I remember within the first few months of dating my husband, he asked me about my dreams, my plans, the calls I believe God had placed on my life. I watched his eyes grow wide as I shared one of them – my heart for the nation of China – and I stated that I was moving there. Lucas had been on a mission trip to Guatemala, but we both knew this was not the same as China. China was a whole other world. It was literally on the other side of it. And the conviction that this was where I was going, and he could take it or leave it, was not only incredibly immature of me to suggest but left him overwhelmed, and honestly, a little terrified.
He must have really loved me, because it didn’t scare him enough to walk away. He was intrigued and wanted to see what it was about China that kept tugging on my heart. Over the next year, I shared as much of my heart as I could through pictures and videos and stories of my previous trip in 2012. I prayed that if this was the man God had for me, that He would call him there, too. And I watched as my husband’s heart slowly opened. Then, the summer after our engagement, we visited China together – headed to the same orphanage I had served at three years prior. I adjusted more quickly to the drastic time difference than I had my first time around, but Lucas did not. Jet lag hit him hard. It took him a little over a week to feel like himself, and even then, he wasn’t sure about this new place.
My heart was home. But Lucas didn’t understand how. “It’s fine,” he would say in response to my eager pursuit of his inevitable falling in love with the country. We argued. We prayed. We sought counsel from those wiser than ourselves. And I remember, on one of our last days, a few of the staff at this fantastic Christian foster home for orphans with special needs told us they wished we didn’t have to leave; asked us to come back soon. And much to my surprise, my then-fiance replied, “We will be back.”
In 2016, we got married. And summer of 2017, before we got pregnant with our son, we visited this special place in China once again. This time, we knew what to expect, we adjusted more quickly to the time and the food and the language, and we were so very excited to reunite with our friends and the children who stole our hearts. Now, it was we who were convinced that this was where we would move; that this is where God wanted us to bring His kingdom. We prayed and felt fairly certain that our big move would happen in Fall 2019.
Later that summer, we found out we were pregnant. This was what we were hoping for. But it did make what we had planned more challenging, as we had to consider a much smaller, more dependent life also making this transition with us. Still, we made plans. We had hard conversations with our bosses and our parents. We put off looking at houses and decided to stay in our little apartment. And then, we began to feel a tug to stop. To wait. And I was angry. This was 6 years in the making, 2 years in the plans! But now it was feeling less and less likely. Tension in China had risen. We wanted another baby. I needed my professional teaching certificate. And we knew it would be easier to pursue the adoption of our son from the states. I kept asking myself if all these roadblocks meant God wanted to see how much we trusted Him, or if they indicated that now was not the time. We wrestled with this for months. We talked about it daily, and each day, it seemed we had a different revelation – stay in the states, go to China – over and over. We called trusted friends and mentors for wisdom and guidance, hoping somebody would just make the decision for us.
Then in late September 2018, our family took a long walk, and it was as if all the pieces suddenly fit together, all the confusion cleared, and we knew. We were not moving to China next year.
To be honest, I hated this. This was not the answer I wanted. But it was the decision that gave us peace, and we’ve been told by many that when you feel peace – peace beyond understanding – that is how you know it’s God.
Most days, it is well with my soul. But there is still a pervasive sadness that exists, as I long for the country that I so weirdly adore and the children I would do anything to care for. Especially now, as I look at the months ahead and remember what they would have looked like – packing, buying plane tickets, raising support and prayer partners, saying goodbye, moving across the world.
I am mourning the loss of plans, dreams that had been set in my heart for not minutes nor months, but whole years. I miss China everyday, and I know that the desire to be there will always remain. The Lord placed it in my heart even before I stepped foot in its borders, and I truly believe that one day, we will be there. But that day is not today, and it’s not tomorrow. And adjusting to that reality has proved painfully difficult.
I find myself becoming frustrated over how clear we believed we had heard God back in 2017 when he told us 2019 was the year to move. I mean, ask anyone, we were certain. It’s embarrassing, really. To get it wrong. To hear Him wrong.
But that is the walk we are on. God speaks, we listen. Or we try to. And we will mess up. We will hear wrong. But He is still faithful. He is still good.
Our God decided to hit “save” on His plans for our move to China. But we are hopeful that He will surface them when it is time. And when that time comes, we will be more prepared and excited than we could possibly plan for.
For now, we are excited to begin a new journey where we are planted. Yes, we are still living in the same town in the same state, but 1. we are in our first home!! and 2. we aren’t simply living here waiting to leave. We are ready to LIVE in this place – to really dig in to what God has for us here until he calls us elsewhere.