Thursday, June 30, 2016


Well, hello there!

It’s been really quiet around here lately. Sorry. I think I’ve kept putting off posting something because I’m afraid of publishing one post and then not posting anything for months (I really don’t like doing that), because I don’t have a plan. I am a planner and for most of my life, I have always had a plan. A plan for this blog, a plan for my life. But the past two years have left me floundering with no plan (or so it has felt). Every now and then, I think I create a plan but then it doesn’t work out or I decide it’s not really what I want; but most of the time over the past year or two, I have had no clue what I want.  And that, for me, is so unsettling. I don’t want to sound like a broken record taking about life being in a challenging season; but it has been. Can anyone else relate? Life circumstances that have been hard and confusing, throughout the past two years, have really challenged what I have always believed about God; but what I have found, as I have strived to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling”, is that God is far more faithful that I ever knew. He cares far more about our salvation than our life circumstances. And there is a security in that. The fact that I am guided and carried by a God who isn’t afraid to stretch me, prod me, or bring me to my knees a bit to make sure I always stay with him.

I’m thankful for those lessons, but just to be honest, I’ve been ready for a different season for some time now. And as of late, plans are slowly coming back to me. And by plans I also mean hope, joy, inspiration, vision. Some of this is coming in the form of real, tangible ideas that could happen, but most of it is coming from change in the intangible. Change on the inside of both myself and others. That change gives me courage to try things and make plans, but it also gives me the courage and peace to be content and secure. I hope to share more of what I’ve learned and specifics that have helped me, over the coming months.

For now, however, we are off for a little holiday! We are driving to Atlanta (with a pit stop at some natural springs to go swimming – what else screams summer?!) to spend a few days with some friends who recently moved there. Then we’ll be driving to St. Louis, Missouri for a church conference (with a pit stop at a Man vs. Food establishment. :) After that, we’ll drive all the way back home in two days. It’s a lot of driving, but a lot of friends, a lot of fun, a lot of learning, a lot of summer-y foods, and we are so excited!

Also, since I last posted in November: I went to Namibia for two weeks, via Istanbul; I got rejected from a master’s program, given a second change with an interview, and then rejected again; and I spent two weeks in China, visiting Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai. I definitely have lots to share here.

What are your summer plans? Or winter plans (for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere)? Any travels? Or home projects (those are always wonderful too!)? And as always, thank you for coming back and sticking around. It means the world to me.

Happy (early) Fourth of July to all my American readers! Hope your day is filled with sun, burgers, gratitude, and fireworks! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

One thing to be thankful for (that's not based on your circumstances)

I know that's kind of a weird picture to open a blog post with, so let me explain...

I grew up going to church, being taught about God, and hearing the Bible – often. I heard and read about how God is powerful and that he works in our lives; that he loves us and wants us to know him, intimately. I grew up in a church that had members who were black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Jamaican, and many other things. I heard that this wasn’t really the norm – to be a part of a church that is so diverse - but I had never seen or known anything different. And so, without realizing it of course, I’d become used to it. I got used to seeing people from different walks of life genuinely love each other and I got used to knowing a God who turns darkness into light and despair into hope.

But last night, I got to experience something moving and inspiring; the kind of thing that makes you go, “This is what life is about.” The kind of thing that reminds me of what I have to be grateful for, that has absolutely nothing to do with the current circumstances of my life. 

As we do each week, our church met together during the week. Normally, we meet in small groups in our homes, but one week out of the month, we all meet together. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, as we met not so much as a church group but as family, people got up and shared what they are most grateful for in their story of conversion. As people shared the thing they were most thankful for, they shared their stories. The stories of how God had been working throughout their life and weaving people and places, in and out, to bring them to Him. Hardships were turned to joy, closed doors opened into hope, deaths brought about life, and loneliness turned to belonging as people let their hearts respond to God and what he was doing in their lives.

As I sat there listening to person after person share their individual experience and the unique way that God drew them to him, I was left dumbfounded. God worked in the very details, every day, of these 20 souls. And I was reminded – it is not just those 20 people. God has worked in the very details, every day, of my life since before I was born. He’s done it in my parents’ lives and my brother’s life; my husband and my college roommate’s lives; and he keeps doing it. God continues to twist and turn my life, my marriage, my job, my coworkers’ lives and my neighbors’ lives to seek him and find him. And even when we can’t see it or understand how, he is molding and shaping the events of this world, the lives of the major players and all the seemingly insignificant people in between, so we might know Him.

And the truly astounding thing about watching all these people share how God worked in their lives is this: I would not know a single one of them if it wasn’t for God’s involvement. If God didn’t care about us, if he didn’t work out each detail, each encounter, each up and down to help us see him and know him, I would never have met anyone I listened to last night. I certainly wouldn’t have my brother (who was adopted) or have met my husband (whom I met in South Africa on a year-long mission trip).  

So, this Thanksgiving, I am focusing my gratitude on how God has moved in my life and always will. Even on hard days and in dark moments – which seem to occur far more often than we all wish - when I wonder if God has stopped weaving and working in my life or the lives of those around me, I can remember a night like last night and look at people all around me, and see that God is in fact, still working. Not only has his shaping and braiding of the people, events, and circumstance in my life allowed me to know Him – this sovereign, loving, and humble God – but it has given me relationships, depth, fulfillment, and adventure, far beyond what I could imagine or what I have ever seen possible in this world. And the story is not over. If you don’t feel that you’ve had those things in your life or you can’t see how God has been working, I hope you will search for Him and see what he can do. He is not far from each one of us. 

Monday, October 19, 2015


Last week, I got to see an early screening of the new movie, Suffragette. It was enlightening, powerful, and moving. I had no clue that the fight for the right to vote stretched so far back or turned as violent as it did. Even more, watching women work tirelessly just to meet basic needs was a humbling reminder. Here is the trailer, if you'd like to see:

(I still get goosebumps watching it.) I took some girlfriends with me and we had a great time. It's a perfect movie for a girls night.

Will you see it?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hello there

Well, hello there. It’s certainly been a while. How are you? How are things in your world?

I’ve been wanting to pick things back up here for a while now, but life often gets in the way. And when I say life, I mean the hard kind of life. The current season around here has been a difficult one. I don’t quite feel like I’m in the clearing yet, but things have gotten better in many ways since the beginning.

I so earnestly have wanted to share the details. You guys – my loyal and lovely, lovely readers – have been such a great support to me, time and time again; and no matter whether I ever write another thing on Gumption again or not, I will always be thankful for that. But I just can’t share the details. Maybe one day, I can and I will. I would like to. I would like to think that the ability to share intimate and challenging parts of my life means I’ve made it through that season, for better, and am in a season of joy and refreshment. Regardless of if I’m in that season or not, I have been learning to see the good, make good, and do good in my current season. And that is what I can share here.

With that in mind, here are a few updates since March, if you’re interested:

I finally started a full-time job! I love where I work and while working at my current place of employment, I have the opportunity to get a master’s degree for (almost) free! So..

I’ve decided to apply for a master’s program that would start next fall (2016). I actually just took the GRE yesterday and will have my completed application in by December 1. We’ll see what happens! I’m excited.

Hubby and I moved into our own place! BIG NEWS! After living with my generous parents for a year, we were finally able to start renting our own home. Being back in our own space has felt so good. And I can’t wait to share photos and some small projects we’ve done.

We adopted another basset hound! Well, she’s a bit of a basset/beagle mix but she is just the most precious and goofiest thing! Her name is Twix and she and Rolo love each other. I'll give you a proper introduction soon.

We’ve bought our tickets and are headed to Namibia in December! We’ll be spending time with Gordon’s family, who have a holiday home there, for two weeks. And with an eight hour layover in Istanbul both ways, we’re very excited.

The humidity is finally starting to drop here in Miami and it's's starting to feel like fall! And that always brings happy things. :)

I wrote a while back (omg..ok, a year ago) about having a blog-identity crisis. I still kind of feel that way but I’m in a better place to tackle that “crisis” instead of feeling overwhelmed by it. So, if you’re willing and able, please stick around. It’s good to “see” you again. J

Monday, March 16, 2015

27 years around the sun

This past weekend, I celebrated my 27th birthday. I celebrated over a sprinkle-ladened cake, Katy Perry and Beyond Balderdash with girlfriends, a stunning day at the beach, milkshakes and burgers with my family, and spinny rides and elephant ears at the fair with good friends.

(My mom was so pleased with herself for photo-bombing this picture:)

Twenty-seven totally sounds older to me than I feel. For most of my life, people have thought I was older than I was and suddenly, people seem to think I'm much younger than I am - I'm not sure what that means or what to make of that. Either way, I have found myself in much reflection over turning 27.

I'm not sure why 27 seems like such a monumental number to me. Maybe it's because it's my first birthday back in the US in four years and it feels like I've come full circle, in a way. I haven't. I know that. I'm only 27. I'm more aware than ever before that life is filled with ebbs and flows and peaks and valleys. I also see more than ever that I have so much to change in order to be the reflection of God.
But I have also seen that through every victory and defeat, every moment of joy and of sorrow and of hope, and through every big or small step forward, God has carried me and carried me greatly. He carries me with perfect tenderness and compassion and with steady love and strength. But he doesn't just carry me, he makes me soar. Even the dips get higher and better than the previous ones before and each phase and moment brings me to a constantly richer point in my life and walk with God.

I know I will understand so much more after the next 27 years and that I will have so much more to reflect on. I am deeply grateful for that opportunity - that privilege, really: to live another year and see more of this world. To experience more of what it means to truly live. I have so much hope for the future and faithfulness to rely on as another year comes forth, and for that, my heart is full of gratitude.

And thank you to all my friends and family, near and far, who celebrated with me and make me feel so loved always!

I love this picture, especially because of all the really great hand gestures.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dealing with the E word

I grew up in a loving, active home with lots of friends, culturally-engaging vacations, and healthy eating habits (who knew at the time that Kids Cuisine was so bad?). I did well in school and went to a good university. My parents taught my brother and me how to be kind, spiritual, and productive people in the world. I honestly couldn't have pinpointed one event that would have left me emotionally scarred, for any reason. 

But, I still have had emotional "work" (or sorting-out) to do. Whether it be learning how to resolve conflict in a healthy way, facing fears, getting rid of bitterness, mourning, processing life events, forgiving, or loving better - we all have work to do. Even if you don’t think you do – you do.

And you should do the work now. Yes, starting today.

Whether you are 20, 30, or 50; single, married, or with kids; content with your life or not – do the work now to be able to process and grow in your emotional life. You will be a better – whatever you are – because of it.

I have been seeing a counselor on and off for about a year and a half (and I love it!). I started going because I became mildly depressed at a particular point in life. I wasn’t at a stage where I needed medication; I was looking for just a couple conversations to help me identify a problem(s) and then move on. What I unearthed, however, were a wealth of tools and a richness in life (as well as, a few un-dealt-with emotions) that were previously and completely unknown to me. After a few months, I was a firm believer in the power of emotional processing and was in a healthier place all around. 

I started back up a few months ago (going to counseling), needing no convincing of the good it would do me. But regardless of my eagerness, continuing to build an emotionally healthy life is still really hard work. And painful work. There have been moments where I have thought, “I don’t want to do this. I want to just stay right where I am and only see and experience the things that make me feel good" – even though I know that long term, they won’t mask the unresolved issues.

But that benefits no one; least of all, me.

I recently read somewhere that the grass is greener on the other side, because the other side is watered more. And then it all made more sense than ever before…well, maybe not more sense, but I could once again welcome the work and embrace growing pains that await me. 

Doing the work  - whether it be through counseling, books, groups, or self-assessment and decision making – to be emotionally healthy and productive, in my humble experience, will help create the life you want. So, since it’s still the beginning of the 2015, and as long as there is another day coming tomorrow, you have the opportunity to make it better. Do yourself and those around you a favor and do your emotional work now. Your life will be far richer because of it. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

A while is OK

Last week, my husband came home! He was visiting his family in South Africa and Namibia for the holidays. Although Christmas and New Years were still lovely, they just weren’t quite the same. Now that he is back, I feel truly ready to start the New Year. I am one happy girl.

I have found myself, for the past few days (because I had a late start), continuing to try and formulate goals and intentions for 2015 – both for Gumption and for my personal life. I’m working on clearly identifying what the most important things to me in my life are and using those values to dictate my goals and intentions.

That all sounds really focused and ambitious. I read that and even almost convince myself that I’ve really got my act together. I would love to say that I have figured out the way forward for both this blog and my own life and can now outline the next 11 months of 2015 and a five-year plan for my life. But the reality is: it takes a while – albeit, a long time – to figure things out; whether it’s just figuring out what you’re feeling at a given moment, what you want to do today, or what you want your life’s work to be. And that’s ok.  It’s ok to take a while to figure things out. (Small case in point: Writing is often one of the most therapeutic things for me and in the past, most stressful, six months of my life, I have written the least. Cleary, I still have a few circuits not connecting.)

But I have been making some really good realizations about myself and about my life and marriage that are helping me make decisions about what actions to take. And I’m excited about that. I’m still in my 20s; and if 30 is the new 20 (stay tuned for the post about why I believe that’s true), I am in the teens of my adulthood. I can afford to put in some more time to figuring out my life. Won’t you join me?

Did you make goals or intentions for this year? How are they going? Will you still make some?