Feelin’ 23!

In China most people don’t celebrate their actual day of birth, they just celebrate their year. Like this year it was the year of the dragon. When I told people I was 22 they thought I was born in ’91, but I was born in ’90 and I had to explain to them how in America we see one becoming a year older on the same date as their birth. But I did like this idea of having gained a year in age because it is, in fact, 23 years after 1990. So I got used to telling friends I met that I was 23. Well, in Beijing some of our American friends were talking about their age and one girl said she was 23 (not Chinese 23) and I said, “me too!” I said my birthday was coming up on the 23, not even thinking they assumed I was turning 24. Oops. Even I got confused on how old I really was. So I’ve been feeling 23 for about a month now.

Chinese zodiac animals. 2013 falls under dragon, hence the year of the dragon.
Chinese zodiac animals. 2013 falls under dragon, hence the year of the dragon.

I turned 23 on the 23rd, so this is to be my “golden year”. I’m not sure what that means, but I do like the numbers matching. Actually it was neat reading Jesus Calling yesterday with “golden” in mind because it was about turning our attention to Jesus in that moment of reading and letting His “gold-tinged love wash over you and soak into the depths of your being.” (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) I like that image of something visibly beautiful being washed over me.

Yesterday was great. I started it off with breakfast at Syrup with two lovely friends (I had the funky monkey). They came back to my new home with me and spoiled me with some fun gifts, and then we got to catch up on what all God was doing in each of our lives. Talking about Jesus with my friends is a perfect way to spend any day, especially my birthday. Afterwards I played outside with my new and oh-so-fun-and-adorable roomies! They are precious, and I ‘m blessed to be here with all 7 of them. Then I went to dinner with Kaitlin and caught up more with her while eating Charleston’s yummy food. mmm. I’m so blessed by Kate. The waiter brought us ice cream and sang an original birthday song for me, and after finishing up we went on our merry way to Ashley’s for girl’s Bible study. Suuuuch a blessing to be back in that community and read God’s word and how He he desires for us to be beautiful on the inside, and so should we. It was a filling evening, spiritually and physically…Kate bought me more cake…






All in all my birthday was special because I got to spend it with people I love, doing things I love. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it, even the calls, texts, and posts! And thank you Lord for another year.
Oh give thanks to LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118:1


“Welcome home”


Well I’ve been back in the states for a week now, and already I’ve been able to eat oodles amounts of junk food..particularly delicious chocolate cake and Braum’s shakes, two things you cannot even come close to substituting for in China. My mom, grandma and I drove from Houston to Chandler on Tuesday. Dad had to stay for work. Since I’ve been back in OK I have seen some dear friends and have (almost completely) gotten over jetlag. But I still haven’t figured out all I want to say for my “last update”. I think I’ll continue this blog, and maybe one day I’ll be posting from another country again. We’ll see where The Lord leads!

My time in Asia was nothing less than a blissful adventure. I have visited other countries, met amazing, Godly people, tried interesting new foods, seen amazing views, bought cultural gifts, and filled my camera card with nearly every bit of it. But the most important thing I take away from my time overseas is how amazing our God is. This should be the obvious right? But it’s so easy to get caught up in all of the new sites and sounds that I lose sight of Who sent me. I think I even do that here; I get so comfortable in the familiarity of things that I take them for granted and again lose sight of Who put me here and keeps me at peace.

I love reminders like this to show me how creative and good God is. Being on the Great Wall was surreal. For the first few minutes I couldn’t stop smiling and saying “oh my goodness oh my goodness oohh myyy goooodnessss”..okay maybe I did that the whole time. I am just in awe of our Creator! He gave us the most perfect day to show off His glory in nature. Needless to say, but if you’re ever in Beijing, go to the Great Wall!

So I am back in lovely Oklahoma where the leaves are changing colors and the cool, crisp weather is a wonderful welcome from muggy GZ, and Houston for that matter. I am going back to Norman today and officially moving in with a family from my church to help out as a nanny. I am really looking forward to living with this wonderful family and learning more about what God has for me here or wherever across this world!

A verse that’s been good to read in the midst of all my traveling and life changes occurring is; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

His plans > my plans

This is our last full week in GZ. Next Wednesday we will fly out from here and have an extended layover in Beijing to stay with some of Rachel’s friends and check out some places we’ve never been to like THE GREAT WALL! So pumped. I cannot wait to climb a piece of history, a wonder of the world, and take in the magnificent wonder of God’s beautiful creation…but I must wait. In the meantime, we still have some cool things to do here, but not all of which I was planning on.

As things would turn out, God’s plans are better than mine. We won’t be able to check everything off our goal/bucket list for GZ, but I have seen the Father place far better things on it and check them off Himself. Example, last night we got to hang out with our sweet friends from last week and I witnessed something very special. A few of them will be traveling next week for purposes I cannot fully explain here, but the rest of the group had a chance to personally encourage them and talk to The Father on their behalf. This was so special to me because I have longed to see how Father is working in The Body, specifically those members of my age, in other parts of the world. I’ve wanted to know if it looks like my Wednesday nights with brothers and sisters opening up to one another, or if it were a more formal experience, or less intimate setting. I just want to see His work in them, and I did. Though I could only understand maybe 10% of what was being said and conveyed through nonverbals, I knew that what they were saying was given from a true heart of love. They also lifted us up for our travels next week, and they thanked the Father for bringing us here. I was humbled thinking of how I barely held a full conversation with these friends but they had still been able to show so much love to me through their actions. I pray I learn to speak less and be more loving through my actions.

Another thing He added to mine and Rachel’s agenda has been to meet with a Shepherd’s wife every Thursday (Shepherd of the Word and Body, not literal sheep). A mother of three and the wife of a leader makes for a busy woman. She has wanted to learn English for some time but hasn’t been able to get out much to do so, so we make the hour long trek by subway and bus to meet with her. Every time we meet with her I leave being more thankful for her and her family. When she’s not at home with her family she’s out sharing The Truth or with the body encouraging them. Again, I am no English teacher, but thankfully her skill is good enough that we can read through some stuff and discuss what it means. More or less, she’s been discipling us and we, discipling her. God is so gracious.

These are things I’ve desired to see upon coming here, so I should not be surprised that The Lord has shown them to me, but I am in awe of how He loves me. Even when I was sick last week, running a fever and not being able to leave the apartment or do hardly anything for a day and a half (definitely NOT in my plan), I was still thankful to be sick in a place where I never thought I’d be, because I can say I’ve seen The Lord at work here, all because He placed greater desires in my heart than I ever thought could be held there.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is The Lord’s purpose that will prevail. Proverbs 19:21