Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's a Small World After All: Subtitle: It's a Big World After All

This blog will probably be filled with jumbled thoughts because that is a reflection of my life and brain right now!  For anyone who is a stay at home mom or parent, you know that your world often seems very small.  Theoretically, you know that there is a big world out there, but experientially, all you know is that your children are needy.  They need a snack.  They need to go potty.  They need you to clean up their spilled milk.  They need you to take them to the doctor when they are sick and to clean up the evidence of them being sick from the couch (and your shirt and the bathroom floor).  And although you are so abundantly thankful for them, your world starts to close in around you and you feel very alone.  At least that is how I often feel. 

Then, you remember that the world is also big.  We have had so much happen to us in the last month, it is hard to properly process it.  Just over a month ago, we first held our precious Josiah in our arms.  And we are so grateful.  We stand amazed everyday of just how much he is learning.  He says a new English word almost daily and is getting prepared for baseball season by saying 'ball' and 'Gapper' (one of the Cincinnati Reds mascots).  If you say 'I love you', he blows you a kiss and also says 'love you'.  It's amazing.  And sometimes I forget that in the midst of my 'small world' mentioned above.  Josiah is a 21 month old boy and if anyone has spent much time with 21 month old boys, you know that they climb, and get in everything, and push your boundaries, and sometimes hit you in the face over and over, sometimes in the middle of the night while they are also screaming.  There are also moments with the older children when they have a hard time remembering they matter too, so they stand on the furniture and lay on the floor throwing a temper tantrum.  These happenings were starting to close in around me.  Then I read an article about how the 'baby hatch' in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has had to close because too many babies have been abandoned there (a baby hatch is a room set up around China where people can safely leave abandoned babies).  We were just in Guangzhou a few weeks ago to get Josiah's visa.  And I step back and recognize just what God has allowed us to do:  bring this beautiful little boy into our family forever.  Instead of laying in an orphanage, he has learned to tell his parents he loves them and more importantly, hears again and again how Jesus loves him.  The other day, I realized that the very same day we moved to Frederick, Maryland, Josiah was placed in his orphanage.  The same day our baby was recognized as no longer having a family, we moved towards him-to where we could get to him.  We learned about the China Waiting List program from our Bethany caseworker in Maryland.  We were matched with him through our China Program leader through Bethany.  God was always working to bring us together.

In the midst of all of this, we are still constantly working through losing Ricky's brother Lance.  Isaac and Emma prayed for months at every meal for God to 'help Uncle Lance feel better.'  Now they thank God for Uncle Lance's life.  The other day, Isaac prayed the old prayer for God to 'help Uncle Lance feel better.'  Emma replied, 'No, Isaac, remember, Uncle Lance already feels better.'  She explains that he is 'in heaven with Jesus.'  These exchanges take my breath away.  Yesterday, we had a very long afternoon, and as I sat in the hall catching Josiah as he jumped off our little trampoline, I was overwhelmed with sadness that Lance is really not here.  Our children really no longer have their Uncle Lance on this earth.  He is really not coming to visit.  He will not be at Josiah's first Reds game.  He will not teach Isaac to how to play Super Mario Brothers (we now have his old video games). His perfect presents will not be under the Christmas tree.  And I know everything that is true.  Lance is at peace with Jesus.  He will never be sick again.  He will never struggle again.  But, we will also always miss him.  We wish he was here.  We wish it would have been a different story and it's a process to accept that it is simply not different.  This is what it is.

So, like I said, this is jumbled because that is how my life feels.  Sometimes my small world is closing around me and sometimes the big world where babies are abandoned and dear family members pass away reminds me that my world is not so small after all. 

In all of this, I know that God is sitting with us.  A dear friend pointed us towards Chris Rice's new CD filled with hymns and these have helped remind me each morning that we can truly hide ourselves in the 'Rock of Ages' and 'though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us' (A Mighty Fortress is Our God).

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gotcha Day!

Here is our message from Gotcha Day:  February 17, 2014:  the day we first held our sweet son Josiah Simpson in our arms...

From Ricky:

In adoption circles the day the child officially enters his/her forever family is known as "Gotcha Day".  Today, February 17, 2014 at approximately 9:45 am we celebrated Josiah Ricky Yanghe Simpson's "Gotcha Day".  We have our son, and he's beautiful.  We arrived at the Civil Affairs Office at about 9:40 and were not expecting him to arrive until around 10 am, but all of a sudden a couple ladies came walking down the hallway with a precious little boy, and our guide said, "Here's your son".  I can't even begin to express the flood of emotions I experienced in that moment, but we are so thankful to our heavenly Father for giving us this amazing blessing.  Minutes after receiving him he fell asleep on my shoulder, probably exhausted from his long trip and how amazing it was to let him rest in the arms of his father.  We then got to introduce him to his brother and sister and grandmother and have him in our hotel room adjusting to now being a family of five.  He has a beautiful smile, loves to eat, and has been playing with his brother and sister.  I know I'm rambling, but wow, it's just amazing.  Thank you so much for your prayers and support and encouragement on this journey.  It has been long, but wow, has it been worth it!  We've taken a thousand pictures, but we'll attach just a few for now.  Let us introduce you to our son!


From Michelle:

Yesterday I was reading a book called 'The Story About Ping' to Isaac and Emma.  In the story, a duck named Ping gets separated from his family and watches them float away in a boat far, far away.  Emma started weeping and saying 'He's not with his mommy and daddy.'  She was so upset Ping was separated from his mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Today, we brought our own duckling into the Simpson family boat and he no longer has to be separated from his family and our tears are tears of joy.  (Ping also eventually reunites with his family:).

It was truly an amazing moment to be handed our son.  He instantly wanted Ricky and soon sweetly fell asleep on his daddy's chest.

Since we arrived back at our hotel, he has been walking around drinking his bottle and playing with his big brother and big sister.  He is beautiful, with a sweet smile and laugh.  He has been saying 'mama, mama, mama', which is beyond beautiful.  Emma entered her role as a big sister by instantly 'mothering' her new little brother.  Isaac took a couple of hours to warm up, but he broke the ice with Josiah by bringing Josiah a toy Pluto that my mom had bought for Josiah and also brought him his new caterpillar.  I'm really proud of them because I know this is a lot for them, but how wonderful it is to have our family together!

Tomorrow, Ricky, Josiah, and I will be heading 3 hours away to the city where Josiah has spent most of his first 20 months in order to obtain his passport.  We will also be visiting his orphanage while we are there to gain more understanding of this time in his life that has helped shape him thus far.

Your prayers and support are a precious gift to us!
In His grace,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Remembering Uncle Lance

Soon I will post the emails we sent friends and family on our 'Gotcha Day'-February 17, 2014...the day we first held our precious Josiah in our arms.  But today, I want to take time to remember and honor Isaac, Emma, and Josiah's Uncle Lance.

While we were in China finalizing the adoption of our dear son, we learned that Ricky's brother Lance was not going to survive.  He had been battling a host of serious health issues for months and was in the hospital for a major surgery.  Before the surgery, he had a massive stroke and would never recover.  We learned this news as we sat in Guangzhou, China, our last stop on the paperwork trail to bring our little boy home.  And we were so very heartbroken that Lance would not get to meet his precious nephew on this side of heaven.

There are many things I could share about Lance in remembrance of his life on this earth, but as his sister-in-law and mom to his nephews and niece, I would like to talk about what he meant to me as my children's uncle.  Lance loved Isaac, Emma, and Josiah more than words could express.  He sat in the waiting room while I was in labor with Isaac and Emma.  He was one of the first people to hold them in his arms.  They must have felt so protected and loved in his strong embrace.  I loved that even though he was single with no children and had almost no experience with babies, there he sat in my hospital rooms, holding his swaddled nephew and niece.  As they grew, he began to develop a special bond with Isaac.  Sometimes when he would visit us, I would find him in the other room reading to Isaac or playing games that are much more fun when played with a fun uncle.  Before he started to get really sick, our family spent a very special couple of days together around his 29th birthday.  Ricky, Isaac, Emma, Lance, and I went to a beautiful park in Cincinnati and Isaac and Emma were beyond delighted to play with their uncle.  This is where I took my favorite picture of Lance ever.  He is sitting with Isaac and Emma on his lap with pure joy on his face because of how much he loved spending time with them.  The following day, he joined us for Emma's first Reds game and anyone who knows us, knows how special it is to share that moment in time with our family!  Every Christmas or birthday, the best gift for the kids would be from Uncle Lance.  I especially loved that he could pick out the most special gift for Emma.  It could not have been an easy task for him to stand in the girl toy aisle and choose the perfect gift out of all the pink calling out to him.  I become overwhelmed in those aisles, but he didn't.  He stood there and knew Emma would love the exact stroller he picked out and the exact pink princess rocking horse that sat on the shelf.  This past Christmas, Lance was very sick and bed-ridden, but thankfully was home at his parents' house with us for his last Christmas.  And even though he had been terribly sick for months, under the tree sat the perfect gifts for Isaac and Emma that he bought over the internet.  He bought Isaac a remote controlled Dusty Crophopper from the movie 'Planes' and at the end of the day, Isaac proudly proclaimed 'this is my favorite present!'.  Out of all the toys Isaac received for Christmas, it will always be true that his favorite present on Lance's last Christmas on earth with us, was from Uncle Lance.  Rest assured that we will be keeping that plane forever, along with Emma's sweet pink princess horse.  He knew what Isaac and Emma loved and entered into their world with them.

As we sat in China and learned this news, I wept over the loss of Uncle Lance to my children.  For the rest of their lives, the 3 best presents under the Christmas tree will be missing.  It was almost too much to bear holding our sweet new son in our laps and thinking about how he will not have his Uncle Lance with him on this side of heaven.  It is still hard for me to accept this fact.  We learned that one of the last questions Lance was able to answer before he would never regain consciousness was the name of his newest nephew; 'Josiah' he answered proudly when asked by the medical staff to recall the name of his nephew.  He loved him so much already.  While we were in China, we took a picture of the kids with a sign that said 'Uncle Lance:  in our hearts forever.'  Ricky and I will spend much time telling them stories of Uncle Lance's love for them so that this will indeed be the case.  Although he was no longer conscious, we were able to make it to his hospital room to say goodbye and I sincerely thanked him for the impact he made on our children's lives and will continue to make, even apart from us.

While we rejoice knowing that Lance is healed and whole and truly alive with his beautiful Savior Jesus Christ and will no longer experience pain or suffering, we grieve over the missing presents under the Christmas tree.

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, even if he die, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die.'"  (John 11:25)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Open Thank You Letter to You!

Dear Friends and Family,

On January 14, we received the message we had been waiting 13 months to receive:  our travel invitation telling us when we will travel to bring our son home!!!  In less than a month, we will finally be holding our precious Josiah in our arms.  Last Sunday, Ricky preached a sermon from Ephesians 4:7-16 entitled 'The Extravagant Gift Giver.'  This passage speaks about the different gifts and talents God gives His children 'for the good of the body and for the glory of God' (as Ricky stated it).  Ephesians 4:16-17 reads, "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."  The reason I mention this, is to thank you.  This passage states that the body builds itself up in love when it is working properly.  Over 50 people have given us funds to help bring our little boy home.  Countless others have prayed and encouraged us.  We simply would not be on the cusp of adopting this beautiful life into our family without you and we are so grateful.  I can think of no other example of the body of Christ building itself up in love than giving a child without a family, a loving family.  The gospel is God adopting us into His family through faith in Christ and this journey has truly exemplified God's heart for adoption:  taking orphans and placing them in families, as He has placed us in His family.

To every person who has sacrificed time, talents, and treasures to bring Josiah home, please know that you will be with us as we hold Josiah for the first time.  You will be with us as he officially becomes our son, as he plays with his big brother and sister for the first time, as he gets his visa and takes a long plane ride to his new home, as he enters his blue racecar room that he will share with his big brother, and as he grows up in our family.  Thank you does not seem like enough for this extravagant gift, but it is what we give to you.

In His grace,
Ricky, Michelle, Isaac, Emma Grace, and Josiah Simpson:)

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you" (Colossians 1:3).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Life is Beautiful

We are getting closer and closer to bringing our beautiful son home.  There is a piece of paper sitting in China saying he is our son.  We now await our travel invitation from China to discover what day that piece of paper will be handed to us at the US Consulate in China and Josiah will no longer be just in our hearts but officially part of our family as well.  In the midst of excitement, it is also easy for me to start getting bogged down in the details:  yes, we are taking our two young children literally half-way across the world to bring their brother home.  Yes, it is a 12 hour time difference and a 16 hour flight.  Yes, we will then have an almost 2 year old, an almost 3 year old, and a 4 year old; one of which has endured much loss and who won't understand one word we are saying (except for the word 'mama'.  It's the same in both languages!  What a sweet gift!).

Then a friend posted an article about a documentary called 'The Drop Box' that has greatly impacted me on our adoption journey on her Facebook page (thanks for the reminder, Julie!).  This documentary is the story of a pastor in Korea who has set up a 'baby box' outside his home to give parents the choice to leave their baby with a safe person rather than doing something much more horrific.  The article even talks about how the man making the documentary became a Christian while filming it.  (If you are interested in the documentary or article, you can find it here:  Remembering this man's story and hearing how God moved in the filmmaker to turn his life to Christ reminded me of just what He is allowing us to be a part of. 

God is using a girl who lived much of her life focused on her own recognition and self and comfort.  A girl who was the youngest in her family and mostly cared little about little children.  A girl who used to throw balls at her young nephew to get him to fetch them because she really had no idea what to do with a little child.  And He has redeemed and worked and grown and is entrusting her and her family with a precious life that some call a woman's choice.  Of course that girl is me and the precious life is our son Josiah.  And he is a life, not a choice.  Friends, his life is beautiful.  Life is beautiful.  Because his birthmother did not abort him (a practice very common in China), soon he will officially become our son.  He has been a life since the moment of his conception.  'For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb.  I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth' (Psalm 139:13-15). 

Sanctity of Life Sunday is coming up on January 19.  Let us set aside debates and remember life as that day approaches and beyond.  I hope and pray that Josiah's birthmother (and birthfather if applicable to his story) will know in her heart the overflowing gratitude we have for the gift she has allowed to be bestowed upon our family.  God's works are indeed wonderful.

Life is beautiful.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Article 5 and The Personal God

In order to legally adopt our child from China, the US Consulate must issue us something called an 'Article 5'.  Once the Article 5 is issued, our child is legally available for us to adopt him.  Obviously, receiving the Article 5 is a big deal!  I have been praying that we would find out today when our Article 5 is to be issued, because if we did not find out today, we would have been faced with 2 weeks of silence on its status due to the holidays.  This morning, I received an email stating that our Article 5 would be available January 6!  Normally, about 2-3 weeks after receiving the Article 5, China issues the travel invitation with the dates that we will be traveling to bring our precious boy home. 

When I opened my email this morning and saw this message filled with answered prayer, I was struck by how personal God truly is.  He specifically answered my prayer for this day so I would not have to wait through Christmas.  He cared for my heart and met its desire.  This is the God who sent His Son as a baby to walk personally on this earth to ultimately give His life for His people.  He is personal.  He hears.  He cares.  This is what I hope people remember most this season.  As we sing Christmas carols and give gifts and travel about in frenzied fashion, I hope we will reflect on this personal God who was laid in a manger and personally walked this earth to walk with His people for eternity.  And I hope we will 'walk by faith and not be sight' until the day we see Jesus forever.

In closing, I will share a quote that really struck me as I studied Mary's life in this advent season and now sit reflecting on the personal nature of our God.  "She ultimately followed Him all the way to the cross, and on that dark afternoon when He died, she was standing nearby with a group of women, watching in grief and horror...the cloud of this inevitable reality had probably hung over Mary's mind since Jesus' infancy.  It was no doubt one of the things she kept and pondered in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51)...Her sense of injustice being done to Him must have been profound.  After all, no one understood Jesus' absolute, sinless perfection better than Mary did.  She nurtured Him as an infant and brought Him up through childhood...Mary seemed to understand that her steadfast presence at Jesus' side was the only kind of support she could give Him at this dreaded of Jesus' last earthly acts before yielding up His life to God was to make sure that for the rest of her life, Mary would be cared for (by John)...As a mother, she had once provided for all His needs, but in the ultimate and eternal sense, He was her Savior and provider...(After Jesus' resurrection and ascension, she sits praying with his followers in Acts 1:14)...Her life and her testimony point us consistently to her Son...Mary's own example...teaches us to do the same" (John MacArthur).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Joy: The Simpson Christmas Card 2013

“…to us a son is given…”  (Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas from the growing Simpson Family!   
With joy, we share the news that we were matched with a 15 month old boy in China in September and hope to travel to China to finalize the adoption and bring him home by this March!  As we celebrate the birth of our dear Savior, we sit in humble gratitude for this beautiful gift God has given to us!  The name we have chosen to give him is ‘Josiah’.  Josiah was a good king in the Old Testament (see II Kings 22:2) and as the Audio  Adrenaline son advocating adoption ‘Kings and Queens’ states, ‘Boys become kings…dressed in Your majesty.’
We are so thankful for how God has taught us more about how He has adopted us into His family by faith alone and grace alone in Christ alone on this journey!  Isaac and Emma also love to pray for their little brother, who is also known as ‘little one in China’ to them.  There have been so many people who have come alongside us in this journey through prayer and support.  We are forever grateful for each of you!  Please continue to pray that immigration will go smoothly and we will indeed travel to China by March and finally hold our 3rd precious child in our arms!  If you are interested in giving towards our remaining $4000 in fees to be paid in China or our travel fees, please let us know!  You can also follow our journey on our blog:
(Note:  The family picture on this card is from a fundraiser run we did in honor of the millions of orphans in the world.  If you look closely, you see a picture of sweet Josiah on the globe in China! J)
Third Day song "Merry Christmas" dedicated to our sweet Josiah...Your family can't wait until next Christmas when you are home with your stocking!