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?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Orphan Sunday: Two Girls

*This was written shortly before I went to China for the first time in 2009. As I am currently preparing to return to China to serve at a foster home the story of these girls and their impact in my life rings even truer. 

One of the hardest parts of being a Christian can be having faith. The idea of having faith in something that we can’t see can be hard to understand, and even harder to grasp. One of my friends at college shared her favorite quote with me on many occasions, Faith is not knowing that God can, but that God will. - Norm Patton.  Throughout the Bible we see examples of how important faith really is.

Imagine being a shunned by society, never being able to go out on your own, if at all, but, you know that if you close enough to touch this man they call Jesus you will be healed, and finally after so many years be able to live a normal life. Or you are a prominent man whose daughter is very sick. The only thing you know to do is find Jesus, for He can heal your daughter.

These who people come from completely different backgrounds, completely different lives. The one thing they have in common is their faith. Jesus says to the women, “daughter, your faith has healed you” and to the father “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” They both believed not that God can….they knew that God would heal, they had faith when those around them lacked.

Having faith often happens when you have no idea what the end result will be. The story of the little girl who everyone thought was dead in the Gospel leads me to introduce you to two little girls who have played a vital role in keeping my faith strong, and even testing my faith. These two girls started their lives very much the same, but I came to know them in very different ways. These two little girls were placed in orphanages on opposite sides of the world, which began their journeys toward me.

My journey toward the first of these girls began in high school when I desperately wanted to go on a mission trip. Opportunities came up, but just as quickly passed as I had to have faith that God was planning the perfect trip for me to be a part of. Finally my chance came, and I was ready to head to Leon Mexico, not fully knowing what to expect, but I had complete faith that God was planning awesome things, and was ready to use me and the rest of the team.

That was when the first little girl came into my life. Her name is Luz, and there is still not a day that goes by that I do not think of her. She captured my heart, and even though I didn't know it at the time, she worked her way into my life, opening my eyes to the world around me, and planting the idea of mission work deep inside of me. When I returned home, I knew my life had changed forever, but only God knew where it would go from there.

Shortly after I returned I babysat for dear friends of mine. I had prayed for their sweet little girl for months and was beyond excited that she was finally in her forever home and thriving. As I held and played with this little girl, who had been adopted from China, my thoughts drifted back to a few weeks before, when I was doing the same things with my little girl from Mexico, and how much they reminded me of each other. That day I had no idea how much their impact on my life would be intertwined.

Before Kristen was adopted I really didn't give much thought to China, other than it would be pretty cool to get a chance to visit there someday. After praying for her, and then meeting her I knew that had changed. She captured my heart as quickly as Luz did, and I began to hear a small, still voice. God had placed China in my heart, counting on me to have faith to follow His lead. My thoughts quickly gravitated towards giving another child a chance, by adopting a child from China in the future. Little did I know that God was already planning to use me in much bigger ways, and was slowly preparing my heart for this life changing experience.

Nothing is possible without faith. In Matthew Jesus tells us, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” We are not called to have all of the faith in the world; our faith just has to be the size of a mustard seed. God can, and will work through any situation he has to when we have faith that He will. By taking just one small step of Faith, God takes as many steps necessary to see His will completed for those who believe.