Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Halfway Through Our Two Year Chapter

A year ago we left China.  We left the bustling streets, those rivers of humanity with heads of black hair bobbing up and down.  We left the street vendors, the taxi drivers, the bicycles, the buses.  We left our students, our friends, the birthplace of our son, and our home of five years.

We threw last-minute items in bags as the waiting taxi honked impatiently.  I shoved a lollipop into my daughter's eager hand.  Anything to keep her quiet and happy in the midst of all this.  The adrenaline of change pumped through my veins, but beneath that thin chemical coating was deep weariness caused by  lack of sleep and the pain of uprooting.

There with us was our beloved Ayi (auntie/helper), a rock of sweetness, as always.  She'd been there with us through the broken faucets and flooding floors.  Her hands had folded countless diapers, cooked our favorite noodles, and kneaded the dough to the world's best bagels.  She'd swept up more dirt than any floor should ever produce.  More than that, she'd been our friend, patiently communicating with words but all the while able to just read our hearts.

Always she wore a smile.  Even on that day that she knew would be our last, she smiled all day long, that is until the very last moment.  We'd hugged her tight and piled into the car.  She stood at the door waving us off.  I glanced back at her one last time.  She didn't know I was looking.  That's when I saw her face crack and her real feelings show through.  I'll never forget that look.

Nine flights and two months later, we landed in So Cal, and for the last year we've been making a new home and a new life here.  I can't quite articulate the journey it's been, the ways we've been changing through this whole uprooting and re-rooting in our old-yet-new culture.  I started writing shortly after we moved here as a means to help myself process it all.  Most of what I wrote during those first few months I never shared with anyone.  (This was before my blog.)  Some of it was very raw, as I brought my brutal honesty to God.  I blatantly banged on his door, asking him to please, please show us how he was going to provide.  We'd risked everything to go where we knew God had led us.  But doubt creeped in those first few months.  All the while, God smiled knowingly at us.  "Ye of little faith, wait and see."

So we did.  And God has provided, is providing.  I'm humbled by my wee little faith, and perhaps this all has grown that faith a bit. 

Aaron has completed a year of his program, and we're thrilled at how much this is equipping him for what we're doing.  And we feel a bit spoiled to be here in this land of perfect weather, gorgeous beaches, and abundant opportunities for this season.  Hopefully knowing that it's just for a time helps us to receive the blessings with thanksgiving rather than taking them for granted.

We've reached the halfway point.  In just over a year (August 2013) , we'll be packing up and moving back to China, this time with three little ones in tow.  Already, I find myself wondering how each of us will handle this next transition.  Some would call us crazy, all this moving across the world stuff, but we know with every fiber of our bones that we are meant for this. Not at all saying it's easy, but knowing it's what we're meant for helps us hold on when it's hard.

They say transition is like a being on a bridge, going from one side to another, suspended above the deep waters.  They also say you can be tied to bungee cords as you navigate this bridge, with a cord constantly pulling you back to the past or a cord dragging you into the future

In many ways it feels like we're in a two year transition.  This past year in many ways has been about processing our five years in China.  We're realizing how we've changed.  Here at the halfway mark, I am already feeling a cord wrap itself around my ankles, ready to mentally drag me into the not yet.  This coming year could easily be about the planning and worrying and getting ready for leaving again.

But I recently read a gem of advice: "Cut the bungee cords...and do so by living fully and completely, wherever we are. Not ignoring the past, but not wishing we were there, either. And also not pretending like the here and now is a waiting room for the next gig; that God has us where we are to be fully there, all of us in every way."  --Tsh Oxenreider (

So this is me cutting the cords, living fully in the now, letting tomorrow worry about itself while I count the blessings of today:

- Feeling my son's heart thump while watching his very first fireworks light up the sky.

- My daughter making new "best friends" everywhere she goes.

- An evening away with the husband, sitting huddled together on a blanket on the beach, the smell of bonfire in the air, the sky dusky with sunset.

- Swelling large with new life.

- Longing to hold, to know, to kiss this new life.

- Being able to experience and love two very different worlds.


Happy 4th of July, ya'll!

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