Learning to Wait on God’s Timing

{I’m learning to accept me, for me, and my story for the story that God is still writing.}

If anyone knows me well, they know that I am not patient. I like everything to be early or right on time. When things do not go as planned, I often get stressed out or upset. Sometimes I forget that my timing is not always the best, and definitely not always God’s timing. And God’s timing had a huge role to play in this new chapter of my life story.

Let me rewind for you, to about a year and a half ago, when I took my first DNA test. I had so many expectations and thoughts. I found out that I am 99.9% Europeans (kinda boring, I wanted to be something fun), and that I am likely to have straight or wavy hair. Some things I found out were new information, and others were obvious, like eye color.

Yet I did get one really interesting piece of information. It connected me with someone that they presumed was my second cousin. I reached out to him, and he was very nice. We attempted to follow the paths back to our birth parents, but it was a little too difficult. At one point, I had reached out to someone in his family that might know something, and I never got a reply. This was very difficult for me to handle. I wanted to know more information, and I felt like I was getting so close, but was still 100 miles away.

While all of this was happening, few people knew. I kept it quiet, because I was afraid to get hurt, of hurting myself, or of hurting anyone else. This was while I was receiving the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Award, working at my internship church, and trying to figure out how I felt about everything. And yet, as much as I thought I was focused on God’s plan, God had to bring me back.

I remember coming back home from D.C. and having to drive the two hours back to Waverly for my internship. I usually used this time to reflect on my week or call my friends and catch up. But as I was driving, I became confused; God had given me this awesome opportunity in D.C., had surrounded me with amazing friends and family, but I still was missing information that I wanted so badly. I started to pray and question, why? I turned on the radio, and the song Thy Will by Hillary Scott came on. I will never forget this moment, because it was when I heard God so clearly. I can visualize the curving road, with the trees shading over my car. God’s voice spoke and said “Not Now”.

Tears burst from my eyes. This was something that I wanted and had dreamed about. I wanted to be able to meet my birth family, to tell them who I was, and what I had done with my life. I wanted so badly to clear up some questions in my life. But this was not God’s timing. After lots of tears fell from my eyes and many cries to God, I decided to hand the situation over to him. Obviously right then was not the right time, and I had to accept that.

Yet not knowing when ‘not now’ was going to turn into now, was the hardest part. Did not now mean in 1 year, 5 years, or 20 years? Through lots of prayer, talking with friends, and reading the word, I learned that I would eventually know God’s timing someday, and that was ultimately going to be better than my time.

Little did I know, God had a plan in motion. This past October, I was approached by an adoption angel. These are people or groups who work to connect adoptees with their birth families. After I thought and prayed a lot about it, I decided to give it a shot. Part of me felt like I was pushing my own timeline, but it also felt so right. They sent me another DNA test, and the waiting game began. For my impatient personality, the months dragged on. I had to go through interviews to make sure I was prepared for whatever may come. Only a handful of people knew about the process that was in motion, but I was always thankful for those who came along side of me to encourage and support me.

While on my spring break, I got an email that my DNA test had been processed and that my information was online for me to see. Soon after that, one of the angels called me and told me the results. She told me that they had found a biological uncle and his wife. My heart sunk in my chest. This was as close as I had ever been to finding answers to the questions I have had my whole life.

The next few days were a blur as I filled out paper work so that information could be shared between myself and my biological uncle and his wife. So the next day, when I was driving around town, getting errands done before heading back to school, my life was put on pause. I received a message on Facebook from my biological relatives.

This was the timing God was pushing me to wait for. Come to find out, they had just taken a DNA test a few months prior, not even thinking they would find someone like me. God knew that I would never have gotten the answers if I searched all last summer. I might have become too tired or too hurt and given up by the time October rolled around.

I have always expected to eventually find my birth mother, or her family. Yet God threw a twist in my plans yet again, by introducing me to my paternal side. Since March, I have received many phone calls, messages, and some written letters. I’ve talked to some of my biological cousins, and learned more about their family. I learned that they lived around the Bloomington, Illinois area, and were very excited to get to meet me when everyone felt comfortable and ready.

The first two weeks were crazy. I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it. Thankfully I have some amazing friends and family that loved and encouraged me through it all. I shed many tears, tears of joy, fear, happiness, and confusion. But I allowed myself that, this was a huge change in my life, and I needed to adjust. I was almost afraid to tell people, for fear of them asking me questions that I didn’t want to answer. My friends that I did tell really helped, but also challenged me by asking the hard questions in comfortable areas where I could digest and adjust to the change. And by the time April rolled around I was more comfortable, and could really open up. I still did not want a ton of people to know, but I was very excited and happy to eventually meet this family who I was related to but never got to know.

This past weekend I had training for my upcoming internship in the summer, and it just so happened to take place in Bloomington. So while I was there, I got to meet my biological grandparents, my aunt, uncle, and one of my cousins. I was so thankful that my mom, dad and boyfriend drove up to meet them with me. We all got to experience this exciting yet very unusual situation together.

As I approached my grandparents’ door, I was welcome with open arms, hugs, and love. This could have been a very awkward and scary meeting, but it was nothing like that. My family and I felt so welcomed by this family who I share DNA with. I heard many stories, looked at pictures of their children and grandchildren, and had a great time. We shared lots of stories, laughs and hugs.

At the end of the night as we were saying our goodbyes, Sandie, my grandmother, had told me she had been praying for me for years. At first I was really confused, but she told me that a couple years ago she felt like she was missing someone from her family. She wasn’t sure who it was, but it was a feeling. So she prayed to God and never knew if that feeling was true, then along came me. Later that night, as I sat in the hot tub at the hotel, it occurred to me that this was God’s hand present in my life yet again. It was probably around the time in my life where I really started to think about my biological family, who might not know I exist. I would pray for them, for clarity, and for peace in my crazy life journey. To me, what Sandie told me was actually God showing me that he had listened to me. To my cries, prayers, and dreams. He could not show me back then because I was not ready, and only he knew that. Yet, as I sit here days after this amazing weekend, I’m reminded that God has always been there and will always be there in the next chapters of my life.

There are still unanswered questions, but that’s ok. I’m learning that I don’t need to know them right now. Right now I need to give thanks for all the answers that I have received, for my amazing family who has raised me and given me more than I could ever ask, for my friends who stand by my side and show me love, and these new relationships that I am building with my biological family. I’m learning more and more everyday of God’s love and grace through his presence in my life. I’m learning to accept me, for me, and my story for the story that God is still writing.

The Woman at the Wishing Well

How I Stopped Wishing for Something to Happen and Started Praying to Follow God’s Plan.

 

Yes, I know it has been a while since I have blogged. Lately though I have been told more and more that I need to bring it back, so here I am!

 If you didn’t know, I went to Washington DC for the National Jefferson Award Ceremony. The Jefferson Award is described as the Nobel Peace Prize for public service. It was started by Jackie Kennedy and Sam Beard.

From all of the Jefferson award winners throughout the country, around 80 are invited to come to the ceremony in Washington, D.C. where they are then in the running for the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Award. This prestigious award is given to five people who have gone above and beyond to serve others. And I was one of the five! To have been chosen as a Jefferson Award winner is a huge honor; yet to win the JKO award ….honestly, there are no words to describe it, just utter awe, and a heart bursting with thankfulness. For me to be sitting in a room full of people striving to change the world, and to be honored with this award, was an emotional moment. It was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. Yet it hasn’t always been this happy road for me.

I remember earlier this past spring semester where I was at my worst. I didn’t think I knew who I was. I didn’t know if I was following God’s plan for my life. I felt friendless and unloved. I was at the end of my rope and I didn’t know if God was there for me. I felt like my faith was hanging on by a thread. And you see, when I am already feeling bad, that’s when the devil reminds me that I was abandoned and unloved. Even though I know that doesn’t matter anymore, part of me believes him and I just want to quit. One night, I went to our campus worship service and just fell apart. I asked my friend Becca to come with me as I ran out of the Chapel. She held me as I cried and was there for me. She let me talk about my struggles and to be open. I’m that type of person who holds everything in and then when it gets to be too much I explode… and that’s exactly what happened. She assured me that I wasn’t the only college student that felt like this and she told me to put my trust in the Lord as hard as that can be. This may have been one of the hardest moments of my semester, yet now I see it as the best part. James 1:3 says that the testing of our faith produces endurance, and in that moment, the words of James could not have been truer.

After that horrible night, I started talking to God more. I asked him to help me through the semester and to strengthen my faith. I remember one night in particular, I prayed to Him asking for the opportunity to do life changing things for this world. I didn’t know what that would look like, or how he would use me, but I was going to trust him. Little did I know what God had in store for me.

Around the same time I was experiencing this overwhelming darkness, a man named Bill Lair was attempting to nominate me for the Jefferson Awards. While all I could do was focus on was my shortcomings, Bill Lair saw my heart for abandoned infants, and had noticed the volunteer work I had done towards this cause for others. The thing was that I had no clue this was happening. My family and friends all knew, yet I did not. Some of my biggest mentors were writing amazing recommendation letters for me, and talking about how great I was, while I was still not feeling my best. I will never forget the phone call that I got from my local paper that said I was a winner of a Jefferson Award. I had a smile from ear to ear, yet it just got better from there. They told me that they were sending me to Washington D.C. to represent my community and share about why I serve. When they told me it was all paid for, I was literally dancing around my floor. I broke down in prayer, thanking the Lord for this amazing blessing that was bestowed upon me. This is what I had been praying for, a path that God had laid out for me; A path to help change the world. I didn’t believe it could get much better than that… yet God wasn’t done surprising me.

First I had to endure a couple of stressful months of finishing school, and attempting to balance my social and volunteer life. I continually prayed that his light would shine through me so that others could see. I prayed that he would use me to make a difference, even amidst the stress. The stress continued to build, however, and less than a week before D.C., I still had yet to write my speeches for the Ceremonies. I broke down and called my mother for help. I told her that I knew everything that I wanted to say for my one minute speech, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work together. She asked me why I was so stressed, and I told her it was because I wanted to win so I could get more attention for the infants who needed it more than I do. I wanted, no-change that, I needed to be their voice because I felt a strong call from God to help them. Little did I know, but my mother was laughing at me, because she knew more than I did. That night I prayed for God to ease my nerves and let his will be done, and a wave of peace rushed over me.

When I got to D.C. I was surrounded by amazing people. My best friend, Grace, and I went on a long walk to see a lot of the monuments and memorials. At one point we were walking past the reflection pool and decided to throw coins in. At that point it hit me- why should I make a wish with a penny, something so worthless in the big picture, when instead I could pray. It was then that the rest of my walk became a prayer. For God to use me, for God to protect me, and for him to strengthen me. Selfishly, I remember praying to win the JKO award. Yet it wouldn’t be just for me, it would be for all of those who had helped me get this far, who supported me and who loved me. It would also be for those who should be in this world, but are not due to unsafe abandonments. This was my prayer.

I had gotten texts and messages from people who were praying for me and sending their love and positive thoughts my way. As nervous as I was, I was enjoying every second of meeting new people and hearing how they were changing their communities. I was so impressed with all the good that was taking place! It was sad to me that even though there are some amazing people in this world, we only seem to  hear about the hatred and evil going on. This became another prayer in my heart. That the world could focus more on the positives than the negatives.

Then it came time for the awards, I wasn’t feeling too great about what I had done compared to all the other people I was surrounded by. They had raised thousands and millions of dollar and had impacted thousands of people. I didn’t think I could compare to what they had done, yet somehow I did. It was time to announce the fourth award JKO award winner and the introducer was talking about this one person who made her cry, laugh, and smile all in one minute.  As she started to describe my story, I felt the tears welling up in my eyes and it felt like a weight in my chest. I don’t really remember all that she said because Grace was comforting me and reminding me to breathe. In these moments you forget to breathe and are overwhelmed with love. As I walked up to the podium, it felt as if the whole room was embracing me in a hug. The speech that I had set in my mind went out the window and the Spirit gave me the strength to say at least some of what I needed to say. As I looked out over the crowd, I saw all my new friends who were already doing all these amazing things for our world, and in that moment I felt like I hadn’t done enough. I had to be reminded that I was here because I had done something. I had stood up against adversity, and was working to change the world, working to make it a better for kids like me.

After the awards I was embraced in hugs from people I had just met the day before, and by complete strangers, yet they were now my friends. I received words of affirmation, that I was following God’s plan. Even when my family and friends couldn’t be with me, I was still surrounded by love. There is something about being surrounded by greatness that just motivates you to do more.

In John 4, Jesus has a conversation with a woman at a well. Verse 10 says: “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”” I am at a place in my life where I am ready to take on the full plan that God has for my life. I am working toward my goals in ministry and my volunteer life. I’m ready to stop wishing at those silly wells, and instead pray to God for his living water. I want to daily feel his love and grace in my life. I know that his plan for me is bigger than anything I can imagine.

So where do I go from here? I obviously can’t go backwards. It’s time to trust God and launch even farther, to reach more people, and change the world even more through sharing my story, which takes vulnerability, and help from you!

How can you help me you ask?  Speak out for Safe Haven Laws and, share my story, because through that we are making a chain of world changing action. The more people who know what safe havens stand for, who know what babies are going through every single day, the more people God will be working through to make a difference in this world! If you know anyone who is struggling with abandonment, the feelings that I know all too well, let them know they are not in this alone. I am willing to talk and share with them!

This is now another chapter in my story, and it’s time to continue on my journey with God, the pen holder, and change the world even more!

Check out this article that the Jefferson Awards Foundation wrote along with my acceptance speech!

Skyler James – #VoicesofJAF

The Meaning of My Birthday

Hello readers!

I know it’s been forever since I have written on my blog, but I have been crazy busy and I couldn’t find the words to make a great post. Anyway, enough excuses, I have a huge topic to talk about. This past week I have had many conversations about vulnerability, so I’m going to open up and hope you reach and connect with other adoptees/abandonees. I hope if you are not an adoptee/abandonee that you read this with open hearts and open eyes to my life and story.

If you didn’t know, yesterday was my birthday! It was such a great day filled with tons of love and happy wishes. My parents came up for the day to surprise me and spend a couple hours with me. I had so many people come and say happy birthday and give me hugs (which I love)! I even had a group meeting that had ice cream sundaes for my birthday! For me though, my birthday has meant something a little different for many years now and it took me until my social work class last year to realize this. For many years now I have cried on my birthday. I would cry at night after my fabulous day and after everyone had told me how much they had loved me. My parents are so amazing and I know they love me, yet I still cried and I couldn’t understand. A few years ago, I finally understood, my birthday is the last connection I have to my birthmother.

Most of you at this point may be like, Skyler, you are crazy, what does it matter? That’s okay, because I was upset with myself too. I couldn’t understand why it mattered so much to me when she wasn’t in my life for more than a couple hours and I have never met her. Last year, I really struggled on my birthday with this concept. I cried for multiple hours over many day (yes, again I am being very vulnerable with you all). I remember sitting with two of my friends who were very patient with me and helped me talk through my emotions. Yet we still couldn’t figure out why I was still so emotional. It just didn’t make since to me.

It took me till my ‘Loss and Mourning Class’ that I was taking for a required credit in the Social Work area that I started to understand. First of all you should know that I did not like this class. I felt like I was in therapy every week so that my teacher could talk about her problems. Yet she told all of us that we have had a loss in our lives that wasn’t a death. It took me hearing that to let it sink in. My abandonment is the biggest “loss” in my life. Yes, I know that it’s also the greatest thing that has happened in my life, because without it, I wouldn’t have my amazing parents, family, or friends. I wouldn’t have the amazing experiences I have been given, and I don’t think I would have as strong of Faith in my God. Even though my life didn’t start out in the greatest circumstances, I am still so thankful for my amazing life. This being said though, I still have struggles and they are mostly internal. Even though I have forgiven my birthmother for how she has hurt me (and that could not have been a bigger rock off my shoulder) the devil creeps into my mind and hate comes rolling in. Thank goodness this hate only last for a short time because God’s love is more powerful! And even though I still love my life, my mind still wonders to “what could have been”. This loss also reminds me of what I don’t know about my life. I have a running list of question in my head that I will probably never get the answers to, and that is hard to comprehend. I sometimes wonder if she thinks about me, or if her family knows about me. Does she have other kids? Does He even know I exist? Do they think of me often? This list comes to me on more days than others. Like Mother’s Day and Father’s day, I again could not be more thankful for my amazing parents, yet they also come to my mind.

This loss in my life has created a pain that will always be tucked away in my heart, or at least that is what my professor told me. Just like with the loss of a loved one and the date that they past, this day, my birthday, will always be a reminder of how my life started out and the pain that I feel from that. There may be some years that are better than others, and some that are worse. There may be years where I just need an hour to myself to work out the emotions, and others that I will just need to be surrounded by those who love me so much and my love is reciprocated.

If you are a parent of an adoptee or abandonee, I ask you to be aware of this. I am so thankful for my parents because they were open with me about my adoption and always willing to talk with me about anything. Just be aware that they may have these feelings or like me, they may carry a running list of random questions in their head. It’s part of their identity and like it or not, we can’t change that.

Thankfully, I am in a place in my life where I can talk about this out loud now. But it is my guess that I am not the only adoptee or abandonee who feels this way. This is one of the reasons I am writing this, not to make you feel bad about my life, cause that is the last thing I want because I could not be more thankful for my life. I wrote this because if you are adopted and feel like I do, then you are not alone in this world. I know your struggles and it’s not something that you should feel bad about. Like I said, I use to get mad at myself when I would get emotional. But guess what, that’s totally normal and we should feel this way.

So I hope that if you read this, your eyes are opened in some way or another. In one of my classes the other night, we talked about how vulnerability breeds vulnerability. If feel the same as I have in the past, reach out, it helps, I promise. If you don’t know who to reach out to, I am always here. If you cannot connect to my life story, I hope you have still learned something about how some happy days for some people, can be harder for others. If not, at least you got to learn a little about me.

Like I use to, here are some encouraging Words of WisdomI am His!!! Praise God that nothing can take me from Him!:

This picture is just a paraphrase of the actual verses. Ephesians 2:19-22 says:

Ephesians 2:19-20New International Version (NIV)

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually[f] into a dwelling place for God.

This reminds me that no matter what, the battle is already won for my life through Jesus Christ. I am also not the only one who has been won. All of my brothers and sister in Christ are there to support me too. Together, we are His body to carry out his work and to support each other along the way.

Thank you all for reading and please don’t hesitate to chat with me about this post! Much love!

God’s Blessing,

~Skyler

Staring Anew

Hello All!

Whoa, I cannot believe that I have not written on my blog since April! When school was ending I had no clue what to write about and this summer I was so busy working that every time I tried, I got too tired! I know that it is no excuse but lets face it, it is the excuse that I am going to use!

Just because I am relaunching my blog from this extreme break, let me catch you up on some of my life. I have been home pretty much all summer working. Having three jobs in the summer has been exhausting but they are simmering down now which is nice. I have gotten to reconnect with some of my friends this summer which was so amazing. One of my best friends and I had lost contact and this summer we reconnected at the perfect time when we both needed someone. I prayed for this to happen and God could not have had better timing! I have also been working with lots of children this summer, from babysitting to teaching them how to swim. I know have a confirmed appreciation for the amazing teachers out who have loads and loads of patience to teach them every day. Anyone who knows me, understands that I do not have a strong sense of patience, so all the children this summer have helped me grow in that.

So now it is getting to the point in the summer when I have a little less than 20 days to move back to college! With this excitement comes a list of things to do and people to say goodbye to. This includes:

  • Deciding which close to pack and which to keep at home. This is always a difficult choice to make. Last year I made the mistake of bringing way too many and I didn’t end up wearing 1/3rd of them. They took up a lot of room in my closet which I could have had for shoes (you can never have too many shoes of course)! This year I plan to only bring what I will actually wear.
  • Printing out new pictures for my dorm. In my dorm room last year, my favorite decorations were the photos that I hung all around my bed. They remind me of the great memories I have made and always keep me positive! So this year I want to add to that collection by printing some from the past year! If you are moving away to college, I recommend doing this too! That way when you tell your new friends about all your crazy stories about you and your friends back home, you can add a face to those names!
  • Finalizing paperwork and getting school supplies for the new semester. Last year when I moved in, it was similar because I was the only college student in my family. Now my brother is going to be a freshman and was supposed to move in on the same day as me to a different university! So now I am moving in a day earlier and I have to have everything super organized so that it is easier for my parents. I also need to make sure I have all the new supplies for my upper level classes including ordering my books!
  • Saying “See you later” to family and friends. This is one of the hardest parts for me. For me, the hardest ones this year will be one of my best friends who will be a freshman at a university in Nashville TN. She is my accountability partner, and even thought we did well with the distance last year, I probably will not see her until Thanksgiving and that will be hard. The other one is my boyfriend Noah. Like I have said before, long-distance relationships are not impossible but they are difficult. I have gotten to see Noah almost every day this summer, and it was wonderful! I know that this is going to be very heartbreaking now to move away and not be able to see or hug him for weeks at a time. But we know that God is within us, and he will make this easier!

Overall, this has been a pretty great summer but I think I am ready for school to start back up. If school didn’t start back up, then I couldn’t get that degree so I can start making my dreams come true! Oh, and don’t you think for one moment that I forgot about my Words of Wisdom for this re-launch!

starting anew

With the new school year coming up this is huge! I know that this summer was not everything I wanted it to be. I had plans to lose weight, read my bible every day, take random road trips, and so much more. Truthfully, I didn’t do many of those things I planned. But today, and this semester is a new opportunity to make new goals and strive for them! It’s a new beginning at another home. I am ready to start anew, what about you?

God’s love

~Skyler

Life’s Little and Big Blessings

Hello Readers!

I hope you are all enjoying this Palm Sunday! Today starts Holy week in the Christian Church. Holy week starts with Jesus riding into Jerusalem. Everyone was celebrating and waving palm branches, thus why it is called Palm Sunday. For many Christians, this is a week of a crazy emotions. We start out happy, but then we start the somber road to the cross, and are reminded that we too are the ones who shouted for Christ to be crucified. We painfully remember how Christ died and what debt he paid for all of us. Yet a week from today we are joyful and singing Alleluias again because Christ rose from the dead! So I pray that all of you find time this week to spend time in God’s house in prayer, because Christ is the best blessing we could have received.

This past Friday and Saturday I participated in the 30 hour famine. This is a 30 hour fast to raise awareness for world hunger. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. Every time I would glance over to my food shelf, I would think “oh yeah, I’ll eat that!” There are 805 million people in the world who go without food and don’t even have the option to eat. And to be totally honest, I think the hardest part was when I could finally eat, nothing sound good and it almost made me sick to eat it. It became almost normal to not eat. I could not imagine going through this on a daily basis. . God blessed this Earth is such amazing food. It’s one of life’s many blessings. Food is amazing and delicious and for it to not even sound good anymore is really sad. I am told that by the 3rd day after the famine I will feel better and back to normal again, thankfully. I took much of the time that I would have spent eating in prayer, and it was renewing to have that time. I also drank a lot of water to stay hydrated. If you want to see how many people live I encourage you to try this safety! It truly shows me how blessed I am. Especially when I am here at school, I along with many other students, complain about “college food”. I now can’t complain because at least I have food. I am truly blessed.

Today I am sitting here with 3 of my wonderful friends watching a movie and I could not be happier. It feels so good to just relax with them on this cold and rainy day. God blesses us with so many great people. Today I went to church with one of my best friends, then afterward we took time just driving around looking at the beautiful houses and catching up. These are always the days that I love. Sunday afternoons spent with love ones and remembering how amazing God truly is. Prayer is a powerful thing my friends, it’s a powerful thing!

If you haven’t figured out the theme of my post today, it’s all about blessing. So my words of wisdom today comes to you from one of my favorite websites and procrastination tool, Pinterest!

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This is one of my favorite quotes and a great daily reminder to be positive in life. Christ, food, and my friends are such amazing blessings in my life. I may have had a couple bad things happen this week, but there is way to many amazing things to complain about the bad.

So have a wonderful Holy Week my friends and find the blessings in your life this week.

God Bless,

~Skyler

Taking Risks and Trusting God

Hello Reader,

So I know I haven’t written in a while and it makes me sad that I can only write once a week now. I have been super busy with school, ick! The good news though is that there are less than 6 weeks left, but that can also be bad news. It means its cram time. Sometimes I think all the professors like to gang up on us and some weeks so packed and others easy. And of you are like me, you don’t always use those easy weeks to get ahead. Last week I had a very easy week, but I had friends from home and out of town up all week! This was exciting for me because I love seeing my friends and hanging out, but it also made my Monday stressful. But now I am done with an exam and I finished a paper, so I need to distress! How do I do this? By writing a blog entry!

This past couple weeks have been all about planning our next year’s schedule and figuring out what to do with our lives. Even though I kind of have my life planned out, thinking about the future can still be scary. What kind of classes should I take for my career, where should I take an internship, should I keep or drop one of my majors? These are all questions that I have asked myself these past few weeks. Add on homework, exams, life in general, it gets very stressful. This past Thursday I went to one of the Christian groups on campus and just took the time to have community with everyone and pay attention to God’s word. One of the devotions talked about how our worries and thoughts can block out God in our lives. When we were talking about this, it hit me. I had been so stress by all that was going on that I wasn’t putting God first in my day. When we put God first in out day, we don’t worry as much about our plans. I’m the type of person who has to be on schedule, and when I’m off schedule, I get rude and stressed. My family and friends are always reminding me that it will always work out but in those moments I do not see this. After all is said and done, I get mad at myself for being rude to others. It’s never a good situation. If I just went through life knowing that God was in charge of my life and that he is in control, I would be way less stressed.

In a crazy way this links to my topic of the post. One of my favorite saving is “we have to step out off the tree limb to find the trampoline below”. Trampolines are so fun, but when we get scared of falling from a height, we may stay where we feel comfortable. If I stayed where I felt comfortable (here in Illinois with my family, friends, and boyfriend) I probably never would have found how comfortable I was in Chicago, or even in California. Many people are scared that when they leave their comfort zone, that they will lose those connections there. I promise you from experience, if you put effort into those connections and relationships, they will always still be there. Even more important, you can find even more of yourself when you step out of your comfort zone. You can find more connections and relationships. SO I encourage you to take risks in your life, go find that trampoline and don’t worry about that being comfortable because God has you. If you feel that you should move, maybe God is calling you to go. You never will know though if you don’t take that step off the branch.

So this entry’s words of wisdom are from Many Hale:

“You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.”

This definitely shares my thoughts in just a couple sentences. This will be encouraging me in the weeks to come as I figure out my classes for the next three year. I hope that whatever you are going through, you are encouraged to have faith in God and just let his plan happen.

Have a good week lovelies! God Bless,

~Skyler

Centered in Love

Happy Sunday readers!

I hope you all have had a blessed Sunday like I have. Sunday also means that I am on yet another train ride back to the wonderful city of Chicago. This weekend I went home to go see a Newsboys concert with my boyfriend and let me just say, they are AWESOME in concert. As much as I love seeing my family and friends, I love being up in Chicago, which makes train rides there not so bad (also the sunset right now is beautiful, God’s handiwork is amazing). It’s also fun to see how fast cornfields switch to buildings. There is definitely a difference between most of Illinois and Chicagoland.

This weekend was a reminder to me how important your relationships are. Relationships don’t just mean boyfriends and girlfriends, it means any friendship or relation to someone. For me, I have found that my relationships that are centered in Christ are the strongest. When you have that one strong thing in common, you have a foundation to build off of. I have also seen how those people are always there for me and are able to strengthen my faith. They fill my cup and I hope that I can fill theirs. Ill share with you just 3 of the many examples in my life:

First of all, I will share with you about my amazing boyfriend ( Plus I said I eventually would and have gotten grief from one of my readers because I haven’t yet lol). Noah was raised in a Christian household like me. He is very respectful toward his family and everyone he meets. One of my favorite things about him is that he truly lives out his faith. He will never do something that may harm his relationship with Christ in anyway. Even though we are in a relationship, our separate relationships with God are the most important. I can’t even explain how amazing it is to have a Christ centered relationship with this wonderful man. Like I said, we went to a Newsboys concert this weekend and it was so powerful to stand there and worship to our Lord and Savior with the man that I love. I know that God has put know in my life for a reason, and I cannot wait to see what His plans are for us.

My next example is one of my best friends, Grace. She and I have swam together since I was in 3rd grade but she always went to a private elementary school. When she came to public high school we swam on the same team and she was always talking about her faith, and that always made me stronger in my faith and helped me to talk more about Christ. One summer we went to the same Christian summer camp together and ever since then she and I have been accountability partners along with best friends. Even though I am away at school and she is a senior in high school we still are able to be accountable for each other. I love getting phone calls from her and hearing how God has impacted her during the week. I even love getting phone calls from her when her week has gone bad, because then we talk it out and by the end I know that God has used me to brighten her day. So Grace, I am so proud of the woman you have become. I know that on and off the track, you show Gods love to everyone and that makes me one proud best friend!

My next Christ centered relationship that has impacted my life would be my friend Jen. I meet Jen at Marked Leadership camp. The first year our group worked together I was frightened by her. She had strong options and stated them clearly. After 4 summer camps with her and a trip to Washington D.C., she is now one of my dearest friends. I love hearing how God is working through her life and I know she is going to be a great vessel of God to others. When I met Charlie for the first time this past summer and was sharing my story on news stations, she would always message me and encouraged me to share God with all that I spoke with. Even a couple weeks ago when I flew to California, she texted me and told me she was praying for God to work in me that weekend. It meant so much to me that I started crying in my plane seat. Even though we have never lived in the same town, we still keep in touch and have one strong bond between us, our amazing God. Hopefully I will get to see this wonderful lady this coming weekend and spend some quality time together!

Like I said, these are just a few of many that I have in my life. They are powerful relationships that can change your life for the better. I encourage you this week to work on your relationships and build on them through Christ our Savior. Easter is coming up and it is great way to share the Gospel with your friend who still do not know the power of the cross. Maybe you can be the person that your friend is needing right now. Live your faith out and see how it can impact others, cause I know my life has changed because of these three friends.

 

So my words of wisdom for you today are:

spiritual insperationThis week, since I encouraged you to work on your relationships and about bringing the Gospel to others, I also encourage you to seek out these people in your life. I know I am asking a lot of you but I am sure you can think of one person right off the bat who will need you this week, and my guess is that they will also need Christ’s love. So I will be praying for all of you this week as you work on impacting others.

God’s peace and blessing,

~Skyler

 

Hello Spring

Hello Readers,

So this week has been so crazy and stressful that I haven’t been able to write. But now I have a little free time, so why not! One very positive thing from this week is this amazing weather! I don’t know where you all live, but in the Chicagoland area and most of Illinois is GORGEOUS! On Monday I went on a bike ride with my best friend, and it just felt so good to be able to enjoy the outdoors again. Biking is one of my favorite outdoor activities. It just gives me a feeling of freedom, kinda like when I drive a car, but more satisfying because it’s exercise. I really am hoping that this is the start of spring, because it’s been a week now and it would be cruel of mother nature to throw winter back in our faces.

So if you haven’t noticed by now I love writing to do lists and bucket lists on my blog. It’s a way for me to keep track of my ideas and to hopefully give you some ideas. So here is a list of things I want to do while we have this amazing weather.

  • More bike rides! I think I am going to make a mandatory date with my best friend that we go on a bike ride once a week. My Monday was made by just riding, talking, and shopping (or at least looking in stores at stuff we want to buy) with her. We did this last semester until it became cold and it was always enjoyable. It’s a great way to catch up and exercise. I also want to take a lot of my friend’s downtown to ride bikes at the lake front bike path. I mean, it won’t beat biking on the beach in Cali, but it will be a fun activity.
  • Have a photography day outside! One of my friends here at campus is really good at taking pictures and I enjoy it as a hobby so I just want to go have a fun photo shoot day! Both downtown and the community around campus have beautiful places to take pictures!
  • Go fishing! Last year was the first year I got a fishing license and now I love fishing! Don’t get me wrong, on a slow day it can be very boring, especially or an impatient person for me. But that’s when my boyfriend helps me! He keeps me encouraged and I always enjoy fishing trips with him. So when I go home for Easter or just for the weekend I want to go fishing again!
  • Just appreciate spring! I have started to realize how I can take things like weather and my loved ones for granted. God has blessed this Earth with amazing creation in such detail. The bright green grass that with walk and lay on, the birds the chirp in the morning (I woke up to that this morning and it was such a blessing), and the beautiful colored flowers (that are not around yet but I cannot wait), all are so amazingly created by someone who loves us so much more and created us in even more detail. So I am going to truly appreciate this beautiful season!

My Words of Wisdom for you today is by the amazing C.S. Lewis. First of all, I encourage you all just to go read some of his quotes. For me, C.S. Lewis brings beautiful words into my life and always has a quote for what I need at that moment. He showed the light of God through his writings and that is truly inspiring especially to me as I write this blog. So here you go:cs lewis

Just soak that in.

This for me shows that I don’t have to talk or write about my faith, but I need to live it out in every way possible, so that I can explain through my actions who God is!

I hope you are all enjoying the weather and having a great week!

God Bless,

~Skyler

A Tale of Two Homes

Hello Readers,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. After that last long post I thought I would give you a break. Nah, my real reason was that I was on spring break and wanted to get the most out of it. I spent a lot of time with my friends and family and got to sleep quite a bit. I am actually impressed with myself too, I only watched one episode on Netflix. Usually I watch more than 5 episodes a week, but I really wanted to focus on my love ones this week.

Now you are probably wondering what my title means. I have grown up in a kind of small town. I had about 200 kids in my graduating class and I could name every one of them. My hometown was a college town though, so we had a lot of people in the school year but it was always boring in the summertime. Now I live in the big city of Chicago and it’s totally different and I love it. But I also loved growing up in my small town. So here is my list of pros and cons of both of my homes (because both of them have my heart in one way or another).

Small Towns

                –One of my favorite parts of growing up in a small town was knowing everyone. I am a people person. So for me to have lots of people that I knew and could talk to was great. Especially in my church, I knew almost everyone and it was always exciting for me to talk to everyone every Sunday. The bad part about this is that since you do know everyone, bad news travels fast. Gossip would travel so quickly in my school and even my whole town. So knowing everyone has its ups and downs

-Probably right up there with knowing everyone, my next favorite is driving. I LOVE DRIVING on the country roads. Whenever I would get overwhelmed or upset in High School, I would always just go for a drive in the country. I would sometimes drive for an hour and just jam that music and forget all about my worries. Living in a small town also made it very easy to learn how to drive. My uncle would take me to bigger cities so I had experience there too, but to start off, the country roads were perfect.

-Another perk of the small town was having a small school. In larger schools if you don’t make the teams or clubs, you have nothing to do. In my school I was activing in so many things because there were never really limits. I was on sports teams, in the choir, participated in student council, was in every musical, and knew every teacher (maybe because I was the “good kid”, but it has its advantages, that will have to be another blog post.) I had so many opportunities that I would not have had if I grew up in a large town. For this I am truly thankful.

-One of the WORST parts about growing up in a small town was having nothing to do. There are bowling ally’s (that smell from years of cigarette smoke), a movie theatre, and a really old skating rink in the next town over, but these grow boring. In the summer there was the pool, but coming from a Lifeguards standpoint, it’s annoying when kids show up every day of the summer, I mean how can you not get timed of the one old slide and diving board? One of the only things to do is attend parties, But I was never in that crowd of kids. To find stuff to do you had to drive at least a half-hour away and after a while (like the age of 10) that drive gets fairly boring. This is a major con of small towns.

 

Big Cities

-Why are big cities considered big? Because they have a LOT of people. I consider this a pro. Since there are so many people, what is the chance that you will ever see some of these people again? This is my thought behind my silly actions (like jumping in Buckingham Fountain in the winter with your best friend late at night). It’s also comforting to know that I have such good friends in this giant city. People I can trust and come to with anything. Without so many people, there wouldn’t be as many attractions. Also because I am a people person, there are so many strangers for me to start up conversations with and that just gets me excited (I know I am weird…).

-There is always so much to do in the city. There are always festivals going on or just so many places to see! Its not like living in a small town with nothing to do. Living so close to downtown, I am almost down there once a weekend at least. From Navy Pier, to parks, to shopping, to just random things, I love being in a town that never stops moving. But if I did live in the loop, I would probably get annoyed with all the noise because I love my sleep. I am so blessed with the location of my school! I live in a very rich neighborhood that is quiet but still has that city feel.

-The city is very expensive. The first time I went grocery shopping I was price shocked. Something I can get at my small town store for a $1 was at least $4 in the cheapest supermarkets. This also deals with living spaces. I loved growing up in a house with a huge yard. In The neighborhood I live in now, It costs $1500 a month to rent an apartment with a parking spot with no yard where as the college kids in my town can find an apartment with parking for less than $500 a month and have yard space. With more people comes smaller living spaces.

-Chicago has a great transportation system. I am able to get downtown from my school for less than $4 dollars. Thank goodness for that because it is ridiculous to drive in the Big City. It takes forever and people are so rude. Again with the cost, you have to pay to park everywhere. This is why I do not have a car at my school, but when I get to borrow my friend’s cars to drive a couple miles to the grocery store it can take me 10 minutes or more.

Overall I love going to college in the City, but I also appreciate growing up in a small town. In the future if I have a choice, I want to raise my kids in a small town but take them and teach them to appreciate the big cities too. My parents did this for me and I am so grateful for it now. I can navigate my way around the city like a pro and yet have strong hometown pride. So that is the end of that rant!

My words of wisdom for you today is one of my favorite sayings.

Today my Pastor’s sermon was about trusting God with your whole life. This is a big thing for me. Since I am a talkative person, I know that when I get stressed I automatically talk to my friends about it. I also don’t have many secrets about myself cause I HAVE to tell people or it blows out of proportion. I have to constantly remind myself though to turn to God with my problems. He should be the first I talk to about them and I should constantly be listening for his guidance. I know that I do not nearly pray enough about issues as I talk about this so this a daily reminder for me. If you are struggling right now, I suggest spending some time in prayer with God. Prayer is powerful and for me it is stress relieving. I am praying for all of you who are struggling and hoping that you find peace in our Heavenly Father.

God Bless you all,

~Skyler

Trip of a Lifetime

Hello readers!

I haven’t posted on here lately because I have been in CALIFORNIA!!! If you did not know, I went out there to work with an organization called Project Cuddle. Right now I am on my flight home :(. Fair warning, this is going to be a LONG post! There is so much to tell you all and Im going to be writing in much detail, as I have been instructed! So I will just start at the beginning!

Friday morning, I woke up at 4:45 A.M. to finish last minute packing and to curl my hair ( I wanted to look like a human when I got to California). I left my college at 5:35 and headed toward Midway airport! My taxi driver was very nice. He drove like I do and we were able to cut 20 minutes out of the drive! Check-in and security only took me about 30 minutes so I have two and a half hours to kill in the airport. Luckily this was a great time for me to finish one of Debbe Magnusen’s (the CEO of Project Cuddle) books. My flight took around 4 hours and was not a bad flight at all. Truthfully, I would definitely recommend Southwest to anyone who is going to fly. When I got to LAX I was able to meet up with my brother, Nathan, who’s flight from St. Louis got in 20 minutes before mine. A town car picked us up and we made a stop at Los Angeles Magazine to pick up some boxes and then headed out to Long Beach Hilton. Our car ride took a little over an hour and a half, and our driver was just a tad bit annoying, but I am thankful for him anyway!

When Nathan and I got to the hotel we checked in to a beautiful room on the 12th floor! We then proceeded downstairs to the front desk and rented bikes for half a day! This was one of my favorite parts of the weekend (ok maybe I shouldn’t say that because everything will end up being my favorite). We got to bike along THE BEACH! so if you read my California Bucket List entry, you can rest easy that I got to cross that one off my list! The water wasn’t that cold and I was able to go about a foot out into it! The sand almost sparkled, it was a beautiful site! We biked about 5 miles on the beach and then biked  around the harbor. This area was so much fun to walk around and look at the colorful store fronts. Nathan found a little burger stand that was pretty good! Next we biked all the way to the other side of the bay. Over there they had a giant ship called the Queen Mary that is not a hotel and casino. The 3 hours of biking was beautiful and wonderful!

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That night, Nathan and I attended a pizza party with Debbe Magnusen, 3 other adopted children, and their parents. We were all able to connect through our adoption stories. One of the boy’s names was Nickolas and he was the first Safe Haven baby in California. Safe Haven laws are for mothers who need or want to safely surrender their baby legally at any hospital, police station, fire station, or anywhere that has a safe haven station. Every state now has a safe haven law but they all differ in details (I encourage you to find out what your states regulations are and see if they can still be improved. This is a great law that helps to prevent unsafe abandonments). Debbe said some things that shook me on the inside (in a good way). My case was the worst out of all of the kids there, but she told me that my birthmother had to love me even a little bit, maybe even a lot, because at least she called 911. Yes, she said the wrong information about the cemetery, but that’s where our amazing Lord steps in. My birthmother was also courageous enough to complete the pregnancy. She could have gotten an abortion, but I thank the Lord every day that she didn’t, or else I would not to experience this wonderful life. So for all the Birthmothers out there, Thank you and I appreciate you! Thank you for loving your children and doing the best thing you can for them. If it wasn’t for my birthmother I wouldn’t have the AMAZING mother and father I have today. To all the adopted kids out there, I know how you can feel hatred toward you birthmothers, trust me, its normal. But think about all the opportunities, friends, and family you have because your birthmother was courageous enough to have you. It took me almost 15 years to come to that realization and I found forgiveness for my Birthmother through Christ Jesus. If you are adopted, I would LOVE to talk to you, so please DO NOT hesitate to message me!

Now on to Saturday! Nathan and I woke up and went to the breakfast in the hotel, which was way too expensive. Then we decided to go to the Pacific Ocean Aquarium with Nickolas, his little brother Daniel, and their father. This was a wonderful aquarium and it was great to spend more time with these boys. Nathan and Nickolas both play soccer and were able to bond over that and many other things. Daniel was able to join in the fun too! At the aquarium they had a shark lagoon! That was probably on of my favorite things. My boyfriend, Noah, and I are obsessed with shark week. Actually I think was the first thing we ended up bonding over, I know we are weird but that’s ok! They also had adorable sea otters that were doing flips with little toys. After the aquarium we went to Bubba Gump’s for lunch! This was Nathan and I’s first time eating there. It was so good and enjoyable! This was a great way to celebrate the morning of Nickolas’s 13th birthday.

If the story is not already exciting enough for you, here’s where a famous person comes in. I had a filmed interview with Debbe and JOHN STAMOS! John had never heard my story so Debbe wanted to get his reaction on facebook. John is such a nice man. During my interview he was cracking jokes with me and made it not so stressful. I found out that his Father and I shared a birthday. Then my brother Nathan was asked to do an interview, this was not planned at all but he did a great job and I know that he appreciated this opportunity. The next person to do an interview was a sweet girl named Mariah! She is baby number 100 rescued by Project Cuddle. She is now 16 years old and raises money for Project Cuddle through a motorcycle ride. Mariah and I got to hang out most of the day! She is such an amazing young lady and I am so proud of all she has accomplished!

Next we had a photo shoot with about 15 children who were rescued by Project Cuddle. The oldest was 17 and the youngest was 2 months old (being the oldest at 19, I go to hold this cutie and I cannot wait to get this picture)! There is also a young girl who’s name is Skylar( she spells is “wrong” but i can accept that)! I believe she was 3 or 4 years old and we not only shared a name but a favorite color, PINK! I also got to pose like a diva, which is always fun! PS, if you havnt liked the Project Cuddle facebook page yet, YOU SHOULD! These pictures will soon be up there plus you never know who you can help by knowing this organization!

Now onto tell you about the Dinner at the Bay! This was a fundraiser that I attended for the organization. The theme was the Rat Pack so of course I dressed the theme! It was a formal event too so Nathan looked dashing in his tux. In the VIP room we were able to get formal pictures with John, who of course looked VERY dashing. I also got to hang out more with Mariah and meet a wonderful young lady named Bryn. She was also saved by Project Cuddle and has a closed adoption. Bryn and I had much in common and had a wonderful time together! All of us “Project Cuddle Kids” had a great time running around and having access to everything. We felt so special and I believe it helped us all get to know each other more! Nathan also met a 16 year old Actor named Chad Robert. Chad is an ambassador for Project Cuddle and is an all-around great kid! Nathan and Chad palled around all night and are now great friends.

At the regular event, there were many silent auction ideas that raised so much money to help save many more children! Nathan and I sat at a table with Nickolas and his family (shout out to his grandmother for reading my blog! I appreciated it sooo much!). We had a lovely dinner and great conversations. During the Awards Ceremony, Mariah was presented with the Child Angel of the Year Award because she has stepped up and started fundraising money for the organization that helped her. After dinner, I was invited to the stage by John and Debbe to share my adoption story and testimony. For me, this was my FAVORITE part of the trip. I was able to share my story with 500 people who were making a difference in many lives by donating money. It was powerful to hear their live reactions. Also personally this was a great public speaking experience. Since I want to become a Pastor, I will be speaking to many people each Sunday, and even though I have given many speeches in my life time, I still get nervous every time. Debbe and John both supported me throughout my whole speech and personally I think it was the best speech I have EVER given. I had zero mess-ups and I spoke clearly and slowly (thankfully I didn’t have a time limit, that’s where I always get marked down because I always go over). I got to share with so many people how lucky I am to be where I am today. Sadly 52 children are abandoned in the U.S. daily and many do not survive. I am so blessed by God to have this incredible life. Thanks to Project Cuddle and the Safe Haven Laws, mothers have better options than to leave their children in dumpsters or in cemeteries. Also I had many people come up afterward and tell me that I should become a public speaker. This was incredibly encouraging as I know that this is what God has called me to do. Even my hardest critic (Nathan) told me I did a great job. I am pretty sure I will have a smile on my face for the next month because of this night. When God calls you, HE SURLEY DOES PROVIDE!

I have a BAGILLION thank you’s to say and I know I will forget people, but you know who you are:

Thank you Mom and Dad for being the best parents I could ask for. You support me in so many ways and always care for me! You show me what unconditional love is, and I cannot wait to share that with my children someday.

Thank you to all who donated money for this trip. I was so blessed to receive so much from so many people. You helped make this trip stress-free and AMAZING! I can’t say thank you enough.

Thank you to everyone who kept me in their prayers. This mean so much and I know it helped! I am so blessed to have such loving family and friends in Christ.

Thank you to all of you who sent me text messages, called me, and just checked up on Nathan and I. This was such a great opportunity for both of us and we felt so supported throughout all of it. You all keep encouraging me and that makes this that much easier!

Well now that I have taken up much of our time from you reading this, I should probably go to bed now and give you a break from my life (I had to finish the second half of this in the hotel because it took so long to type out!!!)! Again thank you all for reading my blog and I would to hear from you, my wonderful readers! Message me or email me if you have any questions or if ever you want to talk!

God Bless You All

~Skyler