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. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Hurricane Will Blow Over

When I created this blog and thought of a url for it I didn't really fully understand the weight of what "moments that make your life" meant. I can look back and see all those beautiful, difficult, joyous, exhausted moments that compose my life thus far. But what I have learned in the past two weeks is that every moment is defining who you are. A little over a year ago I boarded a plane to San Diego CA to start working with Invisible Children- but I nearly didn't get on the plane. My head almost over ruled the call in my heart....almost.

Whatever course of life I was on in that moment, the moments that had led me there, were re routed. The doubt and "what ifs" plagued me the entire 15 hour journey to San Diego. But there was an undeniable quiet whisper echoing in the deepest part of my heart that it was right, that it was time to go. That it would take more courage for me to board a plane into an unknown- uncharted chapter than it would not to.

This past year I have worked harder, loved more, learned more and been challenged to greater depths than I have ever been in my twenty-five years. But walking into what you deeply know is apart of your destiny shouldn't be easy. The past two weeks have felt like time suspended- where it sped up and slowed down making everything magnified. Two weeks ago IC launched a film online with the hopes, that along with other highly important parts of the campaign, that the film would receive 500,000 views. Within less than 14 days- over a 100,000,000 have watched it. ( I typed out all those zeros because it blows my mind). For some reason this moment was different, and it struck a cord in the universe. We woke up the world to one of the worlds worst criminals and asked them to stand beside us in the work to bring him to justice. No details are necessary for how crazy it's been. All I do know is that within about 24 hours of our work being known on an international platform- a hurricane of goodness- of skepticism ensued. It was easy to see that everything so many people had worked for was happening, but on a scale none of us could comprehend.

There will be many moments of the past two weeks (probably the rest of this year) that I will not remember well. What I will remember is how much I have learned about the goodness of the human heart, of a person who stands firm in courage for a fight greater than themselves. That when the hurricane ensues you stand at the epic center screaming at the wind and rain "DO YOUR WORST" .....for ours is a fight for the safety, peace and restoration of others. That through fighting on behalf of others who have no voice you find your own. There is no question in my mind and in my heart that goodness and truth wants to be the loudest in the room, but it is almost nearly drowned out by the critics and the skeptics for they have been robbed of their simple belief that humanity can be good. The courage it takes for goodness and love to be the loudest in the room in the face of adversity is great- but that moment has arrived.

I keep imagining the past two weeks as a Hurricane, and although not the biggest fan of FL, having over ten years to experience first hand what a hurricane is like I can safely say they are one of the most incredible natural disasters. There is an electrying urgency in the air for days before they arrive- an anticipation so palable you touch it. Clouds gather- then scatter. It rains, it's sunny. People prepare for the moment it arrives, precautions for self and home are taken, and families gather together to wait it out. It can come in the night or middle of the day- there is no exact timing. But when the eye of the storm passes over is intense. Your body tightens with anxiety and you have to work to calm your heart. For in those moments you have done everything you can to prepare- and now it's not up to you. All you can do is stay together, ready to protect one another at a moments notice or be ready to move quick and efficiently if need be. You never know what it will require of you. The rain comes down hard, it beats the side of the house, rips trees, floods streets, washes away homes, takes down power lines- total destruction in some places. But for the vast majority, if you take a deeper look, you see families gathered together, ready to battle mother nature fiercely if necessary.

But then......the hurricane blows over. What is easily forgotten about hurricanes is the days that come immediately after. They are also some of my most favorite days. The wind is a beautiful calm, the air so clean and crisp as if it was a new beginning. Families spend more time together than usual because all of the distractions are aside, the weather is stunning, and hope fills you- because you weathered the storm with all it's unknowns.

Who would have ever though that fighting injustice in it's greatest forms of evil would not bring on a hurricane of great proportions....certainly not Martin Luther King Jr, the Freedom Riders, or any of the brave human beings in history that found their voice. That made their voices drown out the critics- the skeptics. For they knew in their moments of time that their cause was too great, too important to not push forward til the storm passed.

When I boarded that plane a year ago- this is not the story I could have seen being written. A chapter that I could not have predicted, a hurricane I didn't know I needed to be prepared for. But what is ironic and brilliant is that all of those moments that led me here and the quiet whisper in my heart prepared me for this time. I am proud to be in the eye of this storm with the people that have prepared for it, fought for it and have the courage to be louder than the critics. Because when the hurricane blows over, this family ( a bit larger than most) will be found intact. A bit tired from all the wind, rain and thunder but renewed in what is to come next.


Sunday, January 29, 2012


I read a novel last year where the story was of a coin going through the "minting" process. Last month as I reflected on 2011 I realized that was what last year was for me. A time to be stretched, challenged, exhausted, pushed and to see what and where my abilities truly lie. As 2012 unfolds the theme that keeps presenting itself is "refinement". Refining where your already at can be more difficult than the process that got you there in the first place. I am looking forward to the process though....because somehow I was given the chance to live out a job that answers to dreams of my heart.

Thinking of a few years back I literally threw myself headfirst into what I knew would challenge me. Knowing there was more to my story, more of what my life could look like I went searching. ( in the sense that i sold my car, quit my job, moved out of my comfortable condo with the most amazing closet) While having what can only be described as a carefree adventure of your early twenties- a confidence showed itself and equipped me for what was about to come. Where I am at right now couldn't of happened without my nearly two years of traveling, working and soul searching. I wonder though who I would have become if I hadn't dared to just go looking for my story?

As you see change take place within yourself, and when you are far more daring than you expect.... my question is how do you sustain that? I don't want the quest to find all that life holds to be limited to my twenties, but to carry the momentum throughout my life.

I never want to stop being stretched, to become complacent.....I always want to stand facing life with open arms at the edge of the cliff saying "I'll jump" ...because it is then that you find what you are truly made of.

So if you haven't found yourself in that "minting" process go search for it. Because what you will find at the end is surprising and will forever. change. you. Find something that answers the whispers of your heart and people to be alongside of you on that journey. If it is anything like mine it will awaken you in ways never anticipated.