Real, Raw & Undone

Everything makes me cry. 

My pictures of China make me cry. I hold that chunk of our tree with the C grown in it, and tears gather. Every single picture of my China babies growing up in America make me drop everything to stare in wonder at their smiles and how big they are, and I mostly hold the tears in. I bawl openly over “gotcha day” videos of “my China kids”. I look at this picture above and my heart just free falls into awe over his dearly loved life now, and how stunned I was the day I knew he was adopted and so! much! chubbier! my tiniest little baby he was: so much bigger and stronger!

I go out and put on my gold CJ necklace, and it warms against my chest, and the tears stand out in my eyes. I pull up his picture in church sometimes, just to see his face and the tears fall unchecked, because when I think of God loving me as a parent, I think of me loving CJ. 21762612_10214369145365763_9140063069527356946_o

I watched an adoption video several nights ago by the Archibald Project and cried and cried and cried, the kind of ugly sniffling cry where you try not to wake your parents up.

All the songs, all the worship music, all the Christmas music I’m defiantly listening to too early. I get weepy over every happy announcement of babies coming soon and the “fullness” feeling of being around my nephew. The simple way my assistant pastor’s kids say “Good morning” in Mandarin: “Zao shàng hao” on Sunday mornings makes me “feel all the feels” in the best way. The encouraging texts and e-mails from my China team leave me bawling in the lobby at the doctor’s office. My friends hand me checks and buy prints and just a few days ago, some friends told me they were sending money for a photography session as support for China, making me stop walking in the middle of a park to look at my friend and burst into tears. Hit 10% of support? Cry instantly.

The tears slip down my face unseen in the night.

Everything makes me cry. 

Going back to China is a Gift.

My pastor’s wife asked me recently if I was excited, and I hesitated (I mean, YES?!, but) I waved my hands in the air in a helpless gesture, because I didn’t have the words. Finally I struggled out through a throat thick with tears: “It’s a gift.”. She looked at me with the knowing eyes of woman who has been to countless countries on missions and served with her husband so many long hard hours for Jesus, and she said “Yes, it is. It really is.”

I haven’t known how else to explain…..this. Haven’t known how to write, to share.

But hear THIS: I completely and wholly feel that it is a gift I don’t deserve.

I haven’t waited for China with worship and praise to Jesus every day. I’ve been angry at the new NGO laws and I’ve definitely cried many long agonizing nights that weren’t filled with joyful patience. I’m not the poster child of missions, by far. I haven’t waited well, and I haven’t looked to Jesus in Hope every day. I haven’t done the good girl “mission in waiting things”. Some days I just sat in bed with one verse and cried because the ache was so strong I didn’t know how to put it into words and only Jesus knew. DSC_0486

I’ve been broken. and I’ve been weeping. and I’ve been aching. and I’ve been confused.

I’m more shocked than anyone else that I’ve been given the gift of returning, and I’ve never understood the gospel as A GIFT more than the night I knew I was going back. I hung up the Skype call, walked into my bedroom, fell on my knees with my head against the floor and gave in to keening sobs of pure relief.

I texted my friend “I don’t deserve this.”
But since when did any of us deserve any of Jesus’ marvelous gifts?  

Jesus, with His beautiful Savior heart, and God with His never failing Father love, and the Holy Spirit: all 3 in One Who wouldn’t let me let China go. Who spoke to me like He promised He would and used His word, His people and praise songs to move me to Him day after day after day through all the seasons……

 He’s sending me back. 

and I’m continuously on my knees, weeping in gratitude.

I recognize this undone feeling.

We joked amongst our China Team in 2016 that we “overprayed for God to break our hearts for what breaks His”. There wasn’t a day at least one of us didn’t completely lose it and sob in another’s arms. One time I’m pretty sure all the restaurant waiters were genuinely concerned about our entire table crying at one time, and served us extra gently some tea, hahaha. We showed up knowing it would be so hard and it was.

We showed up open and ready, and raw, and God used our “overprayed broken hearts” in the most beautiful ways I won’t ever forget. I believe we were a hundred times better prepared to understand and compassionately love those kids with our breaking hearts.

And so I recognize the real, raw, undone feeling that is stealing into my heart and leaving me an emotional mess who cries over everything and holds an ache that can’t be explained. It is the Holy Spirit, readying my heart for how He will use it to love His orphans in China. It’s a joyful heartbreaking, because it means I’m going back to China.

In 77 days, I’ll be boarding a plane and returning to walk again in China’s lands. DSC_0491

Trying to think about it all, the huge, amazing, unbelievable story….I’m undone. And so should I be, and so should I speak of the gift of the Gospel in the very same breath.

It’s a gift, a gift I don’t deserve, a gift to be able to serve, a gift to carry the name of Jesus.

A gift of a calling only He could give. A gift only He knew about. A gift so close to His heart.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus to orphans in another land not my own, bearing His name in His call to care for orphans in their distress and the least of these among me. Fulfilling a great need in an orphanage of what I already love to do? It’s beyond words or dreams.

It’ll be hard. But I recognize the One whose nail-scarred hands lead me, and I see the cross where He died for the nations to come to Him, and I cry some more raw tears as I wait 77 more days in hope of all the ways He will use me and all the things He will do.

*Want to join the team sending me? Click this link, or send me a message to chat more!*

Chicken Jiaozi Soup Recipe

I read an article a few weeks ago about how even if you aren’t Chinese (I’m clearly not), you don’t currently live in China (not yet) or haven’t been trained to cook Chinese (I haven’t), that doesn’t mean you can’t still bring China into your home, and one amazing way to do that is to cook.

Today I really needed a creative break from editing pictures in this busy season, so as I’m want to do, I marched into the kitchen at 2:30pm to make some very late lunch. I threw in items I’d read go well together in Chinese dishes and improvised the rest from what I had on hand, a true comfort soup that still tasted Chinese to me. It was so delicious!

I hope you enjoy! Click the print button to the right of the recipe! 23599890_10214798959670852_1073011026_o

Chicken Jiaozi Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Chicken Jiaozi Soup

{Serves 4}

In 1 medium pot on medium low heat, heat 1.5 TB butter or oil (I used Canola)

1. Sautée:
1/2 large white onion, chopped
2 small carrots, cut into coins
2 garlic cloves, minced

2. Add in:
1 dash of Hoisin sauce (or soy sauce)
1 TB chicken bouillon
1 tiny bit of horseradish
2 shakes of Chinese 5 spice
1/2 tsp garlic or kosher salt to taste

 3. Stir until combined.

 4. Then add:
1 portobello mushroom, chopped in blocks (not diced, you want chunks)
3/4 cup chopped cabbage

 5. Let cook down for 2 mins until cabbage is wilted

 6. Add: 1 cup of cooked diced chicken
1 quart (or more) Chicken stock or broth

 7. Bring to a boil and then dump in 1 14oz bag of frozen chicken jiaozi/gyoza.
Once the soup is boiling again, turn down to medium high and let cook with
lid on for 5 mins or until dumplings are plump and slightly translucent.

 8. Serve and enjoy! Leave me a comment if you make it!

*I buy the DayLeePride Chicken or Pork Jiaozi/Gyoza “Potstickers” (they’re dumplings, trust me) from our tiny Asian market locally. They’re made in the USA & don’t have MSG in them! They’re completely delicious and I love to fry them as well!*

Even little puppers agree! Look at that little tongue when she moved into the frame!  23600003_10214799251718153_547480743_o

– JM

World Adoption Day 2017

I remember walking away from my dear team leader as she was mid-sentence, thinking I was going to be sick from the story she was telling me softly and stumbling onto the bus, sinking down in the seat to weep harshly. It was as though the evil of the world opened up and I saw the orphan crisis for all the darkness it holds, and it broke me in ways I didn’t know could break.

“Jesus,” I whispered against the cold glass, “Don’t let it be true.” But was.

The truth is that there are 15 million children today who are orphans or have been abandoned. Weeping is the right response, because God the Father weeps over them too. When our China team came home, I had all these pictures and stories and nowhere to go.

“Just wait”, our team leader said to comfort us, knowing what was coming. Then a few months later, their files were released. I had e-mails stacked on e-mails and would drop everything in the middle of drives or plans to stand in a friend’s bedroom for 30 mins to talk to adoptive parents on the phone and pray over them.

Then I saw “our China babies” finally in their parents arms after the long wait. I watched videos of them meeting each other, crying and laughing in the arms of the ones who loved them so deeply. And I finally fully understood how great of a gift we’d carried with us.

How great of a gift advocating was, how great of a gift meeting orphans was, how great of a gift going was, and how great of a gift being a little part of the telling of these children’s lives was.

And I wept. 

Because God had known all along. God had seen, God had heard all our prayers, and God had planned each son or daughter for each family JUST SO. Truly His ways are perfect and He does what He does best, putting the lonely in families and bringing them together, and using us in the middle to rejoice at His love.

He is Abba; Father to the Fatherless, He is the One Who calls us to go, and He is the One Who will One Day bring every orphan safely Home. What an honor to be a part of advocating for the orphans in our world and truly the best privilege of my lifetime and my future.

-JM

{all FIVE China babies pictured are ADOPTED and so loved every day!}