How to Send a Little Christmas Spirit

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It’s the most wonderful time of year yet again! This season is my favorite. Even though I desperately miss many beloved traditions of this holiday being here on the island, I have come to appreciate the simplicity of Christmas in Haiti. Our tree is small, our ornaments are few, our Christmas dinner shared with our Emmaus friends is far from the lavish spreads of my childhood. But our little family has each other and together we celebrate this joyous season.

If you are looking for an organization to bless during this season of giving, please consider Emmaus House. We have many basic needs that you can gift us with for the new year, as well as for Christmas. Giving is easy on our Holiday Wishlist. Please consider checking it out HERE and sharing with a friend. All gifts, big or small, are greatly appreciated.

Another way to give to Emmaus House this Christmas is through our Amazon Wish List. Here you can purchase specific gifts for youth in the house. We would love for all our youth to have a few presents under the tree this Christmas, and with your help they can. All gifts need to be purchased by December 10th to ensure arrival by Christmas, so please consider heading HERE today and sending some Christmas spirit our way.

As we spend this season celebrating Jesus, enjoying the fellowship of family, and gifting those we love, may we all be richly blessed.

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Confession #141: Am I Evangelistic?


Kencia and Jenny learning to take blood in a summer professional school. 

So, would you consider your work to be evangelistic?

This is a question Hunter and I are often asked when referring to our work at Emmaus House. It’s a hard one to answer. It requires a deep breath and a quick prayer for spirit led words. Because so many times, questions like this come with a pre-conceived opinion like: Is concentrating all your efforts on 16 youth really worth it when there are thousands of people in Haiti who need the gospel too?

It’s a valid question to ask, and thus I hope to articulate a valid response……

He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach. Mark 3:14

Really, lets just take it back to Jesus shall we? Yes, Jesus preached to the multitudes. Yes, he fed thousands. And yes, he met in people’s houses, went to their weddings, and healed in the streets. But at the core, he focused on the twelve.

Jesus knew he wouldn’t always be physically present on earth, so instead of spending the three years of his ministry trying to teach and heal as many people as possible all alone, he chose twelve men to train and pass his on talents to. These men would be the ones to spread the gospel to foreign lands, to grow the church, and to witness to others the power of the cross. These men would become the leaders.

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Jetro translating for a remote medical clinic.

Same with us. The needs in Haiti are great- way too much for one small ministry to conquer alone, or even a large one for that matter. And Hunter and I, although we have no end date in sight, we don’t plan on living in Haiti forever. But we want our impact here to be long-term. We want to create ripple effects. We want to start something that will continue long after we are gone. So we chose 16 to be with us so that we might teach them and then send them out to preach…

These 16 are the ones, who, just like the disciples, will take the lessons they have learned at Emmaus House, and scatter the Good News throughout Haiti. They will be the ones who will teach the people, help the widow, take in the orphan. They will be the ones to grow the church in Haiti and become the faithful leaders this country so desperately needs.

So, would I consider our work to be evangelistic?

Absolutely. If your definition of evangelism is based on


The youth praying over Merly the night before we sent her to university in southern Haiti.

numbers, then we probably don’t fit your mold. But if it is based on purposeful relationships that will hopefully effect generations to come, then yes, we are very much evangelistic.

Yesterday, Djooly, one of our boys from Emmaus House, received a passing note from his latest TOEFL exam. The TOEFL, which tests English proficiency, is required for most colleges in the United States for international students. Djooly, who has become more like a younger brother to me than just a student in our program, sat on my couch, shaking hands scrolling through the scores on the website. Once he realized he passed he gave me the biggest bear hug I think I have ever received. He screamed. He jumped. He high-fives Hunter. He hugged my kids tight. I almost cried.

Djooly is one of our 16, and we are about to send him out. He has received all the training he needs from us. Now he needs to go learn and prepare elsewhere so that his impact on Haiti can be even greater.

Emmaus House is often difficult to explain- what we do and why. Why invest so much in so few? I get it. In a world often governed by numbers and profit margins, 16 can seem quite lousy. But one day our 16 will disperse out and that is where the true beauty will begin: When Djooly becomes the administrator of a hospital and serves his community with compassion and love. When Jenny becomes a nurse and helps sick children return healthy to their mothers. When Fredo becomes a preacher and plants churches in places where there are none. When Mackendy starts his own computer business and uses his resources to help those in need.

In the lives of these 16, that is where evangelism will truly take flight.













Confession #140: On Leg Pain, Gilmore Girls & Adoption

This picture is completely unrelated to this post...but in other BIG news, this kid finally called me

This picture is completely unrelated to this post…but in other BIG news, this kid finally called me “mama” this past week.

It’s been a while, huh? Sorry. Our lives have been a little off center the past few weeks.

For starters, I’ve been in Tennessee. That wasn’t planned. Actually I booked a ticket home and left on the same day three weeks ago. It was crazy.

Long story short- I have had some pretty serious leg pain for about six weeks now. I know that sounds silly. Leg pain. Big deal. Suck it up, right? That’s what I thought for a while.

My right leg has always given me problems on and off. After a severe break in high school it has had the ability to predict cold weather fronts far quicker than So when the pain started mid-September I thought, Hey, the storm clouds are a-coming. Except for this time the cold weather never came and the leg kept hurting and swelling. Most days I couldn’t even walk to Emmaus House. It was miserable. The pain made me depressed and the unknown hurt more than the leg itself.

After doing as much as I could in Haiti I decided to come to Tennessee. Without boring you with all the details I have been told I have Compartment Syndrome. Nothing serious, but uncomfortable nonetheless. I am not sure how long it will take me to get back to normal, but I am going ahead and heading home on Thursday. After three weeks away, I am going through some major withdraws from my people.

In the meantime, though, I’ve worked my way through multiple seasons of Gilmore Girls. (So many high school/early college flashbacks) Gotta get ready for its Netflix Original

Hunter's aunt Kaye Kittrell

Hunter’s aunt Kaye Kittrell

debut! Not to mention while working my way through season 6 yesterday I spotted Hunter’s aunt just hanging out with Rory at a good ‘ol D.R.A meeting. Crazy, huh?

I finally got around to reading Jen Hatmaker’s new book For the Love. I laughed. I cried. I may have hugged the book a few times like a dear friend.

I caught up with many great friends over scrumptious dinner tables.

I ate Chick-fil-A five times.

I went grocery shopping just for fun and cooked meals in a big kitchen just for fun…just because I could.

I washed multiple loads of laundry a day…because there are these things called dryers and 24/7 electricity. Did you know?

And my family. Man. It has been really great to be with family.

My time here has been great. Really. But it’s time…

Oh yeah, in other REALLY exciting news…wait for it…wait for it….


(Insert jumping for joy, screaming, clapping, and happy tears here.)

I can’t even believe I really just typed that out. Four years of waiting to finally make your kids your kids does a lot to the soul. But God is faithful, friends. So incredible faithful. As our steps progress, I will make sure to keep everyone updated on the blog. But for now, I am just happy to say that the Kittrell family has officially been given the green flag to run this wild race called adoption!

Well that’s all for now. My dad just brought home Krispy Kreme and the lemon filled donuts are calling my name.

Please keep my family in your prayers. We trust God in all things, but we know adoptions are hard and time consuming and we need to make sure we remain patient and faithful no matter what.

Thanks. Love you all.


Confession #139: Life is Made Beautiful with Dust

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. – Genesis 2:7

~ ~ ~

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us

– Beautiful Things by Gungor

Marbles in the Dirt

I find it interesting that we were made from dust- that the God of Heaven chose such a simple, dirty ingredient to form the very first man. Just as an artist wisely chooses his medium, I believe God chose dust for a purpose.

Personally, I hate dust. I hate the way it gathers on my bookshelves; the way it blows in the wind and falls onto my eyelashes; the way it makes me sneeze; the way it just makes everything seem dirty, unkempt, and old.

Living in Haiti, my life is full of dust. The busy, unpaved road outside my house continually blows dust inside, giving all of my dark wooded furniture a top layer of murky brown. The keyboard in which I am typing these words, even, is encrusted with years of dust and grime around each square letter. I hate dust.

Ironically enough, life is made beautiful with dust. I recently learned that dust is what makes the sky so blue and what makes sunsets so rich with color. It even causes rain and snow. Which for me, is hard to believe- that heavenly beauty can be made from the dust beneath my feet. How can such an annoying, gross, little speck of dust actually be used for something more beautiful than my Clorox wipe?

As I said before, I believe God chose to make us from dust on purpose. He took the dust of the earth, not the nutrient filled soil either, but the dry makes-you-want-to-sneeze kind of dust and created man. Beautiful man. Just as dust is used to make rain, snow, a blue sky, and the sunset, it was also used by God to make us. In one breath, God took something ugly and made it into something beautiful.

People often view Haiti with dusty lenses. One trip in the back of a pickup truck down here and that statement is literally true, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s easy to see Haiti for its dust- for what makes it ugly, filthy, and poor. It’s easy to hear the sad stories, read the staggering statistics, and see the despairing poverty. In Haiti, dust is everywhere.

But God makes beautiful things from dust. And He is making beautiful things out of the dust in Haiti. He is gathering it in the unpaved streets, collecting it from the ocean shore, carving it out of the mountainside. He is holding the dust in his hands and is slowly breathing life.

Living here, God has blessed Hunter and I with the unique opportunity to see His beautiful craftsmanship in Haiti. Not to say we still don’t see the dust. We still see the tears of the orphan, hear the cries of the restavek, and feel the beat of the voodoo drums through the night. But we also, with hope, see through the dust. We see beauty here. Beauty only God could have created. Beauty that came from dust and now has life.

We are bending down, grasping the dust by the handfuls, and asking ourselves: From this God made man. Blue skies. Sunsets. What beautiful thing does He want to create here? Dust is all around us, but so is God. And where God is, beauty will come forth. For this I am certain.

So today I want to encourage all of you no matter where you are in the world- take off your dusty lenses- remember what you were made from- that you too were just a speck of dirt- and choose to see the beauty God desires to make- no matter how ugly some place/person/situation might seem. He makes beautiful things out of the dust. He is in control.

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To see more of the beauty we see in Haiti, check out Hunter Kittrell Photography


Confession #138: First Day of School Letter

Everyone loves a handwriting card. Starting the new school off with some written love.

Everyone loves a hand written card. Started the new school year off with some written love for each one of our students.

To my Emmaus friends on your first day of school:

This morning you will put on your newly pressed uniforms. Never been worn. Hand stitched. Made just for you. Your dress shoes will be new to touch the dirt roads you will walk. Never again will they look this clean. Your backpacks are filled with books not yet read, pencils not yet sharpened, knowledge not yet learned.

Today is filled with the new. A new year. A new start. A new chance to take new steps forward.

For three of you, today is the first day of the last. Lord willing, this year you will finish secondary school, something only a handful of your neighbors accomplish. This year, you will define the odds, rise above. You three have worked so hard to get to this day and I am so proud of you. I know this year will be challenging. The education system here in Haiti is tough. I know some days you will have doubts. I can’t do this you will think. But you can. You will. Of this I am confident.

For some of you, this year marks a season of change. You are moving on into professional schools and university classrooms, taking the next steps into your futures. Next steps are always scary. Change is risky. Making big people decisions for your life (like what career you will choose) is difficult. But know that you are not alone. With every step you take, know that I am right behind you, cheering you on. This is what you’ve been working for, planning for. You are going to do great!

But no matter what classroom you will be sitting in tomorrow- driving school, nursing school, math class, or Biology- there are three things I want you to remember:

  1. Don’t take this blessing lightly. In a country where education is not free and poverty is majority, you are blessed to be sitting in a desk. So many in your own neighborhood will never get the opportunity you have been given today. Be thankful. Even when it gets difficult, be thankful. And girls, in so many countries around the world, girls do not get to go to school. But you do. Freely. Please never take that blessing lightly. God has chosen to give each one of you the gift of education. Take His gift, be thankful, and realize everyday when you put on your uniform and slip on your slick, black shoes, you are blessed. So incredibly blessed.
  2. Be the light. You are a child of God. You belong to the Creator- the one who is full of grace, mercy, peace, kindness, and love. In your classrooms, you will have friends who doubt your God. You will have teachers who don’t speak the truth. Temptations will be all around you. The father of lies will roam your hallways. Be on guard. Be a witness in your school. Stand out. Be different. When others are fighting, be peaceful. When others are mean, be love. When others tell you there is no way your God can be real, stand firm and proclaim truth. In your schools, be the light.
  3. Remember the greater purpose. All of you have goals. Since you moved to Emmaus House we have been working on them- tailoring them after your unique talents, cultivating them into your everyday lives, making straight the paths for your future. School is just the beginning for many of you. It is a stepping-stone. It is the precursor to professional schools, university degrees, dream careers, independence, and the chance to give back to this country you call home. I know some days in the classroom will seem mundane, but you don’t have room to slack. Your future is on the line. Give this year your all. Go the extra mile. When you teacher says read two pages, read four. When Jonathan tells you to study for two hours, study for four. This year, don’t aim for just passing. Aim for doing your personal best. All excuses aside. You have a greater purpose.

We’ve had a great summer together. We’ve been busy. And I have watched all of your grow. But the season is changing and it’s time to return to your classrooms. I am so proud of all of you. Really. I can’t say that enough. You all inspire me. So tomorrow, wear your uniforms proudly. Say thanks to God. Commit your work to the Lord. And SHINE!

I love you all. See you after school.


Confession #137: SHHH! My Babe Is Sleeping

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It’s morning.

I lay beside a sleeping babe. Teething. We’ve been up all night, me and him. In the pitch black on my room, I continually checked the light of my watch. Another half-hour awake. Another half-hour of night gone. Three and a half hours total. Elmo on YouTube and the bare arms of daddy’s embrace sitting on the cool of the front porch were all that would settle him.

And now, in the light of day, the teeth poke through. Little white pearls to remind us he is growing.

He sleeps now. I stare. I should be doing something. Anything. My list runs long. Lunch needs to be prepared. Dishes need to be washed. Emails need answered. And on and on and on. But I can’t. He is sleeping. Peaceful. And I just want to watch.

He wakes up, eyes cracking open ever so slightly. He whimpers. He isn’t ready. I pull him close. I sing.

God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He’s so good to me.

He grins. Eyes lids relax. His hand reaches for my mouth, placing a few fingers inside, rubbing my own grown teeth, feeling my tongue as it sings. He inhales deep and nods back asleep.

I stare.

He’s growing. My babe is growing. Time is now measured in milestones. As the year grows, so does he. He waves. One month passes. He crawls. One month complete. He says Dada. One more month gone forever. My heart aches.

I have been a rusher all my life. I used to live each minute planning to get to the next. Timelines and calendars and to-do lists kept me sane. What do to next? What to do tomorrow? When is this do? Never late. Always on time. Never pausing. Never stopping.

Now there is a babe on my bed teething. And all I want is for time to stop, to breathe in each second, to watch his body grow into a little boy. I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to experience every minuscule moment. No more rushing. There is a babe to watch.

I can’t help but wonder: Is this is how God looks at us? A God who is not governed by time. A God whose years are like months, months like weeks, and weeks like days.

A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Psalm 90:4

As I stare at my sleeping babe, is God also starting at me? Watching me teeth? Singing me to sleep when I wake, not yet ready? Holding me through the pain? Praising each new step? Savoring each moment of his wonderfully made creation grow?

Yes. I believe He is. And that thought brings me comfort. Joy. Peace. The God who created me watches over me as I watch my sleeping babe. Entranced and in love.

The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121: 5-8

My babe is now awake. Starring back at me with his big round eyes. He smiles a hello. Pain is gone. Time to play.


Confession #136: A Season of Dependency: Velvet Ashes

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Today I have the honor of sharing on Velvet Ashes. So many feelings bundled up in this post. As a missionary, learning to be dependent on others has been hard, especially when I spend my days preaching the value of independence to my youth. As the years pass and my family grows, somedays I wonder: Will I ever be able to not have to ask for help? 

READ FULL POST HERE & please consider giving my post a SHARE ON FACEBOOK!


Confession #135: Mackendy Shares His Story

I had been meaning to talk with him all week. Something inside me kept telling me it was important. His story IMG_2202 copy 2needed to be heard. And my listening was long overdue.

I’ve known Mackendy for a long time. One of my first memories in Haiti is of him carting little kids around on his bike at the orphanage back in 2005. He was quiet and reserved, not as outgoing as some of the other boys. But he was always there- watching, listening, and helping those around him.

Until this week, I had never asked Mackendy about his story. I think I always feared he wouldn’t want to share, that perhaps he didn’t trust me yet with the details of his life. And I think in some ways I was right. We’ve never been super close. But this week I knew it was time.

When I asked Mackendy if he would be willing to share his story, not only with me, but with my blog readers he was very willing. “I knew I needed to share my story,” he said. “I remember you telling us in devotional that our stories can help other people. I have wanted to share, but I just didn’t know how.”

So today, with his blessing, I am going to share Mackendy’s story with you. May it encourage and bless you as much as it has me…


Born in the town of Milot just outside of Cap Haitien, Makendy’s mom died a few years after he was born. “Sometimes I get really sad because I try to think of her but I never even knew what she looked liked,” he told me. The sixth out of seven siblings, he was never raised by his mom. Shortly after being born he was given to his grandmother and was later joined by his younger brother.

Mackendy vividly remembers growing up with his grandma. He remembers working in the fields with his grandpa, playing with his brother, and living in their tiny house. They didn’t have much, but he was happy with his family.

When Mackendy was eight or nine years old he broke his arm. Living so far in the country and with minimal resources, his grandmother was not able to take him to a hospital for proper treatment. For close to a year his arm was kept wrapped in sling made from a towel. Mackendy remembers that year as being a very painful one. He knew his arm wasn’t healing, but there was nothing he could do.

A year after his accident a medical mission team came to visit his town. Hopeful they could help his arm, Mackendy’s grandmother took him to the team’s clinic at a local church. The team helped Mackendy get to a hospital and he was able to receive surgery to correct his break.

Shortly after his surgery Mackendy remembers overhearing a conversation between his grandmother and his uncle. His uncle wanted Mackendy to go to the orphanage recommended by the team. Financially, things were difficult. Mackendy’s grandmother could not send him to school, didn’t always have proper food to feed him, and was not able to afford medical care. But she loved him and wanted to keep him. They argued for a while, but eventually Mackendy’s grandmother took the advice of her son and brought Mackendy to the Cap Haitien Children’s Home.

Adjusting to life at the orphanage was a little tricky at first. At his grandmother’s home he slept on the floor, so when he was given a top bunk his first night at the orphanage he was a little nervous. That first night, after tossing and turning, he fell out of the bed and hit his head on the concrete floor. He called for Sadie, one of the older girls, to come help him. She walked him to the director’s house and his head was cleaned and bandaged up.

Never attending school before, Mackendy started the 1st grade when he was eleven years old. At an age when most boys in the states are entering middle school and trying out for sports teams, Mackendy was learning the alphabet for the first time. He remembers school being really difficult, but he was determined to learn.

In January 2010 an earthquake hit Haiti killing nearly a quarter of a million people. Although the devastation did not reach Cap Haitien, Mackendy realized that God must have a plan for him because his life was spared. So the Sunday morning following the earthquake, Mackendy went forward and gave his life to God.

After becoming a Christian, Mackendy knew he needed to develop a trusting relationship with God. He remembers not knowing how to pray. For the first week after he was baptized he would just say, “I am yours now. Help me walk in your way.” And slowly God began answering his prayer. After a week of reciting that simple prayer, Mackendy heard a voice in his head telling him it was time to read the Bible. So he did.

The first passage he read was Jeremiah 29:11-13.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

After reading this, Mackendy knew, without a doubt, that God had a plan for him. He just needed to seek him with all his heart. So he did.

Now if you know Mackendy at all, you know that he is very talented with computers. For him, this interest started when he was young. While at the orphanage a visitor named Drew came to help install computers for a new computer lab. Mackendy, not knowing anything about computers at the time, was very intrigued. So as Drew worked, Mackendy watched and learned. Once Drew left, the older teens started using the computers. As problems would occur or as things would break, Mackendy was the first to volunteer to try to fix them. He would sit at the computers, take them apart, learn their parts, clean them, and teach himself how to reassemble them again. He still remembers how great he felt the first time he turned on a computer that he fixed. After that, he knew this was what he was he was supposed to do.


10557484_884247821585936_7204756915324089178_oAfter listening to his story, I had to ask Mackendy one more question: As a young leader, what do you think Haiti needs the most? I expected a few different answers. Education and job opportunities are the most common responses I receive. But not for Mackendy. His answer was quick. He didn’t even have to think about it. “Haiti needs more Christians,” he said. “God is the only one who can provide real help. If more people in Haiti believed in Him than this would be a better place. God is the most important thing Haiti needs.”

Being helped all throughout his life, first by his grandmother, then the medical team, then the orphanage, his sponsors, and now Emmaus House, Mackendy knows that God is preparing him to live a life of service. He wants to help others the same way he, too, has been helped. He wants to use his abilities and his resources to serve in Haiti and to bring people to Christ.

Because he started school late, Mackendy is older than most of the young men at Emmaus House. He has two more years left in secondary school and then dreams of going to university to obtain a degree in computer engineering. He is a hard worker and has been a leader in our Emmaus Works program designing and printing t-shirts. And he continues to develop his computer and English skills by taking professional classes in town.

Mackendy is the future of Haiti. He is a future husband, father, worker, and church leader. Mackendy is what Emmaus House is all about. He is a young man with dreams, not only for himself, not only for his country, but most importantly for the kingdom of God.

I am so thankful Mackendy chose to share his story with me, and you. His bravery truly inspires me. His life story is one of healing and redemption. Although he has had struggles, God has been with Mackendy every step of the way…preparing him…leading him…molding him.

As Mackendy is about to start the 12th grade, please pray for him. Please pray for his school, for university opportunities, and for God to continue preparing him to grow the church in Haiti. Mackendy knows his story is meant to be heard, so please help in sharing. May God use Mackendy as a witness that he has plans for all his children, both great and small, all over the world!


Confession #134: I was kind of a loser…

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 12.04.22 PMPerhaps you won’t believe me, but I was kind of a loser back in middle school. I tried to be cool, truly, but I always just missed the mark.

Let me give you a visual…

During my preteen years I had a slight, okay fine, major obsession with the boy band Hanson. (MMMBop anyone?) Like wallpapered walls, memorabilia wearing, don’t ever tell me they look like girls or else kind of obsession. I didn’t play sports with all the cool girls but instead was the solo clarinet player for our lousy middle school band. I also sang, mostly Hanson songs, like all the time- in the bathroom, down the hall, during gym. And this was pre High School Musical, so really there was just no excuse.

It wouldn’t be until 9th grade until I would discover the magical styling’s of a flat iron. My multi-colored braces were just that- multi-colored braces. And then there were my eyebrows- so thick and wild you could get lost in them for days.

At the wise age of 12, I was like a walking motivational speaker. I wrote poetry in my spare time, carried around the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book as if it was the Bible, and was equipped and ready to offer anyone my inspirational advice for their lives (made entirely from song lyrics or one-liners from my poetry journal, of course).

None of the kids understood me in middle school. Heck, let’s face it, I didn’t really understand myself either. I was a hot mess of pre-teen emotions and was oh-so dramatic about life. I can remember sitting in the back of my classroom just watching all the other kids, almost in slow motion, like a scene from a movie. How did they do it? How did they all know what to wear, how to act, what to like and what not to like? How did they all know how to be just like the other?  

It wasn’t that I wanted to be like them, really. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my originality, because I did. But being different was lonely. I eventually became tired of observing and overthinking and being “wise beyond my years” as my English teacher said. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to blend in with the rest of them. I wanted a boyfriend for crying out loud!

I transferred schools right before high school. Being with new kids inside new hallways, I had the chance to transform myself, to become normal, at least on the surface. I strategically observed my peers and learned how to act and how to dress. I learned what music was appropriate to like (aka- not Hanson) and I even tried my hand at sports, just because. I hid my poetry journal under my bed and with it my love of reading and writing. I suppressed my feelings and originality and went after more superficial things like boys and fashion. I finally tweezed those eyebrows, straightened and highlighted my hair, and began shopping at Express and Gap.

I wasn’t super popular by any means, but considering where I came from in middle school, I played the act pretty well in high school. By the time I graduated I was a cheerleader, on homecoming court (twice), and prom queen. Now let’s just ignore the fact that it was a pretty small high school. My street cred sounds much better without that minor detail.

I know middle school wasn’t a bright and shining moment in most people’s timelines. I get that my story isn’t anything original. Puberty probably made all of us a little weirder than we’d like to admit. But I often wonder how much the insecurities I developed during those three years impacted the trajectory of my life.

What I mean is this…

As a child, I was pretty confident in who I was and who I wanted to be. I knew my talents and I wasn’t afraid to share them. But then came middle school and I began to second-guess everything. The opinions of others trumped my own heart and slowly I began to conform, losing myself along the way.

I often wonder how different I would have turned out had I kept my childhood passions alive, had I not let peer pressure and culture taint them. Would I be braver now, willing to take more risks, be more confident in who God made me to be?

I am finally at a place now where I am trying to revisit my childhood dreams and passions, trying to embrace the gifts God gave me. Getting over my fear of rejection has been challenging, but God is faithfully leading me.

What about you? Who were you as a child- pre-middle school? Did you become who you always wanted to be? Or is it time to revisit your childhood dreams along with me?


P.S. Since we are on the topic of school…how about you go check out our Amazon Wish List and consider helping some deserving Haitian teens with school supplies this year. Thanks!

Confession #133: Date Night Fail


Just a few minutes before the fever hit. Sigh…

Yesterday Hunter and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary.

I realize that isn’t a monumental number. It isn’t as cool as- say- a 10-year anniversary. Still, this year felt worth celebrating. Worth remembering. Worth an actual date. Worth actual babysitters and actual food (aka: not rice and beans).

We treated ourselves to a fancy dinner, which doesn’t seem like a huge deal, I know. But you must remember where we live. We dressed up and tried to look our best for each other despite the heat. I straightened my hair and put on lip-gloss. Hunter ironed an outfit and wore cologne. We looked- almost- half way normal.

After dropping off our kiddos at our friends’ house we headed downtown to one of our new favorite spots, Cap20. It’s a new little restaurant ran by a former New York model and personal chef to the rich and famous. This place is super chill and relaxing and the food is super delicious.

The owner knew we were coming in advance and prepared a special three-course menu just for us: mango salad, fish and shrimp, grilled veggies and mashed potatoes. We arrived a little giddy. A night out ALONE. A fancy dinner to enjoy and talk over and one that did not include a high chair.

All was great. We started doing cheesy things like sharing “7 things I love about you most”. I went first, over the mango salad. As we waited for our second course it was Hunter’s turn. I looked at him and noticed he was sweating down his brow. Hunter and sweat isn’t an abnormal pair, especially in July. But this was different. He leaned against the tree truck beside him and told me he didn’t feel ok. The poor man all of a sudden spiked a 102-degree fever.

We boxed up our food and I drove home, trying not to cry. We finally got a night out to ourselves and STILL sometime got in the way. I tried to be considerate and caring, but I mean, for the love!

Anyhoo…another time, right?

I hope it wasn’t ironic that Hunter suddenly got sick while telling me how much he loved me on our anniversary. I hope that wasn’t a reflection on our seven years of marriage thus far. Ha! But seriously…the worst of timing.

No, being for real now. I’m super sad Hunter got/is sick. I’m super sad we didn’t get our fancy date. Nevertheless, I am oh-so grateful to have spent the past seven years married to this man. Growing, serving, worshiping, and parenting along side of him has been such a gift. Now on to seven more!

(Side note: Hunter, by no means, got sick because of the food. He started getting a chest cold earlier that day and it just escalated over dinner. Thought I should clear that up, just in case.)

Please say a little pray for Hunter if you don’t mind. We have a team heading down on Wednesday and he needs to get healthy as soon as he possible. Thanks!



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