Friday, April 4, 2014

BIG WEEKEND FOR US

It's Passion Play time again. Actually, it's Passion Play time for the last time. This is our church's 7th year doing the play. It is really good, and I am not just saying that because Brad directs it. It truly is a wonderful performance. However, this is the last year we will be doing it. It's time to take a break. Indefinitely? Brad isn't sure. Time will tell, but for now, we are done. This is my all time favorite photo from a few years ago:

Here's one more:

Every year, this performance serves as a visual reminder of what Christ did for us. I am such a visual learner, so the play really speaks to me. Even though I know the stories, there is just something about seeing it. 

All of that being said, I am blogging to share about the time leading up to these plays.  I've posted about this before, a long time ago, but it's on my mind again. Every year around this time,  I find myself thinking, "What in the world is going on?!" You know how sometimes, you jokingly say to friends, "Is it a full moon, or what?" Things just seem to go crazy - sickness, things breaking, anxiety is at an all time high, relationships seem strained, the list goes on and on. Every year, it's the same thing. I truly believe we are in some kind of spiritual warfare. This year has been a doozy, though. It seems "they" brought out the big guns. Aside from our own family issues, this year Jesus has thrown his back out, one of the lead vocalists has some kind of laryngitis, countless people have a terrible tummy bug, the list goes on and on, again. 

I am going to research spiritual warfare. I really don't know much about it, other than the weeks leading up to the play are bad. I remember when we were in our adoption process, it seemed very similar in nature. There is definitely something going on - the bible warns us about this very thing:

Ephesians 6:12
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Even though the bible specifically warns us, it's still very hard for me to wrap my mind around it. Jonah being swallowed by a big fish? Sure. Great flood? Absolutely. But this Ephesians verse rocks my world. I guess it goes back to the visual learner thing, I don't know. It definitely is something I need to spend more time studying. 

Hopefully soon, things will calm down. In the meantime, please pray for the play - the cast, director, and the people coming! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

CHINA 2012

I never really took the time to share about my trip to China in 2012. I blogged a bit leading up to the trip, but never really shared all about the things we did! I thought I would write about that today. The memories are still so fresh in my mind, and I know that won't always be the case.

We spent the first few days sightseeing in Hong Kong and Guilin. Such beautiful cities! We had a great time, and we really enjoyed each others company. On Saturday afternoon, we traveled from Guilin to Yangshuo. I have never seen such beautiful landscapes in all of my life.  The mountain range there is so unique. When we arrived in Yangshuo, we met up with the International China Concern staff. Shane, my cousin, was scheduled to be the guest speaker at the ICC staff retreat. We spent the next several days getting to know the ICC staff and enjoying the retreat. On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to travel to Hengyang where one of the ICC projects are.

Getting to Hengyang was quite the adventure. The ICC staff took care of all the arrangements for us, thankfully. The first time I traveled to China, it was completely catered to Westerners. However, this time, it was much more of an authentic experience. We hired a driver to make the 7 hour trip. We packed ourselves a lunch, knowing that food on the back roads of China would probably not be what we wanted. HAHA!  We really enjoyed the potty breaks. HAHA! We got over our fear of the squatty potty pretty quickly.  It actually was quite a pleasant ride. There was so much to look at, the 7 hours flew by!

We arrived in Hengyang around dinner time, and checked into our hotel. Now that was quite a cultural shock. The room was $15 US dollars a night. Does that tell you anything? I still giggle thinking about it. They didn't even have an elevator. The room was big, it had a/c, and internet access - so in the grand scheme of things, it was just fine. It was in a super convenient location, right next door to a large department store, very similar to a Walmart. Of course, Walmart doesn't carry live chickens, snakes, and frogs in the meat department, but whatever.  LOL. They had Snickers and Lays, I was happy.

The next morning we went to the welfare center to see the work that ICC does. I have been involved in the Chinese adoption world for some time. I have read a ton, and researched it extensively. There was no way to prepare myself for that visit. I knew there was disabled children living there, but I didn't understand how severely disabled these children would be. Not to mention the disabled adults living there. It was shocking.

ICC has really done an amazing job making a better life for these children and the adults. You could see the love there. I will share in another post exactly what ICC has done. It deserves a post all on it's own.

We only had a day and a half there, before it was time to go. It was difficult to leave, but at the same time, it was almost like I couldn't get away fast enough. I know that sounds terrible. It took me a while to process all that I saw and experienced. I can tell you, I left changed. The faces of those precious lives are forever ingrained in my mind. I long to be back there. Julianna longs to be back, too. She connected with those kids. She jumped in with every ounce of her being. She served those children with no hesitations. She didn't care that it was dirty. She didn't care that she was out of her comfort zone. She didn't see their physical defects. Not once did she ask me about their disabilities. She just wanted to love on them. And boy did she! She was 7 years old then. 7. The maturity she showed those days in Hengyang still blows my mind. God is going to do something huge in her life, I just know it.

We left Hengyang on Friday with a quick stop over back in Hong Kong, before we journeyed to Singapore. I have to say that Singapore is one of the most beautiful, manicured places, I have ever been. It was like a different world after being in Hengyang. Plus, it is always summer there! 365 days a year - SUMMER. Can you imagine? Glorious.

So this turned out longer than I expected. I even left out a ton! It truly was an amazing trip. I really had a great time with my group. God really used this trip to open doors for us with ICC. We will be traveling back to Hengyang in October. This time, we get to stay two weeks, not two days!

I love to see God bring beauty from ashes. Adoption may not have been His plan for us, but orphan care sure is... I am so thankful!

I KNOW I DISAPPEAR A LOT...

I have had my blog in the back of my mind for some time. So many thoughts that could be better processed written down... and yet, I just can't seem to get there. This is my feeble attempt in sorting through that.

The first thing I want to write about is our adoption journey. A year ago, I blogged that the pain was still fresh and raw. I really doubted that I would ever be over it. I have to say that I am finally seeing the good that came from that broken journey. My heart has healed. Completely.  I am content with the outcome of it all.

It has been a tough two years for me in other ways, however. I won't go into it now, but I have truly seen some of the darkest days of my life. That was part of the reason for me resurrecting this blog - I need an outlet. A place to collect my thoughts and try to sort out the bad from good. Maybe writing them out, not only can I sort them, but I can bury the bad ones.

Plus! In the fall, I will be traveling back to China. I am so excited! I will be taking a small team with me this time, and I can't wait to share all the details here!

I won't disappear again. I need to be here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

PLEASE WATCH

Wow. Please take a few minutes to watch this video. I know that sometimes you want to help, but are scared to contribute to a foundation that you don't trust. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, Shane Willard Ministries is making a difference in this world. I have seen many of the faces in this video with my very own eyes. I have kissed their sweet faces. And I have had to walk away and leave them in conditions your mind can not fathom. Shane Willard Ministries is going into these places and truly making a difference in these children's (and adults!) lives. Please watch. Please help bring Heaven to earth for so many.



Shane Willard Ministries

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

FAITH

Three years ago exactly. That's when we received the call with a referral. We were so excited to be matched with a precious little one. She was just 7 months younger than our bio daughter, and we couldn't wait to have the girls grow up together.

There was no way at that time that I could have known the way our story would end. There is no way I could have known that in just 7 months from that call, my heart would break into a 1000 pieces. A thousand pieces of my heart that felt like would never, ever heal.  I have wondered so many times if I had known the way our journey would go, would I have still wanted to travel it? Would I choose the most devastating time in my life, just so I could have my eyes truly opened to the plight of the orphan?

Yes. Yes, I would. Over and over.

You see, my heart was changed over the course of those few months. I have always wanted to adopt a little girl from China. To bring her home and love on her here. I knew I would travel to China to get her, I just didn't know how my heart would change once I got there. At that time, it stopped being about her, the little girl I so longed for, and became about them.

While our adoption journey didn't end the way I always dreamed of, it ended in a way I never imagined. I am so much more aware of the orphan crisis. Not just in China, everywhere. I believe part of the reason God chose to send us down that path, was to accomplish so much more than making a difference to one little girl. I believe with my whole heart we are suppose to make a difference to as many orphans as we possibly can.

As I have blogged about before, in April, I had the privilege of traveling back to China to serve in an orphanage in Hengyang, Hunan. This particular orphanage is the home of many, many special needs children, as well as adults. I will share about that trip soon, but I just wanted to say that it was that trip when I realized just why we were told to embark on the greatest act of faith of our lives.

We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are called to get out of our comfort zone to love and serve, just as Jesus did. That is my purpose. Miraculously, those children, those adults, that have never known life outside those walls, brought a joy and healing to my heart that I never imagined possible.

It gave me a renewed since of hope. For the first time in 2 years, I felt Faith begin to fill my heart once again. The devastation that I lived every day was starting to have purpose.

I don't know how our journey will continue to play out. I don't know if we will one day, finally bring our girl home. But I do know I will be forever changed. I will travel as much as I can afford to serve. Fortunately, I have built a relationship with the wonderful workers at International China Concern that will allow me to go back as often as I can. So while our actual adoption is on the back burner for now, my purpose is not!

Early in our journey, I discovered Jiayin Designs. For years I wanted a custom charm, but I just couldn't afford it with every free penny being saved. I would often go to their website or facebook page, Jiayin Designs, and just look. Always thinking about what I would get one day when I was finally able to get one.

I have been constantly reminded to have faith. Just have faith, Michele. You can trust whatever Jesus brings your way. You can trust any journey he asks you to take. Faith. So not to long ago, I was looking at the charms again and I knew. I knew what my custom charm would be - the Chinese character for "Faith". I was telling my mom about the charm, and how much I would love one. I just wanted that constant reminder to just have faith, when I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I was so excited this past Christmas when I finally got my charm (thanks momma!!)!  I can tell you, it has not left my neck since I opened that beautiful little wrapped package! I love it! It is so beautiful, and hand made! It is honestly one of my most prized possessions, absolutely worth the wait!

So now, when I feel that sadness come over me, I just reach up and touch my charm. My reminder that He is faithful.  He will never let me down. I just have to have faith!

Monday, September 24, 2012

PLEASE PRAY

We are at the ENT with Julianna. She has had a reoccurring ear infection since May. What scares me about it all is her lymph nodes have been swollen since then, too.

Will you all please lift her up in prayer. I'm just worried sick. Scary things (do not google!) when your lymph nodes remain swollen!!

Thank you!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

REMEMBER ME?

It's been quite some time since I blogged. I sure have missed the therapeutic benefits of typing out my thoughts. I am also sure so much time has passed, that I no longer have readers! LOL!

April was my last entry! Gracious! That seems like a life time ago. A lot of big things have happened since then! Days after I blogged last, Julianna and I went on our trip to South East Asia! It was the trip of a lifetime.  We were gone 15 days! I will share more details of that awesome trip soon!

Things are finally settling down after a long, hard summer. I lost my precious grandmother in July, and then Brad lost his grandfather one week later.  I have to say, it was a very difficult time for our family. On top of the losses, I have been dealing with crippling anxiety/fear.

It's been a craptacular few months to say the least. I hope though, as I share some of my experiences and the things that have helped me overcome the difficult times, it will encourage someone out there.

So I have lots to share! I do hope someone will be here to read along.