Friday, March 30, 2012

Questions from a Friend

Sandra asked me to answer a few questions during their giveaway over at Eastern Journey about writing "Redefining Home." At first it felt a little awkward to post this interview of myself on my own blog. But, it answers many of the questions that you guys have asked so I decided to go ahead and post it. And besides awkward and I have become fairly good friends, so it's only fitting. 
Here ya go:

As a Mom to 5, what advice do you have for members of the JV?
Pray hard and remain flexible.
Every stage seems overwhelming at the time. I actually feel like having 3 little ones was harder than my 5 that are a little older. But I remember having only one child and thinking “Will I ever have shower or a coherent thought again?!” And now if only one kid is inside, it feels like vacation.
James 4:17 has been the cord that pulls me up to make dinner and pulls me down to pick up socks… again. “If you know what is the right thing to do and you do not do it, for him it is sin.” Remembering this when my child is throwing up for the 5th time this morning gives me the joy to clean it instead of rolling up the sheets and sticking them in the corner. You know, if people did that kind of thing.

How does it feel being the Varsity Team Captain?
I’m pretty sure I was voted Varsity Team Captain while the rest of the team was at lunch. My kids are 10, 8, 6, 4, 3 and I’m on Varsity only because of our team size, not because of my performance on the field.

How can you write a book when I can barely have a complete thought?
I have discovered about myself that I need some type of creative side story to my day. I love being a mom and wife, but I need something that is creative to allow my mind to run free for a bit. Sometimes it’s blogging or sewing or cooking. For this last year, it was writing “Redefining Home.”
I didn’t get to write everyday, but I tried to make it a habit of jotting something down at least 5 days a week. At times it was composing a chapter while I walked to the market, but my mind was still engaged in a story line and that was fun for me.
There are a few people in my life that have been urging me to write for the last decade. The problem was that I was dedicating most of my brain cells to birthing babies or pureeing sweet potatoes.
Now that all of my kids are walking, talking, playing and peeing independently, I had a little bit of mental free space. As dusty as that space was, it was fun to take some time to write.
What’s something you learned through the process of writing “Redefining Home”?
Through writing “Redefining Home,” I’ve seen the difference in writing for myself and writing for the Lord. So often I do things out of personal ambition. Over and over again, those things become uncomfortable and life draining.
As I wrote, I was constantly praying that the Lord would allow this to be His work. That ever word and comma I put down would be an offering to Him.
I’ve also learned that good things happen through perseverance. I grew so much by putting things down on paper even though I wanted to be doing something else. One page at a time.
What have you given up and what have you gained in return?
I gained so many things. Let’s see… laughter. This was a big one for me. There’s a certain amount of weight that is constant when you live out of your home culture. I had let that weight drain the passion from my soul.
As I wrote, I saw things again. I saw faces and stories and not just annoying people at the train station. I laughed at the boy peeing in the trash can instead of rolling my eyes in first-world disgust. My love for the people and culture here was dug out of the muck that I had covered it with.
What’s your next project?
I’m going to start writing again later this year. I’ve already started rolling somethings around in my mind, but have nothing down in concrete yet.
I’m going to take some time to enjoy the people who are reading “Redefining Home.” I’ve been humbled by hearing the stories of laughter and tears from people whom I don’t know personally, but are reading the book.
If I can help to shift paradigms for at least one person, I am happy. I hope this book is as much a joy to the readers as it was to me as the writer.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Redefining Home" Giveaway at Eastern Journey!

A few weeks ago, Sandra approached me and asked if they could host a giveaway on their blog. Well, today is that day. Click on the link below to hop over to her blog and enter over there.

Eastern Journey is hosting a "Redefining Home," giveaway today! They are giving away 3 kindle editions to commenters. Here are the rules:

We’re giving away 3 copies of Redefining Home written by my friend and Varsity Team Captain Carrie.
To enter: leave a comment telling us your most memorable intercultural experience…
bicycling though Provence…
living with an Australian host family…
entering the Republic of Texas…
If you tweet, facebook, instagram, or tell your quilting circle about this book, leave an additional comment for extra entries.
On Saturday I’ll draw three winners & you will be contacted via email.
Just to clarify:
Nobody asked us to host a giveaway.
Sponsored by: Hubs.

We have also done a brief Q&A that will be posted in the next day or two.

I'd like to add that anytime you enter the Republic of Texas it is a memorable experience. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Your "I won't" list

Should I...yes.

Do I...nope.

I feel like this is the storyline of my life for this season. I was talking with a friend awhile back and she was telling me about making a "I won't" list. Sweet! A list of things that I don't have to do. Perfect and totally doable.

I am a dreamer. From the time I wake up, an avalanche of ideas pours over me and it gets me out of bed. This is why I start projects and never finish them. I say this while sitting next to my new chores system that has yet to be implemented but sits here while I blog. Point made. But I think that we have to look at the things in our lives that might be good things, but not best things. Or at the very least, "not now things."

If you have 3 kids under 4, you do not have to make an Easter wreath out of Peeps. Would that be fun? Yes (well, maybe). But, trust me...put that on your "I won't" list. That way the pressure to make your house look perfect for the holidays is relived because it's on that list.

When you walk into Target and the temptation cling-ons start pulling your cart to the DIY isle, remind yourself that organizing your wedding pictures is on the "I won't" list for 2012.

My "I won't" list for this year includes:

1. I won't start science until 2013

2. I won't train for any type of race or athletic competition.

3. I won't get a new Chinese tutor.

All of these things are tempting for me to try. But I know that my sanity is a fragile thing. Having them crossed out of my mind allows me the freedom to make an actual to-do list that is manageable and productive.

Do you have some things that you WON'T do this year? No, you cannot put cleaning dishes on that list, so go ahead and erase it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Raising a Black Child in a Yellow World

While the title itself might convey a prejudice, I used that title on purpose. It seems prejudice when read by American eyes. But actually, my Chinese friends refer to themselves as yellow and my daughter as black. Our entire family is labeled "outsiders." We hear that phrase at least half a dozen times a day. She gets called "little black girl" at school and in our home by friends. When I hear it, my instinct is to lash out and correct them. I have to be slow in my defenses because they are not being derogatory, but rather descriptive. Because in America if I called someone yellow or "little black kid," I would get reprimanded in the form of a swift kick to the spleen. Our Chinese community doesn't have the emotional baggage tied to black and white race issues that I do as an American.

I am not going to say that Chinese people have no racist thoughts against the black community. I have heard stories of black adults being ostracized or mocked here. But, I also know that if we lived in America, people might possibly say horrendous things too. It's good for my soul to remember that and not villainize the people here. There are ignorant, mean people everywhere. Most the of the families I know that have adopted from Ethiopia and live in China have similar experiences to our family.

People still say funny things about our family like, "Are you Madonna?" But the bottom line is that they have NO idea why our family looks the way it does. Most Chinese would only consider adoption if the woman was barren. Period. To not share a bloodline is both shameful and second class. 

We can obviously birth children. Some people call it our hobby. So why in the world would we adopt?! They cannot wrap their minds around it. 

When we first brought M home, we tried to avoid using the tagline "Well, she's adopted." We aren't at all ashamed of adoption, we just didn't want that to become her tagline. Like Macauly Culkin-"that kid from Home Alone." Poor guy.

That's great, except that people don't let it die. 

"Did you have an affair with a black man?"

"You have been married twice?"

"She has a contractable, fatal skin disease?"

"You haven't bathed her yet this month?"

You see, I'd rather avoid these assumptions and just explain the beauties of adoption. For me to speak so boldly that she is adopted makes smoke come from people's ears here. I remind them that it's because Jesus has first loved me that I am able to love my daughter. That HE choose ME to be HIS daughter and so I wanted to do the same for M. The second a visitor walks into our home, M goes running with her adoption photo album in hand. She shows them the pictures, explains her story. As a family, we have chosen to redeem the negative ideas regarding bloodline. We are hoping to show that family means much more than sharing DNA, especially when we have a Father that includes people of every tribe, nation, tongue and tribe into His own family. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Giveaway Winner and a little surprise!

**Many of you have told me that you've read the book and how it ministered to you or embarrassed you by laughing at inappropriate times. How about sharing that on an Amazon review? :) Thanks!

I cannot tell you how humbled I am at your response to my book. I feel like Michael Jackson linking arms and swaying to "We are the World," with all of you from around the globe. I have gotten to hear stories of people being encouraged, mothers in pain but laughing for the first time in months, dads being challenged in their faith, and people living overseas saying "I totally feel that way!"

The Lord is good my friends.

The real reason you are here is to find out who won the giveaway. I won't pull a reality show prank and talk about former blog postings or why I love my Mom before revealing who won. So, here it is:


Here are my lovely kids outfitted in their "Young Leaders" scarves from Chinese school. 

Congratulations! You have won a copy of "Redefining Home," a mug from Starbucks China, a Mexican Vanilla candle from Johnston Family Farms and fresh Jasmine tea from the motherland.

Post a comment on this blog post and I won't publish it. I'll need your email address and your preference of the Kindle or paperback version.

AND I have a little surprise. I've decided to pick a second winner that will receive a paperback copy of "Redefining Home."

Jennifer P.! 
(send me your address and I'll send a copy your way.)

I hope that we can keep the conversation going about all things related to faith, being overseas and generally making a fool of yourself in public. I'm going to be posting updates and fun China stuff over at Carrie Anne Hudson on FB and Twitter. Rumor has it, there will be more giveaways on other blogs real soon. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last Chance to Win!

Ok folks, the bell is about to ring on the giveaway.

Scroll down and get yourself entered to win a copy of "Redefining Home," and some loot from the East side.

The giveaway ends March 21st, midnight ET. So tell the kids you are doing something very important on your computer, like calculating the next solar eclipse, and enter to win.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kindle and a "Redefining Home" Giveaway

Ok, it's giveaway time. In honor of the Kindle rolling out my e-book this week (I love the irony that the e-book tagged in at last place in getting the book published), I'm giving you some love from the motherland. You'll get a China Starbucks mug, a Mexican Vanilla candle from Johnston Family Farms, fresh Jasmine Tea and a copy of "Redefining Home" (either Kindle or paperback).

If you:

Facebook about the book, 

Tweet it, 

post it on your blog, 

subscribe to this blog, 

comment on this here post,

tell your grandmother's craft circle, 

or if you have done any of these since the book came out, then that's an entry. 

Each time you do one of the above, tell me in a comment on this blog post, and you will get your name thrown into a box. So telling your grandma AND Facebook means two entries and you can just stick those both in one comment. Are you trackin' with me here? This really isn't hard, but to make this feel official I need to make the instructions complicated.

The Giveaway will end on March 21st at midnight ET, so start procrastinating on other things and get yourself entered to win.

By the way: if you don't have a Kindle, you can get the Kindle app for free! You can also follow along at @carrieahudson on Twitter or Carrie Anne Hudson on Facebook.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Kindle Drama

I promise the Kindle version of "Redefining Home" IS coming out. It is up on NOOK though! But I feel  like at this point, Kindle has become the Coke, Xerox, and Kleenex of e-readers. No offense to my Barnes and Noble peeps. So, the giveaway will take place when the Kindle version is released.  

There have been a few bumps in getting the formatting correct, so it's taken longer than expected. I have grown a tad impatient at how long it's taking, but I am reminded that it took Moses 40 years of wandering to return to his task. I think I can wait another 2 days.This Kindle thing has been a traumatic process I will tell you. The other night, I had a dream that I wet the bed at a slumber party. I clearly have issues.

In the next few days, all should be right in the world. least right in my little Kindle world. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I like my Stretch Marks

It's funny how our body image changes as we get older.

Or maybe I'm just too tired to care anymore.

But the older I get, the more I appreciate the way people are put together through their stories and struggles and not their matching scarf and Tom's set. There are times when I look at a 20-year old in all her perkiness and find myself glancing jealously in the mirror. I scroll over the stretch marks laying over every patch of skin that makes me uniquely female. I also find that I no longer where spandex because it keeps me from chaffing, but rather it holds the jiggling down to a minimum. Thank you spandex.

But I feel like as my age increases, so does my freedom in what my body looks like.

I have successfully sequestered my first grey hair and the rest of my follicles have thrown their hands up in  color-defeat. They are ushering me slowly into a lonely grey tundra. But I think I'm ok with that. There is a certain freedom that comes when you stop concerning yourself so much with what physical image you are projecting. It's allowed me to laugh more at myself. It's allowed me to enjoy my husband as he dips his goatee into the salt and pepper pool. It's given me more mental space to play "T-Rex devours Spiderman" with my boys.

I wish I could have discovered this a good 20 years ago. The bang poof, shoulder pads, and endless jelly bracelets were all aching so loudly at me that I didn't enjoy what was right in front of me: others.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Treated like a Servant

I'm pretty sure it was Chuck Swindoll who said "You will know if your heart is that of a servant in how you react when being treated like one." 

(insert hard swallow and the harsh realization that while I read this quote a solid 10 years ago, it hasn't left my mind.)

There are days I wish I could forget this quote. I have forgotten things like which generals fought in the civil war and how to use the Pythagorean Theorem, but this quote has haunted me for the last decade of my life.

When I look at my day as a mom, I realize that so often my frustration stems out of me being treated like a servant. My husband and kids are very grateful and encourage me often. But still I think "I'm gonna get sick for a day and you guys will really appreciate me."

Hello red flag!

Today, when I was cleaning up the mess made from our paper mache pig activity (in case you're wondering, paper mache and jr. high lock-ins were created by the devil), I'm grumbling and impatient. But honestly, it's my job. It's my calling. It's my blessing. My four-year old can help clean, but I'm gonna have to come behind him and finish the job. But so often I see it as my duty and not my opportunity to love and serve my family.

I have found my attitude becomes quickly irritated when I have something else I want to be doing. I see the matted mound of newspapers as sucking my time away from returning an email. If I took on the perspective that James talked about in chapter 4 verse 17 "If anyone knows what is the right thing to do and yet does not do it, for him it is sin," then my attitude would be one of gratefulness at doing the task instead of sinning.

For me to look at the pile of newspapers, spilled glue, dilapidated balloon and think "ugh, not again, I'm just gonna skip this project altogether," would be sin for me. I know that the right thing to do is to complete the project with my kids and do it with joy. And if I don't do that very thing, it is sin.

That is a big ol' nasty, pre-natal-vitamin-sized pill to swallow.

A servant looks at the needs of the house and does them because it's their God given task for that day. Each task that I get to do is a chance for me to offer it back to Him as worship and to teach my kids what it means to serve with a heart of Jesus. Jesus peeled caked on layers of dirt from the disciple's feet and told them to do the same. This job wasn't one for a King; it was one for a servant. But for very non-worldly reasons, Jesus is asking us to humble ourselves into a position of service.

When there are clothes to be cleaned and dinner to be prepared, I shouldn't balk or complain because that is the simple task that this servant has been given. And because I know my Master's heart, I can be guaranteed that each task is innately good, because He is good.

Tomorrow is a new day. A day where (God willing) I will look at the pile of legos that has been vomited across my floor and I will bend down with joy to pick them up because it's my job. It's my joy.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Adoption Link Up

There are some good posts this week about adoption. Today's word of the day is DELEGATION. These people have several hundred more brain cells than I do and can express themselves at a level exceeding second grade, so I decided to let them do the posting today.

Over at Millions of Miles, she unfolds her laundry basket of learning about black culture. From her first experience in the sandbox to entering into a transracial adoption, Making a Lasting Impact makes for a good framing of how we all grew up understanding race.

Rage Against the Minivan is talking about appreciating race. While sitting with her daughter at a performance, she notices that all the dancers were black. Her daughter noted this loudly. describing vs. ascribing: digger deeper into talking about race  helps us understand what things make us cringe and is it right that they do?

Jen Hatmaker did a guest blog here: give1save1. I'm pretty sure Jen and I are soul mates, she just doesn't know it yet. I love her take on preparing for adoption. Listen to Baby Einsteins in utero 24/7! Feed your baby only organic potatoes grown by corn fed farmers from Connecticut!  Your adopted children's hair should look like Hally Barry or your are a white parent failure! These are the lies we pour into our brains on a daily basis when we begin parenting. She stops us in the chaos, looks at us straight in the eyes and tells us to get a grip.

A family who has been giving the gift of caring for Chinese orphans that have HIV. Their story is a good reminder that God doesn't call us to what we can handle on our own, but that which will bring Him the most glory. We are Grafted In has highlighted them in the post titled Surrounded. 

I love getting to hear of how people ended up on this side of adoption. The calling, the surrender, the understanding, the sacrifice, the family.

Since we're talking adoption, thought I'd include a picture of why I shouldn't be blogging right now. Maybe throwing some hair milk in her hair and putting something on her besides her bathing suit and tights would be good.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

We have a 6 year old!

We have a 6 year old!

At the beginning of February, C had a birthday. This girl has had a monumental year with her homeschooling, traveling and winning the race for the number of growth spurts in one year. She has become a fantastic reader and artist. She also names all of her stuffed animals Mary.  

This girl loves to make people laugh, jump rope, win races, and take of her pants the second she walks in the door. She is an incredible big sister and brings life to our days. When we were in Thailand last month we got to pet giraffes and eat cake with lots of friends. Giraffes and friends is about all this girl needs in a day. 

She is always quick to serve others, see people's needs, comfort her friends, and keep us laughing. I love this girl and thank the Lord daily for Him giving her to us. We love you baby girl! Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

How the heck did you have the time to write a book?

*I promise this will not become a book blog. Just like it isn't a Mommy, China, cooking, homeschool or family blog. I will remain content in the "random" blog category because I hate labels. Clearly. But this week I'll do a few posts and giveaways to get the book thing rolling. Then more stories about enemas in starbucks and Chris Farley in spandex.

So, I've been asked more than a few times, "How the heck did you have time to write a book?"I jotted down a few things that I thought of while taking a bath.

1. It was my sanity. I've discovered about myself that I need a side story to my daily grind. I need to have a creative something that I can work on and donate some brain cells to.

2. I read a great book by Anne Lamott called "Bird by Bird." She emphasizes the value of writing a little each day. So, I did just that. (I love this book except that one entire chapter uses a certain cuss word to describe her first draft. I almost recommended to a mom that her aspiring novelist daughter read it until I remembered this particular chapter. I don't want to be the person guilty of introducing this English word to her poor daughter. I'll leave that to Youtube.)

Each morning, I'd find an hour or two and write. My routine was coffee, my porch, Sara Groves and the background noise of chanting grandpas doing tai qi.

3. I am passionate about the topic. When you are deeply convicted in something, it's amazing how the time seems to find itself. If I truly believed in dying my wonky gray hairs that have taken up a front row seat along my temple, you better know I'd find the time to do that.

I desperately want people to understand what it means to accept a calling to be overseas. I want them to laugh both at us and with us as we expose our foreignness in every country we land in. I want to remind people that you don't have to be afraid if you truly believe that God is that big.

So when you believe those things, you redeem the time in other places so that there is space to write.

And...I got rid of clothes so that I didn't have much laundry. That helped too.

4. Lastly, my loving husband looked at me as I started writing and said, "If you start this, you must finish it." I'm an ENFP, which means I love to brainstorm and start projects. What I don't love is finishing them. I just kinda close my eyes and hope someone more talented and organized comes along to help me finish the task. As a child, I tried to hand copy the book "Wizard of Oz," and make a functioning trash can out of tooth picks. You can now see why my husband threatened encouraged me to not start unless I would finish.

If there is something you feel called to do, but can't for the life of you figure out how to make that happen, my advice would be pray and then get creative. If God is behind it, things will work themselves out as you go along. I'm thankful and humbled that He'd allow someone who can't even use a comma properly to write a book like this.

The Long Hair Debacle

I first posted this on Dec. 6, 2010. I just had this exact conversation again yesterday with two friends over Skype. In their honor, I give you this:

Hubs and I have an ongoing "discussion" about girls and their hair length. Men across the board want women to have long hair. I think they have this fantasy that if our hair is long that we will be morphed into some slinky super model that spritzes herself each morning in coco butter. And then we will walk out the door covered in glittering in the morning sun. And then we will frolic over, lay on a log, and dream of writing prose.

I'm usually only glittering because of the sweat that has formed on my overgrown eye brows as I lug my babies to the grocery store in the summer. And the hair that he loves so much...ya, it's tucked into a nice half pony tail. A half pony tail because it feels a tad bit like I actually did my hair that morning. And because full pony tails make me feel like a cheerleader. If I'm draped over a log, it's because my kid has thrown his shoe from the stroller and I'm trying desperately to find it and to save myself another trip to the store to buy the third pair this season.

If I thought I was going to be a cute as Sinead O'Connor in this above picture, I'd shave my hair all off. Seriously, look at that specimen of femininity. But I'd look like a bull dog. Or a party balloon. Either way, my husband would shackle me to the closet until it all grew back if I decided to pull off a a hair cut like that.

But I'm not gonna say I'm not tempted to cut it all off sometimes.

And I am training him to understand that when you get older, you just shouldn't have long hair. Unless you are a librarian or a yoga instructor living in Portland. It just shouldn't be. Like Chris Farley in Spandex.

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