I live in a city whose nickname is "Hill City". 

There are seven hills, in fact. Seven giant hills rolling from side to side as if trying to compete with San Fransisco. Not only is it hilly, but on top of the hills, we are surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Photo by my talented husband, Isaac (@isaacwendland) 

Photo by my talented husband, Isaac (@isaacwendland) 

Since moving out east, mountains & the culture it brings have thoroughly intrigued me. I have read more Appalachian literature than what is normal. Franklin County was wild, ya'll. 

Since I was born and raised in the flatlands of Iowa, I am always amazed He brought us here -    to this city on a hill. 

I was reading Matthew 5 the other day and it talks about a city on a hill saying,  

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:14-16, NIV

Last week, I was doing errands around town when I started a conversation with a lady. The conversation led on to asking if I had children.

I replied, "Yes, I have a daughter, Eden. We are in the process of adopting her from Thailand." 

The woman shocked but kindly said, "Oh, a baby girl. How wonderful! What is her age?" 

"Six since Christmas day." I said proudly. 

Silence filled the air. 

I realized then that this is the beginning of standing out. 

I walked into the house after the conservation with the woman defeated and wanting our life to just "be normal". 

"Why can't we just be normal?" I asked my husband clearly caught off-guard by my question. 

"I just sometimes want to be like everyone else and not have to explain every detail because our story is so different than most. Can't adopting a beautiful six year old, be normal?"

"Maybe there's a reason He makes us stand out, Libby." Ike nonchalantly says as if he didn't drop the biggest truth bomb I've heard all week. 

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just dream of being "normal". The kind of life where I can sit at baby showers and no one looks at me awkwardly and thinks, "Is she okay?" The kind of life where my child and me walk down the street and no one wonders why a white American woman mothers a brown Thai child. We just fit into this world and go about our business. 

But, then I read Matthew 5 and I wonder, have you put me on this hill for a reason, Lord? 

My hill is infertility. It was a hard climb, but I'm here - on top - with my light post dug into the ground as if to say, I'm not going anywhere. It has made my story take different turns and it has made me a different kind of woman. It changed my story and for that I will be forever grateful. 

I wouldn't want to be normal now because I got her. A sweet, six year old girl who calls me "mom" on a homemade video. We won't match skin colors and she won't have my freckles speckled across her nose, but she will have my heart - my whole beating heart.  

We are different. We aren't your "normal family." We are two 27 years old raising a six year old. We all have different eye colors and I promise you Eden will look better at the beach with her beautiful skin than her mom will any day. #pastey 

I am not looking to be normal, I am looking to be His. 

And maybe I'm here - on this city on a hill - to not just be different but make a difference. Just maybe I am here to show people a new kind of story, a story where a God comes in and takes the pen & I stop writing my American Dream novel & He writes His glory in redeeming red. Just maybe it is to showcase Emmanuel - God with us - in a world whose eyes want to forget to see a very present God. And maybe we were made to stand out to show people, loving is so much bigger, wider, and deeper than any skin color, race, or bloodline. Love makes a family

So, what is your hill today, friend? You struggling with something - anxiety, depression, infertility? Are you a single mom or dad? Divorced and broken? 

I am not saying that any of those terrible things are His doings, but what I am saying is maybe you should climb that hill, stick a light in it, and tell people a new kind of story. 

A story that says, "I don't know how a 27 year old white woman got so lucky to be her mama, but I did, and I am going to tell the whole world the miracle that is my Eden."

So, I am standing on this hill with my little flickering light, and praying He receives some glory for a new kind of storyline.