Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Day 23:opportunity

I am exhausted, but I feel thankful today for opportunity...the opportunity to serve the city I love through my church and the relationships it has with those in the city. I am thankful I have the means and opportunity. So many have asked for money to help those in Nepal, but my heart aches most for those hurting in my backyard. I know Nepal needs help and I have friends and their families there too, but this is home. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dat 22: The Gift to Share

Today was one of my graduate presentations, which I have been nervous about all semester. It is my longest presentation, but also about the topic I care about the most- Child life. Initially I asked if I could discuss Drama, but I was quickly shot down, and for that I am grateful. I realized later that this professor wants us to disccuss more deeply profound issues in schools. Some did not choose those issues, but I think she knew I was okay taking on a challenge, so she dared me. Challenge accepted.

I was a bit nervous to be honest, but I always am before a presentation. I get stage fright. I know. The actor gets stage fright. I do. Every. Time. Ever since I siezed up completely in a performance in college, it has scared me....(that performance that I siezed up in was the best I have given in my life, for the record. I siezed up, but was able to use the fear to propel the monologue to a place it had never been. It was kinda great,  even if I had a complete diva-esque meltdown right afterwards.) I get stagefright, but whenever I get in front of an audience, or in this case a classroom, suddenly it all melts away. It is in that moment I remember that I love this and I wouldn't change it for the world.

I had the opportunity to present child life to my teacher colleagues and it was as if I had opened a whole new world before them. It was beautiful. It was absolutely my blessing for the day and I felt honored to share it with them and share a bit of myself and my hopes for the future with them.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 21: Energy and My Baltimore

When I got home today, I smiled and said what a great day today was. Then I looked at my digital Washington Post and hear the helicopters and sirens that were too far to hear at work. Reality set in. As I started to ponder this I wasn't sure what I was thankful for. My heart is heavy and so shaken by all that is happening so close to home. I don't know what to say. I don't know what I can do. I close my eyes and pray, but all that happens is tears flow. The thing that comes to mind is...
Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city... I never thought that applied to home but today... To Baltimore, which I visit at least once a week... I had no idea you held so much pain and anguish within your borders...

When I think about my day, it pales in comparison to the days of others whose lives were destroyed. I think of the children my friend teaches in the city. What was their day like? I think of my friend whose husband is in blue. What was their day like? I feel guilty talking about my day. 

I will anyway but I'll keep it brief. Thanks to my rest yesterday, I felt energized today, took on the day despite many wrenches hurdled at me and only needed like 1/2 my normal coffee intake!!!:) Hoping to keep sleep to 8 hours- no less his week to keep the energy flowing.

Back to what I was saying before. If you are reading this, please pray for my Baltimore. No, I am not one of those pain in the butt Marylanders who goes once a year and claims it as theirs, but I truly love this city. As I type, I have heard a helicopter and 3 sets of sirens. I had no clue it could get so close to home.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day 20:sleep

It's amusing to me how offended people are that I decided to stop using Facebook for the time being. People are acting like I am dying. I promise, I am very much alive and well. I just need to focus on the final weeks of school and the people who are right here in front of me instead of fancifully following people who I don't actually know, but merely follow on a page designed for people to foster feelings of jealousy. That's where I am at. Do not try to convince me, because you are not me. I need a break, so that is what I am doing. If people want to talk to me, they will find a way. I will be off of Facebook at least until day 40 of my 40 day challenge. We will see how things go from there.

Anyway,... today has been low-key, but I realized how tired I really was because I have spent much of the day sleeping. Which has been really nice. Minus the obscure dreams...but we can't always get what we want right? I suppose the rest is my blessing of the day- time to just take naps and rest.

I have a lot of thoughts running around this head of mine, but I'm not really sure how to write them, so I'm going to wait until an opportunity presents itself at a later time.

For now, enjoy the final moments of the weekend, love those who are around you, soak up the moments of those in your days, and make the most of the moments you have- for you never know when might be your last.

Day 19: Time

Today, I had the luxury of time. I was able to have the time to study for 3 straight hours this morning into the afternoon, then work on a project this evening for a solid 4.5 hours. I had no idea it would take me that long, but I am so thankful I had the time to work on it. So often, I am simply rushed and have to get things done and feel the heat, but today, I could focus on a task at a time and work through things.

Now, I am by no means much further on my list, but I feel better. Tomorrow is my rest day. Tomorrow's rest day will be modified to include time to clean. My room is a disaster and needs to be cleaned/organized. I will mandate myself to sleep in, I'll meet a friend for some lunch, then I'll head back and clean on my own watch. If I get overwhelmed by the thought of work at any point, I'll give myself permission to work on one project, but no more and I will give myself a time limit. Otherwise, no work until Monday. I need tomorrow to cool my coals and gear up for what very well may be the craziest week of the semester.

On another note, after some thought and reflection, I have decided to disable my Facebook, at least for the time being. I need a break from it all. I am so overwhelmed by the idea that there are real live people around me daily that I miss because I am so captivated by looking at people's 'highlight reel', which breeds jealousy in me and thoughts that are not thoughts I want to have about my friends. I don't understand why it has become okay for people to share photos, thoughts, reflections, and feelings with 1,000 of their 'friends', when true friends are sitting there waiting for them to call, spend time with them, share a photo with them directly, or reach out. This is going to be hard for me. I have people all over the world who will not even blink at the fact that I am not on facebook anymore. But, this will make me take a look at the relationships I have and decide which were superficial and superfluous, and which are meaningful and ones that I need to truly foster and hold dear to me.

I have so much on my heart and mind tonight, but I will share more tomorrow, as I hope to write a bit of a longer blog, since it's my down day:) My heart is heavy and I certainly think there's a reason I have this burden. I am both nervous and excited to see where this leads. More tomorrow.

Till then, be safe. Love those around you. As we taught our kids tonight, be a part of the SOLUTION, not the problem... boy does that ever reign true tonight.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 18:Bounty

Today was a day where I had to convince myself to not panic, breathe, and repeat. I had a full class today and one of the kids has never had me without my head teacher before. She is one of our youngest, but truly needs the firmness my head teacher provides that simply is not in my teaching style. Today I had to pretend it was because I was hit, kicked and spat on enough that I was at my wits end. That and the other kids were also going through this- not just me, so we all needed me to be firmer than normal. 

At lunch, I almost got into a pretty nasty car accident, but thankfully saw the car coming who would've plowed me...they were at fault btw. At that moment, I had it. I burst into tears. I am not a tearful person generally, but when I am stressed, I can end up that way in seconds depending on the situation... This was one of them. 

I gathered myself, got a powerful coffee, got work done, geared up for the afternoon and did well for about an hour then hit a wall and there was no saving it... 

Despite the chaos, panic, frustration, anger, pain, and tears of the day... There is a blessing:)

When I was getting my things together this morning, this is what I saw...
My little corner of the fridge- bare...old Hummus and brown rice were the knly companions. I knew what was coming later in the day... Friday is grocery day. I never have time Saturday and Sunday would be too stressful and it is my rest day, so Friday on my way home from work, I go to Aldi. This week I also went to get more coffee to fuel the studying I needed to do, which thankfully worked. 

I got this stash...for...wait for it...
$14!!!! Fruit, veggies, eggs, milk, and yogurt for the week- my staples. I have frozen curry and stir fry so no need for other food. Perfection. I felt blessed to have 1)access to foods at all. Food that is good for me and fuels me. Food that is safe, clean and won't kill me if I pick the wrong one. 2)access to affordable food. For so long I assumed if I want to eat well, I must pay an arm and a leg. While I am learning I do need to buy some foods organic, I am learning which I do not need to and am able to work with it. 

Thankful is what I am. I never waste my food because I have seen too many who have no food. I challenge you to ponder that thought and ship mindfully. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 17:Music

I feel like this is a cop-out, but truly, I have no more to say than this.... I am at the bottom of my barrel today. I am the head teacher until next Tuesday, I have 4 HUGE projects due in the next 2 weeks, along with 4 papers I've pushed off, which is my fault and I am drowning.

Without the soundtracks that have helped keep my head above water and God... I would have crumbled and given up by now. Praying and listening my way through the next 2 weeks and praying harder than ever I get offered this great opportunity to serve my department so that I can ease up on the work and focus more on school.

I feel like I am drowning, but thankful for my life vest and anchor at times like these. Prayers and encouragement appreciated. Caffeine too if you have any.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 16: Jello Arms and Libraries

Honestly, as if this semester hasn't been hard enough- working 27 hours at my job and an extra 5-10 elsewhere plus schoolwork, this last day has chewed me up and spat me out. I literally had to sit and write each detail I need to complete before the end of the semester in 3 weeks. I also keep missing a week and saying its 2 weeks and earlier in the week I kept saying 4...3 weeks... I can do it!!

I feel extra crazy, but trying to keep my priorities straight and focus! This girl is a creative thinker, which means if you give me an assignment, I run hard and fast the other way until I have no choice but to do it. I am also an overachiever, so my work must be done well... Quite the match, but works for me, though it can be quite stressful.

Amidst the chaos, there are blessings. I am so thankful today for my yoga buddy who keeps me accountable and gets me to commit bi-weekly to yoga, even when my arms feel like they are jello. 

The biggest blessing today is the library. There is an incredible library about a mile from my job. It is one of the best in the state and it is incredible, with phenomenal staff. They helped me get an Educator card today, troubleshoot some issues, and check out my 40+ items. Without a library so close to work, I would lose my mind! I go at least twice a week, if not 3-5. I rely on it for my Literature assignments and they make it so easy! 

Check out my stack today...
I have two big bags of books in my room too:) so thankful for access to books that is so reliable, friendly and awesome!!!! Makes reading fun for me!!

Day 15: Walks and Curry

I don't have much to say except for my blessings, so I'll cut to the chase.

Today, I decided to walk to school for the first time.. well the first time that I actually had class. I got home from babysitting in a tizzy, as I had 5 minutes to get lunch and snacks packed- something I had wanted to do in the morning but felt those extra 10 minutes of sleep were more important. So, I was running around and took about 10-15 minutes to actually complete these tasks. I ran out the door and walked with purpose. The trip there was a bit of a trek. I walked and for some reason chose to cut straight through campus, which means ALL UPHILL... what was I thinking? I do not know. All I do know is that my quads and calves were SCREAMING when I get to class. I got a few 'wow... what is wrong' stares, but then explained that I had just walked from home and picked the wrong route. Now I know.

Alas, sometimes we learn only the hard way. I made it in the nick of time despite thinking I would surely be late. After a day full of presentations and an awesome speaker who spoke to us about Rachel Carson's legacy and those who followed, who I'd never heard of until last week and is my latest fascination, I took the trek back home. However, when a trip is all uphill one way, what is the way back? All downhill.

On my way home, I took a deep breath and listened to this awesome app that I love that reads the bible to you daily(the Daily Audio Bible) and it was an awesome way to round out the day of learning. That and a plate of organic fruits and veggies, as Rachel Carson was all about pesticide-free foods. I was in my happy place.

Why was I walking at all... well, recently, I remembered a post I wrote so long ago that I stumbled upon recently...  Called The Good Life . It is from when I was on the ship and didn't have many of the freedoms I was used to at home, but suddenly had again when I was in Tenerife. One of which was walking alone with no fear. At the end of the post, I urge myself to walk as much as I can at home, since I have two perfectly good legs that can get me places.... therefore, I have no reason NOT to walk. Sure, I can make excuses, but I used to miss this freedom, and I have it again. I may not have it in the future, so I need to take advantage.

As I got home, I had plans to make dinner. It was almost 6:30 by this point, making this dinner in my mind around 8pm, but I was okay with that... I love to cook. So, I pulled out all of the ingredients I thought of on my walk home an started whipping up my new favorite to cook- Curry. I never touched curry until about a month ago, as it scared me. But then, a roommate explained the process, and I realize really it's not that difficult. I made a small batch, and it was amazing. So, tonight I made a massssssive batch. I am so excited. I love curry, and this one is super duper delicious and I certainly have enough for a while!! That's another thing I missed while I was away... cooking.
The Ingredients(some of them)

Simmering away
My hands aren't used to this kind of chopping anymore!! Got to get those callouses back!
The final product

So, I sit here contemplating my day, which was exhausting and I am struggling to lift my arms today due to our fierce workout last night, but there are still great blessings, even when I am not in the best of spirits. Thank you God for that! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 14:thunderstorms and chats

It was a much unwanted re-entry back into  'the grind' today, much to my dismay after a great weekend. Went to bed far too late, slept poorly, had one of my infamous tornado dreams, which are always incredibly realistic, got up late, got to work late... The usual. 

Thankfully the kids made me giggle lots this morning to cheer up this Monday and the weather cleared up enough for us to go outside:) It was HOT this morning, but I'll take that over cold any day. 

After a very sluggish morning, I got my normal afternoon coffee which jolted me awake and set me up for the afternoon ahead. I had a toddler crying for over an hour- I think she is getting sick, while another brought mulch in from outside and scattered it around the classroom,  while parents arrived to get their little ones. It was one of THOSE days. 

Thankfully some sweet moments with another little one after everyone left and then the events after made up for the rough patches of the day. 

We had our normal crossfit, but it was a bit amped up, as our fearless leaders wanted a good challenge too... I could hardly support any weight with my arms after... But I sat down and looked out the door and saw one of my favorite things...- thunderstorm rolling in.  

If you know me, you may know I have a HUGE fear of tornadoes. However, this fear has turned me into a storm lover, as it forced me to get to know what makes a storm that can form a tornado versus one that will not.  Living in Africa, I have seen many a storm with never a threat of tornado, as the conditions are not favorable there for tornadoes. Man were they beautiful. The storm tonight let me sit for a brief moment and breathe and take in the beauty.

Afterwards, I went home, showered- booooy did we SWEAT tonight!!! Then I made a late dinner and did some school work. Not long after, roommates rolled in. Which leads me to blessing 2:)

I have no idea if she will ever see this, but I have an amazing roommate, Megan, who is an incredible listener. If you know me at all, you know I am a talker. I have a plethora of stories to tell, I love to share them, I am very animated and can talk for hours if you let me. I also love people , so if given the choice of talking versus homework.... People trump all always. 

Also, when I am tired. I ramble. I have become increasingly aware of this since moving in with these lovely ladies, as I do this often. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful, patient roommate who takes interest in my life, my interests, and my ramblings. I never feel like a burden, even when I have talked forever:) thanks Megan!!!!

Goodnight world! I shall be sore tomorrow, but it bout pain, you cannot get stronger! 

Day 13: Zoo, Kenya, and Concert

Today was not originally planned as super eventful, but it became so, and I have to say, I would have not had it any other way.

I got up, much to my dismay, because there was much to be done, but more importantly, I wanted to get my tail to church. I had an added incentive, as I had a friend meeting me and we had plans to grab coffee or do something afterwards. This 'something afterwards' turned into taking her amazingly sweet 5 year old to the zoo, which was an incredibly awesome, unexpected surprise to my day. So much fun to spend time with these awesome new friends of mine and just enjoy the beautiful day.

Afterwards, I got back to the church just in time to meet with my awesome Kenya team. We had fun chatting our way through ice breakers and getting to know more about the trip. The closer we come, the more excited I get. Tomorrow I get my current totals, so I will be sure to keep you all up-to-date on those. The ACTUAL deadline for money for plane fare is May 2nd. We were told today in order to get our tails in high-gear, which worked. Also we are estimating that fee to be $1600, not $1900, as originally planned, which is a relief. But, with the funds I have already, this means that I still have a good $500 to go... Praying tomorrow I wake up to find that number gone and the relief of funds there.

After our meeting, I went to Starbucks to hash out some homework. I was super duper unfocused, but thanks to my coffee and my old faithful soundtrack which always gets me focused- the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack a friend from the ship got me into.... do NOT judge- GO LISTEN... It is stunning... beautiful orchestrations with AMAZING percussion lines and horn work!!!! It always gets me focused. It is actually what I have playing now, as I finish my homework and get ready to turn in for the night.

After my homework session, which ended up being successful for the hour I focused out of 2, I went to a concert with my dad. We saw Mike Roe and The Choir. Not Mike Roe from Dirty Jobs- Mike Roe from The Lost Dogs!!!! I knew him LONG before Mike Roe from Dirty Jobs was remotely famous:) Check him out!!! We saw them at GenXaret, which was awesome. A really cool atmosphere- chill ambiance and a fun time. They ended on a bit of a somber note, but that's okay... every now and then we all need that.

Afterwards, on my drive home, I reflected a bit on my day and realized something. God is so so so so so so faithful to me. He saw my needs this week before I even realized I had them. I had this hole in my life before this semester of needing some solid awesome people to be friends with, and guess what? He's slowly, but surely filling that hole. I didn't realize how lonely I had been, since I have been entirely too busy to notice, but he's slipped people into my life to be there with me- to do awesomely unexpected and fun things with, to chat with, to go across the world with, to challenge me physically and emotionally,and to do life with. Amazing. He knew just what I needed this weekend, and for that I am so grateful.

I am SO bummed the weekend is over, but I go to bed with a smile on my face and a full soul, knowing it was an amazing weekend full of joy, a few tears, lots of laughter, and reflection. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Day 12:Requiem

Today... today was alltogether a blessing.

I slept in, but didn't oversleep and woke up rested. I had time to chill when I got up and watch Greys... If you are watching it, please PM me so we can vent together.... BUHHHH!!! Shonda Rhimes what are you doing to us???? The show is over in 4 weeks! I can't say I am surprised thought...

Then, I got to go to a childhood friend's bridal shower, who I was able to reconnect with over a year ago because she and her sister were the ones who invited me to Mosaic! :) Funny how life comes full circle sometimes. It was a fun time of good food, good friends, and new people.

Afterwards, I was invited to come to DC to see a friend perform Brahm's Requiem. Didn't know much about the piece, but it was a 200 piece choir plus the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, which said friend plays clarinet for. The concert was at the National Presbyterian Church. I got there super early, so I drove around and took a peek at American University's campus, which is right there. What a BEAUTIFUL campus! I kinda wish I considered that for undergrad. Not that I regret UMBC... I don't at all... I love my UMBC... but I had no idea that was all there... After I took in some of the beautiful spring scenery(no I didn't see THE cherryblossoms, but I did see some  cherryblossoms and other beautiful spring flowers and trees around), I headed back and decided to see if the doors to the church were open.

This event was FREE.... um... whhhhhhatttt???? Free... I walked in, people were so nice and showed me the way to the sanctuary. It was STUNNING... Stained glass like I have NEVER seen in the states. I could not have picked a better setting for this piece... That and the acoustics... wow... incredible.You would never need a microphone in that place.

As I waited, I chatted with an older man and his wife, who just happened to find out about the concert and came for fun. A harpist and oboeist were warming up, and I said, "Man... I love a good oboe..." and the older man argued that it was a clarinet. I disagreed and explained the sound is different and the structure of the instrument is different. He then pointed and said he thought THAT was an oboe... I explained that he was pointing to a bassoon... another of my favorites. I think if I could do it all again, I would pick the bassoon or the french horn as my instrument of choice... we then discussed the differece between a glockenspiel and xylophone and I gave him a lesson on different keyboard instruments... it was actually a lot of fun for me.

Then the concert began. This concert was more of a blessing than I could have ever anticipated. My friend told me right before that music like this feeds the soul.... oh boy did it ever. My body got no rest today, but my soul feels so rested and full... this is what happened...

So Brahm's requiem is different from others,as it focuses on those who are still living versus those who have left us. Now, as you may, or most of you may not know, April is a hard month for me. It just is. Between the stress of school, and the feelings April brings, it is incredibly overwhelming. Through the week, I was reminded that last week was the anniversary of the passing of a friend, and the next two weeks hold two separate anniversaries of friends who have died. One completely unexpectedly, one had cancer but went fast and far too soon, and one who was a patient of mine, who I actually prayed by the end for Jesus to take her, because I wanted her suffering to be over... for their stories, check out this blog post from a while back.... Remembering

Entering the piece with this on my mind was actually pretty powerful. I was actually able to think a lot about my experiences and naviate through them by way of the music. Had I had the whole room to myself, which would have been incredible, but totally impossible, I would have let the music sweep over me and let my emotions captivate me and let me sob, remembering those who have left me bein, but also laugh as I think of the amazing joys the piece brings to mind.

As an incredibly creative-minded person, with music being one of my main centers of creativity, I also just let my mind wander. My mind NEVER EVER stops... Never... when i go to bed, I am always thinking through some scenario from my day, a list of things to do, something I don't want to forget, and then when I finally fall asleep, my mind creates these obscure and bizarre dreams. I do not exaggerate when I say the moment I fall asleep, I begin to dream... it is very true... its all my mind. So, I allowed my music to captivate me and allowed my mind to play with the music. At first, (I wish I could show you the movie in my mind because it is beautiful and pairs the music with my picture) I imagined a beautiful woman, who had lost someone, dressed in a beautiful flowing white dress. She danced as if her soul had been torn from her, but as the music progresses, she finds peace. Later, she suddenly became the person who was dying in my little mind movie. It was beautifully gut-wrenching and devastating. She didn't look like she was dying, but she struggled... think of it as if this woman was a dancer doing a piece... thats how I see her in my mind...

Anyway... with this going on in my mind, along with thinking of my dear ones I have lost in April over the years, I shed a few tears during the dark, deep, mournful sounds of the beginning of the Requiem, but the words of the music turn to thinking of how free and happy those who have died are dancing in heaven. Now, this poses a complex conundrum for me, as I have no idea of the 3 if 2 of the 3 were believers... if they weren't, they wouldnt be dancing happily in heaven, but for the purposes of the piece, i focused on the joy, not the fear and sadness.

It was a beautiful way to spend my evening. Truly, stunning. I have missed hearing classical music in my life eversince I left band.... I hated my band teacher, but loved being a part of somethign so much bigger than myself. My little part made a big difference in the cocophany of sound. I also miss singing in a choir a ton. But, this filled my heart to the brim and helped my mind sort some things out and cope with the time of the year a bit.

On the way home, I grabbed pizza at a little place my friend recommended(banging pizza!!!), then reflected on the piece the whole drive home.... which was long, beccause i got lost and my phone was dead... but i didn't mind... more time to think of those dear friends I lost, their legacy, how I remember them and how that has helped shape me into who I am. <3

Friday, April 17, 2015

Day 11: The Tale of Two Rings

Finally, the story I have been wanting to tell all week, but simply have not had time to write out in a way I was pleased with...

On Monday, we had our Crossfit night, as always. This week we did one set of exercises inside, then moved outside to do sled pushes and tire pulling. Not sure if that is the technical name, but it sounds nice.

Afterwards, we all came back inside and ate some awesome healthy snacks and chatted. Before we all went our own ways, but our numbers dwindled, one of our fearles leaders, Marlena, mentioned that her wedding ring was missing. She had put it in her phone, but her phone had been moved a ton over the course of the night, and the ring was now MIA. There were speculations of where it was lost, but after a brief sweep with 5 of us, they needed to get home to put their daughter to bed.

Marlena kept saying it was super cheap and it was okay, but I knew, like any wedding ring, it has a ton of meaning. So, I pretended like I was getting my car, then got out and ran back inside. When I got inside, I found two of my fellow crossfit mates searching high and low already. I was relieved, as I was about to rally the troops. I didn't need to- they had already reallied themselves. We opened up the garage doors of the gym in the back of teh church, used our phones to shine light(thank God for cellphones with flashlights) and the serach was on.

Now, the coolest part was the discussion that occured while we were looking. One of the guys who was looking told me that their friend lost their wedding ring in a lake in the sand. The friend lost hope, but everyone was determined to find the ring. They prayed, and about 20 minutes, they found it.

At this moment, I almost burst into tears, because the reason I ran back in intially is because I have my own ring story... I thought I wrote about this before, but I haven't, so here it is...

When I went on my tour of Israel in 2012, I was swimming in the sea of Galilee with some friends... lets pause there... how surreal is that sentence?? Anyway.. I was swimming with some of the girls, and a friend of mine had a ring that she got made years earlier in Israel that had her name in Hebrew engraved in it. As we swam in the sea, which was very calm- much like a lake with a few small waves, we jumped all around, spashed and enjoyed eachother. Carys looked up and realized her ring was gone. Jordy and I looked at eachother and there were two choices we could have made... 1)give up, 2) search.... we decided to look. Carys was certain it was lost and said she could get a new once made- what a better place to lose a keepsake from Israel than in Isreal?

We prayed out loud, then looked, and looked, and looked, for what seemed like forever. I remember the sun had set and we were still feelinge  everywhere. After over 30 minutes of searching in the sand and the path of the current, one of the girls felt down, and there it was. A testament of God's faithfulness right there in front of us.

After this, I decided to get a ring made in Isreal, and actually got my name in Hebrew as well. It was only Monday that I realzied the deeper meaning of the ring on my own finger. Initially, I made it as a reminder of God's love for me and as a purity ring of sorts, since I lost the one I got in high school long ago at the pool... but then it donned on me... it is also a reminder of God's faithfulness. It reminds me that He knows my name- He knew it before I was even born. He has my future laid before me. He knows whether I will have a wedding ring and who will put it on my finger, and if not, why and what great plans he has instead. Often on the ship, I would trace my ring with my finger as a reminder that his love for me never ends... it goes on and on, just like my ring.

So.... after much searching through leaves, weights, crevaces, spider webbed tires, and concrete, I searched less than a foot away from where Marlena's husband was searching. When they gave up to go home, I had a feeling in my stomach to look there, so after 30 minutes of searching, I did. And guess what? It was there!!!!!

I was so excited, I literally started crying on my way home. Not necessarily because we found it, but because all that I just wrote came to mind. Thsi was by far the biggest blessing of my week.... It is funny because it may have actually blessed me than the person who lost their property, but then again, you never really know how much you miss something, until it's lost, then found again.

Day 10: Coffee

I promise you a great one tomorrow, but this day was brought to you by coffee... Would not have been possible without it. That is all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 9:pictures was a doozy... And after a day like this I would so much rather head to sleep, but I promised myself I would do this daily, so here I am.

Today I am grateful for pictures. I have an assignment for my Childrens Literature class m where I have to write my own kids book but in a way I can easily replicate. AKA- using my own materials and keeping it free/cheap. 

This ended up taking more time than I anticipated but also became more meaningful, as I was forced to illustrate my book with my own photos, as a requirement of the project. 

I realized I have something nobody else has in that room- a multicultural perspective, but also access to different cultures. So, I wrote a book about all of 'Miss Michelle's Friends' around the world. I could have made it much longer had i exhausted all resources, but I kept it in the realm of people I know from the ship. 

This means that as I attempted to show children my friends in the two African countries I chose, I had to sift through and find my favorites.

Now, my computer is in complete disarray... No files are organized and it became clear tonight... While I was writing, I realized I had no disk space to save my book, so I had to get my external hard drive and move things over. In the process, I had to click through hundreds of pictures to find the ones  I needed. this means I had to look at the beautiful faces of the babies I left behind, two of which I so badly wished I could adopt, look at all of the patients who I spent countless hours with, see my beautiful students who always kept me in my toes and taught me more than I taught them, my big sisters and little nieces from the ship, whom I miss daily and endlessly, and the incredible landscapes and land I love and long for. My heart both shattered and felt whole as I looked at these photos. 

I am so thankful I have them to look back, yet they haunt me. I wonder what life is like for these beautiful people. I see the face of a beautiful baby who was taken far too soon... A young woman who left this earth without getting to say goodbye to her baby... I remember I am on this earth for a great purpose and  truly hope it will one day lead me back to the land I left my heart in. The land so many fear now that Ebola has ravaged, but I have never wanted to go more than when that diaaster struck... One day. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 8:Bed

Tonight, my blessing is simple. Mostly because I am exhausted and it is over an hour after I should have fallen asleep. But tonight I am thankful to have a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head, food to eat, and safety. I think of all of those who are lacking those basic needs as I end my day and I am thankful and feel incredibly blessed to have all of those needs met at this time. May not always be so, but for this moment it is. Thank you God:)

Day 7: Faithfulness

Today was incredible for so many reasons. I was the head teacher for a day, since my head teacher was out, which was stressful, sure, but also wonderful. A classroom of my own for a day and only 9/12 kids- it was sweet. That coupled with the incredible weather, that allowed us to be outside for over 2 hours total today was great. I left work late, but I had a ton to do, so really that was a good thing for me.

After work, I went to the library where I quickly got the books I needed(a rare occurance- normally takes me forever). I then headed to my crossfit group at Mosaic, which kicked my butt, as per usual, but was awesome. Each time, I learn more about myself. I learn about my boundaries, both physical and mental, as well as how strong I actually am. I surprise myself sometimes. One of the rules of the group is do not compare yourself to others, for which i am thankful because I would come down hard on myself. But with this rule, I can look at how far I have come and be proud of how much i was able to accomplish.

This week had an unexpected twist for us, which I will save for another time for once I ask permission to share the story:)

Throughout the day, I was treated with surprises of grades. I currently have and am maintining 100% in all of my courses at the moment. The credit is not on me. It is on God, who gives me my purpose each day, who dries me, who inspires me, who reeveals new things to me , who challenges me and who pushes me to be my best. I am so thankful for the student he has helped me become. 4 more weeks and this nightmare of a semester will be over. But, I cannot deny the joys I have had this semester to balance the chaos. My Monday nights have been one of the best parts of my week, no mater how hard it is or how badly my butt gets kicked. Yoga has been great.... a chance to challenge myself, wrestle my thoughts, spend time with a friend, and center myself. Tuesday mornings, where I get to babysit some sweet kiddos 2 hours a week has provided some much needed income, but also provides me with awesome interactions with incredible kids, parents, and co-sitters weekly. This semester has so many things to be thankful for sprinkled throughout. I will miss those things.

I am praying to have an easier semester next semester, but have no idea what that looks like yet.... For now, I look forward to mid-may, when I get to gain some free time in the evenings. Going back to work full time will be hard, but nowhere as hard as juggling it all. I also look forward to new growth groups and am excited that crossfit will continue this summer... our fearless leaders will continue to force me to face my deamons and get it done... and that we will:)

All day, God showed me his faithfulness once again in the smallest and biggest moments of my day. Thanks, God. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day 6:Support

Last night, I was literally falling asleep as I wrote, so I picked the easiest blessing to write up. I was on the go for about 15 hours yesterday from the party to church to babysitting then to homework. Tonight, I'll go for the biggest one i wanted to write about yesterday, but also blessed me today upon reflection.

Yesterday, my mom and I joined forces to throw a fundraiser for our trip to Kenya. Let me pause there for a moment. For those who don't know, My mom and I are going to Kenya in July with our church, Mosaic Christian Church, which my parents recently joined and I have been attending for over a year now. We will be helping out with an organization called Life in Abundance and working at a clinic. I hope to support children through procedures and provide education where possible, play with local kids, teach them about Jesus, and do off jobs around the site, while my mom will be doing awesome nursing tasks along with odd-jobs from time to time. It will be a FANTASTIC opportunity and I dont think I need to say this, but I am SOOOO ready to be back on the continent that holds my heart.

So, we threw a Jamberry Fundraiser. Jamberry is a really cool company that sells nail wraps(kinda like a sticker, but it lasts for 7-14 days and come in great designs) and a friend is a consultant, who volunteered for us to take her commission to go toward our trip. We had a fantastic turn out with over 10 people showing up. We wont have a our grand total on how much we raised until the 15th, but we know we have already raised over $200 to split between the two of us!!

I have to say, while I was a long term missionary, I struggled a lot. I never had significant financial needs because my donors were there financially, but I struggled because I never physically really felt the love. I came home and was greeted with many cold shoulders. Dont get me wrong- I am eternally grateful for the prayers and funds that made my 2.5 year trip possible, but there was something missing. That something was tangible in the group that came yesterday and in those who have been donating or participating despite not being able to be there physically. I am overwhelmed that so many people were willing to take time out of their busy day to be with us and to be with us, get to know this product, support us, and check in with us. I am blown away by how many people have logged on and given financially, whether through the fundraiser or on their own.  I feel the love- the love is there.

Thank you to everyone who has made this possible! It was a fantastic day that as made possible by many caring, giving hearts and tons of coffee coursing through my veins. I wont even say how much coffee I consumed yesterday

If you would like to join in on the Jamberry party, you still have time! We close the event on april 14th- only 2 days left!!

Follow this link:

If you prefer to give through the church go here:

If you prefer to give to me directly,, email me at

I found out today that letters I asked for someone to help me send, were never sent, so I am also overwhelmed by the people willing to give based on what they have seen on Facebook. Thank you!!!!

Today was also a great day. It started SLOOOWLY, after a rough nights sleep and weird side effects from new medication I started for migraines. But, once it got going, it went. I got up and went to spend time with Jordan while my parents caught up with friends. We went around the pond on bikes. His bike wasn't cooperating, so we took it slow, but I would speed ahead and come back and do it again until he joined most times:) It was liberating being back on my bike! I have missed it! Also my lungs, which normally sieze up under 70-75 degrees when I exercise outside were FINE!!! YAYY!!

Jordan then went to play with the neighbors and I relaxed. I then needed to go to the library to get books for my lessons this week on Bugs, got gas, and got coffee because I literally could have gone to bed for the day at 4 pm if I let myself, but I didn't want to. So, I came home, relaxed, watched tons of Hulu and Netflix(my favorite things to do on a day off, but never do durign the week), ate dinner at 8pm, and now I am here.

I apologize for any weird punctuation and spelling in this.... I am typing on my Kindle Fire Keyboard.

Anyway- Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow to hear my Monday Blessing:)

Day 5: kids

As you may or may not know, working wtb kids is my job. But, there are some days I especially love kids. Today was one of them. 

From a sweet little girl who loves to play with me, to an awesome night leading 2nd and 3rd graders at Mosaic, to babysitting my favorite twins ever. 

They are my blessing today. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 4:Surprises

Today was a great day.

I got to finally see a neurologist and we are going to try some meds, she knew Mercy Ships and that was a really cool and fun connection. Funny moment-Sitting in the waiting room and hearing the air turn off and holding my breath expecting the power to go off.... then realizing I am not on the ship...:)

Then I went back to work in a new room for today and got to keep a kid calm by helping him open up his imagination which was a blast to watch.

I went back to my room and after the mess of Wednesday, reconciled differences with a coworker and moved on.

Then I got a raise because we learned I am more qualified than we originally realized.

I came home to dinner already made because my roommate had people over and invited me to join.

Today included a TON of coffee, but it as a great day!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 3: new friends and time

JThis will be a short and sweet one:)

Today I was blessed to have time to get my oil changed(and even stayed on budget thanks to my coupon), get ink for my printer and some meds from target, then study for a while at Starbucks and fully used the free refills several times :) 

After an appointment, I also got to meet up with a new friend from my Crossfit group who has always encouraged me a ton during the workouts. She also happens to work at a daycare, so we have a ton in common:)

Now it is storming- I love storms minus the body aches and headaches:) missing my rocking ship which would be rocking nicely right now as I attempt to drift to sleep:)

It was a great day to counter the hard days:)

Day 2: Yoga Calm

There is something about Yoga.. Hot Yoga to be specific, that brings calm to me like very few things can, Some weeks I struggle through my Yoga practice, but not once have I regretted going.

Now, some background first. I go to these amazing $5 classes at Charm City Yoga- theyre so cheap becuase they are at a weird time of day- 8:30 PM... who does that? Well, me. My friend Anna and I have gone at least twice a month since the beginning of the new year, since we both lead stressful lives and need a break that helps better our bodies as well as minds. I do find some of Yoga incredibly offputting and wish I could find a stellar Yoga studio that focuses on Jesus, not Buddah and friends, but I do put my focus on God when we are supposed to meditate.

Anyway... I am so so so so thankful for Yoga- especially after a day like today. A day where I was peed on(and had to wear those clothes for 2 more hours), almost intentionally hit by one of my not quite two year olds(thank God I saw that one coming) and almost spat on immediately after almost getting hit by the same child, and told by someone I look up to and respect that I am lazy and need to work harder after I already felt I have given all I possibly can to my kids without burning out ... it was definately a much needed Yoga day.

Days with the most stress are actually the best yoga days because when I am already relaxed, I struggle the entire way through. When I had a hard day, I am able to focus that stress on the part of the body we are focusing on in our practice and it helps me hold positions better, then I release it all afterwards. Incredibly relaxing and freeing. I will be sore tomorrow, but for now I am completely thankful for Yoga and my friend who holds me accountable to go with her:)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Day 1: Rest and room to be

Honestly, today was a difficult day. I was running on not enough sleep due to my shift of sleep habits from my 'vacation' mindset to the 'back to the grind' mindset. On top of that, I got some news I didn't want to hear about the summer. I did my best not to complain, but shared with a friend who offered an ear, which helped me out a lot.

I came home after 4+ hours of classes and want straight to my keyboard. I started playing a tune I wanted so badly to master, but wound up playing another tune that is sweet, but exhibits the way I was feeling. Sweet but sorrowful. I allowed myself space and time to unravel.

After this, I heated up some dinner and went to my room, where I layed down, put Dancing with the Stars on, and rested. Nearly two hours of uninterrupted rest time. Rest is something I rarely to never get, but thanks to the slow week, and hopefully a much more productive homework day on Thursday, I have some room. Room to breathe. Room to let myself settle into the news of the day. Room to be.

Hard days still have their blessings. That is mine- Rest and room to be.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A New Journey Begins

Friends, readers, whoever you may be,

This is a long one, but I promise it's good- take a look:)

I am entering a new chapter. I am attempting to make better use of my time and resources, so I've decided to change things up for 40 days to see what cool, and perhaps some not so cool, things happen. So... with no further or do... my challenge..

My idea is to do less of some things and more of others- so less is more.... kinda..
-Less Facebook- I'll only be on once a week... that's it. If people need me, they can text, call, or PM me... Facebook is not my lifeline so it's time for me to stop wasting so much time on it.

-Less Sugar- I'll be practicing some self control by only having one sugary treat per week. This is different in the past because I am not totally stopping, but limiting. We shall see how it goes. I am confident it will be fine. Tough but fine.

-Less complaining- now this one is a tough one for me to put on here because if it's out in the open, it can be used to keep me accountable. I really don't like how negative I have become, so in order to begin more positive thinking, I will try to think more positively and be aware of the times I complain and attempt to change my negative behaviors one at a time.

-More MUSIC!!!! I want to have one good jam session per week and once a day sing a song that captures how I feel, play one of my many instruments, or just sit in silence during a song. I LOVE music, but have not had time or the motivation to produce music, so here it is:)

-More Writing!! I plan to journal daily, but it will not end there. Oh no. I plan to start compiling some of my many stories on my own to piece together a bit or a memoir, but I'll also be updating this lovely blog of mine DAILY!! Yep- Daily for 40 days- so check back on here for my daily post. I plan on focusing on the blessings of the day. Sounds a tad cliche, but when I did this while in Africa around this time of the year, it was amazing and meaningful for me. For those who are saying, "What? Africa?? Huh??" I lived in Africa for 2.5 years and tons of those stories are all over my blog- so check them out:)

-More Sharing- I hope to become a bit more real with those around me and a part of doing that is to share. Share my thoughts when appropriate, share my story, share what God has been doing in my life, share my struggles and my feats, and something that scares me but I think will be cool- share my music. I posted a song last night and got amazing response, but I feel like God was nudging me and saying, "Hey- I've given you this gift- use it and use it well... share it with others". So, you may see something along those lines posted too.

-More JESUS- My focus has been so scattered lately, and while I have not in any way attempted to push Jesus away, I haven't been spending as much time as I would like focusing on Jesus and the plans he has for my life. I keep getting ideas, and I know they are from him, but I need to focus on him and what he's saying and what the bible says to get a bit of a clearer picture of what that looks like for my life. I have a few ideas of how to do this- I am NOT a morning person, but I've been thinking about trying for the 40 days to wake up earlier than normal, which on many days is before the sun, and take time waking up by eating my breakfast, drinking coffee, and journaling or spending time listening to His word. I have this cool app I love called the Daily Audio Bible and I have neglected it over the last 6 weeks, so I would love to spend some time catching up on that and digging in to what God says and looking at the example Jesus left for us.

THis is a lot, I know... believe me I know, but I also know that God is doing some amazing things in my life. Last night, I stumbled upon some letters I wrote myself in 2008, and I look at that girl and I have no idea who she was. I am stunned that I was that manipulative, shallow, naive, and honestly, crazy. But, I also know I have a long way to go in my journey of me. I know it will be a never-ending process, but there are a few things I've been working on with some help and feel like these are things I need to do. I hope those of you who read this will keep me accountable and read along during this journey:)

Today's Blessing: Day 0- technically day 1 is tomorrow.
Sleep-ins, Spring Cleaning, Homework time and Workouts

Today started verrry slowly, but since I've been sick, I let it slide. I woke up around 11:30, since I did not have work today, and slowly woke up by getting on my phone and playing a few games. I got up and made myself some leftovers to get my motor running. I then tackled the biggest hurdle of my day: My room.

Since I've been sick and oh so so busy, my room had been seriously neglected. Also the beautiful change of weather leaves my wardrobe terribly cumbersome and warm, so I decided to change out my clothes for some lighter ones, which thankfully included some shorter pants(trousers for those from the UK), which I needed terribly. I cleaned out the junk, the clothes, and got myself organized. Honestly this was sparked by the terrible loss of my favorite bag of pens, which I cannot find and still have not found, but that was why I started cleaning... it got everything organized at least:)

Once that was done, I got going on some homework, but more so just kinda lollygagged on my computer and did lots of mindless tasks that needed to be done but were boring. So, I put on the show IZombie, which I surprisingly loved and watched all 3 of.... did I mention its a day off... so I didn't care terribly... I had things I needed to do, which mostly got done, but...did some other things too:) Eventually all of my papers were neatly back in their place in my binder, which I'd neglected for weeks, I finished an assignment, planned a presentation, and worked on two other assignments.

After this, I headed to my amaaaazing Crossfit growth group. This group has been a huuuuuuuge blessing over the last few months. This week was an extra blessing for me. Our fearless leaders were gone for 5 weeks on tour with their Army band, so we did things on our own for those 5 weeks. We built upon skills they had already taught us and we were busting our butts, but generally we were in and out in less than an hour. With our leaders back, we took time to learn some new skills and test them out,  kicked butt in our workout, which they helped us(me especially) modify as needed and cheered us on along the way. Afterward, we hung out and just all chatted. I missed all of these little details that make up our group. I felt at home:) I had a terrible headache right before I came, but the moment I walked in, it was gone and I was ready to rock and roll. My lungs- they struggled, but we got through it and modified and kicked butt.

I sit here with a delicious stout while I type and I feel so so full. I was able to have a mini-jam session when I got home, I wrote a little bit, I wrote this, I ate my last bit of sugar before the 40 days OFFICIALLY begin and am just feeling happy. Not worried about the homework I didn't finish- I'll worry about that tomorrow... for now I think I'll just put something on and do some zentangles and maybe journal before I doze off and HOPEFULLY have good dreams and wake up at a nice late 9am:)

Thanks for reading!! 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Contemplations

My, My it sure has been a long time since I have last written on my blog. I've decided to begin writing once again. You'll see much more coming from me in the coming weeks:)

As yet another year passes us by and we celebrate another holiday, I find myself deep in thought and digging through my feelings to unravel what is going on. I realized, I hold so tightly to past experiences that I often prevent myself from forming new experiences. Yesterday and today, I was overwhelmed. I was thinking about Easters of the past and what made them special to me. I kept having a sinking feeling that this year just wasn't going to be as special as past Easters, yet I distinctly remember myself sitting on the ship each of the three Easters I spent there wishing for Easters at home. And now that I am home, I wish I was on the ship. A never-ending cycle. Or is it.

When I think of easters of the past, my favorite memories include dressing up in beautiful dresses with my sisters, surprises from the Easter bunny(which suddenly ended around late elementary school), Easter egg hunts my grandmother would put on for us with coins inside instead of money, a huge feast including the oh so important pickled eggs and beets and of course some form of church service.

My most recent memories include Holy Week on the ship and Lent, which led up to it. Ash Wednesday, where we would all focus our intentions for the 40 days that would follow, sacrificing something of meaning to us in order to focus more on God. Palm sunday always included a stunningly decorated International Lounge and celebration. Thursday before Easter always involved a Garden of Gethsemane that would be open all night into Good Friday, a foot washing station(which I never participated in, but truly wish I had now), and a room thoughtfully laid out with the sequence of events leading up to the Crucifixion. On Good Friday, we always had a beautiful service focusing our minds on the crucifixion and the life that Jesus gave for us. One year Good Friday also meant a production of Godspell I was able to direct and produce, which brought the story of Jesus to life for everyone on board.

Sunday was always the most beautiful of them all. There was a sunrise service, where we watched the sun come through the complete darkness and sang praises as we watched the sun raise to light up the world. So beautifully symbolic. After this, there were snacks in the cafe(which I always seemed to miss), then the Easter service. Every year this was different, but my favorite one was when we missed the food to hold us over until Brunch and my friend whipped up breakfast burritos for us quickly in her cabin then we got ready to sing in the choir for the Easter service. It was really fun:) After the service was one of the biggest feasts of the year. We never got a bounty of food to choose from, but Easter and Christmas were always days we were able to eat as much as we wanted and have foods we NEVER had access to normally. THey were shipped in for this specific purpose in hopes that we would feel a little more at home during this time.

Last year, one sister flew in, but my grandparents and other sister and her family were not here. We all went to our different churches and shared nothing that day more than a meal. it felt like any other day. I was missing the ship terribly that entire week and was miserable. This year, I asked what we would be doing, and I was told my family had plans to have a meal with their growth grouo and I could join if I wanted. I was skeptical. Incredibly skeptical. So, I needed a plan. But, Sunday morning, I still had no plan other than going to church alone at 11:45.

So, I got up, made a quick breakfast of sunny-side up eggs, which made me giggle at how appropriate it was. I decided I would do this again yearly when possible. I went to church, dreading feeling alone. Thing is- there was not one moment I felt alone. I was always 'home. I actually ran into a friend outside and I sat with her and her family. It was really nice. The service was beautiful. I actually went last night too, but had to leave 15 minutes early and was sitting right behind a pole so I couldnt see a thing. I am glad I went again... it was wonderful and really spoke to me. Afterwards, I treated myself to a Cindys ice cream with money I had pulled out of my piggy bank. It was awesome.

I then headed to my parents to scrounge up some things that didnt make the move with me but that I wanted. Jordan and I played a ton, I showed him pictures I found of him as a baby, and we just had fun. Then, we went to the dinner. Again- not sure what to expect, but I figured, worst comes to worst, I awkwardly sit, eat a meal and go home. Thankfully, again, i felt right at home. The people who were in attendance were all so kind to me and welcomed me with open arms. What a cool part of community. I learm more daily. We ate SO SO much food, enjoyed planning and leading an easter egg hunt, ate some more, then played a game with Jelly Bellys with a 14 year old and a 30 something year old:)

I pulled back into my house, tummy and heart full, and knew I needed to write, reflect on the past, and sing. So, thats what I did. I looked through old letters I wrote to myself and realized how far I have come. I was one messed up college kid, but God has grown me into an amazing woman who is growing and learning more daily. I loved jamming- results of which are on my facebook in videos, and enjoyed writing this. New traditions have established themselves, but realizing I need to just keep an open mind each holiday and form my own new memories, while being thankful for the past, but not dwelling on it. So thats my aproach from here on out. :)