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

Before ‘I Do’: So Like I Was Saying… (PROPOSAL PHOTOS INCLUDED)

So like i was saying before… a little over a week ago, Jason and I were both super tired and just feeling overwhelmed in general. He just got a new position in his job and I have my own share of… stuff. Sundays are a work day for me which started way early on that particular day. I had no clue when I woke up before the sun that my world would be so different by the time I fell asleep again. What I knew was, we were getting out of Lakeland and taking our minds off anything that we may be responsible for. When these days happen, sometimes it means going out to find fun, and other days it means sitting around in comfy clothes and catching up on Big Brother. This day: it was a stroll into one of our favorite areas of downtown Orlando.

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We walked hand in hand talking about this and that, and even at one point I thought “oh, I bet he’s trying to get ideas for a proposal.” There’s one place where one of my favorite pictures is taken (above) and when we were passing by he threw out that we should take another selfie there. The sun was terrible, I kept shifting us to better lighting and he kept shifting us back to the original location.

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The pictures were awful, to say the least. The left above was taken by the ninja photographer who was secretly planted. The right is the best of our results.

As he turned to me from putting my phone back into my bag he said “before we get to our lunch spot…”  with a small white box in his hand.

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*a moment for your heart to drop… I know, mine too.*

After that I don’t really know what happened because I went into a little bit of a shock/black hole/wondering why I didn’t spend more time getting ready. I do know that he got on one knee and said some super sweet words about spending forever together… and then opened the box and I didn’t care about any of the other words after that. I even forgot to say “YES!”… We both just stood there and then I was like “omg, of course!”…  Okay, actually, if we’re being honest, I got really excited and took the ring out of the box and put it on my own finger. I know, I know, tradition says… but I didn’t have time for all that.

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Best part was at the very end, a homeless man who had been hanging out in the park, came over to celebrate with us and “be a witness to our love” before riding off into the city on his bike.

Both anxious and excited and calling everyone we knew, we called our day date successful, and gladly agreed to skip lunch and head back to Lakeland to put on those comfy clothes I was talking about and stare at my hand all day. I even took my wedges off in the car – totally ready to relax – and arrived at his parent’s house to share the news (that they already knew was happening) into yet another surprise – most of our closest relationships in one room to celebrate the occasion! To say that we felt celebrated is the biggest understatement possible!

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I couldn’t have asked for a better day, and a better way to agree to a life with someone else.

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It’s weird because my day to day is exactly the same today as it was two weeks ago, yet it feels incredibly different. A season shift faster than I’ve ever experienced. With one word, one answer, one “yes”, my life took a turn that I’m super excited and terrified for. I’m still the 27 year old girl who is figuring it all out. I’m still processing God’s plan. I’m still trying to understand the journey that I’m on – however, now I (currently) get to mix an element of planning and signing up on theknot.com and whatnot, and then eventually mix an element of an everyday slumber party with one the best people I know.

Here’s to china patterns, figuring it all out, and whittling down a guest list! I’m a little scared.

Relationship Anxieties, Nails on Point, & Single Life

After seven years of seasons (together and apart) I could never be more confident in the person I’ve decided to do life with. Jason is the guy that every girl wishes would fight for her. The guy who saw value in characteristics of my life that I didn’t even see in myself, and the guy who pursued me after two years away in Haiti, as if we were just meeting.

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During those two years we both discovered what it means to truly love other people by choice, to submit to the plan of Christ over our own, and the value in finding someone worth fighting for.

Sssoooooo, after a lifetime of the most intense relationship anxiety (just ask my girlfriends) I finally arrived in a place of complete contentment in the trust and fun and relief that comes with Jason and me. Which naturally leads to church bells… and the rest is history. Sounds so smooth and easy, huh? Hah! The world of writing couldn’t handle the volume of all that took place to arrive at this place. But we’re here.21744_10103483333169440_5073012961449397223_n

We met in DC 7 years ago, so naturally when the two of us both randomly found ourselves back where it all started, this summer, I was thinking ok… so this could be it.

I had super cute outfits. Nails on point. Not that I was super expecting it every second or anything… but just saying… photo ready. We walked the city, piggy back ride to our Uber because I kind of sprained my ankle in the middle of the night, museums, Lincoln Memorial (my favorite)…. and nada. The trip came and went and both of us have been totally consumed with work and what not.

I’ve always been a girl who loves single life just like I love every other kind of life (just check out this post for further explanation) so I tend to find joy and contentment in my life of Crossift and work and friends and staying out as late as I want (who I am kidding, it’s only cus I get lost in TJ Maxx sometimes or stuff my face with soup/salad at Olive Garden with Kristy Gonzalez) even if it means not seeing the boo until Saturday for dinner because we live in separate cities.

And just when the thought of syncing these lives of ours right now was basically off my radar he goes and, once again, sets the bar… TO BE CONTINUED. I know, I know, but it’s late and I’m tired and there are to many details to be said. Goodnight.

He doesn’t complete me.

As I date a guy who is thoroughly incredible (and I don’t use the word “thoroughly” lightly) I would safely venture to say that he doesn’t complete me.

Gasp, I know right.

I said that the other day and thoroughly offended multiple people. As if I were disrespecting him in some way.

However, my life was full before I ever met him and it has continued to be incredible the more I get to know him. Sharing life with someone is so everything in so many ways, but I feel like I would be doing myself an injustice if I were to find that everything in him. If I were to say that he makes me whole and happy. Because truly the disrespect would be in expecting him to be something to me that was never intended for him.

My full contentment and completion comes through Christ, and spending time getting to know that girl who has become whole in Him, not him. Seeking adventures and spending time with friends and finding hobbies. Taking the time to understand why I am who I am and why what is asked of me has been asked of me.

I know, I’m a complex girl, I tell ya.

But it has truly made every bit of difference in my life to know why I tick how I tick before asking someone else to jive with me like clock work. And knowing that allows me the perfect amount of grace for all those who feel like it’s about dang time or I should have “settled down” a long time ago, or look at me with sad eyes because they feel my life hasn’t started yet until I submit to the man of my life. Bless their little hearts.

And because of all of the above, this incredible guy and I are able to enjoy the incredible, sent from heaven, parts of each other; and also the totally human, and super annoying parts (on his part, of course). All with a smile of learning the journey and enjoying each season of it.

Selah.

Expectation Surprise

Expectation Surprise.

It’s kind of an oxymoron, if you think about it.

If I am expecting it to come then why am I surprised when it arrives?

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If a woman is pregnant and expecting a baby she wouldn’t be surprised when she goes through delivery and a baby is produced. She has been through months and months of preparation for that moment. She expects it.

I have intentionally spent my twenties (so far) with great abandon to what I thought would be my story – serving others, and knowing that what He could do through me is far greater than I could ever do through myself.  And right now, today, in the areas where I see His plan taking shape, I feel totally shocked and utterly undeservingly amazed that it’s happening.

I pray for it.

I prepare.

I hustle.

I sow.

I wait.

Knowing that His word says it is mine.

I expect it.

And yet, I’m shocked when it’s there.

I guess that is the essence of developing our faith. Deciding to KNOW that no matter how long it takes, or what the seasons hold, God is faithful to His word.

and there is no surprise in that. Only patience.

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Going Away: They seriously love me!

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Signs of Life: Even in death.

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There are moments in my life that I can’t even bring myself to write about. Some are too complex, some people cannot handle to hear, and some hold memories that I don’t care to ever relive. The past few weeks have been a mix of all three, but somewhere in the mix my heart sees God in the details, and in this season of loss I am choosing to identify the subtle signs of life within each God filled moment. 

There have been moments of anger, of grief, of fear, and of sorrow. Loss is never easy and watching suffering is sickening. Literally.

This weekend Christla became an orphan. Between thinking of the intense pressure and pain that Elydia experienced in only 26 years, to the amazing God moments we walked through, and of how much incredible relief that she left this earth with as a daughter of Christ, my heart continually finds itself in moments of overwhelming emotion. I am grateful to Danita for taking baby Christla in and committing to her life and future, and I am even more grateful that I was able to reassure her mom, in letting go, that her baby girl would be taken care of.

Today, I am not mourning the loss of my friend Elydia but choosing to celebrate her life, the many months spent with her and her children each week, and especially the last few weeks we had with her before she let go of her fight. AIDs is a slow and painful death and it was hard to be a part of those last days without praying for God to take her pain away. However, it was one of the most moving and compelling moments I’ve ever been honored to be a part of just a couple weeks earlier– watching her pray a prayer of salvation and release all past worry, shame, heaviness, and guilt from her heart.

My words could never serve justice to Elydia’s life or death, but I can say how beyond grateful I am to have been a part of it. That God would honor me with the opportunity of serving her in life and loss, through the passing of a child and the birth of another, through sacrifice and salvation, and of watching her exit this world with a heart full of peace and Jesus. My heart is overwhelmingly humbled.

And even a little bit jealous – she is upstairs holding her baby boy again. 

God is love. And He’s in the details. 

Signs of Life: Welcome, Baby Christla!

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Her eyes lock in when I hold her. Her little hands are so tight they are grey when she is hungry. She sucks on her first two fingers to fall asleep. She began her little life growing inside of her mom who was homeless and forgotten. IMG_0834 Elydia would arrive with her malnourished son – Bergly –  for Baby Rescue, always with her oldest (when I say oldest I mean 7) son carrying their possessions – a red water jug and a tiny black tote for Medika Mamba. When her son Bergly passed away she stress delivered her baby girl, Christla.

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I’ve always loved the redemption she held in her mother’s grieving, and I love how sweet Christla would, against all opinions, fight for signs of life in those first weeks. It’s been 5 months since Christla stole my heart and I continued to care for her, her mom, and the boys.

Today, Elydia is saying her goodbyes to this world and joining Jesus and her baby boy in the next. When I look at Christla sucking her two little fingers all I can think about is God’s incredible destiny for her: 5 months ago she was struggling for life and God’s perfect plan has strategically placed her in the arms of grace – anchored to hope and a future. She will never know the life of an orphan, she will never know the pain of rejection, she will never wonder who her mother was or if she loved her.

My heart cannot even comprehend. More on this on the other side of processing.

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I would like to take this moment to officially introduce the newest member of the Danita’s Children family – Christla Francois!!

Easy to say (and I won’t deny it) I’m obsessed. God has heard one of my deepest prayers.

Plenty of amazing pictures to come. Trust. Plenty.