Saturday, December 31, 2011

year in review

--> 31. Where do you hope to be on January 1, 2013?

I hope to be waking up with my friends, looking back on yet another amazing year.

2011- The Year in Pictures

NYE 2010

Snow in Chiwas!

Valentine's Day with the kiddos :)

My first vistor! Lyndsey in Chiwas, April

TOMS One Day without Shoes, April

Amanda's wedding shower with Rocio and Ana

Sweet girls at the Binimea Art Show, May

With Judit on my 23rd

Chad and Amanda, May

View of the city on a hike at Cerro Grande, June

Summer baptism service, June

Snell becomes Mrs. Martin! June

Saying goodbye to Tanya and Abraham, August

Millers take Chiwas, September

Melissa and Yahir at the brickyard, September

Visiting Catie in Colorado, November

Reunited with my loves, December

Christmas Eve with my cousin, Chase

The Miller family in Hilton Head just a few days ago. :)

I read this quote a while back on Ann Voskamp's blog and thought that it summed up my feelings quite well:

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed.

I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”

~Anna Quindlen

So my friends, in 2012, I want to treasure the doing. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

what to do...

30. What do you want to do in 2012?

Make a difference.

losing yourself

I am leading you along a way that is uniquely right for you. The closer to Me you grow, the more fully you become your true self- the one I designed you to be. Because you are one of a kind, the path you are traveling with Me diverges increasingly from that of other people. Howevern, in My mysterious wisdom and ways, I enable you to follow this solitary path while staying in close contact with others. In fact, the more completely you devote yourself to Me, the more freely you can love people. 

Marvel at the beauty of a life intertwined with My Presence. Rejoice as we journey together in intimate communion. Enjoy the adventure of finding yourself through losing yourself in Me. 
-Jesus Calling

I love how sometimes, the Lord whispers just what I need to hear. He's just good like that.

This song has been on repeat for me this morning:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

dreams and attractions

28. What are your dreams for next year?

My dreams for next year? That is kind of a hard one. I know that right now I am coming up to a crossroads. Things are going to change again, and these changes are going to come so much quicker than I realize. My "attainable" dreams for this next year are really more like desires and goals, I guess, and I see these things as parts of my life that I can control. But I definitely have dreams that I do not really have control of. Actually, I am not really in control of any part of my life, but I like to think I am. And now I am rambling. Let me just answer the question. My dreams for next year (attainable or not):

  • run another half marathon
  • take a road trip to Nashville 
  • get into grad school and/or get an ESOL position in Clarke County
  • after six years apart, finally live in the same city as my sister 
  • take a beach trip with my BFFLs
  • live with one of my BFFLs Katie in Athens
  • continue to cultivate contentment 
29. Who will [you] attract into your life?

Let me just be real and say that when I saw this picture, I knew that I had to use it as the answer to this question:

Photo cred

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

catching up

I am so behind on blogging. But I am okay with that, because things have been ca-razy. So here goes with my attempt to catch up.

24. When did you take the easy way?
I cannot lie on this one. Sometimes I took (take) the easy way with lesson planning. In my education at UGA, I learned how to write all of my own lesson plans and did all kinds of projects and rubrics. But with the curriculum we use at Binimea, it is really easy to just follow the book and not take the time to add to it and make it more interesting for the kids. And so sometimes, I take the easy way.

25. Where did you eat?
I ate at so many wonderful places. I ate at Chi'hua Tacos y Cortes, El Costenito,Tortas Piolin, Italianisimo, La Casa de los Milagros, and Super Salads in Chihuahua, Bahama Breeze in Kennesaw, Cracker Barrel in El Paso, Bon Ton's Cafe and Jake and Telly's in Colorado Springs, and Chick-fil-A in El Paso, Marietta, Athens, Atlanta, and Colorado Springs. :) It is no secret that I love to eat...

Italianisimo for my 23rd birthday

After lunch in Savannah for Jessica's 23rd

Dinner at La Casa de los Milagros for Ana's birthday

Super Salads for Fatima's goodbye. :(

26. Which blogs did you enjoy the most?
There are some blogs that I stalk enjoy where I anticipate the next post and am eager to read what the author writes. And some of them are photography blogs where I just love to look at the pictures. These blogs were my favorites this year:

Enjoying the Small Things
This Earthly Tent
And Whatever
Everyanything More Than Believe
Altmix Photography
I am Kristen Hines
The Reason 
The World We Live In

27. When did you celebrate?

I really celebrated my 23rd birthday this year. There was also a big celebration at Katie Martin's wedding. My homecoming was celebrated my this summer and a couple weeks ago. We celebrated Kai's completion of her first year of law school and Lyndsey's graduation from nursing school. There was plenty of celebration in my heart during worship at church most weeks. I found plenty of reasons to celebrate this year. :)

Bahama Breeze reunion

Merry and bright.

Friday, December 23, 2011


23. Who did you miss?

This might just be the easiest question so far. The more appropriate question for me might me "Who  
didn't you miss?" But then it might be kind of rude to answer that. I digress. I missed:

  • my parents
  • my sister
  • my best friends
  • my small group girls from Watkinsville
  • Broadacres kids
  • the Meyers kids
  • the Norris girls...
I could sit here and try to name them all, but that would take way too long.

music and lyrics

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.”
Alphonse de Lamartine

Right now I am in Athens, staying with my BFFL Katie. She lives with three other lovely ladies, who are all home for Christmas right now. One of them has this quote on a little plaque, and I just love it. I wholeheartedly agree with it, too. I always tell people that one of the reasons I love music so much is that it often allows me to say the things that my heart is feeling but my mouth cannot quite express with as much eloquence.

22. What were your favorite songs?

If you know me at all, you know that I love music. Absolutely love it and am somewhat obsessed with it. So this question was an easy one for me. I just went to my itunes and took a look at my "Top 25 Most Played" playlist.  Here are just a few:

Play count: 85

Play count: 66

Play count: 70

Play count: 88 (the most frequently played song in my itunes)

Play count: 78

Play count: 62

Thursday, December 22, 2011

twofer #3

  20.       When did you cry?

This question is so hard to answer, because to be honest, I cry quite often. I mean, it may not be a daily occurrence, but I am a tender-hearted person, and I can be sensitive, so sometimes it does not take much to bring on some waterworks. So when I saw this question, I did not know how to answer it...I cried watching some of my favorite movies. I cried listening to some of my favorite songs. I cried when I was scared to come back to Mexico. I cried when I was homesick. I cried when my kids amazed me. I cried a lot. And I'm okay with that. 

21. Where did you spend your time?

School. Physically, mentally, emotionally, my time was spent at Colegio Binimea. Planning lessons, grading papers, the work of a teacher never ends. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

another twofer

18.     Who touched your heart?
 This year, my kids touched my heart. When I hear them speak to each other with kindness. When they help one another. When they have so much grace with me, their teacher who just cannot seem to get it together. When they give me sweet and thoughtful gifts. When they do something for others and want to reach beyond themselves. This year, thirteen little fifth and sixth grade kiddos have really touched my heart. 

19.        Where did you visit?
This year was full of little trips. Each one was special and memorable in its own way. I visited...

Ciudad Delicias, Chihuahua- to see my friend Alex preach.

Savannah, GA- to see my friend Katie get hitched.

Charleston, SC- family beach vacation 2011.

Colorado Springs, CO- just because I could. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

He's worth it all

6 This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 8 So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.

-2 Timothy 1:6-8

Saturday, December 17, 2011

accomplishments and gratitude

I am sitting at the El Paso airport, waiting to board my flight to ATL. What better time to catch up on some blogging?

16. What did you accomplish?

In June, I finished my first year of teaching. That was an accomplishment. Let me tell you right now that I am very glad it is over. After thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours of work, countless classes at Aderhold Hall and dozens of papers and projects, I was so glad to get my first year of teaching under my belt.

Some of my lovely fellow teacher friends from UGA.

17. When were you the most grateful?

This question is hard for me, folks. If you've been around here long, you know the whole gratitude thing is something I have been learning pretty much all year long. It has kind of been my theme and anthem. So to choose how to answer when I was the most grateful is a difficult task. But I can say that there are some moments when I am in class with my kids, and I look at them and think, "I am blessed." I just feel so much love for them. I know it sounds sappy and sentimental, but I love them so very much. Some of my most grateful moments occur in the daily grind.

The crazies and I on the last day of school last year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is this real life?

15. What movies did you see?

Well, to be completely honest, I am not much of a movie-goer. I think I went to the movies like, two or three times this year. When I am home I love going to the dollar theater or grabbing a movie from Redbox, but sadly we don't have either of those lovely conveniences here in Chiwas.

At the dollar theater this summer, I cried at Soul Surfer and was challenged by Bethany Hamilton's faith. When I did go to the full-priced movies this year, the movies I saw were not all that great. But when I was in Colorado with Amanda, we rented a cute movie from Redbox and just died laughing together. I also watched Drumline all the way through for the first time! That Nick Cannon...

And since I am completely and totally behind the times, I watched Inception with my neighbors Kevin and Wendy a bit ago.  Let me just say that at the end I yelled "Are you kidding me?! Are you kidding me?!" But at least I can now join the club and say that I have been in a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream...or whatever.

In other news, I begin my journey home tomorrow! I am so incredibly excited.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

on legacy

14. Where did you leave a mark?

Colegio Binimea- this is the place I spend my waking days. It is what I was sent to Mexico for- to teach and influence kids to follow hard after Jesus. When people ask me why I teach, I can't say it is because I love having summers off (although I really, really do), and I can't say it is because I think it is important that every child know their math facts and be on grade level. Nope. I teach because I want to make a difference in kids' lives. I want to point them to Jesus- whether I am in a mission school or a public school. 

Colegio Binimea, Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico 

Globe discovery during the first week of school last year.

Colegio Binimea is a unique place. We've only got about 55 kids from K-12. My class is the biggest class in the elementary school, and I only have 13 students in 5th and 6th grades. But we are a mighty bunch. Because many of my kids have parents who are missionaries or pastors and they attend a tiny mission school, their lives are quite different from their peers in the public schools I came from back in Georgia. My main objective for the past year and a half of teaching them has been to get them to see beyond themselves and expand their worldview.

100th day of school- they dressed up like old people :)
Working on a science experiment last year

In hearing about what they took away from their Samaritan's Purse project and listening to them as we discuss themes in Bible class, I think they are starting to get it. In their own 10, 11, and 12 year old ways, they are getting it. And I love watching them. I love watching them grow. Yes, they drive me insane. Yes, they are sometimes a bit too inquisitive. But I love them. So much. And I am so incredibly proud of them.

Mummy-wrapping contest

Last week's Bible study was all about coming to God with faith like a child, and one of the questions asked who we admired. I wrote that I admired my parents and my teachers. I remember being in awe of some of my teachers- how they did what they did day in and day out was just amazing to me. And I wanted to be some of them. So now I am in their position, and I feel like I don't have things nearly as together as they did, but I'm trying, and each day is a new day. My teachers certainly left a mark in my life, and I hope that I do the same for my kiddies.

TOMS One Day without Shoes

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

relaxation and celebration

13.  When did you feel the most relaxed?
When I read this prompt, my mind went to the beach. That one day when I was on the beach with my two friends, Jessica and Kai, was in a word, perfect. Gosh if I could back to that day...And please tell me why that just now, as I clicked over to Kai's blog, I found that she wrote about the exact same thing. I love my bosom friend. (Ten points if you can name that book/movie!) 
Entirely changing the subject here, but just had to share with y'all some amazing news. For the past few weeks, my class has been working on a fundraiser. This fundraiser was to raise money for Samaritan's Purse. When the Christmas gift catalog arrived this year, we took the time to look at every project, and they chose four endeavors:
Feed a Hungry Baby for a Week: $9
Rescue a Child from Exploitation: $75
Provide Mosquito Nets (to prevent malaria): $10
Build a Mission Hospital: $350

The grand total came to $444. Last year, our goal was $250. And we made it. But this year, we decided to dream big. Because isn't our God a God of big dreams? So we brainstormed and came up with several fundraisers that would bring money in. My kids' parents were extremely supportive; they constantly had to buy things to contribute to the class' fundraising ventures. We sold lemonade and hot cocoa at lunch, did manicures, hosted a restaurant, sold nachos, and even deemed a casual dress day for teachers. And you know what? The money all came in. Every last bit of it. 

Last week, one of my co-workers came in and told me that he had something to share with my class. He asked them if they remembered the fall festival that the senior class had hosted to raise money for their senior trip a couple months back. Well, of course my kids remembered! It turns out that on that very night, there was money placed everywhere for safekeeping, and some showed up in one of the hiding places after two months! So when John approached the seniors and told them about it, they said, "Give it to the fifth and sixth grade class for their fundraiser." It was a total of 631 pesos, which is about 48 U.S. dollars. Their generosity and support of the younger kids was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Today was our last fundraiser- nachos and soda at lunch. With a crock pot full of nacho cheese, about fifteen bags of chips, and a few cans of jalapeƱos, we were ready. We knew that we only needed 333 pesos to make our goal. But our goal was exceeded by about 700 pesos! To say that we were excited was an understatement. I am so proud of them. I mean, beaming- with- a -grin -from ear- to- ear proud. One of the high school girls came in to interview them, and tears just welled up in my eyes as I heard them talk about why they did what they did. They said silly things like, "It's fun," and "Well, when we sell things we get free stuff, too." But they also said some very important things, like, "Well, we want to help other people," and "We like to do things together as a class," and "People need to know Jesus before they die!"

It was precious. They decided as a class that we would give the extra money to another project. This project is to help young boys and girls learn God's word. They chose this project because, "We can't just meet their physical needs without telling them about Jesus!" Their words, not mine. I love my kids. 
I read this verse this morning, and I saw it come alive today:
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
-Ephesians 3:20-21

things to know at 25ish

This is the thing: When you hit 28 or 30, everything begins to divide. You can see very clearly two kinds of people. On one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find … themselves and their dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. Then there’s the other kind, who are hanging onto college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate, because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great, because they don’t want to be lonely. … they mean to develop intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than when they graduated.

Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal.

Ask yourself some good questions like: “Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? … Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?”
Now is your time. Walk closely with people you love, and with people who believe … life is a grand adventure. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.

-Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

Monday, December 12, 2011


Welp, here's another twofer for you, folks. Like the broken record that I am, I must tell you that things have been crazy. As usual. Some things never change. So here we go with questions 11 and 12.
Oh and let me tell you that I have some friends who are also participating in this fun challenge, so be sure to check out my friends Laura and Kai. You won't be disappointed. 

11. Who surprised you?

Is it weird to say that God surprised me? Growing up in church and knowing the Sunday school answers to things (9 times out of 10 it is "Jesus"), I still sometimes struggled (struggle?) to believe what I know in my head. To make all the head knowledge match what I feel in my heart. But this year, God surprised me by being exactly who He says He is- faithful and true. Which He has already shown me a jillion times before. But this year I have come to believe it in a deeper way than I thought possible.

On a lighter note, this year I also had my first surprise birthday party, which was pretty special. :)

12. What did you learn?

  • I learned how to not be afraid of trying new things. 
  • I learned how to navigate my way around the city for a few days while housesitting. :) That one was fun.
  • I learned that no matter how long I have been here, I will still have culture shock when I return to the States. Especially in Wal-mart. So. many. choices!
  • I learned that while I could pride myself on being independent and capable, I would rather rely on His strength. 

Friday, December 9, 2011


9. When were you most scared?
10. What questions did you ask?

This week was insane. Literally. I had something after school every day this week and was not at home much. Which means that when I crawled into bed at 9:30 last night (I know, I’m getting old; you thought I was going to say something outrageous like midnight) I was in no mood to write. I just wanted to veg out. And that I did. But I am going to borrow the idea my friend Laura employed when she missed a day and combine two questions. So here we go!

Fear is a tricky thing. I have heard it said that the Bible has 365 verses that tell us not to fear, which means we have a verse for every day of the year that tells us not to fear. I've also heard it said that fear can be both good and evil. It can be a good thing that propels us to action and change, moving us forward and not allowing us to remain unchanged in the same place. But it can also be the exact opposite. It can keep us from changing, which means we are stagnant, dry, and without inspiration.

This morning, I saw this quote and loved it. Many people say that your twenties are about discovering who you are-what you find irresistible and what makes you tick. What you abhor and what you simply cannot live without. So far, I have found this to be true. My twenties (I know, I’m only three and a half years into them…) have been a great time of self-discovery. And not only have I discovered and uncovered many things about myself I did not know, I have come to discover my Savior in a deeper way than ever before. That is something I never want to lose.
Thus, when I was scared this year (which happened several times; how was I supposed to just write about one time?!) I questioned many things. I questioned whether or not I was making a difference. I questioned if I could make it through another year so far away from my family and friends. I questioned whether I was going to change or if I would constantly struggle with the same things.

I think that fear can be good for us when it is that healthy fear- the kind that allows us to pick up and move on from where we have been, searching out new territory and ready for adventure. This year, I had a good bit of the healthy fear and a few doses of the paralyzing fear, too. There was the fearful me that was afraid to come back to Mexico, wondering how things would be different. There was the fearful me that was afraid of never being content, but then I asked the Holy Spirit to teach me contentment. And boy did He deliver. In 2012, I hope to have much more of the healthy fear than the paralyzing fear. I want to fear the Lord more in 2012 than I did in 2011. I want to fear staying where I am and allow the Lord to change, mold, and shape me.  Praying that you get a good dose of the healthy fear, too.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
- 2 Timothy 1:7

Photo cred

Thursday, December 8, 2011


8. Where did you spend money?

Well this question was quite simple: travel. I spent money on my first trip to El Paso in March when I went for a long weekend getaway to the States to do some shopping and R&R. I spent money to come home for a month in the summer. I spent money to go to Colorado for a week in November. And I also spent money to buy my plane ticket home for Christmas (9 days). Last but not least, I bought a ticket for the 2012 Passion Conference. I told my dad when I came back from Colorado that I was going to quit spending money on clothes (yeah right) and save it all to travel, because I love to travel, but it is an expensive interest.

The swanky room my dad scored for me in El Paso...that was a goood weekend. :)

Kai, my twin Jessica, and I in Savannah for Snell's wedding this summer. We were so tan...

Tybee Island, day of Snell's wedding.

Traveling is a privilege and a delight, though, because it affords one the opportunity to see how people do life in another part of the world. To step into a new story. To write a new chapter of one's own story and make some memories. I think that is why it has captivated me. As you all know, I am a bit of a dreamer, and traveling allows me to fulfill old dreams and begin new ones.

The pier at Folly Beach in Charleston, SC.

Pike's Peak, Colorado Springs, CO

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”- Saint Augustine


-->    What do you hope to remember?
Life should be lived and not just survived. 
God will give me exactly what I need when I need it- not a moment before or after. 
Contentment must be cultivated.
God's word has the answer to each and every problem I will ever face.
Friends should never be taken for granted. 
The family you have is a gift to be treasured.
Joy can be found in the midst of any situation, and it is worth searching for it.
God is good.
Colorado Springs, CO

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

speaking of importance

6. Who was important to you?

This summer, I fell in love with the people at the brickyard. For the entire month of July, four afternoons of each week were devoted to them- just one more hug, one more round of tag, one more chat about our good God. These people have next to nothing. Poverty in the United States does not compare to these people's lives- dirt floors, entire neighborhoods without running water, trash dumps for the front yard, and backbreaking work for not nearly enough pay. Not to mention being ostracized from the rest of the city of Chihuahua.

And yet these people are pressed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed. They are beautiful. Their hearts are golden, and their spirits are strong. And they are hungry for the love of the Father. They are hungry for deep and unconditional love that restores broken families and seeks to save the lost. These people come with childlike faith, believing and knowing that our God will save. 

Their culture is one of living to survive and dependence on God for each daily need. They know not much of abundance, except that of abundant love and grace. But their love for Him is real, and it is tested simply by daily life. Yet they show me how to be grateful for the simple things. How to cherish a hug and a small hand in mine. How to cry out to the Father when I need Him. And how to not forget the least of these.

What else can I say? I love these people. I love their smiles. I love their laughter. I love their little faces and tiny little hands. I love that they love their Lord and want to know Him more. I love hearing them recite His word that they have hidden in their hearts. And I so wish I could see them more often than I do, but I hold them in my heart.


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