Thursday, November 29, 2012

Purpose

Do you ever just sit back sometimes and ask yourself what you are doing? Do you ask yourself if what you are doing has purpose... any purpose? If you do, I don't think it's a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have purpose, hopefully a good purpose. 

Over the past two weeks I have been involved in all sorts of legal stuff to change my name, and dealing with all sorts of people about our house, and buying furniture, etc, etc, etc. Josh and I have worked with a vast assortment of people. I haven't had many opportunities to deal with people at the magnitude I have been lately. 

I hope it doesn't sound mean when I say that I am amazed at the amount of people that seem so purposeless. Not just unhappy, but rolling in their rut. They half-heartedly do their jobs because they don't like it or they are just miserable in general about things, I guess. 

People are wandering in an oblivious fog. At first I just thought they didn't care about their jobs, but then as I started to watch people closer, I realized that it runs much deeper. People don't care much about anything. 

Then I noticed guys pass by the Call of Duty advertisement in Wal-Mart and water at the mouth and girls learn that Taylor Swift came out with a new album and rejoice. The craziest things excite us. I sit back sometimes and try to keep my head from spinning. Do we really live with such little purpose that the lives and creations of other people are almost the only things that excite us anymore?


The craziest part? Christians are really no better. It makes sense why lost people would seem to have little or no purpose, but us? We have no excuse. No matter what you do, you can do it for the Lord. It doesn't take much these days to rise above the average. I don't want to be average. 

At one point in our nation's history it wasn't so uncommon for a 14 year old boy to have done something as impressive as survey half of the state of Virginia. Who would that have been? George Washington. 

We need to decide what we stand for... and stand for it. Josh and I were flipping through radio stations on the way back from our honeymoon. I heard only the chorus to a song I imagine many teenagers in America know. It is called "Some Nights" by Fun. I had never heard it. All I heard were these lyrics before we flipped the station. 

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know anymore...


In my opinion, it describes America. We really don't know what we stand for... other than energy drinks, video games, fads, equality... oh, and comfort. Comfort trumps it all. Hard work is now pushed down. We are told if you have to work hard, then there is an issue. Just stick your hand out. Be happy... comfortable. 

Meanwhile, we slip away. Not just as a nation do we go down the drain, but as churches... dead churches, and as families and individuals. It's starts with the small things... and suddenly we are out at the knees. 

I don't want to do what I do because that is just where life has me. I am where I am because I am meant to be here. Be where God wants you to be. Don't live wondering if you are wasting your life. Live with purpose. It doesn't mean you save the world, it just means that you are where you are meant to be and are joyfully there. Even if we can't be where we want to be, we can still have purpose. You can still enjoy hobbies and fun things in life and know that they don't own you; you don't live for them. 

Don't wake up one day and realize that all you have to show for yourself is a worn video game remote and a faded credit card. Let's wake up and read that worn and faded Bible and drink from the fountain of Truth, because that is where we will find true purpose. 

I love you, my wonderful readers! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

A White Dress, Red Roses and Two Rings


I woke up Saturday the 10th of November and my first thought was, I'm not getting married today am I? And that was when I realized that my cell phone was ringing. It was Josh. He called like he did every morning. 

I got out of the bed like I would any other morning. The sun sent pink streaks across the sky, promising a beautiful day. I packed my bags full of everything any girl would need for her wedding and honeymoon. I carried my bags outside. The van was gone since Mom and Kandace had left earlier. Daddy was wearing his baggy sweatshirt, scraping the frost from my car windows. I hugged him before I got in the car and drove down the driveway alone. Tears of joy and a strange sense of sadness spilled onto my cheeks.

The rest of the morning was a blur of excitement. Makeup and hairspray and dresses. The light whiteness of my dress fell over my shoulders and I was hurried outside for pictures. Everyone looked gorgeous and I smiled happily until someone said, "Only one more hour till the wedding starts!" My stomach flipped in nervousness. My grandparents came upstairs to see me before they were seated. Someone said that the line of people to enter the church was outside the church. I asked if everything was ready downstairs. My cousins laughed and said, "Of course!" Lip gloss was smeared across my lips one last time. Mama kissed my cheek as she left to go be seated. Suddenly it was time for the bridesmaids and me to go around the church to the back door. We actually ran. We went in the back side room where they were to enter. I waited there with them and I realized that people could see me from about any angle I stood in that room. I gave up trying to stand in the corner and squatted down under a reception table. Yes, in my wedding dress I hid under a table. Daddy came in and told me it was time to go to the back of the church where we would enter. 



There I stood where so many girls dream to be. I heard the music through the door. The doors opened. I gripped Daddy's arm with one hand and my roses with other. Over 400 people stood. I felt my body tingle. Daddy told me that he loves me and then we got to the corner where I could see Josh. The moment I had been waiting for. His blue eyes caught mine and I smiled. I stepped on the roses my sister had spread as I walked toward the love of my life. 

The ceremony flew by. We said our vows, smiled, cried. Before I knew it, Daddy said, "You may kiss the bride." For the first time in my life I leaned in and gave my first kiss away. We bounded down the aisle as the music escalated. I looked into my my husband's face and proclaimed, "We're married, baby!'

The reception was full of balloons, food, voices, candy filled children and hugs. Lots of hugs. I think that Josh ate three grapes and I ate a corner of a sandwich and the rest of the time we hugged people! But it was still so good. I tossed my flowers and Josh flung the garter. We danced, cut the cake and Daddy suddenly claimed that it was time for us to leave. 

Already??? Time to leave??


It was pure bliss to walk through the crowd of friends as they swayed streamers and let balloons fly into the sky. After struggling to get in our car with all of the shaving cream under the car door handles, we left the cheering throng. 


It was a dream. We headed off to Pigeon Forge where we had a wonderful honeymoon in a beautiful mountain cabin. And then we headed to Cherry Point a few days later where Josh and I went to the Marine Ball, got me a military ID, and saw our new home for the first time. We headed back to my parents house for a week. We had a great time going to church, picking out a Christmas tree with them and playing Apples to Apples. 



Now, that's all over. I am currently sitting in our car. The back seat and trunk is jammed full of things for our house. It's just Josh and me now. 


Beyond all the details of our wedding, the joy of a wonderful honeymoon, the thrill of our new home, and the stress of all the change is the joy of something much greater. It's the joy of finally being the wife of Joshua Isaacs. I finally get to be who I am supposed to be. Each day that goes by I am more amazed that God let me marry a man as wonderful as him. 

Our prayer is that our love will be an example that others can follow. We just want to bring glory to God through our marriage and through our lives. No matter what comes or what time brings, we will be together no matter what. 

True love, God's way is worth waiting for. Love is not a fight, but it's something worth fighting for... forever and always. 

I love you Joshua Isaacs. I am so blessed to finally have your last name.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Wedding Eve

Tomorrow is the day. My wedding day! 

Today and yesterday has been glorious chaos around my house and the church. And I tell you, if I hang up one more bow... No, I'm kidding. It's been a surreal pleasure. Food, sparkles, lights, dresses, tuxes, nail polish, music.... it's a wedding world. 

Yesterday I was decorating at church and guess who walked in the door??? My almost-husband! I hadn't seen him on over 6 weeks. Lets just say I ran down the aisle from the back of the church into his arms. His wonderful arms. I wanted to kiss him. But I still can't do that... not yet. Tomorrow I will finally get to kiss the love of my life. Has it been easy waiting? No! In fact, it was harder than I thought. It was hard for both of us... especially Josh. But has it been worth the wait. We believe so with all of our hearts. Our first kiss will be as husband and wife as it should be. 

I feel like I have been in a whirlwind, but when I sit back like I am now and think about it all, I am amazed that tomorrow I get to marry Joshua Isaacs. It is an amazing feeling. No matter what happens tomorrow (like if I trip down the aisle....) or for the rest of our lives, I will be by him and he by me. What if he is deployed? I will still be by his side. My heart will be. 

But for now, the distance between us is over. It was hard. It hurt. But God turned me around today and showed me how far He has brought us. I thanked Him. As my family decorated the church, I walked off to the old Prayer Chapel. The sun shown bright color through the stained glass window. The floor creaked as I walked to the out of tune piano. I sat down and played. I played with all of my might. I sang and played. After a few songs tears were streaming down my cheeks. God stopped me as I heard His voice. 

Do you know how blessed you are?

It was then that I realized how easy it was for me to take it all for granted. I thanked Him. I thanked Him for the hard days, the good days, the glorious moments. I thanked Him for never forsaking me... not for a moment. I thanked Him that He will always be with me.

I am so overjoyed. Life doesn't promise to be perfect, but God gave me the greatest gift I ever received, besides salvation, his name is Joshua. That wonderful man is going to walk this journey of life with me and I with him. 

I love him. I'm ready for that walk down the aisle, for that first kiss and for every moment afterward. 

But now, duty calls and I must get busy! 

I love you all!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bin


 
My one and only brother.
 
There is no one like Andrew. He is the only son in the Brown house. He holds the title proudly. My family started to adopt a little girl in 2007. We were "supposed" to be a family with four girls. That's what Daddy thought. She was going to be Carrianne. Yet, God had a different plan. There were no girls coming up. God told my family to open up the adoption to a girl... or a boy. Within a few days a picture of 3 year old Qing Bin Dang was sent to my family. He was a precious looking boy who had clubbed feet. That seemed simple enough. We knew he was the one. He would be Andrew David Brown. Before we left we learned that he had multiple other health issues, including a desperately needing repair hernia. So we prayed all would be okay.
 
My Mom and I headed off for China in September of 2008. We passed through Bejing as we had 2 years before. Instead of arriving in the beautiful and flowery province of HuBei, where Clara was from, we arrived in Henan. It is the oldest and I would argue, one of the poorest provinces in China. A few days later, my Mama and I hopped in a taxi and road through the filthy streets to a broken down building. Smoke billowed from the streets. Everything was gray. My stomach knotted at the repulsive odors.
 
 
Before I knew it, Mama and I were in a dingy room waiting on a worn couch with our guide. I clenched my hands... I looked toward the door over and over. That was when a thin lady came in with a little boy on her hip. That wasn't him...
 
That's him.
 
I looked at Mama's face as she said it again. That's him. I looked again at the child's face. It was. It was him. To my surprise, the woman dropped him to the ground and to my horror, he walked on his twisted feet. I had never seen anything like it. His clothes were literally rotten. His head was covered in sores and his skin was covered in a thick layer of dirt. Yet, he laughed and smiled.
 
 
His nanny sobbed as we took him with us. She warned us that his hernia may explode if he cries. I waited for him to cry as we got in the taxi. He never cried. The whole time. He fell asleep on the bed in the hotel and slept for 13 hours.
 
 
We took Andrew home with us to NC and he has multiple surgeries on his legs and feet. He relearned to walk correctly. He bore the pain of wearing huge casts on his legs for months. He has surgery on his hernia. He never complained. He proved to be more like Kandace than like Clara and me. He is rather... sly. He can even be called wild. But his overactive heart accepted Jesus one night in his bed as he realized he needed Jesus to save him.
 
 
Yet, there is no way to really describe Andrew. My little Bin. His life in the orphanage affected him much more than Clara's did to her. He struggles to read and is behind in a lot of areas of what many consider "typical school subjects." But Andrew is smart. He can work anything. He builds whole towns in his room using pulleys and levers. He is little, but he doesn't let that slow him down. He can't speak well, but he still says more than many could imagine he would.
 
He is the one that comes up to me and crawls up in my lap. He lays his head on my chest and pretends to fall asleep. He is also the one who didn't understand that I am getting married.
 
He is obsessed with Legos these days and he wants some for Christmas. Josh and I will not be home for Christmas this year. Josh's working schedule won't allow it. We will be home a few days afterward. So, a few weeks ago Andrew came up to me. He asked me to help him build his Legos on Christmas day. He promised me that I won't get bored and I will have fun. I proceeded to have to remind him that I will not be home. I'm marrying Josh. His face wasn't one of anger or even sadness but realization that I'm leaving. He doesn't cry. He just nods and walks off. I wonder sometimes where his little mind is in all of this. All I can do is hold him and tell him that I love him.
 
Andrew has the most generous heart in our family. He kissed me before bed the other night and said, "Oh no! I spoiled your kiss for Josh!" He listens and he knew that I have saved my kiss for Josh. I laughed as I kissed his nose and told him that it was different because he is my brother.
 
I will miss my Bin. I don't know what I'll do without my bundle of energy. He is my only brother. He takes care of me.
 

I love you, Andrew baby. You of all my siblings understand patience through the struggles. You've taught me how to be tough... just like you. Yet, somehow, you're the sweetest boy I know.
 
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Clarie



My little China doll.


Clara was only a hope in my 11 year old mind. I dreamed of Clara for months. I literally heard God tell me that my family was supposed to adopt a little girl. I saw her. I knew we were supposed to get this little girl out there... somewhere.
 

Mom and Dad had already been praying about adoption in 2004 and 2005 and I hadn't even known. Through God's amazing miracles, within several months I met my sister as she was handed to my mom in HuBei, China in April of 2006. She was known as Fu Mei. The almost 1 year old screamed for days. The first weeks with Clara were far from easy. It broke my heart to see her so terrified. We brought her home and I listened to her cry for hours each night. Her round face was cherry red and streamed with hot tears. I prayed that God would help my sister.

 
He did help my sister and with a few months she was perfectly fine. She laughed and danced and even tried to sing. There was never a cuter little girl. Kandace and I took her under our own care. We painted her finger nails, dressed her up, and hauled her around everywhere. I can remember when she first put her pudgy hands on my cheeks and said, "I love oo, Taty."




Time passed and she grew up. Suddenly my little sister was not a baby anymore. She was a pretty little girl feeling Jesus' call on her heart. She asked Jesus to save her on sunny day in the back of the van coming home from Boone, NC.
 
 
Clara blossomed and is now 7 years old. She is one of the most brilliant children I know. Her pure heart amazes me. Her love for people and her passion is amazing. She loves to talk, yet she also listens. I watch her face sometimes as people talk all around her. She processes things. God has gifted her with an incredibly discerning heart to understand truth. She is beautiful and graceful and loves to dance.... everywhere. Meanwhile in my crazy life, I came to realize she had learned to read chapter books.
 
Clara and I are very similar... except for the dancing part. I can't dance. She is much further along in her maturity than I was at her age, yet I see myself in her at times. She doesn't like change, she likes order and peace. We are close. Very close. All through highschool I could hear her soft steps up my stairs and hear her crawl up on my bed while my back was turned and I was studying at my desk. While my pencil furiously wrote notes across notebook paper, her crayons did the same as she mimicked me. There were times I was tired of spelling out words for her, but now I wouldn't trade one moment of it. She would sit beside me at the piano and play the melody to songs while I played below her. She knows how to think like me, and I can think like her.
 

At times I really believe that leaving my Clarie will be the hardest part of leaving home. Not that I love her more than anyone else, but because she sums up home in one little body. Back in the summer I was playing with her outside and she started to cry. I asked her what was wrong. She just choked out, "You're leaving me." She was the first one to admit it. She has always known things... understood things. Before Josh even asked me to marry him, she said what I knew deep down. I pulled her in my arms as I rested my chin on her head.
 
Since then she has understood that things won't be so "bad." She looks forward to being my flower girl... although she worries that she will run out of petals before she gets down the whole aisle. That's something I would worry about. Thinking of leaving her hurts worse than ever. She really is my baby. I promise her that she can visit us and spend the night sometimes. I'm not leaving forever.
 
So, my Clarie, thank you for trusting me. You know I'm your big sissy no matter where I go. My arms are always here for you to run into. I love you, my baby... I love you.



This was the hardest family member blog I've written. It's the only one in which I cried while writing. Something about my baby girl.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kandy

 
If there has ever been a person that has been with me through the thick and thin, I can say it is Kandace. Very little of my life has been without her. I can vaguely remember holding her for the first time. Daddy laid her in my little arms. "Meet your sister." I smiled like only a 3 1/2 year old could as I looked down into the quiet infant's face.
 
The "quiet" infant was only pretending to be calm. She turned out to be an energetic, curly headed doll of a child. She learned to talk incredibly early and learned to drive me crazy even earlier. She was the kind of child that had an imaginary friend. She cut the hair off of our cats, yet she cried if she saw a dead animal on the side of the road. She could sing perfect harmony before most kids can hold down the melody to a tune. Her little heart accepted Jesus at the age of four.
 
I can remember sitting in the middle of the playroom floor with her, completely surrounded by Barbies. We had every possible Barbie item you could have. The camper, houses, pools, cars, furniture and countless clothes. We had stories that would go on with our Barbies for literal weeks. We were dedicated. We also played outside and explored together. We spent days, weeks and years sitting side by side at the school table. We learned together. We went everywhere together. Katy and Kandace.
 
 
We nearly killed each other. Never has a child had such an ability to pull hair, but neither has a child had a sweeter hug. She made me so mad I could explode, yet I wouldn't have been the same without her. She was the one I cried with when the adoptions were hard. She was the one I locked arms with when no one understood.
 
Time passed and we got older. We sang together in church. She wasn't afraid of things like I was. She often pushed through life with more vigor than I did. I used to ask her to go order food for me at restaurants. She would roll her eyes and hop up to help "the scardy cat" out.
 
I was the serious one. She was... not. We're still that way. Now she's taller than me. She is 14 years old. She's almost 15. To me she is still four years old and bouncing around the house with her curls blowing in the wind. No matter what, she has stuck by me. We're together. We never went through a "stage" where we "hated" each other. Mom and Dad taught us that love is the only option. So it was. It is. We take care of each other. She borrows my clothes and I borrow hers. We sit in church on Sundays side by side. 
 
I would be lying to say that leaving her is easy. She has always been my best friend. It is hard for her too. I'm leaving, not because I love her less, but because I have to go with the one who I am supposed to be with. She knows that.
 
She'll always be my sister. Time nor distance can change how close we are. She has done more for me in the past few months than I will never know. She has chosen to trust her sister, her friend. She'll always be the one who can finish my sentences. She'll always be the one who sings perfect harmony to my melody. I've watched her grow into a girl after God's heart. She'll always be Kandy. My little sister. Now she'll be my Maid of Honor.
 
Thank you, Kan. Thanks for being my best friend. I'm always here for you. I love you!