One Year Ago, Today.


One year ago we walked into a government office in Guangzhou, China to get our girl. I remember every detail of the room- the purple couches filled with many other families, some that were already holding their new child and others who were still anxiously waiting to meet their new little one. I remember being so nervous and excited, looking around to see if Lila Mei was already there. I remember sitting down on a couch, looking over, and seeing her nanny (I recognized her from previous pictures) holding a little girl. We all said “there she is!” and I couldn’t help but get up and start walking toward her. The nanny walked toward us, our guide motioning to her that we were her family. She put Lila Mei down right in front of us, and I couldn’t let her take even a couple of steps before I scooped her ups in my arms.

oneyear2Just like our other kids’ birth stories, I will never forget those first few moments together. Her buzz cut hair, her little poppy-red sandals, her blue shirt with a pencil on it. I remember her looking at us with wonder, then her laying her head on my shoulder, and me whispering over and over “I love you, Xiaoying. I’m your momma. Everything is going to be okay.”

I remember her sucking her two fingers, the same two fingers that Chloe did when she was little. I remember all four of us smiling SO BIG. We had been waiting for her for so long, and now she was ours. I remember feeling her forehead and realizing she had a fever. I remember her nanny telling me details about her life- how she had been sick the last day or so and how she did on the long car ride to the office.

IMG_4610 copyI remember Jack getting her first smile. I remember taking our first family-of-five picture. I remember leaving the government office with another Clemens in our arms. I remember getting in the van and handing her a pink sparkly bracelet to play with, and she would put it on and off, on and off. I remember getting back to the hotel, and going over paperwork with our guide. I couldn’t concentrate because I was trying to pay attention to Lila, who was starting to play with Chloe and Jack. And I definitely remember the first time we heard her belly laugh. I knew in that moment that everything was as it should be. She was our girl, and that long ago before God set the world in motion, he had every single moment of her life planned out. She was our girl, and she was home.

Looking back at that day, I can’t believe how far we’ve come. The scared, skinny, quiet, sick, bug bite covered baby girl is now just. so. happy. And healthy. And loved. God really has done more than we could ask or think, and I praise Him from whom all blessings flow.

This year has been one of the hardest years of our lives, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. God has taught me so much…how LOVE is more important than anything, and that laying my life (aka selfishness, plans, time, expectations, etc.) down is where I find true joy. Seeing Lila’s redemption first-hand has helped me better understand my redemption, my adoption as a daughter of Christ. We have been singing a new song in church for the past few months, and every time we sing it, I can’t help but think of Lila’s story as a perfect example of my own story of grace.

Ash was redeemed only beauty remains
My orphan heart was given a name
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance
When death was arrested and my life began

Oh your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It’s your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you

Our sweet Xiaoying was given a name, a family, love, grace…a new life. That is my story. I was once an orphan, with no heavenly Father, no hope. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, I was given a name- Daughter of the King. I was given a new life- eternal life in heaven with my Father. His endless love has poured down on me and He has made me new!

We are so thankful for all He has done this year. To Him be the glory!

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  1. Lori

    Transformed from Orphan to Precious Daughter, loved and adored. Thank You Lord for your love and sacrifice, that you would die so we may live. Thank you for Lila Mae, for loving and caring for her in China, and most of all for bringing her home to her family. Let today be a joyful celebration for the Clemmens Family, and please continue to set the lonely in families. To You be the Glory!! Amen!!!!

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