Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Recently, it's been easier to focus on things to complain about rather than the things we are blessed with.

It's easy to do. The little things pile up, until you hit the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back."

Case in point: last Saturday's date night.

It was a mostly great day. We got some rest, more time reading, some projects done, and enjoyed throwing a frisbee in an open field - it doesn't get much better than that.

We got some cute pictures of Hadassah...

And she got surrounded by group after group of touring high school students, getting her picture taken by probably at least 75 of them while all she wanted to do was just play with rocks. ;)

Then, we headed out to eat. Not wanting something we'd done before, we decided to try a place that looked popular... and ended up walking out before even getting a menu. So then we decided to try the place right outside our complex's gate. It also looked popular. Stepping inside and seeing rows of raw meat to be grilled ourselves should have clued us in. But Hadassah was going to be crazy if we didn't eat soon... surely there was something there?

The exposed raw meat with flies buzzing would surely not pass any food safety inspections. We ended up grilling some broccoli, and eating what seemed the "safest" food there: fried egg rolls and chicken nuggets. Yeah, not the healthiest... There was sweet watermelon (in November??) that we were thankful for... but overall we ended up feeling sick and rummaging the fridge when we got home.

Oh yes, when we got home Hadassah promptly covered herself in a pool of pee as I was changing her diaper, so I handed her off to Ryan for an emergency bath and brought her clothes to the laundry room only to find the load I'd run earlier was sitting in a tub of water because the machine had stopped draining properly. Great.

By the time the little one was safely tucked into bed, we were ready to just crash with a movie... something to de-stress. But our VPN wasn't working (the internet here has been really really bad and inconsistent lately) so YouTube wouldn't load, and YouKu (the Chinese version) didn't have any good, free movies in English. So we resorted to using our external DVD drive to connect to our laptop (did I mention our computer is also pretty slow and inconsistent?) to watch one of the two DVDs we'd brought with us... and discovered that wasn't working.

So we sat on the couch and aired our woes, yes complaining some... We couldn't even post the funny status to Facebook about our date night failures because it wouldn't load. But we ended up laughing through the moans of our upset stomachs, thankful to just be together.

Thankful. Thanksgiving is here. It's a quiet day, as Ryan has work as usual. But we've got 13 adults and 6 children coming on Saturday for a Thanksgiving feast, so there is celebration ahead. And I have my weekly skype date with a dear sister of the heart, and this evening, we'll be together. Our small little family. That's something to be grateful for: usually as a young family you're never alone for holidays, as it's such a good time to be with extended family. I like big large family gatherings, but it just hit me that this year we get time to make memories with just us... and that is something to be treasured.

We went for a walk on Sunday afternoon, and while we started out complaining - after all, if it isn't the yowling cats keeping me awake for 3 hours in the early morning, it's the mosquitoes buzzing in our ear at 3 AM - but we decided to try to focus on things we were thankful for by specifically being in China:
 - A good job for Ryan, that is growing his skills, giving him way more responsibility and leadership than he'd have in America, familiarity with more things than he'd be able to work on at a larger company, and growing his career
- Good colleagues and a great work environment, with no cubicles making things more social and collaborative
- A nice apartment - we really are blessed with a great one that we enjoy.
- A daughter - cute, expressive, inquisitive, bright, and such a joy. We're pretty amazed that we get to be her parents!
- Good neighbors. I mean, who would have ever guessed we'd live right next to people who spoke great English and were so interested in being our friends?
- Each other. We're learning more about each other and growing through the "trials" and are thankful for these experiences.
- Our church. Though we don't like the distance, we never expected to find a church we meshed with so well in Shanghai.
- Nature. We really live in a pretty, well landscaped place, and on Sunday discovered a hidden path by a river with the most gorgeous fall trees...

Right now, this seems like a very hard season. But I know one day we'll look back and it will be one we remember with fondness, that we're thankful for. And I want to be thankful now.

I'm thankful for the fact that it's teaching me to do with less.

I'm thankful for the time with my husband and my daughter. I do get more time with them because there are less friends and family to be with. Long term, being without community is not what I'd chose. But, this is still a sweet season.

I'm thankful at the opportunity to see the Lord's faithfulness. Sometimes it's hard to see why how this move fits into His grand plan, but we know it does, that nothing's wasted, and that this is part of our loving Father's good gifts to us.

I feel like complaining a lot more over here. I fail in looking at the bright side so often. But I'm thankful for this opportunity to learn more perseverance.

So Thanksgiving dawned in China with memories of family, missing them, and shedding some tears. But, I'm learning to be thankful through the tears... realizing how hard it is to "be thankful in all circumstances" but that is what we are called to. This lesson is a good one to learn.

Lord, help me to be more thankful...

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