heartbeats

Here’s to the living the little moments. The everyday. And two blogs in one week.

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Sometimes I forget how incredible it is that this gets to be my “everyday”. In the hard moments, the stress, the exhaustion, the missing of family and friends – these smiles greet me every morning. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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keep on keeping on

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The big stuff. I tend to blog the big stuff.

I blog the hard times, the transitions, the times I feel the most joy. I blog the pictures, the song lyrics, the inspirational quotes. I blog the smiles, the tears, and the heartbreak. But I’m not very good at blogging life.

The peaks and pits are what often stop us in our tracks, but the days in between define us. It’s not always the big hills and valleys that determine who we are, but the everyday steps that move us towards Him. It’s responding, not reacting. It’s choosing joy, not wandering lost in the heartbreak. It’s taking small steps forward when you want to turn around and run. It’s the little things, the moments that seem insignificant, the day-to-day mundane that forces us to look towards the One who determines our steps.

I want to get better at documenting the typical, the mundane, the insignificant moments. I want to value the daily life that He allows us to live each and everyday.

Now, I also want to watch less Grey’s Anatomy and do my laundry more often, so small steps will be key. One episode less, one load to get me started, and a few words here and there to remember these days. Seasons end so quickly (both in the land of Seattle Grace and the land of real life and red dirt), they move on to the next with just a hint of change and a gust of wind. I want to savour these moments, and I want to remember them.

So, here’s to the everyday, the joy, the sorrow, the small baby steps. Here’s to the boring, the mundane, the daily routine. Here’s to not being afraid of what others think, or say, or how they react. Here’s to sharing the little moments and the big moments alike – moving forward on the path He chose us to walk. Here’s to tripping and falling and making a mess. Here’s to coming together – mess and all, to choosing each and everyday to live everyday for Him.

where my feet may fail – one year later

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14.

Numb. I feel completely numb.

This must be a bad dream. A joke. A horror movie. This can’t be real life, can it?

I got the message today that sweet Eli bug was back in the village. His mom of a year had to do the unthinkable, the unimaginable, and make the step into that van to take her baby to a home that, for unjustified reasons, decided after all this time that he needed to come back. My heart broke.

It was not hours before that I met two amazing friends from home in Kampala to start their week-and-a-half in country – serving alongside Sole Hope. My heart was full of joy and excitement as we caught up on missed times and just enjoyed drinking coffee at the same table.

How could this be the same day?

I think back to that very first day that Asher and I met Eli. His name was unpronounceable and his tiny little frame was frail and malnourished. Through many bouts of sickness and attempts to nourish his body, he became the 4th (sometimes 5th) member of the Collie family. He always held a sweet corner of my heart. The Lord allowed me to witness him become more alert and grow into his long and lanky limbs. Leaving in August was one of the hardest things I’ve done – knowing I would miss so many milestones that wouldn’t feel the same from thousands of miles away. Yet, the Lord challenged me to put that little boy in the palm of his hands and walk away knowing the Savior of this broken world called him son.

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7.15.13 | Blog Post – “Where My Feet May Fail”: “It’s definitely going to be a lesson in trust. In giving the things that I can’t control over to God. He has a plan far beyond what I can envision. Where my feet may fail me, God still has Eli’s life in His hands. He has my life in His hands. Let me have trust without borders. Let me go wherever you have called me. I’ve been so blessed to be given the opportunity to hold this precious life in my hands. Sleep well little Eli, God’s got both of us in his hands.”

If only I knew how those words would resonate with me almost exactly one year later. While those words were just written with the intentions of moving back home, these words could not be truer of the situation today. I still don’t understand these words. I still don’t want to deal with what this looks like. I still don’t want to hand over that little boy not knowing what tomorrow will look like. I wish I could go back to that night when Eli was sleeping just a room away, where he was safe in a family that loved him and cared for him more than he will ever know. Where I knew he would grow up to be the most amazing man of God.

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Even still, God knows. He knew this day would come – and in some ways, I’m angry with him for that. I so want something to blame for this pain I feel in my chest, this tightness that feels like the weight of the world is crushing me into the ground. Yet in all of this disbelief and lack of understanding, still He is good. He knows us by name and calls us each to a life in pursuit of him. Still I will pursue him. Still I will trust his plan. Still I will cry out in pain knowing that my God will fight for us.

My heart is numb. It’s breaking. It’s crushed. It can’t begin to understand.

His family is one short tonight. His crib is empty. His parents and siblings’ hearts broken with grief. Still they trust you – knowing your plan is somewhere in the midst of this earthly heartbreak. For them I pray for peace that makes understanding this unimaginable brokenness unneeded. I pray that they move closer to the Creator as a family of one less – yet full of You.

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, you’ve never failed and You won’t start now. – Oceans, Hillsong United

Still He is good, He is faithful, He is sovereign – he holds us all in his hands – the safest place we could dream of being.

pilgram days

 

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Pilgrimage: a journey to a sacred place, returning with newfound knowledge. Returning changed.

Today has brought an end to the traditional work-week (whatever that means in terms of life here) and a slower pace compared to the rest of the week. It was a morning of strong coffee, debriefing of the week, and a cool morning breeze. Completely immersed in the returning of emails and making of mental to-do lists, my now dear friend and intern, Hannah, bursts into conversation about her love of the words pilgrimage and pioneering. Something triggered in my brain – the concept seemed familiar, but somehow distant. I had come across that concept not too long ago. A blog? A book? A conversation?

Finally, it clicked. I had come across the blog A Sacred Journey several months ago, intrigued but busyness and lack of time kept me from being hooked. This past month, I was again drawn to her blog through the writings of Dear Abby Leigh – an old friend and beautiful writer. Again, I had to explore this pilgrimage concept that I had ever so briefly glanced over. I lost myself in blog post after blog post, finding myself smiling in agreement – applying these thoughts to my own life and wandering spirit.

It’s an interesting concept – something that has been present for so many years, but is often put into a box that we bring out at Thanksgiving. Normally with the pumpkin pie. But the journey goes so much farther than that. We are all pilgrims – on an adventure of learning and discovery. I suddenly viewed my life differently.

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I am on a pilgrimage. My life has consisted of one pilgrimage after another.

I am a wanderer. A free spirit. An adventurer.

I don’t sit still well. I like to move. Journeying from one place to another. From city to city. From culture to culture.I like learning. I like the familiar, but I crave unknown places. I’ve learned more through my travels than in any other time of my life.

Abraham. One of the original pilgrims. “Called by God to leave his homeland on a journey of sacred encounter.” (Read more HERE) Leaving the everyday, the mundane routines, the stagnant waters of the familiar. Journeying with the purpose of Divine encounters.

“Pilgrimage is wandering after God.” (Source here)

“Pilgrimage is a sacred journey – a movement that brings us toward the Divine.” (Source here)

Suddenly, you start thinking differently. My journey now has a different meaning. It’s not just wandering. It’s wandering with purpose. It’s intentionally journeying knowing that the sacred encounters along the way with others and The Lord Most High will cause you to return changed. My constant wandering isn’t aimless – it’s purposeful. It’s warranted. It’s crucial.

Here’s to my current pilgrimage. My next pilgrimage. And here’s to finding meaning in my many pilgrimages completed. Here’s to intentionally pursing the life of a pilgrim, to finding joy in the adventure, to learning and loving well.

Bring out the pumpkin pie, because today is Thanksgiving – and so is tomorrow.

create in me

 

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at·ti·tude
/ˈatiˌt(y)o͞od/

noun
1. A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

 

Whether you’re seven or seventy, your attitude affects your life. Negative or positive, your attitude depicts how you move minute to minute and day to day.

Lately, I’ve had a horrible attitude.

About work, about where I live, about what I miss, about school, about the weather – I was just mad about it all. And to be honest, I still am most days.

The problem is, attitude is defined as also being “reflected in a person’s behavior”. It was a bigger issue than me just being mad about my life, it went so far beyond that. I’m sure it was no secret to anyone that something was wrong – I was quick to anger, quick to judge, and resistant to grace. I had no grace for others, I had no grace for myself, and I had no interest in providing either. I’m quite sure that I was miserable to be around – I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be in my general vicinity. First off, I’m so sorry for all of the people I hurt – that was never my intention – and I’ll probably do it again, and I’m sorry in advance for that. Secondly, I have amazing friends for sticking with me while I was horrible – and I probably still am most days – so thank you.

I don’t really know how to fix it all. I don’t know how to be content in something that is so isolating some days. I really do love where I am – I know it’s exactly where I should be. I know I’m learning more here than I could anywhere else – and I’m starting to see that. I’m just in a spot where God is asking me to give him everything in my life – the good and the bad – but I honestly don’t even know how to start doing that. I’m at a loss for where to go from here – but one step at a time, I’m praying I start the journey. I know it won’t be easy, I know I’ll mess up more than I’ll ever admit, and I know I’ll probably have a bad attitude along the way. But I’m taking the first step – I’ve recognized the problem. I just don’t know what the next step is. I’m trying to make the conscious choice to have a better attitude about life – grace upon grace

“Keep your eyes on ME, not only for direction but also for empowerment. I never lead you to do something without equipping you for the task.” – Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

 

 

joy

I’ve been missing our sweet outreach kiddos this week. I miss their shy smiles, the sound of the razor scooter whipping around the compound, and how smart they looked with their new Sole Hope shoes on. They helped me choose JOY – each and everyday. On some level, I think the memory of them being here is tied to other emotions. The #blogHOPE team was here when they first arrived, and how I miss them so. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I don’t even think that’s enough to describe these sweet littles.

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I need to send a quick shoutout to @wanderingwithmary. She gave me the best LightRoom tutorial, and I will be forever grateful to her for that. Editing of all future pictures are in some way thanks to her. #editingwithmary

it is well with my soul

Refreshing. Rejuvenating. Restoring.

There is nothing more refreshing than a beautiful, God painted sunset on the Nile River.

There is nothing more rejuvenating than time spent with a group of inspiring women.

There is nothing more restoring than the start of new friendships.

Sunday night was a much needed time of rest. As it was @wanderingwithmary‘s last night in Jinja Town, she arranged for us all to go on a sunset boat ride – oh the beauty. Nothing can top a sunset along the Nile river – unless you’re on the river. The whole evening was filled with sweet conversations, uncontrollable laughter, new friends, old friends, and His creation – it was good for the soul. Living here is exhausting, straining, and overall challenging – these moments fill you up. They remind you that you serve a God who is big enough to paint beautiful colors in the sky, and small enough to whisper in your ear that he painted that for you. We’re here for a reason – and these moments help bring us back to that.

It is well with my soul.

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come close

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Loneliness.

It’s a daily struggle.

A struggle I’ve dealt with before – a struggle that feels more real now than ever.

I often find myself longing for the familiar faces at home. For the comfort of people who really know me. For the ease of long-time friendships.

Evenings bring the end of a work day and the chirping of crickets – they bring rest, recovery, and moments alone. So often, they are more than needed. So often, they bring with them the cravings of true friendship here.

I know without a doubt that I am where I need to be. Where the Lord has placed me. Where I love.

These seasons have come and gone in the past. The Lord has taught me more in these moments than ever before. These moments create a hole in my heart that only the Creator can fill.

They bring me closer to him. They challenge me. They strengthen my faith. They pull me closer to the One who created me – who breathed life into me.

But still, the emptiness of these moments consume me. They force me to doubt my place. To question. To long for a place that I’m not.

In the moments where I feel like I have no one, I’m left with my thoughts.

I have a choice. I can sit in my loneliness and dream of the places I’d rather be – or I can use these moments to press further into Him.

I have a choice. I can waste away in my own pity – or I can choose contentment, choose JOY, choose HIM.

I so often make the wrong choice. It’s a constant struggle. It’s a constant battle. It’s a journey.

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This past week gave me a glimpse of all that I miss. While these people were not old friends, they very quickly became new friends. They encouraged me. They made me laugh. They cried with me. They gave my lonely spirit HOPE. I cannot even describe how thankful I am for all that they left me with – emotionally…and the Oreos, too. They spoke truth into my life that I had hardly admitted to myself. They allowed me to be myself from the moment we met. They allowed me to open up with the comfort of a safe place. I cannot speak enough good about the #blogHOPE team. You left a mark here that I can so visibly see – on me, on the other staff, and so many of the beautiful Ugandan souls you came in contact with.

You were a light. You are a light. You are still shining here.

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The loneliness can be consuming. It can pull me off course. It can direct me back to Him.

I fight it with everything in me – I embrace it as best as I know how.

It’s a battle – I pray that He wins.

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It all started with a song.

Late October in Jacksonville, Florida – a perfect coffee shop afternoon.

A sun-dried Ethiopian pour-over sitting on the table in front of me.

Twelve hours earlier, an emotional waterfall cascaded down my cheeks and onto the pillow – my best friend taking in every word and spilling encouragement back onto me.

I had a heart for a place I’d never been – the stress of next steps was overwhelming.

I felt lost in my everyday life – I was enjoying the comfort of the familiar.

A soundtrack kept me company as the coffee started to disappear.

Will Reagan – one of the best encouragers I’ve never met.

The sweet sounds echoed in my ear, “I lean not on my own understanding”.

Something I desperately needed to hear, but was not about to accept.

Uganda – a whisper from my sister, without knowledge of present situations.

Unexplained comfort came with this word – the beginning of an answer I’d been searching for.

“Listen to the love song that I am continually singing to you. I love to reveal Myself to you, and your seeking heart opens you up to receive more of My disclosure.” – Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

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It all started with a song.

Two chords in – something stirring inside of me.

Unexplained tears rolled down my face – searching for the triggering emotions.

Jacksonville. October. Pour-over coffee. Uganda. Comfort.

A flood of memories I had stored somewhere for a rainy day.

It had poured all day – the tears came with the rain.

Uncountable steps taken between that first day and now.

The unexpected turned into everyday life – everyday life turned into the unexpected.

Will Reagan – binding together then and now.

A whisper of encouragement – a confirmation of trust.

Comfort again came with the whisper of a song – “I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open”.

A reminder of days past, present struggles, and future hope.

“The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
– Zephaniah 3:17

breathe you in

Inspiration.

1. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something – especially creative.
2. The drawing in of breath; inhalation.

One word. Two meanings. One life.

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This week, the Sole Hope Uganda Team has the honor of hosting eight amazing bloggers as they journey alongside Sole Hope and invite their followers to experience Uganda with them as they share stories daily. These ladies are not only inspiring writers, but I can now truly call them all friends. They use their voices to display their hearts so gracefully and elegantly. They inspire their readers. They inspire their followers. They inspire me. They make me want to write more eloquently. They make me want to allow others to peak into my heart instead of closing it off like I so often do. They make me want to slow down and just write.

They are walking through so many “firsts” this week. For some, it is their first time in this beautiful country of Uganda. For most, today was their first jigger removal clinic. It’s almost as if I’m reliving it for the first time through them. The expressions on their faces, their willingness to serve, and the smiles exchanged between them and the sweet ebony faces staring back at them. Inspiration. I need not be so wrapped up in the logistics of the day. I need to smile more freely. I need to remember why I’m doing this. In many ways, the experience I’ve gained after attending many jigger removals is irreplaceable – at the same time, I need to approach each removal with fresh eyes. I need to take in the small moments. I need to connect with those sweet faces staring back at me. I need to be more in awe of the One who allows us to do this week after week.

Inspiration – breathing in and breathing out.

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Photo Credit: Asher Collie

The act of being inspired would be nothing without the One who ultimately inspires us. Without His breath in our lungs, we would have no life worth living. His breath is our inspiration.

Inhale.

Inspiration.

Exhale.

Inspiration.

Breathe.