06. Visit all of the continents

Purpose

Thank you all for the loving, kind, caring reception to my post a few days ago about Real Life. Everyone’s words and prayers are so appreciated.

Since finding out that we can’t have kids on our own, Russell and I have had to ask ourselves how badly we want kids, what lengths we’re willing to go to get them, and what our life would look like if we don’t have kids. We had talked about these things before we got married and through the years – but the conversations are so much heavier when there’s the weight of reality hanging on them.

I think it’s no coincidence that at the exact same time we’ve been grappling with these questions, we’ve gotten to be involved in the launch of Purpose Coffee and watch it grow.

(If you don’t know what Purpose Coffee is, visit our website for all the info. But, in a nutshell, we import coffee from Thailand, Colombia, and hopefully soon countries in Central America and Africa. We roast the coffee here in Dalhart, you buy it, and then we donate all of the proceeds to fund child wellness projects in the same countries where the coffee beans came from. We’re investing in schools, orphanages, health initiatives, water well projects, and so much more!)

Before we started IVF and whatever other fertility treatments planned for us, I wanted to take time to focus on Purpose Coffee and make a trip solely dedicated to that cause. So, in February, we went to Colombia.

Purpose Coffee Co.It was such an amazing trip – soaking up all of the possibility and good that this new company has. Just what I needed to rejuvenate my soul.

We started the trip in Medellin, where we visited some schools and an orphanage that the proceeds from Purpose Coffee support. We got to see what the needs were – and, even more importantly, we got to meet the people who would benefit. The joyful, smiling faces. The beautiful personalities. The sweet kids whose lives shine with potential.

Purpose Coffee Co.Purpose Coffee Co.Purpose Coffee Co.We ended our trip by venturing into the countryside to visit coffee farms, meet with farmers, and bring back samples of their coffee. It was so interesting and beautiful and restorative and peaceful. And the coffee we brought home ended up being pretty delicious too.

I can’t even begin to describe what comfort and peace our involvement in Purpose Coffee has brought us – to know that even if it turns out that it’s not in our cards to have kids of our own, we can still carry out God’s purpose. That our lives can still have meaning. That we can still make a difference in kids’ lives and help shape their futures.

I know it’s cliche to think that God closes one door and opens a window. But, I’m pretty thankful He does.

Purpose Coffee Co.Purpose Coffee Co.Purpose Coffee Co.

 

A Tourist in Thailand

My last several blog posts have focused on the mission trip that Russell and I went on over Christmas. I hope it’s clear that my heart and soul were touched and changed forever by the things we saw and the people we met while on the trip.

We were also lucky to spend a few extra days in Thailand, experiencing a little more of the country and culture as tourists.

Bangkok

We flew into Bangkok a day early, before the rest of our group arrived. To say we were the typical tourists is an understatement. We traveled by tuk-tuk, we ate Pad Thai, Russell had some clothes tailored for him in six hours, we saw every Buddha in the city, and we sat in a lot of traffic. If we ever go back, I’ll definitely skip Bangkok. One day was more than enough.

ThailandThailandThailandThailandThailand

Chiang Mai

Halfway through our mission trip, we traveled from Yangon, Myanmar to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we had a tourist day since it was New Years Eve. Chiang Mai and the surrounding area were really neat – a must see for anyone traveling to Thailand.

We rode elephants, held baby tigers, and let off lanterns. a.k.a., It was the best day of my life. I don’t think I will ever forget what it feels like to feed an elephant, to pet a tiger, and to release a lantern into the heavens, watching it float away and join the sea of thousands of other lanterns.

ThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailand

Krabi

After the mission trip finished, Russell and I headed to Krabi island for a little relaxation (and a little too much sun). We took a day-long snorkeling trip to Koh Rok, which had, hands down, the most amazingly beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. I didn’t fully grasp the concept of powdery white sand and crystal clear water until visiting Thailand.

ThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailand had been on my list of dream vacations for years, and I’m so glad to have spent time really getting to see so much of the country, while meeting its people and learning about its fascinating culture (oh, and eating its delicious food!).

Mission Trip

Russell and I got home from our mission trip late last night after 16 (or maybe 17? I lost count.) days traveling abroad. We’ve each had about 72 seconds of sleep. Our bags are definitely still packed. The mail is piled high. Our to-do lists are getting full already. My Christmas decorations are still up. The house and yard look like our dogs went on a rampage while we were gone.

But, instead of focusing on any of that, I’m sipping coffee and sorting through my photos. 703 of them to be exact. And trying to put into words what’s in my heart and mind after this life changing trip.

MyanmarWe were in Thailand and Myanmar to work at and support orphanages and do outreach in the surrounding communities. It was awesome, and challenging, and moving, and inspiring, and difficult, and not at all what either of us expected.

MyanmarOur hearts were touched by all of the people we met who have such a burning passion for Jesus, for His children, and for the betterment of their country and the lives of their peers. And we were blown away by the hope and potential – both for the individuals and the region at large.

MyanmarI’m not sure how long it will take to fully digest the last few weeks. And to make my way through 703 photos. But, I’ll definitely be sharing more of my thoughts, reactions, prayers, and photos soon.

MyanmarLast and most importantly, I want to extend a deep and sincere Thank You to everyone who thought about us, checked in on us, sent words of encouragement, and prayed for us while we were gone – your love was definitely felt!

Myanmar

Christmas

2013 Christmas Promotion

Today, I’m thinking about Christmas. I know, it’s only September. We still have Columbus Day, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving to get through. But, still, Christmas is on my mind.

Russell and I are leaving on Christmas Eve to go to Myanmar and Thailand for a mission trip with our church. We’ll spend 3 days in Myanmar at Father’s House Orphanage, celebrating Christmas with the kids there. The orphanage houses over 20 children, aged 6-15, who were orphaned during the devastating tsunami of 2008. The precious children attend school, learn subsistence farming skills, and are taught about God’s love and His Word.

Right now, we’re working hard to raise money to take the kids Christmas presents and to be able to serve them a special Christmas dinner. We’re hoping to take a basket of goodies for each child, with basic necessities, like school items, toiletries, towels, and an umbrella, plus some toys and books for the kids to enjoy.

To help raise funds for our trip, I’m offering a Christmas Mini Session & Photo Card Package, for $215, with 100% of the proceeds going toward the gifts for the kids. Book by October 15 and get:

  • 30 minute photo session
  • 5 edited images with print release
  • Custom Christmas card design
  • 50 5×7 Christmas cards with envelopes (additional cards available for order; 25 for $40)

Please contact me if you’re interested in booking a session or making a donation to the mission trip!

*Sessions are subject to availability.

A very happy 24th

There is a sign at my gym that says, “Life is the longest thing you’ll ever do. So, live it up.”

In the day to day monotony, I think of my life as being too routine, and I worry that I don’t “live it up” enough. In fact, I made this 30 before 30 list and blog to combat the routine aspect of my life.

But, on my 24th birthday today, I look back on 23 and am amazed at just how much I did. Let’s see…. I moved (again…). I went to Africa. Twice. And Mexico. I got engaged and planned a wedding. I got two dogs. I survived three blizzards—and even shoveled snow myself. And that’s just a few of the big ones.

I guess my lesson of the day is that I can’t get too caught up in the details to the point of being blind to the bigger picture. After all, it was a pretty eventful year even if life sometimes feels routine. And I have a feeling, this next year will be even bigger.

Honeymoon help

Living in DC has given me the opportunity to do a bit of traveling. Trips to Europe are an easy 6 hours, and fares are often on sale. Work has sent me to Africa. Russell and I have spent time in the Caribbean (in what I would like to think of as a new tradition—I’m not sure he thinks that though!)

Through all of these opportunities, I’ve realized how much I love traveling.  I used to think I didn’t really like it. Why spend tons of money to go to Miami? Or Chicago? But, going to a new country, experiencing a new culture, language, food, well, it’s glorious!

As a result, traveling is a fairly significant part of my 30 before 30 list. And, it just so happens that Ru and I are planning a pretty big vacation soon—a vacation known as our honeymoon. Now, not to put too much pressure on this vacation or anything, but it might be the single most important vacation in our lives. And, as such, it better be to a pretty fantastic place.

Of course, we absolutely don’t agree on where we should go. Maybe you’ll have some suggestions for us….

The options are:

Adventure and luxury in Costa Rica

So, Ru really wants to go to Costa Rica. Like, really really. If I was a good wife, I’d probably go along with this, especially since it’s so rare that he declares what he wants to do. To him, it’s the perfect blend of adventure (hiking, zip-lining, volcanoes) and relaxation (beaches, spas, forests and wildlife)

But, I really don’t want to go to Costa Rica for our honeymoon. It’s just such a normal place to go—we could go there anytime we wanted. A honeymoon should be grand.

Safari in Kenya and beach relaxation in Zanzibar

It would be a big dream come true for me to go on a safari. I mean, it’s number one on my list of things to do. That’s a pretty important position.

Admittedly, African safari doesn’t scream romance. Nor do the 35 immunizations that Russell would have to get. And really, nothing says love like hallucination-causing anti-malaria pills.

Rich history on a cruise through the Mediterranean

I’m really weary of cruises, for some reason. Chalk it up to my anti-authority streak. How dare someone tell me where to be and what to do on my vacation! But, I do want to experience a cruise some day.

And, I’d really love to go to these places. Pretty awesome, trip, huh?

An exotic escape to Vietnam and Thailand

Vietnam and Thailand would be a completely new culture for both of us to explore—plus, it gets me one continent closer to visiting all of the continents (another one of my 30 before 30 goals). And, the jungles, cities, and beaches would surely offer a great mix of adventure, history, and relaxation.

So, any advice? We’re desperate over here!