Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time ~Oswald Chambers

Monday, January 31, 2011

In case you hadn't heard...

....there's a major storm on the way that is going to paralyze 30 + states across the US.

And just for kicks, we thought we'd check Continental's flight schedule for tomorrow.  That is, the day we were supposed to fly from Beijing to Newark if we had waited out those 4 extra days in China.

You know where I'm going with this, don't you?


(Preemptively, of course, to avoid travelers being stranded).

Of course.

Our trip back last weekend now seems like a walk in the park when compared to the thought of dealing with a second cancellation.

And tonight I am more thankful than ever to be home.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Day At Home

Although our trip home was filled with trials and tribulations, when we arrived home, we discovered that our house was filled with quite the opposite.

Pulling into our driveway late Saturday afternoon, we were greeted by balloons and streamers, welcome home signs, donuts and dragon cupcakes, pictures of our adventures in China, and love.  Thank you all for the sweet welcome home we received after such a long journey.

I have been continually amazed by how well we are transitioning to a family of 8.  God has been very, very gracious to us.  I know it doesn't always go that way and we are thankful for His mercies.  The kids have all been amazing.  Lily and Caroline are pretty tight buddies and Lauren loves being (and they love for her to be) the doting older sister.  And Michael is the funny big brother who makes her giggle.

The weather was gorgeous today and so they had plenty of time playing outside.  They loved the trampoline and spent a good deal of time jumping, giggling, and being silly.  And don't you love how Caroline and Lily dressed themselves this morning?  Right down to the same hairstyle.

This afternoon we had one more transition to make.  My babies were back!  They came running in and the noise level elevated about 25 decibels as it always does when they are here.  But it was a sweet noise.  They ran to Lily giving her a hug and then were off playing with her as if they had been doing it together forever.

There have been moments of jet lag induced friction but not nearly as much as I would have expected.  And there are times when I sense the language barrier is alienating her.  I know she will get it soon but it is hard for all of us right now as we want her to be fully involved in everything.

Tomorrow we tackle school and some chores just to keep the natives from getting a little too restless.

 I'm really interested to see how that is all going to go...

...and how many pots of coffee I will ingest before lunch time.  :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Beijing...

Where to even begin~

We arrived on time in Beijing late Friday morning and were looking to check in for our next flight...Beijing to Newark...the grandaddy of them all.  This is the flight you don't want to miss.  The one that everything hinges on.  We had 5 hours to kill but still we wanted to go ahead and check in.

Wouldn't you know it...


Inside I am screaming..."Noooooooooooooooooo!!!"

Outside I am calmly explaining to the kids that this will all work out for the "best."

After Scott went to talk to the Continental representative (more specifically, the very limited English speaking Continental representative) he came back with the "best" that the airline had to offer:

Four days.

Oh yes, that's right.  One, two, three, four days in Beijing before we could get on another flight.

We scrambled around for the next 2 hours trying to find other flights.  Anything that would get us to the US.

There was one flight left for that day going to San Francisco.  It was almost full but there was room.  We prayed and debated.  Debated and prayed.

And then we took it. 

It took all our remaining time to get booked and checked in.  So much time that the agent at the ticket counter sprinted over to help tag and check our bags.  She then proceeded to give us directions (body gestures included) on how to elbow our way through the long lines at security to ensure we boarded in time.

I took notes.

And then we were off.  Sprinting through the Beijing airport, catching a tram, sprinting some more, hopping into an available car being offered, then jumping out when we realized there was a fee that we didn't have time to settle. 

I haven't run that fast for quite some time.  (And my apologies to the lady in Terminal 2 who had the unfortunate pleasure of my suitcase running over her toe). 

We did make it in time though and arrived in San Francisco around noon on Friday.

Now we had to figure out how to get home.

At the Continental counter we found the earliest flight was the red-eye to Houston then on to Raleigh.

"We'll take it."

We were almost done with the boarding passes when doh! there are only 5 seats available not 6.


Now we are on for the 6 AM flight which means getting up at 4 AM again and getting a hotel room for the night.

The hotel was fine and actually had a nice view of the bay where I could see all the planes coming in for landing.  I was in a vegetative state by this point so it did not take much to entertain me.

We stumbled through the evening in our zombie-like states and Lily actually fell asleep around 4 for the night. 

The girls and I woke up about 2:30 and Lily, poor thing, was starving. Our snacks were officially depleted so I pulled together some change and took her to a vending machine.  All they had was sodas (for $2.50 a pop~total highway robbery) but she was so desperate I tried to get her one.  And tried and tried and tried.  The machine was empty.  I felt so bad for her. 

The reason I tell this is because at 3 in the morning, in a hotel in San Francisco, when I hit the change return button, the machine starts dispensing my change...

...I kid you not... nickels. 

Fifty  nickels pouring out of this machine, as if I had just won the jackpot in Vegas, clanging all over the floor while people slept only feet away. 

Yep.  That's just how this trip was going.

I collected my ten pounds of nickels, unsuccessfully trying to find the humor in it all, and went back to the room.

Turns out no one in the family could sleep and we were all ready to go by 4 (an hour earlier than intended).

Scott checked the tickets one last time before leaving the hotel, and...

 ...ah yes, the boarding time was wrong.  She had booked us (all six of us) on the red-eye flight that only had room for 5.  That flight left 4 hours ago.

My thought at this point:  Just shoot me now, Ethel, 'cause I am done.

But no, God continues to give grace, even in the wake of my nervous breakdown.

The reps at the gate were able, after a good while, to correct the mistake and we boarded as intended.

Thankfully, Houston had no problems and we arrived in Raleigh Saturday afternoon.

Home, sweet home.

Where I intend to stay for a long, long, long time.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Homeward Bound

       it's time to go home.

       where there's always love.

        where there's always hope.

         where there's always joy.

Simply because we are loved by Jesus.

Create your own video slideshow at

About 30 hours of traveling should put us at RDU around 9:30 Friday night.

Home sweet home indeed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Safari Park

Today was the best weather day we've had since being in Guangzhou.  And it was a perfect day for the Safari Park. 

With 12 pandas, a number of koala bears, 75% of the world's white tiger population, elephant rides, tiger shows, and giraffe feedings right here at the park, you can imagine how easy it was to take the almost 400 pictures that I took.

Here's just a sampling:

It was a wonderful way to end our stay in China. 

In 12 hours we will be on our way to the airport and on our way home.