I’ve got an itch…

No, really, I do. I actually have poison ivy and so the title I just chose for this blog post was neither deep nor creative. Poison ivy is itchy, y’all.

It’s actually a funny story, in a pitiful sort of way. Tuesday I started breaking out in this rash. It came and went in itchyness, so sometimes I forgot about it. I wondered if there were bugs in my bed. I wondered if I was allergic to my scrubs. I wondered many things, and also forgot to think about it a lot. But the rash got worse over the course of the week and by Saturday afternoon I began to be concerned. I looked at the more unusual (for me) foods that I had consumed and started to google what allergies to milk, or macadamia nuts, could look like. I ended up stopping after giving myself a sore throat reading about anaphalaxis. Aiya. I didn’t die Saturday night, but by Sunday morning my arms were embarrassingly covered in bumpy redness. It couldn’t possibly be poison ivy, I figured, because there was no way I had come into contact with it. Still, poison ivy is the only thing that I’m actually allergic too. But… it was impossible.

I pondered and wondered and worried and considered the possibility that I was having a delayed allergic reaction to America. Not a very promising thought, let me tell you. However, by that afternoon I was at my grandparent’s home for Papa’s 75th birthday party (yay!) and my uncle commented that he had a rash as well. Poison Ivy! And it appeared on Tuesday.

“Wait a minute…” I interrupted, “when were you exposed? Because Tuesday is the same day that my rash began appearing!” Turns out he was exposed during the weekend that I was staying with them. And as sensitive as I am to urushiol (the oil from PI), it wouldn’t take more than a door knob or a hand towel to cause me to react. And then all I would need to do is not change my sheets or towel and I’d have it everywhere!

Problem solved. Or, at least, problem identified.

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I remain frustrated that I didn’t wash my sheets or clothes or anything as soon as the first little red itchy bump appeared. I’ll be scratching my head about why I didn’t think of that for days… actually, scratch that. I won’t be scratching. I’m not supposed to scratch.

At least I’m not allergic to any foods… or any countries. That would indeed be a tragedy. So, in the meantime, I’m performing a little study. I’ve got castor oil on one arm and magnesium oil on the other. I’ll let you know the results. Until then… wash all of your doorknobs just in case.

Jesus, draw me ever nearer

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.

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May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

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Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

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May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

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Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go –
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

 —

“Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer”
Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker

Just Some Deliciousness

Goodness! I forgot to post these pictures of our family’s last dinner out while I was in town. We went down to the older part of town and hunted a for a small restaurant with family-style dishes. Then we ordered all of our favorites and polished off the plate of cucumbers so quickly that I didn’t even get a picture. Lily thinks that’s funny…

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All ye who love eggplant, say “Ai!” (ai, as in 爱, as in “love”). It’s my favorite.

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And a few bowls of rice delivered by the Auntie of the little shop…. comfort food for sure.

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Food…

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food…

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…and even more food.

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And even more food. It takes a lot to fill up our family!

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And now I’m hungry, just looking at all of these pictures. What about you?

To watch him rise

If I had known that he would rise; recover from the deep grief an abandoned child must process, and learn how to smile again, maybe I would have hoped deeper.

If I had known that he would rise; show signs of life again after sinking so close to death, maybe I would have fought harder.

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But the Holy Father of all His precious little ones didn’t require my perfect hope or my faultless love in order to breathe redemption into a story that seemed to be seeped in loss and misery, pain, and plain old sad. His love is enough.

His Resurrection was the perfect solution to all of the Hard and the Hurt and the Hopeless… because He is perfect hope, limitless and free; He is Love, measureless and strong.

Because there is sin, there is also brokenness. It was into this broken world that a little boy was born and raised, cared for long enough that when he suddenly was in a strange place filled with strange people who ran about caring for too many little ones, he sunk deep into something so sad. We could see it in his eyes.

And then it was like the devil laughed with evil glee as he fought Life with death, Joy with suffering and Hope with a lack of answers and pervasive confusion.

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But Life wins, Hope wins, Love wins — because the victory has been won. Christ has risen from the dead, conquering death with His death.

And because He rose, another life is rising again…

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A Redeeming Love {nannies}

“My favorite baby is gone.” she told me. “She cried when she left.” she said. “She’s going to have heart surgery, right?” she asked. “Has she had it yet? Will she come back soon?” she pleaded.

Mao Ayi. Bless her heart. Such a character.

She never struck me as the most capable of nannies… or the most professional… or the most mature. But do you know what? I was wrong. So, so wrong.

How do we have the right, experience or insight to judge who is capable of caring for children? Just because a woman has never had orthodontia and speaks with a thick village accent means nothing. She may not be suited for a therapist, a teacher, or a speaker… but guess what? She does a pretty good job loving.

“Look!” she told me, as I came in to take pictures of a little darling. “Look! She can smile.” And then I watched as she picked this fragile and usually sad child up and gave her the tiniest peck on the cheek. The little one lit up. “And she gives me kisses too!” Mao Ayi exclaimed, and she was right, the little one kissed her on the cheek, and they went back and forth like this, giggling in turn.

Love.

She knows that she’s special.

“Oh, and she can say ‘mama'”

I was skeptical about this one. No one had ever heard this sad little girl talk… but then again, no one had seen her giggle, either.

“Say ‘Mama’, my little one!”

mama” as soft and silent and clear as could be…

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A few days later Mao Ayi is working and asking questions about the little one she taught to love (who was transferred for treatment). I mentioned a sad little boy in the corner, one of the other little kiddos in her care. “Does he smile?” I asked. “Does he giggle? Can he call you mama?” I was challenging her, and totally okay with it.

She took my challenge, picked the child up and kissed him. “Kiss me now!” she demanded. He just stared. She kissed him again. “Are you my special boy?” she asked. He stared blankly again. A heartbroken little person gazed out at nothing through dim eyes. He’s not screaming for his mommy anymore and so we can hear ourselves think again, but I’m pretty sure that this silence is much, much worse.

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“You have a lot to learn,” Mao Ayi said, trying to kiss him again.

This is an orphanage. Babies and toddlers are arriving weekly, each of them going through the horrible grieving process in their own way. I don’t want them to ever, never, ever become okay with being an orphan… but at the same I time I know that they must adjust, fight for the right to thrive, and to survive.

It’s the nannies who have all of the pressure, the whole huge task of somehow teaching heartbroken children to love again. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they manage to break through a hard shell of sorrow and soften little hearts once again. And when they do, it’s beautiful.

I’m praying for strong, faithful nannies today… that they would endure in loving. Will you join me?

Precious Moments

Counting some gifts today…

finding leftover pictures on my camera from my last week with the family.

Little April will have grown so much by the time I come back.

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How I miss her.

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April and her mommy…

these two are so close and it’s precious to watch

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um, yes, my mug from Mommy.

Perfect size, perfect everything.

I sip tea out of this every day and recall the city where I first learned how to have joy.

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simple prettiness

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springtime in Virginia is always too hot at first and then,

suddenly, just right

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I live in a little house with a bunch of other girls,

a house that was built a long time ago.

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Oh, and then that big pile of textbooks.

Lots to read before class on Monday.

So much to learn.

I can’t wait… and yet I’m rather intimidated.

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I’m going to be wearing scrubs a couple times a week from now on.

Scrubs.

Me.

Aiya

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But this thing keeps me going…

my precious pediatric stethoscope,

and the hope and dream of listening to little baby’s hearts all of the time.

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En Mei’s drawing that also keeps me going… sweet little Er.

My lovely baby, and her sad eyes also remind me of why I’m here, and inspire me to keep going.

Because the reality is that there are children who are vulnerable and need an advocate, and maybe He will ask me to step into their stories. If He does, I’ll be prepared.

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But until then, I have my bag of salty Inner Mongolian milk tea and dried beef snacks that I might share with people

or I might just eat it all myself.

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…and my drawer of spices and spicy pickled veggies.

I just need to ration these things…

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It’s all for His Glory.

My heart is going to be stretched and pulled during this next season, but as long as it’s into the mold of His, I’m okay with that.

I’m going to be tired, but that’s okay, the real Rest is in Heaven.

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