"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The miracle dogs in YiWu

Aus, thank you so much for the reminder about the miraculous dog story. I went back to read it and it lightened my heart, filled my soul, and reminded me that God is always in our midst. And yes, I DO believe in angels. :)

Though some of you may know what Aus was referring to, many of you may have no clue. If you didn't notice in the previous post he left a comment asking whether I remembered a story about a dog and the "gates of heaven". Well Aus, I certainly do remember!

The story he is referring to happened almost a year ago today, on June 15, 2007. We were just beginning our journey in China to bring Anna Grace home and it turned out to be one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. How apropos that this came up just as we prepare to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of our beautiful Chinese princess being home with us.

Here is a bit of that post. For the entire post (with pictures), you can click HERE.

".... So, now we start walking up and down the streets. Mr. Jia is pushing Kai on the stroller. My Mom and I each armed with a video camera in the front and we are following by our guide and Scott who was taking pictures. I comment something about not having seen one dog in YiWu, and everyone sort of laughed and we moved on. We turn the corner and my Mom said, "Hey look! A dog! No...2 dogs!" You'd think we'd have found Bengal tigers. We were so excited to see these two dogs behind these beautiful irons gates that led to a courtyard surrounded by red roses. The fragrant smell of the roses were in the air. The weather here could not have been planned better. It is in the low 70's, sunny and absolutely beautiful. All of a sudden, a man walks out of the house where we are standing in front of the gates. He notices us with cameras and says something in Chinese. I sort of move away from the gate figuring he is telling us to move on and stop video taping his house. Then our guide walks up from behind and starts speaking to him. Tony, the guide, turns to us and says, "I told them that your son is from YiWu. He welcomes you to his country and his home. He would be honored if you would come inside and maybe have some tea." We all just stood there pretty much dazed.

The next part of the story is for my dear friend Peg. Peg, you told me several times before coming that you felt God had a miracle in store for us when we arrived in China. YOU WERE RIGHT!!! The next occurrence could be nothing more than a miracle.

After Scott, my Mom, and I looked at each other, we all agreed that we would take him up on his hospitality. He opens the huge 10 foot black, iron gates and we all walk through. Up the marble steps that led to the beautiful rich mahogany doors embedded with etched glass. As we enter his home, we notice the marble steps that led to the dining area. Above us hung a spectacular chandelier. We stand and I move forward and thank him for his kindness in inviting us into his home. He says something, and the guide points to a wall and says something about "Buddhist". I didn't understand exactly what he was saying, but I let it go. The homeowner then leads us to the living room off to the right, where we are seated on theses magnificent wood benches, which had a luster that was almost like a mirror.

He is very excited to see us. Sitting on one of the benches, is a beautiful little girl. He introduces her as his niece. Then he goes to the table on the other side of the room and brings my Mom a small black book. She looks at it not too sure of what it was. The guide said, "I believe it is a Buddhist bible". Hmmm...I didn't think Buddhists had bibles, but then again what do I know. I want to add here though, that our guide is a very young man, 21 years old, and the little bit we spoke of religion he did not seem to understand, hence not knowing about Christian churches in the area.

I then glance over to the other side of the huge room and there is a framed picture of the crucified Christ. I was then totally confused. I stood up and went over the the homeowner and asked our guide to interpret. I said, "I'm a bit confused. You are a Buddhist, but you have pictures of Jesus?" He stopped and laughed. Then he said, "No...no. I am not Buddhist. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior." Then, in English he said in a loud tone that reverberated through the large room, "Hallelujah! AMEN!!" Scott, my Mom and I had to pick up our jaws. He then asked Tony to translate. He continued by saying that we are all God's children and that we, and he and his people and family, are one body in Christ. Then he turned to me and said, "You are my sister because we were both adopted by the same Heavenly Father." It took about everything I had in my power not to start crying. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so very alive in this man. I hugged him and agreed. I again thanked him and said that there was a reason why out of the million people in YiWu, we travel to the outskirts of the city and happen to walk by the one house where we see the only dogs we've seen since we've been here. Again, there are no coincidences.

I then ask him where he goes to church. He said, "We gather here in my home. God is where your heart is when you can't go to listen to his word elsewhere." AMEN TO THAT!!! I had been feeling so blue because I could not go to church, and instead here was a man, of a different culture and country, being used by our Lord to affirm to me, that I didn't have to be in a church for him to know that I worshipped Him. What an affirmation!

We all sit again and he steps out of the room. He comes back with about 6 cream popsicles for everyone. He insisted that we all eat ice cream. His kindness and generosity was blowing our minds. We told him that we were back visiting YiWu, but that our true reason for being in China was because we were there to bring home our daughter now. He said..."Wait!" Then he stood up and went to a drawer where he pulled out a DVD. It was in Chinese, but had English subtitles. I thought, "Yikes. We have to watch a movie now." But of all a sudden, this familiar tune starts to play. The lyrics were in Chinese, but I knew exactly what it was. The video was playing the song How Great Thou Art, while it told the story of a young girl who had, of all things, extremity deformities (like our Anna Grace, but much worse) and how she has crusaded the world bringing God's word to those that did not know Him. At that point, I just couldn't hold back and the tears streamed. We all sat there watching the video and singing in both Chinese and English the hymn, How Great Thou Art. Now if that isn't a miracle....I just don't know what it is. Again, another affirmation from God that us adopting another special needs child is His doing and our blessing.

In the midst of the tears and the singing, his wife had come out. He explained to her that we were from Florida and about Kai and Anna Grace. She said she was so happy for all of us. Then she left the room, only to come back with a huge bowl of watermelon for everyone! The funny thing is that watermelon happens to be my very favorite fruit. I didn't eat it in China last time because I was told by the health department when I went for my shots that I shouldn't eat it. They said that the watermelon here is purchased by weight and that many times it is injected with regular faucet water in order to make it heavier. So, on our last trip, and thus far on this one, I pass by the table filled with bowls of watermelon every morning at breakfast and never eat it.

I digress. I immediately thought "Oh my gosh, watermelon. What do I do?" But, there was no doubt in my mind that the Lord had brought us to this house, to this family, he would protect us from getting ill. I then look at Scott and he says to me, "Honey, eat it. We are breaking bread." So, we all ate watermelon to our hearts content. Shortly afterwards, she walked back in with a huge bowl of the largest raspberries I have ever seen. At that point, between breakfast, the ice cream and the watermelon, I just had to pass.

We had been there about an hour, and if we got to see nothing else, that truly made our trip today. We all get up and start saying our goodbyes. I ask them if it would be ok to a take a picture with them. They happily agree. Then we ask if he has a computer, considering the house he is in, but he says no because it corrupts the children. :) But, he said, can I please give you my address and phone number. If you ever come to China again, you must stay with us. He then scurried over to a desk where he wrote down his name, phone and address. We agreed to send him copies of the pictures. I also gave him our address and phone number and email address. He told me he has two grown sons who live there, but are away with his brother.

Just as we are leaving, I am led to ask him if he would join hands with us and lead us in a prayer. You could tell his heart was honored to do so. We all join hands, Tony and Mr. Jia, included and he leads us in one of the most powerful prayers I have ever heard, and I don't know a word he said. I thought I was the only one that was one huge goose bump, but afterwards Scott and my Mom told me that they felt as if Jesus was standing in our midst. I know He was."
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

And the Bad Mommy Award goes to.....

ME! Yes, sadly, I feel completely fit to be handed this award.

Today as the ominous clouds gathered in the sky and made the daylight dissipate, I decided to take AJ to the grocery store while Amanda stayed home with Kai and Anna Grace.

Every afternoon we get these horrific, stormy clouds that threaten to open up and reveal Noah's nightmare, but they never do. We usually end up with a drizzle here and there and before you know it, we're again standing in the Florida sunshine.

Well, today was different. It wasn't 5 minutes that I had walked into the grocery store that the heaven's opened up. It seemed that lightning bolts were surrounding the place and the clapping thunder ran shivers up my spine as AJ kept saying, "Mama, AJ scared." The rain was falling so hard that you could barely see out the windows of the store. Eventually, the lights went out and they were running on generators.

I repeatedly kept trying to call the house to see how the two little ones were holding up with all the thunder and lightning, but I lost service on my cell and couldn't get a call out. Finally, I head to check out, pay for my groceries and decide to wait it out.

My car, fortunately, was the first one in front of the store, just next to the handicapped parking spaces. But, it was still a good 50-75 feet away in the pouring rain, not to mention having to dodge lightning bolts. So, I waited.

After about 40 minutes, a huge crowd had gathered in the lobby area of the store. Some people were running to their cars and backing them underneath the awning in front of the store in order to load their groceries out of the rain. I thought about doing this, but there was no way I could run with AJ to the car and get him in the carseat before both of us would be totally drenched. Not to mention that he is just now over a cold he'd had for 2 weeks and I didn't want to risk him getting sick again. So I waited some more.

A few minutes later, an older lady I had been chatting with offered to to watch AJ for me while I went to get the car. My first reaction was, "No way! How could I leave my child with a total stranger? What if she takes off with him?". I just smiled and said...."let's see if it lets up". I waited another 10 minutes and nothing. By now, the water was rising up the sidewalk and the thunder and lightning hadn't ceased. She again offered and this time added, "I understand if you don't feel comfortable leaving him." By then, I was envisioning the other two at home hysterical and me standing outside the store for another 2 hours without being able to get through to anyone on my cell phone. So, I turn to the older lady and said, "PLEASE....don't let anyone take him!", and off I ran hopping over 4" puddles in the pouring rain. I got into the car, soaked to the bone, and looked back at the store. There way my baby boy playing with the lady. Whew!!!
I don't know how I could have ever explained to anyone in my family that I handed AJ over to a stranger so that I could get the car. That truly was deserving of the Bad Mommy Award, and if anyone would've told me that they did it, I'd probably have responded with "You're crazy!" I digress. Seconds later, I pulled up under the awning, grabbed my dry little boy and buckled him into his seat, loaded the groceries and we were on our way.

I arrived home to find the two other little ones on the couch watching Max and Ruby with Amanda. They were not phased at all by the going-ons outside. The water was half-way up my driveway when I pulled up. Thank goodness for the blessing of having a garage.
Here I am, an hour after arriving home, and it's still pouring just as hard. Maybe I wasn't such a bad mommy after all. :)
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer has arrived!

I'm behind again on my posting and I pretty much don't have any excuses except for the fact that I'm plum' exhausted! Last week was the last week of school so we had award ceremonies, PK graduations for Anna Grace and Kai, a teenager now going into high school (yikes!), a big ole Cars birthday party for our sweetie that turned 4, family in from out of town and a trip to the Urgent Care Center for a staple in the head of a certain little boy, to finish off the week!

Amanda is done with middle school (yaaay!!) and will be a freshman in high school next year. That's almost hard to believe. Where has time gone? I remember this blonde, curley-haired, baby girl toddling around my feet in what seems to have been only a few months ago. Wrong! She's going to be 14 in August and no longer that chubby faced little girl who loved to crawl onto her Mama's lap. Before our eyes, she's quickly turned into a beautiful, smart, young lady who is into music, the TV shows Pysch and House, and gabbing on the phone with her girlfriends. I pray daily for God to give me guidance and wisdom as we enter the true teenage years and for Him to fill her to the brim with His Holy Spirit, that she remain Godly, pure and kind and to always ask herself "What would Jesus do?" whenever she is put into any situation that may not be in her best interest. We are very proud of our big girl and I am honored to call myself her mother.

Kai and Anna Grace had their 1st year pre-school graduation last week also. Oh my! What cutie patooties. Kai got a different haircut to commemorate the ocassion. He reminds me so much now of how he looked when he came home from China. Sorry. I digress. Back to the graduation.

I almost lost it as they marched in with their adorable caps and hanging tassles. Ayi and Po-Po joined us at the ceremony. Amanda was pretty bummed she couldn't be there because she had finals that morning. Both Scott and I were just bursting with pride as our little ones proudly sang to the room filled with beaming parents. I'll try and post video clips in the next couple days.

Next year they'll be in their 2nd year of PK (together in the same class again) and then Kai moves onto kindergarten and Anna Grace stays for one more year of PK. They've come such a long way. My heart swells with pride and joy when I think about all of their accomplishments this past year. I also want to thank their marvelous teacher and speech therapists, whom without they wouldn't be nearly as advanced as they are today. We are indeed blessed.

This all means that summer is now officially here and my time with AJ alone, which I've been loving, is over. At least for the next couple of months. The good part is that Amanda and I have many beach trips planned for the kids, lots of swimming in the pool at home and just plain being lazy and enjoying family time. Part of the summer plans include having another family reunion for the long 4th of July weekend. This time at Miami Beach! I can't wait!

Ok. Back to last week. Kai's 4th birthday party was this past Saturday. He loved, loved, loved having his Cars party, complete with a Cars cake, Cars balloons, Cars decorations and Cars gifts, including a racetrack rug that his Ayi & Shu-Shu gave him that has been a humongous hit! A boy could never have too many cars!

Of course, the night ended with the typical "let's wrestle with Daddy" match!

All of his buddies from school, along with family from both near and far, gathered for a pool party and bar-b-que at the house. We had an awesome time! I think he was in the pool for almost 3 hours straight. The weather was perfect and we couldn't have asked for a more fun day!

Sunday morning, all 9 family members that had stayed at the house packed up and headed back to their homes while Scott and I cleaned up the remains of the celebration. Since it was late, we had missed our regular morning mass at our church, so we agreed to head up to my sister's town and attend the 5:00 p.m. mass there.

At about 3:30 we started getting the kids ready. Scott had Kai in the shower who would not stand still after being warned at least 5 times that he was going to slip. Sure enough! He slipped! Poor little guy ended up getting a staple in his scalp in order to close the 1.5" gash he acquired from his silliness in the shower. So, there went the pool/beach plans for the week. Next Monday we head back to the Urgent Care Center to have the staple removed.


That's pretty much it in a nutshell. I must say though, that there's non-stop action here with three toddlers. a teenager, a busy Mama, a hard-working Daddy and our God at the center of it all!
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