A 2015 Review

As I’m trying to write this article, I’m realizing that a lot happened in 2015, much more than I originally thought.

In January, my mom did the Celebration Half Marathon in Florida.  We made a Disney vacation out of it with a great deal through Disney’s education program.  Our aunt and cousin came as well.

Everest Gang

We had lunch/dinner at Tusker House in about a half hour when the above picture was taken. Lex, Anjalena, our cousin, and I hurried to Expedition Everest.  We waited in line (took a selfie), rode it, then rode it again with Fastpasses!  And we were only a tiny bit late to Tusker House!

Lady Tremaine

We got to Magic Kingdom at opening.  Cinderella’s stepsisters and stepmother were talking and hanging out with us as we walked to the carousel.  After riding, they went to their regular spot, and we waited in a normal line to take a picture with them.  It was magical!

Seven Dawrfs' Mine Train Selfie

Not all eight of us like roller coasters, but all eight of us tried Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Train.  This is Mom and Lex trying to take a selfie as the train begins to go downhill.

Also in January, I began my first college courses at our community college and my parents bought me my first laptop!  Mom and I read Unbroken, the story of Louie Zamperini.  It was a GREAT book!  I highly recommend it*.

In February, we drove down to Florida again for the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend!  Yes, that winter we went to Florida every month.  We didn’t go to any of the parks, but we still had a blast!  Alli, Lex, Ana, & Papi ran the 5k.  Mom did something called the Glass slipper Challenge.  So the day before the half, she ran the Enchanted 10k (with me!) as well.

10k Finish
After the 10k

While we were down there, we drove over to Merritt Island to visit Teen Missions Int’l headquarters, where I would train for the trip that summer.  A nice employee (who ended up leading a preteen team to Trinidad) gave us a little tour and we met Bob Bland, the founder.  It was great!

Visiting TMI
I was NOT wearing a jacket in July!

March presented Pilgrim, a musical theatre production based on John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress.  I showed up to help out for the final two weeks, and I fell in love with the cast, theatre in general, helping backstage, and Charlotte Christian Theatre Company.  Little did I know that I’d be called the Prop Ninja, and now as an intern with them, known as the Backstage Badger.  My sister Ana played Hopeful, and Lex joined backstage helping with costumes.

CCT's Pilgrim 108
Ana is in the gray vest wearing glasses on the right

In April, I was a production assistant (a fancy term for the person who does whatever odd jobs a set may require) for Upward Sports‘ “The Big Story”.  It’s a small evangelical DVD Upward gives out to participants every year.  While on set, I met Jason Burkey, mostly known as the best friend character of the same name in the movie October Baby!

I also went to Carowinds, a local amusement park for the first time.  I went the fastest I’ve ever been before (on land): 90 mph on the Fury!

Charlotte Christian Theatre’s 8-12 year olds class put on Pinocchio at the beginning of May.  All three of us older girls helped out.  I did the lights for all three shows!

The Run Wild 5k was another success!  Getting up at 5am, delivering ice, setting up tents, giving out temporary tattoos, all of it is so fun for me!

I finished reading through the Harry Potter series for the first time in May.  It was epic.  I was quite bitter at the ending, but I’ve since come to peace with it. 🙂

My aunt took Ana, Lex, and I to the beach in June.  We had a lot of fun!  It was a great getaway before the biggest trip of my life…

On June 27, I arrived at The Lord’s Boot Camp to train for Guatemala!

TMI 2015 026

I think I’ll just sum up July with a slideshow:

 

 

August and September were awesome, but really tough.  I came back from my trip and started a full college semester.  I tried to maintain two internships, and I got my first job.

In October, I brought myself down to a normal busy (rather than the crazy busy).  I visited my best friend in upstate New York and had my 17th birthday the next weekend!

 

IMG_0394
Watching the sunset

November was full of tough school assignments and learning to “bloom where I’m planted”.  I saw The Phantom of the Opera for the first time!

December has been fantastic!  A cousin got hitched on my parents’ 18th wedding anniversary.  We went on a Disney cruise aboard the Dream.  It was so much fun!

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And I saw STAR WARS VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS!!!!!!!!  Star Wars pretty much runs in my family.

Christmas was wonderful, of course.  It’s rather unsettling that it’s my last Christmas as a high school student and legal minor.  But I know that whatever next year is, I will make it fantastic.

 

 

*I do NOT recommend it for kids and sensitive teens.  The book tells the true story, which is very violent.

 

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Our Thanksgiving 2015

I have an uncountable number of things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.   have this many things to be grateful for every year, but I really noticed it this time.  This Thanksgiving I’ve been so content. I’ve always been relatively content, but really, it was only in an innocence-of-childhood way.

This year I dealt with discontentment and sadness (I even fell into a minor depression) in a way I never had before.  The old saying may seem cliché, but it’s true: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Many of the things movies and books portray as feelings are choices.
Love is a choice.
Joy is a choice.
Contentment is a choice.

I learned the secret to being content, and the trials of this year have made me a better person.  I’m only 17, so there’s a lot more to learn, and a lot more challenges to overcome.  I hope that when the obstacles come, I’ll welcome them, remembering how much stronger I’ll be when they’re through.

This is how my family’s Thanksgiving went.

This was the first year I drove Papi (Spanish for ‘daddy’) to go buy the day’s newspaper.  I even parked between the lines in front of the gas station!  (It’s not uncommon for me to take up two spaces with the small car.)  After I drove us back home, I made this cute Thanksgiving-y breakfast treat I found on Pinterest!

Turkey food

It’s a turkey!  The bacon is the feathers!  It’s so cute!  My little turkey may not be as good as the perfect Pinterest one, but I made it and I like it.

We watched most of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on the Today Show, as we do every year, while Mom finished up the green bean casserole.  At around 11, we hopped into the Pickle (our nine-seater van) and drove up near High Point, North Carolina, to my Grandmother’s house.

All of Mom’s siblings made it this year, and there were a couple of new faces too.  The meal was wonderful.  The number of desserts nearly matched the number of meat and side dishes!

After eating, the kids, which consisted of my sisters, me, and our two-year-old second-cousin, went out to play in Grandmother’s front yard.  Our uncle had cleaned up the leaves the day before, else we’d have raked them up.  So this year, the older girls and I played “Big Boss” and some other improv games (our favorite!).  Soon we included the littles, and we ended the afternoon playing “kung-fu”, also known as “ninja”.  I won once!

The drive home signifies the official beginning of the Christmas season for our family.  Alex and Anjalena requested “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, Home Free’s version, to be the first Christmas song we played.

When we arrived at home, Mom and Papi went through more of the Black Friday ads, the girls went off to play, and I read my book.  It was a great Thanksgiving.  I’m excited to see what new things I’ll be thankful for next year.

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. -Ps. 69:30

What You Can Do to Support Adoption

November 21 is Adoption Sunday.  This marks the day we dedicated my younger sisters.  My mom has represented foster/adoptive families at church on this day.  We’re an adoptive family; it’s what we do.

Adoption Sunday doesn’t have to be just for families with adopted kids, though.  Simply because adoption isn’t for everyone, does NOT mean that the Bible’s commands to care for the orphans isn’t for everyone.  The Bible speaks to whoever reads it, not just the families who have adopted.

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. (Psalm 82:3)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Fostering and adopting children are not the only ways to defend the fatherless.  Anyone can take up the cause.  Adoption Sunday can be a reminder to everyone to support adoption.

Adoption is HARD.  It’s not for everyone.  Children who can’t be cared for by their biological parents have a deep, different kind of hurt that I will never be able to comprehend.  The repercussions of this vary from child to child, and affect every member of the adoptive family.  Any day is a good day to encourage a family.

And now, from multiple conversations with my mom, and my experience as the big sister to adopted siblings, I present to you 5 ways to support foster adoptive families you know (not in any particular order).

1. Prepare care bags for kids transitioning to foster care
When children are taken from a dangerous or harmful situation and immediately put into foster care, oftentimes, they have next to nothing of their own.  Make a care bag for them with things like a toothbrush & toothpaste, a set of pajamas, a coloring book, and blanket.  There are different organizations out there that collect bags and give specifics on what to put in the bag depending on age.  My Stuff Bags is a good place to start.

2. Bring dinner
Throughout the first couple of weeks of adjusting to having a new child in our house, friends brought us dinner.  It was such a relief to my parents to not have to worry about what to make for everyone that night.  If you’re a cook, make a fancy Chicken Parmesan; or if you’re busy, a family meal from Bojangles’ will do just as fine.

3. Babysitting night
Offer to take care of all the kids for an evening.  Chances are, the parents rarely get to go out on a date, if ever.  Have a Disney movie and the game of Clue ready, and your night is set!  The parents will love a few hours to breathe and relax as a couple.

4. Love on kids individually
A family is a team with individual members.  Sometimes those on the outside lose sight of that, though, and only see “Mr. and Mrs. Smith with all their youngin’s”.  Talk with the older sister about the concert she’s going to next week and the younger brother about the train set he received for Christmas.  Even offer to take the kids out one at a time for an ice cream cone (or a hot chocolate, depending on the season).  A treat and the individual time will make any kid’s week.

5. Pray for foster and adoptive families you know
There are many things you can pray for. Pray for peace, especially if there are still court sessions to attend.  Pray for emotional healing for the adoptive child and the rest of the family.  Pray for truth and honesty to be a core of the relationships.

Adoption Sunday @ Unreached by the Frost

^All the kids on the day my baby sister Alex was officially in our family!

If you have any more ideas, write them down in the comments!

My Refuge

This summer (of 2015) I went to Guatemala with Teen Missions International.  I was away for a total of 7 weeks.  It was an amazing experience I can’t describe in only a few words.

Coming back was way harder than I expected.  I’m not typically a crier, but there were many nights I cried.  Many times I felt bored, overwhelmed, alone, or depressed.  Sometimes I felt it all at once.  I missed my teammates so much.  I missed the simplicity of life in Central America.  There were a couple nights I wanted to give up.

One thing Teen Missions drills into us are devotions, one-on-one time with God every morning.  That’s what I clinged to.  I get it now when David said, “He is my mighty rock, my refuge” (Psalm 62:7b).  I hid myself in God.  When I felt so broken and done with life, I turned to His word.  I told Him my struggles.  He became my refuge.

After about a week of being back, I was telling my mom (who also happens to be one of my closest friends) about the worksite in Guatemala again, and I mentioned Gilberto, one of the supervisors who we worked with everyday.  “Wait- who’s Gilberto?” Mom asked.  It hit me:  Mom doesn’t know who Gilberto is.  Mom doesn’t know what I lived for weeks.  She doesn’t know how to mix concrete by hand.  She’s never heard Felicia sing after a long work day.  She’s never tasted rellenitos de plantono.  Mom has never washed her clothes via bucket while watching the sun set behind the Guatemalan mountains.

But God does.  He was there when I mixed concrete.  He heard Felicia sing.  He knows how good rellenitos de plantono is.  He created the beautiful sunsets and mountains.

I’m doing a lot better now.  I don’t cry as much.  I’ve learned to balance all the school work and activities.  I still miss my teammates and Guatemalan experiences, but it’s not drowning me like it once did.  I still enter His courts every morning.  He is my mighty rock, my refuge.

My Refuge @ Unreached by the Frost

Deep Roots

All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither
Deep roots are not reached by the frost

-J.R. Tolkien in Book 1 of The Lord of the Rings

This is the first half of a small poem written about Aragorn, heir of Isildor and rightful king of Gondor.  I’m not even close to being as epic as that, but I like to apply this poem to me.

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

I have deep roots.  I have been raised in a safe home with both of my parents loving the Lord.  I’ve always had a supportive community.  I’ve even lived in the same area all my life (those two months in Tampa, FL, don’t count).  I’ve been homeschooled.  My sisters have always been there for me.

The moment I was born, the seed in my heart was ready to grow.   My upbringing was the perfect little garden for it.  I’m still not completely sure what the plant is above the surface, but its roots are huge, entangled, and deep.

My parents watered that garden.  Mentors and others of the community helped fertilize it, and keep it healthy.  My friends and peers grew along with me, each of us affecting the other.

My roots tell stories of laughing with my sisters until midnight, of singing with them everyday.  There are stories of God’s promises being fulfilled and the long waiting in the meantime.  My roots built my conscience.  They tell me it’s okay to be vulnerable and to tell the stories because of the way my parents did.

When winter comes (and, boy, do I hate winter), the roots will endure unaffected.  The trials, hard times, mountains, they will come.  Jesus Himself said it wouldn’t be easy.  John 16:33b: In this world you will have trouble.  I will make it through.  But take heart, I have overcome the world.  My plant will adapt and change, but the roots, the heart, remain deep underground.

You’re reading a blog titled Unreached by the Frost for many reasons, one of them being that this new blogger’s roots are unreachable by the frost.

Do you have roots?  How deep are they?  Who/what watered your garden?  Answer in the comments!

Deep Roots @ Unreached by the Frost


Photo cred: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wakajawaka/1216027450/in/photolist-2RssAw-vdCKEf-atCLXr-6ZDzWk-4woq74-2Hcjo-dLFoun-nD4qBn-5LY6V2-4V2gr9-5xHTNa-3idR47-pUqNeX-93wYJM-42hTw-bo9fxh-rw1dRD-2HcCa-njMBig-5HVjzA-2Gk4HA-qTj5fT-5rpcaV-dwcY5A-nETD9r-5VXi2G-kvKUCg-2BWoY-5aKhig-fNTPjf-9miLgr-8Tf14g-r4eN78-rVfWm-nooXtj-aFn4ku-3HTchP-pV3eb2-dgEWqj-4w9Sjk-4wqMcz-cqoFJs-5YyoZf-9PSLHY-dkD9nb-4u1hif-gicukj-nooYuh-8RJKEH-hP9gLj