I came out of 2016 thinking that it was a tough one

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I came out of 2016 thinking that it was a tough one. I came out of it searching for truth. I came out of it searching for worth. I came out of it searching for purpose. I came out of it searching for a place to step off the rollercoaster of peaks and valleys. This was a year of so many peaks, which were always met by valleys.

One of the things I felt like I lost in 2016 was my voice. I was silent a lot. I was numb a lot. I was lost a lot. And part of all of that was a fear of whispering to even those I loved the most that I wasn’t “perfect.” I thought that speaking that word would somehow strip away my fight, my determination, my hope. I thought that somehow speaking that reality would strip me of all the things I loved about me. But one of the strangest things in life is that it seems to speak the words you can’t for you and I realized as my family and friends reached out to say “me either,” that I am still everything I want to be. That very mixture of words of “imperfect” and “none of us are” has allowed me to realize once again that it is okay to change. It is okay to let down your armor and let others protect you, it is okay to hold onto your dreams and let others fall away, it is okay to chase after wings and plant roots.

It is crazy how we hold ourselves to standards that we allow no others to hold themselves to. Somehow we are supposed to always be okay, while we tell those leaning on us that it is okay to not be okay. Somehow we are supposed to be the ones who never cry, while telling those we catch that tears are a sign of letting go and strength. Somehow we are supposed to know how it all will work out, while telling others to trust in the process. Somehow our brokenness is ugly, while we truly see beauty in those scars left on those we love. Somehow we are hiding, while we are screaming for truth. Somehow we have grace for everyone else and leave none for ourselves.

So as 2017 gets scratched off of the calendar, day by day by day, it is time I found my voice. It is time I advocated, I shared, I inspired. Most new years, I put a lot of stock in what the year will bring. I set out these goals of finding this, and changing that. This year, the only thing I really want to say when that last date is scratched off is that I was brave and I fought to be light in your darkness, in my darkness, and in both of our lights. The world doesn’t need more diets, more budgets, more exercise, the world needs more of us giving ourselves and those around us grace. More of us choosing love. The rest will follow.

Happy birthday……Words spoken to an empty room, except for me and your memories.

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Happy birthday….

 

Happy birthday……

 

Words spoken to an empty room, except for me and your memories.

 

Some days are always going to be harder than others. Some days are always going to make me cry. Some days are always going to bring back the excruciating reality that you aren’t coming back. Today is one of those days.

 

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. Maybe its because you were always my biggest supporter, and I could use a little more support these days. You always reminded me that nothing I could ever do would make you love me any less. If I wanted to throw up my hands, and say enough, you’d let me crumble into your arms. If I wanted to be different, you would never try to push me back into the perfect box the world asked me to step inside. If I wanted to demand more from society, you let me cry on your shoulder. Maybe these days, I miss being seen through your eyes.

 

And maybe I’ve been thinking about you lately because legacy has been on my heart. The idea of what I want to leave behind when I’m gone. The idea about what all of “this” means. And it kills me to think about how my story of triumph rests a lot on your story of pain. Much of what has made me resilient comes from the manifestations of your pain in our relationship. Much of what has made me brave comes from living through my worst nightmare of your pain. But I don’t want pain to be your legacy. And looking back at our story, yes there was darkness and yes there was pain, but late at night when I’m all alone, what I long for more than anything in this world, is your love.

 

I long for the light in your eyes when I would tell you about my dreams, which the rest of the world thought I was crazy for. I long for your gentle pat on my hand that everything was going to be okay. I think you were the only person in the world, who was brave enough to grab me in a hug when I professed I was strong enough to do it on my own. So no, your legacy might be a little rusty on the surface, but below it all your legacy is hope.

 

I think the hardest part about being here….is that no one knows you. No one but me holds your memories. No one but me holds your legacy. And one of my biggest fears is losing myself to this race I’ve entered. Losing myself and you to conformity and the struggle to be enough. It hit me in the face yesterday, when I was asked, what things we used to do? And I drew a blank. I got so caught up in the flurry of finals and proving my worthiness, that I was on autopilot. I was forgetting why I am here, and who I am, removed from all of this. So today I took a break, I lit a candle, I cracked a Budweiser, I made you a cake, and I celebrated your life. You are changing the world from heaven. Your “-“ mattered and it deserves to be celebrated.

 

So here I am on your birthday, 15 page paper ahead of me, reminding myself that there is nothing to fear. When doubt creeps in, I must take the time to breathe and remember how I got here and where I am going. Because if everyday is part of our legacies and we define our stories……I know I want mine to be one that is celebrated after I’m gone.

 

Here’s to you mama….47 years of changing lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Y’all are the answer to my questions of doubt

 

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I spend a lot of time wondering if everything I am fighting for really matters. Does it matter in the scheme of things if I send 7 kids to school in Kenya? Is this really going to change anything? Is it worth the awkwardness of asking my family and friends to believe in children 1000s of miles away? Is it naive to believe one child can change the future?

Is my belief in changing the narrative and exposing truth worth going back to school? It would definitely be easier to take the job and make money and do what has no risk, but would I ever be content playing small? It’s hard to listen to your heart when the loneliness that comes with chasing purpose instead of ease makes you want to lay it all down.

Is it worth my pride to expose this deep desire in all of us to love and be loved? Should I write that blog post or send that love letter if only one person reads it? Is the belief in a more loving world worth the vulnerability it takes to truly live that out?

There are a lot of questions that seek to paralyze me in a cycle of fear. There are a lot of questions that place seeds of discouragement and overwhelming pressure deep in my soul. There are days when I just want to give it all up and say ‘No thank you God, I am not your girl to set this world on fire.’

But the greatest thing this world has ever shown me is that in those days hope somehow shows up. Be it a person, a song, a book, a phone call, or a gift. Hope always shows up.

Hope doesn’t make the climb any easier; it just removes the clouds so you can once again see the peak. You can see the reason you started this climb. It reminds you that this mountain matters to you, and that is enough; no one else needs to be on this mountain but you. Hope doesn’t remove the fear of failure; of reaching that peak only to find the other side looking as barren as the one you are walking out of but hope gives you strength to push through it; to open that door to fear and keep walking.

And so I want to say thank you to all of you who have blessed my life with hope. Who have whispered into the darkness ‘you are the girl to set the world on fire and I am going to be standing behind you to add fuel to your fire when you see only sparks.’ Your kind words, your silent belief, your gifts, your ferocious fight alongside me are the answer to all these questions in my head. The fact that you showed up means more than I could ever explain. There is no greater feeling than knowing you are not alone. I need you all more than I ever allow myself to admit.

I also wanted to give a big thank you to the people who contributed to the school fees of Ravon, Derrick, Boni, Nasir, Saum, Agnus and John for this year. This year has been a big one, you all showed up to help invite Boni into our family when he found himself without a stable home. You guys continued to breathe hope into these kids lives and we were able to support Agnus through a hit-and-run accident and Derrick through a broken arm. We are completely paid off for the rest of this year and it is only April; you guys showed up. I can’t wait to share stories about everything they’ve learned this year. Your generous hearts are what keep me fighting; you mean more to these children and me than I could ever express.

Go on and set the world on fire….

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She set the world on fire. She left nothing as it was. It was all charred with her grace, with her love. All of it was made new. Like slash and burn, she ripped through the world breathing hope of new beginning into used and dry ground.

She let nothing slow her down. When the winds of the world’s hatred, intended to push her backwards, rose up, she invited them in and turned them into fuel spreading her love, her grace, further, faster, stronger. She knew no boundaries, because this wasn’t about her. The world needed her light…..she set the world on fire.

With her intoxicating beauty, those who watched her wondered about the force that creates that kind of light. She didn’t have the dimensions of perfection but she was strong. She was the rare kind of beauty: raw and honest. People reached out for her embers, knowing that one little spark could change everything. They too could burn from the inside out. They too could set the world on fire.

This wasn’t about her physical appearance. It wasn’t about her gender. It wasn’t about her circumstance, it was about her. It was about how she chose light. The fighting balance between the fear that stifled the fire and the gasoline of passion that made it rage. She fought to set the world on fire.

If she knew anything it was that the center of her, the center of that flame, was the most important. It was here that she knew she deserved more than the world offered her, more than she was told she could ever achieve. It was here she believed in faith, hope, and love. Her flame would ebb and flow, but because she knew this center more intimate than anything else, she would endure. She would continue to set the world on fire.

On fire she saw hope. On fire she saw the world as it could be. On fire she believed change was possible. On fire there was no place too far, no obstacle too high, no desert too dry. On fire the world has no bounds.

No matter how close to ashes she gets, all she needs is a breathe of fresh air to reignite. And the most beautiful thing about fire is its paradox: some of us try to put it out while others use it as a hug of warmth and productivity. Some of us use fire like we use our lives; some destroy and some create. Some burn it down, some bring it to light. But the truth is that nothing can ever undo what a fire has already done.

So go on and set the world on fire.