The Universal Language of ‘High Five’

Universal High Five

A Universal High Five

Adopting a toddler internationally poses a lot of blessings and challenges.  Communication has got to be at the top of the list of hurdles that have to be overcome early in the relationship.  In order to make progress as a family, you need to know and understand each other. Educational professionals will tell you there are a lot of techniques such as sign language, tone, repetition etc, that can make inroads into the mind of a toddler quickly.  And they would be right. We have been using them all.  

We have found, however, that there is a much more basic concept that provided common ground almost immediately with little to no instruction.  It was an international bridge over the river of communication dividing Chinese and English, toddler and adult.  Wanna know the secret? It was the universal language of the high five!  

It was amazing to me that something so simple could ignite a spark in Little Li that showed understanding, trust and encouragement.  It was one of the first things we did with her that led to a consistent smile and REAL interaction.  Early on a hug, a kiss or even holding hands was often out of the question.  She has become a high five junkie!  She basks in the smiles and encouragement it sparks in the people around her and asks for more. For a little human with limited interaction involving human touch, a hug is too much to ask early on.  But a high five?  No problem!   

The high five is  a gesture that led to understanding between two humans divided by words, age and pretty much every other difference possible.  Its a place were two people who seem to have nothing in common, can for a moment share the same space and revel in it.  It inevitably brings a smile and something to celebrate if only for a second.

We wait for children to grow up and mature, but personally I think we have a lot to learn from them.  Have all of the grownups in the world forgotten the  simple concept of the high five? They are not limited to children or athletes on the court or field.  We can encourage each other daily in everything we do.  Sometimes we just need to know someone is in our corner and cheering us on!  A kind word and ‘you got this,’ can be all that’s needed to push someone to the shore of success and break barriers that seem frightening at first.  (Just think about a Chinese toddler in the middle of a room of American adults!)

Even though I consider myself an optimist in perpetual training, I have often been dragged into the sea of negativity that seems to surround me wherever I go. It happens at home, at work and sad to say even church.  I would love to tell you I am always able to rise above the tide, but I am still working on it. Daily. 

I find it ironic that I had forgotten for a brief moment the power of the high five. (Although I have only recently fully realized its international and generational impact.) My company has been on a journey of leadership transformation to get past the social awkwardness and fully embrace the power of the high five.  (Check out the Heart of a Leader and High Five King, Brandon Johnson.  His training can be life changing.Not kidding!) As with any anything worthwhile, the journey to self-transformation from nay-sayer to encourager or ‘high-fiver’ starts with the heart and happens one high-five at a time.

Is there someone in your life who really needs a high five today? Your hubby? The kids? A co-worker? I know there is.  If you can’t think of anybody then you are just not trying hard enough. Start to bridge the gap of pessimism surrounding you. You can do it! I know you can. 



Consider this a digital high five

 Your friend,



What I haven’t told You…




My Friend Wes Introducing Us to the Westside Family


Let me take a minute dear friend to say thank you. I’ve been suprised by the reactions to this blog since we returned home and have been able to personally connect with friends who have been following us in this adventure.  It has made us realize how many of you have truly been walking along side us through the daily ups and downs of this journey.  I was thrilled when Westside (our church family in Sullivan) asked us to  come share the highlights of our experience. I felt a little unprepared, because there is still much we are absorbing, and to be honest, we are still in the frenzied state of adjustment!  Between doctor appointments, first introductions to Little Li, and adjustment to a new routine of ‘normal’, we haven’t had much time to reflect on our journey overall and to circle back to where we started.  Before going further, let me give a shout out to everyone at Westside for being eager to hear and to share in our excitement!  It is always like coming home and is the place where I truly began to realize that a church is meant to be your family and that meaningful relationships are built between Sunday’s, not sitting next to each other in a pew.

Looking back, the call was well timed to make us take a breath and fill in the blanks of some details that so far have been absent in this onine record of our adoption. For you see, there are some important details I have left out of this blog that you may find interesting.  Things that were beyond coincidence.  Things that were beyond our control.  Being asked to share our story from a perspective of faith and prayer helped us to circle back and capture these important details to ensure that glory is given where glory is due.

Our story began nine years ago before my husband and I were even engaged. We had a very frank talk about our ‘non-negotiables’ before committing to each other.  (Some people may think it was a little forward of me to be so direct early-on, but lets be honest ladies, I found him later in life and I didn’t have time to waste.  I needed to know we were on the same page. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! He didn’t run scared, so that was a good sign.) We found that we both wanted two children and we had a conversation about adoption.  Even back then, we felt like God was calling us to adopt a little girl from China. It was actually Hubby who first brought up the idea and plant the seed that would grow in our hearts over time.

Now fast forward 7 years. For every family who adopts, there is a ‘GO’ moment. A moment when you finallly quit thinking about it and say ‘Let’s do this!’ I remember ours clearly.  Hubby and I were at the dinner table and decided we should REALLY start praying about it.  For those of you who have never adopted, its not like you go shopping for a child.  You don’t just decide ‘we want a child , so let’s go get one.’ There are several different routes all with pros and cons and different timelines. It can be overwhelming to know where to start.  So we prayed.  We began researching different options that week and asking advice from friends who had pursued different avenues of adoption, but still felt strongly about China. On Thursday, Hubby said to me, ‘My cousin Amy adopted, maybe you should reach out to her to find  out more’  So Friday, I messaged her on Facebook.  She got back to me immediately and said ‘You aren’t going to believe this.  We have NEVER been in Marshall (our town) before.  We are going to be there TOMORROW for a wedding.  We are going to stay all night and have Sunday afternoon available and would LOVE to tell you more about adopting our daughter from China.’

Coincidence?  You can think that if you want.  Personally, I think the odds are pretty slim that it was coincidence .It was a door that God opened and we walked on through.  We walked away from the conversation knowing what agency we were going to use and that we were following through on a divine plan designed just for us. 

We continued to move forward and soon found ourselves in the same place where so many adoptive parents become restless..waiting.  Here we learned more about praying hard and taking action in faith.  (See this post for another interesting story..) 

I’m still in awe that we returned from China with 4 days to spare before Hulaloo started Kindergarten.  Just a few months ago it seemed impossible.  But that’s the beauty of it.  We serve a God who can do the impossible.  I ‘ve seen it.  I believe it! 

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew 19:26 ESV

But here’s the thing.. We are his hands and feet. Alot of what is accomplished in and through our lives happens only when we take action.

 ‘Praying is 2/3 listening and looking (Mark Batterson – The Circle Maker). 

 Did you hear that, or were you not listening?!

I challenge you to quit praying that God change your circumstances, but instead  to change YOU so that you will see the direction he is pointing you. Some people say that when God closes a door he opens a window. Have you ever considered that you may be be standing at the wrong entrance? Don’t miss the open doors in your life just because you weren’t listening! Stop and ask for directions. Then TAKE ACTION.  What are you being called to do? more importantly, what are you waiting for?


Palace Door of the Forbidden City

and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”


‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭HCSB‬‬
Your friend,