Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Peek into My Journal

This is my journal.  My sweet friend Heather gave it to me several years ago and I love the soft leather cover and the nice paper inside. It makes you want to write in it.

This is the inscription she penned for me.  I enjoy having things in people's own handwriting.  It's just so personal and I always love when I can recognize a note or recipe by someone's handwriting....I feel closer to them.  

I don't consider myself a writer by any stretch but for several years now I've kept a fairly consistent record of my day to day life including things that were going on with us, what I was learning in my Bible study, or things I wanted to pray/work through.  I want to share a little peek into my journal with you today because quiet honestly, I was blessed because of it this week and thought you might be too.

When we were getting ready to leave South Carolina and come to China our church in Aiken had us come up front to love on us a little bit and pray for us.  Stan told them then that God was using golf to get us to China but the reason we were going to China was for Him to grow our family.  That statement has been a source of comfort for me many times for various reasons and I'm not certain Stan understood the importance of his words to me or that it will have to his daughters one day when they are old enough to realize the efforts and fervor that he placed into getting us to China.

So....back to the journal.  This past Friday I woke at 3:30am to go to the bathroom and decided to check my email on my phone that was on my nightstand.  I don't often do that but that night I did and was excited and nervous both to see an email from our adoption agency and referencing our paperwork that had been recently submitted to the US authorities for approval to proceed with Maggie Mei's adoption.  Of course, my heart was racing and after a quick phone call to the agency to make sure I was indeed reading what I thought I was I was ecstatic.  Our agency had spoken with the officer reviewing our file and although there was a minor question regarding the dates on our fingerprints the bottom line was that the officer said there didn't seem to be any issues and would be approving our application.  WOOOHHOOOOOO!  
Well at that point there was no going back to sleep for me so I sat down with my journal and put my thoughts down.  I got to the end of the page and when I went to turn it I realized I was on the last page of this particular journal.   (here is that page)

I was sad that my time with this particular book would be coming to a close but also thankful for all that it held.  My curiosity was immediately peaked and I flipped to the front to see when I had started writing it it.  Here is a picture of that page. 

So......God used a journal to bless me at 4am in the morning and remind me that HIS timing is completely perfect and He did indeed bring us to China to grow our family.  I guess I'll start my next journal now and see what amazing things I get to record in that one.

Chat with ya later....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


One of the things that I wasn't expecting but have greatly enjoyed since arriving in China almost 2 years ago is the incredible mix of cultures that are part of our lives here.  Yes, of course, there are lots and lots of Chinese people but we also interact with Koreans, Japanese, Germans, British, Africans, South Africans, Spanish, French, Aussies, New Zealanders, Slovakians, Dutch, Canadians, Finish, and the list goes on.  I just listed those that came to mind right away that we play with, go to school or church with or have just grown friendships from chance encounters.  I'm often struck by how small my view of the world was before we came to live here and I continue to be very grateful for the opportunity for not only myself to be exposed to these other incredible cultures and languages but also that my girls, and particularly Xan.  She is old enough right now to  interact and build her own friendships with these "different" people and yet doesn't see them as different at all. 

Sure, they may talk differently or eat different foods than we do but those differences aren't things that keep us from having friendships with them and honestly in the US I'm not sure that we would be that way.  Now before you go judging…..hear me out on this........I don't think we would have as many multicultural friends for a couple of reasons.  
1- We just aren't exposed to them.  We never lived in a large city or near a large population of people that were really much different than us....our biggest "difference" was often the University you attended or the denomination of your church ;-). 
2- We gravitate to what is easiest.  I have many, many wonderful American friends here and to be honest they are probably the ones that I'm most "comfortable" with but it's because it's easy for me.  I don't have to work or try very hard to find common ground, they get my jokes, like the same foods, etc.  My non-American friends often don't laugh when I say something I think is quiet funny, they think we eat way too much sugar and they find my southern accent a little hard to understand.  However, that being said, I have learned a ton about other cultures by nurturing those friendships and trying to find that common ground that is really pretty easy since we're all living an expat life and most of us are moms and wives.  I have come to love hearing the different ways to prepare foods, raise our children, interact with families, and holiday traditions as well as what their day to day life looks like. 

Xan attended a party this past Saturday for Valentine's Day and when I went to pick her up I just smiled at the faces sitting around the room.  I made the comment to my friend's husband that we were incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to have such a diverse group of friends from literally all over the world.  Xan and the hosts' daughter were the only American kids there.  There were children from Mexico, England, Korea, Hong Kong, and one I'm not certain of.  Food is often the center of conversation for we moms since we are all trying to "recreate" familiar dishes from our home countries in a foreign land and I just had to chuckle as those sweet moms sat around my friends table happily munching on cheetos and rice krispy treats.......I was in heaven but I'm pretty sure they were enjoying it too.  

Well it has taken me a while to get where I'm going but my inspiration for this post was an experience I had this past Sunday at church related to this whole idea.  We attend what is called an International Fellowship church that is open to foreign passport holders only and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that we literally have 30+ nationalities represented most Sundays.  It is a very diverse group and we often say that it has to be similar to what heaven will be like one day.  Anyway, I was in the nursery with Maggie and due to a helper shortage (seriously.....every church nursery, even in China, has helper shortages haha) I needed to stay in the room with her.  There is another little girl in the room that was playing away with the toy dishes and food.  I know her mom and see her often around so I wasn't a complete stranger for her.  She is 3 and has lived in China her entire life and I knew that she was fluent in Chinese.  Now I must tell you that Sarah's parents are from the Congo and have the most beautiful dark skin you've ever seen and it is AMAZING to watch them in worship.  They make you want to know whoever it is they know cause it is just beautiful.....but I digress.    So here is sweet little Sarah speaking 90 miles an hour in Chinese to me and I'm trying to answer back and ask her questions with my very limited vocabulary.  It was obvious that she wasn't understanding my Chinese a couple of times and I'd revert to my  English and sure enough she'd understand me. (Her mother and father are both fluent in English.)  One particular time, though, she was trying to tell me something and I didn't understand and she busted out with some French (with a perfect dialect I might add).  So....here is this 3 year old who in the course of a 30 minute interaction used 3 languages on me.  WOW!  Talk about humbling....I only know one little language and struggle mightily to try and grasp a tiny bit of another.  We Americans are certainly behind on the language issue.......so, so many of the people I meet know at least 2 and many know 3 or 4 different languages.  Again I say WOW!  We are doing our part to help Xan with a second language and she is actually doing very well with her Chinese.  Stan attends classes too so needless to say my Chinese is by far the back of the pack at our house and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've used Xan on more than one occasion to translate for me.  I've had a tutor in the past but haven't had one for quite some time now and maybe, just maybe it's time to get back into the learning mode.  I'll keep you posted.  

So.....a bit of rambling but I think you get my drift.  We live in the midst of some very different but great people from all over the world and I just think that is pretty cool.   Our lives will be better because of them.  

Chat with ya later-

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Drum Roll Please

We started the adoption process for our 2nd daughter back in 2008 and after lots and lots of forms completed, authorizations received and years spent waiting we were "matched" (adoption lingo for the birth country identifying a specific child we could adopt)  to our precious girl.  There are still some formalities to complete and government appointments to attend and of course several more forms to complete but we hope to have it all wrapped up by April or May and then bring this sweet girl home to meet the rest of her family this summer.  Living here has definitely afforded us some opportunities for blessings that we never, ever would have anticipated.  One huge one is when we were asked to care for a little girl with some health issues that was living in the local orphanage to help prepare her for some surgery.  Well...that little girl was our daughter and God gave her to us in the most unpredictable but amazing way but that's a whole other story so without further ado......please meet our precious MAGGIE MEI.

She has one very happy big sister who not only shares the same middle name with her but also her birthday.  God saw fit to give us two girls who came into this world on January 26.  As you can imagine, we had a little bit of celebrating to do last week.  

So glad to finally share her with you and get back to updating you all on our lives.  It just didn't feel right sharing blog posts without including such a major part of what is going on. Now you are all in on it.  We are blessed for sure!  

Chat with ya later!