For the entirety of our life together, Kenney and I have never spent 19 days, every hour and every minute of each of these 19 days, completely with each other, NEVER apart... heck, our hotel room even allows for us to watch each other in the bathroom.... just saying... think what you like...
We have had much time to talk and share about all kinds of things. It's amazing the conversations you have when you are together all the time. Some things we have talked about, that we don't want to forget...
1. We are too greatly influenced by our surroundings and environment. In China, the average home (note people don't usually own homes, they buy apartments) is 600 - 800 square feet, and that is considered, normal, not small. How can I go back home to my 1700 square foot house and complain? I know how, I look at my friends and family and I see their house, and I desire that. What a horrible sin that we have allowed into our lives, and so easily justified it. We could go on and on about the differences in culture and privilege, but that isn't the point, the point is, we have determined what we need for our lives instead of letting God determine what we need. We don't want to live like that. On the plane ride I read the book by Jen Hatmaker called "7." I totally recommend to anyone who is ready for a heart-changing read. This last year Kenney and I have been bothered by the excess we have. The amount of toys, clothes, how much food we have, the extras in life... we are slowly beginning to realize what God meant when he said it was going to be harder for a rich man to get to heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. I pray that each day we can have Jesus be all we need, and if it means we have to get to a point where Jesus is all we have, then so be it!
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15
2. We take Christianity for granted. Through some awesome opportunities only God could have orchestrated we have met some awesome Christians in China. A dear friend, I have only just met, introduced me to some other Christians like this, "Laura, this is one of your sisters." What a profound thought. A thought I never thought about until today. There will be people who are not my immediate family that I will spend eternity with. And even more profound, and as much as I hope and pray my immediate family is all in heaven with me to spend eternity, they may not all be. Jesus makes it quite clear that our family in Christ is just as much as a family as our "immediate family"
Luke 12:53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.
Matthew 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.
He personally calls us His brother or sister, if we are His, and do His will. To be introduced to someone as my sister, was so amazing, the thought behind the title, the idea that someone half a world away, that I have never met, I will spend eternity with is amazing! I have taken for granted the relationships I have and can have with fellow believers.
3. We eat and drink too much! Seriously this is a no-brainer. Super size at McDonald's doesn't exist like it does in America. The largest size drink you can get here is the size of a medium back home. Our obsession with food in America is over the top. When we eat out in China, we all order a couple of things for the table and we all share. What a great way to cut back on the quantity of food everyone eats. The answer to making sure there is enough food for the whole table is to make sure you don't eat too much, instead of ordering more, you just personally cut back. Over-eating doesn't happen.
4. Isabell's physical needs are much more than we thought. Clubbed hands and feet are the least of her problems. She had a surgery when she was about a year old, but it wasn't done well and she had no therapy. Her ankles are completely hardened. They don't move at all! Her original disease of MOP/FOP may be a reality. Her knees are in the bent position, always sitting. Because she was always kept like this without therapy her skin never grew, because her legs were never straight, at this point there isn't enough skin behind her legs for her to even be able to straighten her legs if she wanted to. Her legs are so tiny, she has no muscles tone and the size of her legs is that of maybe a 10 month old baby. Her arms are in the exact same state, except they are straight and she can't bend them. She can only sit, and has no use of her arms or legs. When she sleeps she wakes up every hour and cries that her ankles or her knees hurt. She can't close her legs completely together, so it's like she is doing a permanent leg lift. I imagine the pressure on some of her joints is quite miserable.
Funny thing though, because we have had to deal so much with her sadness, because we have had such a language barrier, because we have had to talk too much and spend so much of our time regarding her loss of her first family, her physical problems have taken a back seat. In such a glorious way, we have come to realize as big of a deal it may seem to some, it isn't. Not to diminish her needs, but to realize that God knew exactly what her diagnosis was long before we even thought about adoption. He knows exactly what is wrong with her, He knows exactly what her outcome will be. He has told us through His word, that He cares for the Lilly of the field and clothes them in beauty, how much more does He care for us? He has told us we can't even add an hour to our life with worry, why even bother worrying then? God knit Isabell together in her mother's womb. She is an image-bearer of Christ. Regardless if she lives to 20 or 100, regardless if she walks or doesn't, she is still loved by the Father and held in the security of His hand.
In no way do I want to diminish the pain and reality of dealing with some of these special needs, but truly Christ has told us to not worry, to fear not, and that He can offer a peace that no one else can. We have felt that peace descend upon us. The prayers offered on our behalf by the believers of the world have been answered. The joy we've experienced, the grace He's shown us, the peace, oh the peace. No matter what our circumstance is, His offer of peace still stands for any of His children.
5. WE ARE READY FOR OUR FAMILY TO ALL BE TOGETHER! Oh sweet joy, we board a plane in less than 24 hours to go home!
6. Useless tidbits of information.... Northface knockoffs look exactly like Northface, we tried but couldn't find the differences. Chinese bathrooms are not fun, especially if you have the runs, or a child who can't stand, but is totally potty trained.
Gas masks are a staple item in all hotel rooms here. McDonald's is the same yucky McDonald's. Tea markets and pearl markets are the most wonderful places to shop. Hopefully we do not have problems in customs, we rather enjoyed the tea and pearls, and our luggage is proof of that. Chinese herbal medicine is 200 million times better than Pepto, or Immodium for those problems like nausea, vomitting, diarreah... and no side effects (for a good time, go look at the possible side effects on your bottle of Pepto... it's amazing!) Split pants are just strange, I have yet to really see the convenience of it? The lamb here is awesome, if I could we would eat lamb everyday! If you have blonde hair and blue eyes and are in a remote area of China and go shopping, you may be stopped and asked for your autograph... I don't know why, but it happened... a lot!
Thank you all for your love and support and most importantly prayers, we have felt them!