I Dare You…

Some of us begin a year with a vision. Filled with such passion, boldness, and with great faith we set off to pursue it.  Then at the end of the year, we may find that things look a bit different than one expected. The vision remains in our heart and mind, but different circumstances, life, timing, alter what you had hoped would be the outcome, at least for the year.

Evaluation is good. It is definitely needed. Yet, I wonder for those who have had those unexpected results this year, who will continue with the vision and purpose God has given them, embracing the changes here and there… or who will settle for something, a life, a little more easily achievable.

I am speaking from experience. In the past I would let such results deter me from moving forward, letting my mind wander to all those things I never accomplished, to things and mistakes of the past really.  My perspective would be one-sided.  But not anymore!

She always believes in me…

I know, some of us may not have accomplished all we had hoped for this year, but the truth is, I know a year was not wasted! My year was lived in service of others, working with children, and developing friendships.  I may not be where I had hoped to be when I left in January, but I continue moving forward in the hope and passion and vision God has given me.

“The hills of Andalusia were only two hours away, but there was an entire desert between him and the Pyramids. Yet the boy felt that there was another way to regard his situation; he was actually two hours closer to his treasure…the fact that the two hours had stretched into an entire year didn’t matter.” ~Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I’m no longer the girl who can be easily stopped and persuaded to settle.  I have a purpose.  I know what it is.  And I will keep moving forward.

So I say this in confidence and faith…I dare you to try to stop me!

If I fail, if I face challenges or obstacles, no matter how difficult it gets or amount of hard work it takes, even if it takes longer than I expect…I won’t be stopped.

The life of one child is worth it all!!!

What are you willing to give your life for?

You Can’t Buy It!

I’m sitting here amongst friends listening to them talk about various topics such as hair color, quotes, and believe it or not…pinterest!  Jaja, but it is a week of goodbyes as well, or as my friend Bec says “See you later’s”.  Add that to the fact that Christmas is this weekend and it is definitely a week of mixed feelings.

It is the time of year though when we all think about the perfect gift for one another, or we try to remember “the reason for the season” (Not a fan of that phrase at all, by the way).

But believe it or not, this week, I have already received some of my favorite gifts.  You see, a dear friend of mine passed on something of hers that she has had for sometime…something that she has worn with honor and respect.  It was a gift to thank me for moving forward when she stepped back.  That is what I see when I look at this gift…perseverance, honor, and simply moving forward.  I have found a way to keep it with me always and appreciate it more than she will know.  It is encouraging.  She is encouraging.  And this symbol of friendship is something I will continue to cherish. 

And today, I received a box of chocolates from one of my favorite students.  I know we aren’t to have favorites and I do enjoy almost all of my students.  But I have to admit that she is a very special girl.  Those of you who know me, know that I’m not big on chocolates or sweets, but she looked up at me with those big brown eyes and softly said…”Merry Christmas”.  My heart melted.  When she left, she gave me un beso (a kiss) on my cheek and smiled!  Her kindness was more than I could ever hope for.  She is gentle, sincere, and just excited to learn English. 

I’m thankful for such reminders that life is about relationship. I’m thankful for sincerity, for the little things that show more than anything that could ever be bought!!!


Why Fight It?

Embrace it….

Getting older is something that really doesn’t scare me.  There is nothing I can do about it but enjoy every minute of it.  I am 32 and have no shame in stating that.  There have been successes and even a few disappointments along the way and there are more to come… 

Each year has taught me something and introduced people in my life who I have appreciated.  Friendships have come and gone and come again, and in all of it I see no better option than to celebrate Life to the fullest.  So I celebrate my birthday for a full week!  What better way to start the next year of your life than with celebration and hope for what this next year will hold and in appreciation of where you are now and those wonderful relationships around you…

I received a great word from a friend on my birthday.  He shared this with me and I declare it here, if anything to hold myself accountable on the perspective this year brings. He said, “Jennifer, Whatever is in your heart at this phase in your life, the deepest desires you may have, know that with Christ, God has given you all things freely. Your deepest desires are God’s utmost priority. Allow your perspective through which you view this new year to be from His Throne, a place of authority, of intimacy, of power and beautiful unity with the most powerful and yet compassionate being in this Universe.” 

So here I am, 32, and still in awe of where I am now.  I ended my birthday night in the company of some close friends, as we revealed our hearts, laughed, shared some good food and wine, and celebrated what we know will be another excellent year with successes and failures, but moving forward with each step…

and the week long celebration continues…

Where the Blacktop Ends.

I’m stubborn.  I think I’ve said that several times the last few weeks.  But it is the truth.  And in my own stubbornness and arrogance, I’ve done more harm to myself and to others by hiding behind these shields.  Because, honestly, I’ve been struggling.  It is by my own means, pressure on myself, living in more of a fear of disappointing others than in the confidence of knowing that who I am is enough.  My family is on my heart and I’ve been missing my dear friends who have been in the states working on their visas.  At the same time I wanted to be strong for others, care for others, and be someone people around me could count on all the time.  Rest was sparse and my mind continued to think of more I could do.

I lost sight of community, of family.  

I couldn’t admit that I needed help, if anything, someone to talk to…though the opportunities and invites were more than abundant.  “I’m fine, good even” was my response.  Because it is true.  I know I am fine, things will be good.  I’m in Spain with family here, serving those I truly believe in, close to my street children in Tangier, and teaching children.  So how could I complain?  But as smooth as that is, there are times when the blacktop ends.  And it is in those moments where I know and will remember that in community and family, I can ask for help during the bumps and holes I will face in life.

Let’s face it, though life can be a smooth ride at times…Life happens, truth is revealed, and we have to be vulnerable where the blacktop ends…