The Aftermath.

Many of you journeyed with me through the last decade – on this trip, that cooking disaster, new apartments, and all the other bits of discovering self. It’s been an incredible journey. Toward the end I went silent for a bit. I was processing the deepest valleys that I couldn’t bear to share publically. Maybe, eventually.

Anywho, I’ve been feeling like getting back into writing mode. It helps keep creativity flowing and emotions flowing too. Some of us are emotionally challenged. Okay, and maybe at the suggestion of an incredible therapist; but semantics, right?!

Thus, with the turning of a decade I have picked up the hobby again to continue the story, through the aftermath of my defining Roaring 20s.

You can find it here – Then there was 30.

New seasons. New sacrifices. Continually growing and always burning the plow.

Here’s to the 30s club!

Hope

Learning How To Live, Love and Pursue Happiness: Letter To My Younger Self

fa5be5fa5af53d34fdaba3a9b4ed4b3b

I couldn’t be more grateful for all that life has taught, and boy has there been some lessons. At 26, I’m basically a grandmother of twenty somethings, and although 30-something year old Hope will teach me a thing or two today, I think I have some pretty good hindsight advice for the girl who lived a decade before me. If I could go back in time and give myself just a few of the many life lessons that I desperately needed (or to anyone who may catch a glimpse of this), they would be something along the lines of said letter, below.

Oh, dear and sweet crazy younger me:

You are incredible. Truly. I know your world is crazy and intense and consistently spinning off its axis at any moment, however, hold tight – there is so much ahead of you, and so many things that I know will make it easier. The good thing is that you’re a good listener. You take advice and you soak it in and you’re eager for someone to show you what the right way is. However, if there is anything I can share with you from this end of our life it would be the following (in a nutshell, of course):

  1. FIRST AND FOREMOST – You are worthy. Of respect. Of love. Of confidence. Live that way, and be selective. Even if only because you can, not because you think it’ll keep them chasing you. The guy who is showing you a little attention right now… girl, grody. You’ll be over it soon enough but really and truly, just trust me when I say it doesn’t end good and it is sooooo not worth it. Do yourself a favor and walk away now. You won’t even remember his name later in life, and when you do you’ll throw up in your mouth a little bit.
  1. IT IS SO NOT THAT DEEP. Just take it down a notch with all that unnecessary anxiety over your future. I know it is so unknown and so scary and so ‘what if’, but all of that pressure that you put on yourself to achieve perfection is not only impossible, but also really exhausting. I won’t say that it’ll get easier with all the unknowns, Cus well, ask me now if I’m good at it… but I will say that you will get better at trusting that God knows what He’s doing. Promise.

38f398310b6a1da5add209438c772fab

  1. THIS IS A TWO PARTER… Your whole entire being revolves around the inner workings of your small town, upcoming sporting events, friend circle drama, and weekend plans. Live in that season. Don’t rush it. Even next year, when you’re ready to throw it to the wind and get to college… enjoy being a teenager and not having the responsibility of an adult. Trust me – it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. You don’t need to know all the details of everything you’re doing in your entire life right this second. When you go to Europe – soak it in. When you travel with your family – be present. When you run around TP-ing the neighborhood – be better at not getting caught.

HOWEVER, although your whole entire being revolves around you right now… I know it’s hard to believe but you will barely even remember those tiny little details of high school that are stressing you out to the max right now. Not because HS isn’t great but because everything else is that much better. The world is so much bigger than your little town. Just you wait. And when you get to that season… soak it in, too. It’s gonna be awesome. So do me a favor – stop rushing away your life and relax.

  1. BE AWARE OF OTHERS. Always. I know sometimes you’re scared of rejection so you act all super cool, but here is a secret for you: You’re all insecure, you’re all nervous, you’re all trying to find your way. Eventually you’re all gonna look at each other’s lives and realize you’re the same. So look at those people now and embrace your likeness and differences. It’ll make it all so much better.
  1. FORGIVE QUICKLY. There are so many things that I know suck. They aren’t fair and you have no control over them. And you know what, over the next 10 years there will be some even worse hurt and pain, and you won’t be able to control that either. People are people and they will always make mistakes. But let me help you with something – keeping it inside for the next 10 years is gonna make for a real heavy clean up. Which brings me to the next one…

3fec421c44e6c9c01e6880d7a8101a6a

  1. LEARN TO CRY. Girrrllll – Learn. To. Cry. Don’t ALWAYS guard. It will help you process life’s hard moments. Process them and then walk away. Again with the cleanup. I know you’re getting good at being the strong one, but dang girl, it gets heavy in there. And then when you finally break down you ugly cry for like a bunch of hours and then your face is all red and puffy, and well that’s just not a good look on anyone. And it’s unnecessary.

In the end, it’s rare that you won’t know what the right thing to do is. The challenge will be – having the courage to do it. So stay honest (at least you’re getting something right), and make the hard choices. They pay off. Oh ya, and all those crazy midnight shenanigans that you and your best friend swear to take to the grave with you… keep ‘em up – they will provide you with great laughter long into your future.

Be Scared and Do It Anyway

I don’t know how many times I have reminded myself in the midst of a terrifying or chaotic moment that courage isn’t being unafraid, however, it is being scared and choosing to do it anyway.

courage isn’t being unafraid, however, it is being scared and choosing to do it anyway.

Being on the “hump” of my 20’s and seeing all the changes and seasons that are ahead, courage is the consistent prayer that I pray on a daily basis because it’s terrifying and vulnerable to know that it could all just go wrong, and yet reaching for it anyway. It seems second nature to be courageous in a dangerous situation or on behalf of someone else, however, a necessary sacrificial effort to make the intentional decision for my own heart and for my own life and for my own future.

Today is just a small reminder (to you and to myself) that courage doesn’t come from strength – it comes from the boldness of knowing who created you and for what purpose, and not losing sight of that in every season. Whether you realize it or not, within that purpose lies a great deal of strength to face any and every challenge and choice that could ever be in your path. Continue to keep reaching for more… even when you’re scared.

Signs & Seasons: Blood Moon

 


20140415-134855.jpg
Last night’s view.

Acts 2:20: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come.”

Since the beginning of time God declared the sky to tell us of times and seasons (Genesis 1:14) and today it is still doing just that. When I was a little girl my family would spend hours outside our country home – where no city lights took center – looking up and learning about the stars that host our night sky.

Since I became a believer I understand more my fascination with astronomy: one of the most humbling places to stand is under the night sky – the greatest significant insignificance I have ever experienced. A massive production is consistently taking place right above us, and we barely notice. If you don’t think so – yet – check out Louie Giglio’s Indescribable and I feel like you may change your mind. It’s God’s canvas. It’s insurmountably more grand than we could ever know.

Yet He sees you and He sees me.

Any who, last night was one of those moments. It humbled me (for so many reasons) because I was watching something so much – so much – bigger than myself. Because only that artwork, at the hand of God, can cause people all over our globe to simultaneously set their eyes toward heaven, at the same time, in total awe. Because I was watching prophetic scripture being fulfilled.

I don’t know the times and schedules of God, but I know that I watched a tiny piece of history unfold last night. There will be 3 more within the next 12 months – that’s so rare it hasn’t happened in over 500 years – all falling in Hebraic holidays. Just saying. God is up to something.

You can see the next blood moon on October 8.

Its worth the late night – if you miss the next few, do’t worry, it’ll come back around in 2032.

I’M OVER THE HILL! What 25 Taught Me & Starting 26 Off Right…

A quarter of a century. Done. Wow.

If I sat and told you the stories that consume the last 25 years we would be here all day, talking and listening. And well, who has all day to be here. Unless you’re getter paid the big bucks to sit and listen, and in that case, I don’t have those big bucks so don’t waste your time, but I’m sure I could use your assistance sorting it all out. It’s pretty messy in there.

In short: I could never say enough as to what god has taught me. A lesson isn’t really a lesson unless it’s learned, right? More like a statement. Unless you take it into your heart and process all its messiness and change your life accordingly. And always, always, always be mindful of the strategic hand of our Lord in your life – even when you don’t see him. When you can’t hear him. When you are certain he has walked away.

25 has wrapped up a quarter of a century more beautifully that I could have ever imagined. No, I didn’t do anything super glamorous. I didn’t get the corner office. I didn’t claim great success or novel romance. Even better. I learned more about this life, and what is important, than I ever knew I could in a year, much less in a lifetime (so far.) I loved selflessly, I lost painfully. A lot. And I saw how God sits so close to the broken hearted. How he is present in the simplest of moments. How he works it all out on our behalf.

Most of that was learned through this family.

8568_10101654065162190_1466767610_n[1] 599784_10101942223091390_1913459227_n[2] 1385822_10101942265825750_2080868499_n[1]

Elydia was 26 when she passed away. I was honored to spend the majority of 25 with her each week, and especially in those last two weeks, watching 26 years of shame and heartache be replaced with an undescribable joy of the Holy Spirit. Her life taught me more during 25 than I could have ever learned in a classroom.

All in all, I experienced the lesson that God is simple. It’s not that deep. And in the greatest pain, in the greatest joy, in the hardest of trials, He is present. In that, there is rest. Outside of control, of choices of others, there is rest.

I don't always turn 26... but when I do I wear hot pink tights and cowboy boots! Let's go.

Today I end the first quarter of my life. And feel as if I am so much older in my soul. The journey is truly the destination and 26 is just the beginning! His promises are true and I’m gratefully staying in the process. Great things are yet to come!

 
I don’t always turn 26… but when I do I wear hot pink tights and cowboy boots! Let’s go.

Unpacking and Settling In

Yep. I live in America again.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s so strange. And hard to explain. Most people could never understand all that takes place in two years in Haiti, and probably, honestly, don’t actually care to. It’s cool, I get it.

IMG_5197

It’s kind of like going through stages of grief since I’ve arrived.  I’m pretty sure I am over the whole “get mad at American luxuries” stage, however, it does come back in sporatic waves. Clean water. It just gets me every time. I actually hope that never goes away. I love how my little Haitian babies are always on my heart and I love the foundation of gratitude that I will carry with me always.

I don’t walk along dusty streets everyday, ducking and dodging wheel barrows and women carrying bags stacked five high on their head. Starving babies aren’t slobbering on me all the time, I have access to any kind of food I want, and little kids aren’t mobbing me all the time.

IMG_2029

You may see those things as Haiti complaints, but you see, I loved those long walks on market day and the chaotic adventures to and from the border. I love holding sick and vulnerable babies, slobber and all other fluids, knowing and believing that God was about to changetheir lives; and although it could be frustrating, having limited access to any kind of food I wanted (although didn’t result in extreme weight loss) made for some pretty hysterical moments of fun with people who have grown to be my family in moments of hunger desperation. And, more than anything else, I absolutely love being mobbed by a gang of mini Haitian ninjas, kidnapping me along for the adventure.

IMG_5168On my mind recently (other than mini Haitian ninjas): Ikea furniture and settling in. First of all – I just want to put it out there – Holy cow, putting that mess together is not fun. Seriously. Those little L shaped things you use to master the 5-drawer shelf is ridiculous and warps in an instant. However, I did feel pretty hardcore when I finished my new contraption. Second of all, settling in has been interesting. I am excited because I know God’s seasons are shifting and He does not disappoint. And because I can see God at work in so many ways through my being here. And no matter what, that makes it worth it. All in all, I’m grateful.

For whatever it looks like, I’m grateful.

Here’s to a new 2014, new seasons, and settling in!

IMG_5240

Oh ya, and I bought a fish. Yes, that’s right, a Betta. In the pet store I was calling him “Beatty” because he had no name and that semi-stuck, so I went with Warren.Warren Beatty. Resemblence? I also got the statue because it looked like the one off of Finding Nemo and, well, I love that movie. And Warren loves him too. We call him “WhooHaHa” and he swims inside of the mouth all the time. Okay, I’ll stop.

Going Away: They seriously love me!

Image
Is it strange that I think we had more fun at our dance party than our children?

I love this family. I hate goodbye but I love this family. I love how they completely knew what I would love. Acts of Service – it’s so my love language. Dance Party, it is. We danced all night and had a photo booth to capture wonderful/hilarious memories (thank you, Steven!) Imageand ate delicious cake (shout out to my girl and long time roomie, Kelly!) and laughed and cried and partied gangsta-style all night long (just ask the ultimate OG – Karris Hudson! I seriously couldn’t have desired any cooler way to say “see you later!”

Image

I love y’all more than you know and am more grateful to do life with you supa up-close” and now a tad bit further away. We will always share an understanding of each other that is only discovered within incredible nights of no generators, no water, no fans; the film of dusty sweat that marks a productive days work, the border crossings, hilarious language barrier experiences, and never to be left out – the incredible sandal tan line that is more a trademark or right of passage than anything.

Image  Image 

Thank you for an incredible send off!

Never Goodbye…

New Seasons, Gratitude, and Preparing My Heart

Oh, seasons of transition. So much to be said of them.

       ImageImage

And again, two years later, here I am. At a fork. A transition. A new season. Well, not exactly even in a new season, but more like that awkward in between place of nothingness, you know, where the grace is lifting in what was, but the excitement hasn’t yet arrived as to what is to come. The position of complete faith where I am brought to tears over matters of little importance. Mostly because every task is a reminder to me that it is all going to be over soon.

Image

This little place of nothingness can really make or break a transition, you know. It’s the tiny opportunity to tie up the blessings of the present and prepare the blessings of the future – all at once.

A few months ago I sensed God beginning to prepare my heart for transition. He was reminding me of the season that I was in. The season He called me to. The assignment He gave me. And it completely – completely! – shattered my heart. There is something to be said of knowing the voice of our Shepard. It’s undeniable, to say the least, and impossible to argue.

With that, I am heading home.

I could never say enough about my life in Haiti. What has taken place. Heat, sweat, dust and all. ImageThe overwhelming amount of life that I have experienced and been a part of. The most ridiculous dance parties to date. The border crossings. The language learning. The moments of total fearful courage. And the unexplainable moments of faith and Jesus that I have shared and identified in the most interesting of places.

In sum: I am grateful.

Beyond words, humbled, and just all around at a loss for words.

              Image

Not sure what else could describe my heart right now. In Haiti I have found peace, purpose, contentment, and home. I could never express my gratitude enough to Danita for allowing me to help raise her children and so much more. To the other missionaries for being family with me. To the mothers of all my babies in the Baby Rescue Program – they have each taught me incredible lessons of sacrifice and strength. For each one who we have lost. For each incredible miracle. For all of our children who have helped me identify a deeper love within myself than I knew existed.

And, for now, I am here. Ending the first half of my twenties in that awkward place of nothingness. Tying the bow on my present. Suspended in the balance of transition.

As we honor our past: Remembering September 11

In Eigth grade I didn’t initially understand the depth of the terrorism that was happening when the towers fell. I was sitting in a Journalism class and the rest of my day was spent watching history unfold before me on breaking news. Walls and racism and pride all fell  as strangers worked to save each others lives. It has since become a cornerstone in history and changed the way that our country perceived International Relations forever.

Image

I remember the days and weeks and months following this day and how so many courageous people lost their lives in pursuit of saving the lives of others. How our country came together. How our differences didn’t matter so much and we found pride in our unity.

Image                                                                   Image

Today we remember. We honor so many who fought during this time on behalf of our country, who fought for us before our world came to a discreet halt, and who have since fought for the USA in the name of freedom. We honor wives who lost husbands and husbands who lost wives, children who lost parents, and Americans who survived that day at ground zero.                                                       Image

In the days after today, it is so important for us to never forget.

To never forget the feelings we had, the stories we have heard, and the unsung heroes whose names and stories remain unknown or on monuments throughout our country.

Today, as history repeats itself in Syria, we cannot remain silent in the face of evil – it is crucial that we continue to be courageous, come together, look past our differences and identify unity where we can. If we cannot find beauty in our country that is desired for it’s freedom we will destruct from within.                     Image

Let us continue to honor our past, be grateful for our present, and look courageously toward our future – we are blessed because of the grace of God and those who have sacrificed on our behalf.

Thank You to the families of all of those who made those courageous sacrifices on September 11 and in the days after.

Let us never forget. United we stand.