Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I should be working on school. I have been all day - it's not fun. However, in a quick break to regain my sanity, I checked Facebook. Someone posted a link to a blog post that caught my attention. I went to read it and good heavens it hit home, so I had to stop and share.

The past 5 days or so, the Lord has been revealing a lot to me - mostly about contentment. Contentment with who I am as a person, but more importantly contentment in Jesus. Some days I wonder - what exactly does that look like?

This morning during my quiet time I prayed, "Lord, I worship you for who you are, not what you've done for me. Even if you took everything away from me, it would be hard and I may not understand, but I would still have to say you are good." He is good. I said that probably 20 times in my prayer this morning. He is good. That needs no qualifier - it's just who He is, forever and always. I pray that soaks so deeply in my heart that I never waver in believing that.

So, when I read this post, it only echoed everything in my heart this weekend. I don't know the author of this blog, but man, she has some insight. I've discussed this a lot with several close friends of mine, and it really takes Jesus transforming your heart to get to a place where you can accept that He is enough.  In so many ways I'm not there, but I'm praying the Lord leads me to that place. I don't want to live out my singleness waiting for my life to "begin" once I get married. It doesn't. It's happening right now and I want my life - single or married - to be full. 

I'm not missing out on anything in this season. That is also a statement that needs no qualifier - no one can define for me the life I'm supposed to have at 25. I'm not missing out on the life the Lord has led me into for now. And, when the time is right, I will enter another season. What will that one hold? I don't know. But, for now, I'm glad to be in this challenging yet beautiful time with the Lord.

Here's the blog - absolutely worth the five minute read.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Africa Trip - finally :)

So - I preface this post with this warning: if you're reading this hoping for an extensive story about my Africa trip, you will be disappointed. That post would probably be about 20 pages long or more. This will cover the highlights although it is still pretty long. :)

My parents were out of town when I left for Africa, which was kind of a bummer, but my sweet friend, Sara took me to the airport. Let me tell you, friends - I was full of anticipation...and nerves. It was my first time overseas and I had no idea what to expect. Especially when everyone tells you to expect a lot of culture shock.

Our group probably spent a whole day and then some traveling. We flew into Accra (south), spent the day, then woke up the next morning to fly to Tamale (north) which was followed by a 2+ hour drive to Yendi (northeast).

A map for reference:

I was so thrilled for this trip because I just knew something big was going to happen. I had some high expectations - of what? I'm still not sure. I mean it seemed perfectly logical that if literal miracles happened in getting me the money in month to get to Africa, then the Lord had some big plan.

So before I get into the highlights, I walked away from my Africa trip extremely discouraged. Discouraged in myself and discouraged with Jesus. Maybe I went in with the expectation that my life's purpose would be found in mission work in helping others. Like I said, I'm still not sure.

This trip was an extremely difficult trip - it was intense. I knew it would be a lot of work from the beginning, but I was not prepared for it. I had not anticipated how taxing it would be. And, honestly, had I known from the beginning how rough it would be, I can't say I would have signed on for it. I probably would have picked a less stressful trip.

With all that said, Videre, the organization I went with, does wonderful things and I highly recommend that you support them. It strengthens communities through business and uses local Christians and their business to share about Jesus. It is led tirelessly (or so it seems) by ONE woman. Crazy, I know.

I went with the phase 2 group - our goal was to learn about the participants business, help them create a business plan and determine whether their business is viable. I have zero business background - I've worked for a company and understands at a basic level how it works, but I don't have a business degree. I don't have a full grasp of accounting.

Needless to say, I felt very...inept. Most of the people I went with had business, accounting or marketing degrees or experience. I got my degree in Communications - I can write a killer press release. Not really going to help a community that's partially illiterate. I wasn't terribly confident about how this would go down.

We get to Yendi after 24 hours of traveling and I'm tired and haven't slept.  We go to church once we got into town, which was awesome to be in a room with other believers half way across the world. But, it was my first true experience in feeling completely uncomfortable. I didn't understand anything and couldn't really participate, but our group had eyes on us everywhere we went. Not for any other reason than - we stood out in a BIG way. For seven days we would be called "salminga" aka white person. :)

On Monday we spent the morning going around and visiting some of the businesses we would be working with. The afternoon was spent meeting the participants and beginning to get the details of their business. I had two ladies - Laddi and Sana. Laddi sold pork and was my translator for Sana sold Shea butter.

Laddi, me, Sana

Even though Laddi spoke English, it was still difficult to communicate some times. I never thought it could be challenging working with a translator, but man it is. And you hope you love your translator (I definitely did).

We spent three and a half days working on business plans. In theory this sounded so much easier than it was. It required getting numbers and putting together 3 year projections (thankfully a handy excel tool helped). But, it was no easy task - I just thought it was get the numbers and put them in. Not quite. I have an appreciation for the lady who goes often to work on this. It's not easy. Most mornings I was up by 6, we would work all day and all night and I was lucky if I was in bed by 1.

During this process - I struggled. Some days, I felt like I was the only one who didn't get it (wasn't the case, but still how I felt).  When I had exhausted my brain working on a business plan, I'd go back to my room and pray. And all the while I felt that He was purposely distant. I'd cry out and hear nothing in return.

Thursday was our day to head out to the villages. This was an experience - this was a TRUE Ghana experience. It is how most live. We were in a nice building that had an AC unit in our rooms - a luxury. But, most of the people we worked with were out in huts - no exaggeration.

We broke up into two groups - my group went to Tusani. It just so happened that Sana, my participant, lived in that village. When you head out to a village, you HAVE to meet the chief. And, it's not just like walking into a village and someone takes you to his hut. No, you have to go through a number of people who are like his entourage. They all have to approve you to move on to the next person until finally you get to see the chief.

Our chief was a broken old man who drank too much - probably to cope with the demons.  He was the guy that people would pay and bring animals to so he could slaughter them to whichever god they preferred. Creepy.

After meeting him, we headed back to eat and fellowship with the locals. We had one translator which made this challenging, but he was awesome....and fearless. (Later we find out that the guy we stayed with used to be the pastor, but due to his alcohol problem he was removed.)

Following dinner, we set up outside one of the homes with the audio Bible and maybe 50+ people came to listen to the Word. There were TONS of children and I just prayed that their lives would be impacted.

We listened to John 1-3 and after each chapter spent time talking with them about it. After listening, we asked if people needed to be healed. And many came up for prayer. We saw many people healed, which was crazy and awesome. Their faith is humbling.

The next morning the chief's entourage joined us to ask how we were being treated, etc. We asked them if they would like to listen to the Bible with us and they agreed. This was a village that was strongly Muslim and had a strong idol presence as well. Sharing the Gospel could have been a risky thing, but we were completely protected by the Lord.

The entourage listened to John 4 with us and we began asking questions. We prodded to the point where one of our group members, John, asked them to burn their idols. Wow. A moment of fear pierced by heart, since we have to receive permission to leave the village. However, the group just laughed and said it would be dangerous. We spent more time with the locals, saw more healings and saw many come to know Jesus. It was powerful.

Our group left the village and headed back to Tamale. We were on our way home. We chatted with the other group who also had tons of awesome stories. It was so great to hear what the Lord had done.

So, why did I and still feel discouraged? The Lord moved in a lot of ways. He was faithful to bring healing to people that might never have known it. Yet, I left feeling like He met all of these people there and never met me. Maybe that's extremely selfish thinking - but I came back feeling largely unchanged. Perhaps that's the fault in my thinking? Expecting change. Maybe it just hasn't manifested yet. There was, without a doubt, a purpose in me going to Africa - but I guess my vision is just so cloudy I can't see what that is.

If nothing else, we are called to go out to the nations and share about Jesus. It's not really an optional thing for Christians - we are told to do it. I came back to America discontent. We live in a world where we are at such a disadvantage spiritually. It's so funny how what seems normal here really isn't in the rest of the world. We have so much, yet always seek out more. More money, more power, more things, a better house, a better car, a better job, a new toy. We fill up our time and energy with so much because most people don't want to sit still and realize it's all empty. I've realized there is nothing nobel in amassing a fortune, only to keep it to yourself. I'm not suggesting you go broke, but money brings about nothing good in America except the desire for more. There was such a beauty in the simplicity of their lives in Africa. I prefer a life with a toilet mind you - but to be disconnected in a way that you're fully connected with those around you. I don't want my life to look like everyone else's. I want and hope that I leave a genuine mark on people's lives.

Africa team: Iris, Fidelis, Me, Michelle, John, Edward, Jason, and Mark

Random kids being hilarious and adorable!

 Team members and their groups

My room

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas and Time off!!

Ok, so I am beyond thankful that with my current company I receive the week in between Christmas and New Years off.

I tend to be lazy and spend my days sleeping in (not all bad) and watching TV. Occasionally I'll hang out with a friend or two, but overall I don't do much.

So in the spirit of finishing the year strong/beginning the new year well, I'm creating myself a to-do list of everything I'd like to accomplish over the next 12-ish days.

  1. Finish my flower ball project (I'll have to post pics when I'm done)
  2. Find a Bible study and complete it
  3. Finish Africa thank you cards - I'm half-way through, but grossly behind. (Will finish today!) Done!
  4. Write a blog about my Africa trip Done!
  5. Finish wrapping Christmas presents. Done!!! :)
  6. Overhaul & clean my room
  7. Clean/organize my bathroom ( done)
  8. Try a few new recipes (Tried Pad Thai and Monkey bread - eh on both accounts)
  9. Have lunch or dinner at the new food truck park in FW (http://www.fwfoodpark.com/index.html)
  10. Spend time with my niece and nephew
  11. Make progress on my quilt
  12. Spend time with friends
  13. Spend some time at the gym.
  14. Take time to pray for direction for 2012.
  15. Try something new I haven't done before. (Any thoughts?)
  16. Spend time relaxing and knowing that it's okay if I don't complete this list.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Africa: The beginning

I'm going to Africa - but, if you've been on my Facebook or have email...you most likely already know this.  I found out about two months ago there was a trip and then about a month ago I found out I was going on the trip.  I haven't even made it to the airport yet and my heart and life are already forever changed.

Where to start? Well, first and foremost - I joined a new small group. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G group of ladies. Seriously. You will definitely begin to understand why as you read on.

So, to rewind a few weeks (roughly 3): some things occurred in my personal life that led me to the revelation that I have never recognized value in myself. Put more bluntly: subconsciously, I've viewed myself as worthless. To quickly sum all this up: in alot of ways I felt my problems, my hurts, my joys, and me were not worth time and energy.

This filtered over into my preparation for Africa. As I went to our mandatory meetings, I began to feel like I wasn't good enough to go. I wasn't worth the money I was being given because I felt I wasn't going to raise enough support to go, therefore it was going to "waste."

As I very clearly saw this was an issue, I began to pray and share.  Ironically, sharing was the harder of the two. But, as I opened up with my discipleship partner, small group and a few close friends, the Lord has gradually worked on my view of my value. Am I still struggling with this? Very much so, but I've made progress.

Part of this has come in being humbled, not only in asking for money but in receiving it. I've never had to put myself in a place where I couldn't be independent. I have a good job, a good education, a car, a house, a family, etc. I don't want for anything, yet I'm at a huge disadvantage (in some ways) spiritually because of this.

This Africa trip is the first time I've had to be dependent on the Lord to provide for me. I couldn't afford this trip on my own. Four weeks ago, I calculated how much I could pull out of savings. I prayed - alright Lord, if you could just provide $2500 for the trip, I can do the rest.

I wrote my support letter and put it out there. Scary. Scary to admit you need support. Scary to think you might fail. Scary to think this isn't what the Lord wants for you. Scary because it made me fully rely on the Lord to come through.

I waited. Week one I got my fundraising update: I had $100. Panic set in - that fear of failure crept up.

So, I prayed - alright, God, maybe You don't want me to go? Maybe this isn't what you had for me. Maybe I heard you wrong? And then I had people ask - you really expect to go? You only have a few weeks to raise the money.

I began to doubt this was what the Lord wanted and thought of throwing in the towel. A few more people donated and I had 10% of my funds on the next update I received. More panic set in - I had about 25 days or so left before I was getting on a plane to Africa.

So, I prayed. I was on the fence if I should even try, but the Lord HAD provided money. So, I made the scarier decision to continue pursuing raising money for this trip. I shared with my small group one night about how stressed I was about the trip. Stressed because I was 90% away from my goal. And I was discouraged.

So they prayed.  I got a mid-week update from our trip leader (unusual) with encouragement. I had been given an anonymous donation of $600. Once more - thank you, whoever you are; you'll never know how much that meant.

I kept praying - I know I'm meant to go on this trip. The money will be provided and I won't have to take money out of my savings. Last Monday, I was $1,800+ short of my goal. We're cutting it a little close there. Michelle, one of my small group leaders and someone also going on the trip, suggested I do a garage sale. I spent time praying about it and felt that's what the Lord wanted me to do.

This past Thursday was our last Africa meeting before we left and I asked our team leader if she could just check to see how I was coming along financially for the trip. A few people here and there mentioned they donated.

Can I just say - I'm moved by people giving to my trip. Downright stunned, humbled and overwhelmed. I really don't think anything has really affected my heart in such a personal way as this experience.

Iris, our team leader, told me someone who I have never met, donated an astounding $800. WOW. I had no words. I cried my entire drive home. I've never felt such a weight in my heart to give. I found out that the guy who gave me the money was someone from the guy's small group. Even in writing this, I'm still amazed and emotional over this.

As of Thursday, I was $900+ away from my goal. I was allowed to set up a table at someone else's garage sale, which was incredibly nice of them. They donated all the money they raised throughout the day to my trip. I raised close to $400, including their donation. Oh, and I can't forget to mention that MOST of the items sold were not mine - they were donated by ladies in my small group, friends, and my parents.

I had all of my money as of Tuesday. Talk about faithfulness. Want to challenge your faith? Go on a trip where you have to raise funds - that changes you.

I started this blog on Monday, but couldn't finish it. The Lord said this part of the story wasn't over - I wasn't supposed to finish until I could say I had all the money I needed. I have the money - I'm packing my suitcase and waiting on laundry as I write this. Tomorrow starts the next part of the story.

Tomorrow will be the first time I go to Africa. First time I travel internationally. First time to serve on a mission trip like this. First time to experience a completely new culture. First time to really go on an adventure. There's no turning back (not that I want to) and I'm so stinking excited to see what will happen. I think it will be BIG - it already has been.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Life lately

A friend said to me this week, "Anna - I'm really good at internalizing my conflict." So am I. I've started several posts over the course of the past few months and haven't been able to push the "Publish Post" button. Either, I felt it didn't do someone justice or I just decided that, in the end, I didn't want to publicly share what was going on in my life.

So, I guess a good re-cap on what's happened from April - I found out my New Year's Eve this past year changed a good friendship in a negative way (but just found this out a short while ago). What's ironically harder on me is the fact that I'm not terribly sad to see this person go. Friendships remind me of what my dad tells me of stocks - "Anna, if your stock has dropped 25% and you're receiving no return, then it's time to cut your losses and sell." Sometimes there's that point with friendships, right? If you're putting forth effort and getting 25% returned effort, perhaps it's time to cut your losses and move on? I'm not really sure where that line is, to be honest. At what point do you give up and walk away to protect your own sanity? After hearing what happened on NYE, I know that regardless of what little return I felt I was receiving in the friendship, it was time to walk away.

BUT, after finding this out - through the great help of my lovely sister-in-law - I've started going to a new small group. And get this: they have a nice mix of married and single ladies, they're all close to my age, and I feel comfortable there. Awesome! Granted, it's in Dallas, but I'm at the point where I need fellowship. If I have to drive to Dallas for that - so be it. I'll survive.

On another note - I recently had my one year anniversary at my job! Yeah!! Feels good to work at a place like that. I feel challenged and capable (some days) and I feel there's a good future.

I'm planning a vacation. I'm starting to get that worn out feeling. My schedule stays pretty busy throughout the week. And I need to get out of Arlington...well Texas, even. I'm hopeful the friend I'm planning this with will indeed be able to go.

Hmm let's see what else has been going on? Doing a cake decorating class. Will have one of my first student loans paid off within the next few months. Life is just kind of coasting along.

Finally, a quick shout out to my amazing dad. I got my sense of humor and math skills from him and couldn't ask for a better dad. Love you and am so so so glad you weren't taken from me four years ago. You are so precious.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sharing the Love

Thank you, Minda, for sharing this.

I needed to hear that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Terrific Twos

Here's a list of some of my favorite things....(I copied this idea, but changed it up a bit, from one of the blogs I've recently spent a lot of time perusing).



-I LOVE this website and could spend countless hours on here. Great ideas for fun and different themed party ideas!


- In love with this blog. This girl is a crafty foodie and fashionista. She does home decor ideas, outfits, recipes, how-tos. In general - brilliant. (If you like those kinds of things that is) Copied the favorite things idea from her.


Lace! I love it - so girly yet sophisticated (if done correctly). I'm obsessed. I especially love the idea of a crisp white lace dress. Perfect for summer.

Color blocking! So bold and beautiful. I love taking two complementary colors and making such bold statements with them. It's simple and colorful.


Britney Spears' newest album Femme Fatale. Very clubby - love it!

ADELE and her album 21. I underestimated her. She has an incredibly soulful voice.


Braids!! How have I never appreciated the braid?! It can easily be dressed up or down. I'm pretty sure this will be one of my go-to hairstyles this spring/summer.

The "nude" trend. Au naturale face - perfect for me, as I hate wearing pounds of makeup. Nude nails - simple and clean. Nude heels- elongate the legs...what else could you need?

Ah summer - you are welcome here.