I don't know how many of you have a person who has touched your life so deeply that you credit them with molding you into the person that you've become. Not just helped you and taught you, but truly molded you. A person you look up to, respect, and always know you can depend on to have your back. Many will say their parents, and that is certainly true in my case...I'm incredibly blessed to have parents who have loved me and stood by me, shaped and guided me, and helped me to become the person I've become. But I'm also blessed to be able to say that the bond I had with my Aunt Sharon, and the life lessons that I learned from her also played a vital role in the adult I've become.
The day my aunt passed away was one of the most difficult times I've ever had to endure. We knew it was coming, we even knew that the days and hours were few, but when the call came, I sat in utter devastation, shaking, and crying, and mourning that I would not see her beautiful face again this side of heaven. That I would never hear her tell me that she loved me, or see her smile that quirky smile again. I am eternally grateful for her salvation, and the promise that one day I will again know her embrace, but the eartly loss of her, is still painful for me to talk about.
Tonight as I was attempting my hand at making alphabet flash cards from household photos, (thanks Pintrest!) I came across some photos on our camera that in all honesty we had completely forgotten about. The pictures were from our quick trip to the beach this summer, and that's where we happened to be when my Aunt passed away. I guess with the funeral, family issues, Dad's open heart surgery, and then the tragic and unexpected passing of my best friend's father, life just got the best of us, and we haven't spared a moment or thought for life before the chaos.
As I was going through the pictures, I saw the ones we took the morning we left and headed home to help with the arrangements for my Aunt. I found these...
...and I was just over taken with emotion. It's been about 4 hours, and still I keep staring at them. I remember feeling so fragile, and breakable that morning. I was trying to hold it together in front of the kids, because we had not yet told them about Aunt Sharon's passing. I was making funeral arrangements and talking with family by phone behind their backs, sneaking into the bathroom when I couldn't hold in my emotions, and in all of the craziness, we still managed to snap a few parting pictures. What I can't seem to resist going back for another look, isn't that raw emotion that seeing these incites, but the simple beauty.
My Aunt was a beautiful person, inside and out, which is one of the reasons, Annabella is named after her. Looking at these pictures of her, knowing what was going on that morning as we took these, all I can see is that beauty. A year before, my daughter was living a life that no child should ever live. What a difference a year makes! Her smile is infectious, and the way she squints her eyes, and crinkles her nose, could melt a polar ice cap. She brings joy to everyone around her, and we get stopped every time we go out by people who tell us how beautiful she is.
I keep staring at these pictures and I can't believe that she is mine. That God chose her for us, that we could ever be worthy of this exotic treasure. She is feisty, opinionated, confidant, rambunctious, loving, kind, nurturing, radiant, joyful, and beautiful, both inside and out...just like my Aunt. I don't think I could have handled the emotions seeing these brought before tonight, and it's just another testament to God's perfect timing. He knew that it was time for me to stumble upon these, and He knew exactly what to stir within my heart. I am so thankful for the time I had with her. I pray that one day my daughter will understand what an amazing woman she was named after, and she will cherish that with all of her heart...the way I will always cherish the memory of Sharon.
Before I close, let me post a quick adoption update. On Tuesday, we had our Article 5 picked up and sent from GuangZhou, China, to Beijing. We now await our travel approval, commonly refered to as our TA, to be issued from the CCCWA. This is the last step before we book our tickets to go and get Matt. Our earlier estimate looks to be pretty spot on. If we get our TA within the next week, it is extremely likely that we will leave October 30, and will have Matt on November 5. If it takes longer than a week, we will almost certainly be leaving on November 13, and will have Matt on November 18.
It's aAs far as our financial situation, I don't have exact figures at the moment, but we have raised approximately 1800.00 since my last update. God has humbled us in the ways that he has used others to help our son. One friend collected almost 400.00 from her classmates, and friends at Ole Miss, another has reopened her online shop and is donating 30% of her profits throughout the month to us, and still another has asked to come and clean our house and look after our pets while we are away. We even received a package in the mail that had the equivalent of about 40.00 USD in RMB from a family who just returned from China. That money alone, will be enough to get us water and a snack when we land at the airport, without needing to try to exchange any money, and will likely have enough left over to buy dinner that night. We continue to be in awe of the people we've never even met who continue to support us through our fundraisers, and through prayer. Hopefully the next post will be showing our bags packed, as we ready ourselves for the long flight to China, to bring home our precious Matt!
"I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 89:1