Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Make Friends"

Good morning, blogging world. I don't have the luxury now to blog daily; because today is a free day, I awoke early before Sophie so I could get in a post......she just woke up and is between us!! LOL Oh, well! I love having her near; although, she is not showing me any affection on her own yet.

Joy, our tour guide who is w/ us every day, says that Sophie's shunning is very normal.

sophie brrrrrrother, sister, bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

She just typed this above....cool.

We are making progress. She will allow me to help her w daily needs~ brushing teeth, bathing ( she loves when I put lotion on her~ yeah!), getting dressed, public potty needs and eating. The rest of the fam has been great about making sure that I care for her in these specific ways. It would be easy for them to do it, but they always defer to me and I'm grateful. She's even coming to ask me for food and not hoarding anything at all!!! That's such an evidence of grace!

I thought we had made some head way at the pool, but after the 2nd day, she wouldn't come to me. I decided that w/a potentially dangerous situation, I wouldn't make the pool a battle ground. Last night, she played w/ Ellie and Shane in the water; I asked her if she would jump to me one time and she agreed.....progress!

As I was saying above, Joy has seen this a lot. She said it could take many months~ but she said it will happen. I'm thankful that she has bonded like glue to Todd, Ellie, and Shane b/c when we get home Todd goes to work on Monday and the kids get into the school grind, she and I will become well acquainted! She encouraged me to keep "make friends" ( there's no verb conjugation in the Chinese language)~ it's fun to be the one to give candy, ice-cream and great snacks. (She loves packaged dried, shredded fish! You go girl!)

She does much better w/ me in the room in the evenings after the kids leave. So we've cut our family times a little short so she and I can have some time before bed. ( We're together all day, every day so it's no biggie for the kids!)

We've been doing nails, stickers, drawing and last night she taught me to count to ten in Chinese. It was sooo cute; tonight I'd like Todd to video tape it while she's unaware. If she knows I'm in a picture or video tape, she completely shuts down. She also won't take a pic w/ me individually; all the family pics you see, the four of them get posed, then I jump in the end so she'll smile....

Yesterday, I introduced her to Satsuma lotion~ she LOVED it and I caught her sneaking it in the bathroom last night. Todd will have to buy stock in The Body Shop.

She's had quite a few tumbles, but after each laughs when others would cry. No one has ever made a big deal about boo-boos w/ her. When she hurt her knee, I put a Dora the Explorer band-aid on her and she even let me give mommy kisses. The next day, when we were all playing an intense game of balloon toss, Shane accidentally elbowed my knee really hard; I went thru the roof! Play stopped and after her shock of seeing me hurt, she got a band-aid for me. She wouldn't put it on me or even give it to me, but the seed had been planted! Smile.

This isn't a great pic, but it's of she and I doing nails after her bath! The other is the first time, since day one, she would hold my hand and not pull away! Whoo Hoo! (Oh, she did let me hug her when we put her to bed on day 4.)

I'm so grateful that God has prepared me for this little girl; I can wait for her to turn her love toward me. I remember many, many years that I was hostile to God and He continued to love me with an everlasting love! I'm in it for the long haul! I love, love, love her soo much!!! ( And how could I not, she is soo darned cute!)

I'll try to post again later today; it's a free day! We're still in bed, but will work out, go shopping w/ Denise and see our travel group! Thanks for your continued prayers!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday and Saturday pictures

Sophie let me hold her on her in the lobby...progress! 

Fun at the aquarium

falling asleep after a long day out in Beijing

finally eating broccoli....so good

Adoption papers signed!!

heading to the pool....she is quite the swimmmer!!

At the aquarium
Sophie blew up every balloon, tied each, then tied them together completely independently...excellent fine motor skills!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A New Sheriff in Town

sShari here at 5:24am....I miss you all so much! I know you understand that I have been silent on the "air waves" caring for little Missy May, but I'm so grateful that Todd has kept you abreast of photos, especially.

What an incredible last couple of days. Evidences of grace:

  1. God has given us one of the brightest, smartest and most independent "daughters of China." And I'm not just saying that b/c she's my kid. LOL
  2. She fits into our family like a kid glove. You will find her a little shy when you meet her, but after awhile, it'll be "no holds bar". She chatters in Chinese incessantly to us, throws her head back and cracks up and for the millionth time, I wish I could speak Chinese. 
  3. She loves her baba, ge-ge, and jie-jie ( Daddy, Shane and Ellie) She will let me care for her needs~ bathing, personal hygiene, which isn't much; this kid has definitely learned how to care of herself in the orphanage. 
  4. She is a girlie girl w/ a tom-boy walk. She loves dresses; by the way, size 5 dresses are too short on her. She has the longest legs!!!!! We've said at home that she's the size of Ella or Beka, NOT; she's got tiny fingers, hands, feet, but they are connected to octopus arms and legs~ not as tall as Chloe C., but all legs! B/c it's hot,  the dresses are fine for here, but I'm going to try to find some leggins for under dresses. She will be a challenge dressing her, but she is completely delighted at seeing the new dresses I pull out each day.
  5. The wonder on her face as she experiences new adventures is worth all the tea in China. She LOVES talking on the phone to El/Shane in their room; she picked up the Leapster and knew exactly how to work it! I'm in complete amazement at her uncanny ability to work electronics. She literally has ALL the cameras mastered and takes excellent pictures. If you see some that don't have her in them, she took them! 
  6. She won't answer to her Chinese name anymore, only Sophie. We aren't botching it, she just appears ready to make the transition already. She won't obey if we call her Xueqin; very weird. 
  7. Every day she speaks more English words~ "gentle, careful, no, yes, mommy, Ellie, Shane, eat,"~ there's more but I can't recall them all right now. 
Okay, prayer requests:
I'm so grateful that God has prepared my heart for her grieving; it's not recognizable outwardly, but it's manifesting itself in her shunning me. First, let me say, I'm fine! God prepared me for the worst, and as of today, it's not nearly as bad as I would have thought it would be....evidence of God's grace.

 As I said earlier, she will allow me to care for her needs, but that is the extent of it. She isn't affectionate w/ me at ALL. She will either wiggle away or run the other way when it's time for pics w/ me. She will have been laughing, but if I'm in any picture, she will make a solemn or ridiculous face. The first day at the pool was great; the second day, she only wanted to swim w/ Ellie. I had the kids go swim at the other end of the pool so it was just the two of us; she swam w/ me (b/c I held onto her) but she disconnected~ no eye contact, whining to go w/ the kids, pretending like she wanted to jump to me, but ran on the slippery deck. I literally about had a heart attack and instinctively reached for my life guard whistle! LOL Obviously, I only fell for that trick once~ Honey, there's a new sheriff in town, now, and it isn't you! I'm giving her LOTS of space and not making a big deal about it; I just smile and move on. Ellie and Shane hate it though....so their making it up but being especially affectionate in front of her w/ me....I remind them that it's part of her figuring out this new world of which she's been thrust! I'm sending lots of time in Psalms and am being refreshed by the oasis of the Word. ( Thanks, Steve for your word on Friday night; it's proving very accurate)

The big request is wisdom for us to parent her where she is right now. She's been testing both of us; she had her first melt down yesterday b/c she wanted to eat gummy vitamins as candy. She is hoarding food, which we understand and are allowing, but there are times, like in the bathtub, that you can't take the Costco bag into the tub. She thought she would win against the mighty Baba, but alas, it was a futile attempt. After a long day in the civil affairs office, we were tempted to be frustrated  w/ her. 

As she's getting more comfortable w/ us and because she's independent to a fault, last night she sprinted from a cab, through the Marriott doors, down the 75 yard crowded lobby to the elevator doors, laughing her devilish cackle of disobedience. Ellie and I looked at each other and ran to catch her, afraid she would get in that elevator by herself! I marched her to the local deputy, the consseirrge. He explained, in Chinese, how dangerous it is for her to run from mama by herself. She seemed to understand....we'll see how it goes today. 

Today, we're headed for the Blue Zoo Aquarium~ a free day excursion w/ our travel group. Chinese papa is picking us up at 8:30am, then we may also go to Wal-Mart afterward for a stroller or toddler leash; I don't want Sophie jumping over the Great Wall on Monday.

 I have so much more to write, but I'll leave the bullet points for my memory and to whet your appetite:

  • hot chili peppers
  • little kids
  • breast stroke 
 Thank you for your continued prayers. Todd has been reading your comments to me daily. I try to guess who wrote them before he tells me! 

Hi Grammy, Pappy, Papa and Grandma. I hope you are able to see pics and read our posts! Sophie has been looking at her picture album daily and saying your names! 

We love you all so very much~ Shari 

Friday - Official Adoption Certificate & Passport work

Today Sophie Rose officially became ours from the Chinese point of view!!! We are carrying the official document saying we have adopted her.  We went to get Sophie's picture taken for her Chinese passport.  It was a long day but it was spent with 3 other families adopting some beautiful children.  All the families reside south of the Mason-Dixon line but it is quite evident that we (Shari & Todd) are the only non-southerners in the group.

We may be talking with a southern Chinese accent by the time we come back to Maryland.  Just adding a few pics from the day ... please check out Todd's facebook page to view a larger collection of the pics.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Amazing night and into the second day ...

I can not begin to express how amazing God's blessings were last night.  Around 1:00am, we were all awake (Shari, Todd and Sophie).  Sophie kept going back and forth between ma-ma and ba-ba either hugging us, desiring a kiss, or sitting on top of us rubbing our faces or giving us a kiss.  It was so very, very special.  Mommy gave Sophie a bath and I'm not sure if it was a bath, an art lesson, or a swimming session.  Today we had an opportunity to go to the big pool and by the end of the swim time Sophie was blowing air out her nose and putting her head underwater.  She was jumping to both Ellie and Mommy from the side of the pool. She is quite the bright little child ... need to be very aware of manipulation efforts ... we will have to stay on top to that one.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our "New" Family Day!!!

I'm not sure words can adequately communicate the flood of emotions we have experienced today.  It has been quite an amazing journey.  We started with a very quiet young girl whose emotions of grief began to appear in a short time after we initially met her.  At the time she wanted absolutely nothing to do with us.  She would only communicate with a women from the orphanage and made no eye contact with us whatsoever.  We did not wait too long and the adoption representative told us we should go back to our hotel.  It was a huge effort getting her into the cab and away from the orphanage people.  However, after a short time of grieving she began to attach to "ma ma" and then to her older sister "gi gi".  By the time it was time to go back to apply for the adoption registration she had begun to trust and embrace all of us.  We are overwhelmed at God's grace given to us through your tremendous prayer intercession on our behalf ... to Him goes all the praise, the honor, and the glory!!!

God's blessings continue through His people ...

We are continually amazed how God is blessing us in China!!!

We travel half-way around the world (exactly 12 hour difference) only to be able to get together with the very first Chinese adoption family I met after we decided to adopt ... actually met Denise and her 2 daughters at Costco. 

God has so, so very much blessed this family and they were an extension of God's grace to us here in China. 

What a wonderful family they are.  Their children are so well behaved and so beautiful.  Denise and Greg are doing such a wonderful job as parents. 

What an encouragement to us.  God, how can we ever thank You enough for how You have gone before us in this country to prepare our way and make this trip a wonderful event even before our special day!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

We're not in Kansas anymore...

Thanks for praying us here; we're all heathy and safe!!!

Although our flight was uneventful, our backs said something different this morning, but that could just be Todd and I getting old, not due to us sitting for the last 13 hours!

We read, played card games, watched movies and listened to iPods on our flight. They fed us more food than I eat in a week.

Anyone who's been recuperating in a hospital can understand....trying to get some 'shut eye' and the nurses ontinually take vitals every 3 hours...that was the same experience except it was passing food down the rows~pretzels, soft drinks, pasta meal, chicken meal, sandwiches, noodles!!!

"Just let me sleep!!!!"

When asked about this phenomenon, the flight attendant assured us that it was for our good, to get us on the new time!

Today, I'm thankful for it! Smile!

We see God's hand EVERYWHERE! But, I'm continually reminded that we are in a communist country!

Every time I say something aloud about how God has provided for us, Shane gives me a pinch; I keep forgetting b/c I am amazed at His provision; therefore, my arm is black and blue...not really, but he and Ellie are giving me the " Mom, stop!" look.

They don"t want to have to bail me out of jail my first day here!

We were met by Bethany's tour guide and our "Chinese Papa" at the airport. Joy was unaware that we were staying at the Marriott...hmmmm....communication didn't make to China...oh well, we left w/ our driver and headed through the city of Beijing.

Daniel and Matthew C.~ You were right about the crazy driving conditions here! People, bikes, cars, buses...no traffic rules...people just walk in the middle of the street in front of cars...it's unbelievable; it was worse than Rome. Ellie and I about had a cow!!

We did our best to stay awake till dark; poor Todd was asleep by 7pm w/ his beloved lap top on his chest trying to get blog spot ready for me!

Ellie and I wandered downstairs to the restaurant for dinner...an American resturant in a Chinese hotel...we did have some difficulty ordering a chef salad and a burger! I had a very small idea about how dear Sophie will feel tomorrow morning!

We had an excellent Western breakfast this morning! We're heading out to a grocery store for bottled water today~ our big adventure. We'll go swimming and then have dinner w/ the Stegalls; Pam, I'll give her the book!! How appropriate to have dinner w/ this dear family. As we were praying about our decision to adopt, I randomly met Denise at Costco; now 3 1/2 years later, we're together again.

We'll go to bed early tonight as we have to be at the Chang An Hotel at 8:30am to meet our sweet Sophie Rose! They'll bring the chldren to meet us in the hotel lobby.

Catoes, thank you for all your letters and very generous gift~ what a surprise!! It was salve to our tired souls as we settled into our hotel rooms after an exceptionally long 2 days.

I can't believe we're really here and will finally meet the child that God had planned to be in our family since the foundation of time!!!  

Love you all, Shari for Todd, Ellie and Shane

Thanks for the comments some of you posted~we LOVE reading them! Keep em' coming!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I've been pondering....

I've been pondering much today as I've packed and repacked, cleaned Sophie's room and continued to prepare my heart to become a new mom once again.

I wonder if the orphanage told Sophie that we were coming next week? I wonder if she's scared and wants to stay where she's comfortable or is she ready for the adventure of her lifetime?

We, along w/ our family and church family have waited and prayed for her for the last 3 years during which she's been living w/ nannies and other kids, going to school and having hip surgery (most likely on her own and w/o any pain meds.)

My heart has yearned and my arms ached since I saw her sweet face in February and had to continue to wait until "such a time as this."

I've pondered the body of Christ and have become even more acutely aware of God's care through them. So many families have bathed our adoption w/ prayer! I kinda feel like I'm going to be Truman ( The Truman Show) the next 3 weeks as we travel and blog daily.

Our dear friends had a lovely prayer time for us last Sunday after church and again at a pot luck picnic last night. We are so blessed and have been served and cared for~ from 3 offers to mow our grass, sign ups to bring meals for 2 weeks after our return home, buy groceries for us, clean my house, get our mail, weed our gardens, host fundraisers on our behalf, praying for flight upgrades ( Keep praying, Tim!!!)...I'm REALLY TRULY overwhelmed at the level of care we've received!

I'm pondering God's plan of adoption. I think about Sophie wanting to be adopted, but not really understanding what that means. What does a 7 year old child who's lived in a Chinese orphanage all her life know about the intricacies of adoption??? She may want a mommy and daddy, but has never been part of a family!

Even though she wants it, next Wednesday will probably be incredibly scary! She doesn't know how much she's desired, delighted in and loved...she may want to stay where it is "safe" when push comes to shove and it's time to say good-bye to everything she's ever known.

Isn't that just like us?

God has Called us, Redeemed us and Adopted us into His Family~ yet we don't grasp His love, his desire and his delight in us. That's the biggest thing God has taught me lately about this journey!

To my regret, I haven't taken lots of time w/ the Lord this week as I've been packing. My feet hit the floor and I burned the candle at both ends till the sun goes down.

Gratefully, the Lord doesn't love me any less and has continued to meet me, every day in so many ways!

While I'm packing, I've listened to my "Sons and Daughters" CD~ "The Father's Love" and "God Delights in You" have ministered to my soul. If you don't have it, get this CD! It's my favorite!

I did have an oasis amid the desert of my quiet times this morning. I've noticed that my default is to stop having QT when I'm busy or stressed, but that is when I really should be pressing into the Lord at a deeper level.

Today was that day! Hallelujah!!

I'm signing off now from America.

My next post will be from China.

It's the most surreal moment I've ever experienced.

And now, I pray for you all~ my family, church family and blog buddies ~what dear friends have been praying for us this week:

Numbers 6: 24-26....

"The LORD BLESS you and KEEP you;
The LORD make His face to SHINE upon you and be GRACIOUS to you;
The LORD lift up HIS COUNTENANCE upon you and give you PEACE.

Thanks for reading. Please post comments; we'll want to hear from you!

Much love and grace~ Shari

To my sweet Sophia Rose Xueqin Bentzel~ Momma is really coming...I'm on my way!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another of God's Provisions

Because we are staying at the Marriott in Beijing, we had to sign a disclaimer stating that our agency wasn't responsible for issues that may occur to us~ no translation or transportation help.

My heart was troubled, but DH wasn't concerned at all, so we signed and sent back the disclaimer trusting that God is paving our stay in China. I prayed for peace and provision; He again answered our prayers:

During our send off prayer in church on Sunday, my dear friend had an impression that the Holy Spirit was already in Beijing carving out our journey prior to our arrival. The picture in her mind looked much like the carving out of the Great Wall.

How wonderful to awaken today to an e-mail from a adoptive mom/friend who actually lives in Beijing and has given us her contact info; she is willing to serve us in any way while there! We may even get to worship w/ their family next Sunday!!

John 16:24, "Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full."

All glory to our living, working, loving God!

Monday, August 16, 2010


This week is our last fundraiser before we go to China to get Sophie Rose.

Chick-Fil-A is willing to donate 20% of their sales towards our adoption expenses this Thursday from 4-8pm.

Just tell the cashier that you'd like the sale of your dinner purchase to go towards the Sophie Rose fundraiser~ it's that simple. It won't automatically go~ it must be stated at purchase!!!

Unfortunately, only dine in sales count~ no drive thru at this time!

We are so grateful to Chick-Fil-A and you for your support!

Thank you very much!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

So many blessings!!!

Wow! The countdown has begun to our take off day! The end of this journey is drawing to a close and the beginning of the next waits on the horizon!

Our adoption process started when our daughter, Ellie, began praying for a sister. Shari and I laughed it off, but God had other plans. He began making His plan known to Shari and put it on her heart that she had a daughter in China. I had never been to China, so I was quite surprised by the news.  After praying for 3 months, God moved in my heart and I Shari a map of China for Christmas in 2006 and our journey began.

Now, 3 years later, we are on the verge of traveling to the other side of the world to welcome 7 year old Sophia Rose Xueqin into the Bentzel family. God has been so faithful to us through this process. It has been a challenging road, but it has produced endurance, character and then hope. Through it all God continues to pour out His grace and love on us giving us ever increasing hope through Jesus Christ.

The end of this journey is fast approaching and the beginning of the next one is on the horizon. So we ask for your continuing prayers.

Here are some of the specific ways you can pray for us:
1. God would be glorified above all else.
2. Safety in our travel to, within, and home from China
3. The heart of our daughter, Xueqin (Sophie), would be turned to us and we would have a very quick bonding
4. Good health during the trip
5. Our witness to those around us
6. Our finances

Here are just a few of the ways God has shown His faithfulness during the adoption process:
1. He changed our hearts from desiring an infant to desiring an older child
2. He allowed us to ‘hand pick’ our daughter in China
3. By God’s grace, we made close to $3000 in our adoption yard sale, but what was even more amazing was the love expressed to us through donations and efforts to serve us during that weekend
4. A donation of $1500+ towards our airfare
5. The hearts of Bethany Christian Services, our agency, were softened to allow us to stay at the Marriott in Beijing saving us well over $1000
6. A dear friend purchased a battery extender ( 2 hours to 11 hours) for our computer and bought Sophie Chinese Strawberry Shortcake DVD's so she could watch them on our 16 hour plane ride home!
7. Another friend sold candy for us at her workplace and sent us a check for $600!

The expenses just in the trip to China will exceed $18,000. To help offset some of this expense we are having a fund raising event at the Frederick Chick-Fil-A on Thursday, August 19th from 4-8pm. Just mention “Spirit Night” and a percentage of the proceeds will be donated for our adoption needs.

If you would like to assist financially and cannot attend the fundraiser, please feel free to send your donation to our home address:
7010 Springdale Lane
Middletown, MD 21769

All donations will be applied directly to the in-country expenses.

Your prayers and your support have indeed made a difference. We have truly been blessed through this entire process. It is not an exaggeration to state that it has changed our lives and you all are big part of it!

God Bless … Todd & Shari Bentzel