Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Is Life?

As an aspiring writer, I have to practice my use of words and the English language daily to improve my skill... and just for fun too! One of the ways I do this is through a book that I have that gives me a writing exercise for every day. Today's asked me to answer the question "What is life?" I decided to share it to take a short literary break from the usual blogging tone.

Here follows a short poem I wrote in response:

What Is Life?
Tori Hook

Life is
God's breath
In an early morning breeze,
Scattering dewdrops
Of love and laughter.

Life is
God's tears,
Drumming down into the earth,
Forming tiny imprints,
Where pain can be ignored but not forgotten.

Life is
God's wrath,
Echoing through the skies.
Unable to subdue itself,
It leaves behind a catastrophic trail.

Life is
As long
As a scorching summer day,
As short
As the flicker of a firefly.

Life is
When joy meets tribulation
And no one knows
Who will
Emerge victorious.

Life is
Being given a chance
And making the wrong decision;
Where you learn that
Consequences cannot be bargained away.

Life is
What you choose to make it.
Choose wisely.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Beautiful baby Angela is the child who first started us on our adoption journey again. We honestly thought that we were done after Levi - until we saw her beautiful face. After prayers and discussion, we decided that we would pursue her adoption.

But Kenya's adoption regulations were difficult. We realized that in order to make Angela, who had Down syndrome, a part of our family, it might be necessary to move to Kenya and live them for up to two years.

It seemed daunting at first, but we were determined. She was meant to be with us.

Then Kenya refused to comply with the Hague Adoption Convention, and so it's adoptions to America were closed.

While we were obviously very sad, we knew that if and when adoptions opened again, she would come to be with us.

Without Angela first opening our eyes to another adoption, we would not have pursued Evan. And I would not have a sister.

But Angela is never going to come and live with us. She will never be my sister. Not here anyway.

Angela has gone to live with her Heavenly father. Where she will not be discriminated against for having Down syndrome. Where she will be loved day and night for all eternity by her Daddy.

While I am devastated that I will never have the joy and privilege of knowing and loving her here. I am overjoyed that she is now in Heaven. Where she will be loved and cherished forever.

I pray that God keeps his arms constantly around her, and lets her know that her family who never got to become her family here on earth cannot wait to meet her in Heaven. She is truly an angel.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Without God

Have you ever thought that without God we are everything we despise?

If God is who He says He is than He is the definition of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

Can you imagine being without any God-given qualities? What if you were devoid of love. You had never experienced joy. You were never at peace. You were impatient at all times. There was never a time that you were kind to your neighbors. You were not a good person. You didn't have faith in God, let alone anyone else. You were rough instead of gentle with people. You never exercised self control, but instead lashed out at any and everyone and gave into temptation always.

Everything that makes you glow, that makes you beautiful, that makes you who you are - gone.

See, when we let God take over our lives, God doesn't just give us salvation, He gives us a new self. Our hearts are replaced with God's and we become like puppets.

If we were without God, our lives would be a blank. No purpose and no direction. Searching mindlessly for something to fill us, we would be overcome with sin and the world. We would be destroyed from the inside out. We would live a painful life and go on to live a painful eternity.

But the reality is that we have God. We have a God who loved us in our brokenness and gave us a part of His own heart. So that instead of hating we can love. Instead of being overcome with sadness, we can be overcome with joy. Instead of being anxious, we can be at peace. Instead of demanding immediate answers, we can be patient. Instead of being cruel to those around us, we can be kind. Instead of being inherently bad, we can be inherently good. Instead of relying on ourselves, we can have faith in God. Instead of acting roughly and inconsiderately around others, we can be gentle and graceful. Instead of falling into temptation, we can exercise self control.

But if our heart has been replaced with God's, how come we still hate? How come we're still overcome with sadness? How come we're still anxious? How come we still demand answers? How come we're still cruel, we're still bad, we still rely on ourselves, act inconsiderately, and fall for temptation?

Yes, God replaced our hearts with His, but that heart is still in a body of the world. The heart is the epicenter of the body, it provides the rest with life. But even the heart cannot erase all the effects of a diseased body. Our bodies are diseased, but God's heart is fighting back. But unless we force our worldly bodies to fight with it, it cannot win.

God's heart has replaced yours. The question is: are you willing to fight alongside it to cure the disease of the flesh?

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Life

Life is like a roller coaster. There are magnificent highs and devastating lows.

I feel like I'm at the top of the roller coaster right now. Life couldn't get much better. Evan is home. We're all adjusting nicely.

We've already made so many memories with Evan. It feels like she's been here forever, but at the same time it's hard to believe she's been home for three weeks.

I feel like I'm living in a dream. School is out for summer so I don't have to worry about grades or homework anymore. I watched Disney's Tangled with Evan. I think she's going to like princess movies! We played football in the yard with Evan and Levi. They laughed and laughed and laughed! It's like we're catching up on all the time that she should have been with us.

I leave for China in 24 days. I'm very excited, but I'm also curious to see how it will compare to Peru. I've only ever been one place on a mission trip, so I have nothing to compare it to. I will discover now whether I love Peru, or whether I just love the mission field.

In the midst of all this, though, there are still days when I feel like breaking down because I miss Peru so much. But I don't even think it's the actual country of Peru. It's the friends I've made there. The children I've fallen in love with. The feeling that this is what God has called me to do. I'll hear a certain song or watch a certain video and my heart will feel like it's being ripped in half because I want to go back so bad. I especially miss Carmencita.

But through the goods and bads of life, it goes on. God has seen fit to bless me and my family immensely. Why, I can't say, but He has. And we are so grateful for it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hasta Luego

I remember the exact moment in Peru over Spring Break when I found out we weren't going back to the orphanage.

My breathing stopped. All the sounds around me were muffled and all I could hear was my breathing and my heartbeat. Not going back. I felt water spring in my eyes as I thought about when I left Carmencita. Her crooked little eyes searched mine, and I held her close saying, "Hasta luego."

I was sure that luego would be soon. If not the next day, then three days later.

Not going back. I told Carmencita luego.

I did my best to reach my mattress in the corner of a room before crumpling onto it and sobbing quietly. I always cry silently, or try to at least, so I won't attract attention. I don't like being the one who cries over trivial things.

I'm sure that gallons of tears leaked down my cheeks as I thought about how I was letting down Carmencita. What did this say about her worth to me? To the team? That I didn't consider her worth seeing again. That we wouldn't go to the orphanage just to love them. Oh, no. We could only go to the orphanage if we had a job to get done.

I was angry. Very angry. I felt so hurt, so betrayed. By the leaders of my team. I felt they had manipulated this trip into something it was not intended to be. And I was frustrated that they had taken over when all throughout the process, they had insisted that it was student-led.

I was furious at my other team members. That when given the chance to change the leader's plans, they all agreed not go to the orphanage again. Whether by pressure, or guilt, or what. It didn't matter. I couldn't believe it.

I wrote Carmencita this letter that night:

Dear Carmencita,

I wish I could see you. I wish I could show you how much I love you, and how much God loves you. I wish I could spend every single day getting to know you and serve you. I wish I could wipe away every single tear you cry. I know that spending time with other people is important, but I would so much rather spend time with you. I feel that by spending time with the other groups, I'm saying that they're worth more to me than you. They're not. I love you. I love you as much as I love my mom, my dad, my brothers, my sister. You are my little sister. I would give anything to be able to hold you and love you every day. You mean so much to me, and I am so, so, so sorry that "hasta luego" will be later than we thought. Thinking of you always

Su amiga (that's what she calls me)

Months later, now, I thought that I would have some resolution. That I would look back and feel like not going back to the orphanage had been the right thing. But I don't. I still feel confused. I still feel angry. I still feel like we left something unaccomplished. I thought this would be resolved in me by now, but it's not. I still feel like not going back to the orphanage wasn't right. There hasn't been a magic revelation of how God worked through us not going back.

And I can't decide if it's because I'm holding on to this too hard and I shouldn't, or because not returning to the orphanage was going against God's will. I hope He will provide me with clarity soon, whatever the answer.