26 for 26

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To continue with the tradition after “25 from 25“, I give you 26 things I want to do, experience, or focus on in the year to come. Who even knows what will is to come in the next 365 days, but it is sure to be an unpredictable journey. Here’s to the next year of continued traditions and new experiences.

  1. Travel more. There’s so much of this country and world that I’ve yet to see. This year ended up being focused on roots more than wings. Having said that, the few trips I did take were perfect.
  2. Also, let’s start with the PNW, cause that place looks like the dream.
  3. Buy more coffee brewing equipment. I will get that Chemex this year. AND I DID.
  4. Be more intentional with friendships and connecting with friends who live hundreds of miles away. I think this will be on my list every year. Yup – life goes quickly and somehow another year has passed. This will always be at the top of my list.
  5. I would say drink more coffee, but I’m not sure that’s even possible at this point. I feel like I’ve kept this up pretty well to this point. Always room for improvement ;)
  6. I’m going to attempt the surfing and snowboarding goals again this coming year, because I didn’t do so well at those last year… Well, I got on a stand-up paddle board and floundered for a while. And I got a whole lot more comfortable in the water. So, I’ll take that as a partial win.
  7. Continue to explore this city I find myself living in. There are still many unknown and undiscovered areas to find. Slowly chipping away at this one. Yet the list keeps growing…
  8. You know that big exciting project I was excited for in 2016, let’s move that to the 2017 list. Okay, so maybe bump that another year.
  9. Also, about taking more pictures…let’s add “get a new lens for my camera so I’m excited to take pictures again” to this list. Or maybe just replace that camera with a phone that takes killer pictures.
  10. Cook more. Gather more people around the table and cook for them and with them. That’s when my heart comes most alive. Still working on this one, but it’s still one of my favorite things.
  11. Start playing a sport again. I miss the teamwork and comradery that comes with that. Does watching sports count? Cause I did lots of that.
  12. Try more local restaurants. This place has some of the best around and I’ve been to embarrassingly few of them. I think I made a good dent in this one. Slowly, slowly.
  13. Visit Australia. This will be the year. IT HAS TO BE. NEXT YEAR HAS TO BE.
  14. Continue to read often. I want to keep up this habit I’ve picked up over the last year. Every. Year.
  15. Go to Stone Brewery more. Because pretzels and brussel sprouts. Always and forever.
  16. Also, learn more low carb options of all the carb filled foods. Because that kind of feels like Christmas to the two T1Ds in the house.
  17. Make it to Fresno more often. How am I so close, yet so far? Ugh. FAILED.
  18. Play games more often. The sound of laughter in the midst of competitiveness is the best thing. Need to focus on this one next year. Maybe once football season is over…
  19. Stop overthinking things. And by that I mean try to overthink things less. And by that I mean just start chiseling away at that monumental task. Ha…yeah, about that.
  20. Explore the options when it comes to grad school. Who knows where that may lead… Still figuring out what this looks like.
  21. Work on hand-letting and graphic design more. I need to spend more time learning what I enjoy. Chipping away at this one. Still learning LOTS.
  22. See snow for more than 12 hours at a time. My soul comes alive in the snow.
  23. Invest more money in quality items and less money on things that aren’t sustainable or needed.
  24. See more of California.
  25. Focus more on my writing. I haven’t done nearly enough of that in the last 12 months.
  26. Enjoy 2017. There’s beauty and pain and redemption everywhere I look. See it, notice it, remember it. The pain makes the redemption that much more beautiful.

So as 2017 comes to be, as new resolutions and goals are set, let us remember that each day is fresh and new – as are His mercies. Treat each day as such, as a blank slate with the beautiful opportunity ahead of us to make Him GREATER.

Photo by Christina Jean Photography.

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shine on us

Oh, how I’ve loved having a house full of people again.

Living alone, working alone, and finishing online classes was a little too much for this extravert to handle. While the down time was nice and the transition was needed, I was getting a little antsy not having other people to do everyday life with. It was the first time I had ever lived entirely on my own & I had reached my maximum capacity of solitude.

Now, I have a house that never sleeps, is always on the go, and full of laughs – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have two littles that keep me entertained and giggling all day as they dance around the house, throwing in a “baby yoga” pose or two along the way. It’s been a joy watching their “firsts” in America, and I love seeing the amazement on their faces as they experience something new.

So here’s to adventures and laughs and not enough sleep. To iced coffee and popcorn and lots of champagne. To the snuggles and meltdowns and the moments in between.

And speaking of adventures, here’s a glimpse of our little one today.

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look out

I’ve come to love the unexpected.

Whether it’s a last minute coffee date or an unexpected life change – I love the anticipation and the unknown that comes with it.

A few weeks ago, this unexpected came in the form of a 36 hour road trip to Florida for a few days of fun in the sun. While it did, in fact, come with fun – the sun was…lacking. It ran, far away from this vitamin D deficient [partly Ugandan] soul. But still, it was Florida – and there was no snow.

We saw manatees, drank coffee, froze our tails off walking around downtown Disney, and listened to one too many – high school years – mixed CDs. However, we did stop to take a few pictures during our manatee adventures. Having a model for a best-friend doesn’t hurt during impromptu photo shoots.

Here’s to the unexpected. To road trips and photoshoots, and adventure.

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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.

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.

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Memories.

There are so many memories here. So many things take me back to the amazing summer I spent here.

Walking Main Street. Sitting at Flavours drinking coffee. Mangos. French pressed coffee. Boda Bodas. Not a day goes by where I don’t catch myself smiling at a sweet recollection of the many days spent wandering around this small town.

As I write this, I’m sitting back in the same spot that I spent so many summer evenings. This whole house holds a little piece of my heart – and always will.

The crazy light switches – clearly you need to have two switches on before you’re able to turn on the living room lights. IV drips hung from living room light fixtures – their obvious purpose. The kitchen – so many late night conversations were had while sitting on those countertops. Late night work sessions at the dining room table. Early mornings – where words were few and far between, but coffee was the common language. Movies until 2am and conversations that lasted hours beyond that. Eating Nutella with a spoon – catching people eating MY Nutella, but loving them anyway.

So many stories were shared in this house. So many hard questions were asked. Pain was experienced – joy was felt.

That summer changed me. I grew in unmeasurable ways. I walked paths that I never expected to have in front of me. I learned how to love better – I learned how to except love better. I asked the hard questions – I answered the hard questions. I built up relationships that are certain to last a lifetime. I experienced Uganda, learned about the people, learned about myself, and did all of that with my best friends at my side.

Here’s to reliving precious memories. Here’s to creating new memories. Here’s to savouring every moment of this beautiful and painful life that we are given. Here’s to living out every moment with JOY. Here’s to the next year in this beautiful country that stole my heart just six months ago.

Memories. The sweet reminders of days past.

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come on my soul

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Here I sit – goodness only knows how many feet in the air – somewhere over the Atlantic.

Is this real life? Am I actually sitting on a plane making the twenty-some hour journey to my new home? I think this is happening.

So much anticipation has lead to this moment. So many prayers have been said over my trip and this next season of life. I have been overwhelmed with the support people have provided me with. It doesn’t seem real yet. I think I need a little red dirt on my feet and a kid in my arms before reality will start to sink in. The level of excitement I’m currently feeling is probably equivalent to the excitement felt by so many kiddos on Christmas Eve. My Christmas Eve is just a few days late. (Now if I had a little extra leg room and one less flight, it really would be like Christmas.)

I have no idea what the next few days will look like, let alone the next few months or even year – and I love that I can be okay with that. I’ve allowed myself to be comfortable enough to relinquish control and allow God to place my feet for me. Having said that, I still have many moments where I have to actively give up that control. There are so many times that I would love to change a situation or wish that things could be different – but when it comes down to it, that’s a fantastic recipe for stress and worry. Nothing feeds stress than control. Nothing leads to worry more than unfavorable circumstances. The very minute that you give that control over to the ultimate planner, the stress fades away – the worry subsides. It’s incredible how freeing surrender can feel. I’m still working on it, it’s come a long way – and my time in Uganda played a huge part in that.

I learned so many lessons during my short two months this summer. I was challenged beyond any boundary than I ever had before, but I was empowered in so many ways that allowed me to be successful in what I was doing. I can’t wait to see what happens over the next few months. Who knows where and when my Ugandan journey will end, but right now I’m just excited for it to begin.

Let’s do this. Will you join me?

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So I’m sitting on my next flight after writing this blog and found myself in a state of complete worry. It was about something stupid that my mind thought up and exploded from there. As I was sitting there trying not to worry about it I realizes how ridiculous I was being having written a blog about that very thing just hours before. Like I said, it’s still a work in progress, but it’s an active decision – and I’m still trying to make the right choice.

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torn apart

While this upcoming move is filled with nothing but new experiences and unchartered waters, the season that I find myself in is all too familiar – I’ve been here before. Sure, it was a different city country, a different group of friends, and a different leap – but these feelings I’m experiencing aren’t foreign to me.

I was laying in bed – because let’s be honest, the only time I have a somewhat intelligent thought is when I’m trying fall asleep – and just couldn’t explain why, that in all of this uncertainty and change, I felt oddly comfortable. I’ve been here before.

I’ve done anything possible to avoid packing.

I’ve dreaded saying goodbye to my best friends.

I’ve tried to do all of the “this is my last time…” activities.

I’ve been excited for the next chapter, but dreaded the step between here and there.

There are so many things I will miss about this sweet town of Brevard. There are things that I’ve been waiting months to be back doing. In one way, my heart is torn. In another, I know I’m stepping into something much bigger than myself with nothing but excitement and absolute fear. So many things things I will miss, so many things to look forward to.

Things I’ll miss:

  • Sitting here listening to my friends cackle while playing Cards Against Humanity.
  • Seeing my best friends everyday.
  • Seeing the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Being 45 minutes away from some of the most beautiful outlooks on the Parkway.
  • The bakery.
  • Scarves and wool socks.
  • Good breweries.
  • Spontaneous trips to Asheville for Indian food.
  • Road trips.
  • Sushi.
  • Changing seasons.
  • Concerts. I’m really going to miss those.
  • Nights spent around the dining room table with some of the people I love the most.

Things I’m looking forward to:

  • Holding my sweet Eli.
  • Running around with Silas.
  • Coca-Cola with cane sugar.
  • Causing trouble with the Collie kids.
  • Cappuccinos from Flavours.
  • Boda rides with epic soundtracks.
  • A tan.
  • ENOing on warm Sunday afternoons.
  • Red dirt.
  • Having Betty chase me around the house trying to get a “real smile” out of me.
  • Betty’s samosas.
  • The fish room.
  • Mango. Avocado. Pineapple.
  • Being back with my Ugandan family.

The end of a chapter. An opportunity for new beginnings.

Dale Partridge (founder of Sevenly) publishes “The Daily Positive” on his blog. Yesterday’s theme was “In The End, We Only Regret The Chances We Don’t Take”. He talks about finding your passion, the people who mean the most to you, a place that excites you and where those overlap you find yourself “living the dream”. Well, I think I’ve found it. I’m doing what I love with Sole Hope, the Collies are like my family, and Uganda holds nothing but excitement for the future. I think some would say I’m “living the dream”. I pray that I savour every moment, take in every experience, and find joy in the small things. I’m doing what some people can’t even imagine – I’m living my very own dream.

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nothing i hold on to

Five flights. One missed connection. 40+ hours of travel.

Never have I been so excited to finally reach a destination. From eleven hour layovers to less than sufficient leg room, the journey here was less than ideal. Having said that, being here as made every knee pain more than worth it.

The drive from the airport in Entebbe to Jinja was about three hours long. I spent half of the drive bobbing, trying not to fall asleep. It’s a beautiful country and I didn’t want to miss anything along the way. I arrived at the Sole Hope guesthouse to great friends and much needed hugs. After dragging in my heavy bags and distributing the many snacks that made the trek with me, it started to sink in that I was finally here. The trip I had been planning for so long was happening. I was in Uganda.

That first day included my first boda ride, experiencing a good coffee shop, walking down main street and exploring some of the shops, and having my first Ugandan meal…spaghetti. I forced myself to keep going and not take a nap in hopes of kicking my jetlag swiftly in the butt. My one day of being in a non-functioning state definitely paid off when I found myself barely experiencing any jetlag past that first day.

Day two started with a delicious Americano and less than stellar wifi, but it was wifi nonetheless. After a few Instagram pictures, some Facebook stalking, and a few iMessages, we were off to get me a Ugandan phone. This phone is beautiful. I feel like I am back in middle school borrowing my mom’s phone while I roamed around the mall. However, it was a ridiculously reasonable price and will be great to help me stay connected while I’m here. After that, Asher and I went to find a baby home, which turned into a boda adventure, some aimless wandering, and uphill walk back home. Needless to say, we didn’t find the baby home. After our small excursion, we went to a village just outside of downtown and were able to see where all the SUUBI necklaces were made and were able to get a quick glimpse of what village life may look like. There’s a football field in the middle of the village where we are hoping to start a little game when we go back on Saturday. By the end of the day my feet were covered with red dirt – the sign of a good day in my books.

Yesterday consisted of organizing the garage, a failed attempt at a medical trip to a nearby village (thanks to lots of rain and dirt roads), and sometime to play with the kiddos at a local orphanage. The children here are beautiful. Within moments of entering the playground gates, a little girl walked right to me and raised her arms. I picked her up without hesitation and she was glued to me for a good while. Such a sweet little girl. It wasn’t too long before Asher and I ventured into the baby room, which we soon nicknamed “heaven”. Such precious little ones ranging from several weeks, to several years old. I was able to feed a little month old baby with the most beautiful eyes. I think I could have spent hours there and I’m sure I’ll find myself back there in the near future.

Today started out with another quick visit for coffee and wifi before we head back out in hopes of making it to the village that we failed to visit yesterday. It’s been a nice morning to just relax and take a moment to process so many things that have happened this week.

Thank you for all the prayers while travelling and so far during my trip. It’s definitely been a transition, but luckily I have wonderful friends here who have made it much easier.

It’s a wonderful city. It is already going too quickly. It’s sure to be an adventure.

(This blog is going up a bit late, but I will have one recapping my first jigger removal clinic from this past weekend up in the next little bit.)