As we approach the first few weeks of 2015, I’m still thinking back to 2014.  Accessing what went well, what went wrong, the set backs and celebrations.  I’m looking forward to 2015, and remembering all that God did the 365 days of 2014.  Our word/theme for 2014 was “living alive“. I wrote in a blog post last January,

“I want to live alive this year.  I want to be completely and utterly exhausted at the end of the year.  Not in a way that I didin’t take care of myself, or didn’t make time for rest: because I want that too.  What I mean is I want to LIVE ALIVE.  I want to take risks, I want to go “all in”, I want to DO things even when I’m tired and would rather lay on the couch and watch TV.   I want to take the chance.  I want to dream my big dreams out loud and think deep thoughts.  I want to go to the places that make me feel ALIVE, and FREE and allow me to think and dream.  I want to live brave.  2014 is not the year for excuses, but for living alive.

For me, living alive also means being who I really am, and being confident in my identiy as a daughter of christ.  I don’t want to be who or what the world says but what Christ says: I want to live unapologetically to who HE made me to be.

I want to be able to look back at the end of 2014, and see a life that was truly LIVED.” 

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I can say, y’all.  we totally lived alive last year.  It was the year to throw out the planner, and do things ON THE FLY!  We had the time of our lives in 2014.  Two trips to Africa for me, one for my man, a last minute 17 day road trip, two last minute disney trips…and we had to finish the year with a last minute trip to the mountains.  I lived brave and bold in 2014, dreaming dreams that came to fruition and doing it afraid most of the time.  Not to mention the everyday #livingalive2014 moments [that we documented on instagram with that hashtag].  It’s amazing looking back at 2014 and seeing this word of ours come to life.

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Moving into 2015 I’ve been praying a lot about what the word/theme will be and God keeps revealing to me the word RECEIVE.  It seems like a selfish or odd word, but what I hear him saying is receive all I have for you.  Receive mercy, receive grace, receive my love.  I think so for so long I’ve believed God was ABLE to do crazy things like heal my body, but I haven’t believed truly in my heart He would do it for ME.  Cue all the lies: I’m not good enough, he doesn’t love me that much, I haven’t earned it, and the list goes on…. I’m still unpacking this, and will be writing more about it on the Carry Camp blog later this month – but for now I’ll just document this saying I believe this year is the year to RECEIVE all God has for me [and my people].  Because He loves me [us!].

I love my instagram community, if y’all aren’t on IG what are you waiting for?  and if you are, come say hi!  @wynneelder we’ve been sharing our words for the year this weekend and it makes me so happy to connect with y’all!

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what’s your WORD or theme for the year?  do share!

  • Sarah Goldstein Roney - My theme for this year is to live in the Sacred Light of Christ. In the year to come there are many things that tempt me to be fearful. But instead of choosing fear or anxiety, I want to rest in His light, His holiness and His hope. Sacred Light is a theme that I feel I need to study more and choose to base my year on. I love your word as well Wynne!ReplyCancel

  • Kailey Birkeland - HOPE! In the unseen and the seen…. I want it to have nothing to do with changing circumstances! My HOPE is in Him alone!ReplyCancel

  • Valerie Brown - FaithReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Hi, I discovered you when I did an image search on Google for the word “receive” which is the word God spoke to me as my one word for 2015. Honestly, I was pretty surprised since I had chosen “fearless” and then changed it to “change”. But…God has something different in mind and I’m all ears! I’m so excited to see someone else with this word as I’ve seen it nowhere else. I thought I was a tribe of 1! :) It’s nice to meet you. I’ll be checking back.ReplyCancel

WHY

As we approach the new year, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions.  Dreaming, planning, goal setting, and trying to decide where it is the Lord wants me to focus my time, energy and creativity next year.

I’ve found it very helpful to ask the simple question…WHY.

I was perusing twitter this week and Mary DeMuth had some great blogging advice: “Pray first, don’t just blog because you’re supposed to.  There needs to be a compelling why”.

While I was compiling my look back at 2014 list, I was reminded WHY I love blogging so much.

First, I absolutely love to document and share our story.  I think it’s so easy to get caught up with how many people are reading, or commenting, but the truth is- even if no one reads, I will ALWAYS have these words.  My KIDS will always have these words!  Do you know what I’d give to read my mom’s journals from when I was a kid?  To know what they were going through, what struggles and joys they had.  To read in chronological order what their year looked like?

Our pictures and words tell the story of our family for generations to come.

That’s not my only why – but as I’m sitting up in the mountains with my family this week I realize that even if it’s just for them – it’s worth it.

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It’s hard to believe that I started this  a blog almost 7 years ago as I way to keep friends and family in the loop after we moved from central Texas.  Though I’ve always been a journaler, I never considered myself a writer.  I didn’t even share links online with anyone for years!  That changed when we started our adoption process and the blog became Elder Adventurers”.  All of a sudden I realized there was a huge community of people out on the world wide web I could connect with.  I started to connect with other families that were adopting, and since at the time I had no real life friends who were adopting, this was super important for me.

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My sweet Lauren was one of my very first “blog friends”.  Here we are 4+ years later, having been together when they met their girl in Ethiopia, having spent a weekend together every year at created for care, and now starting a ministry together!  I never would have thought this could be my reality.  Blogging through our adoption was what really started to grow this community and connect me to likeminded people around the world.

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I will never forget my dear Chloe throwing down a challenge to me right before the kids came home – she asked me what I was going to do with this space once I was knee deep in life as a stay at home mom It was through that challenge that my “anybody” series was born.  And another huge WHY of my blog is getting a chance to share others stories!  To encourage and inspire you to live a great story.  To introduce you to missionaries, and adoptive families, and organizations that are truly changing the world.  I hope this space broadens your world view and gets you thinking about the story you could be living.

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I’m extremely humbled that my blog this year allowed me to travel to Uganda + Rwanda to advocate for organizations and ministries that I absolutely love!  I am forever grateful for Sole Hope, Noonday Collection, and International Justice Mission for allowing me to bring YOU [my readers!] along with me across the world.  To bring you stories of hope, and empowerment, and justice.  To again, show you that this world is so much bigger and opportunities to love and serve are endless.  You can find those stories here: #bloghope #styleforjustice 

and lastly, I blog because I love to write.

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Writing is free therapy.  Writing is how I put words to what’s going on inside my heart and mind.  Writing is how I preserve memories, tell stories, and express feelings.  Writing is my art.  Writing is what I would do if I had an hour all to myself on a Saturday.

I want to remind myself of WHY I keep this space going, year after year.  

  • document and share our families story
  • connect with likeminded people around the world
  • share others stories + broaden my readers worldview
  • avenue to advocate for organizations and ministries i love
  • an opportunity to write

I want to challenge you….that thing YOU do?  

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feel free to share in the comments!

  • Molly - Hey Wynne! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and this challenge! I have been asking myself the same question and it has caused me to take some time away from blogging and let God show me what He wants me to do with S&W and find out what my “why” is….beyond, I’m a blogger this is what I’m “Supposed to do”…. thanks for letting me know once again that I’m not alone and for being real with us!ReplyCancel

    • Wynne - molly, you are so welcome! you are not alone my friend! can’t wait to see what god reveals for your blog – you are always inspiring!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Casper - love you!!! SO grateful for our friendship… all started through blogging! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Allison Ramsing - Thank you so much for sharing your story. Such an important thing to remember WHY we truly blog. Hope you have a marvelous day!ReplyCancel

  • erika - I love this and I think “why” is such a good question to ask ourselves, no matter what we do!
    love to you, friend.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Herdina - My “why” is because if given the opportunity to share a beacon of light to even ONE person, then I know I’m walking the right path. God has written my story to relate, but maybe even impact another person going through the same thing. And in the end, it gives me Hope and keeps me going… Whether through blogging, or stepping out on a faith adventure, or simply being present with one another, the Why I Do what I do is to Shine light….ReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ AmateurNester - My WHY is because I hope that my infertility story helps other women feel less alone. My other WHY is because writing helps me process it and is cheaper than therapy!ReplyCancel

  • Kailey Birkeland - I love telling my story of how Jesus called us to adoption thought not-so-fun circumstances, but then out of it comes this beautiful story of restoration, adoption, and love!!! Two families becoming one!! I also LOVE the adoption and infertility community in blog world. I have made friendships I believe will last forever. I AM SO GRATEFUL!!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Danielle Flores - Because I have a passion in my heart so strong to share my testimony with other women and encourage them. God has allowed me to fall and stumble and fall so many times while I was still searching for happiness everywhere but with Him, and now I desire to be a voice in the wilderness for His glory! I write for Him. I raise these children for Him. i serve my husband for Him. xoxoReplyCancel

2014 was quite the year.

a year marked by both seasons of opportunity and preparation.

a year of truly #livingalive.

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we rung in 2014 in one of my most favorite places on earth – the cayman islands, on the beach.  I don’t know how a year could start any better than spending down time with your family on the water.

a few weeks later, I was surprised at our annual Noonday Ambassador conference with the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Rwanda with a group of incredible story tellers representing my beloved Noonday, and soon to be beloved IJM.  #styleforjustice 

camp + asher turned 2 and we celebrated micky + minnie style on a perfect surprise “spring” Valentines day.  such a sweet day to gather with our people.

after an amazing refreshing weekend at my adoptive moms [Created for Care] retreat outside Atlanta, I walked into another incredible opportunity to lead an excitingly talented group of 9 women to Jinja, Uganda on my very first “blogger” trip with Sole Hope. #bloghope 

almost immediately after getting my feet back on US soil, I road tripped to Dallas to share my “story of the unexpected” with a group of women at the first annual Hope Spoken conference.

if I wasn’t already completely exhausted enough,  I went straight into our first IVF cycle and spent a month tearing up I-35 between Waco and Austin away from home + my husband.

Easter Sunday ushered in a new decade for me, and also was the day we transferred and implanted one of our precious embryos.  I was certain just like Easter represents, that new life would be resurrected in my body and we would be celebrating new life in my womb.

my 30th birthday was sweet with surprises from my friends!  A surprise party pulled off by my Midland people, and an incredible video with messages from friends all over made my man.  I felt so loved and known.

a week or so after my birthday, we mourned the loss of what could have been with our IVF cycle.   no pregnancy meant no new life forming inside me.

like we do, we turned our disappointment into dreaming and spent one night over dinner planning my 3k mile road trip across the country we called #WACtour 

June meant Stephen went to Djubuti + Ethiopia and no week before an Africa trip would be complete without a family road trip across a few states to take kids to Disney for the first time.  After a family friend wedding in NC, we sent him on his way and me + kids started our tour of the south visiting friends in 5 states in 11 days. an truly incredible trip filled with connection.

July brought on my dream trip with IJM + Noonday to Rwanda.  I praised God that I still got to go on this trip [sans pregnancy] and ate up every bit of wisdom I could glean from the women I got to travel with.

two back to back trips to Africa made my entire year in itself.  

in Rwanda God started to impress on my heart that the time was now for ministering to women also going through the infertility struggle.  during a prayer session at IJM, I knew that we were to “carry” each others burdens.  and in August The Carry Camp was born!

September brought new excitement as we began to believe that God was indeed [like I thought 6 months prior] calling us to be apart of a new church forming in Bryan, Texas.  step by step we walked through the doors that lead us to visit 6 times from October-December to look for homes.

In October, I decided to write everyday for 31 days!  It was fun, exhausting, and a good challenge.  almost 31 days of voice memos in a series I called note to self.    #write31days

we wouldn’t be truly #livingalive if we didn’t book and plan a last minute trip to Disney with the kids the week before Thanksgiving.  it truly is the most magical place on earth.  we celebrated the financial freedom that 2014 brought.  #elderdisneydream

right before Christmas we closed on our dream house [built in 1941] in my most favorite neighborhood in Bryan.  charming and cozy, it’s the perfect place for our family.

I knew the fall would be quieter, and I was to stay home most weekends and skip on amazing opportunities to gather with women at conferences and retreats around the country and now I know why!  Our upcoming move from Midland is reason enough – this season God has us in, has been one of preparation.  and I don’t want to miss a single second of it.  I want to walk boldly and confidently into the next season of opportunity and obedience that He has for us.

I have no idea what he’s going to do in 2015 – I know He’s moving, and we are saying YES one step at a time. so now we just wait and trust.

 

Happy New Year everyone! 

  • Caroline - What a fabulous year you had!!!! So many good things happened! Happy NYE – Cheers to 2015!!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Chilton - WHAT A YEAR! I’m just excited that the LORD has called you to Bryan, TX and that I get to do 2015 with you! Then I can see all the things the Lord has for you with my eyes instead of reading it! Love you friend! HURRY. UP. AND. GET. HERE.ReplyCancel

  • what’s your WHY? - […] I was compiling my look back at 2014 list, I was reminded WHY I love blogging so […]ReplyCancel

I know it was a day well lived if at the end of it, all I want to do is write. 

do you ever have those days?  what’s your “thing” you do to celebrate a day well lived?

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our morning started with my best girls + their babies around the christmas tree sipping coffee [and mimosas…don’t tell] and cuddling babies.  then listening to my kids [or one of my kids] sing jingle bells at their christmas program.  and finally ending the night at starbucks for a couple of hours with a good friend…sharing our deepest desires and dreams over hot tea.

these nights I feel encouraged, I feel alive, and AWAKE to the purposes and dreams God has FOR ME.

my sweet friend Jody and I have been meeting together on Tuesdays this fall + it’s time I deeply cherish.  We are going through Stasi Eldredge’s book “Becoming Myself” – usually reading and talking about 2 chapters at a time.  This week we talked about fear + dreams.  Y’all, my dreams list was over 3 pages typed…

but reading them to her, I felt alive.  I felt awake!  ready to go out and be the woman God has called me to be.  To do the things that give me life, as opposed to the things I “should” do, or things “everyone else is doing”.  way more to come about the fears and dreams I’m peeling the layers back on…

back to tonight…Jody thew down a challenge this week to reach out + encourage people!  be inclusive of people!  if there’s someones Facebook status you read daily and you never comment, leave them some love!  send an sweet “thinking of you” text, a spontaneous voxer message, whatever it may be…reach out.  love like you aren’t scared! 

so many times we can feel left out.  forgotten. looked over.  not enough.  like we are missing out [I know, FOMO].  if you feel that way, and I feel that way, then chances are there are lots of others who are in the same boat. 

so let’s throw a life preserver out to them – lets love them, encourage them, include them, be an unexpected source of love and encouragement to them.  

my friend Brandi is one of the best encouragers I know.  One time I asked her how she became a great encourager – and she said, when she needs encouragement – she just decides to give that out to someone else!  What a concept, yall.

I want to be that kind of friend!

so reach out – show some love.  online. in real life.  at the park.  to your neighbor.  whoever, and however. 

and just a side note – people that put their life online don’t think it’s weird when you tell them you “stalk their blog”, or like their instagram pictures, or have been encouraged by their story/writing.  when someone emails or leaves a comment that my words or story meant something to them – well that gives me the courage and joy to keep writing.  I’m taking my challenge to some of my favorite bloggers this week.  a little bit of encouragement goes a long way. 

who can you encourage this week?

  • Elizabeth - Oooo… I LOVE that encouragement tip! I need to do that! And also I should check out that book. Right now I’m really wondering what my purpose is, so a little direction would be great. :)ReplyCancel

  • Haley - Love this– and you were that kind of friend to me this week, Wynne– your thoughtful gift meant the world to me– and YOU were that unexpected source of love & encouragement to me!! Thank you & now it’s my turn to pass it on to someone else in need of love & encouragement:) xxo HaleyReplyCancel

  • Bailey Jean Robert - I definitely know FOMO and often battle the feeling of being an afterthought or not being pursued by people. I was much better in college about taking that and turning it around, deciding to initiate with others when I don’t feel like anyone is initiating with me, and the encouragement challenge is right on target with that! Thanks for the reminder!ReplyCancel

  • Bec McNicol - I have just discovered your amazing blog! I am so encouraged by your vulnerability and honesty, thanks so much!! So keep writing and putting your heart ‘out there’ ! The quote, ‘love like you aren’t scared’ is just what I need to hear right now. Much love from an Aussie sister xxReplyCancel

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So I’m starting to think this “silly little thing” I joke about having called FOMO (fear of missing out) is more of a legit fear than I give it credit for. After going analog all weekend + being left alone with my thoughts I realize this FEAR is real.

It makes me feel not enough. Not good enough, productive enough, fun or popular enough. It makes me worry that I’m not giving my kids the best childhood memories I can (or “should”) give them and the list goes on…

This is magnified then with social media when I can visibly see what amazing adventures everyone else is on! We “should” be doing “that” instead of sitting home in our pjs all day (says my inner voice) but ya know what? that day we needed to rest.  and there’s freedom when we embrace the story God is writing for US.

There is freedom that comes with living the life God has for us! For you too.

This weekend I decided to quiet that inner voice by logging out of social media – and the results? Magical!

Instead of caring + comparing what everyone else was doing, I just focused on US, and what fun we could make for our little family! I wasn’t experiencing something awesome with my kids while also crafting my instagram caption in my head- I was just present!

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We had so much fun distraction free that I want to do it every weekend [let’s be honest, it won’t happen though].  I even read books for 5+ hours Saturday and am now dreaming again in a new way- dreaming the dreams God has for ME without fear. Staci Eldridge says in her book Becoming Myself.

“fear makes us retreat, love causes us to advance”

One of my “whys” for social media is to document our families lives so I won’t stop posting, I just want to be more intentional with living in the freedom that is avaliable to all who believe. 

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IMG_3685IMG_3819IMG_3821there’s something so freeing about freedom.  When I’m free from this fear of missing out, I’m free to enjoy my life and my family!  I’m free also to celebrate all the amazing things other people do.

All of a sudden I see their God story in a new light: not out of jealousy, or envy, or fear that they got it right and I didn’t…but freedom to love! and to celebrate!  this is the way to live, in TRUE freedom.  “for freedom Christ set us free” – Galatians 5:!

 

what do you fear?  how could letting go + surrendering that fear allow you to LIVE MORE FREE?? 

  • Lauren Casper - I so get this. I feel this way when I see pics from conferences that I wish I could have gone to. Yes to freedom!!!ReplyCancel

  • encouragement challenge. - […] we can feel left out.  forgotten. looked over.  not enough.  like we are missing out [I know, FOMO].  if you feel that way, and I feel that way, then chances are there are lots of others who are in […]ReplyCancel