I have been thinking about onions a lot lately. Part of that is due the fact that it is time to plant the garden and deciding if onions will be a part of that. The other reason is that onions can teach many lessons.
When looking at an onion,
one thing becomes clear – there are many layers to an onion! There is the outside brown, dry layer – the protective skin. This layer protects the tender inside that is used for seasoning food There is a really thin layer that when peeled off will sometimes release a milky substance! Then there are the layers of the onion. Onions can be sweet or very strong and pungent. At the very center of the onion is the heart. If you leave an onion in the refrigerator long enough, it will start to sprout green leaves from this heart!
Onions have many uses;
They are used to season food
They clear out the tear ducts while peeling them.
It is believed that onions have medical benefit to the body. Onions are believed to contain anti-inflamatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant properties! Some research seems to show that increasing the consumption of onions leads to reduced rates of head and neck cancers!
Onions are amazing and God created them.
People are a lot like Onions.
Understanding onions is helping me to understand my daughter. She has many layers and it has taken awhile to peel off some of these layers. But as each layer is peeled back, I learn more and more about her and her God-given personality.
The brown protective layer was well intact when I picked her up in China. When adopting from China, they bring the child to your hotel room and ring the door bell when they are at the door. For Courtney and I we had been waiting all morning for this moment and had visions of Giovanna 0r Ming as we were calling her then, just loving us from the first moment she saw us. That was so far from the actual events.
Giovanna had the same care giver the whole two years she was in the orphanage. She had a very good relationship with her. Once I opened the door, she took one look at this pale-faced, light-haired women looking back at her, wrapped her arms around her care giver’s neck and wailed! She wanted absolutely nothing to do with the woman she saw in the hotel room. She cried for 2 hours. Finally she cried herself to sleep.
It took a day or so to get that outer protective layer to begin to crack and food was the ticket in. When I took her down to breakfast she continued to eat and eat and eat. Finally she stopped and took a very long morning nap. There were many appointments and sightseeing to do that week and as we were in and out of places, she began to smile. Her smile was amazing and would light up a room. We ate lunch at the same place and she learned how to get what she wanted. It was fun to watch that outer layer come off little by little during those first 10 days in China together. By the time we got back to the states, the outer layer was gone and she seemed to know that she was “home”.
Those first few months were rather trying. She did not like meat and it took almost 2 weeks to get her to try some and then it was in a Chinese restaurant. There were some behaviors that were difficult to deal with and others that were hard to live with. Nap time became a challenge as she would scream for hours almost as if she were going through torture.
Things seemed to calm down and our social worker was thrilled with some of the things she was seeing. Ming was attaching and that attachment seemed strong. We settled into a routine and she began to thrive. Little did I know what storms were brewing and would begin erupting as the layers began to peel back.
The first layer we dealt with was the physical layer. Ming was born with bilateral club hands and feet. This meant that she was not walking on her feet, but on her knees or scooting on her bottom. Shortly after her arrival here, we started the never-ending cycle of doctor’s appointments. Then the cycle of prepping for surgery, surgery and recovery – every 9 months. It was exhausting, but successful. Ming started walking on her own feet on 02 December 2002 – 2.5 years after she was born and 7 months after coming home.
This physical layer will never totally be gone. While she walks, runs, dances and rides a bike – all things that we were told she would never do, her body will never be what most would consider “normal”. But for her, she is functional and willing to try to do most things. Her favorite chore for now – washing dishes. However there is a flood on the counter when she is done. A small price to pay to see the smile on her face when she has accomplished the task of washing the sink full of dishes!
The next layer was language and speech. Because we spent the first few years on her physical needs and helping her to become functional, it took a long time to get to the second layer. By the time she got to Kindergarten, it became apparent that her language and speech were not at the same point. She switched schools and the team that I began to work with decided it was time to switch gears from the mostly OT type help she was getting at the school to language and speech development. After 15 months of very little progress, it was off to the medical side once again and 2 years of speech therapy 2-3 times per week. Therapy was scheduled so that school covered most of it during the year and the clinic during the summer. There was improvement, but not like we had thought or hoped for. This layer is still a work in progress.
The third layer was the academics and really was peeled back with the language layer. These two really dovetail and build on each other. The problem with this layer is that with delayed speech there has not been a good way to test her to see what she really knows. She is also a very good manipulator and can get out of the testing so easily. So while she continually tests out a bit better each year – she is still testing at the first/second grade level. She is in 4th grade! However we don’t have a clue where she really is due to the language barrier.
The layer I really want to get to is the heart. The heart was made to worship God and yet at the fall it was changed forever. I know that God has complete control over hearts.
He can harden and soften them to fit His Plan as was the case with Pharaoh from the account in Exodus.
He can move hearts to give generously – Also in Exodus when the Jews were building the tabernacle.
Hearts can be discouraged; feel faint; hate; feel fear; love; melt and worship.
God has told me that I can find him – But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29).
God promises to give us a new heart – And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, (Ezekiel 11:19).
I have seen glimpses into Ming’s heart – but not enough to know where she is with regard to God. There have been changes – some good, some not so good. With language barriers, it is not easy for her to express what she is thinking and feeling. Heart change comes with a price, but “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
There are moments when I see that God has been making inroads, but there are days that I wonder if there is even a crack in that heart. The past few weeks have been extremely hard and my paradigm has been shifting in regards to how I think about her, her needs and possible causes. From the research I have done, I am not liking what I am reading – but could very well be my reality. It has been a hard emotion roller coaster but I am thankful for friends who are willing to speak the truth into my life in a loving and caring way. They have been hinting at it for a long time, but only just recently have I been able to “hear” what they have been saying.
Pray for this next layer that is yet to be revealed. It is scary to be walking this road and yet God has been by my side, revealing a little more of the puzzle each day. Continue to ask the Lord to change Ming’s heart from stone to flesh and for language to express that. It may be in a language that only God can understand, but language not the less. As I stare at the questionnaire from the U of M clinic where Giovanna will have her neuro psych test, I am overwhelmed but hopeful to find out some answers to questions that have been nagging me since her arrival! Please join me in praying for clarity as I go through the myriad of questions and explain my concerns.