Friday, December 24, 2021

Whatever You Do for the Least of These

 Little Alivia.

"She has FAS and epilepsy and resides at the orphanage in Eastern Europe. Alivia is an affectionate girl who loves to hug and kiss the staff. She is soft spoken and initially with new people she will observe quietly but then she is not shy and initiates conversation with people she knows. She loves singing, acting, and dancing. She also loves to draw and listen to stories. Alivia’s psychological evaluation report indicates that she has developmental delays.  She can be easily distracted but is easily redirected with reminders."


An epilepsy diagnosis, just like the little girl I watch.

A name so similar to my best friend's.

Six years old.


All alone for Christmas.

But still wearing a bright smile.


We're trying to raise $1,000 for each of the babes on the Miracles of Adoption Christmas Campaign angel tree by January 1st. Praying that this is the last year these kids will spend as orphans. Sharing their pictures so that their family might see their face and come to rescue them.

Will you help us? Pray. Share. Give. Whatever way you can help give them a chance, would you set aside just two minutes, maybe 5 dollars, whatever it is, to help one of these children? And thank you, from the bottom of my heart!!!

Rejoicing in Christ,


Saturday, December 18, 2021


Life has been busy since I last checked in. My work schedule is just starting to slow down a bit, and now we are in the Christmas season. I'm loving life, but I wish I had about two more hours in my day.

One of the things I've really let fall to the way side is advocating for this little girl.

I've participated in the Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign for a few years now. I struggled over whether to advocate this year, because I knew that I was strapped for time, but I didn't want to give up on these babies. I signed up.

I usually choose a little one to advocate for by looking on the list of kids that are most likely to be passed over. But this year, I decided to advocate for Alivia for a very special reason... This little girl has epilepsy.


The little girl I care give for has epilepsy.

It can be scary. We've had to rescue her at school twice in as many weeks. Her family has had to completely change so much about their lives to give her the best life possible. 

But she is so vibrant. So full of joy. Her presence in my life brings me so much delight.

I'm so glad her parents took a chance bringing home a child with a diagnosis that might have scared off others. I want that for Alivia.


I want her family to find her. I want her to find that vibrant and joyful life. I want her family and those around her to find that delight in her presence.

But I've been failing her. It's true that I was strapped for time, and I've not shared my little girl here. I've barely done any advocating for her.

But she's on the angel tree, and so many generous people have pulled together to bring up her account, even as I have had no time to fundraise for her. Her account has $510 more in it than it would if she wasn't on the tree this year. A good sum to help with her adoption paper work - a huge relief to the shoulders of her future family. But our goal is to get ALL of these babes on the tree to at least $1,000. We don't want a need for money to be the one thing holding the families of these babies back. Each one deserves a family. Love. Proper care. Someone to teach them what adoption means. A beautiful picture of the gospel. 

If you can spare even 5 dollars this Christmas, would you consider giving it to one of these children? Maybe Alivia. 

And whether you can help monetarily or not... will you choose one baby from the list to pray for and share on one of your social media platforms *right now*? The more people see and share their sweet faces, the sooner they find their home. And that makes a lasting difference!

Rejoicing in the gospel,


Monday, September 20, 2021

A week in my life, Friday-Sunday


As I head out the door, I remind myself, I can make it one more day, since I can sleep in tomorrow ;). This day was nowhere near as productive as I would have hoped, but I know I can pick up the extra projects tomorrow, and accomplish it in half the time it would take me today. I head in to early care; one of the teachers and I joke that as the week is progressing, everyone is arriving closer and closer to the last minute, and all of the staff who ends up early with nothing to do enjoys a little chat in the hallway before the 'masses shrike'.

Every morning at the school starts with chapel time, and on Fridays, a couple of local pastors lead worship and devotions. Today is especially sweet, as almost half the kids end up in the front of the room, praying with and for each other after the message... there were some tears, and plenty of gratefulness for how the Lord is using this ministry at the school. Most of these kids are only coming here because of the local public school's mandates concerning covid, but to have them hearing the gospel every day - some of them for the first time - just because of covid, has made each of the teachers realize that this isn't an opportunity to squander. It's a wonderful start to an otherwise normal Friday. It's a short day for some of the kids, but the boys are taking an elective, and they are working on a pretty taxing assignment, but they accomplish it with flying colors, and the day is really productive, despite it being the "last day of the week that makes it so hard to focus". We finish out the week's work, and I make some worksheets for areas we want to focus on next week.

I make a phone call, because I missed a call with some exciting news from a friend while I was at work! I get home and read to the little guys, then sit down with Mama, Tori, Bethani and Andrew to watch a show. We're re-watching When Calls the Heart, since Bethi and Andrew have never seen it, and my mom and I can't stop complaining that THIS is why we *used* to like the show, why'd they have to change it so much the past few seasons?! Philip is just as entertaining as the show, though... he's walking around and around the room, finally having realized that he can make that choice (he's been able to walk the past few weeks, but refused to do so if he realized he'd let go of all crutches), and he stands up from sitting without any help! He's so proud of himself, and it's precious. He uses his new found skill to get all the attention and popcorn he could desire ;).

I really don't accomplish too much the rest of the afternoon, just the barest daily necessities, but it's relaxing just to know that that's okay, because I have all day tomorrow, and a slow morning on Sunday. This is the first time in my life weekends have actually meant something, and it feels a little odd, haha. When I was in school, I would do catch-up lessons on the weekend, unless we had something busier planned; at CFA I worked Saturdays, and over the past year I have, too. I was reluctant to give up my Saturdays with Little Girl, but I also knew I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew, and tonight I'm grateful for that decision made when I was thinking logically, not emotionally. Abbi and I randomly wind up trying to learn how to "whistle loud" - we're both miserable failures at it so far, the youtube video did no good helping with that goal she expressed, haha. But I'm realizing my weekends are becoming a little odd with the things I find myself researching... last Saturday it was how to tie a bowline with Andrew. Completely normal questions you ask each other when you're home and relaxing... lol!

Supper is nice and easy from the crockpot - especially since Andrew did what little work there was ;) - and then evening chores are done pretty quickly. I get a chance to sit down and do my devotions, work on some writing, and read a few pages in my current read, "Speak Truth in Your Heart" which I haven't had the time for all week, and have been aching to get to, because I am so. close. to finishing this book. I have been working on it for literal years. It's a good book!!! But it's got a lot of suggested studies and research in it, and the focus that takes, makes it harder to fit into nooks and crannies for me. I would let it slip for so long, I'd feel I needed to review before I moved on, and then I'd wind up busy again by the time I'd reviewed... who knows how many times I read the first four chapters, haha. I made the decision this year to not review, and just FINISH it. I'm so close now! Daddy arrives home, and we gather for devotions and head to bed.


I slept in today, and it's amazing what sleep can do for a person. I like to do my devotions earlier in the day on the weekends, since that's when I find it quietest and least "demanding" those days, and so I do that first thing this morning. We have a late breakfast, and then I sit down to finish my book. That's an absolute feeling of accomplishment right there, haha! Daddy is going in late today, so we all take a slow morning, which is so nice.

After Daddy leaves, Mama gets the little guys into the kitchen to help her make some teddy bear bread. We missed teddy bear picnic day this year, so we made our own! Philip is toddling ALL over the house; now that he knows he can, there will be no stopping him. When Mama offers samples of the bread fresh out of the oven, he holds out his hand expectantly to ask for his own sample... he feels just like one of the big people now!

I do some graphic design and writing, and take care of all the plants, my favorite Saturday chore. My "rescue plant" from Walmart a few months ago is going strong... that and my SC succulent are my plant "babies", lol. Bethani has a couple succulents that had root rot that she offered me, because she knows if I can bring them back, I'll be very happy, and if I don't, she wasn't sure how either, so I do a whole lot of cutting and add them to a group I'm attempting to propagate. I'm not overly optimistic, since they were so far gone, but it's worth a try. I also refill the flower vase on my bedside table, because my hydrangea bloom from two months ago refuses to die, although it is getting less blue and more green as it's sitting there, I'm assuming from losing acidity. I don't really want to throw it out, but there's a real cute pink and green one outside right now that I kind of want, haha...

We take a tromp through the woods (a.k.a., "go on a bear hunt"), and let the little ones play outside. Mama and Tori finish lunch, while I sit with Philip on the glider. He absolutely loves it, and stays there for forever, even when it starts to put him to sleep and he wants to lay down on my lap. We have our teddy bear picnic and some play time. Some of the younger ones play "splash potato" - it was highly entertaining! Everyone else heads in for showers, but I stay outside a bit longer to clean out my van, because, what if the guy who programs the key to my car thinks all that dirt is because I'm a slob, and not because I live in the backwoods of nowhere? I shouldn't have let my pride determine my actions, because I tripped on some equipment while carrying the shopvac, and caught myself with my bad wrist, which is now bruised and swollen halfway up the palm and thumb. Oh well, my car is nice and clean... for a couple weeks.

I clean my bedroom and do some vacuuming, but decide that I'm going to have to skip mopping the floors this week. We finish out our teddy bear picnic day by watching "Paddington Bear" with popcorn and gummy bears, and Daddy comes home just in time to do family devotions before everyone scatters.


There's not a whole lot to report on Sunday. I woke up early quite by accident (early mornings are becoming a habit, which proves how tired I was Friday night, that I slept in Saturday, lol), and so I do my devotions and read up on "easy plant propagation" until the rest of the family wakes up and Isaac comes and snuggles me for a few minutes. I quickly run through my morning routine - let the birds up, dress for the day, make my bed and some tea - and then we sit down to the breakfast Andrew made the night before and Covenant Baptist Church's livestream. It is a very bittersweet day, as we finish out the book of John. This has been the main sermon series since (before) the very first Sunday we attended Covenant, and Mama and I both bemoan and lament when we hear the news of it ending. It feels like the end of a very sweet chapter! We've been seriously talking about me trying a church in the area, before we try taking all the little ones, and I guess this is my sign that now is as good a time as any...

After church, Andrew, Bethi, Tori and I pack lunches and head to Charlottesville to help Daddy with some projects. We finish up and head home at about 7 p.m., stopping at the store for a few groceries. I also fill my van, because living out here, I pretty much fill up whenever I actually pass a gas station, so I don't have to make a special trip out for it sometime after work, haha.

When we get home, we take turns doing showers, supper, and chores. I go through my nightly routine - feeding the birds, doing small jobs in the kitchen, cleaning eyeglasses, folding my laundry, and packing lunches for Daddy and I - then I go from my "back from Daddy's store" routine. Somehow or other, without planning it, I've developed a habit of showering, making myself some nachos, and watching sheep farming videos on youtube right after getting back from helping put out product. I may not have any chance of owning sheep in the foreseeable future, but they are satisfying and relaxing to me, and I think being around all the farming equipment puts me in the mood, haha. Tonight I enjoy a slice of chocolate fudge pie the girls made, too. It's a very nice end to my week! We do devotions, I tuck the little guys into bed, and head to bed myself - Monday starts another full week, that honestly I already feel a little bit behind in. But I'm looking forward to it!

And that's a week in my life :)! If you've been following along, I'd love to hear something your week held :).

Rejoicing in Christ,

Friday, September 17, 2021

A week in my life, Monday-Thursday

- Monday-

I wake for the day and get ready for the day. Despite my feeling of accomplishment at getting from my bed to the car in 12 minutes one morning this summer, I try to give myself a decent 30 minutes. I get ready for work, make some tea, and uncover the bird cage. It's earlier than they are used to getting up (although they are on the way to getting used to it), and I'm almost positive they glare at me. Mango at least is definitely still too sleepy to take his customary waking up stretch, lol. Daddy leaves at about the same time, but other than that, the house is very quiet.

I arrive at the school at 7 to help with early drop off. I worked allllll the younger grades as a sub last year, and I knew all the kids from preschool-3rd grade well, but working in just two set grades this year, and with all the new arrivals, has me a little lost on who's even attending this year. I'm enjoying this chance to be a little invested in some of the younger kids lives again, even if it's just to tell them hello each morning. The first and second graders remember me well from last spring, though, and I love their big hugs and little inside jokes!

When school opens, I quickly switch gears. I am working as a paraprofessional with the older brothers of the little girl I have taken care of, this year. It's been a major change, going from working as a sub in the younger grades to full time in the high school room. But I am enjoying it as well! And I still see Little Girl frequently, as I eat lunch at her table every day, and have her during an afternoon each week. We both missed each other the first couple weeks, being able to see each other in the halls but not actually spend the day together, so it's nice to have that time together :).

School gets out at 3, and today I head straight home. The "little" guys (who are actually getting quite big) are just going down for their afternoon rest, and so I sit down to read a chapter of our book together. We have been reading "The Mysterious Benedict Society" series for a longgggg time now, haha. But we are finally on the last book, and we've loved every minute of it! I sit down for a bit to answer some emails and clean out my inbox.

Daddy is able to come home early afternoon today; that almost never happens. His store is so understaffed, it's terrible. He's working open to close 6 or 7 days a week, and I have no idea how he is still going. He and Andrew work on fixing a mower, while Mama and I make dinner together, and I also pack work lunches for the next day. It's been a long time since we've been able to have a family meal, so that is a treat!

The rest of the evening is spent cleaning up the house, taking care of the pets, and doing my devotions. I was completely planning on reading a bit before I went to bed, but by 10 o'clock, I literally can't keep my eyes open any longer, and I take a nap before we do family devotions, haha. Then everyone is off to bed.


Up at 6:20 again, and I pull out just behind Daddy. Tori is subbing for the little girl I take care of, this year, since I can't, and she ends up getting a call to come in; so I help with early care until we get a few more teachers in, and then I duck out early to run home and pick Tori up before school starts. The school is only about eight minutes down the road. Living in the middle of nowhere is hard for Daddy, but because I rarely have to do anything that isn't also in the middle of nowhere out here, it's nice for me. If I have to drive these roads so frequently, at least they are pretty - I can't wait for the fall colors to come in! Plus, there is a cattle farm on our road that has calves right now, and they were chasing each other like little puppies the other day, it was so cute.

It's a busy day at school today. Our morning is fairly normal; testing, studying, lunch. One of the teachers and I finally set up my own office last week, and this is the first time the boys and I get to use it for our study hall; we enjoy it so much more then settling down in the "quietest corner" we can find, which has been anywhere from the cafeteria to a closet! This afternoon, I have Little Girl, so Tori takes over with the boys. The younger grades are going to the apple orchards tomorrow, so they do a unit study on apples for science, then I have to take Little Girl home early for her therapy appointment. Since Tori has the boys and I'm staying to take her home, I take this afternoon to get the high school English tests typed up for next week. 

Tori and I head home and compare notes on our day, and I pick up Abbi and Emmi to go run some errands. I need another key to my van, but the process is going to take almost an hour, so I scheduled an appointment for next week, because I didn't get into town early enough for that, I wasn't expecting it to be such an operation. We do the weekly grocery shopping, and the girls pick out some sour patch kids as their outing treat, "in honor of Aunt Tessa", who introduced them to this candy a couple years ago, which we enjoy on the way home while listening to Andrew Peterson's "After All These Years", because apparently his music is what the girls look forward to being played in my car, haha.

Many hands make light work of putting the groceries away, and I hang some valances in my bedroom before dinner. Afterwards, everyone gets their evening chores done, and the little guys come sit on my bed to watch a show and drink some tea while we wait for Daddy to get home. I also do my devotions. I have learned that the "perfect devotions" - early in the morning, with unbroken focus, for an hour or more at a time - are impossible at this point in my life. If I were to get up at 5:30 in the morning, I would both barely be able to stay awake, and worry the whole time about watching the clock so I wouldn't be late for work. So I have decided to move my devotions to the evening while everyone gets their showers, when I can usually get 40 minutes where I can truly concentrate. I work on a writing project until family devotions, and then call it a day!


Another running morning; early care at school, home for Tori, back to school to assist in the high school. I might have eaten a couple cookies for breakfast as I ran out the door, haha. Little Girl's field trip was today, and Tori took her; she was SO excited to show me her apples before she went home. There's a big test today, a zoom class that we had issues working through because technology is not all it's cracked up to be, and some catch up work to do during the afternoon, but all in all, it's a good day for everyone!

The "little girls" (literally the age Tori and I were when we became "the big girls" of the family, so weird to think of) made some brownies this morning, and we older ones sit down to watch a movie with brownie sundaes when Tori and I get home, but I've been really bad at watching movies the past few weeks. I worked on this blog post a bit, and made a birthday card for my friend's little boy while I listened rather than watched. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing little to-dos that I didn't want to put off and forget; adding addresses to my address book that I'm constantly having to look up, watering the porch plants, depositing a check, and things like that, then getting most of my evening chores done ahead of time, because after dinner I was planning a phone call.

I also sat down to do my devotions a bit earlier than usual. Most of my family is taking part in the Christ Church Bible Reading Challenge again this year, and I'm grateful for the encouragement to keep reading the Word. I almost didn't join this year, thinking I'd do a slower plan that I'd be "less likely to fall behind" in, but I knew without the accountability, it would be too easy to go days without sitting down and dwelling on truth, and I know I need that, especially when I am busy! I read the day's chapters, and a few pages from "Piercing Heaven", a prayer book that I have greatly enjoyed so far! I also read a chapter in the book that the kids are reading in english class at the school, because I missed a chapter when I switched with Tori yesterday, and it's kind of hard to direct assignments when I don't even know what's going on, lol. Philip speeds around the bedroom terrorizing everything in his path while I read, but then he has to be so ridiculously cute when I scold him, that it makes for quite a bit of distraction ;).

My aunt and I chatted for almost an hour, and it was so nice! Since I'm working early care now, our schedules have not been matching up like they used to, and so it's been harder to plan to talk. A couple last minute to-dos + family read aloud/devotions time, and then I tuck the younger kiddos in bed.


I'll be honest, I think I was on auto-pilot getting ready for work this morning. I slept to my last alarm, somehow got out the door without being terribly rushed, but I wasn't awake enough to make time-saving decisions, so I'm not sure how. I made it out of the house with tea, remember to mail a card, and only forget one item, in my van, not at the house. so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. The mornings are just starting to get chilly, and the afternoons are definitely not - when even I can't wear a jacket the *whole* day, and so I have to make the decision whether to freeze for a couple hours, or carry a useless jacket half the day, lol. I'm kind of glad that I don't have to pick up Tori today, not because it's hard, but just because I'm fairly certain that I would have forgotten to watch the clock this morning. Instead, when my door duty is taken over, I run down to the preschool room and hang out with the kiddos for a bit, my favorite part of this bonus job.

It's an easy day today. No tests, and only a half day. One of the boys has a zoom appointment, and the other has a self-directed assignment to work on, so I use that time to make a biology terms vocab sheet. This afternoon, we take a field trip to the apple orchard. It was a nice little place, a family-like business run by believers, and I think it would be fun to go as a family at some point if we get the chance! I've heard Carter's Mountain is good, too... we'll have to see what we can do - if we ever all have a day off at once, lol. I bring home some apples for the fun of it, including a tiny one just for the fun of seeing what Isaac will do when I hand it to him.

I grab a snack and read a chapter to the boys, and then I try to get some things done that I've been meaning to get to for weeks. I call my Granny, and we have a quick chat, and then I try to start the work of getting back into my employment account. I fix one issue and discover another, so I'll have to call again next week. They updated the website a couple months ago, and nobody is happy with the bugs the update has resulted in...

I usually clean the animal habitats on Thursday, but I spent a little too much time with the birds today, and will have to help Abbi with her frog tank later in the week. It's been a year to the day since I brought Mango home, so I wanted to spoil them a bit, ya know? But after cleaning the cage, rearranging/swapping out some of the toys, and taking way longer than expected to put together a puzzle treat feeder I bought them that ended up being much bigger than expected - they were terrified of the puzzle feeder. They got the treat irregardless, because thankfully I had a cheap, boring treat holder on hand, too, but I was mildly disgusted with how worthless that turned out to be.

Dinner, clean up, and showers are in order for everyone. The littlest guys and I snuggle in my bed for a little bit and read some board books, and then devotions end out the day!

Rejoicing in Christ,

Sunday, September 12, 2021

In My Weakness, Christ is Strong

How much difference a year can bring.

One year ago today, we lost both my Great Grandma Whitson, and a very special friend. Coming on the heels of an emotionally taxing move, it was a saddening shock. Watching my Mama grieve, and believing we'd miss Grandma's funeral was hard. Knowing we'd never see them again... and how close we'd been to visiting Grandma for years, but life always hit us just when we were ready to take on something extra again. And yet, they found their joy at seeing Jesus' face, and reuniting with the spouses they had missed for years. And through my Great Grandma's memorial service, which the Lord did allow us to attend, I was given a glimpse at her legacy...  a heritage that, despite not knowing her as well as I would have liked, I have been taking part in for years. I got a glimpse of something beautiful, and my heart was given a deeper resolve to the lifework God has given me.

One year ago this week, we lost our bird. Nursing her on my birthday, sick to my stomach and hoping against hope that she would survive, I stood in the hallway staring down at her, tears streaming down my face, and whispered, "I can't do this." If I couldn't be strong enough to support a bird through medical needs, how could I purposefully seek out caring for people with medical needs? When all my efforts resulted in her cold, still body, just when I thought she'd been made it past the crisis, I was positive the Lord had sent the experience to me as a final closing door, to get it through my thick head that I wasn't cut out for what I thought He'd made me for. My Mama, not knowing these thoughts, told me, "watching you care for her was so confirming to me that this is what you were designed to do". And then I remembered this post I had written during another discouraging time in my life, when I wondered if the path I was working towards might not be what I was meant to do...

Dawn never did truly fly, because she didn't learn to trust me until the last two days of her life. I can't describe to you the bittersweet ache I get when I remember how, sick as she was, she ran to greet me at the cage door that last night... and how she never got another chance, because within hours she was gone. Nor the bittersweet ache I get when I remember that Dawn made me question where God was leading me... and reminded me that what I feel in a moment is not who God made me to be. Dawn's death required me to open my heart to a new companion for Misty, and Mango has become a bright reminder that pain is not the end. My heart was given peace in God's timing for my future, even in the struggle of not seeing the end.

A year ago this month, I was given the sweetest little kitten. For years, I had told people I was going to own this kitten someday. I hadn't known her; she was only 6 weeks old when we found her. But I'd known I'd know her when I met her. There are cats all up and down our road here, and she wasn't the first stray we have helped get off the streets over the years, despite my Dad being allergic and unable to keep them. But when Tori brought this baby to the house after finding her alone and crying near our mailbox and handed her to me, I took one look at her and I knew. My sisters knew - Bethi from behind me asked "so, you're naming it Raspberry, right?" My chest tightened a little bit as I told her not to say that, as if refusing to voice the facts changed the truth. But she was - my spunky, friendly, vocal grey tabby dream cat, Raspberry. She climbed on my shoulder right away, and that's where she perched like a parrot any time she was frightened for the next week, as I tried to justify keeping her. But after my initial frustration - why now, when I couldn't keep her? Why when so much hurt already?- I realized I loved her too much to keep her locked up without the constant companionship she wanted. I gave in. I called her Raspberry... and then found her a home where she could be right in the middle of life with someone who loved her. I realized the Lord used that broken dream -probably planted it in me on purpose for this lesson- to likely save her life and work on mine. I texted a friend, who I'd told before that I could never even consider being a foster parent... "that was basically foster care. I loved her completely, to the point I had to let go. And I survived. It's just as hard as I've ever thought it would be, but far more rewarding than you could imagine - and THAT was just a cat". My heart feels just a little bit bigger.. and far more open.

A year ago, we had a little brother on the way. I couldn't shake the crippling fear of losing him and Mama like we almost did when Josiah was born. It was irrational - I knew they had been given a perfect bill of health - but with life hitting us from every side, I just couldn't see things going well anywhere. But the Lord was gracious, and everything did go well, and over the past 11 months, just looking at Philip's beautiful face fills me with intense joy. Our hearts needed his sunshine in what has, otherwise, been a hard, hard year for our family.

A year ago, I was exhausted, from health deficiencies, and probably stress, to the point that I was seriously reconsidering whether I should be looking for a job or not at the time. When I realized I couldn't do a simple task like clean our aquarium without needing to recover afterwards, I knew I was at the end of my rope. I had to stop being stubborn, and I have made some changes... and the difference in a year is huge. Don't get me wrong, naps are still frequently in order. But if you'd told me a year ago how much I'd do last week and still be standing this afternoon, I would have cried simply because I was too tired to imagine actually enjoying that much "life".

A year ago, sobbing over all this and more, I texted a dear friend...

"I wasn't looking forward to my birthday this year - even before it got screwed up - because the sound of being 23 defeated me in a way. I feel like I've done nothing with my life, like I'm miles behind where I wanted to be, like everything pushes me away from where I genuinely feel God had given me a passion to be. To know another year has gone by and I've literally just been waiting the whole year seriously tore me down, although I didn't want to admit it. ...I've been avoiding this for idk how long... probably ever since I was offered the hospice job and had to turn it down because I knew in my heart we were leaving SC, even though Daddy hadn't found a job yet. ...I know my place is with my family, for now.... otherwise, I wouldn't be here right now. Knowing that my dreams were being stripped away again, and yet I was where I was supposed to be... it's been so. hard."

She responded with these precious words...

"God has brought you to the place of total brokenness - to the end of yourself - to where you see things in a way and have experienced things that you never would have if your passion had happened at the time and the way you wanted. ...To see the way He's prepared you - it's beautiful. I'm sorry it's had to be so much work, so hard, so long, so heartbreaking. There's beauty in these ashes. You are strong in Him. ...and He's preparing you so that you can live [your dream] and love it in the most beautiful way possible."

"I think He's about to do something incredible," she told me, from her vantage point that wasn't so completely overwhelmed with grief. 

And within months, the incredible was happening. The year I felt the locust had eaten was restored four-fold to bring about something more perfectly suited than I'd dared hope for. Once again, the Lord used something that seemed completely insignificant years before - stumbling upon a blog - to show me that always, He works all things together. I shared some of that incredible story here on my blog last spring. And God has continued to give me glimpses of where He is taking me as the year has gone on. It has been awe inspiring. I feel like I talk or allude to it so often at this point, but it's hard to fully express how beautiful it is to have such clear examples of the Lord's purpose unfolding. I told another dear friend,  "I could write a book right now of how God works in the smallest of ways to bring the most unexpected answers to prayer about -to bring blessings we don't realize until later were connected. But I don't feel like I know what the end of the book is yet." Because I still feel the Lord working on me. I'm still watching things unfold. Just last week, my sister was officially hired for a job that was offered her through what the Lord has been doing in my life. Just a couple weeks ago, I read a book that opened my heart a little wider to something I feel the Lord is preparing me for. No, I don't feel like I'm ready to undertake a huge writing project, but maybe someday. Not because I'll ever reach "the end" of God's faithfulness; it will never run out. But just because I want to see His faithfulness praised. He is mighty, and wonderful. In my darkest despair, He was preparing me for bright joy. Through seeing His purpose in the past, it gives me peace and trust here in the future, even as we walk through difficult circumstances with my Dad's job, having no local church community currently, and with some remaining unfulfilled dreams. The Lord is using those things for something. I will rejoice to wait patiently for it.

Since a year ago, so much has changed. And yet, the most important thing - that I am right where God has placed me - has not changed at all. To be perfectly honest, my grief has not been taken away. I still hurt over what I experienced and felt a year ago - and even longer. It was real pain. And yet that is why what has happened since has meant so, so much. I can't tell you how many sentences I have written in this basement over the past year that have shattered my heart in a million pieces, and yet brought healing in their honesty. I shed tears at numerous points writing this post even now, because even in it's deep beauty-from-ashes, it pierces my soul. But this year, I do not dread turning 24. I pray that no matter the cost, the Lord would continue to do His work in my heart. That no matter what discouragement I may feel, I will remember the encouragement He has given. I want to live life to the fullest, even if right now I might not even be able fathom the fullness that might be. 

A friend asked me several years back to do a post about a day in my life. I said I would, but never got around to it... my days never look the same, and I didn't feel like I had anything worth sharing, anyway. But over this next week, I am going to invite you all to have a look at my day-to-day life. My days are never the same, but my weeks do hold much the same things, and I think it would be fun to share that with you all. I may not be doing anything hugely significant from a human stand point. I'm not irreplaceable, and, unlike last year, I realize... that's okay. But I am the one the Lord has doing these things now, and that is all that truly matters. It fills me with a deep, joyful purpose.

So as I head into my 24th year... if there is anything that I would say I want to share that I have learned in my life so far... it is to trust in the Lord and HIS plans for you. Keep your heart open to seeing the small ways He works. In your weakness, HE is strong. I know this, because a year ago, I was nothing but broken and weak... and because I could do nothing of strength myself, the Lord's might was on full display as He carried me forward.

Rejoicing in Christ,