“Fear will take you places you were never meant to be.” ~ Dr. Barbara Sorrells

Dr. Sorrells is a family friend and her words 4 years ago stick with me today. She spoke those words a couple months before Chris unexpectedly stepped away from a very stable, very loved job and into the unknown of ‘what could be.’ Though the jump was not planned at the time, it proved to be exactly what we didn’t know we needed.

We learned to turn our back to fear and look to the unknown with great anticipation and excitement. Embracing the unknown has almost become a mantra for adventure in our family. It is slowly not just what we do, but who we are.

Chris and I try to take advantage of any and every opportunity to say “Yes!” to the unknown with our kids…for us is more practical and effective to actually do it with them than to tell them it is a great idea with our words.

Last week we received an invitation to go camping with a large group of Chinese families. There are a ton of reasons we could have said “Thank you, but we will pass.”

  • Language barrier
  • Didn’t know where we were going
  • Where, how would we sleep?
  • What would we eat?
  • 100+ strangers and us
  • What would we be doing?
  • Most likely there would be no cell coverage
  • Different languages and culture means moments of being uncomfortable

We were friends with one family and they offered to reserve a cabin for us since getting a tent and gear would be difficult for us. All we knew was we were headed to the mountains to camp with a bunch of people we didn’t know, but we were invited and a gracious invitation is usually a pretty good thing to accept.

Aside from saying “Yes!” to the unknown, in all our travels we have also learned it is pretty much always a good idea to accept an invitation from a local to go somewhere. Go with a local and you go places you could never go or find on your own.

After 4+ hours on a bus, we arrived at the campgrounds….not what I was picturing!

5.17unknown-1The boys immediately joined in a basketball game. Language barriers can be difficult, but thankfully words are only one way to communicate.5.17unknown-25.17unknown-3My oldest daughter and I followed a big group up the mountain to a ropes course. Based on what we could tell no one was paying (I’m really observant and was watching closely for all the cues on this). Using hand motions I asked if we could have a turn. We had so much fun together up there. The next day someone came to gather $$. Had I realized there was a fee, I probably wouldn’t have done it and would have missed out on a great moment with her because I don’t like spending money. Sometimes the language barrier is gift.
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A sweet lady showed us to our cabin. We climbed stairs and she opened the door to a tiny room with one bed. We told her thank you and chalked the small space (for 7 people) up to language barriers. When she left I laughed and told the kids, “Well, we’ll figure it out! It’s part of the adventure.” One boy offered to sleep in the stand-up shower and another said he’d sleep on the dresser. Soon she came back, recognized the mistake and took us to our room – with 2 beds and an incredible view of the valley.

As we began settling in for the night a thunderstorm rolled in and took out the electricity. To the sound of rain, we sat on a covered porch with new friends and listened to stories about what their lives were like growing up in China. That morning I did not wake up thinking I’d be in a valley in China with no electricity and hearing life stories of strangers, who became friends.

I wanted to gather my kids close and whisper, “Guys! This is why we say “Yes!” to the unknown. This. Breath it in. Remember it. Let it sink deep in your bones.”
5.17unknown-85.17unknown-9The next morning the group headed to hike a nearby section of the Great Wall. I mean, of course, we were going to hike the Great Wall. Totally normal on a camping trip, right?!5.17unknown-10The pic below shows the view from our porch (Great Wall in the distance) and the view of our cabin from that spot on the Great Wall. We walked/hiked/climbed that entire distance. It was awesome!5.17unknown-12Find the dancing girl on the wall…5.17unknown-145.17unknown-155.17unknown-16We don’t do normal very well…
5.17unknown-17(right pic) Her face when I was trying to explain where our cabin was at…she makes this face at least once a day to me. “Huh?”5.17unknown-18When you ask a 7 year old to take a picture of you. I kinda love it though.5.17unknown-20All my people on the Great Wall. As we walked along the Wall, I saw this tower in the distance and thought it would make a cool shot to show off the size of part of the wall. I had Chris and the kids go on and I stayed back to get a photo of them. Maybe one day I’ll own a drone and can join them in these kinds of shots.

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When we returned to our apartment, we did gather the kids. We talked about the weekend. I had them each list their top 3 things from the weekend and then asked them if they knew they were going to do those things when we said “Yes” to the trip. Of course, nothing they listed was something they knew ahead of time.

We reminded them that life as a Christian involves a lot of saying “Yes!” to the unknown, too. Goodness, I want them to know that a life lived with Jesus has a lot of unknowns, but on the other side of their “Yes!” is more adventure than their mind can conceive.

Sure, they will get hurt and scarred up, but sometimes the risk is worth it. A life guided by hope instead of fear is worth any bumps and bruises on the way.

Fear can be a relentless thief often joined by partners Doubt and Worry. Together they keep people going through the motions of life, unaware of what could be. I hope my kids see in Chris and I that we weren’t afraid to take risks and say, “Yes!”

They have a front row seat to when we fail and how the risk sometimes hurts, but more often they see us laughing at how good the unknown turned out to be. I hope will all our “Yes!” answers they learn to crush their own fears, doubts and worries. If they do, we’ll be a soft place for them to land when they fall and the first to laugh with them with the unknown is far better than they imagined.

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  • Shana - Your family is creating amazing memories and thank you for bringing us along on the journey with you!!

  • Cara - Wonderful, wonderful post!

  • Heather - I love reading about this amazing adventure that you and your family are on! So inspiring!

  • Debbie C - This is awesome and what we all need to hear. Thank you.

  • Steffany - Beautiful, just beautiful! Memories and views they will cherish their entire lives…you too!

  • dawny dee - OH. MY. GOODNESS
    The look on their faces in the last picture. Those kids, your kids, are destined to make the world a better place.

  • Arlene - What a thoughtful, thought-provoking post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Libby Stephens - Beautiful story. What wonderfully things God has for us when we let go. I did not move to China, but we did move this past February. We moved from a place I truly loved to a place that is unknown to me. We moved to the mountains. I have had trouble with the distance from everything and the isolation. Yesterday my husband and I took a walk on one of the 5 trails in our new mountain neighborhood. I was glorious- deer, wild flowers, old bridges. With this walk/hike I realized that this new home is going to be magical – I just need to give it a chance. God has it under control. Blessings.

  • Kim - So well written! Thank you for sharing! What great memories being made!

  • Judy - So beyond great!

  • John Smith - You have very lovely kids. They look so amazing and seem to be enjoying every single moment that you spend with them.

    You’re playing your role as a parent in their lives with a great passion. It can be seen in the pictures.

  • Crystal - I love watching this adventure you guys took your family on. I have three small girls and am watching with wonder and amazement. You inspire me to want to say “Yes!” more. I want my girls to see the world and not just stay in one little corner of it out of fear. Thanks for sharing.

  • Katie B. - Yes! I live how you don’t just accept the unknown, you strive to embrace it and thrive while experiencing it. Fantastic family!

  • Links Worth Sharing: Week of June 10, 2017 - - […] Saying Yes to the Unknown […]

There is a Chick-Fil-A about 1.5 miles from our house. Not once have we walked there. We usually jump in the car to go grab a chicken sandwich. Over the past month, we have averaged walking 6 miles a day. For a bunch of Okies that don’t have easy access to public transportation and usually drive everywhere – it has been such a fun change of pace. I told the kids when we get home, we should walk to Chick-Fil-A. They were shocked to hear that they walk much further every day.

99.9% of the time the kids have had an incredible attitude about it. For the most part they are soaking it up too. There have been a couple days in the high 90s and low 100s that we all weren’t loving it too much!

With the shortest legs in the family, our youngest has the most work to do to keep up with the rest of us. She rarely asks to be carried, but she does have her hard days and moments.

Somedays she just acts like the way the rest of us feel.

Sometimes you just can’t go any further and you decide you crawl…up the Great Wall.

5.17tiredclimber-15.17tiredclimber-2She was just being goofy with the crawling, but by the time we made it back down the road and began a walk back to our cabin (more about that later this week), she was done. The only problem was we had at least another mile and a half to go.
5.17tiredclimber-3I handed my camera off to my older daughter, who on her own took this photo. It will be one of those memories I’ll treasure even though it was so hard at the time. I offered to carry my youngest for “just a bit.”5.17tiredclimber-4When she saw her big sister with my camera, she asked to take a picture. Lightbulb moment. I pulled out my phone and my two tired daughters made it back the remaining mile snapping pictures along the road. The walk took us much longer (the boys made it back 20 minutes before we did), but they made it with smiles on their faces.5.17tiredclimber-55.17tiredclimber-6When it comes to walking, hiking, and climbing with little ones we try to be as creative and as distracting as possible. We play lots of games (make them up as we go), let the kids lead, eat lots of snacks, drink lots of water, and find ways to keep their little feet moving…even if it is a slow pace.

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  • Grace G. - Great idea. We are avid hikers with a 4 and 6 year old. We end up playing a lot of games on our hikes (i.e. naming all the animals we can think of, using the alphabet to name all the fruit), but I will definitely consider this in the future!

  • Laura J - Awesome photo Firecracker!

  • Byron - 🙂

  • Nicolet - We usually do this to, give my camera to our son. He likes taking the photo’s and my husbands keeps his camera and takes pictures om him 🙂

A photo. A video. A story. An interaction. Many of us can trace pivotal decisions in our lives back to a key moment. In the area of adoption and foster care, it is often a photo or a story that a family can point to and say, “That changed everything.”

Before I get into common questions I’ve been asked about New Day, I want to speak to those that have been moved by a specific child’s photo that you have seen me post.

5.17NewDayFAQ-01After seeing a photo, if you feel your heart drawn to a child or moved towards adoption/foster care in a new way, I would encourage you to continue taking steps towards adoption/foster care even if you are unable to adopt that specific child. Sometimes a photo of a child is what is used to turn our hearts in a new direction. For you, it might actually be that specific child, but for many the photo is just a first step in a beautiful journey.

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5.17NewDayFAQ-02If you find yourself open to adoption or a specific special need that you were not before, do not discount that if the child is not available for adoption. Consider other children. Consider domestic adoption. Domestic foster care. Child sponsorship. Coming alongside a struggling family and helping preserve that family. If you are open to one child with a medical need, consider that there are many more across this globe with the same need that are also waiting for a family. You may never see a beautiful photo of them, but they are waiting.

My daughter was one.

God used a photo of another little one with a cleft lip and palate to turn our hearts towards adoption of a cl/cp kiddo. There was no one advocating for our daughter’s orphanage. No beautiful pictures. No knowledge that she was even a child waiting, but she was waiting. She for us as we were longing for her.

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If you feel something changing in you as you see the photos I post of these kids, don’t push that down or ignore it. Maybe what is ahead for you is foster care, maybe it is adoption of a child with tough medical needs, maybe it is volunteering to be a mentor to older kids in your area, maybe it is welcoming in a teen about to age out of the foster care system, maybe it is the adoption of a child at New Day….don’t let fear keep you from taking steps to figure out what is ahead.

I’ve heard countless adults generations ahead of me say that it is not the things they did that they regret, rather the things they did not do.

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Over the next few weeks I will continue to share about our time at New Day Foster Home and the children that are here. For those unfamiliar with Chinese adoption, foster homes and New Day, I know there are a lot of questions. I hope to answer the most common ones here.

What is New Day?

New Day is a foster home in China that cares for children with serious health issues. Most of the children receive life saving surgeries while at New Day. Local orphanages request New Day’s help in caring for their most vulnerable children. Many of the children live on the New Day campus, others are part of the New Day foster family program. This program is much like foster homes in the US – children live in a home with their foster parents, but come to the New Day campus for school, therapy, check-ups, etc.

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Are all the children at New Day waiting to be adopted?

Yes. A few of the children are already matched with families and are waiting on the adoption process to be finalized. You can see which children are matched on the New Day website (there are * by their pictures). The majority of the children are waiting to be matched with an adoptive family.

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How can I adopt a child from New Day?

New Day does not function as an adoption agency and cannot facilitate adoptions. If you are interested in adopting a child from New Day, you will need to have your adoption agency contact New Day and request information on that child’s file. New Day cannot give any information to individuals about specific children.

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What is child sponsorship?

Child sponsorship provides for the basic care of the child, things like:

  • Food and Clothing
  • Basic Medical Supplies
  • Childcare Supplies
  • Adoption Paperwork Preparation
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Staff and Caregiver’s Salaries (*foreign workers do not receive a salary)
  • Facility Maintenance Costs

Sponsors receive monthly updates on the child and can send the child cards and mail. For more information on what all is involved in child sponsorship, visit the New Day website.

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Can I help provide for a surgery?

Yes! Help covering the costs of surgeries is a huge need at New Day. The children at New Day all have some type of medical need and many need life-saving surgeries. Many need heart and orthopedic surgeries. Several of the children have continued medical needs as well. For instance, Owen (pictured below), who has Thalassemia, needs monthly blood transfusions that cost $400 a month. Any help covering the medical needs of these children is greatly appreciated.

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Can my business be involved?

Yes! Corporate sponsorships make a huge difference at New Day. From covering the cost of surgeries to providing for therapy rooms and equipment, corporate donations allow for the children to thrive in a safe and loving environment. One local business provides birthday cakes each month for the children, another brings in a team to plant flowers to create a beautiful environment for the kids, another funded a remodel of therapy rooms and many others provide for surgeries and basic needs.

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I am sure there are countless more questions. I encourage you to visit the New Day FAQ page for more detailed answers and information on things I did not address (which is a lot!).

Every child – the ones you see on this post, the ones pulled from their home and in your local foster care system, the ones next door, the ones an ocean away – every child deserves to know they are valuable, loved, safe and have a bright future. Sadly, every child does not know that. A bright future is not possible for many children, unless loving adults get involved. As you hug your little ones today, look around your empty nest or long for the laugh of a child in your home – consider those near and far longing to be known and loved and the role you might play in their lives.

Consider it.

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  • Maria - I’ve discussed with my husband that once our own kids are older, teens maybe, we are going to “take in” someone. A foster child, or an exchange student, an au pair – someone that would benefit from having us in their lives, and we from them.

    I read your post with tears in my eyes.

  • Stefanie - Such wisdom. Could not love this more <3

  • Donzel - I am sure that this post took some time to formulate & write and I thank you for your kind & sensitive words. At this point adoption doesn’t seem to be part of our lives, but we do some of the other things you mentioned in the post and have found delightful joy & rewards in knowing that we are doing the good works He designed for us to do. I’ve been praying that your time there would be fruitful in an eternal way, and perhaps God will use your family to bring many people further into the act of loving their neighbor, whether that neighbor is right next or, or across the ocean. Thank you, again, for the pictures and the post.

  • Jane - After 7 failed IVF attempts its finally clear that being pregnant doesn’t matter to me, having a family does. Your post comes at the perfect time for me and my husband as we start the daunting task of starting to find our route to adoption. Thank you as always for your wonderful blog

  • Roxana - Thank you so much for your beautiful, encouraging words. I started looking into New Day a few days ago after having seen your initial posts about it. I’ve been in tears every day. I’ve also been so encouraged by reading about your journey to bring your youngest daughter home. A large part of me longs to adopt a child, especially one with special needs (one of our sons has Down syndrome, so a child with special needs feels less scary than it used to), but part of me is fearful. Plus, our extended family thinks I’m crazy. I know I need to submit these thoughts and feelings to God.

    In the meantime, we just started sponsoring a child in New Day’s care. One of the kiddos in your pics, in fact. We hope and pray that this precious child would would know Christ’s love throughout life.

  • bethanyblntn - thank you for posting about this. I turn 28 tomorrow and you know what I am most excited about? being able to start the adoption process next year! We have wanted to start this journey with Living Hope for so long now and seeing your posts and Instagram about these beautiful children just make it that much more real for me!

  • Katie B. - This is great! We are not personally at a point to physically adopt or foster. But my family have alway been involved in adoption (several cousins, an uncle, a grandfather), foster care (my grandmother fostered four children while raising her NINE biological), and encouraging family/children support, whether through volunteering or donating money or advocating. I love the idea of getting my immediate family involved with sponsorship and having my children learn the way to support all kinds of families.