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I Wish You a Merry Christmas

A blog I read today has me thinking about all the things I have "mis-labled", and what a great cost it has often had in my life.  Today I am a little blue.. could be seasonal, maybe not. (could be because i'm listening to Sufjan Stevens :)) It's often the things we are unsure of that bring us the most emotional turmoil. There are a few things that I am sure of though, that with them come great peace and joy. One of those things is the love of a few true friends, and of the family I have been given. In that love I am built up, not cast down, and that is a magnificently beautiful thing. 

Merry Christmas 

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A lot to share.. but here is a snap shot of our time there. Met so many amazing people.. and so blessed by everyone of them. 
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Everyday is a new day...

I have this sudden desire to write. Life seems to always have some challenge in it. The prayer is always to learn from the challenge. Being back in school is a challenge, the same challenge it has always been for me. A silly battle with procrastination, and lack of motivation, but on the other side, I get a lot from classes.... and I am blessed in the conversations there. It will be two more years before I get my degree in Counseling. I sometimes wonder If I can keep it up.

And then, there is my family. It's very hard for me to see them struggle through things. It's not all that bad, and God's grace over them is tremendous, and a balm to my soul, but I still must daily lift them up to Him.. and trust. My heart desires so much for them, as does God's heart, and they have been blessed. We are blessed in simply having one another. I am so thankful for that.

Liam is 13, growing up fast, and having to learn important life lessons he never went looking for, but that have simply come to him with becoming a young man. So handsome, with the girls giving him extra attention. Kaylee is 8, and is becoming a young lady before our eyes. She gets home from school, and without needing to be asked by her parents, rushes to the kitchen table to do homework. She really cares about that sort of thing. I wish I was that way when I was young! She is the sensitive one, with a witty sense of humor. Aiden is six, and is the one with the big heart. He sees things in a greater depth than many his age, and has eyes that see things others cannot. That is a gift from God I pray is cultivated well... and not manipulated to draw him from what is true. Oh, but God has heard our prayers for them...... I know that well. 

Everyday is a new day to learn of the most important things. I pray I have the eyes to see.. and the heart to receive.  
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To win a trip to a better story.

So, I'm going to do it.  I'm going to enter a contest to win a trip to Portland, Oregon, for a conference that talks about living a better story. To enter, I just have to write a post in my blog, explaining why I want to go, and share a little of how I want to live a better story. I could speak for days of the kind of life I want to live.. but then really, living a better story can be as simple as lending a helping hand. That is my heart's desire.

In just a few days, I will be making the move, yet again, to Lynchburg, Virginia to finish up my masters degree in Counseling. In the last few years, I have learned so much about stepping out.. making decisions that are kinda scary, ones that may require you to stretch yourself.. challenge yourself to live your dreams, and use the gifts you have been given. This has not always come easy for me, with fears screaming at me from the sidelines, which were the biggest conflicts getting in my way, but I am so glad that I have learned to step out, and do some scary things. This move is one of those steps.. one I'm excited to take, no matter the hurdles that pop up along the way.

In the past three years, I have been to many a country, with the desire to learn about different cultures and to love on the people, and in that time, I have explored the many possibilities of how to use my counseling degree. I have been thinking about the possiblities for as long as I can remember. So many of those possibilities always revolved around a great love for children. One thing I hope to gain from the conference in Portland, are tools to help narrow things down a bit.. or perhaps.. to awaken even more in myself a clearer vision of specific things I can do in this life to build up the lives of the young ones deprived of the love and care they have needed, but have not been given, or that has been taken from them.

Geting back into school is the first step I am now taking to acomplish this goal. I will also get out there and serve my community in Lynchburg, volunteering at a learning center downtown for kids, helping at a food pantry at a local church, and prayerfully, geting a part time job at a group home for teens. I am also thinking about volunteering at a home for pregnant teens. One thing I do know is, that getting out there and loving and serving those around you is always the best place to start. This may not be specific enough.. but i can see this as a movie trailer, telling the story of a girl wanting to get over herself, and be the hands of Christ to those she crosses paths with. It's also the story of a girl who has to decide where her treasure lies.. and where her heart belongs.

Once again, what I hope to gain from this conference are tools that give me a bit more insight.. and I would even love an epiphany of some kind! No pressure... I'll just come to the conference with an excitement to see what I can learn about myself.. and see where that may lead. One decison can lead to so many things.. and places.. I love that about a good story.

To learn more about the conference, you can go here.  You can also learn more by watching this video.


ps. I highly recommend reading A Million Miles in Thousand Years. I was really encouraged by it.. and was reminded of the fact that, by the grace of God.. we really can live a story that impacts so many lives.. or maybe just a few.. and you know, those are our favorite stories. :)

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My Liam turns 13 years old!

I'll never forget the day Liam was born. He was the first. The first child, the first grandchild, the first nephew. We were all so excited to meet him. My sisters delivery, without our knowing during the birth, turned out to be really risky for her, but I know that no matter the cost to her, his birth was one of the most beautiful events of her life............and ours. 



Happy Birthday, Liam! So much life ahead of you...I can't wait to see where God leads you..

With all my love,

Auntie Anna