Jamaican Deaf Village: Our Retaining Wall

I wrote this blog on Monday for a church blog/update. I thought I would share it here as well!  

“You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12.

I read that our first morning here as I sat on the bench under a tree, looking out to the trees and hills that suround us here in Jamaican Deaf Village.

I’m unsure if I can even find adequate words to express our second day here. It feels like we just got here and simultaneously like we’ve been here forever. We had so much fun and God is doing what He does… changing hearts and lives, even in the midst of our cement pouring, sweat soaking, wall painting, joy giving labor. Even in the midst our jokes about poop (poop is a very popular topic among this group) and our laughter as each person in the group explores a world where language is expressed from the heart to the hands instead of from the mouth and received to the eyes rather     than the ears.

Today was really special with the majority of our morning spent with the children at a local Children’s home. We arrived early this morning and poured out of the van, so excited to see children. I could sense some fit right in with children while others, like me, walked around feeling a little lost. There’s something powerful about being out of your comfort zone, since it always gives The Lord room to do His work. Before I knew it, an entire morning had passed and four small children had fallen asleep in my arms one by one. I didn’t want to leave. The children were so beautiful and looked up at us with eyes peeled wide and arms up high, “hold me”. They screamed it with their body language. They expressed “play with me”, and “be with me” and “I need your touch” even when they didn’t know what they were expressing.We played, we laughed, we swang on the swings and songs were sung. All together with each other, as little hands laid deep in ours we shared smiles with each other.

The children’s home got four new babies today. Four. Can you even imagine? I cannot. I cannot imagine the day where four new babies show up on my doorstep. I cannot imagine. There are no words.

I was sitting on the couch with a sweet babe on my lap bottle feeding when someone tapped my shoulder inform me it was time to leave. It’s time to leave? Already? Do we have to? I looked down at deep brown eyes and small hands clenched tight. We each passed sweet souls to another and gathered ourselves up in the van to head back to JDV for lunch.

Once we arrived in time for lunch, we ate a deliciously massive meal, changed into work clothes and got to work outside. We spent time building the retaining wall along the cement lot. We worked together as a team, not just as a team of people who came to Jamaica from America, but as a team of His people- Jamaicans with Americans. Americans with Jamaicans. Together as a team we sweated, we laughed, we mixed cement, poured it, painted walls, made inside jokes, helped build a strong, strong wall. Retaining wall, a wall of protection. Like He is for each of us. Our wall of protection. Psalm 16:6 “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” I’m so thankful for His protection, even if it takes work to let me decrease and Him increase- Much like the building of this wall. I feel smaller as the wall grows larger. Today I got to see people shine. Other people on the team and Im learning, or trying to learn to take a step back and watch what others do and how He is using them.

I am so thankful for today and the people. I’m so thankful for the work. I’m so thankful to be here.

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What I’m into… May 2015 Edition

Hi everyone.

I’m supposed to do a “Month Madness Mania” but decided to go ahead and call it what i’m into. I’m trying to type this with my sliced-into pointer finger. It’s not an easy task.

What I’m watching: 

You’re Not You

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 8.41.42 PM I watched this movie on Netflix. The main actress is played by Hillary Swank who is a young lively woman who gets diagnosed with ALS. I’ve second hand seen ALS is my last job, where we provided equipment for ALS patients to communicate with friends and family. This was a very sad, but touching movie. It’s worth the watch, in my opinion. It gives a face or two to what the Ice Bucket Challenge was for last summer- there were lots of misconceptions about ALS through that.

Photo credit, google images. 

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Abduction of Eden

This was also a heavy movie. I’m not sure why I chose to watch heavy movies this month, but this, too, was on netflix. It featured the true story of a young girl who got sucked into sex-trafficking. It’s a very real, but tragic story. If you don’t think that Human Trafficking is happening to our girls in America, you should watch this. Eye opening and gut wrenching, but real.

photo credits: amazon.com

The Internets: 

I rejoined Facebook this month and nearly regret doing so…. I don’t know why, but life feels so much more lonely on social media.

I don’t remember any videos I’ve watched or articles I’ve read that I really want to share. however, for those of you who don’t know, i’ve been making it a point to wrap my hair recently because I enjoy it. I’ve been watching Andrea Grinberg’s tutorial videos on youtube. My favorite Wrap so far has been the Regal wrap, below is the tutorial:

I enjoy her videos, her blog and her music (she’s a cellist). She also runs a website called Wrapunzel and sells Tichels (snazzy, right?!) She is an Orthodox Jew that moved from Toronto to Israel for seminary/school then to Chicago with her husband in 2011 when she got married. The Tznius (jewish law about modesty) for women indicates that a married woman must cover her hair- some do this with Sheitels (wigs) or with tichel (Scarfs). This is something I enjoy learning about. I am not Jewish, but I enjoy it… This is a mitzvah for married Jewish women to enjoy so their husbands only see their hair. Here is a link of information for you.

Not all married Jewish women cover their hair and not all women who cover their hair are Jewish. I have learned a lot about religious hair covering over the past couple of months because it is fascinating to me. There is an entire group of women who cover their hair for various reasons- these women come from all kinds of background, Christian (1 Corinthians 11), Moslem, Jewish, Pagan, Catholic… and many, many more.

Note: I did not put this on my “what i’m into” to create conflict, theological debate or offense. I put this on here because it’s “What i’m into” this month and it’s what i am educating myself about. If you have something controversial or disrespectful to say about it, please keep it to yourself. 

What I’m reading: 

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Things As They Are by Amy Carmichael.

I wrote a blog about how this book is tearing me apart. I don’t really want to talk about it anymore though. I feel like the more I talk about things like this, the less people want to talk about them and the more isolated I feel.

Things I’ve done… 

I’ve not been very active this month. I’ve worked a lot. I did make some Challah- I plan to write a blog about that soon because Challah is a gift from G-d! Let me tell you.. It’s amazing. Plus, most of the Challah I’ve made has been… chocolate glazed.

Simply divine.

What i’ve written:

I didn’t have a lot to write about this month mainly because I am not really ready to write about anything that’s going through my head yet. I feel like most people i talk to don’t understand anyways and I don’t feel like blogging about it and getting feedback yet. Maybe June this will happen.

I know I begged you to pray for Ciera... This is still a request from me. Please do pray for her.

I talked about The Call of God on my life through a sermon, I wrote about the book i mentioned above, I took some time to talk about how I am slowly working through eliminating my cannots which has been a hard process!

This about sums up my month! I know it’s not much of an update, but June will be better! I will pick up some light books and write funny stories.

Eliminating My Cannots

I stood in front of the bar looking down at it with my trainer by my side. 

Sara, 8 deadlifts. Consecutively. Then we’re finished. 

I didn’t think I could do them. I knew I could do 8 deadlifts. That wasn’t the problem. But consecutively? Without stopping? Without resting? I didn’t think I could.

You just did 4 without stopping, how is 4 more any different?

I don’t know. I don’t know how 4 more is any different but it feels different. Doing four seems like a reasonable chunk. I can do four. I know I can do four. But eight? Eight feels impossible. In my mind I wanted to break them into 4 then 4. That makes 8.

I’m good at math right? No. Not really.

no-excuses

Credit google for this photo… And yes, I did those deadlifts anyway

One of my largest adversaries in life is myself. When I look back at the things that in life that I started and never finished, I’m almost definitely ashamed. I have started so many things. I have not finished many though. One of my biggest limits in life isn’t my hearing loss, communication barriers, people’s lack of ASL, my balance, my food allergies… My biggest limit in life is my mind. Because If I believe I can do something, then I can, but If I think I can’t, then I won’t.

This transfers to the smallest things- Balancing in yoga, deadlifting at the gym, making new friends, creating a life outside of work, doing a triathlon, seeking the Lord’s will, following Him.

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When I was 15 years old and struggling to communicate and feel a part of the hearing world, I knew that I could learn sign language. I believed that I could. Learning another language, grammar, syntax, culture… that was never a question for me of “Can I”. I knew I could, I believed I could so I did.

But last year when I graduated with my masters degree after a traumatic experience with an internship and looked for jobs everywhere… I would read description of work qualifications again and again. I would think I can’t do that. I wasn’t trained to do that. I can’t talk on the phone… pick up clients… i’m terrible with people… I am irresponsible… what if I fail?.. I will fail… And I’d apply for the job anyway, with little confidence.

Only when I believe those things about myself is when they become true. Without believing those things, I am great with people, I am bubbly, I am beautiful, I can find avenues to advocate for myself so the phone can be adapted in a way for me to make calls. I become responsible. I honor the Lord by loving myself.

It’s what I believe about myself that becomes true.

I once heard in a sermon and read in an article much like this one about something called The Confidence Gap. This is a gap between men and women in confidence. For example, when job searching, looking at job qualifications, men will maybe meet one or two qualifications and apply for the job, and talk their way through an interview after some research, thinking they can learn the rest on the job. While women may see they do not meet one or two of the qualifications and not apply at all.

There’s a huge confidence gap between the sexes. I, for one, agree with this psychology. Mainly because I live it.

I live it. Every day. Everywhere I go. I feel like there’s something telling me i’m not qualified. I’m not good enough. I can’t possibly lift that much weight for that many reps… I’m a little person. I can’t possibly apply for that job, look at the bad experience I had such and such a time- it will surely be like that. I can’t possibly do missions.. i have no experience. I can’t possibly… I can’t… I cantCAN.

Cant

Today is the first day where I am going to eliminate “cannot”, “will not”, “Can’t” from my vocabulary. I’m tired of not being good enough. I’m tired of listening to the voice in me that slowly crushes my will to do the things and be the person I’m called to be. I’m not listening anymore. Listening to that kind of negativity from myself is exhausting.

I can. I CAN. I AM beautiful. I AM smart. I AM athletic, and strong, and energetic. I am good with people. I am compassionate and loving. I am silly. I am goofy.

I am HIS. He made me. Why would I believe I’m less? I am a daughter of a King, the same King who gave me a brain to use, and muscles to move, and a life to live.

I refuse to waste my life on my cannots.  

Month Madness Mania: April 2015 Edition

This is ANOTHER month recap- April 2015 Edition. My goal is to do these at the end of every month. If you missed last month’s recap on what i’ve been doing click here. My friend Lily often does these and I decided that it’s a great way to recap the month and just remember how I’ve been productive, what i’ve done… and it’s also a great way to hold myself accountable because an entire month could go by and I could accomplish… nothing. I feel like it’s also a great way to make goals and accomplish them.

What I’m Watching

On Netflix.

Much like I said last month, I don’t go to the cinema often, but I am a Netflix fanatic. This month I started a new Netflix series and have been obsessed with it since. In fact, I’ve been so obsessed with it that I have been staying up till 1 or 2 am to see what happens next. My Goal for May is to not watch Netflix at all.. with that being said…

Once Upon a Time

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This is one of the most creative series I have ever seen. It’s enthralling. Without giving it away it’s pretty much about all the fairytale characters in one story and… apparently they all know each other. Snow, Charming, Rumplestiltskin, Pinocchio, the Evil Queen… Etc. My favorite character is Rumplestiltskin who also has another name in another world Mr Gold. He’s the most brilliant character on the show and by far my favorite.

In Theatre

I’ve been to see two plays this month. This is an unusual number for me, but I do quite enjoy theatre. I usually attend one or two plays every 5 months or so. Recently I’ve had the privilege of attending two.

A Shayna Maidel- Clarence Brown Theatre (UTK; Knoxville, TN) 

AShaynaMaidel2

A Shayna Maidel

This play was a great way to accent my time preparing for Pesach (passover). Much of the play was in Yiddish- A Shayna Maidel means A Beautiful Woman. It was the week before Pesach and I knew I was about to get ready to celebrate the holy day with my friends. This play was heavy, sad, and enlightening. It highlighted two jewish sisters- one had been left behind with her mother in Poland and the other went with her father to the States. Then Hitler came. They were separated for over 10 years and the sister finally comes to the US after being liberated from a death camp…

A Shayna Maidel

A Shayna Maidel Actresses… My favorite is the one standing up.

A beautiful and tragic story of a family who finds their way through misunderstandings, grief, and estrangement… heartbreaking and redeeming all in one. If you ever have an opportunity to see this in production, don’t pass it up.

 

Hairspray (NTID; Rochester New York). 

hairspray

This was my first fully deaf-friendly play that i’ve been to. It was really interesting. There were two people for each character- someone deaf and someone hearing. When the hearing person talked, the deaf person signed the lines… This was confusing for the first few minutes, but I grew accustomed to it. I’m really, really thankful that Rochester let us see this the night before they went into production! On each side of the stage there were also captions! This was excellent accessibility! I usually go to Theatre and have two interpreters who sit in front of the stage and have to watch to closely to see who’s speaking- This was far better and a LOT of fun!

RID

The Stage

NTID hairpsray

The excellent Cast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Internets.

Last month I featured a spoken word artist… This week I want to feature Jackie Hill- Christian Spoken word artist. Jackie tells her testimony in the video below. Though this is a great spoken word poem, it’s not my favorite by her. I like her “Eyes like Judas” and “Poem about Weed”. Both are very, very good. The one featured this month is called “My Life As A Stud”.

Youtube: Jackie Hill: my life as a Stud

What I’m Reading: 

keepers of the covenant

I Finally finished that book. It took me about 2 or 3 months to finish it. That is a REALLY long time for me, because I normally finish books in about a week or two, depending on my business. Lynn Austin is one of my favorite authors, but this was not one of my favorite books.

Lynn Austin typically write Historical Fiction books, based on biblical characters, much like Francine Rivers. Her books the Chronicles of the Kings were exciting, educational, and riveting. This book that I read above, Keepers of the Covenant was a continuation of the last book she wrote and both focus on the exile of the jews to Babylon and their journey back to the promised land. Though both are good, they’re not her best.

Things I’ve done… 

My friends and I celebrated Pesach by hosting Seder dinner…

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My friends and I also participated in the Color Run…
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Ciera and Transplant…

I got to sScreen Shot 2015-04-13 at 12.05.53 PMee my dear friend Ciera and got to visit with her and her family before they left for Memphis… For those of you who DON’T know… Ciera has received her mom’s cells yesterday and today and is beginning the transplant and engrafting process of  Bone Marrow Transplant number 2. Her and her family would appreciate your prayers and your support. One of the main reasons you can support Ciera is by buying the T-shirts she’s selling right now. This money will enable her dad and brother to come up to visit, pay for gas, pay for food, and just help their family out in general.

 

Here’s how you guys can support her by buying shirts:

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…and I did a triathlon and that was pretty cool, plus you guys raised $2,770… I’m extremely proud of you!

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On the Blog

I’ve actually kept up pretty well this month… My new years goal of actually using and writing in this blog has become somewhat of a success for the month of April.  I talked about my issue with meniere’s disease, my fun time celebrating Pesach, and the endless Sorries I give away so freely. Not only that, but I also took time to list all the Books on my shelves that I plan on reading before the end of the year (hahaha)! I even wrote a pre triathlon and post triathlon blog update and took time to tell you all about the Jewish Museum I went to when I was in Florida!

All in all, i’ve had a lot of fun this month, but I sure am happy that it’s OVER.

The Books on my Shelves….

One of my New Years Resolutions is to read all the books that I have on my shelves that I haven’t read. This is well over 20 books. I’m going to make a list of them on this post and throughout the year, I hope to actually read them, write reviews about them on another post and link them to this one…This list is HUGE. And slightly ridiculous. I have a feeling I overlooked a book or two, but it’s so long that I’m wondering if I can read them all in a year. 😮 (Or less than, since it’s April now)…. What do you guys think?… Any… Tips? Comments? Where should I even Start?!

Right now I’m currently reading:

Boundaries: when to say yes, how to say no Authors: Henry Cloud and John Townsend I’m about halfway through this book and will write a review when I finish it. I cannot wait

! Boundarieskeepers of the covenant

Keepers of the Covenant (the Restoration Chronicles) by Lynn Austin

Books that are on my shelves that I haven’t read

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean (i’ve seen the movie)

Unfinished Portrait by Agatha Christie

The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (Yes I’m a hugeeee agatha Christie fan. I don’t care what you say)

When I was a Slave by Yetman

Emma by Jane Austen

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (I’ve started this 3 times and school has gotten in the way)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (i’m a HUGE fan of middle eastern literature… Haven’t finished this one but started it during college)

The Strange Case of Mr Jekyll and Dr Hyde by Robert Stevenson

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I shamefully put this on the haven’t read list)

The Four Loves by CS Lewis

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell (this is a book I doubt I will ever finish) T

ill We Have Faces by CS Lewis

The Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns

Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Crazy Love by Francis Chan (read several chapters of this in college… see a pattern?)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Started in college…)

Radical by David Platt (read several chapters of this, halfway finished.. during college)

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman… I recently finished another book by him last month.

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Jacobs

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

Things as They Are by Amy Carmichael

Toxic Charity by Robert D Lupton Toxic Charity

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

I’ll Scream Later by Marlee Matlin

Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

Plainsong By Kent Haruff

Life Interrupted by Pricilla Shirer

Jane Eyre Pride and Prejudice

Books on my shelves that I HAVE read

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Fist Stick Knife Gun by Geoffrey Canada (if you work with kids, or inner-city i HIGHLY Recommend this book)

And They Didn’t Die By Lauretta Ngcobo

Aging with Grace by David Snowdon, PhD (This is one of the best longitudinal psychological studies i’ve read)

Me Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild (one of the best bible studies I’ve ever done)

Restoring Sexual Identity by Anne Paulk

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (my hero)

The Greatest Gift by Anne Voskamp

Deaf Artists in America by Sonnestrail

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Morteson (Great book)

Every single Francine Rivers book. I own and have read them all.

Looking for Alaska John Green

Books on my Kindle I haven’t read

Twelve years a slave Solomon Northup

Their Eyes were Watching God (Started this in college…)

Jesus > religion Jefferson Bethke

A bunch of Beth Moore books I got for free on Kindle. But it turns out I really dislike her writing. But I like her speaking!

Books on my Kindle that I’ve read: 

Chronicles of Narnia

All Harry Potters

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield (An interesting read)

Divergent series Brain on Fire: my month of madness by Susanna Cahalan

The fault in our stars by John Green

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Hartfiled Mysteries by Chautona Havig

Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews

Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg

Chronicles of the Kings series by Lynn Austin

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Invisible: my journey through Vision and hearing loss by Ann Silver

The body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Month Madness Mania- March 2015 Edition!

I’ve been following my friend’s Lily’s Blog for quite a long time now and every month she does a “What i’m into” blog post to recap her experiences, adventures, and triumphs for the month… So i’ve decided to do the same thing, since I think it’s splendid. You can view her march post and follow her blog Here. I decided to give my “What i’m into” a different name, because I like to be silly! “Month Madness Mania…” Just made my heart happy because of the 3 m’s. Don’t ask…

So this post is basically.. “What I’m Into March 2015”

What I’m watching: 

I have not been to the cinema in many moons, so I won’t even include Cinema movies, but I have been a netflix, Youtube, and Vimeo fanatic….

Friends

FriendsI love friends! It’s my favorite show on Netflix right now. I believe I’m on Season Four at this moment! I don’t watch it everyday because Ross and Rachel are making me nuts… But when I do watch it it makes me laugh out loud! The characters are all in their mid-to-late 20’s, they all have silly idiosyncrasies that are relatable to me. I understand their struggle with life, relationships, finances, and… friends. My favorite character was Ross until him and Rachel “were on a break,” but now I don’t like him too much. I’m tempted to say Chandler and Phoebe are now my favorites.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt- a Netflix Original Series…

KimmyMy roommate introduced me to Kimmy telling me that Kimmy reminds her of me and that we are likely kindred spirits. When I asked her why she said that, she eluded to that Kimmy and I are both pretty much living in our own happy, clueless bubbles. After watching it and becoming addicted to and adoring this show… I think her assessment is at least partially right. If I could get away with her 90’s wardrobe I would! Kimmy Schmidt was abducted in Middle School by this crazy guy who proclaimed the world had ended and he was a prophet- saving her from the World’s outside destruction. 15 or so years later, the outside world, that is not apocalyptic, discovers her and 4 or 5 other women who have been living in this basement under a religious cult…. So When Kimmy breaks into the outside world, she moves to New York… and makes an adventure discovering life.

That’s about all I’m going to be giving away of Kimmy’s story, but I definitely adore her, her smile, her personality, and her cheesy wardrobe.

Vimeo: 

This Video on Vimeo about the Deaf people in Yemen from IMB Deaf peoples. The video has subtitles for those who do not know American Sign Language.

Youtube: 

I’m a huge fan of SpokenWord Slam Poetry- This month I will feature Sarah Kay- She’s a great spoken Word Artist.
Here is her Channel…

My favorite Video by her Is called Mrs Ribiero. Beautiful Poem

What i’m Reading: 

AHA: The God That Changes Everything by Kyle Idleman

AHA.jgpI started reading this book with my small group a couple of months ago and really hated it at first. I think part of the reason why I hated it was really personal- that I had a hard time connecting with my small group and was dealing with some personal things as far as obedience to The Lord. In the end, I finished this book and really enjoyed it. The author, Kyle Idleman lays out the familiar story of the Prodigal Son that Jesus told throughout the entire book and explains how we can change our lives by following the steps this prodigal took to make change- Awakening, Honesty (brutal honestly about yourself), and Action. Through reading this book I did see several times in my life where i experienced AHA moments that lead to action, but I also identified several moments in my life where I experienced AHA moments that lead to self-pity instead of Action. It helped me be more aware in the future of how I can respond to these, sometimes dark moments. I recommend this book to those who want to learn… And change.

AHA: The God that Changes Everything by Kyle Idleman is on sale for Kindle for $1.99 for those of you who want to read it!

Since my month was very busy, that’s about all I had time to read this month, but It was a good book, nonetheless.  I started another book as well, but am not ready to talk about it since I’m not very far into it. I hope to increase my reading in the coming month: April!

What I’m Eating:

I made a Chicken, Kale, and Quinoa crockpot soup on Sunday night. I don’t care that the weather is getting warmer, I didn’t want to have to stand in the kitchen and work for it! I saw my friend TheKnittyHippie, had made it and posted a picture to her Instagram… so when I asked her for the recipe, she sent me this link… I added and took away a few things the recipe called for… I added Chickpeas instead of beans and Water instead of Chicken Broth. I added cajun seasoning, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. I forgot my Olive Oil and didn’t have the yellow onions or celery, so I put green peppers and sweet onions in it. I typically use Recipes as suggestions or guides and then do with what I have. I have had some Terrible disasters and also some pretty wonderful meals…This happened to taste wonderfully.

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Since March 1, when my trainer had a serious talk with me about nutrition and fueling my body for working out, I’ve been eating lots of fun breakfast foods and sometimes even making them for lunch and dinner. This makes me really happy. Since this talk, I have added Eggs, Low Sodium Bacon, Protein Powder, BCAA Amino Acids and a few other things to my diet. I have been very, very scared to add new foods to my diet, especially the bacon and eggs since it’s imperative that I maintain a low-sodium diet because of my Meniere’s disease which I have a blog forming about… right now.

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I Typically eat Pancakes every Saturday- I love pancakes, especially these.

3/4 cup of oats, 3/4 cup of Yogurt, 1tsp of baking soda, enough egg whites to make batter, and whatever sweetener you want (I like Carmichael’s Honey).

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The Internets: Blogs I love

Such Small Hands

I’ve already mentioned my friend Lily and her blog.  Lily and her husband Jonathan have been teaching English in Korea for quite some time now. I really enjoy her blogs about her adventures there and have been keeping up with her. She’s from my hometown and I think we went to the same school or church… or something when we were younger, but we were never friends. I know Lily best through the blogosphere world though our paths have crossed!

Sights from the Road:

My sweet friend Robin, who I know from Crossroads Church in Louisiana, has moved back to Africa recently to live an adventure of Sharing Christ with others. I have been Following and in love with her blog and writing for a while as well- I really encourage you to head over there and check it out.

Dogs and Dumbbells

My personal trainer, who has also become my friend, writes in her blog from time to time. So far, I love each one of her posts. They have been really enjoyable and always educational. She has also written a pretty awesome ebook called Gym Bag Essentials for $8.99 that I plan on purchasing when I find the time to read more and more! If the book is anything like my conversations I’ve had with her about health and fitness, I know they’ll be educational and inspirational!

All in all, that’s what’s going on March 2015… Can’t wait to post my April Edition… It may include something like a… triathlon.

An Update- What I’m Learning Without Facebook: Connections and Relationships

The last time I talked about be being off Facebook, I was just a mere six days into it and experiencing what I’ll refer to as the Honeymoon phase. It’s been 25 days since I’ve deactivated Facebook and to be honest, the honeymoon phase is over and i’m learning a lot about myself right now. The things I am learning are both really telling about where my heart is and also quite embarrassing, because i’m discovering Facebook actually means something to me.

Initially I felt freed from Facebook, however as time has progressed i’ve found myself feeling lonely, disconnected, and discontented. Some nights have been spent wrestling, wanting to get on Facebook to scroll through. This desire isn’t inherently evil, but it’s the heart behind it that is. My true heart’s motivations isn’t that I want to see what particular friends are up to, but I desire to feel a deep sense of connection with others. While connection is a positive thing, where we get it from can be negative. I realize that the false sense of connection that Facebook lends itself to is dangerous, because we as people can go through our lives only obtaining false connections or a sense of connection without authentically connecting to the people around us. The past few weeks I’ve learned that for me there is something deep inside me that feeds off social media in inappropriate ways and helps satisfy that deep God-given desire within me for connection. There may be nothing wrong with that for others, but recently I’ve learned it may be a huge stumbling block for me. This realization both has shocked and embarrassed me, but made me realize that I am probably not alone because some of you have most likely been doing the same thing without even realizing it.

Connection
Above is the ASL sign for Connection or Relationship-
Credits to google images. 

As I reflect on all this, my deep desire for authentic connection and the sense of false connection that I’ve harbored from Facebook, I realize that if I moved away from East Tennessee to a different part of the country very few people here would miss me for an extended amount of time (more than 2-3 months). My brothers and sisters I serve alongside with at church may feel a deeper sense of loss because of the connections I have serving alongside them and they would need someone to fill my few responsibilities there. However, because of the distraction of social media I realize that I’m missing true connection with people at this point in my life, especially now that college is over, friends have moved away, and I have full time job responsibilities. The transition from College Life to Adulthood is aiding the process of losing connection and becoming more attached to things like social media, since that’s an avenue to keep up with them. While it can be a tool, I have noticed that it’s kept me from forming new relationships with the people around me to replace old ones. My Facebook hiatus has really brought this to my attention and made me realize that true connections with others take work. True connection is more than a Facebook post or a message on Instagram. It’s an effort to reach out, support, share, and live authentically with people around me and give them my time, energy, and communication.

So what have I done since? 

Well, I have a small group at church and though it has taken a lot of time to get to know the girls in it and truly open up to each other, I feel that we’ve started to make strides. We reach out to each other during the week and make true connections. We know what’s going on in each others lives now because we actually share during group time. A group that I thought started out on the surface and I didn’t expect it to move beyond the weekly meetings has grown to mean something to me and I’m both shaken and pleasantly surprised by it. When I enter group on Sunday nights they purposefully ask me how my time without Facebook is going and what I’ve learned that week. This is a group of women that I’ve grown to trust and that is true connection.

I have been reading more, reaching out more, texting more, meeting more with people, attempting to plan my time, reach out, reach in, pray for, connect with, be there for people. All without Facebook. I hope that i’m starting to truly live life, truly follow Jesus… truly…connect.

 

New Year Goals for 2015

There is a page marked in my journal that I started on December 7, 2014. Across the top of it I scrawled New Year Goals for 2015. And below I have 10 goals that I made for this year. They have evolved somewhat since that day- and really, it took me from December 7 till about January 3 to finalize these goals. I never blogged about them because I thought they were personal and private. I didn’t want to share them. But now I feel freedom in sharing them, partially because it’s March and I’ve gone back to keep myself in check with progress. Sometimes I’m wondering how I’m doing, but my journal is at home and i cannot remember all 10 goals so If I have them in electronic format.. walah!

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So how am I doing?

Well, it’s only march so i’ve only had 3 months. In fact, according to research February 24 is supposed to be “the cliff” or “the fitness cliff” where people start fading on their new year goals or resolutions. Since learning that, it’s made me want to keep up with everything even more, because I don’t want to fail along with the crowd.

  • Read through the bible in a year:
    • I am not following a plan with this one. Bible Reading Plans stress me out. I miss days and get behind and feel stressed! When I feel stressed, I don’t do well with things. I tend to give up or quit. Feeling overwhelmed puts the “pro” in Procrastinate for me. So, I am not using a plan. Instead I started in Genesis in January and am working my way through. Somedays I read 10 chapters and other days I read 1. I read what I feel lead to read- and because of that, it’s exciting! I get caught up in the stories and I am falling in love with the people in the Bible and with His word. I get excited when I meet new people in the Bible and I grieve and cry when they die. (yes, when Moses died, my entire mood for a day was off… I was so sad!). It’s easy to get lost in the stories and in history… and sometimes it’s hard to get lost in it because there is genealogy after genealogy.
    • So far, I have read Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and I finished Judges today! YAY! I am excited the more I read, the more I realize how… dumbed down… the bible was in Sunday School and at Christian School. I really regret not reading it for myself sooner. It’s way more exciting than Noah’s Ark and Moses with a little band of Israelites…. It’s about an Almighty God who made millions of people out of two… and displays His glory one day after the next in magnificent ways.
  • Go on a Mission Trip.
    • By God’s grace i’ll be in Jamaica and helping out at Jamaica Deaf Village in July. I need to hurry up and get a passport and turn in my deposit soon!
  • Read the books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet.
    • There are MANY books I haven’t read yet on ALL of my shelves- And i have two book cases. It’s a little ridiculous how many books I have. So far, i’ve done terrible with this. Between reading the Bible through and doing books for small group… and I just bought a pretty neat novel on Saturday night on my Kindle, but we’re not going to discuss that 😀 In other words, I’m pretty much failing at this goal!
  • Complete a Triathlon and Raise the Money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
    • I am still fundraising for St Jude! I will not stop until the hour my race starts! Doing a triathlon and training many hours every week is so much more than about exercise for me. It’s about people who find out their 2 year old daughter has cancer. It’s about parents who sit in the car alone holding hands with tears streaming down their faces as they realize… their child may not make it. It’s for people who have buried their children and have had to say “good bye”, which is something  parent should NEVER ever have to do. I’m swimming and running and biking because St Jude Children’s Hospital vows to never stop until no children have cancer. So please Donate $10 if you can.
  • Give to the Church consistently and be obedient.
    • This is a personal goal that I hesitated to put on my public blog, however, this has been a struggle for me in recent years and it’s something I felt convicted to put on my new years goals for this year. The Lord is so faithful! I feel like when I give to Him, He stretches my finances and makes them go further. When I am obedient, He blesses my obedience. This doesn’t mean my finances are NEVER out of control or that I can go out to eat every day and not live on a budget. I budget, but what I’m saying is that I am finding Joy in obedience and it’s hard sometimes. And sometimes there is no Joy, but recently- the past 3 months, He has been giving my Joy and blessings.
  • Cultivate new friendships, including male friendships.
    • This doesn’t mean i’m searching for a partner. In fact, that’s the furthest thing from my mind. I really just want to cultivate more diverse friendships this year. I looked around at the end of 2014 and noticed that i was graduated form college, working full time, and most of my friends had either moved away or we’ve grown apart. This was a pretty lonely realization. THEN I noticed that not only did I have few friends, but all my friends are the same. They’re mostly white females. There’s nothing wrong with being friends with people like me, but I think i’m going to feel really out of place when i get to heaven. In heaven, it will be extremely diverse, Asian, African, European, Thai… etc. So this year the Lord has called me to look for friendships that are not self-serving, but instead giving. To look for people different than me. They may be hearing, they may be totally deaf, they may be blind, they may be children, or married, or divorced, or athletic, or introverted, or male. Anyways, I’ve been doing ALRIGHT with this goal, but I need to pursue it more aggressively and truly look outside of me and my circle.
  • Consistently carve out time for prayer.
    • Consistently carving out time for prayer is a hit or miss for me, honestly. I DO pray, but consistently? All the time? without ceasing? No. No I don’t. In fact, sometimes I read in the morning and FORGET to pray. The day goes by and I forget to Thank, I forget to live in thankfulness of each moment. I forget and get caught up in flippant pursuits.
  • Plan ahead for events- life…
    • I DID BUY A PLANNER! AND… i’ve sort of been using it! I have been better about planning ahead. I’ve been planning my meals (some weeks), planning a budget, planning my classes that I teach, planning when I’m going to clean and how much time I’ll spend cleaning, planning social events, planning REST. I’ve been trying to plan. Have I been perfect? NO. Do I always have a plan? no, i don’t, but I have learned if I at least plan a few things through my day, I can work other things in between. It’s liberating in a sense.
  • Clean up my eating and make a point to drink more water.
    • Since 3 weeks ago, I’ve been eating real meals. I’ve been feeding and nourishing my body for training. I’ve been cooking more (almost daily) and I’ve been fighting to have protein in every meal. This is extremely hard for me. The hardest part about training for the Triathlon (besides injury), has been eating. It’s difficult for me to make time to cook and eat in a way that I know will fuel 2 hours of exercise the next day. I cannot eat fruit and salad all day like I used to. It’s not sustaining. So this has been a recent struggle.
  • Try to say positive things about the people around me.
    • This has been hard! It’s easy to be a negative nelly, but i was super convicted in January that my words have power. I have power to encourage or discourage. I have the power to bring life into someone or bring hurt and emptiness. It’s up to me, my mouth, my hands… whatever language I’m using. I do often remind myself of this goal because It’s probably the best one on here. I want to be a person that lifts others up! I want to lift them up with encouragement. I hope that when people see me, they see someone that is loyal, trustworthy and genuinely positive. I want to choose to give life to the people around me!

This went ENTIRELY too long. I hope you guys enjoy!

Happy… “new”…. Year!

Update: How I’m doing and What I’m doing without Facebook

It’s been nearly 6 days since I deactivated my facebook and I’ve not felt more free. I get up in the morning and it’s not the first thing I look at. I go to sleep at night and It’s not the last thing I do! I’ve even been sleeping better! Last night I got ALMOST 7 hours of sleep despite me waking up at 4 am to start my day! This is such a win for me!

I think this time off Facebook will show me how to really invest and keep up with certain friendships that I hold dear and truly value. I think I’m learning how to keep friends that I cherish on the forefront of my mind, to check in with them, text them, meet up with them, develop actual friendships with them through face-to-face time instead of face-book time. This is incredibly freeing for me in ways that I cannot yet articulate.

One of my 2015 goals has been to read the Bible all the way through, cover to cover. This is something that I have not ever done! I am EXCITED to do this and just setting that goal has made me more passionate about the Word of God. I am behind on my schedule because some days I only read 1 chapter while other days I read 10. It honestly depends on how awake I am, what I’m comprehending that day, if something touches my heart and I just want to stay in that chapter. It’s so nice to go with the ebb and flow the Lord gives me rather than putting pressure on myself to perform, to read a certain amount, to make sure I can regurgitate what I’ve read…etc. This morning I finished Joshua!

Joshua was an awesome man of God and he has been my main motivator to wake up in the morning! So many times throughout the book of Joshua, chapters start with “Joshua rose early in the morning”. The Bible repeatedly says that. It got me thinking If Joshua rose early in the morning… I want to too! This makes my heart extremely happy for reasons I’m not quite sure!

Updating you all- I am still in training for the Triathlon in April for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In honor of my good friend Ciera Blackburn and in memory of those who have won at life and are living with Jesus forever- To name a few, A.J. Slye, Bennett Coleman, Bree… and so many more. Please donate to St Jude Here. I will not stop raising, giving, doing for St Jude, because they have not stopped doing for children and families with cancer. When one person in the family has cancer, the entire family has cancer and St Jude helps lessen that load. Just a little.

Please pray with me for Ciera as she gears up for a rest at home for a few weeks before going back to do her transplant! Pray for rest for her mind, her body, her spirit, and her soul. Pray for strength and joy as she re-kindles family relationships that she may not have had time or energy to put into. Pray for each member of her family, that the Lord Bless them and keep them and make His face shine upon them and give them a sweet, sweet peace during this time of “rest” and reconnection with each other.

I will keep you guys updated here through my Facebook Hiatus. This weekend I am participating in Disciple Now at church with the High School students and am excited. Please pray for us this weekend as we lift His name higher and make ours a little lower. Please pray for the hearts of those working, participating, preaching, teaching.. Please pray for soft and pliable hearts the Lord can move and change. Please pray that if we see sin in our hearts, that we are not only quick to recognize it and repent, but quick to change and take action as well. Recognizing is difficult, but taking action even more-so.

I cannot wait to update you guys more soon!

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