Monday, July 2, 2007

Blessed Day

What a beautiful, special, emotional, blessed day. Yesterday at the 11:30 am mass, with Father Nick Pagano presiding, we celebrated Sawyer's Confirmation of faith and Oakley's baptism. We stood in front of our church community and our family and friends, and witnessed God's grace. I have never felt more in awe of His love and His guiding hand, knowing fully that He completely orchestrated our journey's timeline and understanding so well how meaningful the day's events were for us all.

Sawyer was unable to be confirmed last month along with all of his classmates because he was in China, on a journey to bring home his little sister. Michael and I actually contemplated delaying our departure date so he could complete Confirmation along with the other candidates. Along with Sawyer, we ultimately decided that the arrival of our TA was God's timing, and with our church's blessing, decided that he would be confirmed by himself upon our return. His classmates stood in as proxy for his sponsor, his cousin Shelby, who is now in South Carolina, completing boot camp for the U.S. Marines.

I have no doubt that Sawyer grew in faith while on our journey. It's hard to experience the miracle of adoption and not grow in faith. I feel blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to spend some truly quality time with him in China and I saw clearly, time and time again, the man that he is becoming. He is patient, kind, helpful, charming, bright, personable and funny; and he welcomed Oakley into our family with loving arms and a loving heart. He is her biggest fan and her biggest brother. They share a very special bond and it seemed only fitting when he asked to be her Godfather.

Her Godmother, Nicole Maher, is one of my oldest and dearest friends. She is a woman of great faith, unconditional love, wonderful family values, and she has the most caring and giving spirit. She celebrated every milestone of our adoption journey with us and she supported and encouraged us all the way. She has a loving husband and four beautiful daughters. She is a devoted mother and I am honored that she is Oakley's Godmother. I know that she will be there for our little girl throughout her life, to support her in love and faith.

The Mass was amazing - the readings, the music, the sacraments, and Oakley, our little trooper, just took the day in stride in true Oakley-fashion! We walked down the aisle at the beginning of the service as members of the congregation signed the cross on her forehead. She was a willing participant and solemnly took it all in. She stood before the church, she sang, she knelt, she gave a big shout-out to my sister Lori and her Mamaw whom she spotted in the pews, and finally, she was baptized.

As the first cup of water was poured on her head, she shouted "water" and smiled up at me. As the second cup was poured on her head, she shouted "coolllddd!" and smiled up at me with a little shudder. After the final cup was poured, Nicole dried her off and she resumed her spot at the front of the church to be anointed with the holy oil.

Yesterday Father Nick celebrated his last mass at St. Peter. He has only been there for a year but we will miss him greatly, not only for his gentle nature and his ability to speak from the heart, but for his innate understanding of our desire to adopt and for his desire to be a part of our celebration.

During the Litany of Saints, I was overcome with emotion. God was there with us, leading and guiding Sawyer toward manhood and the path that he is to follow, and welcoming Oakley into His house and into a life of grace. With her little arms wrapped around my neck and her spirit so full of love and trust, I thanked God for His abundant blessings.

Five weeks ago to the day of her baptism, we received Oakley in China. We promised to love, cherish and educate her, and to never abandon her. She has experienced too much abandonment in her short life already, but oh, how she has blossomed in the love of her family. I find peace and comfort in the fact that God remained faithful to her in her time of need and kept her safe until she was placed in our arms. I thank him for opening her heart to us, for allowing her to place her trust in us so quickly. After her baptism we all sang "This Little Light of Mine -- I'm Going to Let It Shine." There truly is no song more fitting for this little girl. Her light shines for the world to see and she sings this song from the top of her lungs, shouting the words Mine and Shine with all of her two-year-old might!

I am honored and humbled to parent Sawyer, Hagan, Sullivan and Oakley. I pray that I can be the kind of mother that they deserve, the kind of mother that God wants me to be.


The Ferrill's said...

What a beautiful day in the Lord, Jana! You are so blessed! I have tears in my eyes while I read your post; I think that is so precious that her big brother is her Godfather. And I went to her Godmother's site and read the story of Tarynne...another beautiful blessing. Thank you for sharing and blessing my night! Your children must rise up and call you blessed (Prov. 31)!!!!!

Jennifer said...

Jana -
What an amazing day... I can only imagine how overwhelmed you must have been to have your oldest child and your youngest child going through one of the most important events in their lives on the very same day. What a blessing! Sawyer looks so grown up and handsome - and Oakley is absolutely precious! She looks like a little angel. As for Sullivan and Hagan - you know those two boys have stolen my heart a long time ago... they are too precious, as well!
What a wonderful blessing - and what a beautiful family!

Leslie said...

Ok Jana, did you have to make me cry and have cold chills through your whole post....LOL. You write so beautifully, and your post has touched me to much. So happy for Sawyer, and that he is her Godfather. What an honor that is? What a bond that is? Love, Love, Love, that you know that God has truly Blessed your Family. Without him we all would have nothing. He is a Wonderful God, and you are raising Godly children. That is so wonderful to see. Thank you for sharing such a special day with us all.

Adam and Cynthia Farley said...

What an amazing day you had! God has truly blessed you all with a precious family. I am so happy that Oakley continues to blossom infront of you!

Much love,

Lisa Porter said...

Like Leslie, I had tears and goosebumps! What a beautiful day it must have been. I love the family portrait! Oakley is truly a Child of God.

Love, Lisa

Nicole said...

I am blessed beyond words to be a part of this journey with you and to be Oakley's Godmother. There is no greater honor for me! I love you Jana, your boys and now your daughter. Oh...and I love Michael too. ;)

Anonymous said...

Your words are so beautiful and touching. You and your family are turly blessed.


Anonymous said...

Simply beautiful.

I praise God for your testimony of His grace and faithfulness.

Mommy to Katherine Grace

Nicole said...

Okay now that I have gotten over the horrible picture of me...I have to say what a beautiful family photo that is. I'm going to copy and print it for here. You all are so beautiful!

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