God, My Story


Whore. That’s what she called me. I can remember the class I was in at the time. I remember the row of seats I was in. I remember the desk I sat in. And, I remember the look on her face when she turned her head towards me and called me a whore.

Welcome Back to School!…

It’s back to school time! Of course, this year school isn’t quite like it was in the past years due to the pandemic, but the social system probably changed much. The beginning of school is a time to get excited to see friends on a regular basis again. It’s a time to get out the crisp new school supplies and don freshly bought school clothes. That first day back, especially as a high schooler, is full of expectation for the year ahead, but also fraught with worry and anxiety over how we’ll be perceived. It’s an exciting day and also a terrifying one. 

I was no exception to this rule. Being an extrovert, I LOVED seeing so many people on a daily basis. I knew that going to school, especially choir, would get me my quota of hugs for the day! Having so many people surrounding me also gave me the chance to use up most of my words each day and thereby allowed me to give my family a break from what could have been (and sometimes was) constant talking. I really enjoyed the social part of school and the friendships and acquaintances I made there.

Since I was fairly personable, I didn’t really have people that outright didn’t like me. And the inverse was true too, I liked most people. I had the ability to see the good in people and the fun in people. I’d latch onto those things when interacting with them instead of the more negative hangups. This was great because I could easily interface with most people I came into contact with. It also came in handy with my many moves over my childhood. Actually, I bet it was part personality and in part, a learned survival skill! It was a lot easier to make friends when I wasn’t afraid to approach new and different people. 


Well, apparently, not everyone thought well of me, as I alluded to in the opening paragraph. Every girl, I suspect, goes through the struggle of how to dress each day. What does this particular outfit say about me today? If I changed up my usual clothing style what would the reaction be? Would it be too obvious or would it go unnoticed? Do I need to really be concerned about what others think? Is it brave to just do what I want without thinking of how others perceive me? I swear, these thoughts were constant (and sometimes still are) when I was picking out my clothes from day to day. I had my go-to outfits, but one time, I decided to shift the status quo.

That particular day, I wanted to wear a dress. I had seen other girls wear dresses to school and it seemed cute and fun. I didn’t tend to spend a lot of money on clothes, so my selection was slim and not the most up-to-date styles. But one thing I definitely cared about was modesty. I always wanted to wear clothes that were attractive, but not ones that would draw unwanted or negative attention to myself. I didn’t wear deep cut shirts, mid-riffs, or too short pants/skirts. It was really important to me to honor myself and God with my clothing choices.

Me in my dress

Well, the day that I changed it up and wore a dress, I was unprepared for what was about to come my way. I knew I was choosing to wear something a little more dressed up than the usual jeans or khaki’s, but I didn’t expect that it would be noticed by people who weren’t in my inner circle of friends. I liked my dress and I felt good about myself by wearing something a bit ‘fancy’ to a regular ol’ day at school. Sure, I felt a bit tentative about the different look, but it was only for a day. So, I hung out with my friends and we talked about clothes and ate our lunches and went to class.

Chemistry and the Mean Girl…

Class. Yup, it was chemistry class. I don’t remember what happened before, but I do know how I felt afterwards. We came into class, probably talked with friends and got to our seat when the bell rang. Then it happened. What felt like an out-of-nowhere, unprovoked comment came from the girl in the next row a few seats up. She turned to me and called me a whore. I was seriously shocked. “WHAT?!? She couldn’t be talking to me. I’m nowhere near the definition of a whore. What was this all about? Why did she say that? Why was she being mean to me? I don’t even usually talk to her! Why was she saying this to me?”

I was so hurt, confused and ashamed. I don’t remember responding to her. She probably turned around right away and class began. I was left to wonder why this had just happened. Did I do something wrong? Why would anyone call me a whore? I was a devout Christian who regularly attended Sunday church, Sunday school, Wednesday night youth group, and morning Bible study/worship at school. In middle school I made a commitment to stay a virgin until my wedding night. I mean, I attended the True Love Waits conference and signed the card! I lived out this commitment and I thought it was pretty obvious that this was who I was – the good little Christian girl.

My True Love Waits Commitment Card

I could only deduce that my sudden change to dressing a bit fancier that day, which included a skirt that ended slightly above the knee and wearing strappy shoes prompted this uncalled for name calling. As an adult, I could say, ‘Maybe she was jealous. Maybe she was confused. Maybe she was having a bad day.’ But honestly, I really don’t know why she said it.

What I do know is the feelings it brought up in me. Along with being hurt, confused and ashamed, I was also angry and filled with self-doubt. These feelings stuck with me throughout the rest of the day and I’m sure I talked with my Mom about it that evening. There was no rhyme or reason to this mean-spirited speaking. It just was what it was. Luckily, the word ‘whore’ is so far from who I was and who I ever planned to be that I didn’t internalize it. I knew it wasn’t a label that would stick, but the sting of it did.

Do You Know Who You Are?…

You know, high school is a hard place to be. Middle school and elementary school are hard too! Even being out in public and on social media, we run into hard things. We get called names by people who don’t know who we are. We get teased, bullied, and misunderstood on any given day. I guess the question is, ‘Do we know who we are? Do we have an assurance of our identity? Do we know the road we are committed to following? Have we made up our minds to point our life towards something and continue on even when others question it or come against us?’ 

As I reflect on this story from my school days, I can see how my identity as a Christ-follower kept me stable when the winds shifted. I am thankful that as a child and teen, I could make my own choice to follow Jesus and His Word. I chose to be loving, kind, modest and moral. Because I made those choices for myself, when they were brought into question, I knew where I stood. I knew that wearing a dress and having someone call me a whore didn’t mean that I was heading down some dark life path. The word spoken to me didn’t overtake me. And this feels important to repeat.

The word spoken over me – ‘whore’ – didn’t overtake me. When I could have drowned in the misery of someone thinking so lowly of me, I knew where I stood. I knew the choice that I had made. I was a committed daughter of God and virgin for my future husband. When I could have worried that there was one person out there that didn’t think highly of me, I knew who did. Not only had God given me so many friends, happy acquaintances and good family around me, but I knew how God thought of me. I was His special creation, a masterpiece made to be just how I was and He was proud of me. He loved me. 

Do Your Friends Know Who You Are?…

You know, l knew that God didn’t think of me as a whore and I knew that my family didn’t think of me like that either. But, what about friends? Those are pretty important and special people in the lives of teens. At least, I thought so. For me, when I approached my friends with this story, they stood next to me and encouraged me. They knew that wasn’t who I was and they could reaffirm me when I was down and hurting. 

I’m so thankful that God gives us so many different types of relationships. We always need Him. But sometimes we need family and friends too. Even other times it’s enough to have a friendly acquaintance or the person passing by me at the store give some sort of positive affirmation of the person I am. These interactions help me remember who I am. And when I know who I am, I can walk forward with my head held high with quiet confidence that I am the person I am meant to be.

You know, perhaps the most surprising thing to tie this all together is a note I received from one of my friends (who didn’t have the same value for purity) towards the end of our high school career. It said,

I have always respected you as a classmate and a good friend, but one thing stands out that I really respect. I have always looked up to you for this fact, … you still have your virginity and your morals. … Your morals are pretty much exactly the same as when I first met you. I will even admit that you had a great impact on my life in more ways than one. And I would just like to say, thank you’

Labels. They impact us, but we get to choose which ones stick. We are in the driver’s seat of our lives, not our friends, not our family, not the random mean kids at school. We are. We make the choices that last. We choose our paths. When we know the power of choice, we realize how very special and important this is. We can let life happen to us, or we can choose the way we want life to happen. I’m so thankful for the mentors in my life who encouraged me to make choices that lasted. They truly empowered me to take control of my life and steer it where I wanted it to go. I knew my destination – virgin on my wedding day, and I wasn’t getting off of that road for anything!

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Adoption, God, My Story

Adoption Update: Early August 2020 – Meeting #2

I know it was our decision, but it’s still hard sometimes.

It was Tuesday afternoon and I got a text from our adoption agency caseworker. She wanted to talk with us about a potential adoption match! I called her as soon as I could. The first question that comes in my mind is, “Could this be it?!?” I was eager to find out more about this baby.


I called our caseworker and after a short time I knew all the stats about the baby and birth parents, the reason why they were making an adoption plan and the timeline for having our first meeting. I was completely overwhelmed. I wasn’t feeling my best physically, I was already stressed about other life decisions, AND there were a few things that were uncertain about this particular match.

At the time, my husband was out of town and so, I had to wait to discuss this all with him. But after patiently waiting, we were able to connect by phone. We had a few more questions about this particular match and texted some initial questions to our caseworker. The next morning, Putty took over the discussions with her while I was working. Teamwork for the win! After going over a few more things and getting better clarity, we decided to go ahead and meet with them!

To my delight, the birth parents needed to postpone the meeting until the following week. This gave me plenty of time to wrap my mind around what was coming next and took off some of the pressure I felt at first. We still weren’t 100% sure if we felt like this would be our match or not, but we did know that we were supposed to move forward with meeting them. 

Neutral Feelings…

As we went through the week and shared with a few people about what was to come, we got some feedback that was less than positive. I felt disappointed by that. It seems that some people were having a feeling of caution and warning inside for us. I didn’t really like hearing this. After all, I am ready for our next baby! But, when I asked what were some reasons for caution, I had to admit that those same thoughts went through my mind. I mean, I quickly dismissed them and tried to focus only on the positive, but I knew that I needed to weigh all this very carefully.

After a week of waiting to meet the birth family, I expected that I’d be MORE than ready to meet them. I expected to be anxious and excited, but the morning of our meeting, I was mostly not even thinking about it. I had to work that morning and so that kept my mind focused, but even as the hours approached to have our meeting, I was feeling very neutral about the whole thing. This is actually representative of what I had been feeling the entire week about this particular potential match situation. That felt odd.

So, as we prepared to meet with the birth parents over video, Putty and I prayed that God would give us very good discernment during the meeting and make it much more clear to us about whether or not we should move forward with this birth family. Of course, the first step is completely up to the birth parents. They are the ones who choose between us and in this case, the other potential family. But, we wanted to be ready to accept this match if they chose us.


The meeting began. We interfaced mostly with the birth father who was pretty outgoing. The birth mother was a bit more shy and so we heard from her now and then, but not as much. The adoption caseworker was there too and she helped move things along when the conversation died down. Then it was time to be done and we ended the video call.

Putty and I looked at each other. We seemed to silently ask each other, ‘What did you think?’ So, we talked about how we felt and ultimately… we didn’t feel that we had any more clarity about this situation than we had before! Another round of disappointment and confusion. I really wanted and hoped that seeing these parents and talking with them would give us the answer we were looking for – an easy decision. Nope, it wasn’t going to be that way.

As you can imagine, we had more conversations with more people about how the call went, how we were feeling about the situation, and when we’d know more. Not only was it hard for me not to know the answer, but I couldn’t even articulate to our friends and family if we wanted them to be excited and hopeful with us, or remain cautious and ready to disconnect. It was so weird!

Further Clarity

That evening, as we continued to contemplate, we realized something. Maybe God wasn’t going to tell us, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for this particular child. Maybe it could work either way and God was okay with that. Maybe God was as neutral about this situation as my feelings were. But in our hearts we wanted God to be totally making it clear who would be our next child(ren). We don’t want to just say, ‘Yes’ because we can. As Putty said, ‘We didn’t want to pick our own spouses, we wanted God to do that. Why would we want anything less for the children in our family? We want God to pick our kids.‘ We really want to know that God has brought us our next child(ren) and not leave it up to natural reasoning. We want to be excited and know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that this is our child.

So, we made a choice. Even with a possible resolution to our adoption dream just in front of us, we made the hard choice to withdraw our names from consideration for this child. I think our caseworker was a bit shocked. How many prospective adoptive parents say ‘No’ to an adoption placement at this stage? I don’t really know. But just as quickly as she was sad for us, she was suddenly overcome with tearful joy for the other family! She knew that their dreams were about to be fulfilled and this was good. It was so precious to hear her emotions of joy for this other family. I knew that our ‘No’ meant ‘Yes’ for someone else! That’s really cool to think about.

The following morning, the morning that the birth parents were supposed to make their decision, I found myself thinking about how the other family would be feeling. They have been waiting for an adoption match too and they were going to find out that they got it! I smiled, inwardly happy for this other couple and the future in front of them.

Still Processing…

Even now, I am still happy for this other couple, but I find myself feeling sad. It’s a lot to process and luckily, writing helps with that. I’m sad that we felt we had to pass on this baby. I’m sad that I don’t know when the next opportunity for adoption will present itself. I’m frustrated that I have to wait again – even though it was our decision. I fear that I missed out on something. I worry that I won’t have another chance. As I catch myself descending into these negative thoughts, I must stop and remember the truth.

God is on our side. We have asked him to write our story and we trust him fully with the details. We aren’t sitting lazily by just waiting around for our life to get moving. No, we are still praying, learning, and preparing for when we get to meet our next child! We are not missing out. There will be another chance. I am waiting again, but I wait with hope and expectation. In the waiting He will lift us up and be our strength and peace. This is good news! This is good truth to hold onto.

A friend sent me this song recently and as I write the ending of this post, I can tell this is very fitting for the place we find ourselves in at this moment.

“We Rise” by Cageless Birds & Jonathan David Helser

We rise by bowing
We live by dying
When we give what we could never keep
We gain what we will never lose

Like beauty from ashes
And joy from mourning
Only You can take brokenness
And make it something beautiful

From glory to glory
You tell our story
We will overcome
We’ll walk on the water
With our eyes on the Father
Nothing is impossible

Rest is our weapon
Joy is our strength
We wait upon the Lord and find
Strength to spread our wings and fly

(If you know someone who would find this story helpful or encouraging, please feel free to share it! Thanks for reading my post!)

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Bible, God, My Story

Immediately on the Shore

Have you ever noticed the surprising verse of John 6:21 before? I hadn’t. Right now, I am reading through the Bible chronologically and that means that I sometimes get to read the same story three of four times in a row! Well, recently I was reading about Jesus walking on the water towards his disciples in the midst of rough waters and strong winds. The book of Matthew, Mark and John recount this story.

So, the story in a nutshell is: 1) Jesus sends his disciples to cross the sea without him while he finishes up with the crowds. 2) Jesus goes up on a mountain and prays on his own. 3) The wind picks up on the lake, but Jesus isn’t bothered by that and heads out to sea (on top of the water) to meet up with the boat. 4) The disciples see Jesus and think he’s a ghost! They are afraid. 5) Jesus tells them not to be afraid and they recognize him and the wind dies down. 6) According to Matthew only, in the midst of this Jesus invites Peter to come to him on the water. Peter does. Peter gets afraid. Peter starts to sink and immediately, Jesus reaches out his hand to save him. 7) John 6:21 gives one more very interesting part to the story…

Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

John 6:21 (ESV)

When I read this, I had to take a double, maybe triple read through it. Did it just say that they immediately reached the shore where they were heading? Like, immediately, immediately? Well, I’m not going to propose that I’m a studied theologian or make a doctrine out of what I’m about to say, BUT God brought something to mind and I just had to share it with you!

Before I went too far into the analogy that God was forming in my mind, I wanted to look up the word ‘immediately’ in the Greek to be sure that I understood it’s meaning. The word is eutheos and means directly, at once or soon, forthwith, immediately, shortly, and straightaway. When I compared multiple translations of this verse, most of them used immediately, and many others used straightaway, or at once. So, I feel comfortable assuming the translation is ‘immediately.’ Well, if that’s so, then are we saying that the boat went from 3-4 miles out to sea (probably from the Sea of Tiberias) and then was all of a sudden (immediately) at the opposite shore? (They were heading to Capernaum and it’s a more than 6 miles trip by boat!)  It really got me thinking about the miracle of a boat, disciples and Jesus instantly going from where they were to be at the place they were going, skipping the rest of the travel in-between. Fascinating!

But what does that have to do with the analogy that God was showing me? Because I read it so many times, a different part of the story ended up standing out to me and that was the beginning of God’s gentle speaking to my heart.

Then they were glad to take him into the boat”  The book of John addresses the heart posture of the disciples in this moment. They were GLAD to take Jesus into their boat! Let’s look further into what their day had been like leading up to all this because I think it would have been hard to be ‘glad’. 

What a Day!…

So, we know that Jesus had been going about healing sick people during the day and that he and his disciples left at some point to presumably be on their own. However that didn’t work. As they were sitting together, they saw that the crowd of people had followed them! Instead of ignoring them or sending them away, Jesus took care of their present need – food. He had his disciples gather all the available food from the crowd (5 loaves of bread and 2 fish) and then he blessed it and sent them to distribute the food to 5000+ people! The amazing thing is that it worked! All were fed and they even had tons of food left over! 

5,000 people! (reddit.com)

After this, Jesus went away to be on his own and when he was finished, he returned to his disciples. It was evening by this point and he sent them over the sea to Capernaum without him. As they made their way across the sea, the weather changed and they found themselves rowing against rough waters and strong winds. Then they see something coming walking towards them ON THE WATER! They were afraid, but when Jesus spoke, “It is I; do not be afraid,” they realized it was him and felt better. They gladly took him into their boat and then immediately they were on the shore! Phew! What a day!

Emotional Roller Coaster…

Can you imagine how the disciples must have felt after a day like that? It sounds like it was a day full of excitement with miracles abounding and mixed with tons of uncertainty. I mean, how did they feel when they saw the crowd following them? Did they get a sinking feeling in their stomachs? What about when Jesus asked them to distribute the meager amount of food? I can imagine they might have felt embarrassed, and been full of disbelief, uncertainty, and frustration! That was probably quickly followed by awe and relief when the miracle of multiplication happened! What a rollercoaster of emotions in just that one gathering!

Or what about when Jesus sent them across the sea without him and the going got tough? Again, human feelings of tiredness, uncertainty, fear, and doubt probably crept in. They might have been complaining that Jesus wasn’t doing this hard work with them. They might have been coming up with their own ideas for why Jesus didn’t come along with them in the boat. They might have been questioning if they heard Jesus correctly, because the way sure wasn’t easy! 

But then they saw something on the water! I bet fear added to their already physically tired feelings of rowing with strong winds. Then Jesus speaks what he always says to his friends during uncertain situations, ‘It is I; do not be afraid!’ RELIEF! They knew that voice. They see their Teacher! ‘Then they were glad to take him into the boat and immediately they were at the land to which they were going.’ They weren’t alone anymore. They were suddenly done with the choppy seas. They got to their destination, safely and quickly! In a non-literal way, this story feels like a parable for our own lives!

Obeying the Voice of God

There are times when Jesus sends us out or calls us to obey him in seasons when we’re already overwhelmed, uncertain, tired, and spent or even cranky. God says, ‘Go there.’ ‘Do this.’ and we have a choice. We can say, ‘Nah, we’ll just wait here on this shore,’ until Jesus is practically the one pushing the boat out to sea or we can obey and take the risk that we heard him correctly even if we’re not sure why it feels like we’re alone at times. 

I think it’s important for me to take a moment to say that Jesus ‘never leaves us nor forsakes us.’ But in our feelings, we can often assume we’re heading out alone or that he somehow disappeared in the middle of our obedience. When our hearts don’t see him anymore and our circumstances change and get tough, it can cause us to question if we heard Jesus correctly. We could just give up and let the figurative wind and waves crash into us again and again. We could just wait and give up and have life happen to us while we wait for our rescuer.

However, I propose a different option. What if we continue to move forward in the direction that God gave us? We will have to be powerful and full of faith, but we will be continuing on course. It does require much strength to push through the ‘winds of life’ and we might find ourselves with a lot of worry and doubt, but… and this is what we need to be looking for… Jesus comes. When we’re in the midst of obedience to God and our circumstances change, we need to look for Jesus. When we see him, our faith rises. When we see him our hearts are lightened. We are reassured. We might even be more excited than when we started, but so much hinges on our attitude. 

Will we gladly take Jesus into our boat? Will we put aside the hurt and frustration of the moment, to fully accept him into our situation, even if we feel like he’s the one who ‘got us into this situation in the first place’? Will we trust again? Will we gladly take Jesus into our boat? I hope I will! I hope we all will and that we’ll see our circumstances immediately change. I hope we’ll see our perspectives shift to a focus on him and that everything around fades away and we land where he first sent us. When we openly partner with Jesus, anything is possible. 

What will we do?

So, how about you? Are you in the midst of obeying God right now but it feels like everything’s turned upside down? Does it seem like Jesus isn’t with you in your present moment? What will you do? Will you passively wait until Jesus ‘shows up’ or will you continue on with action to the destination that you were sent by Jesus? When you see him again in your present moment, will you gladly take him into your boat? 

It seems like it’s worth a try at least! I pray that Jesus is with you wherever you go and that you experience him always by your side. But, if you’re at a place where it’s hard to see him, I pray that he comes to you ‘on the water’ and your heart, mind and spirit are buoyed up! I pray that you will gladly take him into your boat and immediately be at your shore.