Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Loving this

I love being engaged. Love my future in-laws. Love wedding planning (even the now-frequent nightmares about wedding day disasters- like missing the ceremony or showing up at the hair salon on the wrong day!). Love looking ahead to the future. Love my fiancĂ©! :)

Tradition

"Tradition!!!! Tradition! Tradition!!! Tradition!
The papa, the mama, the son, the daughter....

We all know these lyrics, right?? Good ole' Fiddler on the Roof.
This song has been coming back to me the past couple of weeks as we've been celebrating Christmas. Now that I'm engaged, there's 2 families to celebrate with! And, you guessed it- twice as many traditions!
I love them all. My family always watches Miracle on 34th Street on Christmas Eve, Spencer's family goes to the zoo that day, we both make cookies and gingerbread houses, and the list goes on. There's our gorgeous candlelight service at church (my favorite event of the whole season), and of course, there's all the crazy gift opening.
This season, though, I have felt stuck on what I believe Christmas should be. As we sat at our Christmas Eve service, I looked out over the congregation and saw all of the children from Guatemala, Ethiopia, and China who now have a family to celebrate christmas with thanks to the miracle of adoption. I looked at my friend's family who will be leaving on Friday to go pick up 3 children from the Philippines. NO longer will they spend Christmas in an orphanage. Praise be to God! I began to ponder the number of orphans, and was overwhelmed as I considered how many sanctuaries it would take to hold all the orphans in the world. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. Hundreds of sanctuaries packed with children. And yet we still go out and spend billions on our Christmas gifts?? My heart has been torn. Torn between tradition, culture, family, commercialism, and the call to enjoy what we have been given (which is a Biblical principle).
I loved the O family's post this morning entitled a "Grinchy Christmas." You should read it. I have trouble envisioning what I want Christmas to look like for our future family. Spencer and I both feel very strongly about not focusing on the presents, Santa Claus, and all that goes along with that. I loved how the O family turned gingerbread houses into a fundraiser for orphans, a nativity play into an outreach to the neighborhood, a business trip into a sweet father-daughter experience, Christmas gift certificates that will serve as parent-child date nights, serving lunch at a kitchen even with a 2-year old in tow. Those are the things that serve others, bond families together, and keep children's eyes focused on others and not on the presents underneath the tree.
Traditions?? Absolutely. But let's keep them Christ-centered and others-focused, that we may be serving and learning/teaching in the midst of celebration.

Beauty in the Manger

I've seen beauty in the manger, in the pain on Mary's face.
As a tiny babe entered the world, in such a lowly place.
Yet this babe who clutched his mother's breast would come to put the world at rest.
He has come to bring the orphans home, come that homeless no longer roam,
Come to bring health to the sick and feeble, come to bring hope to those who weep.
His little cries ring out in the night, echoes of a world that in sin is not right.
Cries he would sound again and again as he hung on a cross for the sins of all men.
But for now there is beauty in the blood on the mud.
For a girl became a mother, Joseph a faithful  Father,
 a baby so small and yet a King, whose cries through the night will forever ring.

12/27/11

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

248 Days








In 248 days, I will be a wife. Sometimes, it seems like it's coming so soon, and other days it feels like forever away. Today it seems so far off. Yet I'm thankful for this season of preparation, of patience, of intentionality as we grow closer while still balancing life and school. I could not be more blessed to be the girl in these pictures. I still look at them and marvel at what God has done.
I love you, Spencer, and I can't wait for June 2! :)

Thanks to Leigh Ann Smart for doing these gorgeous pictures!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reminded....

These pictures popped up on Facebook yesterday and my breath caught in my throat. 

Sometimes, Guatemala and Eagle's Nest seem like a different life ago, a different world. But it's not. Those sweet kids are still there, waiting.
We must keep fighting for them, praying for them, adopting them.
The Lord will not leave them as orphans, but we're a huge part of making sure that promise is true for them in this life!

On Poverty

According to my Nutrition class textbook:
Malnutrition- a state of health that occurs when the body is improperly nourished.
This can be in the form of undernutrition and overnutrition.

I'm in a basic Nutrition class for my Health Studies minor, and I am absolutely loving it. I have dreamed of getting married and running my own home, budgeting for groceries, and cooking healthy meals for my family for years- and now it's actually happening! So that has put an even greater purpose in this class. I have also had the idea of teaching Nutrition classes in Spanish someday, so that makes me excited as well.

However, as I listen and take notes on what we should and shouldn't eat, what makes a balanced diet, how many grams of protein we need, my head and my heart keep wandering. They wander to the children in Africa who are starving, they wander to the children at the Manna feeding program at Eagle's Nest in Guatemala, I think about the mommas in Haiti whose children die if the mothers aren't properly nourished enough to provide breastmilk. Thousands upon millions of people didn't eat at all today. And here I am, learning about how I should best feed myself so I don't get fat or get heart disease.

So in the past week, my heart has been torn. I'm torn between the passion I have to take care of my body, and later the bodies of my family. I want to cook wholesome foods, and eat in a way that preserves my health for the furthering of the Kingdom. Yet the other part of me is crying inside for the poor and the needy. As cliche as that phrase is, we MUST realize that this is real. 14% of the people in our country alone are concerned about where their next meal is coming from. At the same time, we have people who are sitting at their kitchen tables eating cheap potato chips, and children with nothing but skin and bones in Africa eating the skin of a potato as their only food for the day.

It's in these moments that I hate inequality. I despise injustice. I cringe at the trays of food poured into the garbage every night in my own cafeteria. My stomach turns as I fill myself with fresh fruits and vegetables, remembering that there are those who go with nothing but garbage gleaned from the streets. Why, Lord?

In the midst of my troubled heart, I'm trying to focus on the fact that God is sovereign, and that for some reason, He has placed me in a place of plenty. He has placed me in a class where we discuss good nutrition, that I might take this knowledge and use it for His glory. Perhaps I will adopt a malnourished child, perhaps I will manage an orphanage, perhaps I will teach nutrition classes to those who don't know how to provide wholesome meals to their families. I don't know, but I'm trusting that our God does know. So I rejoice in the blessings, and thank Him for His provision, determined not to waste even a minute.

Goin' deep....

I've been writing this post in my head for several days now, and it will definitely take several days to catch up on my writing based on my limited amount of free time (I miss writing so much- hoping to get back to a blogging schedule here soon!). But anyway, as I've mulled this post over in my head, I keep going back to the Steven Curtis Chapman song from Jr. High Dive.

You all remember it, don't you? "I'm divin' in, I'm goin' deep, in over my head I wanna be, caught in the rush, washed in the flow, in over my head I wanna go. The river's deep, the river's wide, the river's water is alive, so sink or swim...I'm divin' in!" It's definitely not the most theologically, gospel-rich song. BUT- it was a blast to sing in Jr. high, and I feel like it's a good way to describe life right now.

I finished my first full week of school last week, and I was definitely "goin' deep" so to speak. I'm taking 16 credit hours, all of which are fairly tough classes. My Spanish class is entirely in, well, Spanish, which isn't surprising. My heart was a mess walking into the classroom, and I was so afraid of how inadequate and unprepared I would find myself. Instead, the Lord in all His goodness chose to do the exact opposite, and I walked out of class that day with HOPE and a JOYful heart. My campus ministry community has fallen back into the rhythm of fellowship, and I found myself having deep, stretching, challenging, growing, and encouraging conversations within the first few days. Sweet times of prayer with dear friends have set a theme for the year. We are hungry for more of the Lord, and we are ready to dig deep. To go deep into the Word, to go deep into our hearts as the Spirit challenges and convicts, to go deep into the lives of others, to go deep into continuing the ministry that Jesus started 2,000 years ago.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

If this doesn't make your day...


I don't know what will!

If Spencer and I are ever so blessed to have a sweet Asian daughter half as cute as this, I won't ever be able to stop smiling. Someday :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An anchor to the soul

I've had Hebrews 6 in my head the past couple days about hope as an "anchor to the soul." I've been reminded several times in the past week that life here on this earth is not secure. People let you down, your plans fail. And there is absolutely no way to guarantee success, or a painless life. We are left to trust God, and this can be very scary.

In Hebrews 6 it's talking about the certainty of God's promises. That section starts off remembering God's promise to Abraham, that he would be fruitful and multiply through all the earth. As a "seal" to his promise, he made an oath, which the Bible says is final for confirmation." God wanted to "show the heirs of promise the unchangeable character of his purpose." How incredible is that statement? The unchangeable character of his purpose, his heart. Though our world is not secure, HE IS.

And because it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul...a hope that enters into(AF) the inner place behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone(AG) as a forerunner on our behalf....

I want to learn what it means to hold fast to the hope set before us. Because this week, I have not been doing that very well. And I want to not only hold fast to this hope externally, but in the deepest part of my heart as well. I believe that if, through the grace and strength of Christ alone, I learn to make this hope my anchor then it will in turn be reflected in my attitude and the way I respond to situations.

Lord, I praise you for this beautiful hope. Thank you that Jesus went behind the curtain for our behalf, that we are clean, and that we have hope through the resurrection and 2nd coming. I pray, Father, that you would teach me what it means to hold fast to this hope. Show me what it means to live with that hope as an anchor. I invite you into my heart to do your great work within me, and I pray that you would do the same within the global Church as well. I love you.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Food for the mind and soul.

Feed your soul with this Scripture from Lamentations 3:22-26:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

25The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Feed your mind today with this definition of a true woman:
A true woman is willing, serious, and determined to reflect the beauty and heart of Christ to her world. She seeks to live a God-centered life, trusting Him and saying "Yes, Lord!" She knows this is only possible by His grace, and seeks to do so in community. (http://www.truewoman.com)


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wedding Dress

I’m trying on wedding dresses on Monday, and I am very excited. I have one picked out, on sale, and the store has it in stock. All of this wedding dress talk has really got me thinking. I’ve always loved the song “Wedding Dress” by Derek Webb, and I encourage you to listen to it before continuing to read.




“I am a whore I do confess, I put You on just like a wedding dress and I run down the aisle, run down the aisle. I’m a prodigal with no way home, I put You on just like a ring of gold and I run down the aisle, run down the aisle, to You.”

As I sought the Lord at the conference this past week, He graciously brought all my cluttered thoughts into one broad theme, and that is my identity. I’ve been reading books and articles recently about Godly womanhood, and a burden has been growing in me to foster that Godliness both in myself and in other women.

So I get to thinking about a wedding dress. Our clothing, our uniform helps create our identity. If we work at McDonald’s, we’ll wear a hat with the big yellow arches. A doctor wears a lab coat. A mom might wear yoga pants and an adoption t-shirt (okay maybe not…just had to throw that in there) J But in any case, our clothing helps to define us, and gives a little glimpse of who we are and what we do. When you see a beaming woman in a gorgeous white gown, she looks like a princess, and you know that she is a bride. She is going to walk down the aisle to her husband. The white is a symbol of purity, something that has lost tremendous value in the past 50 years, and it makes my heart ache. Regardless, the wedding dress is the outward evidence of a bride.

While I absolutely cannot wait to find that perfect dress, I am far less concerned about that than what is on the inside. What is my inward evidence of being a bride-to-be. Any bride can put on a dress and walk down an aisle to be married. But when that ceremony is over, she takes that dress off and she is not only a woman but a wife. When we become Christians, we become a part of the Church, which is the Bride of Christ. In one of my workshops last week, they gave us 3 qualities of the Bride of Christ which should in turn be possessed by women of the Lord.

  1. Beautiful- think and act beautifully. This means grasping on to the identity which is found in Christ with both hands, believing it with your head and your heart.
  2. Confident- This attribute stems from the first one. Your confidence in your beauty as a Daughter of the King should in turn be reflected in your actions. When others see you, they should see something different about you- a peace and rest about who you are as a person, and a confidence in your ability to be used by the Lord.
  3. Unshakeable hope- oh how beautiful these words are. We possess an unshakeable, unwavering hope that cannot be taken from us. Let me repeat that. It CANNOT be taken from us. I cannot tell you how many times I have let that be snatched away from my hands. A negative comment, a frustrating number when I step on the scale, a doubting professor, a disappointment. We are faced with these things everyday. For that matter, my first look in the mirror in the morning can dictate whether or not I claim that hope for today. But- if we claim that beauty from Christ, and with confidence believe it regardless of what the day brings, we will have this unshakeable hope.

So on Monday, I’ll be whisked away into every girl’s dream. I’ll try on dress after dress, I might cry when I find the right one, and I’ll truly feel like a bride. But in my heart of hearts, I know that this dress is only temporary, only an outward fixture of that big day. In the end, I am a woman of the Lord, a Princess Warrior, a Daughter of the King, and I have a lifetime of marriage to look forward to when the make-up is taken off and the dress is gone. Just as we don't want to slip on our identity as "Christian" and slip it off again, I do not want to just slip on the wedding dress and call myself a bride. Our roles as Godly women go much deeper than this.

As I seek the Lord’s face for what this season holds for me as a bride-to-be, I’m asking him to mold me, and put me through His refining fire, that I might come out on the other end a beaming woman clothed in the purity of Christ. And I long for this for every woman who is sitting staring at their computer screen reading these words. Truly. I care for your heart, I long for women to embrace our place in this world, the identity that God has given us. Will you join me on this journey of seeking the Father’s heart in a world that calls for the opposite of a gentle and quiet spirit with inward beauty? I believe that He has so much for us.

"but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves."

1 Peter 3:4-5

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

Proverbs 31:30

Making changes....

I spent the past 5 days at the National Student Conference in Evansville, IN.
I came back feeling so incredibly refreshed and very challenged all at the same time.
I spent hours in workshops, and then spent the afternoons journaling, writing poetry, and reading the Word. The Lord met with me. Encouraging, convicting, changing, growing me.
Because of this, I am so burdened to allow His hands to make changes.
Never do I remember longing so much to be molded by Him.
My heart is yearning to be the woman that He wants me to be, not the one that the world tells me to be.
I am asking Him to come and shape me into the daughter, sister, fiancee/wife, friend, student, worker, servant that reflects our Creator.

First up- I went through my blogs tonight. Kept the ones that the Lord is using to grow me, and deleted the ones that I just read for fun. Less time on the computer= more time in the Word.

Tomorrow- Update my bank account. I had done really well at logging everything I spent money on. But recently...well....I've just been a little busy. Spain, wedding planning and stuff, ya know :) But when I don't keep an eye on what I'm putting my money to, it's so easy to spend it on things that I don't need instead of putting it towards things that God needs me to put it to.

Little by little, change is coming as the Lord's gentle hand moves in me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

2 weeks.


2 weeks ago, he got down on his knee and slid a ring on my finger.

Ever since, life has been a whirlwind!

I have become the girl who catches herself staring at her hand, just to make sure the ring is still there, and to do a little dreaming about the big day.

I've become the girl who cries about whether or not to have a DJ.

I've become the girl who pulls out the post-it note pad from her purse to randomly jot down ideas for the wedding, or a task for the to-do list.

Oh yes, the wedding planning is in full speed!

But the beautiful thing about it, is that in 301 days, I will be a bride blessed beyond measure.

The Lord has been showing me so many things as I prepare my heart for this journey.
More blog posts to come :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Roses....and a ring!


This may be one of my most exciting blog posts....so sit back and enjoy! :)
I've grown up looking at this steeple. I remember feeling so special when I got to go on my first "tour" of the steeple with one of the church dads before the building was constructed. Little did I know just how much of my life would be shaped by this church and the people in it. Little did I know I would grow up with the man who would be my husband. Little did I know that I would fall in love watching him pray with our youth group, selflessly serve, and be a leader. But God did. And when He said that He had good plans for me, plans for a hope and a future, His promise was true. Why do I ever doubt Him?

I have dreamed and prayed for the man that I would walk down the aisle to someday. I prayed that He would bring us together when the time was right, that we would be able to further the kingdom better together than we can apart. Last night, Spencer took me on a "6-month anniversary date." So I got dressed up, we took a picture, and drove to a restaurant we had gone to in high school. On our way back, we had to stop by the church to drop off a letter. While we were inside, the steeple door just happened to be open, and he suggested we go up to take a look for old-times sake. I agreed, and as soon as I climbed the ladder to the landing, there was a Guatemalan blanket laid out on the floor with candles and a bouqet of roses. He got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. And, of course, I said yes :)


I now have a ring made with the stones of his great-grandmother's ring, and I couldn't be more proud to be representing that family. I would have been happy with a plastic one from Target so this is more beautiful than I could have asked for.

But the ring is merely a symbol. It's a symbol of the bonds that have been formed over the years through Christ. First by a friendship that was kindled into something deeper and long-lasting. It's a symbol of the new call that the Lord has added- wife (well, not quite yet. But next summer). The more I read about women, the more I learn that humans were created for marriage, as a representation of the Church as the bride of Christ. Our identity as women is founded in this, and it's a huge role to fulfill, one that I will fail at frequently. Yet just as we are imperfect, so is the Church- and God's grace is SO much bigger!
My mouth hurt from smiling last night, and it does today too. My heart is full of joy and expectation for what the Lord has in store for us. I do not deserve this gift, I do not deserve to be the bride of my high school sweetheart, a man who has grown to be so strong in the Lord. But yet, God chose to give it to me anyways, and I take it with open hands, ready to take this next step in this journey of faith!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Follow-up


Ladies, thank you SO much for your sweet feedback from my post yesterday. I am so excited to know I am not alone in this passion and burden for biblical womanhood. And I'm really eager to see what the Lord will do with this in the future. He is raising up a generation of women who love Jesus first- that is beautiful!

As a sort of "follow-up," I thought I'd post a couple things the Lord put in my path.

First, I had seen Elisabeth Elliot's Let Me Be a Woman this past spring when I was browsing Amazon for some books. So I ordered it, and just got the chance to sit down yesterday and read some of it. I just knew God was smiling when I opened that book. It is all about being a Godly woman in all stages of life- single, married, parent, etc. It was so encouraging to have that this week, as I feel like with every page I am being fed more truth from the Word about who I am and what I am called to be as well as being encouraged and convicted. This is a must-read, and I can guarantee you the entire thing will be underlined when you're done :)

Secondly, my youth pastor's wife gave me a couple blogs to look at when we were discussing healthy cooking. I love experimenting with yummy recipes that are healthy, and I also have a sort of a habit (some may call it an addiction) of reading blogs by moms with big families :)
So I've been perusing these 2 blogs, collecting some potential recipes, and reading inspirational posts on life, love, marriage, and family. Obviously, I'm not at the stage of life yet where these things are directly pertinent, but the Lord uses each season to shape and prepare us. So, I thought I'd share them with all of you lovely ladies as well:
http://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com
http://www.passionatehomemaking.com

You're gonna' love 'em! The only thing that could be better is if they'd adopted hehe :)


Monday, July 18, 2011

Made for this.


God has slowly been impressing something on my heart these past few weeks, months, years. Last night as I was journaling, I felt like it all kind of came full circle in my head.

I grew up playing house (always the mom), hospital (always the pregnant wife), orphanage (always the caretaker). My barbies, polly pockets, and Playmobil had weddings, adoptions, and births. On a daily basis lol :)

I made our family's first chore chart when i was 10, and from the time I was 13 I spent much of my free time cleaning, doing laundry, or organizing things around the house. I delighted in bringing order to our home, and structure to our family.

The past couple of years have been full of making college decisions, choices of majors and minors. All with the goal in mind of getting a job when I graduate. I know that the Lord has provided the opportunity and the funds for me to get a college degree. And I know without a doubt that these things I am learning, these relationships I am building are going to put forth fruit for the rest of my life. I don't regret taking this path at all.

It wasn't until Spain that the idea of getting a job became a reality. And I freaked out. Realizing that the skills I am learning are going to someday be put forth to an employer. They will evaluate, and if they deem me worthy, they will give me a job. I will then perform these skills to their satisfaction, and they will give me a paycheck, which will help to support my family. For some reason, that idea really scares me. Maybe it's my pleaser personality, my constant fear of failure, which is a lack of faith and trust in the Lord's provision. I've thought about switching majors, or getting a Masters in something other than Spanish, something that maybe wouldn't be so much pressure.

Last night, we went over for dinner at my youth pastor's house. As I helped his wife prepare dinner, we talked about her new whole-foods cooking. She was telling me about grinding grain, making whole-wheat bread for only $0.69, budgeting her weekly menu, and her goals to provide healthy meals for her family while still living within their means. It was funny to see how in only 2 years our conversations had gone from high-school drama to housekeeping. Another conversation with a homeschool mom from our church turned to things they have done with their children such as having them stand up to pray for their meals, or reading the Bible at every meal. The truth of the matter is that these things excite me. The idea of going and getting a job does not satisfy that longing in my heart. But faithfully building a home for my family to live in that is Christ-centered, healthy, secure sounds like the best job that I could ask for. Providing a comfortable, welcoming place for my husband to come home to, and for guests to come into. Providing a safe place for both my birth children, and any foster or adopted children to come into, that they might heal and grow to reach their full potential in Christ. The challenge of using sales and coupons to cook meals. Doing laundry, reading countless children's books over and over again, telling the broken heart of the orphan one more time that I love you and you are part of this family. These are the things that find such value and purpose in my heart.

Now, before this starts coming off as some fairy-tale, romanticized scene of my dreamy future, I do want to acknowledge 2 things. First, work is a part of this life. Genesis 2:15 says "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." We were put on this earth to work, but the fall made that work a curse instead of a blessing. Therefore, it is impossible to avoid work, and it is sinful to try. Slothfulness is not of the Lord, and only by work is His kingdom furthered. Therefore, I absolutely believe that women have a place in the work force, and I have no plans to fore-go finding a job. Also, I completely acknowledge that the life of a wife and mom is not easy. It is far from the perfect scene I just wrote about in the above paragraph. While there are endless blessings that come from both of those roles, marriage and parenting do not save us. It is only by the Lord that we can find satisfaction, wholeness, and joy in whatever task He has set us to.

That being said, it has become more and more clear to me that women were made for this. I don't think there's a more beautiful image of womanhood than a mother with a baby in her arms. A mother who truly delights in her children, and delights in her role as help-meet to her husband will have peace and joy through Christ. All those years of playing house, and helping my mom with our home was not just a "little girl thing." It is a desire that is born into the heart of a little girl, that just grows and matures. Why? Because she was made for that. My Dad always told me that there is no higher calling for a woman to be a wife and mother, and I really believe that.

So how do we take this truth in light of the world we live in? How do we blend this high calling from God in a society that values careers, views children as a burden, and wealth as a blessing? How do we as young women prepare our hearts for the coming years when we will have the opportunity to live out this calling?

I don't have any easy answers. But, I am finding such peace and reassurance in the knowledge that our God made the heart of a woman, and He looks down with delight. As I've prayed about these thoughts, I have come to realize that the most important thing is to wait on the Lord's timing. He knows us better than we know ourselves, so He knows the cries of our hearts, the longing, the hopes, the dreams. He knows that we hold these dreams at arm's length, so scared that the hopes we have will be shattered by this harsh world. It gives me strength to hold onto the things that He instilled in me. It encourages me to go to other hurting women and challenge them to push on with the fight to Godly womanhood. We have a God who is trustworthy. We can marvel at His creation, marvel at the intricacies of our souls, and wait on Him. For we were made for this.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Home


It's 12:45, and everyone is asleep. It's just me, my fruit (i probably eat more fruit than all of your reading this blog put together), Rold Gold pretzels, 19 Kids and Counting, and my computer. Speaking of 19 Kids and Counting, Anna Duggar is about to have her baby so I can't go to bed until the show is finished. I'm pathetic lol.

I have been home for 4 full days now, and it has been wonderful. Time has been surreal, as in some ways I feel like I have been home forever, and in other ways, the time is already going too fast. There have been long walks with Spencer, all the familiar foods, sweet times with family,

sleeping in, and getting to work out again (i know, not exactly everyone's favorite but I do enjoy that).

I have been relaxing while scrapbooking my trip and watching movies. It's been therapeutic to sit down in the basement for hours at a time, letting my creative juices flow while reflecting on my trip. Seeing the pictures on the pages has reminded me again of the incredible opportunity I had the past 7 weeks. I saw so much beauty, history, picturesque sights of Europe.

I have almost exactly one month before school starts. I cannot wait to return to the community that I have there, and I have SO much to look forward to this next year. But I am not at all ready to start school, especially to start another Spanish class.

But until then, I have many more long summer evenings to look forward to, a week of family vacation, a trip to St. Louis to see friends, and more time to recuperate before falling into the chaos of college life again. I'm determined to make the most of every day that I have left of summer, so thankful for the growth the Lord has brought, the blessings He has given, and this wonderful place I call home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

YES

If you are not familiar with the fabulous family at A Place Called Simplicity, I urge you to go to their blog and get to know them. God has used their journey of faith and trust to both encourage and convict me.

Their latest treasure is Miss Ruby Grace, who they announced they would be adopting here. Tiny Ruby stole her daddy's heart while they were in Uganda last month. And their latest trip, he did everything he could to take care of this precious girl. She weighed 6 pounds when they met her, though she was already 10 months old. She has hydrocephalus, a condition occurs where water collects on the brain. In this case, it is due to her malnourishment. This baby was starved. When they found her at the baby home last month, she was unable to keep any type of food down at all. This past week, they were able to feed her in teeny-tiny bits at a time.

They posted pictures of their precious new daughter, who was left to die- but destined by God to live. My heart broke.

Many ask why. Why would 50-year old parents adopt a baby at all, much less a baby with special needs? Why would parents of 14 children adopt again?

But here's the truth. We as Christians are not called to ask why. We are called to say Yes, Lord, here am I. I mean honestly, who are we to say or do anything but that? Somehow we HAVE to get out of this mindset that our lives are for us. Because they're not. We don't get to live this life for us, and then come back again and serve the needy, care for the orphan, and feed the hungry on Round #2. This isn't a game.

I don't know how to live like that. I don't know that I want to live like that. I write on this blog about how convicted I am, how challenged and encouraged i am to strive to live a life that reflects Christ. But when it really comes down to it, that's a scary thing to actually live out. When you surrender yourself to the Lord like DW and Linny have, BIG things happen. Yet- those BIG things have been beautiful. They have a huge, beautiful family. They have children who once lived in an orphanage, who now know the love of a family and most importantly the love of Jesus.

So as I wrestle through this issue, I want to say YES, Lord, here am I. And if that means adopting a tiny little girl from Uganda with special needs, then I will trust our big God to give me a huge, heaping load of trust and strength.

What big things, or what little things is the Lord asking you to say YES to right now?

He has Spoken

Broken, burdened, feeling lost

Wanting to serve at any cost.

Amazed by my selfishness, blindness, and pride

I act as if I’m the only one in this life.

And then I’m reminded, it shatters me still;

That the children are dying, hungry, ill

My eyes dart away from the face on the screen.

She just can’t be real, it must be a bad dream.

But this precious little girl was somebody’s daughter,

So sick and disabled is she that nobody wants her.

But someone has to love her, someone has to care.

Some has to choose, a jump of faith, a love dare.

This tiny body is perfect in the eyes of her Creator,

A normal life she may not live, but it will glorify the Savior.

What road will we choose? The one of safety, comfort?

Or will we choose to let go and live the one of joy, hurt?

I am crying to Jesus to show me the way

I want to walk the road that makes me trust him day by day

I so long to bring Him glory, serve forgotten, hurting, broken,

And I hold His hand with confidence, knowing He has spoken.

7/7/11

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Where I'm At

I am....
  • 4 days away from going home. God has been faithful.
  • Full of topics that I want to blog about. The Lord has really been placing some heavy stuff on my heart. I long for my life to glorify Him, and I also long for this blog to glorify Him. SO- when I get home, I'm hoping to get some of those thoughts from paper to computer screen :)
  • Totally and completely burned out on Spanish. Again, God has been faithful to sustain me, but I have never been so unable to listen to or speak Spanish like I am now. However, at the same time, I've never been so ready to fly to Latin America and use my Spanish.
  • So ready for Mexican food- Chips, salsa, queso, tortillas, the works :)
  • Rambling....so I should stop writing. ;)
Love you all and see you in 4 days!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Almost accomplished


My stack of flashcards and books
The list of some of the kings of Spain. Definitely didn't get those memorized!

1,000+ new vocabulary words

12 vocabulary tests

18 single-sided notebook pages full of notes on the Spanish history

20+ hours of studying for said history exam

1 entire notebook of Grammar and Conversation notes

4 compositions

1 6-page research paper

= 1 accomplished study abroad student.

Only 3 more days of classes and I'm DONE! :)

1 God of the Nations

I had the wonderful blessing to go over to a family’s house for dinner on Wednesday. I had met Jacqueline, the wife, at church on Sunday. She is a short, round-faced, brown-eyed passionate woman. Her face is always in a huge smile that radiates the joy in her heart. She is the most hospitable woman in the church, and she chooses to open her home once a week to students and young people. Upon meeting her, she handed me a pen and told me to write down my email, because I am coming to dinner on Wednesday! Alrighty then! I was nervous, and almost talked myself out of going. That next day, I talked with another student from the church who mentioned Jacqueline and how she has a huge passion for the orphans. What?! God could not have matched me up with a more perfect friend.

So I responded to the email and told her I would be honored to join her for dinner. I met up with another American, and we took a bus (where I saw the poor family from my previous post) to her apartment. Upon entering her apartment, I was surrounded by nothing but hospitality and fellowship. By the end of dinner, there were 8 people plus a baby gathered around their table from 5 countries, united by Spanish and a love of God. Jacqueline’s husband, Alfonso, was a delightful man. There was banter throughout the entire meal, and I was so happy to be able to participate and understand what was going on. It was really sweet to watch Jacqueline and Alfonso throughout the night. Alfonso would frequently address Jacqueline as “Mi princesa,” my princess. What woman doesn’t want to be called that?! There was obvious respect, love, and admiration.

At the end of the night, Jacqueline gathered us all around the living room. We held hands, and she prayed a blessing over us. Just a sweet, simple blessing to the Lord. It was beautiful. 5 nations, 1 tongue, 1 God.

Defining Moment

I feel as though this week has been rather distinctive. Definitely a defining week in my time here. I’ll try to sum up all of my experiences. But to start- a scene that has been heavy on my heart.

Last Wednesday I took a bus to a different part of Salamanca, and when I walked up to the bus stop, there was this little girl with darker skin and dark hair, and I immediately thought of Guatemala. She looked to be about 6, and just like any child, she was running back and forth. When she turned around, I caught a glimpse of her face and my heart skipped a beat. There was something about her features that looked so much like Claudia. Except this sweet girl had obviously lived a very hard life. Her clothes were worn, her teeth rotting, and her round, brown eyes were rather sunken. They were the same round eyes as Claudia, and her smile was precious. The innocence of childhood and the spark of joy were still lingering there.

I watched as she skipped back to her family, and my heart broke. They looked like they were merely surviving, just scraping by. The mom had a very long, dark face that was hardened by the world. It had an almost scary look to it, so full of bitterness were her eyes and facial expression. She resembled some of the Gypsies that I’d seen, and I wondered if perhaps that is where she got her unusual features. The dad looked to be South American. In front of the dad was a stroller with a little boy in it. He looked to be about 3, and there was something very, very wrong with him. He reminded me of the pictures I see of pediatric cancer patients in the hospitals. He had peach fuzz on top of his head, with the same beautiful big eyes that just popped out of his thin little face. He was smiling and shouting things at his sister, as his gruff dad stood with arms crossed, waiting for the bus to arrive. A second stroller held a little baby, and though I didn’t see much of him, he had the same beautiful skin as the rest, blissfully sleeping, still unaware of the rough world in which he had entered just months ago. I wrote in my journal the next day, “That family made my heart hurt. They made me uncomfortable, and even a little scared. I had not seen such an unhealthy, poor, desperate family yet on this trip. Their faces have continued to haunt me all day.”

THIS is why I am learning Spanish. To go love on children, to minister to families, to help broken mothers like that get on the path to hope. I so long to do that. Waiting on the Lord for His will and His timing has been so hard, so transforming, and so beautiful.

For whatever reason, that family brought out this deep love and burden even more. I don’t know what will come of it. Sometimes the Lord just desires to remind us of His call. Other times, He’s growing that seed a little bit more, for something special.

Dad, I don’t think our time in Guatemala is finished. Can’t wait to see what the Lord is doing J

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Everything we need

In this life, we are faced with feelings of incompetency daily. We're not strong enough, smart enough, talented, or gifted for the task at hand. But you know what? That's ok.

One of my favorite quotes is from John Piper:
"God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called."

We have no need to despair because He knows better than anyone that we don't have what it takes to do this life. Without Him, that is! Our lack of wisdom, strength, or talent gives Him an opportunity to give us what we need. He can qualify us for the call- and this brings Him glory.

"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it forth to completion at the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

He has a plan and a purpose, and He has promised to bring it forth to completion. When we mess up, He will cover us with His grace. What we are lacking, He will give.

We have everything we need for today, tomorrow, and a lifetime of heeding the call of the Kingdom.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trust Completely


I have been really struggling with trust the past couple of weeks. I have come to realize that trust is one of the major themes of the Christian life. You never stop having to trust God, and it seems as though the things He asks you to trust Him with get bigger and bigger. The thing that the Lord has deeply convicted me about this weekend is how I trust. There are 2 aspects of trusting the Lord. One is first trusting with the knowledge that He is trustworthy. In your mind and heart, you know that He is sovereign and worthy of trust. But there is also a second part. This is the action of trusting. This means that when you lay your life down at His feet in an act of surrender, you allow His peace, joy, and hope to fill you. This is not to say that Christians do not feel fear, insecurity, and doubt. In this world, we are not capable of trusting the Lord perfectly. That perfect trust was found only in Eden, and will be found again in Heaven. But the hope and joy of the Lord should reign in the heart of a Christian who trusts. Because if you truly believe God, if you truly trust His promises, then there is no reason why you should go around with a heart full of insecurity, fear, doubt, and anxiety. The presence of these things is a direct result of disbelief, of not trusting God.

That was me this week. I said I believed Him, but my countenance, my attitude, and my behavior did not reflect it. I was discouraged and negative. I was not reflecting a peaceful attitude of trust, of rest in the Savior. I was holding tight to everything I told God I trusted Him with. It was like in some way, I liked carrying around those burdens, because it meant that i had some control over my life. But as the Lord showed me this weekend, I cannot fully trust Him while holding the reins. It doesn't work like that. When I say I trust God, I have to DO it. I have to hand over my life, my heart, my future and trust the Lord's sovereign plan!

"For You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, since youth. " Psalm 71:5

"O taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" Psalm 34:8

"Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult! Psalm 64:10

"But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation." Psalm 13:5

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Through putting our trust in Him completely, we are blessed, filled with joy, overcome with hope. We cannot, and should not, live our lives in fear and anxiety. It is not glorifying to the Lord, and it does not show others that He is a God to be trusted- in all things.

This poem came from some journaling this weekend. I was writing and asking the Lord to teach me how to trust more fully. I was really hoping He would show me something practical. You know, like go read this Scripture, or go read this book. But instead, I got this picture in my head of God sitting next to me. He takes my face in His hands, looks me in the eyes, and says simply, "Trust me, Daughter."

Trust me.

My hands hold tight the doubt and fear, the worries of my day
They push away the joy and peace, destructive in every way.

They tell me keep trying, their whispers enticing as they leadeth me astray
As I sink to the bottom I know my heart's gotten tricked by the nasty prey

Jesus knelt in the Garden, a night of surrender, in anguish his sweat thick with blood
Father if you are willing, please take this cup from me; yet not my will but your will be done.

He faced fear unimaginable, pain without measure, yet He trusted the plan of the One
Whose power and glory shape each of our stories, in this race in which we run.

I long to open my hands in surrender, to quiet my heart in His truth
To trust my God, my tender Love, the Father of me and of you.

I look for a book to help me, a "how-to-trust" hint, tip, or two
But when he looks in my eyes, He says TRUST. You are mine. Trust, and let hope rise anew.

6/25/11


Friday, June 24, 2011

Visuals


I'm a visual girl. I wonder sometimes if half my brain isn't on lists, post-its notes, and planners. I like to see things in front of me, cross it off, and see organization and progress! So my study break today ended up being a little art project with old papers, scissors, and a stapler :)

Do you know what it is??
It's a countdown!!
17 little links on a chain.
Mexican food, my own bed, movies, family- it's coming soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

16 years


These 2 brothers of mine are 16 years old today. Can you believe it?! I can't.

My earliest memories of childhood are during my mom's pregnancy with the boys. She was on bed rest for a lot of it, but it gave us some sweet mommy-daughter time before 2 little baby boys rocked my world. I remember feeling very frustrated when they first came home. Everybody came to see the little babies. Which I can't blame them- it's not their fault they were so darn cute. However, regardless of the decrease in attention, I was a very proud big sister.

We played Barbies and G.I. Joes for hours. Playmobile. House. (Can you tell they had an older sister?). I bossed them around like nobody's business and earned the nickname "Mommy Molly" or "Little Mother." I'm so sorry, brothers, for ruining that part of your childhood! Nobody needs 2 moms in their life!

As we got older, they found their own friends, and I found mine. Our time together was limited, and I really did miss them. A couple summers ago, however, the Lord did a huge work in our family. And that was the summer that my brothers and I became friends. :)

When I left for school, I truly missed them so much. Occasional texts, facebook, and phone calls occur but it's just not the same. Now, they're going to climb into a car for the first time by themselves and drive down the street with license in hand- and I don't get to see it! But I couldn't be more proud of these 2 boys.

Happy birthday, Noah. You have become such a sweet, gentle, and caring young man. You've gone from being the little one in the family to leaving me as the shortest! Your mind and heart have grown right along with your height. Your motivation for school is so encouraging to see, and I promise that it will take you far. Your sharp mind and aptitude for fixing things with patience is going to be used by God. You're going to love college, and you'll find just the right place in His timing. Some lucky girl is going to fall in love with your quick heart of service and attentiveness. Thank you for making me feel loved and welcome when I'm home. Thank you for bringing so much laughter and joy to our family. Your 16th year is a special one, a year with a lot of independence and freedom. Stay close to Jesus, and let Him grow you even more into the man He wants you to be. I love you so much, lil' bro. Happy birthday!
To my dearest Caleb. I love your name, by the way. Did I ever tell you that? As I've watched you tower over me this past year, I have seen a strength develop in you. I feel so safe standing next to you, and I can only imagine what you will be for your family some day in the future. But for now, those strong muscles are working so hard. I'm so proud of you! You are doing just as the Lord called man to do- to move the soil and be productive. Work can be done in joy- and you have allowed God to tune your heart to that attitude. Your sensitive spirit has always been such an incredible aspect of who you are. Continue to be sensitive, Caleb. Be sensitive to the Spirit, keep your heart so soft towards others. I cannot wait to see what the Lord has for your future, brother. He has GREAT plans for you. It will be such a delight to gather together in the future (just like Dad does with Diane and Steve) and see all that the Lord is doing in each of our lives. May your 16th birthday mark the beginning of a year of growth, hope, and service as you press on after our God. I love you so much!

So from across the ocean, happy birthday to the twins who make our family complete :) Cumpleanos feliz!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Spain and the like...Parenthood!

One of my favorite aspects of culture so far has been watching the way that Spaniards parent. Just like any of these posts, I'm merely an observer, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.

1. Parenting is a family affair here in Spain. The grandparents are extremely involved, and I see as many grandparents pushing strollers as I do parents. Many of my group's host moms watch their grandchildren on a daily basis while the parents work. It's a sweet circle of family connection, and I love that the kids are not going to daycare as often.

2. In general, parenting seems a very equal role in the home. Every morning, I watch the dads walk their children to school. It is also not at all unusual to see dads out pushing babies in strollers. I feel like this especially is not seen in the U.S. I always get a sarcastic attitude from American moms that, "Oh my husband just can't do the diaper thing. Or he just can't handle it when she cries. Yada yada yada." Personally, I have so much respect for dads here who have an active role with their kiddos. Definitely something from this culture that I would love to instill into my future family :)

3. I have seen only 4 families that have more than 3 kids. 2 is very typical, and of course there's the typical twins. I can definitely say that I like the South American big family perspective better :)

4. Spaniards are very concerned about their outward appearance. Americans are too, I'll be the first to admit it. But the level of formality here is so much higher than in the United States. So being a mom in Spain has a whole load of "qualities." First, you have to have a really nice stroller. Like super nice. They have fancy wheels, storage compartments, umbrellas, and all of this padding and fabric. After watching thousands of strollers the past month, I have come to the conclusion that this is not for convenience but for appearance. Because every mom pushing these fancy strollers is stick-skinny, wearing platform shoes, trendy clothes, gorgeous hair, and perfect make-up. Being a mom means alot more than having a baby. It means keeping up to the stereotype here. No "mom jeans" allowed EVER!

5. The last, and possibly most fascinating thing that I've yet to see one mom nursing. I also have yet to see one baby sling or carrier. The baby is ALWAYS in the stroller, never in the mother's arms, even in a restaurant. In public, it seems to be a very distant parenting style, and the complete opposite of the newer "bonding" parenting methods that are popular in the United States right now.

After a month here, I can safely say that I have fallen in love with Spanish families. Despite the rather distant parenting style or the "chick-mom-look," I have witnessed sooo many precious moments between these kids and their parents. Love is love is love- no matter what country you're in. Whether you have a $500 stroller in Spain, a comfy wrap-around sling in the US, or a simple piece of fabric in Guatemala, these mamas love their children.

While I'll definitely take back some aspects of the family culture, I like to keep my dream of lots of little ones from different countries, wearing my yoga pants and adoption t-shirts :)


Suit of Armor


We saw these suits of armor in El Alcazar in Segovia a couple of weekends ago. For some reason, this image of a real coat of armor was extremely profound to me, and it was much more than just a historical artifact. I attribute this to 2 things. First, being here in Spain by myself really raised my awareness of my own vulnerability, specifically as a woman. The guys could walk all over Spain and never have to worry about getting back to their apartment safely. They can go out to a discoteca with friends and never have to worry about a twisted man going after them. They can walk through the streets without guys whistling at them, or saying "Guapa chica!" as though they were an object to look at and covet. This vulnerability was really scary to me, especially when we were traveling in so many different places. Now that we're "at home" in Salamanca, it's a bit less scary, but there are still moments I wish that I could crawl into this armor and hide from all of the "bad guys" (literally...and figuratively).

This morning, I was really battling frustration and discouragement. I was thinking about how I just wanted to go somewhere away from all of the school drama, away from the exhaustion of this program- and the Lord brought this suit of armor to mind, and used it to show me a really beautiful picture. My fearful, faithless self wants to hide from the world. I want to use the armor to hide from the evil that I see, to shield my eyes from the orphans down the street, to block out the noise of hurting people, to forget about everything. But that is NOT what the Lord has for me, and it is not what He has for any believer. Instead, He has called us to PUT ON this armor and FIGHT.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:10-18

We are in a battle. I can really feel the battle right now where I'm at and it's hard. But He has not called us to hide in our armor. He has called us to stand firm, pray, keep alert.

The second part of the word picture the Lord gave me today was the image of a knight in shining armor coming to save us. That knight is Jesus. He is the perfect Warrior, and He has already been victorious over all. So when we are tired of the fight, when we are bruised and wounded, when we want to give up, we are promised that our fight is not in vain. For not a moment too late, Jesus is going to come again to fight for us. And when that time comes, we will be given the beautiful gift of perfect eternal rest in His arms. Is that not encouraging? Can I hear an amen? I know that I'm preaching to myself here in the middle of Spain, giving myself a "pep talk." But I know that I am not alone in this army, and I know that I am not the only one feeling weary. So dear brothers and sisters, stand firm with me. Take up your cross, whatever it is, and move forward one step at a time. In Christ Jesus, through His grace, and through His strength alone, may we be victorious. Amen.

Here's a poem I wrote after recieiving that encouragement from the Lord this morning:
Suit of Armor

I want to climb in that suit of armor,

It offers me safety, shelter, peace

I want to get away from this evil world

That threatens to crush a part of me

But we cannot hide from what’s broken

For on the cross Christ set us free

That I may live my life in total surrender,

Knowing He has a plan for me.

So I lift up my eyes to the heavens,

For His face alone will I seek.

As I give of myself to others,

Who have not this hope and this peace.

I await the Knight in shining armor,

To gather us close to His breast.


Where we’ll cease our striving and trying,

And be ushered into eternal rest.

6/21/11

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's safe to jump

"Your daddy is standing in a swimming pool out a little bit from the edge. You are, let’s say, three years old and standing on the edge of the pool. Daddy holds out his arms to you and says, “Jump, I’ll catch you. I promise.” Now, how do you make your daddy look good at that moment? Answer: trust him and jump. Have faith in him and jump. That makes him look strong and wise and loving. But if you won’t jump, if you shake your head and run away from the edge, you make your daddy look bad. It looks like you are saying, “he can’t catch me” or “he won’t catch me” or “it’s not a good idea to do what he tells me to do.” And all three of those make your dad look bad.

But you don’t want to make God look bad. So you trust him. Then you make him look good–which he really is. And that is what we mean when we say, “Faith glorifies God” or “Faith gives God glory.” It makes him look as good as he really is. So trusting God is really important.

And the harder it seems for him to fulfill his promise, the better he looks when you trust him. Suppose that you are at the deep end of a pool by the diving board. You are four years old and can’t swim, and your daddy is at the other end of the pool. Suddenly a big, mean dog crawls under the fence and shows his teeth and growls at you and starts coming toward you to bite you. You crawl up on the diving board and walk toward the end to get away from him. The dog puts his front paws up on the diving board. Just then, your daddy sees what’s happening and calls out, “Johnny, jump in the water. I’ll get you.”

Now, you have never jumped from one meter high and you can’t swim and your daddy is not underneath you and this water is way over your head. How do you make your daddy look good in that moment? You jump. And almost as soon as you hit the water, you feel his hands under your arms and he treads water holding you safely while someone chases the dog away. Then he takes you to the side of the pool.

We give glory to God when we trust him to do what he has promised to do–especially when all human possibilities are exhausted. Faith glorifies God. That is why God planned for faith to be the way we are justified."
John Piper

I read this on Shonni's blog today, and while she intended it for Father's Day, it really hit my heart.

I feel like right now I'm doing a lot of treading water. As I start to lose faith, I feel myself start to sink. It is then that through prayer, the Word, or other's encouragement that I remember those strong arms holding me up.

Faith glorifies God. Through our struggling, through our forgetfulness in His promises, our faith brings glory to the One who saves us.

Whether you're contemplating the jump, treading water, or getting out from the other side, keep in mind His promises. He will never leave you or forsake you, and He is faithful to deliver.

Happy Father's Day!


I'm going to call this post my Father's Day post.

But just for the record....
I love my...
Tom McCann/Vans/Converse-wearing, computer-fixing, chocolate-eating, joke-making, book-reading, Jesus-following, Family-loving, best-ever dad!
Happy Father's Day daddy!
May you feel my hug from across the ocean!
Love you!
Always your little bear,
Molly :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Orphanage Update

As the time got close to 1:30 today (the time I'd decided to go to the orphanage) I got more and more nervous. Maybe I should write just one more paragraph of this composition, or maybe I should study just a little more of my vocabulary. No, it is 1:33 and it is time for you to go and do this. So me and my trusty map head out on a very short walk to the orphanage.

As I approach the building it looks rather...official. It has the Spanish and Salamanca flag in the front, and the entire area is gated off, with a sign on the front that translates to: Salamanca Government Social Services. It looked so official that I thought maybe I'd misunderstood that it was an office building for social workers. So I walked around the building, which is located right next to a small "park" and found that inside the gated area in the back is a play area with a slide. This has to be it. This has to be the building. It was so different than Eagle's Nest. The second I got out of the car there I could hear the kids' shouts and babies crying. But this building radiated nothing but silence. As I rounded the corner I knew that nobody was going to come out and invite me in. I had to be brave, and I had to go up, ring the bell, go through the gate, and introduce myself. What if they didn't let me in? What if I couldn't speak in Spanish?

I walked around one last time, praying for confidence and strength. All certainty in my Spanish had all but disappeared. Before I knew it, I was back in front of the main gate. I timidly pushed the bell, half-hoping that maybe it was broken so I would have an excuse not to go in. But, within a second I heard the click of the lock, and I pushed the gate open. A young woman opened the door of the building and I could see a small child hiding behind her leg. As I reached the door I found my voice, and in very broken Spanish introduced myself and said that I would like to help if they would need me. I watched as the little boy came out from behind the woman, and I saw a beautiful brown-skinned 3-year old with dark brown hair and beautiful deep eyes. He had a cute little name tag necklace on, showing all signs of a typical toddler's crayon scribbling. The woman, who was obviously very busy, explained that I could come back on Monday at 11 or 12. The children were eating lunch at the moment and she needed to get back to them. I gave a quick thank you as the little boy yelled, "Adios!" and I walked back down the sidewalk. At this point, I had realized that it was not a good idea to leave without telling her that I have class until 1 on weekdays. But in the moment, I was so nervous and flustered that I couldn't even think of how to say that.

I sank down onto a bench in the park and fought back tears of joy, sorrow, everything (girls can cry for no particular reason, right?!) :) That sweet boy could have come right out of Guatemala (and he no doubt was born to Central/South American immigrants). Now that I've seen a face, there's no way that I can't go back, no way that I won't go over to that park and pray for the children who are in that building. I couldn't wait to go back and see all the other little ones in there. Resolved to return on Monday afternoon I headed back to my apartment. My host mom was eager to hear how it went and without hesitation said that she wants to go back with me! She went from telling me that she didn't want to think about it anymore to asking if she could go with me! So on Monday afternoon my Spanish mama and I are going to go see if we can have a tour of the building and maybe set up a time for me to help out. I'm eager to see what comes of my time at the orphanage but even more so, I'm excited at the thought of my Spanish mom being broken for the orphan along with me. I'm praying that through our experience, and through our talks, that the Lord will draw her closer to Himself.

I have 24 more days here, and I'm not going to let any of them go to waste!