So, it is my birthday week and we are sneaking closer to closer to Christmas! Which means, a giant sale over at Go Be Love! Woohooo! Go finish off your holiday shopping list today! Sale ends December 13th! All products shipped in time to be given as gifts for Christmas!
I wrote this in August and saved it on my computer. I have lots of posts that I’ve written, saved, and then never posted. Alot because this past year has been a year of trying to figure out what to share and what not to. I’ve recently arrived at the decision that maybe it’s all ok to post because, well, this is my blog;) So, I’m going through the old posts and posting some that need to see the light. This one especially because it needs to be remembered.
A post for Lena that I wrote on her birthday:
Today you turn 6. I look at your face and can still see that little face that I studied in those first weeks of your life-trying to sear it into memory so I never forgot. This is the year that you grew up. No longer a baby or a toddler, but a beautiful girl. This year was hard, you learned strength and hardship. You learned that it’s ok to cry and at the same time, it’s ok to laugh.
At the moment you are sitting next to me with headphones on singing your heart out. Your answer to when people ask what you want to be when you grow up is a rockstar or an artist. You can dance a mean dance and love you some Kompas music. You have conquered your fear of the ocean, you have yet to meet a stranger, yet still struggle at night going to sleep by yourself. You love being in the midst of stuff, want to always know what is going on, and need to know where I am at all times. But at the same time, you love a little alone time everyday to recharge.
You are independent and like to be a little bossy at times (we have no idea where you got that from;) ). You love fashion (again, no idea where you get it from but this time without the sarcasm! Maybe your aunt.). Every day you check your teeth to see if they are wiggling yet. You can’t wait. You love pants and shorts that have pockets. You change clothes about 3 times a day. I love your creativity with it so I never say much about it. The other day you came out with polka dotted socks, sparkly shoes, shorts, tanktop, and rocking jewelry…all to play soccer. The Haitian’s thought it was hilarious and then posed for pictures.
You are a sight reader and soaking it all in now that we have found your groove. You spell a million different things every day. You love math, always have. You have this amazing ability to just draw people to you. Everyone remembers your name and asks about you if you aren’t with me. I think they do this because you are just you with them. You engage people and join in with them in ways I could never do. This is a true gift.
Oh my little girl. If I could take the ache of this world away I would but I want you to know I’m so proud of how you have dealt with it. I love that you see this world different, that you get excited over an apple from the store, that you are comfortable in a Haitian market asking for anana just as much as you are in a real store.
To another year of adventure and love my Lenabean:)
You see, I’ve been thinking alot about happiness. I’m not a naturally spunky, happy person. I’m a natural worrier, overthinker, judger, probably prone to depression and anxiety. I’m a mess really. But I want to be happier. I’m jealous of those people who just seem to be happy all the time. How do they do it?
If you asked me when I was younger what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have replied “be happy”. I never had too many specific dreams or goals about what I wanted, I just knew I wanted to be happy in what I was doing. Not in a selfish, I need x,y,z way but in a “if I’m a farmer, sceintist, social worker, whatever… or have a small house or a big house…just let me be content and happy in it” kind of way. You know?
I guess when I say happiness what I really mean is being content.
Isn’t it funny when you know God is trying to help you learn something and everywhere you turn it’s like a little piece of the little learning puzzle that He is putting together for you so you can finally get it. I don’t know if I’m at the end of this little puzzle yet, but I’m starting to see it and needed to put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard as it is;)
You see, there seems to be this trend among Christians against happiness. Like, how dare you be happy and put yourself first when you should be choosing to be the martyr-you should be suffering. I have heard this a few times lately in facebook comments, pinterest postings, and even personal emails. Like it is a bad thing to want to be happy. And those things got me thinking… is it wrong to want happiness? And what is happiness really?
So God led me on a little journey of exploring happiness this past month. He put people like Natalie Norton in it who is doing a blog series directly on this. He sat me in a church in Nashville while I was in the states a month ago and we sang a song about dancing in the deep…being happy in the hard. He gave me a study about being free that I’m doing. He allowed me to stand up and say no to a person who was toxic in my life so that I could choose the things that matter. He helped show me how my problems right now aren’t a place of needing to grieve or worry but a place to choose happiness regardless and watch Him move. He showed me that happiness is ok. And needed.
But I do think we maybe need to change our definition of happiness. Because so often when we here “happiness” we think of selfish ambition. And I don’t think that is what our heart of hearts crave. I don’t think that is necessarily what people are trying to express when they say they want happiness. I think the solution to wanting to be happy gets places on things, money, and selfish desires sometimes but the reality is that it isn’t found there. Anyone who wanted those things and got them can tell you that.
Webster’s list synonyms of happy as satisfied, delighted, blissful, thankful, pleased.
And aren’t all those words good things that we find God calling us to in the Bible? What would Christianity look like at the moment if we started being content, truly happy, even when it is hard? Even when we don’t have it all or are even struggling? Even when it means taking action on things to weed out of your life that are toxic so that you can be more content and show His love better? Wouldn’t that be an amazing testimony?
I’m no where near done in this journey-nor am I a regularly happy, content person. I have to try hard at it. But I wanted to share my little happiness journey so far because it has done one giant thing for me. The perspective shift it gave me is that it gave me permission to want happiness. I don’t need to feel selfish or be condemned to say “I want to be happy”. I choose happiness. And I’m now convinced that is also something that God wants too.
So, now is the hard part and the work to put it into motion. How does a person who is prone to overthink, judge, react, etc actually be happy and content? Well friends, that is still up in the air and I’m really not sure how to actually do it (Natalie has some amazing tips on her blog as she looks at this in depth). Even just the above shift of acknowledging it is ok to be happy has helped tremendously in seeing this little life of mine as a gift.
So, where are you? What do you do to choose happiness or contentment? Would love to hear from you in the comments:)
The more I do life here the more it is laughable how I acted and was when I first arrived here. I look back and think of how I thought I knew Haiti or how I thought I was “doing life with Haitian’s” and realize I had no clue. I guess that is how life is. 3 years from now I’ll look back to now and think the same thing I’m sure:)
So, a few things I was laughing to myself about this morning as I scrubbed clothes in a bucket.
-I now am a pro at getting on a moto. Now, motos are popular here but I was always a chicken about them. It wasn’t the riding that scared me though, it was the getting on and off. Because I am short. It is sad the amount of fear that was wrapped up in this. All because I didn’t want to look like a dork. My first moto ride wasn’t out of choice but of necessity when it was dark and rainy one night in Les Anglais and it wasn’t a great idea to walk. So I got on haphazardly and help on for dear life. The poor guy I was holding on to for dear life said one word- “relax”-in this chill way. So I closed my eyes and tried to do just that. As I rode home yesterday from class, hands just sitting on my legs like most Haitian’s do, I giggled at how many Haitian’s have probably looked at me before holding on to the driver for dear life:)
Truth is I kinda love riding on a moto. It’s freeing and makes you engaged in your surroundings. And you get to hear the Haitian’s all talk smack while they wait at the one red light in town-which is hilarious.
-I now know how to wash clothes the Haitian way. Complete with the squeaking of the soap as you scrub. We are on day 4 of washing clothes by ourselves here at the house. Not sure how long it will last before I call for help but for now Lena and I are kinda having fun in the mornings sitting outside scrubbing away. Since I learned how to I figured might as well put it to use:)
-I can make haitian spaghetti with my eyes closed. That is the extent of my great knowledge of Creole dishes (and it is the easiest thing to make) but I’m still proud:) I attempted to make beans and rice with creole sauce one day and thought I did a good job and then had a Haitian try it and they asked me if it was a blan food-they didn’t even realize it as creole! Ha!
-I can drive like a boss here. Of course I say that and next week I’ll get stuck in a ditch but hey.
Maybe it seems random. Sometimes it does to me too. When God said “hey, start this wedding blog” or “hey, do this research here”, it seemed a little strange at times because I keep thinking that it seemed a little like too much or too all over the place. But then, as God does, He kept revealing just how much it all runs together. Like there is an string that runs through everything I am doing that joins them in perfect unity. I’m more and more convinced that they strengthen each other.
It’s funny to look back and see how each step in this journey has meant something because I’m truly pulling from it all. A bachelor’s in Sociology with a minor in statistics and computer programming, a master’s in non-profit administration and public administration, a heart for Haiti, a photography business that specialized in weddings, learning branding and marketing. Each step of this journey was purposeful.
Haiti Weddings showcases weddings in Haiti and helps the country and businesses through promotion of this gorgeous place. Love in Haiti is a relational research project that is finding out how Haitian’s view love, family, and marriage. It also truly brings depth to Haiti Weddings. And then my photography side of things that focuses on weddings and humanitarian. They all hold hands with a common goal of showing love and beauty in Haiti.
Today, I’m thrilled and honored to be on The Real Haiti sharing a little bit of the heart behind Love in Haiti! Head on over there and check it out:)
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