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!

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!

My Sister

I’m just going to preface this post with the fact that you all should be jealous. Veeeewy jealous.

And, with that out of the way, let me begin.

I have an awesome big older sister. Seriously, I just look at her and her life, and am amazed.

My sister is expecting her 8th child. What? You didn’t catch that? Let me repeat. My sister is expecting her 8th child. Yes. And her oldest child is . . . 8. Her house is peaceful and sweet. No, that does not mean that it is always quiet–she has 5 little boys, and the oldest boy is 6–her house is definitely not quiet. But it always strikes me when I walk into her house, that her house is peaceful. I’m not sure how she does it. There is always laundry hanging around, toys on the floor, books strewn on the couch, sewing projects in the recliner, diapers on the stairs, dollies stuck upside down in the dirty laundry piles, and dishes to be done. But . . .

. . . there are children learning to read and being excited to learn about the world they live in, there are girlies who are learning to sew, there is a mom who is doing her own cross-stitch project right along with the girls (her’s says “Pray Without Ceasing” . . . how very apt. ;) ), there is always fresh bread in the bread maker, there are little boys outside finding out what it means to be a boy, there is music playing in the background. There is peace and beauty.

My sister is an amazing woman.

The joy she finds in the little things in life . . . the love she pours out to her children . . . the sweet spark in her eyes when she sees her husband . . . her laughter . . . her failures to make the perfect loaf of french bread . . . her love of house-plants . . . her extreme desire to own a cow . . . her willingness to learn how to shoot a rattlesnake . . . her 15 passenger van she goes toddling around town in full of car-seats . . . the adventures she has in home-schooling her children . . . the ingenuity it takes to live on a budget the size of theirs . . . the projects she does with her children . . . the sheer joy she finds in snuggling a baby . . . the cast-iron skillets she has hanging on her dining room wall against a backdrop of sweet french-style wall paper . . . the fruit of the Spirit she painted over the doors in her house . . . her desire to see the truth of God imparted into the hearts of her children . . . her desire to adopt . . . her love of making up new words . . . the random phone calls we have with each other throughout the week . . . her experiments . . . her love of life.

I love you, Jani, and I’m so glad you’re my big sister. (Even though I was a brat and you were bossy when we were younger.)

(Also, as an aside, I intend to do more posts about my sister and my three brothers . . . the relationship I have with all my siblings is one of quick-wittedness, good-natured humor, hilarious inside jokes, and a jolly good time–mixed with some amazingly good conversations. This will probably come out in my posts about them. None of us have a sappy relationship with each other, so this post about my sister is probably the sweetest thing she’s heard out of me in a long time. ;) )

(As you are reading this post, I am out of town at MMI. My sister took this course ten years ago. She met her husband there.
No. Do not even start down that path of thinking. Stop those thoughts in their tracks.
The fact that my sister met her husband at this class 10 years ago has absolutely nothing to do with why I am now taking this same class. Honest.)