Friday, August 30, 2013

We Few, We Happy Few, Resilient Of Heart

To The Crazy Ones,

I debated whether to write a letter to this community, for we are always in so much transition and there are so many farewells and send offs. But I realized that I had to, if not only just to be able to say it once. Today is my last day at Invisible Children. I walked through the doors three days late to Congo Tour January 2011. Kelsey had called me the Friday before and offered me an ambiguous job as a Movement Intern and I told her yes-I would come. It was terrifying to get on that plane, for I had no idea what would meet me upon landing in San Diego. Beks picked me up from the airport, Bryce was house dad and I thought I had joined a commune (#soserious).  I didn't know if I fit…I wasn't a hipster…goodness I didn't even know what that meant! I felt too stiff for the environment and although I was awestruck by the work ethic, belief and crazy didn't know if I had what it took to last.

But something happened: I fell in love with everyone. This cause I had cared about since I was 19 was now my real life and I was heart deep in the pursuit of ending the LRA. Very quickly the family of Invisible Children and the work we've pursued became part of my DNA

Over the past 2 ½ years when sharing stories of this place with friends and family I always say “ _____ is so wonderful” / “______is amazing” and people look at me after 10-15 minutes and say “ You've said that about everyone”. I've always answered “well, it’s because it’s the truth”. What I have realized and, what Jed said so well at his send off, was that it’s not that this place and these people aren't real life. It’s just what humanity and real life should look like. We are so lucky.

To This Family-

You have challenged, inspired, humbled me and caused me to rise higher- and to dig deeper. You've celebrated my nostalgia, sentimental personality, love of parties, and pursuit of whimsy. I have never felt more liberated and freed to be exactly who I am than I have since stepping into this community. You stood with me when I lost my uncle and surrounded me with the most beautiful love I have ever known. The seasons of my life you've saturated will stay with me always.

I am leaving the daily work of Invisible Children because I feel strongly that God is leading me into a new season. Even though I have no road map for next steps, I now know what I am capable of, and it’s not because of what I will list on my resume. It is because of you.  Each of you have changed my life- and impacted my story. You have seen me, loved me and taught me what it means to truly live.

My intention is to carry Narnia with me to all places, for it’s a magic that shouldn't be held too tightly to our chest. But more than the magic, I will take the fight for justice, the work ethic that defies any status quo, and the belief in people and their potential.

Thank you for every way you've caused me to ask the hard questions and pursue truth. So proud to be alongside you in this journey called life.

Love you to the moon & back.


“If you are what you should be – you will set the whole world on fire”  St. Catherine of Sienna

Monday, August 19, 2013

Superheros...They Are All Around Me.

Eight days ago the Fourth Estate Summit happened. 

When we started the planning process six months ago, it was evident that it was going to be bigger, more complex and harder to pull off than the first one (times 100) and I knew that I needed an incredible team alongside of me. God knew before I did, every person that would need to be along for the ride to make it a reality. The Wolfpack assembled and this group of people has actually rocked my world. #Avengers

For the past five months we worked on the logistics and experience of a 4-day Summit with 1,500 participants that contained: 
  • 5 Main Sessions 
  • 15 Breakouts
  • 8 live shows (concerts) 
  • Dance (Club) Event for 1500
  • VIP Fundraising Event for 250
  • Common Good Exchange ---60 incredible organizations that came together for a "fair" type event

I told someone the other day we couldn't really define it as a conference  and they said " no-- it was definitely a Palooza" ;) perfect words. 

Hans Zimmer (yes the Hans Zimmer & team) composed us an original score for the event It was real and beautiful--listen here. , Samantha Power was our closing guest speaker,.....we had dynamic speakers and panelists throughout the weekend and in general it was so beautiful you could hardly believe it was real.

My head and heart can't actually comprehend what just happened, what we pulled off together. The team at Invisible Children is extraordinary. Not just because of the people that compose it, but for the countless ways people become superheros in their service of others, the boundaries they push to make magic, the attention and intention that encompasses every detail.  

I walked away with an even deeper profound love for this community and the future of Fourth Estate. It is a belief and collective of people that can actually change the world. If you don't believe me....listen to that score and then tell me you're not ready to go fight for justice for all. 

Rooted in every person creating it was the pursuit for it to be unlike anything ever before...... and it was. Through dedication, sacrifice, and challenging ourselves to do one better....four days unfolded that will have an impact we may never fully realize. Working alongside the team at Invisible Children was something that has forever changed me. I've been with this amazing community for 2 1/2 years and I've seen miracles happen countless times. This was just different. Because when you believe you've reached your personal limits, there is a beckoning call to rise higher, to dive deeper, push a little harder. Everyone answered that call and together we created something that was life giving and profound.  

It was beautiful...and we did it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Worlds Colliding

When I was seven years old my youngest sister, Gina, was born. She came dancing into a family full of women and changed my life. 

(Apparently my life story is destined to be brimming with beautiful and extraordinary women.) She is the youngest of five girls and though born with countless obstacles, she has only taught us all everyday to live in the moment, and to appreciate the simple glories. 

This past Thursday, she boarded a plane headed to San Diego, CA for her first solo trip ever and as she proudly exclaimed  a " Free Woman". I had been beyond excited for weeks for her arrival, but the past few days have been more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. They were three cherished days, not just because my sweet sister and I were together, but because of the way my community loved her. 

Spending two full days working with me at Invisible Children, the joyful, sincere appreciation of her spirit was a beautiful example of why I love these people so very much. Everyone from my team to director- was thoughtful, inclusive and so loving. It's not that I expect anything less from them, because they are wonderful. But that type of love is a choice and speaks to the true character of people- especially when it's directed at someone who others can easily look past, not engage with or appreciate the light & love she has to offer. To see not only all of her beauty appreciated- but everyone go out of their way to make her trip an adventure was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life . 

My worlds collided over the past few days and I am so humbled by the example of love that was made evident through my friends, roommates, and co-workers. Needless to say, San Diego, together we made her first solo trip a success. I love you for all the ways you loved her. 

 Thank You and I Love You Too. 


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Redeeming Love

Have you ever thought about redeeming love? Or radical grace? I hadn't until this past year and here is why. 

For as long as I can remember I felt like I was at war. Even as a child, it was this feeling of perpetual battle. To stay light, to stay joyful, to somehow believe in good when so much sadness and pain surrounded me. I was determined to believe in love and in the goodness of people even though my circumstances didn't reflect that. My story, like everyone’s, has so many layers. 

Last year after I lost my uncle to cancer, my grief, at times, has been overwhelming and close to unbearable.  I know it's partially because he represented a sense of home and a true north in my life, and I never imagined my lifetime without him. But it’s also because it triggered other loss I never fully grieved. The grief  my childhood held:  of the abuse I experienced at a young age,  my parents’ divorce,, the loss of the relationship with my dad, and being on my own at seventeen….. to name a few. Last Fall I bought my first self help book, on grief nonetheless. As I read it there was a whole chapter on complicated bereavement. Or as one of my best friends termed, compounded grief, as I read those words….. it clicked. 

The loss of this person in my life had triggered so much pain that had been lying dormant for so long. I realized that I had been like a wounded soldier walking around with bullet holes, but charging on with no awareness to my very real limitations. (Or massive denial)  But when there is nothing left to distract you from the reality, there is no choice but to turn the mirror on yourself and see the damage. What you thought was painful ends up being total heartbreak. Many people do not know my story, and it’s not because of shame, or trying to live another life. It’s made me who I am- every broken, joyful, complicated, stubborn, letter writing, whimsy loving part of me. I am thankful for the experiences I've had along this journey because in this lifetime I can see people in pain and relate. Empathy is a real thing and it's powerful. 

Tonight as I sat listening to a song by Hillsong called, Oceans- Where my feet may fail, it was as if these words had to leave my heart and make it to this page. The past twelve months of my life have radically changed me and my faith. I literally have cried probably an entire water tower full of tears this last year. They've come from sadness, joy, weariness, hope and the very real grace that the Lord has washed over me.

Amidst the chaos that was my youth, I have such a powerful memory of being fourteen and knowing that I stood at a crossroads for my life. That I could choose to walk down the path that circumstances were drawing me down, or to trust God enough to pave a new road, and I chose that day to trust Him.  I have fallen, and hijacked His plans so many times. At times I’ve even left the journey all together. But last year He came to me in the valley, took my hand, said hello, and started walking with me again. He had been right there the whole time but I wasn't paying attention. Silly me.

I share these small parts of my story to really expose the power of the Lord’s redeeming love and His grace that changes the game. People have experienced far more devastating battles and circumstances than I, but I do know that for me and my story, standing where I am today did not happen by my own strength. The past several months of my life have felt divinely set up. From books that were literally written to me, friendships that touch your soul, incredible opportunities, evident healing happening within my family, to seeing God use the utter brokenness of my heart and restoring it to a depth I didn't know I possessed.

Being aware of God’s very real movement in your life is like witnessing a master artist paint an extraordinary piece right before your eyes. The ordinary becomes breathtaking and you can see Him in all things, in the smallest most ordinary moments.  It’s humbling to see how He can take the shattered mess of your heart and start to create something beautiful out of it. The power of redeeming love cannot be captured by words. But His pursuit of my heart has been an experience unlike any I’ve ever known.

I do not know how long it will take the battle wounds to heal, but they are. Through grace, redeeming love and pursuit of joy(#whimsy2013), the heartbreak is being used for good. My feet may fail but I believe the Lord is right there ready to catch me before I fall.

Next time I sit down to write I hope the words that need a life are defining Whimsy 2013 or the dream team I get to work with everyday. But for now, this is what needed a platform. Take a minute and pay attention tonight. Breathe deep and know you are loved beyond anything you can possibly imagine.

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"- Hillsong
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I have this blanket. It's fleece, brown, rather ordinary and has been with me through every cross country move,  and new adventure over the past five years- not to mention countless days I've spent under some big tree, pen in hand pouring out my heart on paper. It's been around for some scary and beautiful adventures, and plenty of heartbreak. The kind you want to wrap yourself in with a good cup of coffee in hand, sit on a porch somewhere in the woods and just breathe. Recently, after traveling without it for nearly a month I came home and couldn't find it anywhere. I was not just baffled that I couldn't find it, but by the loss I felt in it's absence. As if a close friend had left me. After three weeks it made its' way back and I felt a wave of comfort just in knowing it was there and now appreciated it so much more than I had before. So many things in life are like that aren't they? 

Initially I didn't start writing to process through this attachment I hold to this particular blanket. I was thinking of our stories. Top of the world moments, valleys that nearly swallow us and quiet in between's when we are not sure of what is coming. Stories that tell of people that change us, of lives that intertwine and moments that define us. 

I can't wait for the story of this year to unfold. I am in love 2013. I love it. The road ahead is  like walking along a dirt road during twilight in the middle of summer. It's empty, lovely and holds a special kind of magic.  Not sure what is coming but breathless in anticipation for the unknown. Last year was a battle field, while this year I believe is going to be full of magic, whimsy, and the pursuit of joy. I find myself mending and while that in itself is full of curve balls, the subtle joyful anticipation of the unknown is healing in itself. 

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." Kahlil Gibran

After experiencing sorrow, joy takes a whole new shape. It comes in the form of quiet mornings, new friendships, an encouraging text, a stunning sunset, the newest single by Josh Groban- it takes so much less for joy to touch your soul. Your appreciation is so much richer. Hope finds it's way into your world again and it's wonder can startle you. It was that close friend you thought you had lost...... but are so very thankful came back to you. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Unlike Any Other

2012 has been one of those years you never could have seen coming, but had been slowly been preparing for your whole life. One of those years where everything within you is challenged. A year where the universe is waiting to see if you can withstand the storm and God is waiting with open arms to catch you when the burden is too heavy. Looking back at pictures from the beginning of the year I can see the pure naivety of what was coming. Smiles that were true and excitement that was tangible- hope that flowed. In every way, I was as together and strong as I had ever been, which in turn translated that I was prepared to take on the biggest battle of my life so far. 

By Spring my beloved Uncle James had been battling Stage 4 cancer for eighteen months. "Uncle" doesn't do the role he has in my life justice. For he was friend, mentor, hero and father. He was one of those rare spirits whose magic touches everyone they meet with their warmth and open arms. Through a drink and a spot at the dinner table he could make anyone feel known. Both him and my Aunt Martha have this uncanny ability to just love people in the most authentic way. Something I am forever grateful for.

I knew he was deeply ill and that it was possible that we could lose him, but it didn't seem real. How could there be a world where he didn't exist everyday? 

I called my older sister on a Thursday late morning, the last week of March. The calls that happened in the next hour ....changed everything. The doctors had told him the news of where his health was at, and he made the decision to let things happen naturally and stop fighting. Within hours they were calling family to get there as fast as they could. The rest of that day is a tear filled blur. I got to Portland and to his hospital room by midnight, and as he woke slowly I knew it was the end, you could feel it everywhere. 

Over the course of the next few days I watched as my extended family descended upon the hospital and then hospice home for my uncles final days.

I can't talk about those days yet. It was undoubtedly the most beautiful way for him to say goodbye and the most heartbreaking experience I've ever had. 

We didn't know exactly how much time he had, and I made the decision to head back to San Diego.  I remember standing outside of his room pleading with God to make it not real and to somehow grant me the strength to say goodbye to this man I loved so very much. He did and I was engulfed in the most real peace I've ever known. My uncle woke as I came to say goodbye. He looked me straight in the eye as I told him I loved him and kissed the top of his head one last time. Walking out of that room was the single most difficult thing I've ever done. 

On April 3rd he left this journey to start another. 

The weeks and months that have followed that early morning have been the hardest I've ever known personally. Pain, loss, depression, grief....are very real things. For someone who prided herself for always being the strength in the storm...I had finally fallen apart. Someone asked me how I felt over the summer and I remember saying that it felt like I was a glass pitcher someone had thrown and shattered, and then had been hap-hazardly glued back together. 

I can't even write this without big tears- this year flipped the switch on weeping for yours truly. But I am daily overwhelmed by gratitude for two things. 

First. That I had someone like that to say they were proud of me. That they loved me.  

Secondly. I have never felt the presence of God more powerfully than I have this year. He's been right there through every step of this journey. 

My heart is still broken and goodness do I feel tired. But astoundingly grateful for his life. Last April,  I led his funeral mass in several prayers and as I looked out into the crowd of 500+ gathered to honor his life I knew our lives had been graced with someone unlike any other. He was an ordinary man who loved extraordinarily. A gift I hope to carry throughout my lifetime. 

I don't know exactly how to navigate this journey except take it day by day. Some are better than others. But I am so grateful. Sad but grateful. 

I share all of this to encourage you to tell the people you love...that you LOVE them and cherish those simple quiet moments. Take the time to make that phone call, send that letter- because you truly don't know what will come and it matters. If you are in the midst of a painful journey, know that there are others there too. Remember to breathe deep and take another step. Keep moving. 

In the beautiful brokenness of 2012, I have learned the importance of real love and friendship. 



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Detours & The Road That Meets You

 When I was a teenager and dreamed of the things I would do in my twenties I envisioned traveling, getting married, finishing college, making first time adult purchases like buying a house, a car and of course would be on my way to financial stability. I've watched as nearly every friend I grew up or graduated high school with has gotten engaged, married, or is expecting their first or second child. If you know me, one would expect that I would have gone down a very “normal” path- with a splash of adventure thrown in. What I didn’t prepare for was the plan God had for my life- the truly extraordinary journey that lay ahead.

I have none of those things I listed above. At twenty six I am most definitely off the normal track I expected my life to follow. As a fourteen year old, in the midst of my parent’s chaotic divorce, this teen signed up for a study on the Holocaust for an entire summer with the University of South Florida. I spent the entire summer learning of mass genocide- of injustice- which looking back was a pretty remarkable subject to spend my summer researching since I was being exposed to the tragic injustice that existed within my own world. Years later I can now see that those few months of learning truth about global injustice and human suffering combined with learning about the father I thought I had, started me down a path that led to the journey I am currently on.  As a nineteen year old college freshman I watched Invisible Children’s Rough Cut. Little did I know that five years later the stories and movement behind that documentary would change my life.

Young Activists march through the streets of DC for peace
Do you ever look back and think of how certain moments or decisions transformed the path you were on? I’ve had those moments many times in 2012. There were so many things that have led me to be apart of Invisible Children and working to end the LRA’s atrocities. This past weekend the people I have worked hard alongside of for two years pulled off an event of not only historical proportions but extraordinary impact. Thousands of young people joined us in Washington D.C. for an event called MOVE:DC  we invited world leaders and representatives from the EU, AU, UN, ICC, US, CAR, DR Congo, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan to attend the first ever Global Summit on the LRA. We marched through the streets of Washington D.C. joined by thousands of young people, a sea of red- filled with joy, hope and linked together by a common dream of justice. We merged cultures with thousands and made true the belief that our universal language is dance.

Global Dance Night

 Being a part of facilitating the event there were few moments to stop and experience what was happening- but when I did stop and take it in I was so unbelievably proud and humbled to be a part of this movement. I always am.

My friends- co workers-sisters

I work with some of the worlds smartest, compassionate, dedicated and creative people in the world. People who could be doing anything with their lives, but they choose to fight on behalf of others. But this weekend was different. We did it. We pulled it off- and did so on an extraordinary level. I was able to meet students and teachers from all over the country that I have been working with for over a year and there are no words for how much I respect and believe in them. This weekend I met world leaders, facilitated small events, and worked alongside the greatest team in the world. This weekend was made for the courageous and I am honored to be living an unpredictable life. It may not be the “norm” but I am head over heels in love with it. 


 One day I will get married, buy a house/car, have children but when those things unfold I will be the person I was meant to be- not just the person I could be.My life will also be full of adventure, big dreams and beautiful friendships I could have ever anticipated. I am just so thankful that my life went off course and that this is the road that met me.