The Adventure Begins

It’s been too long since I’ve written, and the words feel jammed inside somewhere. As if I need to get a few cleared out, and thoughts might flow a little better.

Changes. Changes full of beauty and a deeper love than I could imagine.  Terrifying changes. Changes that drive me to Jesus in utter dependency and a fresh realization that there is nowhere safer to be than in Him.

Since my last post here, a lot has happened.

The Adventure Begins

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the morning and headed into what seemed would be a normal day. A bit later, I got a terse text that said “Come to the chapel right now.” I’m sure tires were screeching as I careened through the neighborhood. An hour later I was purchasing airplane tickets for my Dad and two other men to go international on a mission to protect the innocent. 7 hours later they were headed to the airport and embarking on a journey which no one really knew what it might involve. I prayed I would see my Dad alive again.

During the week he was gone, we prayed, we stood strong, we excitedly waited for any and every little update we could find.

And, unrelated to anything else going on, we received an email from someone about a little girl here in the States who needed someone to care for her.

A week after he left, I hugged Dad tightly in our living room, so thankful for the Lord’s protection.

The next day, I got another brief text: “It looks like she’s going to be ours.” So fast. What was happening? I wasn’t sure, but I already loved this little girl whose name I still didn’t know, and I was ready to do whatever God asked.

Two and a half days later, I looked for the first time at the beautiful girl who was to be my little sister.

As I looked in her eyes, tears filled mine and I had to turn away before they spilled over. Desperation. Hope. Terror. Emptiness. Trauma. Excitement. Desperate hope. I saw her story written on her face as she turned away from all she had ever known and got into our car. She pressed her face against the window and waved one last time as we drove away before turning forward and allowing a deep sob to escape her chest. There was no stopping the tears in each of our eyes and hearts.

So young, so vulnerable. And ours.

I helped her make cookies this morning. I posed for her as she drew a picture of me. I watched the Sound of Music with her. I sat with my arms around her, her sweet head in my lap. I went shopping with her. I laid on my bed and ate pretzels with her. I whispered “I love you” over and over. I hugged her goodnight. I promised to be right there with her first thing in the morning. I watched my parents fall in love with their new daughter. Tears spilled over again as she excitedly yelled “Daddy!” as soon as he walked back in the front door from the gym.

For nearly 25 years I have been the youngest child, and paradigms are shifting in our family.

This little one looks up to me like no one ever has before in my life. We love each other deeply, and every time she snuggles up to me and wraps her arms around my waist and doesn’t let go, my heart aches a little more. Ever since this little girl stepped into our lives just a short while ago, tears have either been running down my cheeks constantly or hiding just around the corner ready to show up without warning.  How can I already love her this much? How can I be a big sister to one so desperate for love and a rebuilding of trust? What do I do when I see the hurt well up and she closes down and acts in the only way she knows how based on the things she has experienced in her young little life–experiences I can’t even imagine. How can I show her the love of her Heavenly Father?

Jesus. HE is how. Jesus is Who I must turn to. His heart is the only one that can handle such love and such sorrow.

This past several weeks has been life-altering in ways I could never have fathomed when I got up that Friday morning. It has been difficult. It has been heart-breaking. It has been exhausting…

…and it has been filled with JOY. It has been filled with JESUS. I can’t deny the beauty in seeing my own weakness and His utter strength. I’m enraptured.

Seeing the heart of God in my parents through these past few weeks has touched something in me that hasn’t ever really been touched on before. I can’t express how honored and humbled I am to be part of their lives and learning from them the way I have for my whole life–but especially the past few weeks. Their given-ness; their endless love; their pre-decided “YES!” to anything the Lord may ask of them; allowing the door of their life–physically and emotionally–to be flung open to the most vulnerable. Thank You, Jesus. You had a beautiful plan when you scripted the lives of my parents.

And the proof that You know what You’re doing? It’s inescapable. I see it so clearly in the way this little sister of mine came into our family.

It is with great joy and expectancy that I can say my life has changed and it will never be the same. Oh! the adventures the Lord takes us on!

Do you remember?

Memory is a fascinating thing, and today I’m so thankful for memories.

Honestly, I’m thankful for the good memories and the bad. Somehow. I’m not sure how I’m thankful for bad memories, but I guess it’s because the things that come to mind when I think of “bad memories” are things that I can now look back on and see so visibly how God has taken those instances and worked them for great good in my life and my family’s life.

There are definitely memories that I’m very much not fond of, but . . . the good outweighs the bad, by far.

***

I remember the day I tried roller-skating down The 4th Street Hill when I was about 10. It definitely doesn’t stand out as the most brilliant decision I ever made, and I had scars to prove it for awhile, but . . . the adrenaline rush I got still brings a smile to my face.

***

I remember being so confused as to why Mom wouldn’t make me a Green Bean Birthday Cake when I was about 6 years old. People had carrot cake for their birthday. I loved green beans. Why not have a green bean birthday cake? My little brain just didn’t understand why my wish was being denied.

***

I remember many an enchanting hour spent on the white-wicker porch swing on the slate blue porch of The Little White House.

***

I remember the time I packed a real live mouse into my suitcase, and then realized it in the middle of the night.

***

I remember my first ride on an ambulance as a patient. I was headed to the hospital to volunteer when someone hit me from behind at a high-ish speed. I sure made it to the hospital a lot faster than I was originally intending…

***

I remember when I first realized what a fun thing it was to imagine things. Sure, I had imagined lots of things before, but . . . this was the moment when I was completely enraptured with the concept of imagination. What a wonderful moment that was, and oh! how I never want to leave that place of being enraptured.

***

I remember happy days spent down at the wharf catching crabs, touring the Alaska ferry, chatting with the gift shop ladies, throwing bread to the seagulls, and breathing deeply of the scent of salt water and the nearby fish warehouse.

***

I remember many excruciating hours spent trying to learn how to ride the unicycle . . . I was determined!

***

I remember the day Dad set me up with my very own email address.

***

I remember sitting in my brother’s room on his bed the day I first had any contact with the girl who was to instantly become my best friend. Remember that day, Bex?

***

I remember sitting in my little yellow kayak out in the middle of a lake in the Adirondacks of New York and being surrounded by dozens of speed boats. They sped past me, producing waves worthy of surfing on. My poor little kayak and I didn’t know what to do, but after floundering for awhile, we finally made it to shore and survived the whole incident with nothing worse than a strange desire to experience it again. Ah, adrenaline.

***

I remember my first late-night horseback ride, racing through fields drenched in moonlight, hair loose in the wind.

***

I remember writing my very first book. I’d love to go back and read it again (I think. But then again . . . .maybe I don’t want to read it again!) but unfortunately, it was lost in the Laptop Crash of . . . oh, probably ’08-ish? My second book was also lost the same day. And almost all of my short stories. *moment of silence*

***

I remember the very first day of the very first semester of Ellerslie. Oh, the many memories that Ellerslie has added to my repertoire!

***

I remember the day my life flashed in front of me as I headed under the semi-truck. I should’ve died that day, but God miraculously spared me, and I ended up with nothing worse than a stiff neck, a broken axle, a nearly totaled car, and a hysterical mother. She has since recovered. ;)

***

I remember the day I saw the miracle of a life coming into the world. Love you, Kipling Joel Anthony!

***

I remember the day I was excitedly sitting in my very first A&P class. That day ended with a trip to the ER, and within a few days I had made several more trips back to the ER, dropped out of college, and been diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition. That has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.

***

I remember the day I first realized what a relationship with the Lord truly was to be–a life of intimacy and victory. A daily dying to self and living for Christ. A lifetime of serving and glorifying my beloved King.

***

I remember the day I found out I was officially going to Africa. And then, of course, I remember the day I arrived, the day I first went to the village, the day I first went to the market, the day I ate roasted ants, the day I fell in love with the African culture, and the day I had to leave.

***

I remember the day I first met my chiropractor–one of the first people in the “medical field” (which, I don’t really think chiropractors technically are…) who gave me hope–and I remember the day he officially made it onto my “close friends” list. What a blessing to have a Christian chiropractor who understands and cares and continually directs my attention back to the Lord.

***

I remember the day I told myself I’d one day be a famous singer. Ha.

***

I remember the day I won a sibling-wide contest as to who could fit the largest kitchen utensil into their mouth. It’s not something I often boast about, but I still hold it over my siblings here and there. Probably not the smartest move, considering they have ample room to come back with some “big-mouthed” comment.

***

I remember the big, big swing-set Dad made when I was little. It was adult-sized, and my little 6 year old self absolutely loved swinging as high as possible on it. I told secrets to the clouds as I rose above the tree tops of our little orchard. I wanted to spend the rest of my days on that swing-set.

***

I remember many afternoons of Cops and Robbers with my brothers in the driveway on our bicycles, Cowboys and Indians in the orchard next door–complete with teepees(!), Salvation Army in the back yard, and House/Secret Club/etc behind the chicken house.

***

I could go on and on and on and on and on . . . .

But I think I shall wrap this up, and perhaps sometime do a Part II installment because I had such a fun time reminiscing about all this things.

Oh, the joys of memories!

What are some of your favorite memories?

Happy Things.

  • I live in a house again! After living in a dorm for a year and a half, I live in a house again! There are all sorts of luxuries here–things like . . . a kitchen! And a bathtub! And free laundry! Such a luxurious life I lead these days.
  • This one feeds off the one above it, but . . . now that we have a house again, it’s been lovely to listen to Mom play the piano. She plays so beautifully, and I haven’t heard it for so long! She’s playing right now as I’m typing, and it is the cause of the big smile I have on my face right now.
  • I’ve been convicted lately about the need to be faithful even in the little things (expect a more in-depth blog post about this later), and thus I have taken to doing things such as getting up much earlier than I had been, keeping my room much cleaner, eating much better, and working out. In the past three days I have walked a total of 6 miles and biked a total 0f 10 miles. I’m loving it!
  • It has been drizzling and rainy all day today. A slow, British sort of rain. The most lovely kind of rain.
  • I don’t know that this is a “happy thing”, necessarily, but . . . I have been eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast for four days in a row. I can’t stand oatmeal, but I know it’s good for me, so . . . I’ve been forcing myself. I still can’t stand the stuff, but I can barely tolerate it with cinnamon, nuts, yogurt, blueberries, and strawberries added in. Mom and I sit out on our back deck (we have a back deck now!!) in the lovely morning sun, and discuss all manner of things while we eat our oatmeal. I’m loving this tradition.
  • Something that happened yesterday with the guys at the tire shop I used to live by. Roomies, ask me about this later. ;)
  • Morning singing/worship at Ellerslie.
  • Blue walls! Yellow walls! Gray walls! Yes, I have all three colors on the walls in my room. *happy*
  • Experiencing the sweet peace that comes only from a life hid in Christ.
  • Hearing the news that the doctors are fairly certain that they will be able to entirely get rid of my sister’s cancer. Not just get it into remission, but entirely rid her body of it! She has thyroid cancer, and thyroid cells are different than other cells in that they’re the only ones that accept iodine. So, once she gets her thyroid out and does a round of radioactive iodine, there shouldn’t, Lord willing, be anymore cancer left at all! And most types of thyroid cancer aren’t the type of cancer that spreads anywhere else in the body. Thank you, Jesus!
  • Babysitting my 2 nieces and 5 nephews (the 7 older of my sister’s 8 children). We had a picnic, road bikes up and down ramps, told stories, chased each other around, and hollered at the cow. Fun times, for sure.
  • Realizing that the summer semester of Ellerslie is only one month away! How can that be!? Such news definitely fits in the “happy things” category, because I love new semesters at Ellerslie, but . . . at the same time: one month!?
  • Surprises.
  • Sunrises.
  • Strawberry Shortcake.
  • Time spent hidden away in the secret place with nothing but my Bible and a deep love for Jesus.

Beauty In Pain

Sometimes there just aren’t words. This isn’t the case very often at all, I grant you. But, sometimes there just aren’t words.

But what I’m here to say right now is that my God is an awesome God.

What more really needs to be said?

The Lamb who was slain is worthy to receive the reward of His suffering!

He is worthy of praise, glory, and adoration.

Do you remember my post on finding beauty in that which drives me to the feet of my Saviour?

Beauty in pain.

I’ve had another experience of beauty in pain. Beauty because it did indeed drive me closer to my Jesus. Pain because news like we had is never easy.

My sister was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago.

It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been fun. We’re looking at a surgery date looming in front of us. Radiation. Separation during radiation. Loving on kiddos who aren’t old enough to understand.

But through it all, there has been an overwhelming peace. A peace that passes understanding. A peace that can only come from the knowledge that our God is mighty!

Beauty in the midst of pain. Joy in the midst of sorrow. Giving thanks in less-than-desirable circumstances. Watching God use this to touch the hearts of those around us.

Jesus, You are our all in all!