2017: By Faith a Year of...

The past few years, I have picked a word and a Bible verse to be my theme for the year. My word for 2016 was peace. The verse I chose for 2017 was Romans 8:37 (Be on the lookout for an upcoming post about this!).

I started writing this post in January. It's now the middle of November and I have sat down many times to write but my words have failed me. I opened up this post today and deleted most of what I had written. Because I have seen things recently that have shown me that I had a distorted view of the word I chose for 2017.

The word I chose for 2017 was restore. 

I somehow thought that if I chose this word, God would restore our family. That if I claimed restoration over my life then God would surely fulfill my dreams. My hopes.

That if I chose the word restore, He would restore my life to its fullness. To what I wanted. To what it used to be.

But I was wrong.

You see these were my dreams. My desires. My plans. It was as if I was saying, "God I know you're better and wiser than me but I really want this so if I post all it on my blog where hundreds of people will read it will you please restore these areas of my life to where I want them?"

I remember praying during this battle I've been walking saying, "Lord, surely you won't let this last the entire year. You will definitely restore my life this year in just the way I want it. I just know it."

But here I am. The middle of November. The hurt still happening. The pain still raw. My broken life waiting for the restoration I long for.

The plans I had dreamed up weren't coming true. The goals I had written were gone. The rebuilding hadn't started. The resolve hadn't come.

But maybe? Maybe God's plans for restoration are so much better than mine. Maybe my plans? Are flawed. Maybe my desires? Are all unimportant things in this world. Maybe my dreams?  Are nothing compared to what God has in store for me.

When my life feels like it's in shambles maybe it's really just God taking over and turning it into something better than I could ever imagine.

Maybe God is in the process of changing my selfish attitude and restoring me to be more like Christ. Maybe He's already rebuilt so much of my life.

Maybe I need to change my prayers to say, "Lord, lead my steps. Lead me today where you want me to go."

I need to surrender my plans and dreams of restoration and realize that God has already begun to rebuild my life. When I gave my life to Christ I said goodbye to my own worldly dreams and opened my heart to follow His dreams. His plans. His desires. And the hope He gives me for my life.

But I had missed it. I kept waiting. And waiting. Saying to myself that God would surely fulfill this plan of mine and I could someday post my word of the year on my blog and say, "wow look at how God had restored my life this year."

But ever so slowly, I'm learning.

I'm learning that...Maybe I don't need to wait. That's He's already been restoring. From the minute I said, "Lord, my life is yours," He's been changing me and restoring me into something better than I could ever imagine.

And as I sat on my bed the other day and thought to myself, the Lord really hasn't restored much this year. I realize just how wrong I am.

Each morning I can get up and realize that he is rebuilding my attitude. He is restoring my hope. Giving me the desires of His heart.

Looking back, I can see that every day there has been miracles and moments where God has so evidently been at work rebuilding. I have been so caught up in what I wanted and what my hope was that I missed out on the moments where the hand of God was restoring my life.

That God is taking the brokenness and nastiness of my life and giving me the opportunity to be rebuilt and restored each and every day I get up and say, "God, my life is yours".

And that every morning I get out of bed I can say to myself that God has fully restored my life to where I can live each moment to the fullest because of Christ.

Will you join me?

Give up your dreams. Your plans. Your desires. And start running after His. Because the plans and dreams He has for your life are pretty dang amazing. 




There is Purpose in the Pain

**I meant to post this yesterday on 11/11/17 but life got the best of me and I never got it finished. I pray that the words you read here will be encouraging as you go about your day. Be blessed friends.

Six years ago a little girl was born halfway across the country. Her birthday was extra special because it was 11.11.11. This little girl would touch my heart in numerous ways but I would never get to meet her in person.

The journey began in August of 2012. Little did we know what the next five years would hold.

I have never really shared this part of our adoption story. It's the raw unedited version of our story that didn't seem to have a happy ending. I never thought it was important to share. But without these first tribulations, we would have never found Rosie or been prepared for the battle we are currently fighting. And Rosie? Was quite possibly the happiest ending of all.

Most people don't know that our family began our adoption journey domestically. We knew there were numerous amounts of children stuck in the foster care system and felt that the Lord had called us to open our hearts and our home to children without families within the United States.

I used to dream about have another younger sibling. About playing with them, laughing with, just doing and loving life with them. I was thirteen at the time our family started domestic adoption and could not wait to welcome another child into our family.

The paperwork took months but once we were approved, we were shown the file of a little girl with many different medical needs. But the thing that stuck with me was that her birthday was 11/11/11. I am a person who pretty much goes nuts when things line up like that. I wrote an entire post on my sixteen birthday announcing the addition of Carlie and Maisey to our family because I turned sixteen on 10/12/14 (pretty cool, right?!). (You can read that post here-- it has 20 pictures of Rosie in it so you won't regret it :).

We were told that we were the only family interested in adopting this little girl but we still have to go to a "match conference" to official be matched and start the process to adopt her.

I wrote this note the week when we were supposed to be matched with her.

Hopefully, on Thursday I will have a new little sister. It would bring such joy to our family. Little B* I hope someday you will read this and know that you are very loved. I prayed every day that God would bring you to our family. I've only seen one picture of you but that pic was the cutest thing. I hope you look up to me someday and that I'm the best big sister ever. We already got you an adorable shirt, it says little sis on it. You may never be part of our family but any family will be blessed to have you. Hopefully, someday you will read this. And I'll keep on praying till we meet.
I love you with all my heart!
Your big sister,

*name removed for privacy

That Thursday we got a call that we were not matched and we would not be adopting her. I was crushed. I couldn't understand how we, as the only family, with the qualifications to adopt her were turned down. 

Little did I realize how corrupt the system was.

And little did I realize that our family would go through the same thing over and over and over again throughout the next year until God lead us to international adoption and our sweet Rosie.

I have been thinking back to that year the past few days and realizing just how much God has done in my life over the past six years. I could not have dreamed up this journey if I tried. It is crazy how God used our domestic adoption journey to lead us to adopt internationally. 

There have been many moments where I couldn't understand where God was taking us.

I couldn't understand the direction of the journey. And this battle we've been fighting? Still seems to make no sense.  

And sometimes? The path turns in a direction of darkness and leaves your grasping for something you cannot see.

Sometimes the door slams shut and it hurts worse than you ever thought it could.

Sometimes the bitter cold sweeps across your face and leaves you in stunned silence. 

Sometimes a strong "no" comes when all you were expecting was a "yes".

Sometimes it hurts to love. It hurts to expose your heart and fully embrace the fact that heartache might be right around the corner.

I will probably never meet this little girl. And to the outsider looking in, it might of seem like a waste. A mistake. Like we somehow got off the path God put us on.

But no. This little girl was not a mistake. And it was not a mistake that our family found her and fell in love with her.

God knew five years ago that this tribulation would prepare us for the adoption of Rosie. And Carlie. And Maisey. And Adam. And Nate. And Collin.

And He also knew? It would strengthen us for the battle that rages on today.

Because I can look back and see that God was always with me in the trial. That standing right next to me on the unknown path is Jesus.

And I have seen that God always provides.

Always redeems.

Always restore.

And this seemingly meaningless time our family attempted domestic adoption was not meaningless at all.

God was preparing me and equipping my heart for the His work for me in the future.

And here I am. With the battle raging on around me and hoping for victory. And I am looking back and realizing that He's done it before and He will do it again. His love will never fail me.

He alone is able.

Wherever you are today, realize that you have a purpose there. It may be painful in the moment, but God will surely use the pain for your good.

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1



Life Here Lately (Fall 2017)

Hi friends. :)

It's been a while hasn't it?! I've missed blogging and I wanted to pop back on here and thank y'all for so faithfully praying for our family. I've seen your emails and I sincerely apologize for my lack of response. These past months of college have been overwhelmingly hectic and wonderful all at the same time.

It's been a really long year, and the battle is still raging on. I can't share much publicly, but I can share that the door is every so slowly creaking open. I cannot wait for the day when God smashes it open but I am so grateful for the recent answered prayers. Keep praying friends, we are feeling it and the mountains are moving.

I started my undergraduate degree here at University of Kentucky in August and am fully feeling the weight of being a student athlete (go wildcats!). I absolutely love being a collegiate gymnast and am looking forward to our season starting in January. I really hope to get into more of a blogging routine, but we will see if that actually happens.

These past weeks, I felt such a strong urge to go back to China. I feel like this is the first time I've thought about China and my dream of being a missionary there in quite some time. This past year, I've felt so numb and to feel a little bit of my old happy self is good. I've actually been able to cry this past month and, as crazy as that sounds, I treasure the ability to feel some emotion and processing for what's been going on.

I'm longing to go to China and hug all those little ones. I tried to see if I could take a quick trip over Thanksgiving or Christmas but alas, seven days isn't really enough time to go to China and back. I've been praying that God would open the doors for me to be involved in orphan ministry right here in Lexington. I am looking for to the day when I earn my degree and can live and serve there permanently.

^^^ Rosie on official adoption day in China. Gosh it makes me smile and cry all at once. How I miss this girl and her sweet sweet laughter. ^^^

It seems every girl at college is boy crazy and I find myself wondering how much more girls could accomplish if they set their sights on God and not every boy they see. I'm learning that I don't have to agree with every decision someone makes to be their friend. I'm learning that I don't every need to give in or fit it to have fun. And I'm learning it's better to be lonely than follow the crowd. #truth

So yeah, this post is the ramblings of a college freshman who's trying to navigate college, athletics, and a life dedicated to serving Christ. I am looking forward to the day when I can share more about the journey our family has been walking, but for now...thank you. Your prayers mean more than you know.



Love is Worth The Risk

My last post was about joy. About finding it in the hidden places. Our world tells us that joy can only be found in the happy moments. But isn't joy really about having the joy of the Lord in our hearts every second of our lives?

I think the world likes to group joy and love into a little category of happy things. To have joy one must be happy. Life must be perfect and every picture Instagram worthy. Love must be something that is easy. Something that we experience in the lighthearted moments of life. And that love? It tells us that love isn't worth the risk.

Oh how the world lies to us.

Because love....is always worth the risk.

So many people are afraid to adopt. Terrified. It might mess up their other kids. It just might destroy their family.

And that might be true. It might destroy your life in the best way possible. It might "mess" you up for Jesus in such a way that you dedicate your life to serving him.

And that is so worth it.

Completely. 100%. Worth it.

Because love....is always always worth the risk.

Even when you stand next to a hospital bed and watch your sibling leave this earth. When your heart shatters because you loved so fearlessly so courageously.

And the life you loved so dearly? Seems destroyed in one single moment.

When you start walking down an unknown path and your heart is breaking. When you have no possible idea how you can keep going. When love leads you to stand on a street corner and fight for what you know is right. And you realize that the old life you loved was completely destroyed and you will never be the same again.

But maybe?

Maybe the life you loved was destroyed so God could rebuild it into something even better than you could ever imagine. 

Maybe when you took the risk and went on a mission trip and took the risk to evangelize to your neighbor and took the risk to stand up for a friend, you took the risk of loving fearlessly. You realized that your life could change by loving others.

Maybe when we courageously love, we can catch a small glimpse at just how much the Father loves us.

So love? It's always worth the risk. It's always worth the heartache. It's always worth the pain.

God will use your love for others to changed your life in amazing ways.

Trust Him. Even when your life feels destroyed and your heart is shattered.

I'm holding onto Him. Choosing joy. Loving courageously. And putting one foot in front of the other as I walk this painful road. 

It isn't easy, friends. But it certainly is worth it.



Choosing Joy

“Happiness isn't something that depends on our surroundings...It's something we make inside ourselves.” -Corrie Ten Boom

I love this quote and I love Corrie Ten Boom. If you don't know her story you need to read about it. It is about how she survived through World War II when she was taken to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in her house.

watched her movie and ready her book many years ago and to this day I am amazed by her faith and her ability to remain positive in even the worst of situations.  

I've been asked many times in my life how I remain positive. Some doctors ask me how I'm positive even though I'm often sick. Or gymnastics coaches and teammates ask me how I stay positive when I'm on the sidelines because of an injury. I don't claim to have some kind of secret or material good to keep me happy. And my life certainly isn't easy or perfect.

In fact, life has been really hard. Like super stinky kind of hard. And there were days when I literally felt my heart breaking...my hope fading...and my life felt destroyed. Yet God is good. Always. He's has blessed me with the ability to cry and laugh and embrace the yuckiness of the past months and realize that he's going to redeem them. 

And with the journey I've been walking, it's sometimes harder to smile. It's harder to remain happy. But as Corrie Ten Boom reminds me, I don't find happiness in the things happening around me. I find happiness inside myself when I am walking the road with Jesus ahead of me. 

Even when we are persecuted. Even when our world shatters. Even when all hope seems lost. We can still find joy. 

It's kinda cool that when you experience earth shaking pain you can more fully embrace small bits of joy. When your heart is breaking you notice the little touches of God's love that you would have never known before. When the gifts you take for granted are stolen from you, it is easier to find joy in the smallest things.

I think that in the midst of extreme brokenness, we can experience a deeper joy than we ever have before. A joy that goes to the depths of our soul because we have felt the grief and the pain. That joy isn't something we have to find, it's something we choose.

I can get up in the morning with gratitude in my heart and can see joy even in the simple things such as making breakfast. Or seeing a rose. Or hearing the whisper of God saying "I got you". Little things that we miss when our lives are filled with joy from material things. Or joy only found in the outcome of a certain situation.

I don't want to look for joy in all the ways the world calls normal. I want to look for joy in the hidden places. The places that to the average person look empty and bare. The places that are filled with such sweet reminders of God's grace and love. 

I want to look for joy in the walls of an orphanage. In a courtroom. In the middle of a hospital room when the diagnosis is bad.

I want to find joy and see joy that I would have never appreciated if I hadn't been walking through a dark valley.

So I'm going to be looking for joy...  choosing joy...and smiling. Even when the journey is hard and the path is unknown.

Will you join me?