My Crazy Life – December edition

December is just one of those months.  Every year I get so homesick for my extended family and Christmas traditions that I could burst into tears at any given moment.  But, every year we have the privilege of celebrating Christmas cross-culturally, I am filled with joy at the opportunities to experience the true meaning of Advent.  I could explode over the wonder of it all.  My crazy life.


This year was like the others, busy with open houses for students, story telling, cookie baking, Christmas art projects, frosting and sprinkles.  It has been breath taking…and so very fun.  I really think that this month will go down in the books as one of the best Christmas seasons ever.  It wasn’t perfect.  I burnt cookies, got overwhelmed by the number of guests that came through our home, and Little Man picked his nose through his debut in the Christmas play.  (Friend, that could be a post on its own.  My son dressed as a wiseman digging for treasure up his nose.  Yes, he saw me give him the “momma stink eye.”  Then says to me FROM STAGE,  “Just a second, I almost have it!” He then pulled it out and flung it.  True story.  Sigh.)


So it wasn’t perfect, but there were moments that I will treasure for years to come.  I was able to be the first one to share the Christmas story with a student.  How perfect is that?  Decorating sugar cookies with all of my art students who called the frosting paint and couldn’t keep themselves from licking everything…Okay, a little gross, but oh so priceless.  My children hosting and helping.  I think that treasure is the one I will ponder the most.  Soccer Dude pushing a wheel chair and breaking off bits of cookies to put in the lips of children who are paralyzed.  That is a gift.




There are many days that I long for Christmas of the past when I was at home with my parents and eating western food and attending a Christmas eve service.  But honestly, if next Christmas would find us back in the States, I would miss what I have here.  My crazy life.  True story.



Speechless…there is more

I just haven’t known what to say.  Every time I sit down to write a blog post, I just stare at the screen knowing that I will say to much or not enough.


It all started the first week of October.  We got a call from the orphanage asking us to consider becoming foster parents.  They needed emergency placement for three different children.  We heard the stories of all three kids and then the questions started rolling.  Could we really do this?  Should we do this?  Where would we fit another body in this small apartment?  How could we possibly say no when they called and asked us so directly? We had said someday we might foster.  Was that someday now?

We pr.yed and went back and forth about it for two weeks.  Finally, Hubby and I felt at peace after pr.ying, “We will do this unless You provide another way.”  The next day we got a call.  One of the children had an adoptive family who was coming with in a few weeks.  No need for her to be fostered.  Then while at the orphanage I was told a Chinese family offered to foster the second baby girl.  That left a two year old boy.

I went to meet him and thought we would bring him to our home.  As I held the tiny boy in my arms the assistant explained that the director had changed her mind.   We could not foster him because he would not be put on the list for international adoption.  I wept for him…and me.

I felt at a loss as I realized that our pr.yer had been answered.  G.d was not asking us to foster now.  Funny how you can feel so reluctant to do something when you think you can.  There was part of me that was relieved, but sad at the same time and I wasn’t sure what to do next.

I love my art classes, don’t get me wrong, but the next few weeks I struggled.  Was it enough?  Actually the thought of fostering didn’t help me with that question either.  Deep down I knew fostering wouldn’t be enough and we can’t adopt all of them.

In the midst of my struggling I was made an offer.

I was shocked.

I would have said no.

I think G.d knew that I needed to hold that two year old boy and feel his helplessness to be reminded that we are in a battle for these kids.  More needs to be done.

I was offered a new role at the orphanage.  They have asked me to help with international adoptions…to advocate for the kids, help in preparing files, train foster families, and help the adoptive families who come.

At first I was tempted to doubt that I was up for the task and that our family could handle me putting in more hours at the orphanage, but everything that had led up to this…

This is the more that my heart was longing for and Father has been preparing me for this all along.  Isn’t He so good?

So there you have it.  Possibly adding a foster baby to our family or a new position….that will make even the most talkative gal silent on her blog for a few weeks! 😉  Now that it is all worked out, I am back and I am sure you will be sick of hearing about all the new craziness I get into as I jump into my new role.  My new responsibilities at the children’s home start December 1st.  I am scared out of my mind and so excited.

We would really appreciate your pr.yers as we begin this new season.

Going out

Butterflies in my stomach…I have had them ever since I was called in for a meeting at the orphanage.  Children’s Day (like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in the States) was quickly approaching and they asked me to help make it special for the kids.  It was the first time they asked me for help.  Usually it is the other way around….I offer help and see if they approve it or even want it.  This was a huge deal for them to approach me and I was excited, but really nervous wanting to do well.

We planned two events for kids this past week with the help of some international students who are visiting Hubby’s university.  Couldn’t have done it without these students who served and loved well!  They blessed my socks off!




On Children’s Day – when the park was filled to the max with families taking their children to the park – we also loaded up 12 taxis filled with volunteers and children.  Each volunteer was matched with a child for the afternoon to be their buddy.  The orphanage staff choose the 20 children we could take to the park and I was thrilled to see that the list consisted mainly of kiddos who don’t get a chance to get out often – kids with severe autism, kids that are blind and kids who were unable to walk.  It all made this momma sweat a bit thinking of being responsible for them.  Any doubts I had flew from my mind as we wheeled them out of the orphanage.  One boy, who I often feed dinner to on Monday and Fridays, called out “Kai Xin” (happy) over and and over as we placed a hat on his head and took him out into the sunshine.  In that moment I would have signed over every Sunday afternoon for orphanage outings if they had asked me!



The afternoon wouldn’t have been listed as the best ever Children’s Day in the book of most children.  The group wheeled the kids around the park, we played with bubbles and finished the afternoon with a special yogurt treat and a Hersey’s kiss.  The kids were content to watch people walk by and to have one on one attention for the day.  They were not content with only one Hersey’s kiss!  Note to self to sneak in chocolate treats more often!


The second outing came about after another meeting.  Word had gotten around that I had some friends helping with an outing for Children’s Day.  The foster care department then asked me to help them with an outing for the foster families.  If I was nervous about the first request….well this one gave me a heart attack.  They asked us to plan interactive games and to train foster families how to play with children to promote physical and mental stimulation.  “We know Americans parent differently and are very accepting of disabilities…show us what you do.”  Ummm, yeah.  No pressure.  Heehehe.



The second outing was even better than the first….for me at least.  We had planned games using a parachute, exercises based on the Eric Carle book “Head to Toe” and sidewalk chalk art (of course!) – but it wasn’t the planned activities going well that made the day a huge hit for me.  In the midst of the party we were having at the park, I looked around at the 30ish foster families and their children and was overwhelmed.




These families are caring for children – day in and day out – with needs like spinal bifida, limb differences, and blindness….just to name a few.  They are going against the cultural norm and loving children who have been set aside.  One foster mother told me about the 17 children she has cared for till their adoptions to the United States and then introduced me to the sweet one she is caring for now.  With love she told me how this two year old girl still can’t walk, “but I have hope for her!”  Wow.  What love.  What sacrifice.



Over the afternoon I felt such a deep connection with these families who look different from the average Chinese family.  As I gave them a book and a bubble wand at the end of the afternoon I was wishing it was so much more.  I wanted to hug them tight and whisper in their ears – “well done!”

Because they gave me a gift.  I don’t feel as alone anymore.

I often look around the orphanage and see a need that is oppressive.  This week I realized that some times the need can be met with something as simple as an outing to the park.  I also have met a whole new set of friends who are battling the needs right along with me.

So glad I ignored the butterflies and pushed through.



Chinese New Year Gifts -过年的礼物

IMG_7312The only way for me to describe Chinese New Year (CNY) is to equate it with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July all rolled into one.  Everyone travels and visits family….every night for at least a week thus the country comes to a grinding halt for one big party.  Gifts of fruit, new clothes, and money in red envelopes are given.  Special foods are made like dumplings and long life noodles.  Kinda sounds like Christmas and Thanksgiving on steroids, right?

The Fourth of July part….well, that’s the fireworks.  Lots of them.  Every night.  It is amazing the first night….one of my most vivid memories from our first CNY was our neighbors hanging a broom handle from their 6th floor apartment window with lit firecrackers dangling from it.  Unbelievable.  Bryan was amazed at the people standing in their living rooms and shooting Roman Candles out the window.    Seriously, for a week it sounds like we live in the middle of a war zone.

On a side note, I also had to do some creative shopping this week to make sure we were stocked for food and other essentials. Restaurants, the market and most stores close for about the next week.

So how are we celebrating?

We are ready with oranges, red envelopes and the fixings for dumplings, but we decided to take our celebration up a notch this year.

As you can imagine having to work on Chinese New Year would be a huge bummer.  But for the staff at the orphanage, there are still children who need to be fed and taken care of.  You can’t close down a children’s home for a week of celebrations.

We have been given permission to bless the 30 nannies who have to work CNY by passing out gift bags.  Nothing has been done like this before and we are thrilled to have the opportunity.  We have prepared bags with favorite Chinese snacks, some American candy, instant coffee, oranges, and hand lotion.   Our family is going to go from room to room handing out the bags during the children’s nap time.  We are hoping it brings a bit of joy to the workers and lets them know they are appreciated for their hard work.

But more than that…..

Would you think about us on Friday?  Well, actually it will be Thursday evening in the States!  We are trusting that our gifts will be understood from the heart from which they are being given (gift giving in China is actually a tricky business).  We want trust and relationships to be built through this gesture, but more importantly we would be seen as his hands and feet.

We will let you know how it turns out!

Till then, Happy New Year .  过年快乐!