Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another year older and wiser (so I think!)

Ready or not-- the big 3-0 happened. I'm actually ok with it. Even though I'm not married with a baby on the way (like I pictured myself at 30 a ways back), I am embracing where I am in life and what is in store for me still. I've picked up some insight along the way and decided to compile it. So here's 30 lessons from my 30 years. Can't wait for the next 30!

1. There is ALWAYS, no matter what moment in life or time, something to be grateful for.

2. A few deep breaths can help in any situation.

3. A massage can make any day FABULOUS!

4. I feel happier/nicer when I exercise and eat right.

5. My mom bakes pure, genuine love into chocolate chip cookies, and I aspire to that.

6. Some days you just need a pedicure to help you feel pretty.

7. Singing is one of my biggest passions; it is one small, easy thing I can offer to anyone at anytime.

8. Making people smile and laugh absolutely makes my day.

9. The world is not fair. That sucks.

10. My day is fuller when I start it with prayer.

11. My nieces have given me some of the most joy-filled moments of my life...but I am still sooooo far from being ready for kids of my own.

12. My year-long service opportunity in Peru has taught me more valuable life lessons than I still have even processed.

13. Every day is another chance to get outside of your comfort zone.

14. I am worth the small indulgences of having fresh flowers in my room, a delicious-smelling candle burning, fancy perfume on-- just because.

15. I can ALWAYS be better at loving.

16. I never knew the impact my grandparents would have on me; I still tear up just thinking about them.

17. Whenever I'm sad, I know of 3 sure-fire ways to get me out of my funk: volunteering, playing with puppies and spending time with children.

18. Life is too short to not travel to as many places as possible.

19. Each person has a very unique story to tell. Stop long enough to listen and they might just tell you the exact thing you needed to hear!

20. The more I learn about life and love, the less material stuff matters.

21. I'd rather be fulfilled by my job rather than my paycheck.

22. Life is a lot easier once you accept your flaws, your past, yourself.

23. Truly living life is much more entertaining than watching other people do it on tv.

24. It is not possible to fill other people up when you haven't filled yourself up first-- and this starts with drawing on God for love and patience.

25. If you do the same thing you always do, you get the same thing you always got.

26. Don't underestimate the power of simple joys: beautiful weather, your favorite song coming on the radio, a great parking space that opens up at the perfect time, etc.

27. If you don't know how to fully resolve a situation, an "I'm sorry", home-made baked goods, and a solid hug can't hurt.

28. Sometimes you need a few days of watching daytime television to make you WANT to go back to work again!

29. I couldn't have gotten to where I am without my amazing parents and awesome community of friends.

30. God ALWAYS provides- maybe not in the way we expect or want, but He always follows through for our higher good.

Look at me! I'm 30 and in a kimono!

My amazing friends that came out to celebrate me! How lucky and blessed am I?! Thanks for all the birthday love!

Location:St. Louis, MO

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jelly beans vs. Salvation

What is the very first thing you think about when you hear the word 'Easter'? Just like that ink-blot test, you don't get time to reflect and choose which word you THINK you should think-- but really...did you say Peeps? Easter bunny or basket? Cadbury eggs? Jelly beans? Robin eggs? The media, grocery stores, and shopping malls have brainwashed us into thinking that Easter is ONLY about those aforementioned things, or at least the first thing that many think about. I am equally disgusted and saddened. What about God proving His unconditional love for us by dying a gruesome death? I never saw that image on an Easter egg. Or how about Him bearing all of our sins so we can have a shot at eternal life?? That makes me feel a whole lot better than a bite of a Reese's egg. Tonight at the Good Friday service at church, I was so overcome with emotion, thinking of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice, dying even for the people who were flogging him, spitting at him, insulting him, and making him bleed to death. There was no "guarantee" that these people would eventually come around and love Him and thus, making it "worth it". It was loving without expecting a SINGLE THING in return. I looked like I was cutting onions during the service--my facial fountain was flowing! But I was thinking, in the rare incidence that someone should ask me why I'm crying, I would say, "Why AREN'T you???" This is my Savior that was just brutally murdered on a piece of wood for no reason, except to prove His tremendous love for us. If I can produce a few tears while watching The Biggest Loser (I know--I'm a big loser!) or reading a fiction novel, why shouldn't I show at least a LITTLE emotion at the death of The Lord of Love?! Are we THAT distracted? Are we THAT hardened? Are we so disconnected from our center and core reason for being? But as you know, this story does not end in tears, but in uncontainable joy!!!!! Jesus has risen!!!! Some of us are living like that fact has no relevance or affect on them. He has the power to change your life if you let Him. If you thought Peeps, Cadbury eggs, Robin eggs, Reese's eggs, and chocolate bunnies were good, those things got NOTHIN' on Jesus! Get ya' some Jesus this Easter! Love, peace, and Easter joy to all!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I'm goin' to Trujillo in my mind

Generally speaking, I would say my mind drifts back to Peru and my experiences there almost once a day. What a profound impact that special place and those precious people have had on my heart! It took a little while to adjust back to "American standards", but I have to say, it's not too difficult to get sucked back into going 90 miles an hour, overcommitting, and buying things you don't need. I've felt this blog coming on for awhile, but literally "have been so busy"...I hate that excuse. It's so overused and keeps you from really giving 100% to all the "yes's" in your lives that you want to commit to. The ability to stop, breathe, blog, reflect,etc, was not something I had to think about in Peru; there was way more free time than I almost knew what to do with. Here, it's a little different: juggling four different kinds of work I enjoy, spending time with family and friends, training for a 1/2 marathon, ensuring my dog gets her walks, volunteering, and all the other daily happenings. If I don't intentionally stop and make time, I will get sucked up like I used to pre-Peru. Just having this awareness is powerful. As an occupational therapist, I'm constantly telling my patients to stop activities in the middle, before they are finished, to breathe, take a break, conserve their energy. I realized I can apply my own teaching to myself and my life! How often do I stop and do that? To breathe in some fresh air, to take a nice run under a sherbet-colored sky, to be truly present during conversations without checking your cell phone or even texting during it! I'm GUILTY. However, we have the power over our own choices and decisions. Last week, I made a conscious choice to cancel a previously-planned event with two friends because I desperately saw my dire need to stop before crashing and burning. I'm starting to listen to both my body and soul and hear the whispers of God I usually can't hear because I am moving at the speed of light. The world is too loud. Take a moment and just be still in the silence. At first, it may be awkward. We feel the need to fill it with radio, noise, texting, tv. But just for a minute- be still and know of God's presence and love for you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:St. Louis, MO

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Eagle has landed!!

Well, actually I landed one month ago, but I guess I'm still on "Peruvian time." My Christmas elf greeters made the transition from a bizillion hours on an airplane to home sweet home even sweeter. I am soooo lucky!

I even got the pleasure of hanging around Santa.

Getting fancy for New Year's Eve with some fabulous ladies...

2012--BRING IT!

While I miss my niƱos and volunteer family dearly, I am feeling so blessed with each passing day. God is really loving me through amazing friends, family, and opportunities. I am asking God to embrace me as I surrender to Him and uncertainty. Thank you all for your support and prayers.

Machu Picchu

Kelly held a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb. Two days old to be exact.

More holding of lambs...

Picturesque Lake Titicaca

In a home-made reed boat near the Floating Islands

From the Lou' and I'm PROUD!


One of my favorite pictures I took

More pictures to post later--give me another month!

Location:St. Louis, MO!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

There are two sides to every least, I'm trying to convince myself of that.

My head keeps flashing the remaining number of days I have left here, and with that comes flashbacks of beloved moments spent in and outside of the orphanage. I took down all my cards and one wall of pictures in my room the other day as a physical sign to help my mind believe it. I can't believe I'm leaving. In January when I first got here, I remember thinking that staying a whole year felt like forever! Now that the time is almost upon us, it seems like forever is not long enough. There is SO MUCH that I'm going to miss. It's impossible to list it all, but I will highlight a few major things. As a weaning attempt, I will also list things that I am not going to miss.

-I will miss helping Cristina learn to ride her bike because her father is not present to do it himself.

- I will NOT miss the need to wipe coal dust off of EVERYTHING due to living right next to a carbon factory.

-I will miss miss my "therapy" time with Jessica and getting to see her grow, develop, and make this insanely cute face.

-I will not miss Peru destroying all my clothes.

Check out my butt. Don't be shy, go on. This happened as a result of being hurriedly rushed out of the micro at my stop- they almost pushed me out the door, but my pants were still caught on the door handle!

-I will miss living in community with other volunteers on fire for God. They truly have led me, encouraged me, inspired me, and brought me deeper into prayer and relationship with God, and for that I'm truly grateful.

This was after our icing fight. David, this is what you get for not participating-you are not in the picture.

-I will NOTTTTTT miss the smells of living next to both a slaughterhouse and a chicken coop.

-I will miss the ridiculous randomness of Peru: clowns and people on stilts everywhere, old ladies at the post office and church asking you to their house for dinner, programs or events starting TWO HOURS LATE because they are still practicing, and TONSSSSSSS of home-made decorations!!!!!!

-I will not miss waiting for the micro in the middle of freaking nowhere for 20-30 minutes and then riding it at least 35 minutes to get into town to civilization! I can't wait to see my car again!

-I will miss eating a delicious meal for as cheap as sixty cents!! And delectable treats like churros!!!!

- I will NOT miss the carb triple threat: eating bread, rice, and potatoes almost every single day!

- I will miss teaching English to the madres, staff, and kids who are failing English in school. I will especially miss snickering when they mispronunciate "teeth" as "teet".

-I will not miss eating organs of animals. Enough said. I don't want to puke...

-I will truly, madly, deeply miss these children who I have come to think of as my own. I will miss the tangible feeling of God working through me in such a real, powerful way that results in these children learning how to smile (when before all some of them knew was abuse) and come to life again. I'm so thankful that God allowed me to take part in blessing and enriching these little lives when He himself is more than capable of it. And now, I feel a good cry coming on...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Crazy-cute kids and vampire bites

The kids celebrated their school's anniversary last week with--any guesses???? That's right...COSTUMES! And adorable, creative ones at that. My favorites were Adam and Eve.

Covering his eyes out of shame of his nakedness


There were also animals---

A spider

A cat

A rat


A turtle

A dog

And a whatchamacallit

Oh and a Hawaiian girl, too

And a girl with a painted heart.

Another volunteer, Ashley, has gotten me all excited about the Twilight movies. I NEVER thought I would ever say that. I was anti- all that stuff before this trip! However, they are kind-of entertaining and addictive. So we we went the night after Breaking Dawn premiered here. It was even in English!

A pre-flick bite. Notice the dental work and lovely hand-made earrings.

A little more normal

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oops! I did it again...

I played with your heart and fell off the blog train. I got Britney on the brain right now because my sister, brother-in-law and the Guatemalan in-laws are jammin' out right now to her concert in Abu Dhabi thanks to free tickets! But I digress...

This past weekend, my roommate and I traveled to the land of mountains, amazing dairy products, and legendary Inca baths where famous kings and royalty once dipped their toes while planning their next attack... or something like that.
The journey lasted about six hours by bus. We pulled into the station around 4:30 am (the overnight bus left at 10pm) and thanks to connecting with past volunteers from the orphanage, we were offered free housing in a church.

We passed out for a few more hours and then made a plan for the day to head to the Plaza de Armas (center of town-each town has one), climb the steps to Santa Apolonia (where the Spaniards ambushed Incan Emperor Atahualpa in 1532) and bathe ourselves in the famous hot springs. The altitude of 9,000 feet made its presence known right away-- I almost needed an inhaler after climbing a few stairs!

Stephanie and I in the Plaza de Armas

What is a day in Peru if you DON'T see a jester on stilts?!

The steps leading up to Santa Apolonia (white church with white cross above it)= HOLY out of breath.

Almost there!

Looking down

The Plaza de Armas from above (zoomed in with the cam)

So much more green here than in Trujillo!

I made it! (representing in my Cards gear!)

It started to rain at the top of the hill so we took shelter in a micro and headed for the baths. We splurged $6 for a massage and entrance into the Incan baths aka mildly-warm pool.

The entrance to the Inca baths

The scalding-hot water from the volcano- this is what I THOUGHT I was going to submerge myself in.

I was a bit disappointed at this public lukewarm pool. All the Peruvians thought it was lap swim and swim lesson time instead of soak-and-relax time.

This might have been one of the best ice cream cones I've ever had.(We were smart and went back the next day!) It was made with manjar blanco, a sweet milky cream made famous in Cajamarca. It is similar to dulce de leche and not too far off from sweetened condensed milk.

One of the markets

A moto taxi

Beautiful churches in the Plaza

We randomly attended a children's music concert. The streets were jam-packed with adorable kids in different native dress and we just had to attend. Yes, we were the only gringas in the entire enormous auditorium.