They said that blending a family with a child from half a world away who doesn't speak the same language and doesn't have a family to call keeps forever would be challenging and rewarding
and that our hearts would be full.
They cautioned us to set boundaries, guidelines and stick to the many, many rules put in place to protect the children and the families.
The shared statistics, helped us understand what happens to these children, many of whom have found themselves in situations that bad dreams are made of and helped us see what the love of a family does to turn around a life -- what being chosen and Chosen does for a hurting heart.
They said to keep it simple, show love and limit sweets.
They promised our sentences would become broken fragments of two different languages and that laughter would become our universal language.
They warned time would swoosh by too fast, that our hearts would be forever changed, that we'd suffer the kind of whiplash that only occurs when you've been swept off your feet by God's amazing goodness on display.
And all of that has been true.
They even told us we couldn't possibly fit everything we wanted to send back with her into a suitcase and adhere to the 50-pound weight limit … and they were right about that, too; there was no way our family would fit in it even if we tried.
As she placed item after item into her suitcase, I thought about how much stuff accumulates in one month … and I thought about how it doesn't even compare to the amount of love; I found myself grateful that love doesn't pack into a suitcase, or we'd surely have blown through that limit like you wouldn't believe and like I could never explain.
No one told us that.
But how could they? How could anyone have put that kind of love to words? How could anyone have said we'd feel like a piece of our heart had stepped out from our chests and boarded a plane to Europe, still tethered to us?
People kept telling us how we were blessing her with this gift of a month in our home … and I know there's truth in that as I recall some of the last words, hugs we shared this morning before she stepped through security.
But that's not the whole of it, and I'd be sorely amiss to end there.
That beautiful girl came bundled with many gifts -- she added to the love, laughter, fun and spirit of our Christmas and New Year Celebrations and our home. She lavished attention on the boys and brought us all lots of smiles and giggles. She was a patient language teacher for me, and she reminded us to slow down and savor life.
Those are all really big, wonderful gifts.
But the real gift? The real gift was simply knowing and loving her, a beautiful blessing from our extraordinarily good God.
There's a lot no one told us about hosting. And there's a lot I never would have understood.
No one told us that we'd be left feeling like the gift we'd given
would feel like it was given 10-fold back to us.
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17