{ Ordinary | Extraordinary (DAY 505) }

photo(71) photo(71) i.  Ordinary. Open groggy eyes and begin the day. Quite time with Jesus. Breakfast is always the same, two scrambled eggs with cooked red pepper, onions and meat. I shower, put on makeup, and pull on some clothes. Next come piano lessons. I sit and drive, sit and drive. I come home to a fading sun and teach one more lesson before helping mom in the kitchen with dinner and setting the table. Then I read for a while. Sleep comes as I go to bed and that’s a day.

ii.  Extraordinary. After a refreshing night’s sleep (I used to have insomnia) I gently wake up and curl down into snuggly blankets and soft sheets that compose my queen size bed. Uninterrupted time with the Lord of all Creation, the Prince of Heaven is mine to enjoy. Reaching for the book marked Bible, one that’s falling apart, I don’t have to worry about getting arrested for choosing to read it wherever and whenever I want. Pattering around the kitchen the aroma of farm fresh eggs and vegetables sautéed in butter and sprinkled with a taste of the sea to bring out flavor waft over my senses and when I’m done my belly is filled with a delicious breakfast. Turning on the shower hot water comes steaming out, luxury, and I didn’t have to boil this water or worry about it being contaminated. Walking over to my full closet an array of colors and textures are mine for the choosing. A skirt, sweatshirt, and my new crazy expensive boots that I won in a giveaway compromise my attire and I get in my car and drive to work. I don’t have to take a bus and instead of having a boring job I get to hear music played by little hands and watch as they concentrate while the sun bathes the room. Teaching is passing on knowledge and I get to make an impression on young minds. On my way home I see my favorite mountain ahead of me all dusted with snow and glowing pink as the sun laughs her way to to rest. Distracted by the glory I arrive home as quickly as possible to see set upon set of small clouds blushing. It’s breathtaking. I have a home to come back to. Later mom, my best friend, and I laugh in the kitchen as the dinner prep goes awry. Standing beside her cooking she’s really teaching me more about nurturing than just feeding our stomachs. We gather around a table filled with blessing, both the people and the dinner. We give thanks to the Creator because he sustains us. Following our meal and tea time I rest on the couch reading a gripping true story about a man who survived WWII. At the end of another day of grace I get to hear the ones I love tell me they love me. Another day has come and gone but it was anything but ordinary. Every moment I drew breath and breathed in and out was extraordinary.

iii.  Perspective. I just described for you the same day. I could have written a book for the extraordinary day…. How will you choose to see your life? Will you live an ordinary life or an extraordinary one? “It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season—like all the other seasons—is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them.” [The Lump of Coal | Lemony Snicket]

UPDATE!!!! $90,969.80  SO close to only having 9% to go….anyone want to tip it over? :) 

Posted on January 20, 2015 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Miracles Happen (DAY 504) }

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetThree years ago I didn’t own any boots.  It was right after my project had ended and the thought of buying something so expensive just got to me.  I hadn’t really spent money for over a year and knowing what I knew about orphans in India had changed everything.  So I started praying.  I wanted some riding boots but I couldn’t decide if I wanted brown or black and since I was already being choosy I prayed for real leather ones.  For a while I just prayed and waited and trusted that God was going to bring me boots.  Eventually I got a call from a friend who asked if I could pick up a box of hand me downs a friend from Texas had sent them.  After agreeing to do so I asked if I could pick through the box.  Lo and behold as I was going through the box I pulled out a pair of brown, real leather, riding boots  IN MY SIZE!!!  In the second box I found an identical pair but black.  Yes, God had certainly answered my prayer so specifically that I knew it was a miracle.

Fast forward to this fall.  Both pairs of my boots had started to leak and were really falling apart.  I looked for boots but every time I did I just felt this check that I was supposed to wait.  I enter a contest for boots and didn’t win.  Then three months after I had started praying I still didn’t have boots but I felt strongly that the Lord was going to bring me a pair.  Then an Anthropologie contest popped up on Instagram and I knew that I didn’t have much to loose except for followers and people’s opinions of me so I decided it was worth it.  I styled three different pictures and on the third one I got this reply: “Today is your fa-la-la-la-lucky day. We’d like to grant your #DearAnthro wish!….”  Let me also note that I got to pick out the boots I wanted and they were a gorgeous gift.  I still can’t believe they are mine!  The Lord knew I wanted quality over quantity and he was so gracious to give these to me.  Really it’s a miracle they granted my wish!  My friend texted me when I won and said, “Those boots cost more than both our closets combined haha!” That right there was just another reminder to me of a few things.  A: God can do anything.  B: God cares about seemingly insignificant details.  C:  God is lavish.

Posted on January 13, 2015 by | Comments { 10 }

{ Love on fire (DAY 503) }


This is love on fire.  This is pain turned into beauty while there is still pain.  This is forgiveness on a divine level.  These are people I know.  This made me weep.  Yes, I cry more now but weeping is something else entirely.  This is my-sweater-is-wet-forget-a-tissue-or-else-give-me-the-box kind of crying.  This story is so impacting.  It’s amazing.  That’s all I’m going to say because you need to see it for yourself.

Posted on January 6, 2015 by | Comments { 2 }

{ Now’s the Time (DAY 502) }

IMG_5339 DSCF3136Hello! So I’m writing this at 11:30…at night.  Yes, typical of me.  I was thinking about what would be most effective to say but maybe simple is just better.  If there were magic words I would speak them.  Here it is.  If you haven’t given this year now is the opportune time.  Not only is it the best way to end the year on a high note by thinking of others but it also counts as a tax write off (if you’ve procrastinated on that front).

Giving to orphans in India who need to eat, go to school, and most importantly be loved is worth our consideration and action.  So please click here and make a donation.  To put it in perspective, approximately $5 feeds an orphan for a month…that’s your cup of coffee/tea/chai + tip.  That’s not too much to ask right?

Thanks everyone and have a happy (and safe!) New Years Eve! I hope to be able to update you with a new total raised this week! :D

Posted on December 31, 2014 by | Comments { 0 }

{ 2014 In Review (DAY 501) }

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There is no possible way to sum up a year so here are snapshots into what happened in my life in 2014.  It started out as one of the most emotionally brutal times in my life and then mid April I had a rebirth of sorts and its been the most incredible year.  All in all I am thankful.

This year I traveled to Idaho and Colorado, both for weddings.  I think it’s notable that I danced in heels all night for both. ;)

We got snowed in and binged watch a season of 24.  We will never do that again.  Apparently we all get way too invested in the characters and can’t sleep when we do this.  I also made maple syrup candy on snow just like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I had some of the hardest conversations of my life so far.

God brought unexpected healing to areas of my life that I didn’t even know where broken and hurting…it was incredible.

I cried myself to sleep more than I ever have, both joy filled tears along with sorrowful ones.

I wrote more handwritten notes just because and spent a small fortune on stamps…it was worth the investment.

I made friends on Instagram! Amazing, and I love it.

My Christmas wish got granted and it was a miracle…more on that in another post though. ;)

My friend’s car died and she taught me how to jump it…unfortunately I promptly forgot how to do this.

Some things you learn the hard way…like getting locked out of the house when your parents are out of town and spending lots of $$$ to get back in…

I learned to love teaching piano on a new level.

Sometime in the beginning part of the year I started being a big sister/mentor to a lovely young woman.  I absolutely love it.

There were several emails from readers that left me amazed, grateful, and overwhelmed by how this space opens up stories.

We had so many wonderful people stay with us! My brother and sister-in-law came, my aunt and uncle visited from Arizona, a friend came from Australia, my girl Rachel came, and one of my dearest friends lived with us for 6 weeks.

A new person was added to our family on June 6th with the arrival of my perfect little nephew.

After having long hair since I was 14 I chopped off 10 inches. Yes, I love it.  For me it was an outward show of the inward transformation my heart has gone through this year.  Oh and I started wearing red lipstick on occasion.

I’ve stood in holy moments and I feel the sacredness of life like never before.  I’ve thought long and hard about the touching of heaven to earth that I have experienced and how my relationship with the Lord has gone this year but I just can’t sum it up.  This quote explains it better than anything. “Love scenes, if genuine, are indescribable; for to those who have enacted them, the most elaborate description seems tame, and to those who have not, the simplest picture seems overdone. So romancers had better let imagination paint for them that which is above all art, and leave their lovers to themselves during the happiest minutes of their lives.” (Louisa May Alcott)

I sewed a leather purse and learned how to knit myself a sweater.

Headway happened on a special project.

Friends sent me mail from all over Asia!

I got to go to my first NFL game and it was better than I could have dreamed up.  I get a smile just thinking about it.  The fact that I got to go with my cousins was a highlight.

I finally met two friends who I’ve know for years but never seen in person, one from Australia and the other from NY.

And I read more than I have in years: Middle March, Brain On Fire, Captain Blood, Scaramouche, Boys in the Boat, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, The Fault in Our Stars, Shantung Compound, Dandelion Wine, The Martian Chronicles, The Dragon’s Tooth, The Drowned Vault, The Empire of Bones, Bittersweet, Daring Greatly, Cheaper By the Dozen, Leepike Ridge, Daddy-Long-Legs, Dear Enemy, Fatherless Generation, Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, Emily’s Quest, The Blue Castle, and The Giver.

One of the most significant things I learned about myself this year is that I am a storyteller.

I also saw my sin like never before but experienced grace and patience from God that left me humbled and grateful.

I got asked to be a bridesmaid (for the ninth time!!! :) ) in my dear, dear friend’s upcoming wedding.  This will be my first time as a “destination” bridesmaid since I get to fly there for this one.  Also we met through this blog…it’s astounding…and we’ve only been together in person once.  I’m crazy excited and giddy and can’t wait to witness her say her vows.  It is an honor.

Going to several plays with my nephews and niece.

Oh joy, I got all four wisdom teeth out with only local numbing…

Passing a huge test for 3 more college credits.

Writing down a couple thousand gifts in my thankfulness journal.

I was more sick the past three months than I’ve been since I was laid up in bed for four years as a teenager but I felt a beautiful peace, calm, and rest in my soul.

Being able to post my 500th post on here.

Finally hitting the $90K mark for fundraising and having less than 10% to go….would you please consider making an end of year, tax deductible, donation today and helping sweet no-longer-orphans in India?  Knowing we helped raise a little more money for them at the end of the year would be the best gift! :)

Posted on December 30, 2014 by | Comments { 2 }

{ Merry Christmas! (DAY 500!) }

Christmasblogpics2014-6 Christmasblogpics2014-3 Christmasblogpics2014-1 Christmasblogpics2014-4 Christmasblogpics2014-2 Christmasblogpics2014-5IMG_4700The fact that this is my 500th post since launching this blog is unreal.  Some of you have been on this journey with me from day 1 and some of you may be here for the first time but either way I want to say thank you for joining me.  I’m still just as non-techy of a person but now I know how to utilize Youtube and Google to answer (some of) my questions.  I still come to almost every post not knowing how to communicate my heart or what to write but now I don’t panic when I push the publish button.  I still care about India as I did when I started my project but now I’m in love with 545 no-longer-orphans there.

I debated putting up my annual Christmas pictures this year because I’ve changed so much in 2014.  I wondered if it was vain and then decided that I was going to post them anyways because I want to be able to look back each year and see the change that has happened.  I want to grow and learn.  In 365 days it can be hard to see the difference day to day but look back on a year and you have a finer point of view.  A picture can’t always capture that growth but it’s a start.

Today as I was talking with my friends at Warm Blankets Orphan Care and realizing that there is less than 10% to raise I was encouraged to go back and read my first posts. It’s funny looking back at things you don’t remember writing (and some you do) and contemplating what three years have brought.  Shauna Niequist said it so well, “My life is not a story about me.  And your life’s not a story about you.  My life is a story about who God is and what he does in a human heart.  My story is about the people on my street, the things I read, the way we raise our child, the things I’ve done and things that have been done to me.  A story is never about one person.  It has a cast of characters, connected by blood or love or jealousy.”

I don’t know how you’re feeling this season.  Maybe Christmas time excites you and brings you joy but maybe you’re just bone weary, heart broken, or feeling all alone.  I don’t know your story but I pray that the greatest story teller of all would encourage your heart and show you the beauty of his story.  His story is marvelous but it comes in pain.  It comes in frailty as a baby in a stinking barn but it also comes in beauty at a host of angels singing about his coming.  A tiny baby comes and his coming brings us the one thing I know we all need, hope.  His coming means that God came down to understand our pain and suffering and to redeem it, to make it count for something beautiful.  As one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis would say, “Aslan is on the move.”  Christ came and he’s still with us today.  May you know that joy and experience it to the full.

If the greatest gift, Jesus, came down and gave us everything, how much more then can we be enabled to give?  I know you’ve spent money already this holiday season but please consider giving to the sweet orphans in India who can give nothing in return.  That is a true act of love when we give expecting nothing back.  Although I can guarantee you that you will get something much sweeter than you give and that is joy.  (Just click here to give.)

Merry Christmas!

Posted on December 23, 2014 by | Comments { 4 }

{ Confession (DAY 499) }

photo(67)Before you think this is just a pretty picture I have a confession to make.

Three weeks ago my heart was greedy and discontent.  It wasn’t pretty.  Looking at my closet I wanted a shopping spree.   (I promise I’m not a shopaholic…in the past four years I’ve spent less than $200 on clothing and shoes.)  My wardrobe has been made up of generous hand-me-downs and gifts from sweet people. Recently many items wore out.  And even though I have a closet with clothes I was unhappy. I saw girls around me dressing stylishly and I felt like I wasn’t styled in the way I wished to be.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about shopping or dressing beautifully.  In fact I think we should be properly attired (I’ll leave that to your own personal definition).  Since I am an ambassador of Christ I should want to dress in a graceful and beautiful way.  But my heart had turned a healthy desire into craving and I wanted to slap myself for it.  My kiddos in India have nothing and yet they are so happy.

So I realized something. I’m so blessed. I am rich in many things that far surpass clothing. And the antithesis of my greed was gratefulness and giving. You know what? I bought these gifts for friends and I had so much joy! I have so much in my life!  And when I get the privilege of giving to others I get to give them a little joy too.  I want to be a woman who gives abundantly because I know I’ve been given everything when Jesus gave me himself.  I want to be a person that knows I can never give too much.

Will join you me this Christmas season and give a donation to our kiddos in India?  Let’s bless them this holiday season!

Posted on December 16, 2014 by | Comments { 2 }

{ Floating (DAY 498) }

10850883_10154879929600655_816351394_nThere are a lot of visuals that help me make sense of my life and understand it better. Pictures “click” with me.  Also I didn’t mean for that to be a pun…

Anyways tonight I have the picture of a girl floating in the ocean. With arms  outstretched and legs parallel to the horizon she lies peaceful and trusting.  Instead of wrestling with the waves she chooses to lie still in surrender and grace. Usually when we wrestle the last place we want to be is flat on our backs but until we are, we are constantly treading water. When we are flat on our backs in the ocean of grace we have a direct view of the Son. In this form we stop trusting our own hands and feet and we trust something, someone, much greater. Ears underwater we are left to hear His voice in the stillness. Other sounds are literally drowned out.

Surrender to the shape of a cross and your burden is light.  It’s so light in fact, you can float on grace. So light you can rest in everlasting arms around you. You are enveloped in his love. Peaceful enough to be still and know that He is God.  In this posture, with arms outstretched, you are open to receiving and giving.

UPDATE!!! FINALLY PASSED THE $90K mark…. $90,614.82

(Photo by my incredibly talented friend Miriam.  Go check out her gorgeous Instagram account here!)

Posted on December 9, 2014 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Giving Tuesday! (DAY 497) }

IMG_0144 IMG_6944Hey Everyone! I’m so excited! Today is #GivingTuesday! What does this mean?  It means that people all over the world are choosing to give back today.  Giving back can mean time, money, a caring act….and it’s so easy I hope you join with me today.  To make it more fun Facebook, Instagram, or tweet a selfie stating what you’re doing to give back and then hashtag it #Unselfie and #GivingTuesday.  I’d be really grateful if you choose to give money today to our kiddos in India as your way of giving back.  If you want me to see that you’ve given to them please #misselainious as well on your picture.  You’ll find my #unselfie at @misselaini. :)

After all the shopping of Cyber Monday and Black Friday I think this is extremely important that we focus on others and give back.  So PLEASE join me today in thinking of others and doing something about it.  Just click here to donate to children in need!

Posted on December 2, 2014 by | Comments { 1 }

{ Thanksgiving 2014 (DAY 496) }

IMG_0124Can I let you in on one of the biggest secrets of my increased joy this year?  It’s too good to keep to myself.  After reading Ann Voskamp’s book 1,000 Gifts I was challenged to start writing down the things that I am thankful for.  I started last fall and decided to write down every morning what I was thankful for from the day before.  It sounds completely cliche but it’s true when I say it has changed my life.  Before I committed to doing this I was just trying to be grateful throughout my day but there’s something to writing it down that makes an impact.

This week is Thanksgiving.  That one day out of the year where most people in my country choose to be thankful for something.  Yet why just one day?  I say why not every day?  Being thankful for all the gifts and blessings God has given me has radically increased my joy. Day in and day out.  I’ve filled up one journal and I’ve already started another one.  4,099 gifts later I’m a different woman.  No, I’m not magically thankful all the time but I am choosing to see more beauty and more moments and to discover the grace in them and hard times.  It’s all around us. You just have to look for it.

So I hope on Thanksgiving you see all that there is to be grateful for (your breathing, your limbs, food, clothing…..) but more that that my prayer for you would be that you would have a thankful heart all year round, 365 days.  It takes some effort but it’s worth it!

We’ve been given so much.  And if today you feel even a little bit thankful would you consider giving to someone who has less than you?  Would you consider donating to our sweet orphans in India?  They could use our love and gifts.  Even if you just give $5-10 dollars that makes a mark.  And it’s so easy! You just have to click on that “GIVE HERE” button to make a donation. :)  Thanks everyone! I’m so thankful for all that you’ve done for me and my 545 kiddos!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

UPDATE! $89,708.82  Almost to the $90K mark! Let’s see if we can get there by Thursday yes?  :)

Posted on November 25, 2014 by | Comments { 2 }