Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Orphan Hope

So the other weekend, Eriek and I joined some friends and ran in the Orphan Hope Marathon relay.

Let me stress the relay part of it as I am certainly not an endurance athlete!  Being charged with running the shortest leg of the relay (4.6 miles in the hilly trails of Huntsville) was a little intimidating for me, so an entire marathon is definitely not on my near future to-do list.

Since beginning our journey of adoption back in September of 2009, I think a lot about our little chinababy, Zoe.  I wonder what she looks like and what her little personality will bring to our family.  I wonder who her biological parents are and what they are like.  I wonder what the troubling circumstances are that surround her little life.  I wonder what is so hard on the parents that they have to give her up.  I wonder how they abandon her.  I worry about her being left on a dangerously busy street, or on a cold, rainy morning, or in a crowded market where no one can hear her cry.  I worry about how well the orphanage is taking care of her.  It breaks my heart to know she might be crying but no one can pick her up to soothe her, so I cry with her and I pray through our tears.   I pray for her constantly, and I pray for those around her, taking care of her.  And I wonder who is praying for the others...

My heart has definitely been broken for the orphan, specifically my little Zoe, but now I feel connected and burdened for all of them.  So when my sweet friend Danielle (who is also adopting!) suggested doing the marathon relay for Orphan Hope International, I had no hesitation at all and even roped my husband and friend Jill into completing our team!

Orphan Hope International's mission is "to positively transform the lives of vulnerable children and those ministering to them through Christ-centered Mission Trips, Padrino Program, Adoption Awareness, Safe Houses and Vacation Host Program."  This marathon was specifically to raise money to build a safe house in Columbia.  I love these organizations that have such huge hearts for some of our littlest ones in need!

Our team name was Team Hope, and the verse we were given was Psalm 31:24.  So of course I had to make team shirts because that's just what a girl's gotta do.

I made the back of our shirts for Zoe

And the back of Danielle's shirt for their Ethiopian baby

Of course Arella wanted to support the cause too...
(it's says "Zoe's Big Sister")

After the marathon was over, Danielle captured so beautifully into words the journey of adoption, I just have to share her quote:

"I can only imagine that the journey of adoption is very similar to the marathon I ran today . . . You start with a burst of energy, the dream of your adopted child hard and fast on your heart, then you settle into a steady pace: research, applications, paperwork . . . there are setbacks, moments you think, maybe I should have stopped and turned around a long time ago . . . you think the path is going one way, almost to the finish, and then you realize an unexpected turn has happened, you still have a long way to go . . . but you're never alone and you can't do it without those who love you (in fact, I only ran 8.5 miles of the marathon today, three other friends ran too, and many others were there to support us) . . . and all the while you know you will make it to the finish line, because you were made to do this. You were made to be courageous and strong, you were made to have faith and live in God's will. You were made to love sacrificially. You were made to run the race set out before you with endurance. And the reward will be better than you could have ever imagined!"

Here is part of Team Hope- Danielle, me, Arella (honorary member) and Eriek

 And here's Danielle with our clutch final teammate Jill!

Thank you God for this awesome journey we have found ourselves on!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


So it's been a little over a year since I started this blog.  I was steadily gaining steam throughout the year, then I pretty much dropped off the map last fall.  It wasn't because I forgot about the blog.  It wasn't because I didn't have the time (although I could probably get away with that excuse).  And it certainly wasn't because I didn't have anything to say.  I'll be honest: I was avoiding it.

I know, I know... it doesn't make a lot of sense to start a blog just to avoid it.  It wasn't my intention.  I started the blog to bring all the aspects of my life together in one place because I'm always feeling so tugged in so many different and random directions.  If for no one else, just for me to have a place to simply be me- any aspect or side of me that happens to need an outlet. 

Instead of being open and honest, and using this as the outlet I intended it to be (and NEEDED it to be), I got scared and embarrassed of what people would think.  That's a big hang up for me.  It's something I've worked really hard at getting past, but in this world it's such a toughie.  I have made a lot of progress in that respect in a lot of areas, but apparently I have still have some work to do as I was scared to humble myself here.  So, I'm doing it now.

To make a long story short (believe me, I could make this into a really long story...), after Arella was born, in the back of my head I was still thinking about diving again.  Not platform, my body is way too beat up for that, but springboard was still a real possibility.  And the more I tried not to think about it, of course, the more it consumed my thoughts.

It got to the point where I wasn't just thinking about playing around, but in my head I was seriously thinking about a comeback.  But then the other half of my brain was shouting at me 24/7 with reasons why that was such a bad idea. This really began to tear me up inside.  I couldn't discern which voice was mine or which to follow.  Did God really want me back in the pool?  Did He have plans for me there?  Or was it just me seeking some sort of selfish ambition? 

After tons of prayer and discussions, several things started to fall into place so I would be able to get in the pool and train.  So I did.  And I only know one way to train, so I gave it everything I had.

It was quite the juggling act balancing working out and taking care of the baby, but we got into a rhythm and things were going surprisingly well.  I decided to compete at Winter Nationals in December because it was the last opportunity to qualify for Olympic Trials.  I had no idea if that's what I wanted to do, but I wanted to give myself the opportunity if that's the way things happened to shape up.

About a week before Thanksgiving, the reality of everything kind of hit me.  I have always LOVED training and competing, but I was tired of it.  Don't get me wrong, I was enjoying myself because I absolutely love flipping through the air and ripping through the water, but finally at 34 years old and after 18 years of the sport, I was simply tired, and my passion to be at that level again was gone. 

It was a little sad to realize this, but honestly it was more freeing to me, to finally feel like I could let go and move on.  I decided to go ahead and compete one last time for fun since the meet was just a few weeks away and I would get to see my diving friends at Winter Nationals.  So I put together an easy list of dives and traveled to Tennessee for one final hoorah. 

Probably because my heart wasn't completely in it any more, I didn't dive very well in the qualifying event leading up to the meet, so I didn't make it in individual.  But sweet Erin Mertz of Purdue entertained an old lady by throwing a synchro list together and diving with me on the last day of nationals.  We had fun and even qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials.  And then I got to take my sweet little Arella up on the 10 meter platform for the very first time.  It was a perfect way to wrap up my career, still making new memories.

Arella & I on 10 meter (she was pretty comfortable up there!)
 Family picture on 10 meter
 My synchro partner Erin and I with Arella on the award stand
 Kenny, my coach who was there on my first day and my last!