Taking Tbilisi

I’ve never really claimed to be a writer or have ever said I was good at grammar. This is just a disclaimer, since this is mainly to document my thoughts and experiences while I’m away from home.

I arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia after a 28 hour trek from Dallas. This included a layover in San Francisco, the land of overpriced organic juices and a REALLY good chocolate bar I snagged before my flight to Istanbul. This flight was 12 hours of having the seat in front of me laid in my lap, and a grumpy baby occasionally playing peekaboo with me. The flight was painfully long, and I needed a shower. We finally landed and then I had to figure out how to navigate a new airport, where a lot of people I ran into didn’t speak English.

I spent my next 6 hours watching people run back and forth between spontaneously changing gates. This was super entertaining to say the least. I approached my gate and I’m met with a lot of Georgians who thought I was Russian (and happy to find out I was American). I even let a man borrow my phone because it had service and it turns out he was the captain of a pretty famous wrestling team. He made sure I got in the first shuttle, the right line, and to my seat. Shout out to the random Georgian man, my mother appreciates you.

I basically take a nap and arrive in Tbilisi, this was nothing in comparison to the flight from Cali to Turkey. My sweet friends patiently and promptly picked me up from the airport at 3am and this is when I get to experience jet lag. We make it back to their place and I slept until the early afternoon.

My friends then drive me over to my Airbnb I had booked for the majority of my trip. It’s a cute little place with a small kitchen, nifty bathroom, and actually requires two keypads to get through the front door and no keys to worry about. I’m a short walk from a walkable touristy area where a lot of people speak English.

I plan to do “check ins” like this more often, and now that I’m more established I can be more diligent in that pursuit. However, I did want to mention things I’ve already learned or noticed while being here, a little over a week now.

  • You have to get used to people looking at you funny or just staring. You’re not from here, it’s obvious, and that’s okay.
  • It’s okay if you need to sleep until noon for a day or two so your biological clock has some time to recover from the journey.
  • People don’t smile at strangers here and I tried to do that, but I couldn’t. So cheers to people thinking “wow that crazy American” 😂

Some other things tend to be more on the serious side.

  • Friendships take serious effort. Being over 8,000 miles away will really show you who really does value you and your time. All relationships require give and take, and it’s been heartbreakingly telling of who are only considered friends because of need or convenience. This has been a hard hitting wall while I’ve been here. And yes, there is definitely more than just me being gone for a week and a half, I’m not that crazy.
  • Spiritual warefare is more than real. I posted about this on my regular social media but it desires to be here too. Praying out loud alone has, for a lack of better words, made me feel like I belonged in the looney bin. Not because I don’t think someone isn’t listening, but because God can hear me through my thoughts. But after a excruciating nightmare full of gore, loved ones dying, emotionally jogging conversations, and supernatural references I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched and targeted. So after one of the other team members took me for some awesome ice cream, she shared her stories and made me feel less crazy. I came back to my room that evening and had to mentally accept that there was something out there that does want to hurt me in all ways possible, but I, through Christ, have the authority to say no. So, out loud I did this and haven’t had a nightmare or creepy feeling since.

There’s been many other wonderful things that has happened. So if you’re keeping up with me, thank you for your prayers and support. I’ll be posting more updates on the ministry we’ve been doing here very soon!

Xoxo,

-S-

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Prince Charming… Who?

It’s no surprise that most women by the age of 22, who aren’t married or have a significant other, feel like the odd woman out. Why is that? Well with Barbie, you always had Ken and let’s not even talk about all the princesses in distress. Between all the naive Disney damsels and heroic princes who come in and save the day just in the nick of time, what else have we been raised to think?

We’ve had it ingrained that our personal Prince Charming will come in all his chiseled jaw-lined glory just when you need him the most. When you’ve just got dumped, lost a job, in the middle of a panic attack, or even trying to figure out how to change a tire he’s supposed to swoop in and make you forget all your past hurts and make your life easier. He will slay your dragons, build your castle, and you won’t be caught dead in a pumpkin. He’ll never make you cry, he’ll be good at apologizing, he will give you 100% all the time, he will always appreciate and value you, and his name is unrealistic expectation.

Even in the Christian community we have built this statue of what the perfect God-fearing man looks like, and Sister if he doesn’t have one of these qualities you better head for the hills (because even though you’re a sinner too, that’s irrelevant when choosing a life partner). Here’s how this happens, we take good, biblical principles and take them too far OR show no grace. TRUTH: he needs to be a leader. Ladies if he can’t handle leadership in minor situations that’s a red flag. Here’s the catch. Leadership isn’t always being in charge, some times it’s being supportive or helping others lead better. So if he isn’t a leader of a small group, or doesn’t speak up a lot during discussion this doesn’t condemn him from being a leader. Skew: he can be a leader, but that does not mean he will always be a good one OR he will choose to be one at all. Girl let’s do everyone a favor and step off your high horse and ask ourselves if we are meek and gentle all the time? *Cue people being offended by double standards. #clapback

I could go through that example with different characteristics but this would too long of an article and you probably wouldn’t read until the end. Which is usually where all the good stuff is (dessert is at the end of the buffet).

We’ve been spoon fed this image of the perfect man and we’ve been told to not settle for anything less.

The problem is the perfect man does not exist.

Follow up problem:

The perfect woman does not exist

You’re a sinner girl. So is he. So we need to throw away our unrealistic expectations and keep the high standards (yes, there is a difference). I’m not married, I’m not in a relationship but I know whoever ends up marrying me (hi babe, you’re cute) will make me cry. He will make me angry, he won’t always be the leader he’s called to be, he won’t always say the right thing, AND he won’t always leave the toilet seat down. My husband will not be my dragon slayer, my knight in shining armor, or my Prince Charming. But, he will be my partner, best friend, adventure buddy, prayer warrior, and honorable money handler (ok I’m not good with numbers y’all).

If you hang on to unrealistic expectations and require fellow human beings that have flaws, weaknesses, and need the grace of God just as much as you do to be perfect all the time you will be the cat lady. If you’re lucky enough to find someone who meets some of your expectations the further into the relationship you go the more disappointed you will become. Which leads to bitterness and in turn resentment.

When you get close to people you realize their insecurities, how they act when they’re running of 4 hours of sleep and caffeine, when they’ve been mistreated at work, or backstabbed by a friend. You see the unfiltered versions of people and it’s no longer puppy dog love. When the rose colored glasses are removed is coincidentally when a lot of relationships end.

I am not always the nicely dressed, manicured, polite, graceful, and the princess that I’m supposed to be. Im hardly meek, not always gentle, and some times my mouth gets ahead of my mind. When I get the honor of marrying a fellow (handsome as heck) sinner I won’t always have my household clean, I won’t always be honest about my feelings, and I’ll still wrestle with feelings of incompetence and insecurities. The mandate of the biblical husband is not to fulfill his wife, it’s to kindly lead her to the only One who can.

The purpose of dating (should be) to find someone to marry. The purpose of a biblical marriage is holiness. Not lovey instagram posts and matching chacos, but a fellow believer to wage war with. He challenges you, he makes you better, he helps you, encourages you, pursues you, and more than likely irritates you like no one else can. She will help you, better you, be your safe haven, challenge you, and can make you question yourself like no one else. Marriage is a partnership of two imperfect people designed to help each other by filing in each other’s weaknesses and supporting the others strengths. All for the purpose of being better Christ followers, being an example of the world of how Christ cherishes the church, and bringing as many people to the gospel along the way. See the gospel doesn’t work for perfect people, Jesus did not come to give you a higher status or even a marriage.

Marriage isn’t promised and prince charming isn’t biblical at all.

The reoccurring theme is that people, no matter how good are just people.

There was a perfect man and He did come specifically for you. He knows your darkest secrets, biggest fears, and amount of unimaginable insecurities but His heart beats faster anytime you think about Him. Joy flows out of His heart when you simply speak to Him, He always knows the right thing to say, He will always appreciate the creature He designed you to be. He is not your Prince Charming but your Prince of peace. He is not your knight in shining armor but He is the one who came to rescue you.

He is the one you’ve been rummaging through meaningless relationships trying to find. He’s the missing piece to the void in your heart. No husband, nor wife can fulfill the needs in which only God can. It’s not fair for us to point as those we love and give them this burden they have no hope in filling.

The only person who can satisfy your need for love, quench your desire to feel seen, heard, is the only person who fully knows you. Because He designed you.

So ladies, let’s cut the guys a break here and extend some grace. Let’s continue to holdfast to biblical standards for those we love and for ourselves. It’s a lie that you need a man, it’s a lie your life doesn’t start without one. So take heart, you’re fully whole even if your singleness. Whenever we do get into the dating arena let’s keep in the forefront of our minds that all relationships are for the sake of the gospel and nothing less. Let’s be women of strength, dignity, grace, mercy, and patience as we wait with excitement for the work He is doing through us. If we really embrace the journey, the adventures, and the people God will navigate us through when it comes to men we will gracefully cock our necks and ask “Prince Charming who?”.

An Open Letter to the Struggling High School Girli

I just want you to know I can say these things to you because, not too long ago, I was you.

You who is tired of the routine. The consistent math tests on Friday and chicken nuggets served on Wednesday. You who has no idea what the real world is like but, like me, would argue that you are level headed.

I just want to remind you of a few things you may have forgotten or maybe never heard before.

One, you’re worthy. You’re worthy to allow yourself to live. You don’t need to have the longest hair, hottest boyfriend, or the most recent phone, You’re heard, seen, and important. Despite failing that test, having a low gpa, or losing your virginity faster than you planned too. Life after high school does get harder, but it is so much better. You’re worthy of love, real love. Not the kind that tells you what you’re not allowed to do, manipulates you, lies to you, and certainly not the kind that abuses you. If you haven’t found it, and there’s a good chance you haven’t, don’t be scared to wait for it.

Not having a boy friend may seem scary, or the loneliness you’re afraid that will creep in to the aches in your heart is even more intimidating. But trust me, a few Friday nights in and Homecomings without dates would be something I wish I had. You leave pieces of your developing heart and mind with all those you love and date. Don’t run out of pieces to give to the person who will actually put a ring on it.

You’re worth the wait.

Second, sweet, kind soul. You don’t have to have it figured out. I’m 20, three classes graduated later and I haven’t finished Junior college. I’ve been enrolled at two different school and have pursed 3 different degrees. It’s okay. I have Friends have babies, getting married, and actually have houses. I’m typing this on my parents couch, single, and at peace. No ones race looks the same, and once bills, credit, and jobs come into play the finish line can seem miles away.

You’re pressured to make all these life altering decisions while still having to ask an adult if you can go to the restroom. You’re told that you have to choose who you want to be in a world you haven’t entered yet. It’s not fair. You have all these decisions that seem damning if you make the wrong choice. Make the wrong choice. Make the right one. Either way, your goal is still the same, and you’ll get there. Buuuuut you’re still more concerned with what the guy in third period things about you or if that tweet you posted was actually funny. I get it. Don’t feel like you have to be put together, no one really is. It’s better to live a genuine life than to act like you have a perfect one. Sometimes that’s being genuinely happy and sometimes is being genuinely depressed, angry, or honest.

One of the last things I want to tell you is your emotions don’t control you, but you control your emotions. I’m aware hormones and body chemistry is definitely something that is big at your age, but you have the will to make a decision. You may feel fat, but I promise you when you’re 25 you’ll wish you could be that kind of “fat” again. You may feel so much love for that boy, but you don’t know who you are yet, and he can’t provide for you playing high school ball. Your feelings can get you into some trouble, think above them. Be someone who will make your future children, your family, your friends proud.

I’ll try and sum this up because I could go on for days. You may cry yourself to sleep each night and you may starve yourself during the day. You may feel like no one loves you, no one sees you. When I say “sees you”, I mean sees the way your nose crinkles while you laugh or the way your eyes turn a really pretty shade of green when you cry. You may feel judged, misunderstood, stuck, lonely, and anxiety ridden. While I wish I could take those feelings away, I can’t. I’ve been where you are. Having a panic attack because you finally left the boy who held your wrists like handcuffs and monitored your text messages. Crying in pain because what they didn’t tell you about heartbreak is that it physically hurts. Constantly finding my identity in anything and anyone else, because if they really knew who I was they won’t be impressed. The ways you compromise yourself today will be the regrets you have tomorrow.

High school hallways are some of the darkest places. Plastered with rumors, make out sessions, and feelings of failure. You are seen. And if you feel trapped understand that there’s a whole world for you to explore. There’s nothing more comforting than going to a country to where you’re a complete stranger. Graduation maybe a few months, or even a few years away. Trust me when I say, it’s worth the wait. Then high school will be a distant memory and you’re free to take life my the reigns and go.

Lastly, you’re loved. You’re loved. You are loved. You are loved. The very person who created your dimples to the design of your curly hair is desperately in love with you. All you’ve ever wanted was someone to love you and tell you that you’re going to be okay. Jesus goes a step further to tell you that He will make it okay despite your failures, moments of hormonal stupidity, and naivety. He will make you whole despite the pieces of yourself you’ve given away. He is the light of your darkest drunken night and the vindicator who fights your battles for you.

So whenever you have to go to your best friends house to pick up your newly (ex) boyfriend, your best friend has a brain aneurysm, or you just decided that your body isn’t worth feeding just remember this: there’s a hope that can take the worst person, circumstance, and bank account and make them beautiful.

Your journey isn’t over sweet girl, it’s just beginning.

Boys to Men

I have no tolerance for boys who feel entitled to being assumed a man when they have the maturity levels of a teenager. 

I know, I’m a girl. What in the world would I know about the process of boys becoming men. Well, more than you’d probably assume. I know that I’ve dated boys & I’ve also dated men. While it took me awhile to figure out the difference, there’s definitely a big one.

So if you happen to be female and reading this, this is what my experiences has taught me. Hopefully you’ll hold out for a worthy man, and not a boy who think you’re just pretty. 

If you’re male, my hope is that you identify as a man, but the vast majority are just boys. So if this offends your pride, I can’t say I’m sorry about it. 

The difference 

A Christian male has the unique role to protect, provide, and lead. These things aren’t easy! They’re really hard (I’m glad that I’m not a dude). This isn’t just qualities that magically come upon you when you get married. Men make decisions, men are considerate, men listen. I promise you there’s nothing more noticeable that a attentive man who remembers what you say. Men let you walk on the inside of the sidewalk, open your doors (not because you can’t, you strong independent woman, you. But because they’re humbling themselves to serve you, LET THEM.), tell you ‘thank you’, and ‘yes ma’am’. They will pray for you, with you, and will put your needs first.  They are cautious of how their words and actions affect the people around them, and always make their intentions with girls clear. They are self disciplined and kind. 

Guys if I could give you any girl advice, it would be to listen. Genuinely listen. Because if she’s not worth 5 minutes of not looking at your phone don’t sell her short when someone would LOVE to hear her talk all day. 

On the other hand,

Boys will expect you to serve them, they’re not cautious of their words, they’ll make inappropriate jokes in the presence of ladies, they have very little capacity to listen. Most ‘boys’ are intimidated or avoid emotional conversation or issues all together OR they’ll be so concerned about their feelings you’ll feel the need to step on eggshells. In a relationship, boys have nothing to offer you. If you’re dating with purpose, home boy needs a job, a car, and preferably not living in moms basement playing video games all night. (But everyone’s circumstances are different, I’m not a total monster). Boys aren’t smart with their finances, good managers of their resources, and have a distinct aroma of pride and testosterone. 
Now I know, this is two blanket categories that most people don’t fit into one or the other. We are all continuing to grow and mature in Christ and break some habits that negatively impact ourselves and others. So ladies have some grace, these guys have big shoes to fill. Also encourage them to step up, give them opportunities to make decisions or to be in charge. 

To the man: thank you. Thank you for giving us girls something look forward to. Something to look up to and encourage. I pray that you get some boys under your wing so they can be where you are 

To the boy: I know this whole thing sounds harsh and for that I’m sorry. That’s due to my lack of compassion (hey, I’m not perfect either) and it being 2 a.m. Find some men in your life and start doing life with them. Put down the videogames and learn a new skill. If you have any girls in your life, focus on learning how to listen & how to respond in affective ways. 

To the ladies: grace sister, grace. Be intentional with when you get the job done, and when you can pass the stick to your guy friend. Let them pick the restaurant, let them drive, pick of the tab, and give them the “yes sir”. Let them open your doors, close them, drive you home, push in your chair. Swallow your feminine pride and be served by those who need the practice. 
*disclaimer* 

Not personally responsible for any convictions or feelings hurt, if you need support in this area call your momma. 😉

Cause for Celebration 

Tonight, I choose to celebrate the lightning bugs outside my window and the dance they do. I’ll choose to celebrate the air conditioning and the humming noise that drowns out any other competing sound. 

I’ll celebrate the lives that were surrendered to Jesus today. I’ll celebrate with nothing but pure joy knowing that my sinfulness is no longer my weight to carry. 

I’ll celebrate the kindness and loyalty of the ones who call my sister a friend. I’ll celebrate the ones who disciple and pour into my mom. I’ll celebrate the clean sheets and the soft pillows underneath my curled hair. 

I’ll celebrate my weaknesses knowing that they just give You more room to shine. I’ll celebrate mended relationships, painful relationships, past relationships, and those to come. 

I’ll celebrate the way rain will give a hesitant drizzle but doesn’t actually pour. I’ll celebrate refreshing conversations and the feeling that washes over me when someone takes interest in my wellness within the journey of life. 

I’ll celebrate my single days as a gift and a time to be poured out to others. I’ll celebrate my quiet nights as my heart whispers prayers for the one I’ll wake up to someday. I’ll celebrate my talents, my gifts, my resources, and my opportunities. 

I’ll celebrate the crashing of waves, the bark of a dog, the natural fragrance of honey suckles, and th and warmth of sunshine the soothes the most cold soul. 

Mainly, I’ll celebrate the star breather, my redeemer. I’ll celebrate that 2 days of agony led to a lifetime of joy. I’ll celebrate that I am not the same & maybe you aren’t either. 
I’ll celebrate the day of redirection, compensation, the resurrection. I’ll celebrate the day my Jesus came back for me. I’ll celebrate.

I pray we never lose the unexplainable and incomprehensible miracle that is the ressurection. I pray the gospel is not a story we simply hear but a lifestyle we simply choose. Lord let us not forget the audious, scandalous, and graciousness that was displayed. Let us not get used to the gospel, and let us always celebrate. 

In the dust 

Writing at 2am on pure emotion and too much Dr. Pepper… I’m sure this will be an interesting blog post for me to shake my head at later. 

I’m very much a planner. I’m very much an extrovert. I very much love all my family & friends deeply. 

But one thing is for certain and that is the fact that not everyone can love you the way you need them too. Or even at the same capacity of the love you give them, which, correct me if I’m wrong, but is usually expected? 

There’s no greater stab in my heart than feelings like I’ve been forgotten or left out of a event that brings those I love together. Be it family, friends, coworkers, that is one thing that will always cut me deep. It’s disappointing to see those you’ve invested time, prayer, and life into just… leave you in the dust


Now, I know. “Don’t put your hope it people.” “Don’t rely on other for your happiness.” “Don’t…blah blah blah.”

Yeah, I know. I get it. I really do. 

Part of growing up is leaving behind those who make no effort to stay in your lives but I have a problem letting go. Or at least accepting that I’m not as near as important to others than they are to me.

Maybe in a few weeks this won’t even be relevant. Maybe in a few months the names of those who hurt me won’t even be a familiar sound. 
Mostly, hopefully after the good cry I just had & a short rest, I’ll be able to wake up & continue to love those who hurt me. I’ll be able to rise and be a Christ-like example. There’s no counting how many times I’ve broken God’s heart over my sin. 

You can choose to be hurt by those who are fellow, sinful humans. Or, you can accept your flaws, invest in those who love you wildly, and use every opportunity to make experience some santification. 
Short. Sweet. And to the point. Because 2am is not a time to waste my time. 

Headlights 

Headlights. 

Something so simple, small, and apparent. 

Tonight your headlights tailing behind my taillights were a sickening and nauseating reminder that we reside in different places. Our destinations were no longer the same.

It wasn’t just headlights in my rear view mirror, it was my past, and it looked like the way you laugh. Bright, beaming, radiating whatever you touched. 

They followed me around and down the long road, it was excruciating. Some times they fell back, and some times they were right behind my back tires. Which, makes me pretty tired. It was a cynically ironic illustration of being close, being away, just to end blindingly close again. 

The entire time your headlights lit the inside of my car, it felt like a light illuminating all the pain, secrets, and longing that I’d done so good to hide. I drove faster, farther, just to get them out of my sight and wanted nothing more than to be out of your radiance. 

As soon as I turned right on red, and you stayed to go left my vehicle carried a vessel of a being, but my heart stayed at the stop light. Watching you go in the oppposite direction than I, reminding me that no matter what I feel about it. It is you. It is me. And it is not us. 

When your headlights turned to taillights is when warmth of your presence turned into the sharp coolness of your absence. As of now, my head lights will be in the direction that the good Navigator will choose they will go. Where ever that is.

Between you and me, I hope they go right in front of your headlights. Because your taillights are a sorrowful sight I ought not forget. 

March 19th, 2017