Okay. I have no idea what I’m most happy about:
- I’m off work the next two days.
- Elf is playing on the TV right now.
- I’m on my second beer.
- I applied for a house this week.
- My Christmas packages arrived safely to the middle east!
I am so excited to FINALLY be sharing the mother of all care package ideas, CHRISTMAS! *Praise break* In this post, I’ll show you not one, not two, but THREE packages I put together for my husband, troops, and my family! If you have a loved one deployed, in school, or just far away, I hope this helps inspire you to send love via care packages!
- Instant soups
- Mac n cheese
- Oatmeal (instant)
- Peanut Butter
- Beef Jerky
- Almonds & Walnuts
- Breakfast Teas & Stress Relief Teas
- Hot Coco
- Candy Canes
- & 150 + Homemade cookies (Chocolate chip, sugar, mint chocolate chip, pumpkin spice, and snicker doodle)
Total weight: 40 lbs.
Thank you to everyone who helped with this package, and to my beautiful mom, sister, and niece (along with her girl scout troop) for sending their own packages with just as much, if not more to our troops!
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
As for my family’s package, I sent two packages to California. One to “mom’s side” and one to “dad’s side.” Instead of ordering online, or sending gift cards, I wanted to personally wrap each gift with a photo that comes to mind when I think of them.
Okay, and maybe all of my gifts are from Nordstrom… Sorry hunny!
I hope this inspires you to spoil those you love, and spoil them well. We never know when our last day will be, so don’t hold love back from anyone ❤ Happy Holiday and may our troops, you, and your loved ones be blessed in the name of Jesus!
Xoxo – Angel
Thanksgiving Care Package Post: Click here.
Halloween Care Package Post: Click here.
I spend another day rising. Half-felt blessed, half-felt condemned.
Half of my mind praises the Lord for the wonderful life He has blessed me with; with faith in Him, the young husband, the palm trees and beaches, the life of travel…
The other half of my mind wakes up ashamed; no “normal” 9-5 job (because apparently owning a clothing line, photography, and being a missionary isn’t good enough), no kids yet (“oh you’re busy? Just wait until you have kids”), no day to day schedules filled (just weeks blocked at a time around the map)…
My second thought, after my half thoughts, is, “I should write a blog today! About Haiti and love and cultures and races and…” *sips airborne tea* *turns on TV* *sees Charleston church massacre* My heart dropped. I don’t know these people or these faces, but the pain remains the same… I can’t explain it. The feeling you get when you hear the horror. You want it to be just a demonic movie, or video game, or anything but REAL.
How is this a THING in our nation right now? How is whites vs. blacks / civilians vs. police / LGBT vs. homophobics / some group of people vs. some other group of people – How did these become things we kill over in our nation? How do people passive-aggressively share hate about each other on Facebook? When did being an advocate become being a hate-filled extremist?
God, it’s heartbreaking. Really. To strive to live everyday, looking at people – trying to see them with the heart Jesus has for them – and for someone to walk before you and spit on their face, share Facebook hate, giggle with their families about a “joke”, compare them to someone else “better”, beat them up when they walk home from the bar, criticize their physical appearance, go in their church and take their lives. The list keeps going on, because we let it.
Over three years ago, I had a heart for Haiti. I sat in a foreign church. They said “hey, we have a team going to Haiti” and I said sign me up. No questions, no doubts, no experience, just the green light. My head was so sure, my boyfriend (now husband) was up for the adventure too. It ended quickly and quietly. Someone talked him out of it, so I got scared too, and a bailed. God opened the door and gave me a green light, and I let the fear from darkness close it. Oh the places we could go… if we didn’t let the fear of the unknown keep us from going there. It was then I learned, when God says “go”, whatever is on the other side is worth it.
Fast forward, I’ve been in planes, buses, trains, cars, and mopeds this past year more hours than most go on in a decade. My ears have popped, my stomach has been tested, and my feet have blistered. I’ve slept in bus stations, airports, hostels, strangers homes, school campus’, tents, and so much more. I’ve gone through “stuff” not to look at my freshly manicured nails and say, “Mmmmm, yeah. I’m like, well traveled so…” I went though it to look at the face of Jesus and say, “You, You’re worth it all. EVERY nation. EVERY soul.”
Traveling, even when gritty, has led me to more and more of God’s heart, more people He loves. I’ve met a woman who’s boyfriend would beat her, and she cried to me, “I want a better life.” Guy skating in Argentina, said “I am the way I am, because too many people have hurt me.” When not traveling, I’ve worked with someone who was gay that gave their life to Jesus, someone who was a drug dealer and got healed in the break room who gave his life to God. LIKE COME ON, THESE ARE GOD’S PEOPLE! But fear keeps you away from the unknown…
I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship. – Louisa May Alcott
So, when the opportunity for me to go to Haiti came up, I knew, I KNEW it was God saying He will finish what He started in my heart. It’s not the gold star sticker, or super cool Instagram pictures I’m after. It’s the people in this world who are untouchable, unlovable, misunderstood and so broken to the point where they feel like dying, killing, or indulging in sin… That’s what I’m after, loving them the way Jesus did, does, and will continue loving. Until every nation, every tribe, every people hear the good news…
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands – Revelation 7:9
If you would like to partner with me in sending help to Haiti Orphanages, please visit www.gofundme.com/heaveninhaiti
To say this year was a year of blessings, is an understatement. Aside from getting engaged, planning a wedding, and quitting my day job to focus on Jesus, I spent the second half of this year with University of the Nations. When I felt called to do a DTS in Kona, Hawaii, my initial thought was “no one will support me.” But, to declare that, is to say that God isn’t bigger than our dreams or finances. The past six months have been an uncontrollable roller-coaster. Yet, day after day, God proves himself faithful. Especially these last few months. During the happy tears and tears of pain: God is good. Here is a simple breakdown of the week to week life in a foreign nation, attempting to do what Jesus calls us all to do: make disciples.
* To exclude the bad, would be to exclude the grace of God, and the reality of being human.
He’s in the military, I am in missions.
Here are five things to know before getting into (or continuing) a long distance relationship (or engagement)
1. There will always be time to talk.
Even with a six hour time difference or being nations apart, there should always be time made to communicate with each other. At points, it may mean sacrificing sleep. Sometimes both parties have to loose some Zzzz’s to get by with staying on the same page. So much life happens in a day, and if you aren’t bending over backwards to share a sliver of your life with someone else, or bending over backwards to hear about their life… maybe it is time to cut the cord. I don’t know about you, but I love to hear the fascinating adventures of my love. Maybe there would be a lack of a spark if I called, and he was playing the same video game as yesterday, or was “too busy” to make time for me. It’s just like making time to read your bible or drive thru the 15 minute Starbucks line. You make time for what you can’t live without.
2. No one left anyone, it’s called living out our dreams.
I cringe when someone refers to military dudes and chicks or missionaries as “leaving.” “They left their familes behind.” I believe it’s jumping ahead. Jumping at the opportunity to serve and love others as Christ loves us. You can say “leaving,” but we chose to step away from a comfortable life temporarily so others may live free from hate, shame, and condemnation forever.
3. Distance does not influence cheating.
What if one of us finds another… well I guess it depends on if you’re looking for someone else or not. If you go out and you’re looking to give someone attention or receive it, then you’re definitely not ready for a committed relationship. My sister once said, “If someone is going to cheat, why is distance a contender? They could cheat even when you live in the same house, so why would being apart make much of a difference?” I would agree. Would you stay close to someone to slim the odds of them cheating? The way I look at it is: I love Jesus, my future husband loves Jesus, and I love my future husband.” What’s the worst that could happen? He cheats and there’s someone better out there? If I loved the wrong person THIS much, I can’t wait to see how I love the right person for me. Humans will always let us down, but God is the consistent anchor we can holdfast to. God is a JUST and good God. He has a plan for us. So don’t hold someone else’s mistakes against your significant other. There’s two outcomes: you make it to the point of someone else is protecting your heart, or you make it to the point where God protects you from someone not worth giving your heart to.
4. Have fun with it.
Yes, we still have fun and go out. What good would talking do if we were constantly waiting for the other person? Go out for burgers with the boys, get the best brew in town. Go to the beach with your classmates, go wine tasting when you have the once in a lifetime opportunity. All that matters is the intentions behind going out, and the choices made even when no one is watching. We don’t sit at home, with no going out rules, or with any rules at all. If rules have to be set, it means someone has no self control and someone wants to gain full control. I sleep a room next to male teammates, he sleeps a floor next to female coworkers. What matters is, even in the midst of worldly desires and temptation, we walk with integrity, love, honor, faith, and hope in a happily ever after handcrafted by the one who created the stars. When there’s hope like that, what in the world could Satan offer that would be more desirable than true love?
5. Lastly, it isn’t easy… but worth it.
When people ask, my immediate answer has been, “No, it’s easy when both people love Jesus.” Until I’m in a village in the mountains with no Wi-Fi weeks at a time, then I find things I wish I could tell him. I’ll make notes to forward to him, I believe it’s an overflow of friendship. When something wonderful (or terrible) happens, and all you want is for your best friend to know. There is an absence that can not be filled by anyone else, but the Holy Spirit is the ultimate comforter. Even in difficult times, I know that God would not lead me into wasting my time; there is beauty in longsuffering. We come out wiser, discerning what is right and wrong by righteous standards.
I sit here on a cafe’ patio, with my iced coffee, journal and laptop, overlooking the ocean, in absolute awe. God is so, so good. How did I even get here? This doesn’t happen. A girl like me with a broken past, with a trail of mistakes, from a crazy background, does not get this lucky… which is why I’ve come to the conclusion: it’s by the grace of God, I am so incredibly blessed.
Let’s back pedal a little bit. This time last year, I was living at my boyfriend’s house, running away from my problems. I worked a meaningless job, in the highest position offered, with a ’97 Barbie car, and had an amazing boyfriend to adventure with, yet I was still broken. I wanted family, I wanted a different past, I wanted to be a “good Christian”… whatever that means.
Fast forward to 7/15/14. I am in class, having anxiety attacks; it’s the day the list of nations is released. Night before I had vivid dreams of Costa Rica. In class, as they are listing off the nations, I wait for my calling… Okay it’s going to be the next one… maybe they’re saving it for last… *last one is listed*… What the HECK, God?! WHY IS IT NOT ON THE LIST! In anger, I marched over to the world map, and picked the two closest nations: Brazil and Argentina.
On 7/17/14, we had a lovely surprise: the teams have been completed. By this time, I’ve accepted my calling to Costa Rica was true, but “not yet.” Staff could send me anywhere, and I would love to just go love people. We walked into our class room, and staff had us find out our team members ourselves… then we collectively figure out who our leaders are. Soon, we realized we were one of nine teams that were smallest in numbers. Three men, three women. As soon as we established our team, we knew: God is sending us to Argentina. Keep in mind, I had no idea Argentina existed, nor where it was on the map until the “List Day.” I google’d it THAT morning and my first thought was, “Mountains?! Snow?! Are you trying to kill me! I’m from the suburbs of California for crying out loud.”
Rumors had it that the “Argentina Team” had one leader: Ike. Ike is the man’s man. He could lead me to The Shire, and I would be his elf without a doubt. As we waited for him to be revealed officially as our leader, something amazing happened. I looked around at my teammates. This was intentional and full of purpose. All of us were strong in different ways. We had endurance, self-confidence, joy, and best of all: willingness to travel through the ends of the Earth to love others. Our team was stacked with ambition and strength, and when Ike stepped out in a snow suit and hiking equipment, every ounce of fear from the world vanished. Our family hugged for the first time.
So again, as I sit here in a cafe. I have a family, I love my testimony, and all I want is to love others like Jesus. It is by the grace of God, and all of you amazing people who believed in me when I didn’t know how to believe in myself. Where will God send you a year from today?
*Please consider supporting my mission: Click here to donate.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5