I can very clearly remember the night before we left China the first time we came here for our daughter Elyana. She slept in a crib and it was dark as I looked out the window for the last night we would fall asleep in her birth country. It was as emotional then, as it is now again. As we left China the last time in 2012, Hudson and Wesley were here and God kept His eyes upon them. He didn’t miss one thing, and kept our hearts soft to His leading us back here. It’s strange we left so full, yet God wasn’t finished yet.
And even now I find such comfort knowing He knows. He knows the struggles, hardship as well as the victory and joys that are ahead for us. He is still writing the story of our family, it’s my prayer tonight that we keep our eyes fixed upon Him as so much healing is just now beginning for our boys.
We know we are just breaking the tip of the ice…and there may be allot of hurt that comes flooding above the surface. It’s going to take all His strength and all our surrender to His strength to accomplish it. I feel His Spirit leading us day by day, and as a friend reminded me recently…just take one day at a time and that God’s grace will show up and give everything needed for that day.
2 years ago exactly today (Dec 11th) we were leaving the U.S. to come to China and meet one very special little girl who has changed us forever….
Elyana Leigh YiXuan Sparks, now 4 years old, had just turned 2 when we met her. It was an amazing feeling taking her to the Great Wall of China. It seemed such a loud statement to all of how Great our Big God is and how far He had brought her. On the day we first held her she was so tiny, so babylike, and full of hurt that had to heal. She taught us so much about the orphaned heart. That with constant love the orphan spirit is broken and God’s SPIRIT full of LOVE wins!!! Always wins. The orphan spirit cannot hold our children back anymore than it should hold me back from claiming the full rights Jesus won me at the cross.
Today a very clear message was sent/shared/gifted to me…of grace. I struggle often feeling like I am not enough….my children do not behave enough…do not get along enough…that we are not enough, don’t have enough…or have too much flesh rearing it’s head to help these boys heal….. It’s been the same lies the enemy has tried to use on us all along.
BUT…today, once again…the very LOUD and STRONG message of GRACE set me free from these binding thoughts….again. The message that we need this grace daily, and a fresh batch awaits. That grace is like the next breath I will take. The oxygen is always there, my lungs ready to receive it. It should be that easy. Period. And I should be ready to allow this grace to blanket myself, my marriage, and my children. I should be ready to receive it moment by moment and ready to give it. Ready to cover with love my family’s struggles and know that God has not chosen us because we have somehow figured out how to keep it together…but that He has chosen us specifically to love and fight for and with our children. It’s hard to see flesh in them…just like it must be for my Father to see it in me. But if I learn to cover with grace, then grace will drawn them in….to the cross. They will come seeking the same grace I allow myself to be covered with, and pour out upon them.
It seemed a perfect day to be reminded of this grace as Hudson had a few rough spots. If he gets hurt by falling down and skinning his knee in public for example, he gets so embarrassed and it’s like a trigger that must remind him of something awful from his past. We’ve seen a few different things send him into this anguished cry from hurt somewhere deep inside.
Things can get pretty hairy in a family with real sin and hurt…especially the kinds of hurts we can only guess our boys have endured. But the good news I have realized this year…is that when we accept His grace daily, and fight against the enemy….he is ALWAYS defeated. Satan was surely defeated here in China. And as sick as I am of his attacks, I’m getting pretty fired up to see what our God is going to perform next.
His ways are so very perfect, His “grace so sufficient for me.”
I cannot find this grace within my own pockets…and in no way can perform, earn, or try for this grace. And not even my failures can relinquish the supply. In fact seeing my imperfections should only make me rejoice all the more that His grace can be seen all the more clearly.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor 12:9
“by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9
When we picked up our boys, they came with nothing. No way they could earn anything from us. And this is how I pray I am reminded to come every day. To a Father who has chosen and loved me despite all my bumps, bruises and scars. And that He not only chooses to love me, but to fill me with all of Him so that others can experience this GREAT HOPE awaiting.
ESPECIALLY after the last few days…today was a BIG day in our family. Wesley was cleared by the medical report we picked up this morning and we finally made it to the last step at the U.S. Consulate before legally being able to leave China!!
God placed an extremely helpful woman at the consulate who processed Wesley’s visa in less than a half an hour. (it usually takes 24hrs) John is now in possession of the 7 passports, with visas placed inside, that will allow us ALL to leave! I cannot even think of what it could’ve looked like if our family had been separated for the 6 months of TB treatments they talked about at the consulate. God truly won valiantly as we stood with you all steadfastly in trust and worship of Him.
We are leaving this place changed in some mighty ways.
It was here in China God proved that his love truly DOES cast out fear.
And here in China we saw the fulfillment of so many promises and battles fought in prayer won.
On our last day, to celebrate and enjoy the day, we took the kids to a beautiful park in Guangzhou. Yuexiu Park is the largest park in downtown Guangzhou and covers an area of 212.5 acres. It is made up of three artificial lakes and seven hills of Yuexiu Mountain. With the sunshine, palm trees and water if felt a tiny bit like Florida.
It was a great release from all the craziness of the last few weeks. And it was a great opportunity to burn some calories from all the AMAZING Chinese noodles and dumplings we’ve eaten. I may have already shared the photos below, but can I just say real quick our boys have the Chinese noodle slurp down pat and are teaching us well!! In the U.S. we would shush our kids if they ate this way, but it’s so completely normal and efficient a way to eat!
They love noodles, rice, anything cooked with cabbage or vegetables, rice…and every thing flavorful. They will pick fruit over chocolate and are both meat lovers! Meat of most any kind. They are not intimidated to try anything. After our park venture we got take out one last time from our favorite local restaurant just a short walk from the hotel. I don’t think it ever tasted so good after so much walking and fresh air today!
After walking up one of the mountains in the park Ryan and I decided to climb the rest of the way taking the two littlest kids to the top to see a famous local statue of goats. I just learned that Guangzhou is often called as the Goats City because there is a fairy tale regards the arrival of five fairies with five goats to the city of Guangzhou. Based on the fairly tale, once upon a time there were five fairies rode their goats and arrived in Guangzhou. They brought five bunches of corns to the local people blessing them for everlasting fertility. The five fairies vanished in the sky after they had done their job, while the five heavenly goats turned into stone goats left in Guangzhou. Sorry if I lost some of you on all that…
The highlight for Jenna today was while we climbed all those steps to gaze at goats, she met a huge group of Chinese school children who surrounded her while asking her every question they could speak in English.
Hudson’s favorite thing seemed to be the HUGE coy fish that we fed at the park. As we were feeding the fish the Chinese women sitting nearby kept giving us thumbs up as they pointed to our children.
After a full day we packed up our things and looking forward to one of the best sounding words we can think of right now. HOME. So much good has happned here, but we are looking forward to introducing our boys to what permanent is. To what family on a daily, normal non-tourist basis looks like. It’s getting late here, and we have 24hrs straight of travel ahead of us, so I’ll close for now.
Thank you all again for your love and support. I can barely hold it together when I think of walking through our door at home. I know many of you worked SO HARD and helped to put the finishing touches on the place our boys will soon find out is their home. They will see the beds that have been put together for them and sleep their first night in a home, with a family all their own. John and I were just saying tonight how there are just no words or way we will ever be able to thank everyone enough for praying & fighting for our family and helping to welcome our boys home.
Our hearts are so full and overflowing.
The Sparks Family