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thoughts on adoption

15 Oct

For the longest time, Jon and I have felt God urging our hearts toward adopting a baby.  For whatever reason the Lord has, this urging has always been in the direction of international adoption, specifically.  We are both passionate about travel and other cultures and adopting from another culture seems to fit that.  We of course realize that there are babies right here in our own country who are in need, but that doesn’t make the homeless babies in Thailand (for example) any less homeless.  Even though we didn’t feel quite ready for a baby at that time, our visit to a Thai orphanage in 2008 watered the seed that God had planted in our hearts, nourishing our desire to bring a baby just like this little girl home one day.

Throughout the course of our journey through infertility, our excitement and longing for adoption has intensified ten-fold.  I’ve said so many times that before we would do IVF, we would adopt.  It honestly has never made a big difference to me whether our baby would come to us biologically or through adoption.  I ache to experience both joys – feeling a baby grow inside me and welcoming a baby from another place into our lives.  But the decision is not always that easy.  God has blessed us with amazing insurance, which covers such a large portion of infertility treatments.  For that reason alone we feel compelled to try for a biological baby first.  In addition, the issues I had that were taken care of in my surgery back in May are recurring.  So, as time goes on, they are slowly coming back, renewing their curse on my body and lessening my chances of ever conceiving a baby.  With this in mind, we decided that if we were ever going to do everything we could to get pregnant, now is the time.

I still long every single day to start the adoption process.  When I see a family with an adopted child, my heart aches in the same way it does when I see a pregnant woman or a precious little newborn.  I was looking through some old journal entries, written in the past year and a half, and I found this entry, penned in April of this year right before my surgery.

April 4, 2011
Dear little McCoy,

I know I don’t know you yet, little one…but I already love you so much.  Your daddy and I have been talking about you for the longest time, and we cannot wait until we get the chance to have you as a part of us.


Here in just a little bit I’m taking the first step to find out how you might come to be.  Your mommy doesn’t know if you will come into our family as a tiny newborn that has grown inside me or as a precious baby from another country, but I want you to always know that I pined for you for so long, and I already love you more than there are stars in the sky, regardless of how you come into our life.

I know that God has a plan for you and for your life, and I’m praying for that plan all the time.  I  think about you every day, and deep inside my heart I long to be able to rock you, play with you, teach you about Jesus and show you the world .


Just the other night, we went to a mexican restaurant in town for dinner.  Because it’s the best mexican food in town, there is always a long wait to be seated, so we claimed a bench spot in the already crowded waiting area.  As we sat down, I noticed that the family to our right was busy corralling two little girls, who I’m certain were from somewhere in east asia.  The mom and dad looked to be about our ages, and they were wearing shirts that indicated they were from our college town.   Looking to be about 3 or 4 years old, these little girls were so precious.  Probably appearing a little creepy, I couldn’t take my eyes off them the entire time.  I was mesmerized by how much my heart ached to have little girls just like them as my own.  My eyes began to fill up as I sat there feeling so intensely as if that should be us.  Should is a funny word, I know.

Sometimes I want so badly to just quit everything we’re doing now and start our adoption story.  I’ve spent a lot of time researching steps of the process, agencies, countries, expected hardships, the financial aspect etc., and I’m so ready to begin something that is going to be a sure thing in the end.  This cycle of uncertainty, waiting and heartbreak is just so trying.

That being said, I know that we are very blessed to be given this opportunity and that not everyone is put in a place where they can go to these extreme measures to build their family.  Despite my impatience to begin adoption, I still pray every day and thank God for providing us a way to try and get pregnant.  I don’t take it lightly, and regardless of what happens, I’ll always be so grateful that we had the chance to pull out all the stops and really go for it.

I wanted to take a moment and write down these thoughts, so down the road I’ll remember exactly where our hearts were during this time.  I pray to God that this works and I get the privelege of giving birth to a baby that is half me and half Jon.  And regardless of whether that happens or not, I have faith that our dream of bringing a baby home through adoption will come true as well.  It just depends on when and how.  I can’t wait to see how the Lord decides to build our family.

praying for japan

11 Mar

I was in the kitchen making the husband’s breakfast when my mom came in and told me that there had been an earthquake in Japan.  Since turning on CNN soon after, I’ve been glued to the tv.

Watching the images is taking me back to several years ago when reports of the tsunami in Thailand/Indonesia were splashed across newspapers and tv.  I still remember it like it was yesterday – sitting in the OKC airport waiting for a flight to see the husband’s family in south Texas – staring in disbelief as I took in the news.  Along with the rest of the world, I stayed glued to the tv for the next few days as my heart ached for the people who were affected.

Just three months later I made my first trip to Thailand with hopes that I could help in even the smallest way.  Three years after that, I made my second trip to the south of Thailand for more tsunami recovery efforts.  It’s hard to believe that three years later these people were still suffering from the devastation.

On Pratong Island in 2005, I remember staring at the loss and pain in the eyes of a man as he told me his story of that awful day.  A fisherman by trade, he had gone out to sea early in the morning and had no idea that anything unusual had happened.  He arrived home a few hours later to find that the wave had washed over his entire island home, taking his entire family with it.  I think of him this morning as the reports of the devastation in Japan flow in, and I pray for the Japanese people.

This wasn’t the post I had planned this morning, but with the events of this morning I just can’t focus on posting about Coconut Lemon bars or yoga.

Let’s just continue thinking about and praying for all the people who have been killed, injured, are still trapped and have lost family members and friends in Japan. Praying that God will bring comfort, safety and peace.

go get 'em husband

7 Feb

Good morning!

I honestly cannot believe how quickly the weekend flew by…seems like it just started.

On Saturday things warmed up a bit around here, and some of the snow started to melt off.  By late in the day, many of the streets were almost clear…but there’s still tons of white everywhere else!  Apparently (I never watch the weather) there is more snow headed this way in the next few days, but we shall see!

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but Saturday and Sunday we spent a lot of time organizing and packing.  The story of our life these days.  I have to admit it feels sooo good to get it done, though.  We are still a long ways from being packed, but I think we did finally finish the office for the most part after being buried in boxes and files for the last few days.

Saturday night I got inspired to make a stir-fry.  When I asked the husband what he wanted for dinner, he said something I thought I would never hear him say: “How about something besides mexican?”

I thought I was dreaming.  Did he just say he didn’t want mexican food?!

So stir-fry it was!

I chopped up bell pepper, onion, broccoli, carrots and cabbage and stir-fried it in about one tablespoon of olive oil until it was tender.  Then I tossed in some frozen edamame (did you know edamame has the same amount of protein as roasted turkey?) for protein.

After it had cooked for a little bit, I mixed together about two tablespoons natural peanut butter, two tablespoons tamari, a couple teaspoons rice wine vinegar and some water to thin it out.  Honestly, I just kind of guessed at the proportions and tasted as I went.  I poured the sauce over the veggie mixture and continued to cook them for another 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime I cooked some buckwheat (soba) noodles, and when it was all done I poured a big spoonful of veggies over the noodles….and that was it!  Easiest stir-fry ever.

Stir-fry reminds me of Thailand so much.  During the last few months we lived there, I literally ate stir-fried veggies in some form every. single. night.  No exaggeration.  Always on top of brown rice.  Granted I wasn’t a vegetarian then, and I used fish and oyster sauce (Thai style) for flavoring, but it was still so good.  Really takes me back:)

cooking with friends in Thailand

Anyway, on Sunday the husband and I went to lunch with some dear friends of ours from our college days.  They are several years older than us and have three of the cutest little kids.  During our time in Campus Crusade for Christ at OSU, Dan discipled Jonathan, and Debbie discipled me.  They have always meant so much to us and have walked with us through some of the most important decisions in our life.  It was so nice today to catch up and spend time with them…we’re really going to miss them when we move.

Debbie and I / Dan and Jon – about five years ago

Other than packing throughout the afternoon, I also made some Super Charge Me cookies for the husband.  While he ate cookies, I enjoyed a leftover vegan cinnamon roll.  This morning someone brought cinnamon rolls to Sunday School, and ever since then I’ve been craving one.  I can honestly say that these rolls are one of the best vegan baked goods I’ve made yet.  The day after I made them, I realized that unless I wanted to turn into a giant cinnamon roll, I needed to put them away for awhile.  So into the freezer they went.  A couple of times since then I’ve pulled one out and heated it in the microwave for about a minute and a half…and it’s always just as good as when it was fresh out of the oven.

You really must make these if you’re a cinnamon roll fan!

So that’s the weekend in nutshell – only two more weekends left until moving weekend!

Last thing – I have to give a shout-out to my better half.  Today is the husband’s first day at his new job, and I am so dang proud of him.  I’m so thankful for all the hard work he has put in over the last several years to get us where we are.  This is just one more step we get to take along the path of our life.  I’m going to miss him now that he’s leaving earlier, getting home later and not coming home for lunch (tear), but I know he’s going to love his new role…and he’s totally going to rock it! Go get ’em husband:)  I love you!

Did you have a good weekend?
What’s your favorite vegetable?

I think mine would have to be spinach…or maybe snap peas.  It’s really hard to narrow it down, though!

a little thailand story

11 Jan

“It’s so tempting to shut people down, to limit the upside, to ostracize, select and demonize. It makes things a lot simpler. Not seeing means you don’t have to take action. Not opening means it’s easier to announce that you’re done. And not raising the bar means you’re less likely to fail.”

-Seth Godin

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog recently when I stumbled upon this quote, and the hard truth of it really struck me.  It reminded me of a situation that occurred during our time in Thailand.

In the far northern part of Thailand, settled in among the mountains you’ll find a city.  Our Thailand home.  Chiang Mai.

And in the middle of that city, you’ll find a little something called Night Bazaar, or as the Thai’s say it “night ba-saaaaah.”


Every single day at about 4 o’clock, rain or shine, the people would begin pushing their carts out to the sidewalk, ready to take on the crowds of people that would come pouring in in a couple of shorts hours.  They sold everything from t-shirts to perfume to oil burners, lamps, watches, shoes and much more.  You could gaze for miles down the busy road and still not see the end of it.

For us, Night Bazaar was a fun date night, a place to get cheap massages and a great people watching venue.  We’d weave through the backpackers carrying their babies high up on their backs and the locals stooping on the curb to slurp up noodles before the next bargaining challenge came along.

And in all the craziness there was always one thing that caught my eye – a small Thai women who looked to be about my age sitting on the dirty sidewalk with a cup held out for change and a tiny baby at her side.  While she wasn’t the only local who had found her home on the dirty streets of Night Bazaar, she was the one who caught my gaze every time I walked by… and held it.  I couldn’t forget her.

After many nights of walking by her, pretending not to see her outstretched hand or her deep eyes, I finally broke down.  I found a stand in the alley selling hot soup and bought her a small bowl and some water.  I inched up to her, feeling quite shy, and taking a deep breath knelt down and, using all the broken Thai I could muster I expressed my concern for her and her beautiful baby.

But night after night of this same routine left me wishing I could do more.  But I wrestled with the idea of it – what more could I do?  Ultimately she needed a place to live, to raise her baby….to be safe.  But I couldn’t provide that.  And with the date of our departure fast approaching, there were only so many more days I could do anything at all.

And then just like that…she was gone.  She stopped coming.  I never found out what happened to her, and I probably never will.  And that lack of knowing, lack of being able to do anything real and significant for her left me feeling disheartened and sad.  And I realize that that is often what keeps me from reaching out to impact the world in any way – the fear of failure.  The fear of feeling like I just can’t do enough.  The fear that if I allow myself to see the need, then I will always feel the ache of what I wasn’t able to do.

And the same translates to the constant pursuance of goals and dreams.  Being scared to death of setting the bar too high because I just might not be able to reach it.  And that would mean failure.  Six months ago I walked into my principal’s office, and I turned in my letter of resignation.  Sure, I did it for a number of reasons, but ultimately I did it because I wanted to pursue more.  I wanted to step out into the unknown and embrace something that would fulfill my vision for my life.  And in these months, I’ve held back, sabotaging myself because of the fear of not being quite good enough.

But I want more.  I don’t want to still be sitting here another six months from now envisioning in my mind what it is that I want to do with my life.  I want to be doing it. It’s time to raise the bar and leap for it because I would much rather be brushing dust off my backside than never getting dirty at all.  I want to see things, open myself to possibility and experiences, and offer myself to people freely, embracing the risk of hurt and disappointment.

What is one thing that you’ve been envisioning in your life for awhile, but you just haven’t quite gotten the courage to leap for?  What are you holding the bar low for because you’re scared of raising it high?

And now here’s a small ray of peace for your day:


**Also, don’t forget to stop by tomorrow because it’s a very special day in the life of ChiaSeedMe, and I’ll have a very special surprise for you!

from the past

10 Nov

hi!

today has been super busy as all wednesdays tend to be.  i did lots of yoga, lots of hanging out with international students, and I ate enchiladas made by the husband for dinner.  i’d say all in all that’s a pretty successful day.

but now it’s late…and I’m oh so tired.  so I’m going to head to the bed soon.  but first I just had to stop in and say hi.

hi!

And what do I do when my busy day has prevented me from taking any pics worth writing home about?

Leave you with (random) memories from the past.  I can always dig up pics from our days in Thailand that make me smile to no end.

one of my favorite students and I studying the Gospel

on the college campus we worked on

the campus parking lot

beautiful campus

getting relief from the heat with an afternoon nap

a bridge in Bangkok

on the subway in Bangkok – New Years 2008

i didn’t even know what a food blog was, but I was still taking pictures of myself eating carrots, ahem made of icing

the husband on a songtau right around Christmas

hope you all had a wonderful Wednesday. and as always, it’s all down hill from here!

g’night!

takin' me back

15 Sep

Today was another successful day of Operation: Get Clear Skin. Successful being used very loosely of course – meaning I pulled out all the stops by sticking to the list I posted yesterday…but my face is technically still not clear at all. I honestly do think I can see a glimmer of improvement, though, so my hopes are high.  Thank you for all the supportive comments and advice.  You guys rock!

Actually, the drama with my face brought back a memory of Thailand for me today.  It was Valentine’s Day of 2008, and Jonathan had planned a one night getaway for us at a hotel in Chiang Mai.  It was really only about 15 minutes away from our apartment, but had air conditioning, a bath tub and was gecko free as far as we could tell:)

this little guy welcomed us to our kitchen the day we moved in – little did we know his entire extended family + all his friends lived in our house as well.

flowers the husband bought me from the market

hotels like this are fairly inexpensive for Americans

I seriously stayed in this tub for hours on end.  It was like I was back in America.

The next morning he took me out to breakfast…

and then it was time for the big surprise.

He had booked me a massage and facial (also really cheap in Thailand – I could get a manicure for about three dollars)!

I remember laying on my back, feeling like I had died and gone to heaven as a sweet Thai woman massaged things into my face.

You see where this is going.

The next morning I woke up and throughout the day this rash began to show up on my face.  It was like my entire face was completely overtaken by blemishes…seriously beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in my 27 years.  I wanted to hide under a rock and never come out.  And I kept asking myself “what could have possibly made you think it was a good idea to let someone rub not only their hands, but also various other unknown concoctions all over your face?!”

Needless to say I haven’t had a facial since.

And that’s where memory lane ends.

Back to today.  I started off again with a delicious breakfast juice before doing an hour session of yoga in preparation for my class tonight.

The goods.  Parsley, escarole (leafy green I picked up at Whole Foods last week!), 1 plum, 1 organic carrot, 1 beet and 1 apple

aren’t beets so pretty?

a spry little sprig of parsley

and the finished product

After yoga and some light house keeping, I was ready for a snack.

apple and almond butter

I haven’t had an apple and almond/peanut butter together in a long time…but I think it is time to bring it back! holla.

I also sipped on a Pom spritzer (a few ounces of Pom juice mixed with seltzer water) on the side.  This little drink was so refreshing to me today.

A little while later lunch was a green monster just like yesterday’s, except with almond milk – yay for a stocked fridge!

After meeting with a new student whom I will be tutoring now as well as student I’ve been tutoring for awhile, I came home craving exactly what you see above: homemade salsa (recipe coming soon!), baby carrots, sugar snap peas, spelt pretzels and spicy garlic  hummus.  This snack plate was so filling and it took me forever to eat it, which is a plus in my book:)

Dinner was a little more carb heavy.  I somehow failed to get a picture, but the husband and I made Mexican Fiesta Pasta. It was hot, mexicany, spicy and it really hit the spot!

I must be off to bed now…I’m planning to make it up in the morning in time for a run, but I’m a little worried seeing as how tired I am right now and how late it is.  Must. Get. Sleep.

G’night!

trust thyself + chia seed giveaway winner

3 Sep

Today my post “What Healthy Means to Me” is up on Healthy Living Blogs.  Stop by and check it out if you get the chance!

warning: the following is a bit emotional and maybe even a little self indulgent.  Feel free to bypass my emotional ramblings and get straight to the giveaway winner:)


It has been a crazy past couple of days here at our house.  I was up the husband’s office with him until late last night and then it was back up and at ’em early this morning.  He is currently planning a huge work event that all comes to a head tonight and tomorrow afternoon, and I’m playing the role of doting and supportive wife.  When he’s crazy, it means I’m crazy too:)

However, it seems that time has come to a screeching halt today and tomorrow as I’ll be holding down the fort here at home, while he’s working.  I have to admit, it’s getting a little lonely this afternoon.  He’ll be gone until late tonight and then again all day long tomorrow.  Insert sad face.

But the good news is that it’s Labor Day weekend!  So we’ll get an extra day to make up for it.

This morning we unfortunately didn’t manage to pull ourselves out of bed in time for a workout, but it was week number three for my PiYo class!  I felt like class went more smoothly today than ever, which made me a happy girl.  It was somewhere around halfway through class when the thought suddenly jumped into my head that I’m doing (one element of) exactly what I want to do.  Since I left my job in June, each week has been kind of a rollercoaster of emotions.  I’ve given myself the freedom to pursue exactly what I want to do…but I never realized that could be so difficult.  It’s difficult to keep pushing forward when there’s no promise that anything will work out.  But I know that if I don’t keep moving toward my goals, I’ll never get there…and it would be a tragedy to not give it everything I have.

Today, as every Friday, I received Kris Carr’s newsletter in my inbox.  Always a highlight of my Friday.  She does a weekly vlog and today one thing she talked about was trusting yourself.  It made me think back to June, when I was battling doubt and doubt’s evil twin, fear.  Doubt and fear followed me everywhere I went and wormed their way into the depths of my mind.  They nagged at me constantly, creating scenarios of what would happen if I didn’t give into them.  But I didn’t give in.  Somehow despite all the insecurity and reliance on everyone but myself, I did go with my gut.  I made the best decision I could have made.  I haven’t really seen the full fruit of that decision yet…but I have hope that someday soon I will.

I’m just remembering today how truly important it is to block out all the noise of my life and truly listen to the Lord and to myself.  I often get so caught up in relying on other people (and even society) to steer me in the right direction, forgetting to trust my instinct and not second guess myself.

Contemplating all this is leaving me feeling emotional…and nostalgic for the past in a way.  Many times when I think about the past or see pictures of myself in the past, it reminds me of all the things I’ve been through and tough decisions I’ve made, and I realize how strong I really am.

graduated college

moved to Thailand

lived here for a week

lived through a week of tsunami relief work (major milestone during our year in Thailand)


learned to step out of my comfort zone (and that I love mountain biking)

performed a tradition Thai dance and made a Thai best friend

became a high school English teacher (pic taken right before school started)

ran a half marathon

ran a full marathon

And now I’ve left my job and am pursuing an entirely new direction.  I know that in a matter of months I will look back on pictures of today and be nostalgic for this time in my life.  Isn’t that always the way it works?  We want things to move ahead…we want to get to the next point in life, and then when we arrive there, we suddenly realize just how sweet the past really was.

I’m working on living more in the moment and loving each day for exactly what it is.  For exactly what I’m doing now.  I’ve never been too good at it.  But I’m getting better.

How well do you feel like you trust yourself?  Do you usually feel comfortable going with your gut feeling or do you tend to second guess yourself?

Apologies if this post is a little self indulgent, but these are just some things I’m processing through.  I love blogging for that very reason.  It gives me a free outlet to explore my thoughts through writing…and even get feedback and support from amazing people.  Where else can you get that?!

Let’s not make this all about me though.  It’s time to announce the winner of the chia seed giveaway!  First I have to say thanks so much to everyone who entered!  I loved getting to “see” some new faces – and  I absolutely loved hearing your adventure stories.  So fun to learn more about you guys!

The winner of the two pound bag of chia seeds, so graciously donated by Chia Seeds Direct is….

Dorry @ Living with Healthy Hunger

Congrats Dorry!  I hope you enjoy your chia seeds!  Email me with your info and your chia seeds will be on their way:)

Don’t forget to click on over to Chia Seeds Direct.  They have great prices and free shipping on my favorite little seed of all time:)

Hope you guys have a relaxing Friday evening!  What kind of plans do you have for Labor Day weekend? Jon and I will be staying at home to recuperate from the crazy work week:)

emotional eating…or no?

7 Apr

There is a lot going on this week at CSM “headquarters.”  I am entering my most busy time at work.  There is a lot of testing coming up that I need to make sure my kids are prepared for, and a lot of it is essay testing which means I’ll probably have a red pen in hand for much of the next month and a half.

Anyhow, while avoiding lesson planning tonight, I stumbled onto this article in which Courtney Pool talks about emotional eating being tied to what is being eaten.

She states “Fueling our bodies with processed food and animal products only makes for harder work in healing emotional eating. Our bodies as well as our brains get physically addicted to processed sugar, flour, salt and grains, cooked, low quality oils, chemical food additives and colorings, and even naturally occurring substances such as casein in dairy products. We then have to deal with not only our emotional addiction to food, but also our physical addiction.

She goes on to say “When we get to a place where the foods we reach for emotionally are rarely or never processed ones, then we can clearly arrive at the truth of our emotional attachment to food. Perhaps now you still eat emotionally, but you reach for raw, organic nuts or dates, or maybe raw vegan desserts. Emotionally, enough of most any food will satisfy what we’re using it for, so even a great deal of blueberries or a pile of seaweed can do the trick. However, we can often conclude that we are not likely reaching for a pile of blueberries or even a bag of nuts because we are physically addicted. Now that the physical addiction is gone, we can face the issue appropriately, and begin to explore why we eat when we are not hungry.”

With all of the stress that is going on at my job lately, I’ve been having an even harder time with emotional eating.   I often find that as my stress/anxiety  levels begin to rise, my automatic response is to reach for food.  But, not just any food…food that is not clean.  Food that is laden with sugar/salt or is high in carbs.

A little experiment that I conducted recently showed that if the only food available to me during these times is healthy, clean food such as fruit or vegetables, then I literally won’t eat it.  It apparently doesn’t ease the anxiety in my mind and therefore has no appeal whatsoever.  I will, instead, find myself continuing on with the tasks at hand and dealing with the anxiety in the rawest way possible.  Meaning – I sort through the emotions (why am I feeling this way?), combat lies with truth and make a gameplan to deal with whatever is stressing me out.  However, if unhealthy foods are in the least bit accessible, I have a hard time thinking rationally enough to avoid them.

So, I found the above article quite interesting in that I agree with the point that part of the catalyst for emotional eating has to do with a physical addiction.  Yet, I am having trouble reconciling with the idea that we can turn to emotionally eating on healthy/clean foods as a stepping stone to defeating those emotional eating demons for good. That just doesn’t work for me.

Also, I am still exploring the following question: if clean foods don’t suffice in easing my anxiety, what is the root of my problem?  Is it an purely addiction to certain elements (casein, sugar, oil etc) of unclean foods and I just happen to reach for them when I’m feeling overwhelmed/stressed?  Can my  “episodes” even be classified as emotional eating?

When you find yourself reaching for food because of a mental/emotional issue, does clean food do the trick?  Or do you feel you have to go for sugary foods, etc.  What do you think of this idea that forcing ourselves to eat clean food when eating for emotional reasons is a huge step in beating emotional eating altogether?  Also, how might we get to a place where we reach for healthy food when feeling the need to “feed” our emotions?  Do you feel this is possible?

And, finally, because no post is complete without a picture and by request from a couple of CSM readers, here is more beautiful, albeit random, Thailand scenery.

This little bungalow served as Jon and I’s sleeping quarters for a week.

Close up:)

View out the tiny little window.

Our little “guest” that we came home to one night.

G’Night!

fear and risks

1 Apr

First things first – don’t forget to enter my chia seed giveaway if you haven’t already!  Deadline is tonight at midnight!

Hey guys!  Happy April Fool’s Day!  I’ve only had one trick played on me today.  A couple of my super thoughtful and wonderful sophomores (insert eye roll) hid their cell phone up in the ceiling tiles of my classroom and then proceeded to call it incessantly during the next period.  Imagine the Lion King ring tone going off every 2 minutes throughout an entire class period.  Wonderful.

I’ve been very contemplative for the last couple of days. These pictures exhibit exactly how I’m feeling.

Picture taken on one of our outings to the villages during our year in Thailand

Picture taken on a boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam

Right now I’m in the midst of making a pretty big decision.  I don’t want to disclose any details yet, but I can’t help but write about it because it’s been on my mind constantly.

I have so many different thoughts swirling around in my mind.  One of them has to do with passion.  I am a firm believer that everyone has the ability to chase after something they want, and catch it if they have enough determination and discipline.  I think the one factor that often holds people back is fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of change.  Fear of taking risks.  Fear of failure.  Fear often paralyzes people and holds them back from living the story that God wants them to live.

My mom told me a story this morning about my step-dad’s dad (we’ll call him Steve).  When he was younger, he and his wife (we’ll call her Ann) lived in New York, and he worked for the FBI.  He hated living in New York and longed to move away from the busy city. When Ann became pregnant with their first baby, Steve knew he couldn’t live another day in the city.  So, he sent Ann ahead of him to a small town, and after quitting his job he soon joined her.  He didn’t have another job yet, and I can only imagine the fear he must have felt at taking that risk.  In the grand scheme of his life, however, that huge risk became just a small stepping stone that led him to where he wanted to be.  Needed to be.  In fact, he has lived quite a lovely story and has been blessed beyond measure.

This story reminded me of  an article I read not long ago.  This article made me really ponder this one question: what if?  What if I took that risk?  What if I actually threw myself full force into pursuing my dream?  What if I failed?  What if I allowed myself to live without abandon and without regret by pursuing my passions?  What if I stopped taking myself too seriously and gave myself a little more credit for the things I do well?  What if I stopped worrying more about what other people think of me than about what I think of myself?

When Jon and I decided to move to Thailand for a year, despite the fear, I kept coming back to this same conclusion: that if we didn’t go, we’d always wonder – what if?  What would it have been like?  What kind of relationships would we have built?  In what ways might God have changed us to be better than we were before?  I’m so glad I don’t have to wonder about those questions.  I want to look back on my life and see a story that possesses many victorious, joyful moments, yet also many difficult moments resulting from living so fervently that occasional failure was inevitable.  I’m praying that God will provide opportunities for this kind of story and give me the courage and the confidence to embrace them.

Sorry this post is a little heavy tonight.  But many things are heavy on my heart, and I need to talk them out, if even only in my head.  So, I ask you  – what might your “what if” questions be?  Please share them in the comments.  Feel free to make yours a little more specific.  Sometime soon I’ll share my own specifics with you, but for now I need to keep them under wraps:)  Thanks for understanding.

I hope to see you all again tonight for a wrap up of today’s eats – I’ve been a very bad food blogger the last couple of days, but I promise I’ve got photos just waiting to be unleashed:)