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

Kitchen Chronicles: My Everest

Upon my return to America I decided it was basically detrimental to my sanity to fill my new life – full of structure and routine – with a couple of things to conquer. Nothing better to fill up time then with a little challenge.

So eventually, I finally buckled down and had a hard hitting conversation with myself. I said, “Self, you really should get your life together and figure something out in the kitchen because right now you’re standing on the whole chicken with a big butt fiasco and well, it’s a little embarrassing.”

And myself agreed. So here I am, three years later, ready to document my failures and successes. Let’s do this.

My first conquest upon returning to America was the gym: because well, 2 years of rice and beans had not done me good. So, there’s that.

P.S. I had this great idea to record the journey of conquering the gym with photos and inspirational messages throughout my ups and downs of muscle gaining and fat burning. Ya, that didn’t happen. I quickly realized that I’m totally not secure enough and pretty much thought I may make it through like three weeks before I just called it a day. However, 16-ish weeks later I’m on a roll and thoroughly enjoy finding some “woo-sa” time throughout the week. More on this later. It’s good stuff.photo4

So anywho, currently I feel like what better way to compliment my new healthy lifestyle then by conquering the hardest, and most intimidating/overwhelming challenge of my life.

The kitchen.

Sigh… my Everest.

I can’t quite pinpoint why, but it’s so terrifying to me. I can stand toe to toe with a 6’ 5” Haitian guard on market day, dodging loads of rice and chickens on wheel barrows, and argue in another language about why he won’t let my friends with work visas cross the river; but give me more spices than salt and pepper and I will buckle I tell you. Fear of failure doesn’t even begin to describe.

Ever since I was a little girl I was always the one to volunteer to peel the potatoes when my sisters were learning to gourmet the simplest of dinners. It gives me anxiety when people say things like “just put whatever marinade you might think would pair nicely with that raw, disgusting, chicken breast.” (or something like that.) And I’m all like, “first of all, gross, and second of all, what is a marinade, and third of all how the heck am I supposed to just ‘might think’ what might pair nicely?”

However, what I lack in passion or desire I make up for in determination. Or just desperation. Interchangeable. BUT I NEED HELP, PEOPLE!!!

I just don’t get it. And I’m a visual learner so most recipes don’t help much because all the terms are a little general, and across the board simply unfair if I do say so myself. How do you marinate? What is a “poach”? If it says “a pinch…” how do you know if your pinch is the same pinch as the chef? I already had to learn the hard way the difference in a “bulb” and “clove”… ya, it wasn’t pretty. Read here.

My current situation basically consists along the lines of Tyson Ready chicken in a bag, eggs (basic American staple), and cottage cheese. I know, I know. Just give me grace in this moment.

I need suggestions – tips, beginner meals, etc… okay, “meals” may be used loosely here because that’s another scary thing is multi-task cooking between different dishes all at once. I just think I’m gonna ruin it all. That is why I initially went for a crock pot. But, it’s been a few years. I’m ready to conquer. Plus, starting small may boost my ego and give me a little confidence in the whole process. Advice/tips/tricks below, please!!

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.

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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.

A Constant Yom Kippur

Israel, 2008.

During this season of observance – today (9/25-26) in particular, on Yom Kippur – my Jewish friends are fasting and placing themselves in reverence before G-d to seek atonement for their personal sins, and to seek forgiveness as a whole for sins toward each other. A day of repentance.

Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement.

 One day to corporately make it right.

For thousands of years it has been this way. Jews around the world coming together, corporately, to present themselves to G-d through the High Priest in hopes of their personal sins and sins toward one another during the past year being atoned for. Covered.

They shouldn’t be doing so alone, as Christians are forgiven by the same G-d.

Because there was this one day, in the middle of all those thousands of years ago, in the garden of Gathsemene, where a pressure that I could never know mounted on His heart, Jesus prayed a prayer that I have prayed in my own ignorance: “Lord, let this cup pass from me.” Not knowing that this cup is exactly what He planned for me to carry… knowing what I could handle. Thankfully, He continued, “Nevertheless…” (Matthew 26:39) and He gave himself over to atone for every one of my short comings, and every sin that he knows I will fall short of in the future.

And it was finished. No more covering. Washed away. Redeemed.

We (Christians) should be reverent to the fact that we are in a constant state of Yom Kippur, coming before our Holy G-d, and continually seeking atonement. Forgiveness.

The point is reverence. Taking time to dwell.

So today, and always, we should join with our Jewish friends – united by our love for G-d and His word – and put away frivolous things in order to seek repentance between our brothers, turn our eyes toward our G-d in gratitude, thanking Him for washing it all away, and atoning for our mistakes.

Thoughts For The Night: Capacities of Unknown Love

“It’s your unlimited power to care and to love that can

make the biggest difference in the quality of your life.” – Anthony Robbins

There is this reoccurring comment that I always hear when women have babies – that they knew they would love their baby, but they never knew that they would love them like this.

        

I didn’t exactly “get it” until I moved to Haiti and realized that there is something to be said about this love that allows me to love children who are not my own. Not just love them, but feel a way that I didn’t know possible. I never knew that this capacity of love existed within my heart. I didn’t know that I was capable of it.

I find myself burdened deep in my spirit by the things that burden them.

The big things that changed their lives forever and the small things that seem to be changing their lives for a moment (because to them, it’s all that important).

I know what it feels like for someone to love me that way. By choice. And the impact that it had on my life will never be fully known.

Photo by GivenPhotography

And most, I am overwhelmed at the fact that this capacity never finds it’s limit.

Just when I think I’m loving a lot, a little Haitian kid comes crawling into my lap and all is right with the world again. I begin to causally pray and I hurt knowing the things that are hurting them.

This is the love that Christ called “unfailing.”

And it is THIS that I never want to forget.

I am 24 years old, I am not married, and I have no children. But I can confidently tell you that in this moment, as my heart is overwhelmed beyond expression, that I am currently experiencing motherhood.

And it is changing my life.

Depths of Gratitude

Whoa, nelly – who has been way blog absent? Yes, I know what you’re thinking – you missed me so much, right?

I’ve been spending every recent moment soaking in all the moments that I can with close friends who have stood the test of time and my wonderful family, who I always feel 17 around again.

Right now I’m preparing to head back to my home – North East Haiti.

Sigh. Life is so funny right now.

I remember the first time that someone told me that my life would change most from the age of 20-25. I was on a tour bus in Israel, and that person has since become an essential part of that process. And, I’ve heard that same statements hundreds of times since then.

During these critical years, full of decisions and adventures and mistakes which I will later blame on “being young”, I continually find myself in moments with God where my heart is just so overwhelmed with gratitude.

He truly spoils me.

When I think of the immense detail that He has orchestrated for me to walk out I can do nothing but cry. Literally. Right now I am sitting on a flight and I put my glasses on – *side note below – to cover my watery eyes and continue to dwell on the power of Christ on the human heart. It has completely changed every desire that I thought was important and brought perspective to every trial that I considered too hard.

As I am continually in this state, and trying to express my heart to my Father, I just can’t get passed “Thank You”.

Thank You.

For my family.

For my life.

For his grace in my humanity.

For the fact that He knows the plan He has for me since before I was born, even when I seem to have forgotten it.

I can never get over the fact that I get to be me. And THAT is something that I find priceless.

His blessings are more than I can ask for. And I’m just so darn grateful.

*Side Note: Yes people – I had to get glasses! I made all my routine medical appointments this time around, and one of them was to the eye doctor. I’ve always had great eye sight (I guess carrots really do work) so you can imagine my surprise (actually, I gasped out loud) when the lady asked me to read the bottom line and I couldn’t even make out the first letter. I acted all cool like I just had a momentary lapse of focus and began to read: “1, 2…” when she interrupted with – “If it helps, they’re all letters.” Oh, no she didn’t. I know exactly what you’re thinking, because it is exactly what I was thinking: RUDE! So, needless to say, I hit up the Lense Crafters special of 50% off frames and sunglasses… what, what!

Also needless to say, I don’t care what the rules are, I will only be wearing these bad boys while working on the computer or late at night. Or apparently when I don’t want people to see my crying. So there – take that stupid eyeglasses!

What Love Is This

I never knew that my heart was capable of this kind of love.

It’s not like how I loved my pets when I was a kid. Or even how I love my family. Shoot, it’s not even the kind of love like when I come across a beautiful pair of shoes that are marked down off an already reduced price.  It is this deep in the stomach, overwhelming, never goes away and never runs out, ultra selfless, do anything to see them smile, burdened by what makes their hearts hurt kind of love.

I’ve never felt anything like it. And once again, shout out to all the parents out there – man, y’all go through it for your children. So worth it.

When I moved to Haiti I was the ultimate Auntie. As a 12-timer, I’m good at the Auntie role. It’s pretty basic really – chocolate after 10pm, toys that make loud noises, stay up past curfew, always go to their school for lunch when in town.

So when I got to Haiti and had to take on a parenting role – implementing rules, changing wet sheets in the middle of the night, disciplining (the worst, but more necessary part – kids definitely crave structure!)  – I was less than prepared, and even less prepared for the overwhelming love that has grown in my heart for 115 of Haiti’s finest.

Literally. Like when I pray for them, my heart is deeply burdened for what plagues their dreams and the insecurities that manifest themselves through their actions (which is the nice way of saying when they’re acting a fool, but I can’t be mad at them because I know it comes from their intense past that I could never imagine). I wonder what they saw before they came to live at Danita’s Children and I desire, more than anything, for them to catch a slight glimpse of who God has planned for them to be.

I am in America this month  and I can’t stop thinking of them, how their doing, what I’m missing out on and wondering if they miss me.

It’s crazy how God has given me this love that makes us all family in Haiti. Not like a group of people who live together so are inevitably close – we are family.

I am so grateful to be at my home church for a few weeks (my word, God had to have known that I was insanely home sick for it) and working in our US offices, in the land of abundance and overwhelming choices. However, no matter where life takes me, my heart will always wonder toward the kids who God is using to change my life. Their insane courage and determination to rise above the statistics that surround them continues to humble me and encourage me to always push for more and to continuously count the blessings around me.

You should do the same – you’ll be surprised at how beautiful your life really is.

Dwelling On The Beatitudes

MOUNT OF BEATITUDES

Capernaum, Israel

Matthe 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 One of my favorite places in the whole world.

Whenever my heart is conflicted or I’m feeling overwhelmed with this life, it is this place that I think of.

This place, where it is believed that Jesus taught to many, saying things, such as, “… blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Where He called me blessed and said that I would inherit the kingdom of heaven.

So grateful for these words in Matthew 5 and love remembering back to the moments when I sat on this mountain, in front of this gate, dwelling on these words and imagining what that moment must have been like, reassuring myself that it’s all gonna be okay.

And to all who are overwhelmed in this life (and to myself in particular), take a deep breath, and remember… you are blessed. Seek His kingdom first, and EVERYTHING else will be added unto you. [Matthew 6:33]

Side note: Which means, if you are seeking His kingdom first, and you don’t have what you think you need, then it’s not for you yet – because when it is – he will add it unto you. He promised.

Many days my actions (or just plain human stupidity) may not always reflect it, but I am so grateful that God sees my heart and that I truly desire after Him. Sometimes – and when I say sometimes I mean like every, single day – I make a total mess out of myself. It amazes me that God carries this abundance of grace that is renewed each morning, and that He can see the promise in me, even when I can’t see it in myself.

Quiet Time #ThoughtsOfDad

There are so many memories that live in my soul, and my most cherished are the times with my family before this world expected anything of me.  When I was just a clumsy little hooligan. Most of them take place on our sailboat, a campground, the woods somewhere or a beach house. The one constant in all of my past times is the infamous words from my Dad, claiming that it was, “quiet time”. The sun on it’s way to bed, crazy hair (I’m sure) from whatever the day held, feet hanging off the edge of our O’day, around a camp fire, in the sand, in our back field (or somewhere of this sort) and attempting the impossible task of not speaking while looking up into the black night sky as the stars simultaneously begin to appear – the big/little dipper, O’riens belt, beetle juice (totally not how you spell it, but I thought that’s what it was called when I was little). Quiet time: a moment that I find myself longing for more and more these days, and has left me with a deep love for astronomy.

Among quiet time lives so many moments of waiting for my Dad to get home from work so he could lift me up to touch the ceiling. One time he took me on a date to the circus. I don’t remember the whole day, but remember that I loved it. I also have this vivid memory of getting to ride a pony outside the tent and getting a coloring book.

His presence has always been consistent – whether there was a funny noise under the hood of my first car (or second… or third), learning to change a tire (cus what if no one is around!!), shooting my first gun (I’m a Texan people, don’t hate) in our field, being taught just about everything, or calling my Dad in his office at work to talk me through putting water in a radiator while I’m crying on the side of the road in a different state. Being lost, and a phone conversation that always sounded like some variety of the following – Me: “Dad, I’m lost.” Dad: “Where is the North star?” Me: “Dad! What the heck? I’m driving down the highway and I don’t even know what that looks like. They all look the same.” Dad: “You can always find home from the North star… home is East.” My best friend, Ashli, after I hang up: “Did your Dad try to explain our way with the stars again? “

And when the day came that I decided to move away from home and forge through on my own, and everything in my life was a question – he told me to head out, live the dream, take the road less traveled, make mistakes… and if it all crumbles – call him and come back home.  It is safe to say that because of this man I have never been afraid to conquer my hearts desires, knowing that I could always call my Dad at any random, petty, but “important in the moment” moment that I would certainly encounter along the way… and it would all be okay.

However, no matter how crazy life gets or how far out I venture, I am always taken home when I look at the stars. It has a way of calming the anxiousness of a busy day and always makes me smile… When I gaze into the sky, and all at once feel overwhelmed by the vast amazement of God’s artwork, feel seven years old again, look for Orion’s belt and find “quiet time”.

And to my Dad: In the mists of a crazy life, I am forever grateful that 23 years ago you chose to make me your daughter – a decision that showed me what love really looks like,  how special that I am, the worth that no man can match and that continues to reap fruit as I navigate these years “out and about” on the path less traveled.

Thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!