Saturday, March 8, 2014

Stressed? Overwhelmed? Exhausted? Discouraged?

Have you ever felt like there's too much for you to bear? Like your life is moving at the speed of light and you can't catch up? Do feel like everyone around you seems to have their life together, while you're sitting in a world of chaos? Do you feel anxious, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to keep moving forward? Yeah, that's me.

Over the past two weeks, I've let myself worry, get discouraged over petty things, feel hurt by the words/actions of others, and let simple, dumb things overwhelm me to the point that I don't sleep. Or even worse, I've let my own words and actions not reflect my God the way they should. In turn, the lack of sleep makes things seem even worse than they truly are, and I hurt the people who love me, by my words and actions, too.

Well, thanks to my mom, I took the day off work today to sleep in and get my bearings together. She's my life-saver - seriously, she's amazing :) This morning was a massive wake up call for me - and not just in the physical way. After getting some much needed sleep and taking a deep breath, I can now see that the moment I started falling behind/letting homework pile up/letting little things bother me, is the moment I put spending time with God on the back-burner, so I could try to catch up on life. You may be thinking to yourself, "Well, that was dumb. Why'd she do that, doesn't she know better??" It's okay, I'm telling myself that, too. God should always be my top priority, I know this and I fail miserably more often than not. I've noticed every time I stop focusing on Jesus, my life seems to fall apart faster than I could put it together to begin with. However, my God is a forgiving, merciful, and loving God! And I'm beyond thankful and incredibly blessed!

Enough about that though - I'm moving forward! God taught me this morning (again) that He is greater than all our worries, fears, and troubles (1 John 4:4), He (and His love) never fails (Psalm 136, 2 Cor. 6:18), and that nothing is too difficult for Him! (Jer. 32:27). I pray that if you are struggling in the same way, you will find peace with Jesus Christ, just as I have. :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Update On Life

It's been awhile since I've blogged, so I figured it was about time to give an update on life.

It's been a long, tough road for my family this year. We learned that one of my (adopted) sisters has an attachment disorder. I won't go into too much detail, but it got bad. She was placed in a temporary home, while we searched for a new family. The perfect family. As of a few weeks ago, she lives in North Carolina with her new family, who knows more about her disorder and can hopefully help her heal - and ultimately, come to know Christ as her Father. As painful as it is for me, it's been more difficult for my mom and sisters - they were the ones home with her the most. It's heartbreaking, really. Legally, she is no longer my sister... and yet, in my heart, she is and always will be. When people ask how many siblings I have, what do I say? My natural response is, 8. But, it's really 7. I can't imagine how my parents feel - it's their daughter. They love her, I know.  I'm sure it will take a long time for all of us to heal from the pain we've endured, but really I don't regret any of it. I've learned more than I ever could have without her. I praise God for letting us be a part of her life's journey. :)

The last couple months, I've been really trying to focus on growing Spiritually. I wish I was wiser and more mature. I'm having to learn how to manage my time better. I am trying to not neglect God, myself, or my responsibilities in the process of serving others.  I tend to take, 'serving others', to the extreme, where I am just a people-pleaser.  
I started going to a small Bible study with a few friends and one of their moms, as the leader. It's been great! It's so nice to dig into the Word and dissect it, and not just read alone. Sometimes I feel like a luke-warm Christian. How disgusting is that? I need to be better. I am going to do better. !

I quit babysitting in May and got a new job working in the Amazon warehouse. I start in two days! I'm really excited. To be honest, this will be my first full time job that doesn't have to do with kids. I miss the kids a lot, but I feel like my life is moving forward now. In August I'll start school at JCTC - also another step forward! I've talked about being a cosmetologist for probably 10+ years, but I'm finally doing it! It'll be really weird being tied down, honestly. I've always had the lifestyle that let me travel on mission trips, have time with my friends, etc. But now, I'm stuck here. I guess work and school will be my mission field. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Romania: There and back again


On July 16th, 2012, at 12 o'clock, noon, I arrived at the Louisville International Airport. There, I met up with the other twenty members of our Romania team. Excited, we all began checking in our luggage and saying our goodbyes to loved ones, when we hit our first road..er, air? block.
After five of us were already checked in, they told us our flight had been moved from 2:30 up to 12:30, which means we had actually all missed our flight out. After a couple hours of trying to figure out what to do from there, they decided to split our team up into three groups and send us different places, and then we would all meet back up in Munich and travel to Cluj, together.
So, five of us, including myself, got our tickets and went on through security to our gate to wait on our flight to Charlotte. An hour later, we heard that six others finally got a flight out, however to Philadelphia, not Charlotte. My group finally boarded our plane to Charlotte, when there was an instrument failure and we had to get off and wait again. While waiting for them to fix the plane, the other eight team members walked up and said they got a flight out at 6pm (same gate)... so finally, after hours of wondering whether we'd even fly out on the 16th, or not, all twenty of us had tickets!
We boarded our plane once again, but only to have to get off (AGAIN) because of bad weather in Charlotte. By 5:45pm, we finally got word that all thirteen of us, who were left out of our team, would all be flying to Charlotte together on the 6:05pm flight..
At 6:02pm we were all rushed onto the plane and told we had less than seven minutes to take off, or our flight would be canceled until the next day, due to regulations.


We took off with no more than thirty seconds to spare, but nevertheless, we were finally on our way to Charlotte!

All of us arrived in Charlotte safely, but because of all the issues we had getting out of Louisville, we had missed our flight to Munich.. took several hours, but eventually we got a flight to Frankfurt, Germany (instead of Munich), so we flew for eight hours - where I slept just about the whole time :-). They then got us a flight to Munich, but once we arrived there (the other seven team members were already in Romania by this time), they said they didn't have any flights going to Cluj (Romania)... so they sent us to Budapest, Hungary, instead. From there, we slept on the floor in the airport for I don't know how many hours. We were missing several peoples luggage and totes full of VBS supplies, but at least we were safe. Our bus driver who was picking us up in Cluj, drove 8+ hours, through two countries, to pick us up in Budapest. So, after 35+ hours of traveling, we then had to sit on a bus for another 8 hours.. But, after 40+ hours, altogether, we all arrived in Finate, Romania, where we finally met up with the rest of our team, who had flown out from Louisville separately, two days prior. 

We arrived at 7:30 in the morning on July 18th. We started VBS with the Romanian children at 10am that same morning... which means we were quite tired by the end of the day :) I definitely slept like a rock every single night! Was probably the first one in bed and the last one out every day ;)

We did VBS every day from 10am-noon, had lunch, and then had "field day" with the kids until 3pm. I learned how to play Volleyball, Romanian style - we played every day for several hours! I never even used to be into Volleyball, but I have to admit, I learned to like it a lot :) Some of our team went into the city to have Basketball camps and hang out with the youth.
We started a womens Bible study for the lady's in the village, which took place every evening at 8pm. It started out a very small crowd - 2 or so people - but by the end of the week we had probably about 10. One lady gave her life to Jesus even!
We went to several church services in town (Baia Mare), where the pastors on our team would preach and some of the Romanian speaking team members would sing or read a poem/scripture.

My favorite things on the trip were trying the interesting foods, that weren't really weird at all, playing volleyball with the teenagers, hanging out with the teen-translators/getting to know them, wandering the streets of the village with Cathy, Gabi and Dani (amazing people right there!), playing with and loving on the Gypsy's! And learning what it's like to be a Romanian. I always feel like I leave a piece of my heart everywhere I go. 

It made me so sad to see the Gypsy's though. The children are battered and bruised, on purpose, by their parents, just so people will feel sorry for them and give them money... which the parents promptly take and use on drugs and whatnot. It's so sad. I wish I could take all the kids home with me and give them a loving family! How can you even pretend to love your children when you abuse them to get what you want?? I just don't understand :(

We did a little site seeing: hiked up a mountain, went into the city to get souvenirs and ice cream, drove for houuuurs up a windy mountain on gravel, where I was sitting on the floor in the back of the bus - talk about motion sickness! and drove along the border of Ukraine. It was cool to see the countryside, God is such an incredible artist! :)

By the end of the trip, we all felt quite at home :) None of us wanted to leave! But sadly, we had to:


Traveling home went MUCH smoother, than the trip getting there. However, unlike the travel to Romania, I didn't sleep at all! I believe Satan is the reason we had so much trouble getting to Romania. He didn't want us to share God's love with anyone... well, he didn't stop us! It's incredible how much people can see Christ in you, just by your love for them. I hope our light shined bright while we were there, and I hope we all continue to let it shine while here in the States!
It's great to be home, however much I miss the team and all of Romania. The people will always be in my heart, no matter what :)

Praying for the Romanian and Roma people! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Let God Use You


About a month ago, on my way home from small group, I got a phone call - I didn't know the number - I answered, but they hung up. I was debating on calling the number back, but decided against it, assuming if they really wanted to talk to me they'd call again... About 5 minutes later they called again. I answered. It was an old(er) lady named Brenda. She called back only to apologize for calling the first time (she had the wrong number). She was speaking quickly but mentioned that she was trying to call her friend that is dying...and that she apologizes for calling my number and wished me a good evening.
I don't know why, but I asked what was wrong with her friend.  She explained that her friend has cancer and that she only has a few hours left to live and that she's really sad to lose her. I told her I'm deeply sorry to hear that...she started crying...hysterically...  I didn't know what else to say, so I asked if it would be okay if I prayed for her and her friend... she seemed shocked and asked how old I am... after I told her she asked if I believe there's a God. I said, "of course! don't you?". She said she didn't realize the younger generation even thought about there being a God...(wow! How sad!). She said her friend believes there's a God, but that she, herself, isn't so sure. I asked why and she said because her friend is dying from cancer, why would God let that happen?  I explained as best I could, being put on the spot and trying to drive, that "for everything there is a season", as hard as it is to accept sometimes. And that she doesn't need to worry about her friend and that she will be WITH God in heaven very soon and that I'm sure her friend wants that more than anything.  She asked if she will ever see her friend again and I told her there is one way to make sure of that... I explained that by believing Jesus is Lord and asking for forgiveness of all our sins, we will be saved by God's grace (Even when we screw up, God will always forgive us again and again). I don't even remember what else I said, but it was clearly God speaking and NOT me, because a few minutes later she said "thank you, that makes so much sense!" (and if you know me, you know I do not make sense!). she then asked if I was still willing to pray for her and her friend. I prayed aloud. Afterwards she was crying so hard I could barely understand her. She said she felt so badly that she disturbed me by accidentally calling my number, but thanked me for the talk (the funny thing is, my phone had 3% battery left, which usually won't even let me answer calls, but somehow it not only let me take the call, but I talked to her for over 30mins!?) . She then said she needed to go and call her friend so she could pray with her before it was too late..!

Well, last week, almost a month later to the exact day, she called me once again. She called to say thank you. She accepted Christ that night. She said even though her friend passed away, she feels like it's all God's plan and she can't wait to go to heaven to see her again and be with God.

PRAISE THE LORD!!!

I just want to say that God works in the most amazing ways!!!!  As much as I love witnessing to people, I usually feel like I'll just say the wrong thing and screw everything up....so I should just keep quiet, right? Wrong! After the phone calls with Brenda, I realized that I didn't do anything at all anyway, God spoke through me;  I just have to be willing to open my mouth.
She has taught me a huge lesson!

(Side note: during that first call in April, I was driving in Louisville and was so into the conversation that I wasn't paying attention to which exit I got off of.... I drove 45mins in the wrong direction! haha!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Romania

About a week ago, March 7th, I was awake basically all night! I just couldn't stop my brain from rambling on. I kept thinking about the Dominican Republic/Haiti. I went there last summer with G.O. Ministries and they have asked me to go again. I would LOVE to go! But, there's just something stopping me, I'm not sure what. My brother Andrew has decided he is going to go though, which is awesome!!! It's his first mission trip, first time over seas, first time going anywhere without friends/family. It's quite exciting! He will be such a blessing there, I just know it!
Anyway, Romania. Romania kept coming to mind throughout that night, after I kept telling myself "no" to the D.R. I wanted to go last year, but with going to the D.R in June and China in August, there just wasn't a way to go to Romania in July!   This year I had decided early on that I wasn't going to travel. I was going to stay home and work all year - save up for something "bigger and better" (long-term mission trip), but my thoughts kept wandering to this trip.
I finally got to sleep, only to wake up to an email asking me about going on a Romania trip. Talk about a sign! Craziness.  So I contacted a friend who I know goes to Romania quite often and she set me up with her church missions coordinator.

So, as of right now, I will be going on a short-term mission trip to Romania in July!!

During my time there I will be helping with VBS's, for both the Romanian and the Gypsy children, a sports camp in the city, a small Bible study, basic medical care and probably throw some photography in there too, as always -- This is right up my alley, is it not?! Gotta love kids :)

Please, please, please keep me and the team in your prayers during the trip!! Also leading up to the trip! I need to raise about $1700 by April 2nd (which is less than 3 weeks away!). The rest of the money ($500) doesn't need to be turned in until closer to July, but these next few weeks are going to be hectic trying to fundraise (esp since I don't have much time at all!!).
I am also still looking for a longer Romania trip, but God hasn't opened that door yet. :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dear God

Me: God, can I ask you a question?
God: Sure
Me: Promise you won't get mad...
God: I promise
Me: Why did you let so much happen to me today?
God: What do you mean?
Me: Well, I woke up late
God: Yes
Me: My car took forever to start
God: Okay
Me: At lunch they made my sandwhich wrong and I had to wait
God: Hummm
Me: On the way home my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call
God: Alright
Me: And to top it all off, when I got home - I just want to soak my feet in my new foot massager and relax. BUT it wouldn't work!! Nothing went right today! Why did you do that?
God: Let me see, the death angle was at your bed this morning and I had to send one of my Angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that. 
Me: (humbled) Oh..
God: I didn't let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road. 
Me: (Ashamed)
God: The first person who made your sandwhich today was sick and I didn't want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn't afford to miss work.
Me: (embarrassed) Okay
God:  Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give false witness about what you said on that call, I didn't even let you talk to them so you would be covered.
Me: (softly) I see God
God: Oh and that foot massager, it had a shortage that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn't think you wanted to be in the dark.
Me:  I'm sorry God
God: Don't be sorry, just learn to trust me... in All things, the good and the bad. 
Me: I will trust You. 
God: And don't doubt that My plan for your day is always better than your plan. 

Do you ever feel like are having the worst day ever? This isn't my story, but I thought it was worth it to share. Just know that it can always be worse. And when God doesn't let you do certain things, it means He is protecting you, like a Father should :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 Recap:

For once, instead of things going by at the speed of light with no way to catch up, I feel like it was a pretty evenly paced year...sorta. There were some great times and some really tough, sad times, but all in all, it was an incredible year!

It began like any other: Ringing in the new year with great friends!
Two weeks into 2011 I decided to take a Perspectives (On the World Christian Movement) class. It was basically about missions and how important the Great Commission is. It was kind of a tough time, simply because I was working all the time, but it was an amazing class and I'd recommend it to anyone!
That was also about the time I started going snowboarding again! I went boarding multiple times, as well as sledding, and even the occasional winter frisbee game. It was one of the best winters I've had, despite the cold.

March rolled around and it was Jadyn's birthday! It was her first birthday ever, even though she turned 9.
Having her with us and in our family has been such a blessing! People always ask if I really feel like she's my sister, even though she's adopted.. and I always say, "she's always been my sister, I just didn't know it for 8 years".

In June I was blessed to be able to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, through GO Ministries. It was an amazing experience!! I was introduced to a whole new way of living and I loved every minute of it and made some of the best memories ever!

Throughout July I pretty much just worked 24/7. My parents were adopting from China again and I was determined to go back with them, as I did the previous year. But this time, I wanted to stay in China longer -- three weeks is just not long enough! I wanted to stay and volunteer in an orphanage somewhere. So I found a place that need a photographer: Eagles Wings.

So, in August, not only was I blessed to get to tag along with my parents on the adoption adventure, but I was able to stay behind and volunteer at Eagles Wings!!  My parents adopted two teenage girls -- Anna Xiumei (14) and Faith Yuefei (12). They're precious!
It didn't take but a few hours before I felt like they had always been with us and always my sisters!
When the time came for my parents and sisters to go home, my dad flew up to Zhengzhou with me, put me on a bus to Jiaozuo... and I was off to Eagels Wings to start my own adventure. I admit I was a bit nervous getting on that bus alone headed to who knows where, but over all, I was actually very calm and sure of what I was doing. I knew God was with me. I was excited.

I stayed at Eagels Wings for five weeks. I don't know how to explain that trip without typying up a book, so I'll just say: It was amazing, heartbreaking, touching, and simply incredible! I always feel sad to leave places, but this time it was different. I feel like I didn't just leave a piece of my heart there, but my entire heart, now shattered to pieces. I fell in love with not only the precious, innocent kids, but also the place. The city was beautiful. The people were beautiful. The language is beautiful. I felt so at home there. And when I arrived back to the States in October, things just weren't the same. Yes, I have an amazing and loving family, new sisters to get to know, things to accomplish here and new adventures to experience, but my heart longs to hug those kids again.

In October, two weeks to the day, that I arrived home from China, an amazing friend and brother in Christ, Josh, passed away. It crushed my heart even more watching him suffer his last few breaths in that hospital bed, that he hated so much. The funeral was sad, but beautiful in many ways.
I will always remember Josh's final words (that he put as his fb status), the day before he passed: "The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him! - Exodus 15:2" Those words, God's words, are priceless.
Three days later another dear friend, Mary, was in a car wreck. She passed away the following evening. I felt helpless. Like everything and everyone was disappearing before my eyes.

Soon after all those crazy events, my brother Christopher announced that he was going into the Army.
I think the experience has been, and will continue to be great for him. I pray that God will keep him safe and get a hold of his heart and doesn't let go.

By Novemeber I was finally getting back into the swing of things - the food, the language, the entire culture was harder to adjust back home, than it was to in China.  Anna and Faith celebrated their first Thanksgiving ever and loved it. They love it here. And we all love them!
Things were finally going back to "normal".

Finally it was December again. My bother was able to have a two week leave from BCT, and came home for Christmas. It was a great time and the year was finally coming to a close. But of course it couldn't possibly be uneventful -- Another brother in Christ, Dylan, was in a motocross accident and passed away on the 30th. What a way to end a year, huh?
There has been so much heartbreak this year.
But the good out weighs the bad, right?
Either way, God is still faithful!

New years Eve was apon us again. As always, my family had our annual 'game party' with friends. From there I went to a different party, where we celebrated the new year by taking communion and singing praises to our Lord! It was wonderful. The best way to start a new year!

So, now what? Things have come to an end for the year, but that only means we get to start a whole new beginning. The only resolution I have is to serve God and do what He asks of me.
What about you?