Set a Fire | 2017 in review

It feels like I just did one of these! And yes, I realize there are still a few months of 2017 left. But I set out on a very specific mission this summer, and I did all the things. So I think its acceptable to summarize it all now. Besides, something was telling me to write, and even though at first I wasn't sure what that meant, I followed my gut and here I am. ;)

"Set a Fire down in my soul, that I can't contain, that I can't control. I want more of You God. I want more of You God."

Late 2016 saw me back from a full season at Wind River ranch and moving into my precious little brick house in Kentucky. Just the step of moving out and gaining independence changed so much in the way I viewed...everything. It lasted nearly a year and was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. Everything for a season. I learned all about living with roommates and sharing everything from fridge space to a car. I started my job at the Creation Museum, and though it wasn't the best fit for me long term, I gained an even bigger "extended family."   

Life in Kentucky was one of the happiest times I can think of. Around Christmas, I made my first online dating account and dabbled with long-distance relationships. HUGE learning curve. By my 26th birthday I started experiencing some of the worst jaw pain I've ever felt in my LIFE, and found out I needed all four wisdom teeth removed. This was another big leap into adulting--trying to juggle work with making dentist appointments, figuring out if I was still covered under my dad's health insurance, and ultimately depending on my ever-faithful-best-friend-and-roommate, (Sarah!) to get me to and from surgery. This was literally a week before my birthday, and though I've spent others without my family, this one was particularly lonely.

It took me almost two weeks to recover from my surgery, but that's probably because I had the teeth removed while fully awake. Sarah drove me 45 minutes to the appointment, which should have been my first clue that this ordeal was just beginning. As soon as I laid back in the chair and the nurse said, "this will just sting a little bit, then the numbing should start taking effect. . ."  I knew something was up. . .and by then it was too late to complain. Instead of going under, a giant man (who compensated for the discomfort he inflicted with his cool African accent,) stuck his giant hang into my mouth, twisting and cracking and putting so much pressure on my jaw I thought it was going to split. This was followed by a grueling, agonizing ride home complete with blubbering and being incapable of opening my mouth wide enough to drink anything. I will stop now before you ask why I had blood running through my nose and into the shower. . .

I had applied for my missions trip to Thailand a few months before, and donations were coming in very slowly. I also didn't have a plan for raising funds. From the start it was a huge faith-venture, and I solidly believed that if God wanted me there, He would find a way. Around this time my online relationship fell through, another scenario that really stretched my faith. I wouldn't change it for the world though. The only thing I regret is believing it could have worked out. Its almost funny now, because I see our incompatibility so clearly. After the shock I pushed myself even harder. I found out just how strong I am capable of being, and I became more confident and sure of who I am then ever before. I began to really enjoy my life. I was surrounded by the greatest network of people I could possibly imagine. I was working full time, learning how to be a good hostess, managing my time and budget, seeing movies on weeknights, going on spontaneous ice cream jaunts, hikes in the park, and working out almost every day. Oh yes, a word on that.

One of my big ventures of the winter was losing weight and gaining muscle. I'm still working on the last part, but a good workout routine has become a huge part of my life. It's really addicting. I changed my diet and dropped at least 15lbs. I felt better, looked better, conquered my food sensitivities, and gained stamina. I still love working out and have added a lot of walking and even occasionally running (though I honestly hate running, hence only occationally, ;) ) to my pilates routine.

In May I flew out to Colorado for Wind River's staff training week, a really daunting thing with my fast approaching mission trip deadline. The whole week I struggled with my desire to stay on at the ranch and knowing I needed to be back in Kentucky preparing to leave the country. After a lot of prayer and tears, I decided to finish my job at the museum and figure out why my passport application was being canceled. Oh yeah, that almost happened. You want to talk to me for a minute about panic? So while I was still at the ranch I received a letter from the Department of State telling me that if I didn't provide 5 documents that were 5 years old or older proving my identity, they wouldn't issue my passport. I was late when I applied, but knew it would arrive on time if expedited. Now I was being told that because of my recent transfer of residency to KY, I was as good as a terrorist to the US government. I had no legal identity.

Thus transpired the nail-biting routine of phone calls, emails, letters. I would find out some horrible development while at work, try not to panic through my shift, then rush home to spent hours trying to get through to the passport agency. Meanwhile, a dear friend of mine donated a huge box of jewelry to start my fundraising campaign. What I didn't gain from jewelry sales I made up through huge (and I mean huge) anonymous donations. Within a few short days of returning from Colorado, I exceeded my fundraising goal.

Even as I write I shake my head in awe and gratitude. Its one of those classic faith-stories when everything seems lost and then BAM! He knows every sparrow that falls. And in the moment, I was that sparrow. I will never be able to fully thank my sponsors (unless you choose to reveal yourselves, ;) ) but please, please know if you are reading this: you are my heroes. I am eternally grateful to each of you and can do nothing to express how honored I am! :)

It took close contact with my Congressmen's office back home in Ohio to finally make some headway with my passport. I had people praying like maniacs and I was in a constant state of frenzy, making phone calls and wondering how I'd repay my sponsors if things didn't pan out. Copies of my school and driving records were sent with an appeal to the Department of State. Then, with just over a week before the trip, I got a phone call from Congressmen Renacci's office: my passport had been approved and was being processed. I received it a couple of days later and melted into a puddle of joyful tears. Throughout it all, Jesus gave me a sense of peace that I still can't understand. I knew I was meant to go on that trip. At times I still puzzle over what the exact reasons are, but testimony to this story, sometimes we don't know all of the details until much, much later.

Needless to say, I spent the month of July in Thailand. Everything related to my journey is for another post, but I can say with confidence that I have learned this: 

  • Hot showers are a thing of value.
  • The number of "likes" you get on Instagram doesn't really matter.
  • We are spoiled in America.
  • The Body of Believers in this country is a gift; in Southeast Asia, there are only 1%  of Christians. 
  • Pig brains, giant frogs, live shrimp, and deep-fried crickets are a luxury.
  • Riding in the back of a truck with no seatbelt up winding mountain roads is the definition of amazing. 
  • Jet-lag sucks.
  • Elephants feel like rubber.
  • Learning to plant rice in a torrential downpour should be experienced by everyone. 
  • Justin Bieber is the world's boyfriend.
  • "Love" comes naturally to the Thai people--never before have I felt it so strongly

I was back in the States for a week before I returned once more to Wind River Ranch to finish up a whirlwind summer. If you've been keeping up with my posts you know that I am back home and was just recently hired as a barista at Starbucks. My prayer is to save enough $ to get my car fixed and move back out in the spring. What future adventures do I have planned, you might ask? Honestly, at this point, I'm done adventuring for a while. I've seen two continents (Europe and Asia,) learned basic Thai phrases, left my heart at multiple orphanages, experienced the trails and spiritual warfare of missionary life, moved out on my own, and now. . .now I think it's time to settle into a normal routine and maybe even get my own apartment. I hope the testimony of my mission trip journey proves to many that God is at the center of all we do. Even in the impossible. "I've seen you move, you move the mountains, and I believe I'll see you do it again." 
--Do It Again, Elevation Worship


  1. Wow! That is incredible! You could probably write a book full of all your adventures just from one year! Simply amazing.

    1. Yeah I probably could. It was very difficult, but also so rewarding. God is faithful!