Dreaming Keeps Me Awake At Night

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One of my friends called me last night with the best news ever. We squealed like little girls for while, bursting with excitement. Do any of you dream with your friends? If you don't have a few trusted people to dream with it's quite boring. My old roommate and I have talked about our lives and dreams for years. To see a glimpse and a part of that dream come to life is heart warming. It's inspiring. It's worth squealing over. I've said it time and time again. My friends are world changers. They have the most giving hearts. I am so privileged to know them.

After dreaming with my sweet friend, I could not sleep. I laid wide awake. So of course I started to write until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. When I woke up, I was plastered to my pillow half-regretting my writing escapade into the wee hours of the morning. Yet, part of me woke up really excited and fulfilled because a dream worth pursuing is worth staying up late for. Dreams are worth believing in. Worth praying over. Worth crying over. Worth fighting for.

I believe Generation Y is a significant generation. We will either make a huge difference or mess everything up. I like to think that we will make a huge impact. I get excited when I see my peers starting a business, creating an app, becoming lawyers and doctors, moving overseas, getting married, having children,starting amazing careers, and writing. We have something to offer this world. We may be young but our age doesn't define us. We all have something unique and significant to offer.

The next time you feel like you have failed because you don't know what your dreams are, haven't found your dream job, or you feel really stuck; remember that you are valid. Keep working towards your dreams and goals. Things take time. Our generation believes in instantaneous success that will involve little-to-no effort, unfortunately, that is a shallow point of view. If you want something bad enough you will work for it. Educate yourself in college or trade school. Get some credibility and knowledge. Learn to present yourself as a professional. Carry yourself with confidence. Write out your goals and things you would like to accomplish. I recently wrote out my #Next5 (Goals I want to accomplish in the next 5 years). If I actually accomplished 3 out of the 5 goals, I would feel really great. My goals are pretty ambitious and a little fear started to creep in but I told fear to shut up.

 

So if you are like me and your dreams keep you awake at night, keep dreaming & drink a lot of coffee.

I'll be introducing you all to a few of my friends who have big dreams and goals in a blog series called "Not so Ordinary Dreamers". They are doing great things in their communities. I can't wait to introduce them to you! Gen Y, let's stick together.

 

XOXO

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Beauty In A Broken Shoe

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Somehow breaking my shoe, broke something inside of me.

[God speaks to me in the oddest ways so just keep reading]

As weird as that sounds, my last blog revealed what I've been struggling with, and I've been dead set on showing up in my life. I've been set on being present and not shrinking back when I make a mistake. I've been set on showing myself mercy instead of criticism. I've been set on choosing joy instead of wallowing in sadness. I've been learning that comparison will fail me every time. However,the one thing I've been trying to learn forever, is how to except and believe that I am beautiful. I wanted to really see it all the time. I wanted to see what people see in me.

Can I tell you something?

My idea of beauty is not what true beauty is. I've felt like beauty equates to women who seem to have their "hair done, nails done, and everything did" I am not that girl. While I enjoy dressing cute, I don't wear heels all the time. I would rather wear flats. I'm not the chick that needs to be perfectly put together every time I step foot out of my house. I've considered myself the "girl next door" in looks. Not drop dead gorgeous but good looking. Still, in spite of feeling beautiful when people tell me or looking in the mirror and thinking, "okay today you look alright", I had yet to get it for myself. Don't get me wrong people, I've been working on this area of my life. It has not been neglected. I have a plethora of Christian books about beauty and purity to supply a whole youth ministry. Somehow I still missed the point.

Today, I was almost at my job (I have to walk about .25 miles to my actual office from my car) and I hear a tearing noise. My worst fear was happening. I stopped. Looked at my shoe and thought okay it's fine. I Looked back up, took one more step, and then the strap on my shoe broke. Now I was faced with the problem of walking really weird all the way to my office. My shoes were making that awful scuffing noise and I was trying to hold them together. I tried taping them at my desk and that failed. I managed to get through the day scuffing my way through the office while my shoe was held up by a binder clip.

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Yes, I know, so tacky but I was desperate. Feeling confident about my contraption I decided to walk back to my car with my binder clip shoe on. I seemingly fixed the problem right? So why should I worry? I cross the street no problem, than I get to the sidewalk and immediately my shoe falls apart again. By now, This is when the light bulbs start going off in my head,
I realized that I could work really hard to hold something together and scuff my way through it. I could walk around trying to blend in and make sure no one knew my shoe was falling apart. Or I could just take my shoes off and stop pretending that they aren't broken.

When I took my physical shoes off, my mental shoes and blinders came off too. All the sudden the way I wanted to feel about my value and worth was clear because I changed my perspective. I wasn't worried about being put together. I wasn't comparing myself to those with their shoes on or how nice or expensive they were. I was enjoying my freedom. My feet were touching the unsanitary heat-filled concrete. And with every step on the .25 mile walk to my car, a little piece of self-doubt vanished. I got home looked at myself in the mirror and I could finally see what everyone else sees.

BEAUTY.

Hopefully it won't take you breaking your shoes to get a breakthrough like I did! I have no clue how these revelations come to me and bring me freedom but God knows how to speak to me.

Here's a little poem I wrote about beauty:

Beauty beauty
I want to be you
Easily desired
And easily pursued
They told me what your made of
And I'm buying all the ingredients
But when I dress up like you
I don't get the same results
You get love
I get side hugs
Measuring up to you and Proverbs 31 is much too hard
I'm not sure all I am is all of what you are
Then again maybe I've been given the wrong ingredients
I got my recipe from magazines,TV, men, and music
They have got you all wrong
You are strong
You are brave
You are wise
You are lovely
Yet, somehow you were belittled to looks only
If beauty was just looks, we would be in trouble
There would be no room for
Intellect
Character
And integrity
All of which encompass beauty
A Beauty that exists everywhere
A Beauty that is seen
A Beauty that is heard
A Beauty that is adored
A Beauty that is roared from the smallest soul to the oldest
I am beauty and so are you
Roar Beauty Roar

 
XOXO
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I Didn't Run Away

In jr. high I had a conflict with this girl at church. There was so much drama surrounding it. I hated it. I hated facing my "giants" as my mom would call it. If an issue has occurred with someone, I would rather go away, take some time off, or not see them anymore. My mom used to let me sneak away for little trips to get away until she realized I was avoiding the people that hurt me. So she stopped letting me run away and taught me to stand firm. This was so hard for me. Didn't she understand that I had been wronged and I did not want to see these people EVER again? She understood alright, she knew if I let fear take root in my heart, I would not be able to face bigger "giants" in the years to come. 

Fast forward to now, I have had a huge giant to face. As much as I've tried to hold my feelings and emotions at bay- they were real and very raw. I tried to avoid any and all confrontation. I can handle confrontation if I have to but I never go looking for it, especially when it relates to me. I am a lover of people, if you are in my family or my close friend, I am loyal to the death. That is just who I am. I passionately love people. This is a great character trait but it also makes me really vulnerable to being hurt. No one really enjoy's feeling pain. It sucks. 

I had two options: show up and stay present or drop out all together. I decided to show up, even though I was dragging my feet to the starting line, I made it with tears in my eyes. I started running with tears falling and decided to lift others up along the way. As I reached the finish line, I was able to look back and see that I faced my "GIANTS" and I faced them with kindness, love, and generosity. I did it because while I was running, others were running with me and cheering me on. I did not retreat to my bedroom at home or read a book- my people would not allow me to do that. I showed up ready to face my fears. Ready to forgive those who hurt me and love them. 

I was able to do it. This was such a huge moment for me. It was a win in my book. It meant that I conquered another area where I was fearful. I learned what keeps me from addressing my fears is me. I can be my own worst enemy. So now instead of believing that I cannot keep going or that I need to avoid pain at all cost, I keep showing up to the starting line. If I start with dry eyes or with tears, I will start. If I finish with my feet hurting, body in pain, or my breathing heavy, I will still finish. I won't let my pain keep me from showing up and living my life. I will keep running and I will not stop.

Lastly, this past week I had the honor of leading an amazing group of girls at Lakewood Youth Summer Camp 2014. It was such an amazing experience. Our dance parties were intense and full of fun. I've never danced that hard for Jesus before. It was a marking week for me and I am so glad I went. Getting to baptize my life group girls was such an amazing experience for me. I will forever remember that moment. 

Moral of the story here: Don't let pain keep you silent, still, or stagnant. Keep moving. You will be glad you did.

 

 

Lose myself

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I was reminded of the song "lose myself by Lauryn Hill" as I read Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted (The expanded version is coming out soon. Get it. You won't be sorry). In cooperate America, its very clear that in order to gain "success" you have to climb your way to the top. One of the higher up's in my department put it this way," You have to play the game." I left that conversation even more confident that I was not made for the game nor did I want to play it. If playing the game was just for money, a title, pomp and circumstance; then I would not "succeed" in corporate America. I attended a meeting with someone and I left in tears. I was completely wrecked because everything I've been told to fight for in my career is not what I am passionate about. Trust me, I have tried to picture myself at a big desk at a great company climbing the ladder and after a few months, I am once again convinced, that is not the life for me; however, it is the life for some people and if you are that person, by all means please run in your lane, and succeed. As much as I detest this concept of fighting your way to the top it is not just in corporate America; I've seen this "race to the top" in church and even Christian organizations.

Fighting your way to the top in church may be guised with a seemingly well meaning intention but we all know the truth. Working your way to the "top" of the church world may equate to joining the "ranks" of: Priscila Shrier, Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Robert Madu, Chad Veach, Bob Goff, etc. The list could go on. We've all had our moments of admiration and awe that turn into a selfish desire to solely and maybe subconsciously pursue that platform. Those people are in their God-given lane and we can't mimic that. In church we see a pattern: you work the system of who you know -->Gain a position-->Get recognition-Its a tiring game. Luke talks about this is Chapter 14 verse 11 "If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” The Amplified Bible states it this way, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (ranked below others who are honored or rewarded), and he who humbles himself (keeps a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly) will be exalted (elevated in rank)." Even still, Jesus is not saying, try to be seemingly "humble" so you will be elevated. If that is what we think he is saying, we (I) have missed the point.

I think Jen describes it best:

"I hate the top. I hate who I have to be to live there. I hate the biblical two step I have to perform to justify top-dwelling. I hate the posturing up there...I detest the fear that haunts every decision. It's a ridiculous game where everyone is either scratching your back or stabbing you in the back. Depending on whether your rung is above or below theirs. The self-congratulatory blustering up there is abhorrent. I'm so over it.Okay maybe it would be more true to say I want to be so over it. I'm trying to be over it."

When, I read these words, it was like someone articulated my feelings over the past few years. You don't want to play the game, in fact you are trying to get over it, because you are so done. Desperately done. The fact still remains that we are human and have a flesh. I have realized that I need to be "done" daily. I am so susceptible to the game. I've even found myself playing at times. Only to be reminded of who I am and how far I've allowed myself to drift from the truth. The line Jen stated that brings it all home is this: "In order for God's kingdom to come, my kingdom had to go." I can't tell you how many times I have prayed anxious prayers to the Lord crying out for "more of Him and less of me" and I've spent years earnestly soaking in more of me. Can I tell you, people, "I'm trying to be over it." So today I chose to be done and tomorrow I will do the same and so forth. Even when I chose the right mindset, I may slip and I may fall but I am starting somewhere.

I've spent a lot of time missing the main point. I don't have time to miss the point anymore. I want to keep the main thing the main thing. My scripture for this year has been Micah 6:8. It is hanging on my cork board at work. The minute I feel myself wandering from that and seeking success or fame and a following, I am missing it. I must draw myself back to square one: this is all about His kingdom.  I just get to be apart of it. How wonderful that he let's me be apart. Literally he is letting me in on what he is doing.

God gave me this dream to have a non-profit for teen mothers. I have labored and prayed over this dream for years and I continue to pray over it. One thing I have to check myself on, am I missing the point? Am I missing it? God don't let me miss the point of all of this. Truth is, I have a desire to help one momma at a time. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of doing something and wanting it to be big. When I find myself heading in that direction, I have to hit the breaks. The main thing is loving people, God's people. It's not about me. The dream was never about me. It was about God entrusting me to carry it. To love his people. To serve his people. Do I know what all of this will evolve into? No, I don't. I do know, it's not about a good social media campaign, marketing, or position. I so desperately want to get that concept with all I am. I want to dwell where Jesus is choose to and make my home there.

This weekend a Bishop Matthew, talked about home. How many people are trying to find "home" and a place to belong. Truth is, as Christians, we will never feel fully at home here. More importantly, "God's love is inside of us and his home is in us." So no matter where you go or where God sends you, his home is in us. "I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you (John 14:18-20)."

So instead of me trying to clammer to the top at church, work, or with HHope. I am humbly seeking Christ daily, to learn how to let his love flow through me and draw people home- to Christ. This peace, joy, and love wasn't meant for me to keep it to myself. It was mean to be shared.

I can't ignore the hurting, broken, those in poverty, and the extreme needs all around the world. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (James 1:27). I refuse to befriend apathy and pride. I can't do it anymore. I must make more of an effort to lay "Faitth and all of her agendas" down daily. 

I want to lose myself so I can wake up, be present, and fully engaged in God's kingdom, not my own.

All Son's and Daughters sum up my heart beat:

"Wake up, wake up, wake upwake up all you sleepersStand up, stand upStand up all you dreamersHands up, hands upHands up all believersTake up your cross, carry it on"

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I love orphans.

orphansI was a case manager for a year and a half and I got to to work with children in foster care. Before earning a degree in social work, I was very ignorant about the foster care system. I did not know if orphanages still existed in the US or if children were just in foster homes-until I started my job and I met some of the faces that make up "foster care."

Children in foster care are judged before anyone even meets them. They are probably "bad" or have a lot of "issues." Potential adoptive parents want young children to complete their family. If you are 7 years old you better pray hard because most likely you will be passed over for a baby because you are far too old to "mold" and "shape". Thus they are left in the system, growing more emotionally closed and starting to question everyone and everything. They are used to being let down and people giving promises they cannot keep. They shuffle from home to home- trying to learn new rules each time. Have you ever been to a sleepover as a child but you couldn't sleep well because you were out of your home environment? Children in foster care have to adjust to new homes and wonder if they will be safe. They may not sleep well. They may wet the bed, make failing grades, or be disrespectful.

I was really apathetic towards children in foster care until I saw their faces and learned their names. 

Every time a child ran up to me for a hug or refused to let me leave, my heart melted each time. These children are worthy of love and belonging. Unfortunately the older they are the longer they will permanently bounce from home to home in the foster care system until they age out at 18. By that time many of them are homeless, pregnant, or facing jail time. I can only imagine how they would have turned out if someone took a chance to love them. Loving foster children is risky, especially the older ones, but I believe it is worth it. Did you know that girls in foster care are more likely to become teen mothers or pregnant before age 25?

The teen who taught me the most was one of my greatest challenges at first. She would not talk to me much. She kind of mumbled as she talked. I tried not to pry since they have to talk to several adults about their feelings and it can be overwhelming. So I tried building a rapport with her. I did not see the results of this rapport until a year later. She finally opened up to me. I knew there was something special about her and I wanted to remain involved in her life regardless of where my career led me. She had endured a lot of pain and hurt. She had trouble opening up to people and connecting with adults because one minute they would want her forever and the next they were done. She has a lot of fears and hesitations about being loved. She doesn't understand true self-sacrificing, unconditional, and selfless love, yet. I am hoping she will be able to see past all of her hurt and pain to see how much love is really surrounding her.

In spite of all this, she has marked my life forever. I think of her all the time. Just thinking about her hurt, pain, and life brings tears to my eyes. There is nothing I can say or do to take away her pain. She is just one of many. She is not a number. She has a name and real life.

Watching a family adopt their 16year old son was so powerful. He was so excited to belong to a family legally but to them he was already family and this just made it official. The concept of leaving the old behind and changing your name is so symbolic to me. National adoption day is my favorite. These adoption moments bring me to tears because these kids are so worthy of love and having a family.

There are well over 6000+ children/teens waiting for good homes. These children are not in an orphanage, they are in foster homes in your own backyard- longing for permanency. You would be surprised how fast some parents relinquish their rights and decide to leave their child in foster care. It's heartbreaking.

The most fulfilling work I've ever done was serve these legends. Remember for every number there is a name and a face-these are precious little lives. I hope your heart can be opened to adoption. It's a beautiful, tough, rewarding, and life-changing journey.

Get out there people. Open your homes. Love a child or teen.

If you are scared of being in it alone, you won't be! There are so many support groups that meet in person and online. You will have support.

You will not regret it.

If you don't feel called to adopt then help someone else financially.

Do your part.

You can learn more about adoption through All In Orphan Care and Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

XOXO

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I Thought I knew What I Was Doing.

photo 1As a young adult, we have grand plans for our life and where we see ourselves or we don't have any plans at all and we are just seeing where life takes us. Regardless, either way presents some challenges. Most likely our plans have changed about 203938473 times (okay, I'm exaggerating but you get the point) by now. Maybe it is just me with all the plans that keep changing? I don't know but its too much pressure to try and figure out every single inch of my life. Its stressful. I give up.So now I have adopted the idea that the more I take time to learn about the heart of Jesus and who he is- the more things change, I change, and my plans change. After getting my degree in Social Work and learning about social injustice and what that really means, I have had an undeniable passion to advocate for people. Going overseas just confirmed that passion even more. Being in America confused that passion. I was tired of church as I knew it to be. I came back to America with this insatiable desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus, literally. In college and beyond I was searching for a church that had that same desire to serve others and really live life with people in the community. Outside of a few clothing drives here and there- things were looking pretty bleak and my focus changed from the community back to me. I had a life to figure out, duh- what else was a twenty something supposed to be doing?I was thinking about myself all too much until April 2014 and God interrupted my life. Yes, He did. He completely diverted my attention and reminded me of the main reason I was placed on this earth- to LOVE people. So while I am sitting in frustration, worry, doubt, and fear; I began to realize why I had no peace. How can I truly serve others when I am only thinking about myself?I read a few books that wrecked me during my Solitude time and that was the beginning of the end for me. By the time June rolled around, I was helpless to the realization that life as I knew it was being altered. Then one Saturday morning I took my shoes off and everything changed. I was more fulfilled walking into my apartment with no shoes than I was before I gave them away. Then all the sudden Matthew 25:34-40 comes alive. You see this pattern, friends? The past few months have been like a domino effect.So instead of running for the hills and becoming self-absorbed again, I am embracing this steady wrecking of my heart or being sweetly broken (as some people say). When this happens I get really weepy. I can't help it. I am emotional a very emotional human being. So today I woke up fighting back tears, I cried during worship at church, I cried while driving to the store, etc. You get my point. Some deep shifting is happening in my heart and instead of trying to figure it out; I am just letting it happen.I have found that when this wrecking happens the best thing I can do is be still. So that is what I took time to do today. Sit, eat gelato, read, and pray. If you are being wrecked like me and your plans are changing- let's start a support group. I promise to keep you entertained, listen often, and make you laugh.I'll leave you all with a quote from Brene Brown because she is awesome.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”― Brené Brown
 
 
 
Lets stick together and stay authentic,
XOXO

 signature-wordpressP.S.Did I mention I went to Austin this weekend?  I love that place. 

What Defines me?

 I've read plenty of books dating and read too many blogs on dating, dressing modest, and purity rings. There are so many perspectives and for a young Christian woman and these opinions can be overwhelming. The one thing I have rested on is that loving Jesus gives me fulfillment.

When I get anxious about being single I have realized one thing:

My feelings are fleeting and cannot be trusted. 

Some days I feel like I can change the worldSome days I wonder why I am singleSomedays I compare my life with othersSome days I feel disconnected from some of my peersSomedays I am full of passion and drive

What I am learning is, my feelings will change and somedays betray me and somedays tear me away from my destiny. If I buy into the lie that my dreams or goals can't happen unless I am married then I what am I really living for? Who am I living for-my imaginary husband?

I ask myself often, "Can I really trust Jesus and his plan? Can I just do that?" Someday's it is challenging especially when you are sitting at yet another wedding or bridal shower but I have quickly realized that I love my life and I am so blessed. I am right where I need to be and although, it is not where I thought I would be; I am thankful for where I am right now. I am so enriched by the people that make everyday better.

Let's just face it, I am having so much fun.

 You my friend are so dear and have made life so fun.Bachelorette Party for Amy! 

Culture says I should be defined by my relationship status and I beg to differ.

Some of the most precious souls on earth. I love every second with them.Coffee times.

I think that instead of debating whether or not getting married before you're 23 or staying single till 25 is better, we just celebrate each other. Instead of comparing our journey's lets learn from each other. Some people get married early, some people get married late, some people have kids, some people don't, some people stay single because they WANT to. Everyone's path is different. There is no right or wrong.

Life gets tough but one thing I have learned is living in community is life giving. My relationships with my family, my married friends, my single friends, and mentors enriches my life.

Every stage of life is valuable and so priceless.

She is my biggest cheerleader and friend. She believes I can do anything and I believe her.Everyone needs people to laugh with and lay on the grass at Discovery green.The greatest story of redemption and Christ's love is shown through the way Arnie and Jenna Cazares love each other. Getting to be apart of their wedding was such an honor.These two. They keep me laughing. Buddies. Not sure why people confused us for sisters but you all really made college amusing! My favorite engaged couple.My High School lifegroup- these ladies are so fun and keep me on my toes! I love that I can keep it real with you, laugh often, and  you are always a listening ear. <3

Below is the definition of single.
 
sin·gle
adjective
1.only one; not one of several.
 
Here are the synonyms:
alone, companionless, lone, lonely, lonesome, solitary,unaccompanied.
None of that sounds interesting, exciting, or fun.
I think it's time we changed our view of
happiness.
Let's be honest,
life will not be perfect when you get married.
You can't base your happiness on a person.
Learning how to be truly happy with yourself
and who you are is a gift.
Many people are still trying to figure that out.
Sitting on the lawn care-free. Those were the days. College was good to me.

 I love making new friends. This picture is from a few years ago, I just met these people and starting taking pictures with them!Paid for my first all inclusive vacation to Cancun a year ago and as you can tell, I was "soaking up the sun." Can't wait for my next vacay.This guy. I love my Dad.

Enjoy life.

Laugh often.

Dream Big.

Live out those dreams.

And Like My brother says, "Just love Jesus."

Somehow we think that loving Jesus won't be enough because

we want a relationship with someone "in the flesh."

No matter how hard we try

NO ONE 

can fill the God shaped hole we were all born with.

Only God can.

Until we understand that

nothing and no one will satisfy those desires.

 My ACE. Best brother ever.I've gotten to travel the world just a little and I am not done yet. #RwandaDoesn't Logan look lovely? Such a precious wedding. Childhood friends ;)My first time hiking in the wilderness, senior year of college. This is when LizBeth got hitched;) These two keep me laughing with our group text messages and random conversations. I love living life with you two. 

Of course these pictures represent a fraction of the people that enrich my life but they make life fun. These people strengthen me, encourage me, and laugh with me. Guess what, some of them are married, single, dating, or engaged, sharing life with them brings me joy.

So when your feelings try to take over and put you down, remember that every day we GET to enjoy this life we have been given and that is worth living for.

 XOXOImage P.S.I am working on launching Hannah's Hope that non-profit I told you all about. Stay tuned for more details. #KeepDreaming #AwakenTheDreamer