room straight to "his" empty seat and wanted to eat, so they let him. Well, as I walked up Cassie was the very first child I saw!!!!!! I immediately told my guide I had to check on her. I got several pictures. What a cutie. I was drawn to her. I totally left Jack to eat his lunch. He and Cassie are in the same class. They go to school, eat, and sleep (right next to each other) together. So, I moved on and checked on two other girls and took pictures. They were in Jack's class too. If you notice from the picture the table that Cassie is sitting at and the table where Jack is sitting. There are a total of 8 children, 4 at each table. All 8 of them will be adopted. Isn't that awesome.

As we started to leave the dining hall Cassie started silently crying. I went over to comfort her and touched her head. OK, this is the one part that makes me sad. Cheryl, she knew why I was there. I don't care if I don't speak Chinese. I saw in her eyes how much she wanted her family to come for her. I knew she was sad that it was not her day. There was just something about "her". She touched my heart. She had a spark, something special about her. Her eyes to me indicate that she is an old soul. Not sure how to explain it, it seems like she may be older and wiser than her years.

We went on and toured the orphanage. We ended up later in the room where our children slept. Cassie was standing in Jack's bed. He did not like that and climbed in. She went back to her bed, right beside his. We looked around a while. Jack got very emotional in his bed and I scooped him up and comforted him. I think he thought that I was going to leave him. He broke down a couple of times. As we were leaving the room, Cassie again started to silently cry. Not crying really, just silent tears ran down her face. It was hard for the guide and I both. We both held back tears. It was like everyone in that room was unaware of what was taking place...but not her. I wish that I could have scooped her up that very second, but of course I had to walk away. She is longing for you. She is waiting patiently. She knows. I feel all of this with total certainty. No one translated this to me, I saw it in her eyes. I know she will have open arms for you.

I was meant to see her, above each and every other child in that place. He put her right in my path, and put her first so I could deliver this message to you. That is why you needed to send me her picture. Crazy lady??? Never! It was just part of His plan. I am reminded to be still and see what he wants me to see.

Even though meeting and spending only a short amount of time with her I now know that she wants a family as much as you want her, who knows maybe even more. I know this too, she is very bright and wise and she has an open heart to love.
I will never forget this story.

Oh, how I love my girl in China!  I love both of my girls!!  Before Sonya was ever born, God showed me what she would be like, from her character and demeanor all the way down to her physical features.  Whenever i look back at God's revelation to me about Sonya, I never worry about her future because i know he is holding her future in His Hands.  Well, the same goes for sweet and precious little Cassie Mei.  The Lord had already revealed to this waiting momma her character, demeanor and gentle nature, so when I read what was written about Cassie by this sweet mother, it only served to confirm in me where her future lays, and that is in the loving, gracious and ever-merciful Hands of God her Father!   

A few months back, as i was reading various forum updates, a mother posted a narrative about one of her precious daughters.  and. i. wept.  It was as though she was describing my girl!  Immediately, I contacted her and asked for permission to someday post her narrative on our blog, and she readily agreed.  Well, dear readers, here it is in its entirety.  Please enjoy! 

We have adopted three beautiful girls in the last year - Elli (now 7 yrs) adopted last May (2010) from Anhui; Enya Li(7 yrs) -adopted this April from Heilongjiang; and Xiaoyun (now 14 yrs)- adopted this April from Guizhou. Elli and Xiaoyun were in foster care and Enya was in an orphanage.

This morning I realized I had neglected the plants around the fish pond and set about pulling the weeds. Enya, my early bird, immediately started helping me. She sang, laughed or talked the entire time. As we pulled weeds, she came to a clump of clover and said, "Ooh, beautiful!" She picked the clover, and instead of putting it in the pile with the other weeds, she said "Lili de" meaning they were now hers.

As we continued to pull the weeds, I listened to her humming and thought about what a joyful child she is. Everything is like Christmas to her. She appreciates every little thing given to her, and is always quick to say "Thank you, Mama" even if I'm only washing off her hands or giving her a glass of water. To be blessed with the opportunity to see life through the eyes of someone who has never had anything of her own, who has lived in an orphanage all her life, who has done without so many things we call necessities, is a gift for me.

She has given me an appreciation for things I never stopped to consider before. I remember last year, when we brought Elli home, becoming more aware of what I take for granted, but Enya has deepened that awareness. Every night I say her prayers, and when we come to the end she always says amen with me.

Then she wraps her arms around me and pulls me down and gives me a huge kiss and hug. And every night, as she embraces me, I think what a miracle this is that a little girl who, for years, had neither father nor mother, is now part of a large family who loves her very much.

Today, as we pulled those weeds, I thought of how some consider her (and other orphans) just weeds. The first picture we saw of Enya was shortly after her surgery for cleft lip. Her face was swollen and it made the ptosis of her right eye even more pronounced. Her file had been on the Waiting Children's list for several years and had not been updated. When we looked at her picture we knew she was the one who needed us, the child whose file people kept passing over.

Their loss has been our gain. Some people fail to see the beauty that is waiting there waiting to be picked.  Waiting for someone to pick them up and say, "Ooh, beautiful!" Waiting to blossom before the eyes of those who will shower them with love.

Written by Cindy Willoughby


  1. Cheryl, I am so happy you have said yes to God. When do you expect to travel for FengMei?

  2. I so enjoyed this post! God is amazing! We too share the same feelings concerning our Lian, as your friend writes about her daughter.

    Lian just gives out so much love daily to everyone! If she is a weed to some, than the world should be over-grown with weeds like her, IT WOULD BE A MUCH BETTER PLACE TO LIVE!

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Blessings-Joy

  3. Good Morning! Just wanted to say that I'm praying for you and the other "Z" families today!

  4. I'm praying that your time is soon to bring her home!