Let’s talk about something my grandma once said, When you master the seemingly impossible, it does something for you that fits into your very character for a lifetime, and makes the next impossible thing seem that much easier.”

I think about that a bunch.

Especially this last few months when each of us have been involved in some seemingly “impossible” tasks.

Some “Impossible” tasks lately

Little things like how impossible the bendy sidewalk en route to the junior high seemed to be to maneuver for Lucy and I on our tandem bike those first few days of school, especially one little section with a tree jutting out into it:

(we are not the most talented bike-riders, especially on our tandem).

Things like Claire taking on volleyball camp this summer that I talked about yesterday.

Max and Abby, newly married, taking on living for a summer in a foreign country where Abby didn’t speak the language and they had work schedules where they could hardly see each other that first little while:

Elle leaving her beloved Hawaii to learn so much in a new job in a new environment.
Lucy maneuvering memorizing her schedule and how to get to each class with diminishing vision, and marching into that school with all those jumbles of junior high kids each in their own stages of figuring out life each day:

And then emerging again at the end of the day happy and triumphant.

The impossible that each child is learning to master, making the next thing on the list “that much easier.”

Grace’s “Impossible” in China

But today I want to tell the story about how Grace decided to spend the last month of her last home summer in China.

Because to me, THAT was the epitome of “impossible.” A hard thing that has helped her gain so much more resilience.

Let’s start at the beginning.

We were at Bear Lake and all was well.

All hunky-dorey (except for the fact that we were missing Max and Abby terribly).
We realized, in the middle of the reunion, that they were going to need someone to fill in Abby’s spot in China when she left.  She was a pretty phenomenal English teacher and the program was feeling dependent on on her.  But she had to come back to start school (they had known she’d have to come back, but it was earlier than they had hoped).
We thought of Grace.
I mean, she’d been there before (that’s where she did her international summer internship a few years back), and she was feeling pretty desperate to make some money before she heads off to college.  But in my mind I thought “no way.”  She was much too clingy to HOME, and she wasn’t gonna give up that last month.  And even if she did, would I be able to let her??
I didn’t realize then to mourn for the sunset of my last days with her before college.

Because pretty much before I could blink that girl had agreed to head off.  She somehow just felt completely calm and good about it.  Knew it was just what she should do right from the moment Dave asked.

Within a matter of days Claire and I were standing in the driveway in the dust of Grace’s farewell, linked in a tight hug, tears filling both of our cheeks.  Neither of us were ready for that girl of ours to leave a month earlier than we expected.  The only thing that gave me peace was that Grace was so sure of that decision.  Didn’t doubt it for a minute.  So it somehow infiltrated into my heart that it would be ok. But I ached for Claire.  She was losing her very best friend.

Arrival in China

But off Grace headed, into the wide, blue yonder.

Her brother and Abby were there to pick her up and get her situated:

She united with the girls she’d be working with, all but one she knew from before:

(not sure why that picture is so blurry…)

And she soaked up those couple days with Max and Abby.

(that picture was in honor of Lucy who adores m&m’s)

Oh it was all fine and dandy overlapping with those two for a few days.

They were all in Heaven to be reunited and Abby showed her the ropes:

But then Max and Abby wrapped up their time there…

And Grace got busy filling those large shoes Abby left behind:

And it hit her:


The beginning of the “Impossible” in China

Her face doesn’t show it in these pictures, but this adjustment was tough stuff.  She was homesick.  And she works long hours in a tough job she was trying to figure out.  I love modern technology so that she could still be involved in getting Claire off to the start of a new school year (she loves that stuff and she’s so good at it!  We sure felt a loss without her!)

Oh, she did fun things like China Disneyland one weekend, and got to know those girls even better:

…and worked her tail off teaching English to some pretty cute kids.

(Very different from last time she went, lots more responsibility and day-to-day classes rather than a “camp” kind of feel.)

But she missed home. And I think the heaviness hit her that she will only have a super quick turn-around (12 hours) to get back here and then head to Hawaii to start her college career.

Hawaii or not, going to college is a big gig!

The time difference (15 hours ahead) is rough for talking.  She’s asleep when we’re awake and visa-versa, but every time we finally find a time that matched up, usually in the midst of the morning routine getting the girls off to school, we got this “other user’s connection is unstable” message over and over and OVER again:

It’s tough to really have a heart-to-heart when the phone connection breaks every few seconds and you can only hear every other word and most of your conversation is filled with “can you hear me?” “you there??”

One morning in particular (almost midnight there), I tried to talk her through a typhoon of all things.

Check out this video her boss took out of his window earlier that day:
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Yikes, right?  Her building was swaying when we were talking and her roommate’s room was leaking from all the rain and boy, when it rains, it pours!

A Refiner’s Fire

But that girl has learned more than she bargained for!  Mostly how that connection with Heaven isn’t nearly as frustrating to break through as the one from China to the U.S. is! I sent her her patriarchal blessing as requested and we have had some good (although still glitchy connection) talks since and boy, this is a good practice in “remembering” to look up.  And remembering why she felt such a great peace the minute this option became available.  Sometimes things like that are hard to remember in the face of the tough stuff.

Since then she has hit her stride. Sometimes it just takes some early “impossibles” to get you going!

I love the pictures she sends home:

Those girls have a co-worker who invited them over to learn to make dumplings:
She’s figured out new teaching strategies and has corralled so many kids to learn so much.  Taking a great idea from one of the other teachers, she had us all send a little video clip of us introducing ourselves and telling a couple things about us, and this was her lesson that day:
Love it!
Last weekend she had another bump in the road when they asked her to be part of a video they were producing to help in the English teaching.  Of course she was happy to help, but she didn’t know what in the world she had gotten herself into when she arrived to this:

And they put her to work doing things like this:


This was her text when I asked how it went:
“It was straight up 8 hours of singing and dancing and talking in my most ecstatic voice to a camera…it was the most out of my comfort zone thing I’ve ever done but now I honestly feel like I can do anything.”

That text immediately made me think of my grandma and her quote about doing the impossible.  That girl has done lots of the “impossibles” over the last little while which will no doubt make the next ones “that much easier.”

And probably more fun too:)

How the “Impossibles” change your perspective

You know that sidewalk to and from the junior high I mentioned at the top of this post?  (here’s and easier portion but still wonky…it bends like that over and over again):
Lucy mentioned how much easier it’s become yesterday as we were riding home.  And you know what?  She is right!  We have got that thing pretty down, even with Bo in tow sometimes.  I told her it reminded me of Grandma’s saying about impossible things.
She paused for a little bit as the hot wind pushed us along and then said almost reverently, “I wish I could have known that Grandma.”
I told her I think in a way she does know that Grandma.  Grace and the others too.  I like to think that that Grandma who did her own fair share of the “impossibles” is cheering all these kids on from above.
We’re all doing our own “impossibles” in life.  Things that stop us in our tracks and take our legs out from under us.  We’re going through a few of those over here right now.  There is always something to worry about and pray our guts out about and work on.  May we all help lift each other as we go through our own mountains of impossibilities and hopefully learn and grow along the way.
And also, GO GRACE!  Can’t wait to get you home in less than a week!

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  1. I never normally comment, but I've been reading you blog for years and I really needed to read this today. I'm currently in the midst of an 'impossible' and this really spoke to me. Thank you for putting this into words.

  2. Shawn, this made me cry! First I teared up hearing about Grace in China, being so awesome, singing and dancing out of her comfort zone … but then Lucy saying that about Grandma Hazel made me straight up cry! This is good stuff, thanks for sharing!!! I love you.

  3. Great post!! I too teared up, it’s a mom thing. We moms share so many experiences. Love how Grace reached out to you for a blessing and was comforted in strength. Lifting those and sending light to all who are doing the “impossibles”.

  4. What a good sport Grace is….singing and dancing AND wearing antenna! Love this encouraging post and how you are the rock for your kids when they need help. Weathering a typhon in a skyscraper is nothing to sneeze at.

  5. I never knew one of my grandmas and one of my cousins said something that really resonated with me. I do "know" my grandma because I know her children– my aunts and uncles, my dad. There's a little piece of her in all of them.

  6. The impossible can be so hard at times. But it builds perserverance, character and hope.
    Romans 5:3-4
    And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

  7. I LOVE this post! I think it came out when my computer wouldn’t let me comment 🙁 but This is exactly what I needed for today! When I see where Grace is in her missionary pictures today, I see how much she ha learned and this wonderful “impossible” thing has been so much easier! The pictures from today are simply exuding joy!

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