Monday, May 10, 2010

Beautiful Craziness

I was telling Captain Awesome on Friday that; be it right or wrong, I live for the weekend. Since coming home from Cali, my weekly schedule has gotten progressively crazier and craziest. Saturday and Sunday are my haven-days. Time to spend with my family, sleep in, run errands or just do beautiful-nothingness.

Growing up in a diligent, home schooling, large family, doing nothing is often discouraged. Granted there is always a bazillion things to keep every person busy. Always someone to talk to. Hang out. Etc, etc, etc.

But especially since my time in China last year, I have grown to value and see the need for down time. It is so healthy and good. Time for God. For thinking. For physical rest. Hmmmm.... {I'm getting all excited and it's only Monday} :)

God has been very good to give me a couple weekends like this. Two weekends ago I took the little
girls to Washington. Probably the funnest thing we did was stopping by the grocery store where a massive slide had been set up. Something about celebrating the warm weather and kids getting out. {Curiously enough, it was badly overcast and chilly.}

The little girls taught every kid watching how to really enjoy a blow-up slide with somersaults, high jumps and just plain awesomeness. I stood at the bottom of the slide, cursing the fact that I couldn't get away with looking like a middle-schooler. {Being 23 is so overrated!} I did get a little sticker tattoo on my hand... which did nothing to console my heart. I really wanted to flip and slide. {sigh}

THIS week was beyond hectic. Bring Me Hope's annual, Night Walk fundraiser is Friday and I was working through the ominous task of following up with people in preparation for the event. In all honesty, I had one day I thought my brain would seriously explode. Too much information. Too many people. Too much to do. Even though I knew I would have to put in some weekend hours, I was determined to take some time with my sisters.

After waking up at a halfway, slept-in-hour; Tiff and I packed up the little girls and took off for Iowa City. We did some rushed shopping, which was, surprisingly, very successful. The huge find of the day was the muchly coveted sun-dresses at Old Navy. In Tiff's words, 'They are cute, but not $35 cute!' With a clearance sticker reading $16 and an even bigger sign reading "Half off already clearanced items", we were quite besides ourselves with happiness.

- - -

Looking feminine and beautiful is one of my life-projects. Not just for the sake of being beautiful, but for the fact that beauty and eye-pleasing things are part of God's design. Look around at nature. Tall, snow-capped mountains; delicate, white clover; cotton-candy clouds; red strawberries buried in minty, green leaves; fuzzy, scrunched kitten faces. He has created a universe of beauty so we may take it in and in turn, declare what an awesome God He is. How much more should we, His prized creation made in His image, strive each day to present ourselves in an honoring, beautiful way to the world?!

This doesn't happen just in the way we dress, though visual presentation is important. But also in a deeper beauty.

-Am I preparing my heart to spill out unconditional love?
-Is my face showing forth a beauty deeper than the pink lip gloss and black mascara?
-Are my hands reaching out with a loving touch?
-Is my mouth speaking words that build up?

"By this will all men know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another ~ John 13:35

"I have been anointed with fresh oil ~Psalms 92:10

"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in Heaven ~ Matthew 5:16

"As believers, our greatest impact is through joy and enthusiasm.
- - -

Yesterday was probably one of the most incredible mother's days I can remember. It started out with Dad's famous, Sunday morning breakfast of eggs, biscuits, and cinnamon rolls. Then we caravanned off to church. {taking 3 vehicles to church for one family of 9 is ridiculous} After the service, us big kids decided to take Mom out for lunch. At her request, we bombed Old Chicago Pizza... poor poor people. Using Grace's camera, we started snapping pictures while we were waiting for our deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza to arrive. It quickly turned from normal, family poses to these crazy things...

THEN Mom had one of her hair-brain ideas to make napkin art. Ok. Seriously. Dude. My mom is {A W E S O M E} If you wonder where we get our crazy ideas... you need wonder no more!

Our table turned into a big craft room and pretty soon we all were posing for these shots...
I seriously love my family. Not one of us is perfect. Not one of us loves perfectly every day. Never once is our house perfectly clean {sorry Mom}. Never once is there perfect peace and quiet {except maybe when all 9 of us are sleeping}. But the glue that holds us together is God's perfect love. Even then, we struggle at times to be channels of that Love. But everyday is always new and fresh, without any mistakes as Anne Shirley says.

I'm thankful for the love and forgiveness of Dad, Mom, Tiff, Chris, Timmy, Grace, Beth, Aubrey and most of all God.

- - -

After a dance party with the little girls before they went to bed; one last mother's day treat with Mom; a Skype date with my Handsome Captain Awesome; and a late episode of a Chuck with Tiffy, Chrisy and Timmy; I went to bed.

It was a perfect Mother's Day.

{and I'm not even a mom}

- - -

PS. On the subject of mother's day, how could I forget to brag on my Amazing Man?! He planned a whole brunch for his mom yesterday. {with help from the sis-in-love} Pancakes, fruit, juice, breakfast casserole.

What an incredible man. I told him I wish I was his mom. Then after realizing the implications of that, I changed my mind.

Being the girlfriend is WAY BETTER!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

My 2010 China Adventure

Dear Faithful Friends,

Wow. I sit here on my comfy, American bed and marvel at the fact that three years ago this whole China adventure started.

On July 7, 2007 I arrived in Beijing for the first time. So many firsts ensued in the following ten days. Real Chinese food, walking on the Great Wall, that first Chinese word I used incessantly: ‘Ni hao!’ {hello… I was such a linguist}, bartering at markets for cheap junk, meeting fellow Americans who have become some of my best friends, and spending five days with my first orphan buddies that stole my heart and left me changed forever.

Like true love, I couldn’t keep myself away. In the summer of 2008, I spent 6 weeks in Xinzheng, helping on staff to run camp. That fall I came on board fulltime with Bring Me Hope, taking on volunteering coordinating, promotional tour planning and staff/volunteer logistics. July 1, 2009 found me packing my bags and moving to the city of Kunming for nearly six months. After staffing the 2009 summer camp there, I stayed on to help with a pioneer project called ‘The Ranch’ {a mentor/discipleship program for older Chinese orphans}

By the time I arrived home for {a very happy} Christmas last year, I knew that God was telling me clearly that China will always be a part of my life. From best friends {Chinese and American} to continued ministry in country through the summer camps to future plans of long-term ministry there. Of course the part I’m most excited about is the Amazing man God put in my life all the way back on that first day in 2007. Adam and I met that day I arrived in Beijing and we have built a strong friendship over the years. In January, he asked me to be his girlfriend. The chance to minister together in this new capacity is a beautiful thing. Adam’s love for China, orphans and ministry is just as big as mine. Truly two are better than one.

I am humbled as I look back and see God’s sovereign hand over the last three years. China has been one of the biggest sources of growth and change in my life. God has been so incredibly patient with me, leading me along and teaching me what it means to surrender all to Him. I love the ministry of reaching out to the hurting children of China. Thank you for everything you have done to make the last three years happen. Many of you have been there from day one, others have jumped on board somewhere along the way. For all of you, I am humbly grateful. Your financial support,

encouraging emails, and countless prayers have been the channels God has used to carry me through the tough days. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

On June 20, Adam and I will take off for Kunming and spend the summer there, splashing in the pool, getting colored marker all over our fingers, singing crazy camp songs and everyday we will hug all the precious kiddos who have been forgotten. We will tell them they are loved and they DO matter.

And it will all be for Jesus, who invented adoption and demonstrated it to us in the first place.

~ nicole

PS. My travel costs this year will be around $2000. I am needing to raise this amount before July 1st. If you are able to support me this year, you can send your tax deductible gifts to Bring Me Hope, 2169 Green Canyon Rd, Fallbrook CA 92028 with 'Nicole Chmelar' in the memo line. Thank you!!