Monday, April 27, 2015


I'm here! A good six months later than I expected, in spring time instead of fall, with a different visa than I expected, but I'm here.

It all still seems a bit surreal. China is so familiar, yet the village I am living in is so much smaller and has a different feel. I am living in an apartment (complete with 6 floors of stairs) instead of a first floor dorm room. I have 3 roommates and the other volunteers are farther away than down the hall. Packing was different. A lot less wondering if I would need something and a lot more , yes, I need to bring deodorant, and no, I can buy shampoo and body wash there.

At the same time all it took was walking through the airport (actually all it really took was waiting for my flights surrounded by Chinese people) to feel familiar. The familiar look and feel of the money, crisp hundreds and well used ones. A trip to the grocery store to see my favorite snacks and knowing which shampoo to buy even though I can't read a word on the bottle. Laughing with my roommates over cucumbers and mutton sticks.

So, I've arrived. Arrived in the country that has stolen my heart and so ready to see how it further captures it this time. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

18 days and Empty Suitcases

18 days are all that stand between me and China. Part of me can't believe I am typing these words. I initially e-mailed New Day a year ago an anticipated going in the fall. Then you know the story, setback after setback. But now it's just about go time! After waiting for so long, it's time to GO!

Here's a quick recap of the timeline:
April 2014- e-mail New Day about volunteering
June/July 2014- officially apply and interview
September 2014- start support raising and visa process
October-March 2014- visa craziness
March 18- find out the teaching visa won't work, decide to go on a tourist visa
March 19- buy plane tickets
March 27- get visa (good for 10 years, 90 days per entry)
April 24- leave for China
April 25- arrive in China

My favorite part of this timeline is the last few entries and how fast everything has happened! It really reminds me of God's plans and how when God says it's time to move, it's time to move and He will make everything fall perfectly into place!

Oh, and the empty suitcases, they are out and ready and I have things spread out on the floor so they won't be empty much longer! BUT I want to make sure they are as full as possible. Since I will be making a short trip home at the end of July and don't have to pack everything at the beginning I made an Amazon wish list full of items New Day would love to have! I will happily take everything over and can't wait to show you the kids using the items!

Thank you SO much for your prayers, support, and encouragement!

Monday, March 23, 2015

March Madness: It's not just for basketball

If you know me, you know that March Madness is observed with holiday like status in my house. However, madness can also be used to describe the past week or so in regards to my journey to China.

First, yet another roadblock was hit. And unlike the other that required new paperwork or more official stamps this one has no clear ending which means a teaching visa isn't in the cards right now.

That leads us to plan B (or C, F, J who knows at this point!) A tourist visa!

So what does all is this means?

  1. Most importantly, it means that I can go to China soon! In fact I have purchased plane tickets and will leave on April 24th!
  2. Tourist visas are normally issued for 30, 60, or 90 day time periods. They are also either single entry, multiple entry for 1 year, or the new multiple entry for 10 years.
  3. I have round-trip tickets for 89 days which means they will hopefully give me at least a 90 day 10 year visa.
  4. I will be making a trip to Chicago in the next week or so to the Chinese Consulate to get my visa.
  5. After the first short trip home to attend a family reunion and a friends wedding I will return to China. I will then have to leave the country again every 90 days in accordance with my visa.
  6. This means that there is the added expense of travel for visa trips. At this point I don't know exactly how much more this will be, but I anticipate it being at least an extra $100 a month.

What can you do?
  1. Continue to pray! Pray that the rest of the visa process moves smoothly and there are no snags that delay anything. Pray as I wrap things up here and prepare to move to China. Pray that the extra funds I need will come in.
  2. Donate! Maybe you haven't been able to or couldn't give as much as you wished. Maybe you can't give a big chunk but something as little as $25 a month adds up! I treasure all of my supporters and know this isn't possible without them.
  3. Donate! (yes, again) Maybe you don't want to give money but you want to give a tangible thing. One benefit of coming home for a short trip after three months is I don't have to pack everything at the beginning and will have more room for donations for New Day. If you are interested please let me know and I'll give you a list of most needed items!

I am continually seeing God through this journey and am so excited He is the one leading it. It hasn't been easy but it is so so good! It does feel like complete Madness at times, but isn't it more fun when the underdog wins :) 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Waiting is never easy. Waiting for an extended period of time is even harder.

Abraham continually waited for God's promises to be fulfilled. He waited 25 years for his son, Isaac to be born, and that's not even counting the time before God promised him a son that he and Sarah were hoping for a child.  The Israelites waited 40 years until to reach the promise land after finally being freed from the Egyptians. Joseph was in prison for three years waiting to the released. Hannah and Elizabeth waited and prayed for children before Samuel and John the Baptist were born. Simeon sat in the temple day after day waiting for the Savior to come.

The common factor in all of this waiting is that God was with them. They trusted God and he carried them through.

They were not passive in their waiting, yet actively seeking God and striving to be obedient to Him. Abraham messed up, repented, and follow Gods plan to the best of his ability. Joseph could have wallowed in his circumstances yet he used his gifts to interpret the dreams of those around them. Hannah, Elizabeth, and Simeon were examples of faithful followers of God.

Instead of sitting back and waiting, they knew that God could still use them in their waiting, and more than that, that He wanted to use them.

We have such a great cloud of witnesses to use as examples

Even still, waiting isn't easy.
Waiting for China isn't easy.

But is it worth it? Yes

It's worth it because I know that God is leading me. I know that in my waiting I can become more dependent on Him and more persistent in prayer. It's worth it because the longer I wait the more I anticipate seeing the faces in person and not just in pictures on the internet. It's worth it because I trust Gods plan and in the fact that He will always see His plan through in His timing.  

Waiting is hard, sometime almost unbearable, but if you are waiting on God is it always always worth it

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Everything You Have: Be Brave

Everyone once in awhile while I read a book a find myself nodding yes to every story, every sentence. I find myself underlining and adding my conversations in the margins.  The author becomes a very real person who is for me and whom I would much prefer to sit next to at a coffee shop. A book that I want to shout about and at times throw across the room. Lets All Be Brave by Annie Downs is that kind of book.

The whole book was fantastic, but the chapter that impacted me the most, and made me want to throw the book across the room, was Everything You Have.

If you know me at all, you know that I am single. If you know me a little more, you know that I absolutely want to get married and have a family. And if you really know me you know that I have really only been single.

In this chapter Annie write about her singleness. About how it is something that she never wanted to talk about, much less write about, yet, God was pushing her to, and I am so thankful she listened.

The world, (and internet!), is full of stories of singleness. However, most of these stories are either superhappy or supermad. Both of those stories annoy me. Then there are the stories that while they are good, come from people who are no longer single who have found their "happily ever after." That's not Annie. Annie is raw and in the midst of her singleness. She is choosing to be real and to be brave, and that is what this world needs to hear.

She says, "It's not just about being alone at the dinner table or in the bed; its about unanswered prayers and how to face a God who can do something about those unanswered prayers but doesn't."

I could have written those same words.    

Since I was little, while being a complete tomboy, I dreamed of my wedding. I prayed for my future husband and wrote him letters in crayon after seeing that Jessica Simpson did that (ridiculous, I know). I included him in journal entries that involved my dreams and hopes for the future. As I grew I continued praying for him and also praying that God would continue preparing me to be a wife and a mother.

Now, all those years later, those prayers remain unanswered.

Yet, my hope remains the same.

My hope remains in God alone. I am able to hope in the one who knows what He is doing.

Annie says, (and I echo)
You are going to survive this, friend.
God has not forgotten you.
Your life and your desires are important to God 

Sometimes thing are going well and it's easy, yet so many times it is far from easy. What do you do when you have to make major life decisions alone? What about when everyone around you is getting married and having kids and you feel left behind? When your life begins to look like a real life version of 27 Dresses. What do you do when you feel like you can't take that opportunity because it may cause you to miss out on the one who just might be around the corner?

I have found myself in all of these situation, and have cried many tears at unexpected times.

When I  was thinking about going back to China these fears were very real in my mind. In my thoughts committing to go back to China meant I would be putting off potential marriage for at least another year. That somehow moving to China directly related with the possibility of marriage and I couldn't see how the two could possibly happen simultaneously. I believed the lies that I was in this by myself, that moving on with my life would mean the things I so desperately wanted to happen never would.     

As Annie says, "That became my biggest fear - waiting for a marriage I'm not guaranteed, keeping me from doing the good things that bring glory to God right now." 

I don't want to stay stagnant. When things are stagnant it doesn't stay the same, it rots, it deteriorates. 

Staying stagnant doesn't bring God glory.

Knowing that God is always with me means I don't have to be afraid. I don't have to be afraid of being alone or the unknown that may or may not happen. I am able to have hope and walk forward in the hope so that I can do His work and from Him glory. I have faith that God hears my prayers and He knows my desires.

Knowing God means I can be brave in every season of life, no matter what circumstances surround me
And I continue to walk forward.   

Right now I am walking forward towards time in China

In the future I hope walking forward means marriage and children

No matter what I am able to walk forward because I know the one who is always walking with me, and He will never fail me and will always love me   

This is my "rewriting" of this chapter. Do yourself a favor and read the book yourself!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thankfulness 11.12.14

123. the act of stirring risotto that forces me to slow down

124. collaborating with friends on fun new ideas

125. red cups 

126. veterans day and the freedom that was fought for

127. My dad, grandpa, and pop pop and all others who were part of that sacrifice

128. Harry Potter references

129. the unmistakable smell of yeast

130. how excited 4 year old get when you tell them you'll read 3 stories instead or 2 at bedtime

131. ice cream in the living room

132. sunsets

133. sunrises

134. secretly awesome people, and the ability to be secretly awesome

135. recipes sent over twitter

136. She Reads Truth walking through what hospitality really means and resetting my mindset from the way of the world

137. hymns and the years of meaning they contain

138. the words of the creed that bind us together

139. encouragement that comes in the most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times

140. pumpkin spice candles

141. the last beautifully warm days of Autumn

142. snow in the forecast

143, planning wedding roadtrips

144. books that are read in a day (eight twenty eight, you should read it!)

145. walking into the classroom and being told it'll be a super easy day

146. dinner with friends, no matter how short they are

147. struggling with feeling like a human contradiction, but realizing Paul was too

give thanks with your whole heart

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thankfulness: 11.4.14

104. apples being an excuse to eat massive amounts of caramel dip 

105. the ability to vote

106. pumpkin spice coffee creamer

107. falling leaves

108. subbing at an elementary school on Halloween

109. friends like Beth that are so worth celebrating

110. sitting in 30 degree misty/flurry weather during trick-or-treating made so worth it by the adorable kiddos that came

111. carving pumpkins 

112. sunsets that could only be painted by God

113. orphan Sunday and the heart He has given me for the orphans of the world

114. the faces I've seen, the hands that I've held, and the children who are forever ingrained in my heart 

115. friends who know its you without saying a word

116. talks with people who share my heart for missions

117. pumpkin pie chai

118. digging deeper into hospitality and how it can always be a part of my life

119. people who advocate me and remind me that I am on the right track

120. having much to write thank you cards for

121. unexpected warm days

122. warm apple juice to sooth sore throats

What are YOU thankful for? What would happen if you took time to be thankful for the little things?