Why We Call Our Blog the Miracle of More

The miracle is a beautiful image of Ephesians 3:20--more than I can ask or imagine. Every day is a miracle. Every moment is a miracle. Specifically for our family, the miracle of more is our family growing in ways I would never have imagined when we first committed to adoption 8 years ago. But, the greatest miracle is the change in ME!

If you have questions about adoption, our work in South Africa, or spina bifida, please email me at rbmattox@bellsouth.net

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hong Kong

The only All 6 of us photo we ever took the time to take, and it's dark!


We have arrived safely in Hong Kong. I should be sleeping, but my mind is racing with that, "What if I oversleep?" worry. I have scheduled a wake up call, and Josie-Tatums' Ipod alarm is set.

Afer breakfast today, we took the kids back out the The Garden at The Garden one last time and we fed the fish.






Qing Zhuang had a melt down today, like he's not had yet. Please pray for him. He seems fine now, but I am a little worried about him.

Some awesome moments have been hearing his voice in wonder say the Chinese version of, "Wow!" It's almost like wow, only with a short o sound.

I heard it the night I brought hom McFlurries from McDonald's. All of the children were glad, but his joy and excitement was priceless.


I heard his wonder when we walked to a Chinese park where there were people exercising, strolling, beautiful gardens, and Kiddie Rides. Zhuang Zhuang was a little scared. Josie-Tatum, the teenagers in a 9 year old body pretended to have fun, Ellie enjoyed herself as usual, but Qing Zhuang was in awe.




Tonight we are staying at the Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel. BTW, it is half the price of the Marriott at the airport, and one third of the price of The Regal. Stan and the girls found a second set of elevators that were glass and came back to get the boys and me. I got to hear Qing Zhuang's Chinese, "Wow!" again.

Ellie and I had one and ONLY experience with a squatty potty today, as we rode from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. Let me just say it was an experience. You should try holding onto a child who has little lower body strenght as she tried to squat over one of those and p-oop. Yes, Scott, another poop story.

Then, I got to repeat said position, only this time helping JT as she tinkled. Proud to say, Ellie did not poop on my foot. Unfortunatley, Josie-Tatum had a more difficult time directing the flow...or should I say spray...of her tinkle. When we arrived at the hotel tonight, she complained after following one of the boys in the bathroom. There may well have been boy tinkle on the floor. I ever so less than politely told her I didn't want to hear it...since she had already peed on me foot today.

And, if you could have seen the look of wonder and excitement on Qing Zhuang's face when I told him we were going to "women da fanjian...in meiguo." My poor Mandarin for our house in America. He quickly took out the photo album we sent him and turned to the page of our house. He was so excited and began to show it to people everywhere. He even fell asleep with the photo album in his hand on our drive to Hong Kong.

He was little confused, however, when we pulled up at the hotel. He took out the photo album again and looked at me with a wrinkled forhead. I had our driver explain to him, and he was a happy camper again.

Zhuang Zhuang continues to be much less open with his affection and still enjoys his joke of, "Wo bu ai ni." He is a child who loves to disagree. He did come up to me, though, a couple of time today and hold his arms out so I would pick him up. That is the beginning of progress.

For those of you who have followed our journey, thank you for joining us. For the prayers, we are forever grateful. For the finanical support, we are ever humbled. My prayer is that you will have been blessed by our journey.

We should land in the USA Saturday afternoon in Chicago. And, land in JAX Sat night at 7:49. Can't wait to show all of you who will be waiting our precious boys.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ponderings from China--Perhaps the Last




We will leave Guangzhou tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 PM, that'll be 3:30 AM for our family at home in Georgia.

On each of our trips to China, I grow quite sad during these last hours. I am ready to go home, I love my home, but I am going to miss China. (Stan does not hold my sentiments. He is just ready to be home.) I love to watch the street life. Once I learn my way around a little, I love to be on the sidewalk, walking amongst the people. It may be elbow to elbow, but I enjoy the sights and sounds. Unlike many others, I don't mind the stares. I simply smile and say, "Nihao."

I see the beggars, and I wonder their stories. I see the lady at the edge of the footbridge. She has been there selling cherries everyday. I never saw her make a sell, though, and I wonder how she survives. I see the families loving their babies, and I wonder what they think of us when we are strolling around with 3 Chinese children. I like to look at what is for sell in the grocery story and compare it to our stores.

I love to see the fresh fruit and vegetable stands and the vendors selling some form of meat on a stick, cooking it over open flames.

Before our stroll to Burger King.....

and Trust-Mart ....

through parts of town fewer Westerners travel...

we took the children outside to the waterfall and lotus pond here at the Garden. The photos alone help me to know why the hotel has such a name.










Those who dont' have boys may wonder why the girls are far outnumbered in these photos. Well, the boys quicly grew weary of such nonsense. And, once you meet our Drew Zhuang Zhuang, you will have an idea of how difficult it was to get the ONE and ONLY photo of all four of my children smiling.


Today we went to the consulate and completed the very last bit of paperwork. Actually, I simply signed my name to a couple of documents. Tomorrow, we wait only on the boys' visas before we can leave the country.

We discussed the boys and how they are doing on the way to the consulate with the boys. I will not say this trip has been easy, but I am amazed at how much easier it has been than I thought it would be. While the boys do compete for attention at times, it really isn't often. Zhuang Zhuang (Drew) is usually found misbehaving when our attnetion is diverted with other people, not when it is just the six of us.

Qing Zhuang still loves to be first. I wonder how long it will be before he realizes there is enough for everyone. I wonder if his desire to be first comes from his background, or perhaps he may just be wired for that desire to be first in line, ahead of the pack. (I teach students who run to be first, even to the restroom.)

Qing Zhuang Zeke continues to give affection willingly.

Zhuang Zhuang Drew continues to laugh at himself when you say, "Wo ai ni," and he says, "Wo bu ai ni." (I don't love you.)

Both boys love to be tickles.

And, both boys have learned to talk a little softer when we put our fingers to our lips and make the "sh" sound.

I am amazed when I think of this part of the journey coming to an end, this journey I thought may never come. But, really our journey has just begun. Please pray as ever before for us as we journey home, the plane ride, jet lag, and adjusting to our new normal family routine.

May our home always glorify Him.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

He Still Answers Prayer: Update on Jordon!



We visited with Jordon today.

I asked if he had checked his email, and he said his son had a lot of homework, so he had not checked it yet.

I told him how I had shared his situation, and many people from around the world were praying for him. I told him some of the stories you have shared with me about how he has helped you, how his calligraphy hangs in your homes. If you've met him, you can envision his look of surprise, and then his smile. He reached for my hand.

Then.....

He hugged my neck.

And said, "People were praying around the world? Let me tell you what happened. I asked the owner of the building if I could sit on the sidewalk and continue to do calligraphy for the American families. I guess he thought I was crazy. He asked me if I would like to rent the 5th floor, and he would put in an elevator." I had chills! We praise the LORD together on the sidewalk.

Jordon continued, "So, I start asking the American families...if I go up to the 5th floor, would you still visit me if there was an elevator? All of the Americans I asked, said yes, so I am going to rent the 5th floor where there was a restaurant before."

I told him he should be sure to check his email, becuase so many of you have shared that you emailed him. With excitement he said, "So, when I go home tonight, I will see these emails?"

As we talked, Jordon said he didn't know how long he would be allowed to stay where he is, and how long he might have to close before he can open up on the 5th floor. But, he said, "Tell everyone I will be here on the sidewalk doing calligraphy for the adoptive families. I love them. I will be right here."

Of course, we had to buy a few more things. The girls chose parasols, and Jordan painted their names on them. He walked outside with them to help them pose for a photograph.



When we were ready to leave the island, we went back to see Jordon to ask where he would suggest was the best place to catch a taxi back to The Garden. First, he pointed towards Lucy's. He gave detailed explanations as is his nature. Then he asked, "Are you ready to leave now?"

When I told him we were, he said, "You get your babies in the stroller and I will get the taxi for you."

And, when I thanked him, can't you hear him saying, as ran down the sidewalk, "My pleasure!"

Oh what a blessing to have been a small part of his life, to have been there in person to hear how God has answered the prayers of many!

To Him be the glory!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Now, I Know: He Gets It!!!

Though I chose to post about Jordon yesterday, it was a momentous day for us.

I have shared how Zeke (Qing Zhuang) has begun to say, "I love you," and "Wo ai ni," at many times during the day. He not only repeats it but initiates it.

He will crawl into my lap and say, "Mama, wo ai ni."

And, yesterday, when he first got up, he was looking for Baba and Mama, I think. He walked into the bathroom where Baba was in the shower. The first words from him were, "Baba, wo ai ni."

Still, I wondered. I wondered because he has such a sly little grin, we always wonder what he is thinking. He really is a charmer. And....several times yesterday he said, "Mama, wo ai ni," while looking into my black bag and reaching for the Pringles.

All of my suspicions, though, were laid to rest last night. While shoppping on Shamian Island, we stopped by a shop where a man was doing "finger painting," not of the Crayola variety, but more the kind one might frame and hang in the living room. EAch of the children chose a bookmark.




If you look more closely, you will notice that Zeke's bookmark is not like the others. His is handpainting by the artist, but it is not finger paintings. His is Chinese characters.

Wo

Ai

Ni.

And, underneath are three English words:

I love you.

Josie-Tatum picked it up and when he realized what it said, he touched each of the characters and each of the words and read it over and over again. He wouldn't, then, consider a different book mark. He had found just what he needed.

L.O.V.E.

On one of the bus rides yesterday, he yelled, "Baba!" and I thought he was asking Baba to sit beside him. When Baba sat down, however, he climbed onto his lap.


He shares his affection for both Baba and Mama.


Zhuang Zhuang (Drew) is growing less defiant and more trusting. He loves to love on others--on his terms and when HE wants to. He especially loves to come from nowhere and tackled his sisters with a hug. A good replacement for the walk up to his sisters and whack a good one across whatever part of their body is nearest.


He is quite proud of himself, for he had learned to wink.

He is ever playful and enjoys every moment. In that respect, he really reminds me of Ellie. Both of the boys enjoy practical jokes.
Zhuang Zhuang was calling his Baba, "Mama," yesterday. When that brought about tickles from Baba, he decided he had developed a new game, so he continued to call his Baba, "Mama," so he could be tickled over and over again.

Not only did Qing Zhuang decide to join the game by calling me "Baba," so I would tikcle him. He came up with a new one that CRACKED us up today. We had walked several city blocks to a nice park. When we were getting ready to go, we began to load up Ellie and Zhuang Zhuang in strollers. My new friend Audrey put her baby girl in a stroller, and Qing Zhauang asked Baba to carry him.

Baba has tried to carry him often when he asks, to encourage bonding and attachment, but we were ALL very tired at this moment. So, he had to tell him, "No."

What did our little charmer do? With a grin, he picked up one foot and started hopping as if he had hurt himself.


And, he continues daily to leave a little food on his plate, really understanding that we will have more food for him when he is hungry.


God is so good and He is reminding me that He makes the crooked paths straight, that our journey is His journey, this time is His time, and if I will but look for Him, I will see Him in every moment.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Prayers for Jordan on Shamian Island


Nearly every family who has adopted a child from China knows who Jordan on Shamian Island is. He is such a friendly shop keeper, and one of a dying breed as many shop owners on Shamian Island have closed.

Jordan's shop was open when we adopted Josie-Tatum in 2004. His location had changed, but we visited his shop again when we adopted Ellie in 2007. For each of the girls, we have the special painting he did of their American names in Chinese calligraphy. I wonder just how many families in America have one of those hanging in their homes. He does this for families free of charge.

We visited Shamian Island tonight (more on that later), and I was told Jordan's was closing soon. We made his shop our first stop, knowing I wanted to get him to paint the boys' new names in Chinese calligraphy. While there I said, "Jordan, I heard you are closing soon."

And, he quickly answered, almost abruptly, "In 5 days." But then he added many more details. If you are interested in knowing all of them, send me an email. What I am comfortable sharing publicly here, though, is this. He was just told he had to be out of the building he rents and was given less than a month's notice. If I understood him correctly, only a week.

He said a larger company is renting other floors in his building and they want his small space, too. He told those forcing him to leave, "But, I have a family. I have a son. What am I going to do?"

He and I talked tonight about our Best Friend and how He will take care of Jordan. I promised Him our family would be praying for him. And, just like Jesus, the man standing behind me waiting to pay for a purchase was also from Georgia and He was a Christian. We all joined in a conversation about how we would be praying for Jordan.

Then, Jordan came out of the store and asked to have his photo taken with us. We had a big group photo with him and a family I had just met in that moment. I got Jordan's email and told him I will email him the photo and will look forward to learning how God will bless him in spite of this storm.

Then, tonight, I thought of all of you. I knew many of you would want to join in support and prayer for Jordan. If the LORD so moves you, you could send him an email of love, support, and prayers. We plan to go back to Shamian Island on Wednesday. I would love for him to tell me how many families have supported him. and

To God be the glory!

Join us in doing great things for Him, since He has done such great things for us.

jordonlee86@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jesus Moments and Prayer Requests

Jesus moment for the day: We have passed quite a few beggars in the last two days. Most of them had deformities. Josie-Tatum, tonight, had a lot of questions. I told her I had to wonder who brough them there, and when they looked so thin, if the person who brought them there was taking the money they received begging. We discussed what we would do if we were at home in the US and how those options aren't possible here...in particular, taking them to the church, the body of Christ. (Which, I sooooooooo missed today.)

So, on the way back from the store tonight, we saw a man still sitting where he had been earlier. Just after we passed him, I said, "I am still afraid to give him money, but we could give him some drink. Jesus says if we give it unto the least of these, we are giving it to Him." So, we chose the drink she loves the best and a pack of crackers and took them back to the man. I gave them to him and said, "In the name of Jesus." Please pray for that man, and pray that somehow he will understand the Jesus who is the Bread of Life and the Living Water.

The most difficult part of our journey thus far has NOT been related to adoption at all, but specifically to international travel and human error.

If it has happened to a family in our group, it has happened to us.

Today, I lost our camera.

Josie-Tatum asked me if that was a bad thing. Of course, so I told her we can always buy a new camera, but there are photos on the memory card that are priceless. (Note to self and others: copy the photos onto the computer daily.)

I think I left it on the bus today, when we went on a shopping trip. We didn't spend much money, but it was another Chinese experience....

Please pray we find the camera.

Our guide called the bus driver. He said he did a check when we were all off the bus and didn't see anything. But, he assured her that the bus is locked. He is at home, and he will check as soon as he comes to work tomorrow.

And, if you want to pray specifically...pray he comes to work before we leave for the zoo tomorrow AND he finds the camera. I don't know if he will be our driver or not.

Today, I believe Zeke (Qing Zhuang) realized that he will always have enough to eat. He left much food on his plate at breakfast. He at much food, but he left much as well. And, I would like to show you a picture, but I lost the camera today. I did take a photo of the food he left behind.

He is really beginning to respond to love and affection. (As I type said monkey is in my lap.) He snuggled up to me on the bus ride home. I had been taking photos of street scenes--and signs of course. That's when I put my camera down, because he had crawled into my lap. He loves to be tickled, and I love to sneak in kisses while I am tickling. He has begun to repeat in both Mandarin and English, "I love you. Wo ai ni," when I say it to him. And, just a few minutes ago, he climbed in my lap and said, "Mama, wo ai ni." He laughed the entire time, so I don't know how much emotion is truly involved, but he has a lifetime to continue to crawl in my lap as we share, "I love you's."

Zhuang Zhuang has begun to behave better. He has moments of extended calm when we can let our guard down a little. He still has periods of mischief, but he is beginning to respond to correction. He is not yet as affectionate as his brother. He is still a spitfire and ball of energy. I try to steal a few minutes at various times during the day to pick him up and cuddle, if sometimes playfully, and encourage that bonding we both need.

Josie-Tatum and I ventured out a little while on our own this evening. It was some good just her and mama time, as well as a little shopping that would have been difficult with all four kids along. We had to walk a few city blocks to find the Trust-Mart. And, I realized after we were inside a while that there is some connection to Wal-Mart. While many things were unfamiliar, on some signs I saw Great Value written.

We were in need of snacks and drinks that were not 7-11 prices. Yes, there are still 7-11 stores in China. We also purchased a cheap toy for the boys...about $3 US. So, without the camera now, I took a little video. You will have to turn your head, though. I'm not used to the camera and I was holding it the wrong way. You can hear these precious Chinese voices, speaking a language I am sad to know they will soon forget. (And, once again, pray we find our camera.) And, the video camera quit working as soon as I took this video, so would you pray for it as well.

video

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Day Without a Poop Story

We could use a few added prayers today...

Finally the weather was good enough to be out and about. We hope to be out even a little more tomorrow. After our medical visits, we found our way to McD's. While the food tasted, oh so familiar, the best thing was

THE PRICE!!

Since we landed in Zhengzhou, our cheapest meal for the family was $50. That was really eating into our cash on this trip.
Today, we paid approximately the equivalent of $18 US for our meal. I'm afraid we will be sick of McDonalds before we leave Guangzhou.

Ellie continues to turn heads in China, just like she does back home. She walks around with her two hot pink crutches, and Chinese people stop to watch. Here in Guangzhou, we are finally surrounded by other adoptive families. They, too, stop to watch our Ellie.

Today, though, Ellie wanted to push Drew in the stroller. And, being the gracious parent, I chose to let her. While we were strolling along, I said to Stan, "Now what are people going to think of us? Look at the American family making their disabled child walk AND push her disabled brother in the stroller!"


Zhuang Zhuang had to be "forced" to take a nap. It is difficult for him when his siblings aren't napping, but his behavior becomes out of control in the afternoon. I wonder, too, if Qing Zhuang had to take naps. He has fallen asleep in the afternoon more than once. While Baba was lying down with Zhuang Zhuang, and I was in the meeting room doing adoption paper work, he fell asleep on the couch. Look how sweet with his fingers in the his mouth.


He has been with us longer, so it stands to reason that he seems more bonded with us. I love to take photos all along the streets when we are in China. Today, with the gorgeous weather, I was stopping multiple times on the way to and from McD's. But, my little man would shout, "Ma-ma!" and get his Baba to stop if he noticed I was lagging behind when I was taking photos. I love it when he looks for me if I have stepped out of the room. While he is all boy in many situations, and has yet to learn to love hugs and kisses, he will sometimes just walk up to me and sit in my lap. And, when we are in crowded areas, he becomes cautious and holds my hand tightly. My heart smiles as I watch him learn that he is safe with us.

And, I leave you with my favorite photo of the day. I don't know what this store sells, or what we are supposed to see, but I am certain there is a message behind this name.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mattox Family Stops the Bus----I Mean Really

It has been a long, but good day. Sorry, no time for photos. It's 11:00, and I have to be up early in the morning.

We have arrived in Guangzhou. The boys were so good on the flight.

Just after we landed, Qing Zhuang had to go niao niao. Baba took him to the toilet on the plane.

Then, Zhuang Zhuang had to go poop. He, too, was taken to the toilet on the plane.

By this time, every other human had exited and the cleaning staff had come on board. It was like something from a Sci-Fi movie. They came in their coats with gloves, like an army.

A flight attendant came to tell me we must exit the plane because everyone must take the bus to the terminal. Well, two of my men were in the toilet.

So....yes, we stopped the bus. An entire plane full of people were waiting on the bus while my men were using the restroom.

More tales from the toilets tomorrow. Only tomorrow, there will be photos---hopefully not of the toilets. (However, I might just have to take a photo of the bathroom in our hotel suite.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Lot Can Happen in 24-Hours

We awoke this morning to Little Drew...a little happier.

By the time breakfast was over, his personality was shining through. The children all began my day sweet as ever.



It was raining outside, but sunny in our hotel...until.

Stan couldn't get in the safe. Our guide was waiting downstairs to take us to the civil affairs office, and we were upstairs trying to get in a safe. Apparently, two little Chinese boys played with it enough that they were able to change the combination. The passports and money were locked in my room, but Stan had locked his medication in the safe in his room....to keep it away from the boys. And, they kept it from him...blood pressure meds, seizure meds, and.....

While the staff at the hotel tried to break the code.....we had to leave for Civil Affairs to complete the adoption of Andrew Palmer JiangZhuang. It was such a blessing to see our four children playing together. Ellie was the traffic cop.

We left the Civil Affairs office and headed to the notary where we had the unique experience of climbing 5 flights of stairs with four children, two of whom had to be carried.

It was here that Zhuang Zhuang (Drew) began to show his strong will. He refused to look at the camera for a photo and tried to draw on official papers.

After the brilliant hotel staff finally cracked the code on Stan's safe, we tried to a different restaurant. (We've paid far to much for meals since we came to Zhengzhou.) Here we ate the worst Chinese food I've ever tasted. I don't know what this green stuff is, but they put it in everything. And...my stomach has not been happy since.


While we ate this yucky meal which still cost $50 for the 6 of us, Stan had to take Zhuang Zhuang to the potty twice....not good.

We had planned to go to a park just a block away. It has been raining since we arrived, and we've been unable to go anywhere. With ZZ's stomach issues, however, we decided to we better had back to the hotel, where we played in the hallway until we learned there was a play room on the 5th floor.





This small moment in time, less than 2 hours, became quite eventful. Zhuang Zhuang was choosing some difficult behaviors until he began to repeat one phrase over and over again. I decided to bring him to the room to see what he wanted. This little dude was still wearing the clothes he had on when he was brought to us on yesterday (Refuses as many children do, to part with them earlier). But, as soon as we walked in the hotel room, he began to take them off. Wanna guess??/ Yes, he finally had an upset stomach accident in his pants. No photos of this first.

While I was looking for the wipes to clean him up, he decided to get in the tub. So, poo was on his hiney, on his legs, in his clothes, on the toilet in multiple places, on the bathroom mat, and on the tub. Oh, the joys of motherhood.

After a bath...that included some intense splashing and some motherly correction, we went back upstairs finally in some clothes Mama bought before her trip to China. Being the smart man Baba is, he surveyed the wet hair and change in attire and drew the conclusion that Mama had been on clean up duty.

Life seemed to be good...unitl....Zhuang Zhuang began playing again. This time, much to rough. He was hitting, kicking, throwing things, and spitting. To him, it was all a game, but no calm correction was changing his inappropriate behavior. Much earlier than we had hoped, Baba really HAD to get firm with him....firm voice and holding him in "time in."

After about 10-15 minutes of screaming from Zhuang Zhuang, he finally settled down and Baba let him get up. Then, he started playing more appropriately.

He is still the busiest fellow I've ever seen.

But, finally, when we tell him stop, he obeys...reluctantly still, but he obeys.

The four kiddos are finally fast asleep, and Mama is headed to Never Never Land much sooner tonight as well.

As difficult as this day has been, I have been blessed to hear the word, "Mama," from two sweet, sweet voiced many times today. I have seen Josie-Tatum and Ellie give in because they know these little boys need added patient right now. I have watched our Zeke blossom these last two days. He loves to be the little helper. (And..informant of all things Zhuang Zhuang.) He comes to me more and more often just to climb in my lap. The four of them all went to sleep in bed with one another...just watching the sibling bond has blessed beyond my imagination.

And, a privilege I don't think I can share in an public blog....just a tidbit. I had the opportunity today to share the REASON for the love in our hearts...the Friend that Sticks closer than a brother. I had the privelege of sharing the Greatest Gift to ever be given with one who had never heard The Story.

And, for this day, and all of the others.

To God be the Glory!
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