Just another day

I needed some time alone to prepare for an upcoming ladies gathering at which I am speaking, so I decided to go to Starbucks and have some coffee while working on my “stuff”.  As I sat there, I noticed a couple sitting nearby that kept glancing my way.  Then, I heard them say America (in Chinese), so I looked up.  

I knew better.

When I made eye contact, I was giving them a signal that I wanted to talk.  They began to ask me questions that I didn’t understand, so I decided to go over there so I could hear them better.  They had been trying to guess if I was from England or America.  Then they wanted to know all sorts of other things about me.  When we got to a point that I truly couldn’t figure out what they were saying, I excused myself back to my table to continue my work.  However, their interest was sparked, so they just left their table and joined me at my mine.  

Awesome.

I was trying really hard to be involved in the conversation and not show them that I wanted them to go away so I could accomplish what I had come to do.  

I asked them if they were dating.  They both turned red and the silence that followed was enough answer for me.  I think maybe it was one of their first dates…or maybe that HE wanted it to be a date but she didn’t.  She was 8 years younger than him, and he kept telling me how beautiful she was.  I continually agreed with him and even told her I thought her dress was very pretty.  Her reply?

I like your face.

Well.  Okay, then.  That ranks up there with the strangest responses I’ve ever heard to a compliment.  Ha!

After thirty minutes of slightly awkward conversation, a billion selfies that included me, the foreigner, I told them I had to head home.  

I got a text from the guy today…asking if me and my family would like to travel all over the city with them for a few days to find fun things to do. He even said something about making a video of it.  Ummm…wow.  I hope I misunderstood that part. 

I’m not sure what purpose He has in putting me at Starbucks (where I NEVER actually go to drink coffee…sometimes I get it to go, but I can count on one hand how many times I have actually drank coffee in the store) at the same time this couple was there, but I can’t dismiss that He, perhaps, orchestrated it.  That His plan is bigger than just them wanting a foreign friend.  As much as I want to ignore his text and not reply, I can’t.  My heart won’t let me.

 

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CHRONICLES OF CHINA

CHAPTER 11

It was creeping up on me.  I started to notice that things got to me faster, that my tears fell a lot harder than they should.  The funk I found myself in wasn’t to be shaken off so easily.

Thirteen.

The milestone that all kids look forward to.  The one that changes things.  The beginning of the years that bring the most changes, the most growing up.  And she would never know them.  would never get to see her go through those changes.  See her have her first boyfriend, her first kiss, her first dance.  I won’t ever see her fall in love in Jesus.

Because she is with Jesus.

I know I shouldn’t ask for more.  Because what more is there?  She is living the dream that we all long for, but, really, deep in my heart, I long for her.  I want to know who she is.  I want to know what His purpose was in those too short four months.  I want the big picture, because the little picture just hurts.

She didn’t get cake or balloons this year in her honor, and she should have.  It was the first year we didn’t follow tradition.  We talked about her a little…she was on my heart, is always on my heart.  I held in the tears, the weeping that was going on in my heart was hidden from the world, but I felt it.  I was being shredded inside because she just felt forgotten, but, the thing is, is that I won’t ever forget.  I won’t forget her first kick, her first breath.  The sounds she made when she was happy, the way she smelled.  Sometimes I smell something that reminds me of her, and it comes flooding back.  Everything.  How she loved baths, the way her hair curled.  How she loved to be carried outward, facing the world, not wanting to miss a thing.  Like she knew.  She knew she needed to get as much in as she could.

I don’t wish she never happened.  Even if I knew the end of her story, I would’ve wanted to be a part of it.  The overwhelming joy she created in my heart far outweighs the pain.

Happy Birthday, Chloe Michelle!

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Other.

This can all be filed under “other”.

Our days have been so busy for the past month!  We have really increased our time with local friends, so it seems like by the time our day is over, we are exhausted and the ability to speak, or write, is nonexistent.

I took the girls for a pedicure the evening before our trip to HongKong.  I thought it would be quick, but I was quickly reminded that nothing in this culture is fast.  We had a notice posted on our door that morning that the gas would be shut off at 9pm.  That meant no hot shower after 9pm.  So, whatever we did, we had to make sure we were home before 9!  I went early to scope out a nail salon and told them we would be coming at 6:30.  I figured we would be home by 8 with plenty of time for showers.

Didn’t happen.

They had a special room set aside and were ready for us when we got there, so I was feeling super impressed, thinking this would be our new favorite salon.  However, they only had one man to do all four of us.  Five if you count the friend that met us there.  Around 8, the girls were finished, but us adult ladies hadn’t yet begun.  We decided to leave and go to our “usual” place.  It is cheaper for adults and a LOT faster.  We quickly walked the girls to pick up our dog from the groomers and sent them home (the nail salon is next door to home).  We went right in and sat down.  I still had an hour before the water shut off.  It could happen!  By 8:45, my nails still weren’t painted, so I gave up hope for a hot shower and had Gracie fill the big, red, tub (we don’t have a bathtub) with pure hot water so I could at least have a warm bath(ish).  Finally, at 9:20, I headed home with fabulous mint green gel toenails and hours of good conversation with a great friend accomplished.  And guess what?!  They were late shutting off the gas (go figure), so I got my hot shower after all.

random1On Wednesday mornings, we get to go play with the cutest Chinese baby in the Universe have grammar class.  Our teacher is a good friend, the wife of our first tutor.  We really enjoy our time there, even though Chinese grammar is brutal, and it feels like we will never understand it.  I know that someday it will “click” and the time will be well spent.  Not that holding the baby isn’t time well spent…

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Hong Kong. again.

Visa Runs.

It’s a love/hate relationship.  I love getting away and experiencing new places and fun restaurants.  I hate quick travel that leaves you feeling rushed and out of breath.

HK1This trip was the weekend after Mother’s Day.  Chloe’s Birthday.  We didn’t have major plans because the weather had rain in the forecast, and we weren’t sure what we would be able to do.  We thought about going to Disney, but the rain would derail that.  We thought about an amusement park. Again with the rain.  We ended up going to a space museum that was ehhh.  It was, perhaps, a little more educational and less fun that we had hoped.  We did see a movie about aliens that was shown on a screen like the planetarium has.  We thought it would be about fun aliens, the ones that are make believe, but we should have known that it would be more factual regardless of the posters.  So we learned about micro organisms that could live in water on another planet.  It was riveting.  The goggles and headphones were actually pretty cute…too bad I forgot to snap a picture.  We may have looked a little like aliens.  Ha!  The narrator was also British, which reminded us of a great friend, so we loved listening to him talk.

HK2

The weekend was really about how much food we could eat.  We ate at McDonalds FOUR times.  I’m not proud of this.  But their breakfast isn’t bad at all!  We ate the best pizza on the continent.  It was so good that it prompted the next week to be “Pizza week”.  We had pizza almost every day.   It was dreamy.  And Outback.  We can’t forget Outback.  Or the chocolate.  That British friend I mentioned, he loves Cadbury chocolate.  And if everyone could pronounce it the way he does, the world would be a happier place to live in.  So, we had to try out this chocolate to see what all the fuss was about.

Y’all.  

It is fantastic!!  Sadly, the Cadbury chocolate you can buy in America is not the same as this truly fabulous delicacy.  If you come visit, I’ll make sure you get some of the real stuff.

HK3

We also went to the Apple store.  Remember the love/hate relationship?  It applies here too.  Usually, we either have to spend a ton of money or something is broken.  This time, it was the latter.  My hard drive crashed and burned. Never to be resurrected.  In other words, I lost everything on my computer because I am not tech savvy and hadn’t backed it up.  Ever.  You can bet I won’t make that mistake again!

Pizza

We had a really nice time away (and the pizza week that followed at home was good too!).  We laughed a lot.  Walked miles.  Slept hard.  Only cried once.  Success!!

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Mother’s Day, 2014

The day was busy and sweet and different than any I have ever experienced.  We hosted our small group (that isn’t very small) that morning.  I had donut (muffin) holes  to serve with coffee and juice.  Cam had a great set list to play.  The girls blessed me with handmade cards and gifts.  They even gave me Tupperware popsicle maker things like the ones I grew up with, so they can make the same kind of memories I have of my childhood.

But I didn’t cry.

You see, every Mother’s Day for the past 13 years has been marked with tears.  A broken heart for the child that made me a mom.  The one I never got to celebrate Mother’s Day with.  The one I didn’t get to see grow up.  This year, it was different.  It was good, but it was sad.  I can’t decide how I feel.  I almost feel as if I should cry.  I should hurt.  Because if I don’t, maybe that means I don’t love her as much.  But, as I type this, I feel like I should recognize it as a gift.

A sweet, sweet gift.

I am one blessed woman.  I have had the pleasure and joy of being a mama for 13 years.  To four very different girls.  I have the best examples of what a mama should be in my mama and Cam’s mama.  They love us unconditionally, sacrificially, and with everything they have.  They love Jesus.  They adore their husbands.  They let us leave, with their granddaughters, to embark upon an unknown life.  And they did it with grace.  I couldn’t ask for better or for more.

I am so thankful for His good gifts, especially on this day!

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The End.

With the end of the school year comes lots of busy, fun things.  It is no different in China than it is in America, or so I assume since we didn’t actually attend school in America…

The girls all had concerts, and of course, they weren’t combined concerts.  Because, well, that would just be way too convenient.  You see, the trek to the girls school from our house takes about an hour.  On a bus.  Usually an overcrowded and smelly one at that.  It seems like the whole day disappears when we go for an event!

Gracie had the first concert, so we headed up to pick up the littles after school.  We took them to a nearby mall to hang out and eat until the concert began.  This was a combined choir/band concert for all of secondary.  I was fighting some sort of illness that was determined to take my voice, and something in the auditorium quickened the process, leaving me speechless (literally) for days.  It was all kinds of awful!  The concert was incredibly long beautiful, and it was fabulous to see Gracie playing her beloved trumpet.  I was so sad to see that thing turned in…

choir

(Faith isn’t pictured above because we only had video of her…)

Next, the littles had their concerts.  Theirs were on the same night, different times.  However, early in the afternoon I received an email that said Faith had thrown up.

Yes.  I said e-mail.

Good thing I checked it.  Sheesh.  But, because it was a “special night”, they were going to let her go ahead and participate in the program.  I was a little uncomfortable with this plan, so we headed up to the school to check on our middle baby.  She was peacefully napping, with dried throw-up on her clothes, in the nurses office.  Apparently, orange juice and buttered noodles aren’t a good combination…

The concerts were adorable and made me want to have more children.  Maybe it wasn’t the concerts but the twin girls holding hands in the front row, oblivious to anything but each other.

Somewhere before, after, or in-between the concerts, Gracie had a middle school party.  It ended at 9pm, but the middle school girls bible study (that I help lead) sleepover started immediately after.  I headed up to the school around 8, as mentally prepared as a person can be to spend the night with a bunch of tweenies that giggle a lot.  I have decided that I am too old to participate in things such as this.  It took me all week to catch up on the few hours of sleep I missed!  I also decided that my heart misses teenagers.  Especially a fabulous group of them in Joshua, Texas.

As school comes to an end, and we are faced with the reality that we won’t be attending next fall (we will be going to our new city), we are beginning to realize just how much we have loved the experience of international school and don’t want it to end.  I know the next chapter is written by an amazing Author and will hold exciting new adventures, but letting go is so hard.

So hard.

 

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Penguins.

penguins2

Last week, Ellie’s class had a little performance highlighting all the things they learned during their Penguin Unit Study.  It was a sweet performance, and even sweeter to get to see Ellie interacting with her friends in her class.

penguin1They put on a little play, adapted from a book, and Ellie was the “Lovely” Penguin, I believe.  She was shy, and her hair needed to be combed, but she was lovely indeed!

penguin3Things like this always make me a little emotional.  I don’t know if it is pride or joy that I get to be her mama, but one way or the other, I almost always cry when I go to performances.  Ellie showed us all the things she had made while learning about penguins.  We also came across the superhero story, and much to her embarrassment, we took a picture.  I love that she wants to rest all night long.  Ha!  We are so extremely blessed that our girls get to attend this school.  It is a fabulous opportunity, and we will miss it greatly when we move.  They have made the best of friends and have had the time of their lives.  The Father always provides, and more often that not, in ways that we would have never imagined!

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