Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Call to Give

It's been a little while.
Since the last time I posted, I've moved home from Mexico, pit stopped in Brooklyn, spent a couple of weeks in Israel, and have somewhat settled back into life in the Midwest.

I'm still in awe of my ability to send and receive texts without wifi connection,  and the endless supply of ice, and I'll confess, I still respond with si rather than yes most of the time.

Emphasis on somewhat.

I feel very at peace about this season that I have appropriately #ed #transitiontime. Unlike the last time I found myself wandering around the Midwest, this time I'm certain that I am to invest in spite of how long I am here. To enjoy precious and limited moments with my family in the simplest of ways. Sunday dinners and morning coffee with my Grandma. Lunch dates with my mom even though we live together. I'm excited about pouring into the teenagers at my church and deepening connections with them. And I have, of course, already figured out how to be involved with a Walk for Freedom in my area. Which brings me to this post.

As most of you know, if you follow me on any social media at all, I am super passionate about helping to end human trafficking (modern day slavery) in my generation. Thankfully, God has opened lots of doors the past few years and presented many opportunities for me to actually get involved be it  through walks for freedom,  dress-ember, sharing my passion with my students, or even just sending letters off to one of the after care homes. (Still hoping people understand why I am constantly posting photos of myself in dresses during the month of December -_-)

Each year God seems to grow this passion a little bit more and inspire me to step out a little bit further and to speak up a little bit louder. The reality remains. 

>Human Trafficking IS slavery

>>Human Trafficking is the fast-growing criminal industry in the world bringing in more than $150 billion/year

>>>More than 27 million men, women, and CHILDREN are trapped in human slavery today.

>>>> Only 1% are ever rescued. 

>>>>> Human Trafficking is an issue in almost every country in the world...including the US!

>>>>>> Every 30 seconds someone becomes a victim of human trafficking.

>>B U T...

We can do something about it!

Me AND You!

Thus far in my life, I have felt the call to go. To get on planes and cross borders and carry the light and love and truth of Jesus into the darkness wherever He may lead. But in this season, I have felt a very distinct call to give instead. To stay still for a little while-for once-and to give everything I have got from right here. 

With that in mind, I was thrilled to see the promo video on the A21 Instagram page today! (If you don't follow them already, DO IT! For real...it will inspire and encourage you, I pa-romise!)

I have had the joy and the humbling privilege to walk in the A21 Walk for Freedom 2/3 years that it has been in existence. With thousands of men and women sharing one mind and heart and with immense amounts of passion, we walked through the center-the heart-of Guadalajara, Mexico praying that eyes and hearts would be opened and that freedom would be found for many enslaved all around us and around the world. What I love about the Walk for Freedom is that it's happening every single October in HUNDREDS of cities around the world! That means that even though I'm back in Ohio and wherever you might find yourself this year, there is more than likely a walk happening near us that we can get involved with! I already found two near me and registered to walk for freedom in Cleveland this year! Go check out A21.org where you can easily register for a walk near you. 

This year, I decided to take it one step further. This year I decided to do something I've never liked doing very much....


And you know what...it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be to push that button on the site. You know why? 
Because I've never had a better reason and I've never been more passionate about anything in my life. 

Because I want to do anything and everything I can for as long as I can to be a part of this cause. 

Because if putting myself out there and speaking up and using my voice and my freedom can mean freedom for even just one, then I'll never stop. 

I'm wondering if maybe this year you'll step out with me. If this year you will decide that enough is enough and that for the sake of our sons and daughters and sisters and brothers and friends and cousins you'll give or go or perhaps do both. 

If this is resonating with you on any level, PLEASE get in touch with me! More than anything, I want to be an activist. An advocate. I love this word---an Abolitionist   More than anything I want to educate and spread the passion, help others be a voice. Because of course together we can make the most difference and make freedom a reality for many! 

Here are some ways you can get involved and get in touch with me :) 

#1 Check out my fundraising page:

#2 Find a walk near you and join the fight for freedom.

#3 Invite friends to give or go with you!

#4 Share this post or any info about human trafficking on your own social media platforms. Feel free to save/download ANY of my images from this post! (Let me know that you've done so and get yourself in a drawing for some fun goodies!)

#5 Share your creative ideas for speaking out with the rest of us!

The point is. We can do something and we cannot afford to do nothing. They cannot afford for us to do nothing. The ball is in our court. Let's get going!


Sunday, July 9, 2017

>>-------> N E X T

{Currently I am typing from my friend's apartment in the heart of Brooklyn, NY.
Because I haven't had the time or the strength to publish it before now.
I suppose in so many ways I still don't. I still don't feel ready for it and it's already over. I still don't have the words or any idea what exactly I'm feeling. I can't stop weeping. But for what it's worth, here's the beginning of the processing and the sorting. The start of #transitiontime. My falling apart and being put back together again. The reverse culture shock.
Here is the beginning of Next.}

(Written from the 37th floor of the RIU Plaza Hotel in Guadalajara, Mexico 1 July 2017)

July is officially here.
That means just seven days left in Mexico.
That number does not even feel real to me. It feels like I'm finishing up a trip here. Actually, I'm finishing up two years of my life.
Two years of language learning and friendships and becoming a teacher.
Going to end faster than I can blink or even manage to take even one deep breath.
I think it's going to be a while before I take any deep breaths.
Ending here is so surreal.
48 hours in NYC
Moving home-like Ohio home-from a foreign country
A wedding (actually 2)
Yep. It's going to be a little while.
So. On this last peaceful morning as I sit in a crazy fancy hotel and look out over the whole expanse of Guadalajara, it's time to take a very deep breath.
To exhale this whole season-this chapter-these two years loved.
Enough air to last for a little while. Because I'm certain that in the weeks to come, it's going to feel like I can't catch my breath. Like there's no air to be found. Because. Well. That is transition for you.

So much change so fast.
Everything whirling around. People and events and papers and tears.
So blurry.
And then all of a sudden the whirling ends-the transition is over and it just drops you off wherever is next.
And even though you had some warning, it doesn't ever really feel like you did.
And everything in Next seems normal but everything inside of you is still whirling and heart has somehow not quite made it all the way to Next.
Pieces were left behind in the whizzing and whirling, and it's all you can do to stand up straight and try to sort it all out.
Where you are-what's happening...who you are here in Next....
It seems like you might never figure that out.

Of course you will.
I will.
Because where I just came from was once Next. And what landed me there was the same whirling and whizzing.
There was the stumbling around and feeling dizzy and lost. Discovering the normal and who I was in a whole new context. And eventually, I found out.
The thing is that you don't always find quite the same person in Next.
Anf for a little while that's scary. Because you think you'll never find you at all.
But you do.
I did.
We do.
We just have to accept that Next changes us. To be okay with a little evolution and reinventing.

Because Next can be really beautiful.
If we let it.
Next is full of hope and tomorrows and opportunity and potential.
And Next might need a different or newer version of ourselves.
Because maybe who we were back there is not quite the right fit for everything that comes next. And maybe just a little tweaking and adapting might give us everything we need to embrace the present-to embrace Next.

Next will probably feel hard for a little while. Maybe even a long while. Tricky and messy and uncomfortable. Sad. Confusing. Frustrating. lonely.
You may really dislike it.
Looking back to where you came from will feel all warm and fuzzy and sure.
But remember-keep remembering-that back there was once Next and someday, you could be looking back all warm and fuzzy at this Next too.
You have to face it. Embrace it. Navigate the twists and turns until you can walk them in the darkness and your sleep. Until you know you here.

And you have to keep on doing that until whatever's next.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

One Decade Down

Today-June 7, 2017-marks exactly ten years since I graduated from high school.
Became a "grown up"
Set out on this adventure called life.

Here's what I've learned since the moment I walked across the Boardman High School gymnasium and changed over my tassel. In a nutshell of course.

Sometimes you go somewhere and discover what you were made for...

Sometimes it takes losing things-the most precious things-the things you think you can't live without-to show you what really matters and what you're really made of. To take you to the core of you... 

Some places show you who you are...

Other places show you who you're not....

Wherever you go. 
Whatever you gain or lose along the way. 
Whatever you discover about yourself in the process. 
It's always the people that remain and that matter most. 
The things they do in your heart that cannot be undone. 
The way you can no longer imagine life before they were in it. 
Those people. 

And your faith. 

Life is a crazy ride. 
An adventure if you'll let it be. 
It's twisty and turny and predictably unpredictable. 
Locations and situations change. Miles and borders and even death come between. 
People come and go I suppose. 
The the marks they make in our hearts and our lives and the faith that we cling to when all else seems lost-broken-hopless. 
Those are the makings of one crazy beautiful story called life. 

Just a little look at what I've done with my first decade as a grown up...

Moved my life to Missouri. I promise I didn't even know where it was on the map. Best decision I've ever made. Discovered my passion and my calling and decided to pursue those and Jesus above all else. Walked away with some of my very best, lifelong friends. Traveled with them by my side and survived some of the most difficult, most heart breaking events in my life while they held me up. 

Made my way to Africa and just knew <3

Spent a summer in Chicago figuring out how to be alone with myself and really love it. Of course with these lovely people to help me when the learning wasn't fun. 

Ventured out on my own to the furthest corner of the country. 
Rented my first place. 
Planted a church. 
Became a nanny. 
Collected family from coast to coast. 
Adopted a puppy and made him my best friend. 
Found where my heart had been all along. 

Obeyed despite not understanding and moved my life to Guadalajara, Mexico to become a teacher. Discovered I am indeed not a teacher and I certainly do not enjoy living in eternal summer. But here I also found my pastoral heart and my insane love for teenagers. That mango in just the right moment is magical and that I really can sort of speak Spanish. That kids make me crazy but there is absolutely nothing else I could ever do with my life. And where I was reminded that God gives you exactly what and who you need in each and every season <3

Here's to the many more chapters in my story. 
To another decade of adventure and heart change and the fiercest faith. 

(And for the record, it was impossible to include every single beautiful human that God has used in my life along the way. This is just a very small sampling of the endless amount of people that I have been blessed enough to journey with.)