Refresh My Soul: Alaska

It finally feels like fall so to celebrate I'm posting part 1 from family vacation earlier this summer. If you were following along on Insta then you may already know that my parents took us on an Alaskan cruise. It was amazing! We had some great family time, got to see nature, and experience cold temps, which meant boots, scarves, and lots of hot coffee! My dreamland. 

So grab a blanket, sip some coffee, and enjoy the beauty of Alaska!


Ezra James: 1 Year

Well it happened. Ezra turned one! We started the day with some pumpkin pancakes and then that afternoon we had a fiesta!! In the past month Ezra has started chatting all the time, he loves standing and keeps making us think he is going to take his first steps, but then at the last minute decides to squat and crawl. He is still not a fan of attention and being held by stranger (where working on that) and he also had his first sickness with fever and all. But he is slowly becoming a toddler. I can't even imagine what this next year will hold for our little man!



Today, September 7th, marks five years married to my best friend, and only 6 years of dating and knowing each other. Seems crazy and to some I'm sure it seems like we hardly know each other, but to us, so much has been done! We've traveled to 11 countries together, had 2 overseas moves, brought a a precious baby boy into the world, and plenty of netflix and chill moments at home—I'm almost scared to see what the next 5 will hold! But if it only contained more netflix and you, I'd be happy. So here's to many more adventures and crazy moments with my love! 

And for those that care, a sappy slideshow together of the past five years, and if you really love me you'll listen to it while watching this song. (it's not included b/c ya know copyright issues) 

Ezra James: 11 Months


Only one more month until this guy is officially a year old! I can't believe it. He is so close to walking, has 8 teeth that have popped through and is very opinionated. But he loves to laugh, shys away from strangers, but will stare at people all day long, and his recent opinion is to reject baths. He use to love the water and still likes swimming, but don't put him in the bath or he'll scream bloody murder...oh my goodness.


Ezra James: 10 Months


Lately, I've been so bad at updating Ezra's monthly photos. But maybe that's just me not wanting to admit that my baby is slowly growing out of his baby ways. This month he is standing like a champ, walking while holding on to all the things. He also loves swimming and has visited his sixth country this month. (but only his third if you don't count airports) This month he has also learned to play with others. We haven't gotten to be around other babies while living in Africa and it's been interesting to see him attempt to play with his cousins...and pets...and other friend's babies. So thankful for this time to expose Ezra to other children, and can't wait to see what this next month has in store! 

Take a Walk on the Safe Side

When comparing and contrasting Africa and the US one usually has a pretty good sense of what will be said—water, weather, animals, etc.—it's all different. But what I notice the most about my time stateside are the little things; the things that excite the senses and leave me wanting more.

Tonight I went a walk, something I've done many times before, but this time it was just me, the babe, and my spotify radio set to Ben Rector. (can I get an amen?) Normally I'm walking with the hubs, iPhone-less and we are talking about the current ramblings going through our brain, but tonight I only my own thoughts to keep me spinning. 

After awhile I started remembering my walks in the Horn of Africa. It wasn't the heat or the random goat crossing that I remembered, but instead it was the small stretch of sidewalk around the U.S. Embassy that we grew to love. A similarity, a small one, but something to bridge the gap. Then as quickly as the thought entered my mind I smelled something I never smell in my part of Africa—hamburgers grilling in the backyard. My senses had been awoken—green trees lined the concrete creating dancing shadows of sweet relief from the summer heat, fresh cut grass filled the air, water sprinklers played with the setting sun as rainbows formed over the perfectly manicured lawns, and I felt safe.

I wasn't looking over my shoulder for strangers, I didn't feel a sense to hurry through my walk, and I never once got a glaring stare for showing my ankles. (And in this case my shoulders and legs too) But please don't see this as something only attributed to Africa or a third world life. This is still a reality and many places in the US and even in our own city. Walking around the ritzy neighborhood of Dallas I still feel a little uneasy by the amount of people who seem to be up to no good and continue to have my walls up. Part of it may just be my life in third-worlds, but the other part may be for good reason, who knows. What I do know is that tonight I was fearless—not in the sense of bravery, but more carefree. 

So while I can't always live a carefree, fearless life, it's nice to enjoy those moments filled with summer bar-b-que's, fresh cut lawns, and shaded sidewalks. 

Gotta love the front lawn chairs, a trend I first saw in Dallas.

Gotta love the front lawn chairs, a trend I first saw in Dallas.

That rainbow!

That rainbow!



Ezra James: 8 Months


It was a big month for little man! He learned to crawl and his world has changed every since! He also learned that he can stand and hold on to things, and one day during nap time he decided to test out his new found strength and stand up in the pack-n-play. Now it's his favorite activity. Loving this little guy more and more everyday and can't wait to see what's in store next month! 

Sunrise Service on the Beach

There's a stillness in the air that happens somewhere in the night—the wind stops, the waves die down, and the mosquitoes buzz. But it's there in the quiet when you realize just how big and vast the world really is.

On Easter weekend we traveled to a semi-secluded beach two hours outside the city, where your neighbors are foreign and local military, a couple of donkeys, and a camel. It’s a typical Horn of Africa scene, at least in our part, but it’s a safe spot where once a year the teams from our city come together and rest.

That evening as we warmed up chili over the fire, one by one we slowly sat in our folding camping chairs and watch the embers crack. A guitar started to strum and singing could be heard quietly over the roaring waves. “Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have mad. I see the stars. I hear the rolling thunder. Thy power throughout the universe displayed.”

Never did those words ring more true than they did that night under the darkness, lit only from the fire, the night sky, and the occasional flashlight. And as seamlessly as the music had started, the stories began. Surrounded by both young and old, everyone had a story, so we sat and cried and laughed and offered thanks to God for his protection and love.

The next morning we had an Easter service on the shore, then we celebrated by swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Reed, Ezra, and I also hiked across the little mountain and took photos of the sunset the day before. And while Ezra was sleeping peacefully in his pack-n-play (with adult supervision) we took the kayak out on the ocean and found a sandy beach around the mountain. And greeting us as we arrived was none other than a camel! Only in the Horn of Africa!

Meet Some Fearless Moms

It's my first mother's day as a mother. While last year I got to celebrate mother's day pregnant, this year I get to really understand the joys and struggles that come with being a mother. And I also understand how difficult this day can be for so many. So I'm not going to bombard with you photos my little guy (I'll save that for another day), but I am going to show you some of the mothers I've met over the past year here in Africa. 

Last year I did a blog post showcasing mothers I've met in the past 10 years of my travels, I loved reading your messages and comments about it and so I've decided to share a few more stories. I hope that for those of you who look at today and feel pain and longing that you will somehow feel peace. I pray that you can know that you are loved and thought of and that just because you may not be celebrating today that you still have purpose and life! 

Sadly, a month after visiting with these families we got word about one family who lost their son. He was the only child I didn't get a photo of that day and now I regret it so much. Their son was a teenager and suffered from brain damage, but was able to walk himself. However, he came down with diarrhea and died. It broke our heart to hear of child dying of something so easily prevented. So it's why we work here, training people about the dangers of dehydration, loving on them every chance we get, and giving them something to try and make their life just a little bit easier. 

Our NGO works with a local school run by a woman who has returned to the Horn of Africa after living for years in Canada. She decided to return to her home country and open a school for street children. Many of these children do not have parents and are lacking the proper papers to attend public schools. During her time at the school she also came in contact with several families of handicap children. Many of these children suffer from epilepsy and have severe deformities. They do not have access to wheelchairs to the mothers will carry around their children so they do not have to sit in the dirt all day long. 

Many times when we meet handicapped children in remote areas around the world they are not cared for or given much attention, but the amount of love that these moms (and some fathers) had for their kids was amazing. The moms would wipe of dried boogers or saliva before I took their photo and they would fix their hair and whisper in their ear to smile. 

The lady in the middle received a new wheelchair and her daughter came along with her.

Here they are with my mom, who got to be a part of giving them their new wheelchair and meet all the mother's above.

This mother I met briefly in February at a clinic in town. At first I thought she was the grandmother of this 17 day old baby but it turns out she was mother who had just given birth to this little sweet girl. She was at the hospital because her newborn needed to undergo some test to see if she was HIV+.

The mother was already HIV+ and so now the long wait of finding out if you passed it on to your daughter. I couldn't imagine what she must feel, having a baby only a few weeks old and having to find out if she has a life-threatening disease.

She was sad, and it broke my heart, because usually women will at least smile for me or find pride in showing off their kids, but you could tell she was hurting, tired, and alone. So pray for mothers like her, pray for their children, and pray for the doctors that one day they will find a cure for these heart-breaking diseases. 

Some mothers and their children I met back in February at a distribution where we gave out food, clothing, and blankets. You can read their stories here: Life in a Volcanic Desert