*****Don’t forget the giveaway!  I don’t want it to get pushed to the bottom of the blog where it is hard to see and no one else will enter!*****

Why is it we always want what we do not have?  In the spirit of “keeping the blog real,” I just thought I’d share where I am right now…  Coming home is a bit strange.  For one, I feel out of place.  It’s an odd feeling to not have a “home” in your own country.  Granted we have very welcoming family who bend over backwards to make us feel at home, but we’re still living out of a suitcase for the next 6 weeks.  We’d have to go to another continent before we’re truly at home, and that’s a strange feeling since we’re in the place our passports say we belong.  Today my grandma told someone, “They’re from China!”  As an American, that’s an odd thing to hear.  It isn’t just that we don’t have a home in the states, it’s that our life is just so different.  We perused the meat counter at Costco yesterday; it seemed strange to think that we used to purchase our meat neatly wrapped in little plastic packages, and now we normally buy it from a vendor on the side of the road.  It really feels like our life in China is just a dream.  Sometimes conversations turn in directions that just don’t have any connection to my own life right now.  School happenings, Christmas pageant practice, what to buy the little ones for Christmas… from the daily routines to the daily groceries, it is all the stuff of the normal American life.  But not mine.  Finding common ground takes some work right now, so a lot of times I just sit, quietly listening. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’ve been.  I used to not want all this to be the stuff of my life.  Before we moved to China, nothing could have held me back.  My enthusiasm for this new adventure was sky-high, and I eagerly anticipated throwing off the encumbrances of my life in America.  The mortgage, the car, etc. – it all seemed like it would just hold us back from experiencing a new way of life. 

But now, from my vantage point on the other side of the big pond, those things I used to see as encumbrances now seem like they’d be quite comfortable.  They’d be reassuring in their relative predictability, and it would be easy (in many ways) to slip back into the structure and cadence of the life all of our peers and family lead.  Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s lives are a bit different.  And I know they aren’t easy.  But we know how it works.  We would come home and get jobs.  We’d buy our first home, and I’d finally get to decorate a place just how I’d like.  We’d probably start a family fairly soon, and then I’d mostly be a mom.  We’d work on our nest egg, go on family vacations, and work hard to make sure our children lived well-balanced lives.  We’d take the challenges and crises in stride as best as we could, and we’d keep moving forward…  The familiarity of that life path is comforting.

But, I’m so torn.  The instant I start dreaming about my American Dream, I start realizing what I’d miss in my China Dream.  I wouldn’t be able to go cuddle babies in the middle of the day… babies who have no other moms to cuddle them.  I wouldn’t be able to experience the unique challenges and character building that comes from life in another culture.  I’d lose the tight-knit community I’ve grown to love so much.  Jacob and I would undoubtedly not spend as much time together as we do now.  My (hypothetical) kids wouldn’t grow up speaking two languages, wouldn’t naturally understand that life for most of the world isn’t like the “Disney Park” version they’d see in America, and probably wouldn’t be as comfortable in cross-cultural situations.  Our lives would become more cluttered and complicated.  Most likely, I wouldn’t be working on a daily basis on projects that deal with the basic needs of orphans – nutrition, medical care, etc.  This is my passion, and I know I could never fully leave it behind.  Already their faces are before me wherever I go, and I’ve only been gone a week!   

Ugh… this makes no sense.  You can probably imagine the chaos that is my brain right now.  All I know is that I want it all.  I want the comforts of home, and I want my beautiful, crazy, painful, and unpredictable life in China.  I want my own children, and I want to be a mother to the ones who wait.  I want my own home, that I can decorate just how I want… but I want to do it without thinking of how many heart surgeries my decorating budget would cover, which is probably an impossibility.  I want financial independence, but I want to work full-time for a small foster home that can’t pay me.  I could go on…

Sometimes when it gets so complicated that my brain grows tired, I want to forget it all… to go back in time 4 years and never step foot in an orphanage for the first time.  Then I wouldn’t have to be responsible for this weighty knowledge.  But, I do know.  And I am responsible for what I know.  (And, most days I WANT to be responsible for it.  Please don’t think that the only reason I’m in China is out of a sense of guilty obligation.)  But, I admit I’m sometimes jealous of people around me who don’t seem to know the pain and brokenness I’ve seen.  It seems like life would be so much simpler.

Isn’t the grass always greener on the other side?  Before I wanted China.  Sometimes I now want America.  But now I know enough to know that I don’t really know what I want.


A few editorial notes… These are just my thoughts.  I’m not speaking for Jacob too.  Obviously decisions about whether we stay or go will be made by both of us.  Secondly, if you are a member of my family and are immediately alarmed by this post, please don’t worry.  I’m OK.  Writing is cathartic for me, and I know we have many friends who pray for us after reading the blog.  

16 thoughts on “Torn

  1. Carrie–As always, your deep thinking leaves me thinking. I’m reading a book now about missionaries who worked in Vietnam from 1965-75 when the Communists took over and they had to leave. I stress HAD because the overwealming story from the women and their (now grown-up) daughters is how much they loved Vietnam and the people and how much it was home. One daughter told of how even now she sobs for days after watching a movie about Vietnam (part of this is that they lost all contact with people they left and have no idea what happened to them). I guess what I want to say is that whatever you choose will be a great choice–for both you and your children (can’t wait to meet them, by the way!). Virginia


  2. Carrie, you have an awesome way of putting your thoughts on paper.. Sometimes I envy you and your struggle between worlds… You are in our prayers…..Love Ya BunchesMelba


  3. What ever you chose it will be good because that is just the way he works. I will say there is so much richness in a simple life. Hey, I have an idea, let’s life swap! That would be so much fun!Much love!


  4. Carrie,I don’t know you — just got your blog from a friend because I have a daughter from China. So, this is a stranger encouraging you . . . that you’re young and unencumbered right now . . . use that while you can, you will never regret it. You have many years to have your own mortgage, jobs, etc. and you can always have babies in China — you don’t have to be 30 to make your own!Also, my best friend is a missionary and she always expresses the same feelings when she comes home — of feeling like home is no longer home. I think you’re pretty normal in that sense. Home is where your heart is.You and Jacob are a huge blessing to those babies in China and I know that no matter what you decide . . . you will continue to bless those little orphans.Blessings,Jo


  5. I can feel the turmoil you must be feeling. I am pretty sure I will be able to identify with you soon enough. I got a small taste of it this last week but I know it is going to be very hard to leave everything we know and love behind….especially our big kids.Big Hugs to you my sweet friend.


  6. I saw a quote that came to mind when I read this postI hear and I forget,I see and I remember,I do and I understand~ConfuciusI can understand where you are coming from in that I have a child from China and am in process for #2 and I don’t see us ending at 2 or 3 or….because how can we??? Knowing what we know. Everyday the children that are left are with me and I cannot forget them…nor do I want to!! I want to do more!! We have one child, we sponsor two children monthly, we are adopting again, we held a fundraiser for LWB and it is not enough. I have such a need and desire and passion in my heart for the motherless and fatherless. I don’t see living in China in my future….but I still understand your heart. I am so thankful to follow your journal. Thank You!!


  7. Hi CarrieWhat a moving piece, it held me spellbound. How lucky you are to have such deep experieces for one so young. Some people never have the chance or take the chance to experience ro feel as you do. As you get older you will realise that material things are not such a big deal. Enjoy your life, your are making such a difference.Regard for the UK.


  8. Carrie,After getting to know you better in China I realized that you and Jacob are truly extraordinary people with truly an extraordinary life!! After reading this post on the 11th my initial impression was that an “ordinary” life outside of China could never fulfill such an extraordinary couple. This particular post has stayed in my head and now that I have personally wrestled your dilemma for a week, I have a new perspective. Although here on earth we have created borders, which make it appear we live in different worlds, states, and countries, I do not believe he sees these artificial lines of demarcation. What makes you and Jacob so extraordinary is your service to him. This “world of service” can occur anywhere on this beautiful planet. Today’s post, “Part I” of the Hannah story reminds me of how he speaks. Just as your life changed as you drove down the interstate, he will let you know what side of the planet he wants your “world of service” to continue on. Sara M.


  9. Carrie, you will have it all; but not all at the same time. I’ve spent extended time periods in other countries, and I understand totally, what you’re describing, about not feeling at home in the US. I always found my return to the US more difficult than being in Russia for months at a time. I stood in line to grocery shop, had limited food choices, and didn’t speak the language. It was still easier than my return to the US each time. Despite the fact that I’d lived in the US for my entire life, I was stunned by the color, the excessive amount of choices, and the comforts that we lived with in the US. I too, was amazed that people i knew made a conscious decision to close their eyes to the disparity between our lives in the US, and the lives of others, in different parts of the world. If I was in the US., I was missing people in Russia. If I was in Russia, I was missing my family and friends in the US. Part of you is always left in the other part of your world. I am an ESL teacher and look forward to teaching internationally, hopefully in China, in several years. I’m glad I had my experiences in Russia, as I feel it will help me prepare my daughters, who were born in China, for the experience of moving to another country. My older daughter is 10 and my younger daughter is 5. Their early experiences in orphanages changed who they are as people. My kids have challenges that kids raised with loving families from the beginning, do not have. Thank you for the work you do, and thank you for sharing it with us. I am a board member for The Red Thread Promise. We’re a non-profit organization and we provide medical care for orphans. I contacted Pam about a year ago, and asked if we could be of support to her. We were able to help with one of her little boys, recently. I hope that we can be of support to you in the future. The link for The Red Thread is on my family blog, if you would like to read more about us. Jeana


  10. Carrie – I just found your blog the other day, through a post on Tonggu Momma’s blog, and now I’m reading backwards through a few of your posts. Can I just say, I COMPLETELY get this post? I haven’t worked in an orphanage, but I understand what you’re saying. I worked as a missionary, for 18 months, in Hong Kong. Coming “home” was an odd thing. I ended up marrying a wonderful man from Hong Kong, and we’re raising our two children as Eurasian as possible – bi-cultural, bi-lingual. (Their father and I are both fluent in Cantonese and English.) I just wanted to say that I understand part of what you’re feeling – I was struck, when I came back to the States, how HUGE everything is here. My bedroom was the size of some of the apartments I visited in Hong Kong. God bless you as you serve those children. Thank you.


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