Little Flower

Worry is on the wind
Raging around me
A brutal storm
Of doubt, worry, insecurity

As night wore on
Deepening darkness brought deepening fears
And I cried out, “My God
From me why have You turned Your ear?”

Yet as the words
Soared from these lips
Your voice rushed in
A tender kiss

The sunshine broke
Joy is dawning as apprehensions shatter
And I begin to see clearly again
In the light of Your laughter

 

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Moment by Moment

This past Thursday, over a picnic at our favorite hideout, my beloved Jonny asked me to be his wife. And of course, I said yes.

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Now as I write this it’s Saturday, and I’m laying on the couch in what feels like an exhaustion-induced paralysis. My mother said I shouldn’t think myself so invincible to jet lag, but of course being her headstrong replica I didn’t listen. And of course, Momma was right. After hopping between twenty-one time zones, perhaps sliding back into my old schedule right off the bat wasn’t the best idea.

But my gosh it’s worth it. I’m home.

For the past six months I’ve been dreaming of this life, and now I’ve returned to it. As incredible as traveling through southeast Asia was, my heart and home and ministry is here in Miami.

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Fast forward a bit- it’s now Tuesday, and I’m just alive enough to deem myself awake, and about to consider my second cup of coffee. The laundry is finished, and though the dress I’m wearing in this picture is now a shirt, as I looked up just now the missing sock was spotted. One task down, coffee in hand, and I’m ready to take on the day. It’s a slow climb, getting back to normality here. With the residue of things experienced still beautifully imprinted upon my mind, I’m gently coming back to the pulsing reality of the life I dream of.

Airport Floors and Midnight Muffins

It feels so strange to be back in Kona. Almost like coming home, but not quite. When I left for outreach I swore I’d never in a million years come to this island ever again. Now I have to- part of it is home to me.

Sitting at the Banyan Tree Cafe, sipping coffee and people watching. Counting the hydroflasks and Birkenstocks- the ywamer uniform (yes, I am proudly one of them. It seems we all showed up unaware of the cliches we were subconsciously fulfilling). Gasping at the sight of the sea, more gorgeous now than ever before. Soaking in every breeze. Listening to the constant prayer rising up from all around.

With the dawn of a fresh quarter, herds of new students are all around. I so desperately want to pick their brains, see what’s going on behind the scenes…


Flash forward. Graduation was so much more emotional than any of us expected. Goodbyes to the ones who have become family; the thunder signaling a new season. Again I think of this new crew of YWAMers flooding the campus, a feeling kin to that of thinking of my coming nephew one day being held to my mother’s chest. There’s so much he’s yet to know, so many tears he’s yet to cry there. He may think he knows how much he adores that place of safety, but he doesn’t yet…

I watch their faces. So full of expectation for the coming six months. They may think they know what they’ve gotten into, how they’ll be changed. They don’t, not really. Not yet.

Throughout all the tears and farewells, joy ran thick. We did it. And now we’re on to something even better, even more challenging. For one, it’s fighting against sex trafficking. For another, it’s studying to become a film-maker (and what an amazing one she will be). For me, it’s returning to the city my parents came to as missionaries to continue the work they started, to carry on their vision along with them.

Flash forward again. Sitting on the airport floor, adjusting to what is now a 23 hour jet lag. Listening to Blink-182 in my favorite hoodie I’ve waited three months to return to. Waiting to board my red-eye. One flight down, two to go. Let’s do this.

I’m still processing DTS. All I learned, felt, thought, experienced, witnessed. But I know that I grew, and that I’m grateful. That this new season will be one of extreme joy and thanksgiving. That when I get off that third flight, the man I love and haven’t seen in six long months will be there waiting for me. That I can’t wait to see what the Lord has next in store for all of us.

Until next time

XOXO

 

 

Where Muffled Voices Fade

The weeks escape me. I hear it’s the seventh, so let’s go with that, shall we?

As this week was for the most part more of the same, this post will contain an obscene amount of photos, and not many words, I’m expecting, but we’ll see what happens.

Thursday morning we set out believing a prayer walk was in store, and instead found ourselves at a fort. I guess our hosts thought we needed a break, or exercise, judging by the size of the place.

Half of me wishes I had brought my camera with me (these are all iPhone pictures), but the other half is grateful I was free to climb and explore and see, beyond the viewfinder. Everything was magnificent, from balancing on the divider of an auto as we race down, then up the mountain to the trees sparkling like diamonds in the afternoon sunlight. Heights allowing hawks to fly below our eyes wide with wonder. The mountains calling my name, whispering His wondrous love. Tales of an age gone by. Temples still burning with incense to a god who will never hear them. Through it all, beauty like I’ve never imagined, and fragrant freedom.

The joy of adventures with souls I hold dear. Voices joined in illegal worship to the God who Sees. Citizens stop and stare, listen a while, never interrupting.  Soaking in the glory of His creation… And this is but a taste of earth, and earth but a shadow of heaven…

Finally, pictures from the slums. Throughout our past times there, I’ve abstained from bringing my camera. I didn’t want to give any room for the people there to think I care about them only for their stories, for their media values. However, on this our supposed last day (we’ll now be there tomorrow for church, as well), from the moment they spotted my camera the poses and “sister, my picture’s” began.

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This little guy’s legs were burned worse than anything I’ve ever seen a few weeks ago by a kitchen fire. The entire time we were there, he stayed on Rosie’s lap. When another child tried to come between them, he made his point clear by a quick smack, then nestled in to her even closer.

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I’ve fallen in love with each of these children, but is that any surprise? We leave tomorrow, and again I’m left wishing there were no language barrier between us. As these children are some of the leading Christian influences here, I worry not over what the world will do to them, but marvel over what they’ll do to the world.

Until next time

XOXO

Slum Chai and International Smiles

Wiping faces, trimming nails, cutting hair. Get pulled into a group of young mothers. Giggle about language barriers, hair colors, and upcoming weddings. Hold their babies. Comb my fingers through the lice infested hair.
Child comes up with typical Indian meal: sweet boiled grain of some sort, similar to quinoa. Mother, smiling, tells me to try some. Fully aware that travelers often get terribly sick from just this, that I was sick from less than this, I said a quick prayer and took a bite. Some experiences are worth it, but more than that showing them that I don’t see myself as being above them, especially in a culture of castes, is worth getting so sick I’d maybe have to be sent home, as we were debating the first time around. To refuse would be to convey that I am higher than them and their way of life, especially given the lack of translation. It would say their food is dirty, that while I will sit and chat with them and play with their kids, I will not go that extra mile of intimacy and break bread with them. I couldn’t do it; I simply could not.
Smiling through the almost immediate nausea and heartburn, I sat with a woman whose young son (between four and six years old) we had prayed for a few days before. His legs were burned by a cooking fire about a week prior to our arrival, and he could no longer walk. As her kids ran back and forth, we laughed instead of talked, playing with her kids as they came by. Two of the four are in the picture with me. Through it all, the little family had such joy. I ran into her on the bus today, and was once again shocked by her immaculate beauty. However, beyond the mirth, beyond the elegance, there’s more pain in her eyes than many of the other women I met there. She’s one I dream of taking out to coffee and just chatting with, with no language barrier to this time curb our conversation. Perhaps on the nearing Other Side.
About a half hour before we left, one of the couples I was sitting with invited me into their home for chai. Again, to refuse would be more damaging to them and to our witness here than any bacteria would be to me. I can treat bacteria, but the wound of offense takes much longer to overcome. Having watched it boil, though, I knew this one was safe (and delicious).
Upon stepping into their home, the first thing I noticed was the purple and gold scarf hanging as tapestry. Catching my breath, I whispered to the wife that it was beautiful. Seeing as how she couldn’t understand my words, I hope the smile conveyed it.
These two families, both believers, were some of the most fascinating to me. While I hunger to know the full stories of the first (why did I never see her husband? Was she married? What was her daily life like?), the second was the only couple I’ve seen here who appeared genuinely in love. Teasing and laughing with each other and their children, it was clear they truly enjoy each other’s company.
I hope to return soon, to continue to love on these people and experience more of their way of life. Despite the poverty, there is such exquisite glory. Each time we’ve visited this slum our cameras have stayed home. On our final day or two with them, I hope to capture each rubble covered rose lying hidden there.
Humans like these families, like the children of this little Indian tent-town are why I’m here. Their smiles, their laughter, their joy. All they ask of us is prayer and a hand to hold. Gladly, my darling.
Until next time
XOXO
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Photo Credit to Chris Park (IG: @chrispark01) 

Frye.

I keep trying to write this precious boy’s story, but every time I simply can’t. Within a matter of days this boy became like my son. When we first arrived in the Peruvian jungle, we all believed him to be about seven years old. Towards the end of the trip, we learned he was actually a malnourished twelve or thirteen year old.

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Picture Credit: Carlos Paillacar

When I first met him, the fierceness in his eyes, with such humorous joy hidden underneath, was all I noticed. Part of what we were doing there was running a Vacation Bible School of sorts for the kids, and my job was to choreograph little hand-motions and dances for each of the songs and teach it to them. From the first day on until right before we left, the moment our eyes locked, he would come up and dance with me. Energetic, full of spunk and mischief, as well as genuine love, this boy captured my heart within days. It’s been over a year, and I still think of him almost every day. His passion for learning both about the Lord and regular, straight forward academics is beautiful. With a single glance, the next prank on his silly gringa friend is planned, and when I stumble into the trap, his good natured smile lights up a room as he helps me out of the mess he got me in.

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Frye is on the right, Junior on the left.

What none of us realized until the day before we left was that, at least at the time, he was raising himself, living off what he could find. When I learned this, my heart broke in a way it hadn’t ever before for this amazing young man. His home village of Juancito is known for its hostility towards outsiders and drunkenness in the male culture, but you would never know this from watching Frye. Such effervescent joy in every circumstance, such hopefulness, willingness to learn…
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So this is my request to you, dear reader: pray for him. Pray that he maintains his hope in the Lord as he continues to grow and be discipled by the church there. Pray for strong, righteous male influences to come into his life. Puberty itself is hard enough; I can’t imagine it without someone there to look up to. And please, pray that he never loses sight of his joy-Giver. And whoever in your own life this post made you think of, take a moment to pray for them, too, and maybe even reach out to them if you can. 

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.'” -Matthew 19:14

Until next time,

XOXO

A Teeny Little One

On my way to YWAM, I stopped in California to see my boyfriend. In short, it was amazing. Spending time with Jonny and his family provided some much needed refreshment, both in physical rest and spiritual rejuvenation after what has been, and now continues to be an insane season.

I had been to California twice before in early high school, but seeing it as a local felt so different. The juxtaposition of old, beautiful, rich history and fresh opportunity with dusty sins and barren, shallow hopes is astounding. Although the drought is fierce as ever, signs of life still remain in hidden corners.

While all of this was lovely, the most touching part of the trip was by far the Monfredas. I can’t begin to express the love I have for and felt from this family. From the moment I stepped off the plane, their hearts were open to me, showing me the purest, most generous tenderness of Christ.

Anyways, here are some pictures from the trip 🙂DSC_0192DSC_0191 DSC_0187DSC_0178DSC_0174DSC_0168DSC_0162DSC_0145DSC_0033DSC_0026DSC_0020DSC_0016DSC_0015DSC_0304DSC_0300DSC_0297DSC_0010DSC_0009DSC_0309DSC_0308DSC_0307DSC_0281DSC_0278DSC_0277DSC_0270DSC_0266DSC_0265DSC_0264DSC_0262DSC_0260DSC_0259DSC_0258DSC_0257DSC_0254DSC_0247DSC_0238DSC_0237DSC_0235DSC_0231DSC_0229DSC_0208DSC_0217DSC_0218DSC_0220

There are probably some repeats from a previous post, and it’s probably pretty clear what my favorite view from the trip was, but either way I hope you enjoy!

XOXO

Hungry Hearts

Do You hear the sound?
Hungry hearts
We are one thousand
Crying “Holy, You are.”DSC_0264

Do You feel the rush
Hungry hearts
Grateful, we push
Forward to Your arms.DSC_0237

United purpose
Single Spirit
Fragrant roses
We lift our souls to You.DSC_0206

One thousand tongues
Words of fire
We lift our souls to You
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Joy resounding
From the trees, the sky
We lift our souls to You
Lift us high.DSC_0270

Do You hear the sound?
Hungry hearts
We are one thousand
Crying ‘Holy, You are.’DSC_0277

Taking Flight

October 2nd

As I write this after having missed my first flight yesterday evening, spending countless tears with my incredible man trying to get this one worked out, nearly giving up, sprinting through LAX, and finally finding my seat on the aircraft, it hits me: this is it. Life as I always dreamed of, as cliche as it sounds, is beginning now.

When I arrive in six short hours, I will be headed to University of the Nations for my first Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission. My feet only touched the plane after an eventful and completely wonderful ten days with Jonny and his sweet family. Long distance is a beast, but trips like these make it well worth it.
When your eyes first scan this post, the first few days on this honeymoon with the Lord will be through. Chances are, the rhythm will have been discovered, and I will be dancing along with it.
Currently, I am firmly planted in seat 12B, with fellow passengers soundly sleeping beside me.
Window’s wide open. Clouds look like the sea. Blue, green, orange skies, but the orange that is almost pink. His jacket around my shoulders, drenched in his cologne, reminding me of my second home. Assailing my mind are constant questions, vague condemnations. “Was this right? Even in the frustration, how could I allow that word I prayed I had forgotten how to say slip out? Will six hours feel like six hours, or twelve? Or two? Who will I be at the end of this? How much will have changed? Have I already forgotten my first Love?”
No. 
Grace covers all, so no more second guessing. Those words will not be allowed to escape my mouth again. The time will pass second by second, moment by moment, as it always does. I will be who the Lord intends me to be. Nothing will have truly changed, because Christ will still be sovereign. And though in the turmoil I have spent less time with my Beloved than I would have preferred, still, He carried me. Looking back on the summer, on September, I see His holy hand in everything. I see Him using Jonny to help be my stability. I see Him allowing certain stresses for the strength they produced. I see Him removing certain people for the sake of pruning, to produce more and healthier fruit. As I take flight with a happy heart and tired spirit now refreshed, I see His continued faithfulness.
October 3rd
Luggage left in LA. Wake up in a foreign bed at 6AM. Feels like 9AM. No clothes. No shampoo. Sunshine smiles from sweet roommates. Flowers as random welcome gifts (the little things really do mean the most). Breakfast overlooking the sea on one side, volcanoes on the other. Rhythm being found; no, I am being swept into it’s ocean tides. Fast friends from foreign cultures. Separate backgrounds, united purpose.
Bags are returned to me, unpacked, and I begin to feel more settled. Evening goes on. Among Christians numbering over one thousand, we break bread. Laughing as old comrades, we descend the hill to the city for some evening exploration. Night wears on. Feet find their way to what is becoming home.  Debating on the couch as sisters, precious hearts are revealed, and the array of rare flowers forming this bouquet starts to bloom. As wind in trees by a river of love, the Holy Spirit whispers into each of our souls. It is beginning. We are each on our own separate paths to discovering His purpose for our lives, and we are blessed enough to be able to watch as He does the same in those around us.
Pictures to come soon, I’m just having trouble uploading them since I forgot the cord back in the 305, in true Serenity fashion 😉 

because cliche mush is allowed.

And so it begins: the fearful process of farewells. Six months doesn’t seem like long, but it feels like an eternity. In six days I’ll be on a plane to California to see my beloved boyfriend and meet his family, and ten days after that I’ll be on a plane to Kona, Hawaii for a missionary training program called Youth With A Mission. With my parents having met there and being continually involved as I grew up, my life has been planned around these six months. While ideas for what would come next perpetually changed, as they do with any kid thinking of the future, YWAM remained constant. And now it’s here.

Last Sunday marked my final escapade with the humans who have become family; the ones who are brutally honest, can irritate the daylights out of me and are the most welcoming shoulders when life becomes grey and fuming red with pain’s knife. From midnight drives so we can scream at the stars and yell promises of who we’ll be to the passing cars from hideout vantage points, to nights spent in hotel rooms and around familiar coffee tables processing the glory of who God is, they’ve been there through it all.

Things will be different when I return. Time changes almost everything, and I know we all will have grown in such unique and different ways. But they will remain constant. The ones who make me feel all cliche because they make the stereotypes of beloved friendship true, the ones who give me freedom to discover myself while they discover the intricacies of their own souls, my motley crew of wild wallflowers, will remain constant, each with their own adventures along the way. And when we reconvene, older and wiser, it’ll be as though nothing has changed.

See you on the other side.