words for the year

With the new number of another new year, it’s a chance to refocus.
It’s a chance to re-evaluate, take a look at yourself, set goals, & set values back in their rightful spot.
I usually get excited about adventures & dreams. Those are the typical words I focus on. I’ll make some journal pages for adventures I want to go on & dreams I want to see become reality.

Sometimes I feel one word sticking out in my mind; I’ve seen many friends & strangers do this. But I usually approach the one word with less excitement & usually don’t come up with one. I feel focusing on one word is ignoring other areas that need attention not neglecting.

Today, however, I wrote three words I want to re-incorporate into my daily life.

 

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Lately, I’ve felt my daily life lacking in these values.
I would use all three of them to describe the kind of life I want and the kind of person I want to be, but lately my thoughts, emotions & feelings have outweighed these characteristics.

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This past weekend, I got to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in over a year.
We’re both in the same boat of figuring out life after being abroad and what we want, so we met up for a weekend of fun. I expressed how much I need fun & fun is difficult when my friends are hundreds & thousands of miles away.
So fun is what we had.

I was outside of what my day-to-day has been the past month. I felt more hopeful. I laughed all weekend. We played games & I really had fun. Friends have that amazing quality to bring hope & fun into life. 🙂
The weekend was intentional. I had driven miles to visit and would only have until Sunday to have fun. We had to be intentional.

I would use all three words to describe the weekend, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence those three words came to my mind again today.

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Can I let you in on a secret?

. . . . . . . . .

I don’t know what I’m doing.
I don’t have my life figured out.
I don’t have my emotions and feelings in order (they seem to be all over the place). Myself & my life feels pretty messy & disorganized. (Thanks Papa, you started this messy undoing last January. You’re taking my life that I’ve tried to keep as neat boxes and told me to get out of the box. I’m learning mess is okay. Let’s unpack the boxes and go through the stuff.mthrow out what is not healthy. That’s an entirely other post)
Do you feel me?
Is anyone else in this season of life? Coming from an adventure, having to figure out what your life is now, readjusting, refocusing, asking yourself what you want.
Anyone?

Well, I know that I’m not alone in this season. I want you to know you’re not alone in this season.

Now, if you have your life figured out, have a vision you’re moving toward, I commend you. Tell me, how did you figure it out? What was your journey like to get there?

If you feel you’re moving but don’t know where, I would suggest taking time to write down and answer, “what do I want?” Self discovery is a continual journey. I’m only 28, but I feel like as soon as I discover something about myself, I discover something else. It’s a continual self discovery journey.
It’s a journey that takes time. Time we often rush through in the instant gratification culture of the West we live in.

Can I share one more secret?
I discovered there’s people on the other side of the world not rushing through life. They value time. They taught me (through my impatience and frustration) to slow down. They value people. They value relationship. They are less task oriented and more people oriented. Maybe this is partially the reason my brain has been firing slower since I got back to the States. Haha!

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What are your words you want to describe yourself and your world this year?

Take time to ask and answer What do I want? Let the answering be frustrating if it is. Let it be painful. Let it be exciting. Go big baby! You’re worth it.

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

On this day of 31 Dec, I am almost taken by surprise our time together is coming to a quick close.
Each month of you brought surprise, adventure & choice.

In January our first hello was had in sunshine over a cup of coffee in a newly gifted mug. I welcomed you with excitement and wonder in my eyes. We cheersed to the adventures that were to come. I met you in the state of Colorado.
Less than a week and we were in the state of Georgia trying to prepare for the coming travels, community & experiences. I snored and laughed in my sleep (so I was told), thus jumping into a wild ride.

You took me on my first plane ride across the Pacific, dumping me in Indonesia. The sights and sounds were so many, I was unsure of which window to look out as we squished into the Angtuk that first torrential rainy, humid day in Bandung. We were all wet & without much space, but so happy to be where we’d never been.

I took many a selfies during your first few weeks.
I was awoken by the call to prayer for the first time & never knew horns would make me laugh so much.

We saw the lands of Asia, and I fell in love with Asia more than I thought. Asia doesn’t get the credit they should, it’s a beautiful place, with incredibly hospitable people.

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We rode 19 long distance trains, the longest ride being 60 hours. 🚂

We flew in 24 airplanes. ✈️

We sat in 16 large buses and 9 minibuses. 🚌

We got to ride 2 ferries, 1 legit boat on the Caspian Sea, and a taxi boat in Bangkok. ⛴🛳

And too many taxis for me to even remember. 🚕

We rode trams, metro, tuk tuks in India, bicycles in Thailand and China. 🚎  🚲  🚡

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We walked miles of streets with sidewalks and non-existent sidewalks; trails up mountains, trails of mud; roads of dirt & dust; we slipped and pretended to ice skate on China’s wet sidewalks; we wandered cities & markets; we touched beaches, seas & a couple rivers; we crossed bridges, did a couple handstands & kartwheels, skipping and splashing in puddles; we danced on rooftops, in a wedding & on a boat deck.

We saw city views from above; I pointed out the moon nearly every time he made an appearance. We stargazed. We laughed, we cried. We watched the sunset and the moonrise.

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Ate the best food, drank the best juice in Marrakesh. The best fruit in Thailand, biggest carrots in Bishkek, freshest bread in Georgia…

We sweat, had to carry our own toilet paper, used countless squatty potties, smelled many a fragrances, talked to strangers at train stations, made friends on the train.
We got sick a couple times, slept in a tent in the mountains of Nepal, twirled kiddos long after I got dizzy, ate and ate and ate.

We cried on the floor of a hostel after realizing we weren’t going to Turkey.

Broke a pair of flip flops getting off a train in Burma.

Had rocks thrown at me by a kid in China, stepped on a thorn barefoot, peed on my own foot and flip flop.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – –
2016, you were full of adventure, the unexpected, pain, memories, and the least amount of alone time ever. You were a year I’ll never forget. I got to experience cultures & life like never before.
I cried for Syria, I cried for Turkey.
I cried for leaving my friends in Kyrgyzstan & Morocco.
I met the most amazing people, heard stories on the edge of my seat.
I met sweet babies in Greece, a sweet papa in Nazareth.
I got to live, eat, travel, cook, walk and sweat with brothers and sisters that have my back. I got to experience true community and Papa redefined family.

As this year ends, I encourage you to think of the good this year. Remember the sweet moments, remember the amazing people you met or realized you have. Think of the ones you talk to the most, how they’ve loved & valued you this year.

Let your mind ponder the good from this year. End on a good note, start in a good note.

Cheers to you 2016! Thank you for what you taught me. I’m better because of you & the people I crossed paths with.
2017, I’m excited to see the adventures and wild rides we’ll take together.

 

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beauty full

Hello beautiful, astounding ones!

I apologize for the lack of blog posts.

Since my last exciting post (see previous post), I have continued blogging on my world race blog.

I am considering copying and pasting those blogs here, because this format makes my eyes happy! The format on world race, is not as creative and visual. But it will suffice it’s purpose.

Check it out in link below! I will be blogging from there and here when I have the uRae to see a blog that makes my eyes happy where words and visual photos are paired. 🙂

// Andrea’s World Race blog

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When [ dreams ] become real life

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
-Anais Nin


Courage – came from the Latin word cor; defined “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” What a refreshing concept of courage.
I would like to be courageous and share what is in my heart.
I don’t like to broadcast everything happening in my heart and life on social media. I especially don’t want to make this blog an emotional rant, but I do want to be real, transparent and share my life. My life is not simply meant to be kept isolated.
Yet every piece of my heart and thoughts is not to be shared with every person I come into contact with. There are appropriate friendships and levels of friendship in life with those I do life with.
Thus, I would like to share an exciting development!

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I love travel, adventure, the excitement of a new journey and the unknown of what lies ahead. In elementary school I discovered I liked learning new languages, as well as geography. //side note// my favorite country was Albania because it started with an A just like my name. In high school and college I had opportunities to study foreign languages, geography, anthropology, and world studies. I have had this growing desire to travel to and experience life & culture abroad, especially to regions that are not as popular for a typical American traveler.
I have wondered many a days if I would actually get opportunities to travel to these places. Traveling is expensive and I desire to experience these locations for more than just a couple days. I want a unique experience. I want to live, breathe, + consume the culture and people as if I am one of their own. I want an experience that is not solely for my own gain. I want an experience that is more than, “Andrea walked the streets in India”, “Andrea ate authentic street food in Morocco”.
I want an experience that is once-in-a-lifetime. I want an experience that is more. I want more.

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I love Jesus, and I know he has redeemed the joy and laughter in my life for more than just my own daily life. Heck, I never would have believed you if you told me 7+ years ago that I would be in a community of friends whom I just met less than a year ago. I would not have believed you if you told me I was brave & friendly & good at making friends quickly.
I want adventure that is so deeply connected to my Papa’s heart that it’s what I was made to do.




I will spare you no longer…here’s the exciting news…
I will be traveling to 11 countries starting January 2016!!
What is it? World Race
Over the course of 11 months, I will be partnering with Papa, Jesus, Holy Spirit and a team of brothers and sisters to bring the happy gospel to places I imagined would remain as wishes in my dreams.

I have had a week for the exciting news to settle in & share to the most important people in my life, and it still does not feel like reality.
But now comes the lists of what I am to do. Fundraising. Preparing. Expecting.
I am in the midst of writing a support letter, because this incredible opportunity costs money. I am believing Papa will provide like he always does, but I must do my part in asking for support: prayer, encouragement and financial.
I will share more details in a later post, but I just wanted to share this exciting news with you!
I am still trying to wrap my head around it…this is the next chapter of my journey of adventure! My feet will get to journey further than I thought possible.

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If you would love to stay connected with me in this preparation process! I will be blogging more frequently as I prepare and during the journey.

If you would like to know more about the 11 countries in 11 months, please send me your email address. I would love to share more about it and why I am pursuing this.

Check back in a week or two for more updates and info! 🙂
Thank you for joining me in this journey of discovery + adventure!

Don’t forget: you are amazing!

Links

World Race

Adventures in Missions

Your story is valuable

Everyone has a story to tell.


Multiple stories actually.


I would never consider myself a story teller, or good at describing situations that have happened, but nonetheless, I have stories to tell.
Stories of my own adventures, stories of experiences throughout the day.

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I have began to wonder about people’s stories recently.
As I drove into the mountains and passed small towns hidden in the woods and what I would consider “the middle of nowhere,” I wondered about the humans residing there. Have they lived here their entire lives? Do they continue the work and business of their parents? Do they live here in the summer time when hikers, tourists and vacationers pass through and have another life elsewhere? Do they crave other locations?
Are they content in this small town on the pathway to Mount Rainier? Do they frequent the mountain closeby? Do their children long to see a world outside this one? Do they encounter people from all over the world? Do they become excited at getting to know new travelers? Do they live here to live in a place that is quiet and undisturbed? Do they hunt? Do they fish? Do they expand their borders of travel, or remain here?

 

My mind was overflowing with questions of wonder! I became so curious of the lives of these individuals who run and own lodges in the woods of western Washington.

 

I scrolled past this quote a while back, scrolled back and saved the image.

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Every person has something to share and teach. I can learn something from every single person I meet and encounter.
Studying anthropology in college, this way of thinking was pointed out countless times. I believe it to be true! If we will take a few moments and put ourselves outside of the center of our universe from which all thoughts circulate, we will be able to see others more clearly.
I pondered this mindset as I drove home this evening. Every person has a story to tell, they know things I do not, they have experienced life differently from me. They have worked jobs I have not, they have been places I have not. They have a worldview that I do not. Wow, I can learn something from every beautiful human! Young, old, age does not matter, because I can learn from every individual.

 

What if I approached every day life in this fresh mindset? How would my world change. Well, it wouldn’t change, but my perception and perspective on it would change.

 

Every so often I will stumble upon quotes that are thought provoking and I save them. Such is this one:


Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
-Albert Einstein

 

Einstein has good nuggets to share in this statement. What if I were to apply this to the mindset of everyone having a story to tell and something to teach me? What if I took this statement from Einstein and paired it with the quote on image above? I think Einstein was referring to how we present ourselves. If I am moving toward value & finding that in the people I encounter in my day, how will Papa move? When I remove myself from the center of my ever churning universe, and place others there instead, I place their value as more important to establish than my own.

 

Establishing my value? Yes. I want to be valued. You want to feel valued, right?
What does that look like? Well to me, this means wanting my friends and family to value me and me feeling loved, valued and important. I feel most loved when I spend quality time, am listened to, not ignored, invited over to hang or play. This establishes my value; these actions translate to me, “Andrea you are important to me, I want to spend time with you, doing something or doing nothing. I want to hear how you are; the highs & the lows. I want to share my life and these moments with you.”

 

Okay, so how do I establish value and importance of others? For me, spending quality time speaks volumes of importance. I also like to give cards; I find I can express through words onto card what is in my heart.

 

That’s one way. But how else can I establish value and importance? Especially to those people I see broken and lonely and they aren’t my friend? What if it’s a person I will likely never see again? How do I establish their value and importance? How do I make them feel important?
Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.
Not just the somebodies who are frequent in my circle of friends. What about the somebodies who are lonely and shy away from the crowds? What about the somebodies that I don’t get along with? What about the somebodies that I have nothing in common with?
Hmm…I’m challenged.

 

What are your thoughts? Come now, I have loads to learn and you are someone I can learn from. What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree?

Finding where I belong

Kicking it back to the days when these Michael W. Smith lyrics were known by many.
Looking for a reason
Roamin’ through the night to find
My place in this world
My place in this world

I will admit though the tune is outdated today, the lyrics are relevant. Especially to my generation.

Finding where one belongs is a life quest; I believe there will be people and places you & I feel at home. But there will inevitably be moments of doubt and wondering. No matter how secure I feel that I am in a place I call home, there will come those moments and days of insecurity. Moments when I feel left out. Moments when I feel excluded. Moments when I feel I am missing out on something.
Let me tell you from experience, these feelings will come whether you are strongly planted and know without a doubt you are home. It’s the enemy’s way of trying to get us to throw ourself a pity party, or single out + isolate ourselves. It’s his strategy to get us into the mindset that we are alone, lonely, sad and excluded.
It’s okay. You have not taken 15 steps backward. Your feelings and thoughts are valid; don’t discredit them.

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You have a choice when these feelings come into the forefront of your mind. You might analyze & observe the actions of those whom you are feeling excluded from. You might wallow and be down. You might wonder if you have done something wrong. You might try to find where the feelings root from. You may ignore the feelings. You might busy yourself so you don’t have to face the unpleasant feelings.
The choice is yours. You may talk to a friend or confidant. You may get away.
May I advise you? Don’t stay in this place too long! You know how your thoughts and feelings affect you, be sensitive to what you need to process through this place of feeling like you don’t belong.

Can I testify to an action that helps me through this process?
I often feel this atmosphere of “I don’t belong”, and I hate it. It’s not who I am and it’s not who you are.
Why do I hate it? Because it’s a lie. The truth is I am a child of God.
[gal 4:6-7] “And because we are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’ Now you are no longer a slave it God’s own child.”

He has replaced labels on your DNA that were false (lies) and stamped them with truth.
Belonging.
Important.
Valuable.
Amazing.
Purposed.
Beautiful.
Handsome.
Loved.
Joyful.
Strong.
Brave.
Courageous.
Integrous.
Stable.

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But hear me out, if you are not feeling like you have found where you belong, if you are not feeling like you have found your tribe or community, don’t give up.
You will find your tribe.
Remember what Papa has stamped on your DNA? He cares about the details of your thoughts and heart. He knows what you desire and hope for. Ask him. He desires for you to thrive.
I know this- he is a good Papa.
I don’t know why it’s a process to find community. I don’t know why some people struggle in this area consistently, and others may not.
But I know that our Papa won’t leave us or abandon us. He is faithful. He is dependable.
I know he is good, and has the ultimate good for us. We are his kids!
Thank you Papa for being a good Daddy.

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365+ days


Do you have moments in your life that you can clearly see your path started anew?

Do you have key seasons or defining moments when you made big decisions and took risks like never before?


Those moments in time were vital; in the midst, you probably felt very vulnerable and loads of what ifs were making roadways through your mind. Yet in hindsight, you can see where you made that decision to take the risk, to do something you had never done before. The moment is vibrant, vivid and will remain significant. It must. Keep it.

Recall those moments; revisit those crossroads;


come back to remember the questions and doubts that were nothing but silent.

Recall the peace you found; recall the words Papa comforted you with; recall the actions and days that followed.


Every few months I purpose to recall and take a look back on life a year ago. It reveals the faithfulness of my Papa, and keeps me moving forward.

This particular season of life one year past was no exception. As you may well know, I was in Brighton, England, at this time last year, and the experience was too incredible for my limited vocabulary. Those four & a half weeks will remain vivid in my memory, and continue (more than 365 days later) to bring smiles and laughter to my face; nothing will replace those moments & the spectacular friends I made there & the perspective I now have of how my Papa God loves me.

It’s times like those I want to savor. 365+ days ago, I began to experience life, and the substance of my Papa in ways I never experienced him before.

Namely how he loves me authentically, personally & intimately. Papa cares about the details of my heart. He honors risk. I stepped out of my comfort & safety zone. I basically faced some of my biggest fears of meeting strangers and making conversation, and being myself.

Wow! What a faithful father! I’ll break it down.

// I believed he made me brave already, I just need to practice.

// Papa had been making me more comfortable being myself, this was the next steps to freedom & abundant, happy, joyous life.

// I want adventure? Okay, step out of your comfort zone so far that I am forced to rely on Holy Spirit and get out there! What do I have to lose?

// Why not? Why not venture & see what comes of this adventure? The only person I would have to blame if I didn’t go, was me. I didn’t want to live with regret.

// I asked, Papa provided. Money? Check. Peace? Loads. I remember being extremely excited when sharing what I was about to embark on. Friends and family said “Wait, WHAAT?! All by yourself?!” And I replied with a confident, Yes! I was confident my Papa would come through, I knew he would not leave me high and dry.

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Why am I recalling this with you? To vulnerably share. We can all learn something from each other! I believe Papa placed me on this journey of adventure to learn & discover bucket loads of his goodness, faithfulness, happy joy, wild & free life along the way and dump it wherever I go. I believe my craving for adventure is specific to my DNA and he loves that about me. In fact, he fashioned me that way.

I am here (on Earth in this time period, and here on this blog, here in my city, here in this moment) to share my craving for adventure. To share my wonder that has yet to be fully satisfied. To share my thoughts and share what I am learning.

I am here to discover; solo + accompanied.


I am a soul who needs to create and share creatively. I need to give hugs. I need human touch because in years past, I hated hugs. I need to be detailed. I need to share my heart, because in years past, I kept high walls & my heart was hard like stone. I need to share my thoughts because in years past, I thought they were not worth sharing. I need to share because it makes me come alive. I need to share because Jesus has so redeemed and turned my life upside down happy, I can’t do what I did before I encountered his love for me.

\\ So what is this journey? It’s journey of discovery. It is tailored to you, which you can’t be convinced of until you’ve experienced it for yourself. Truly.

Will this be a defining season? Will this be a significant moment?

You decide. You have the power.

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