Hair, trauma, and rumors that my husband looks like Jesus.

IMG_8771All student names have been changed in order to protect their safety. 


Middle Schoolers Say the Darndest Things

My husband has a pretty righteous beard. And there are two things none of my middle school students have: a husband or a beard. And for whatever reason, the trend this week was to talk about my husband and his beard.

I pulled my phone out at one point during class to text my supervisor a question. Two of the students I was helping were quick to notice the lock-screen photo of my husband and me at are wedding.

One pointed, and said, “Teacher, is that Jesus?” I chuckled and told her no, that it’s my husband. She simply said, “Oh,” as if she was disappointed and truly expected a different response.

The next day, I sat in the gym when a student from another class came to me. She said, “Miss, can I see a picture of your boyfriend?”

“Sure, but he’s not my boyfriend. He’s my husband,” I told her.

She paused and just stared at me for a moment before saying, “……Jesus…. Christ.”

I opened my mouth to respond to her, but she seemed less interested once I told her he wasn’t my boyfriend. That’s still a mystery to me.

And finally, when we got on the bus later, little Tim asked me about my husband too.

What color hair does he have?” Tim asked, and I told him brown.

What about the hair on his face?” he continued, and I told him like black.

What about his eyes?” he asked once more, and I told him blue-green.

I KNEW IT! He’s been at my school before! I saw him before,” little Tim stated so matter-of-factly.

And honestly, I just didn’t have the heart to tell him he was probably thinking of a different guy. So I just kept driving.


– – –

Chesa and Ming

This time 5 years ago, I was preparing to cut off 19 inches of my hair. I spent months in prayer over the event, and I wholeheartedly expected God to transform my heart in the process. Back then, cutting off my hair was a symbol of dying to self. It forced me to do something uncomfortable to help strangers, and manifested a spirit of eagerness to give everything within my grasp for the sake of growing in the Gospel and mirroring it.

My hair has grown out significantly since then. And these days, I often find myself sitting in a gym with middle schoolers as students play with my hair. This wasn’t part of my job description when I began working with the after school program, but I’ve gladly taken it. They braid it, take it down, and then French-braid it again. They put it in sleek buns and tie it on top of my hair. They brush it out, and chuckle as they tell their friends in their native language that I have some grays.

And all the while, we just sit and talk. I ask them about school and their families, and they ask about mine too. I ask them about their dreams, and pray for them every second they tell me more.

These are some Burmese girls I’ve really connected with this semester, Chesa and Ming. Our friendship started during my second week of class, when we sat outside and they played with my hair. This week, I learned that they want to live in Florida one day and that one of them wants to be a cosmetologist and the other says her parents want her to be a doctor. As we sat this week, the thought came to my mind: God knows what He’s doing even when I don’t. 

He gives us what we need at the right time. He teaches us the lessons we need and gives us the resources we need when we need it all. 5 years ago, as a new believer, I needed every hands-on lesson I could grasp in order to understand the magnitude of this life I had agreed to live for. I had to learn to not want to hold onto the things I loved, and I had to be willing to die to myself. I needed to cut my hair.

But now, to be honest, I don’t find identity in my physical appearance like I did in my early Christian days. Having long, silky hair isn’t a distraction or something I value as much now as I did then. Actually, I considered cutting it off again a couple months ago just because it gets in my way and causes a headache. As I sat with Chesa and Ming this night though, I realized that most of our friendship centers on our conversation that happens when they play with my hair nearly every week.

I thought cutting off my hair was a ministry some 5 years ago, but now I think it’s a ministry to keep it. Just to give me an easy reason to continue building relationships with my new middle school friends—it’s worth it to keep, despite all its headaches and annoyances.

We kept talking as they kept working, and I told Chesa and Ming, “You know, everyone has been saying my husband looks like Jesus.” I showed them a picture, and they doubled over laughing.

Yes, as annoying as it is, I think I’ll hold onto my hair a little longer.


– – –


Notes about Trauma

Although I interact everyday with people who have undergone immense trauma, let me be the first to say with complete confidence: I do not fully understand it. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a psychologist. I’m not an immigration expert. I read and studied literary works in college, and wrote way too many papers about it. That’s the extent of my formal education. Everything else I have learned, I have witnessed on the field or in a few hours of job training.

While I’m not degrading my education or work experience, I do need to make it clear that there are a lot of days when the field I’m working in reflects a side of humanity that I didn’t realize I’d need to be prepared to deal with. There are damages to the human mind and soul that I don’t always know how to respond to.

What I know about trauma is that is completely rewires a person’s brain. The ideal environment for these people is shattered. The chemicals and big words I don’t understand within their body are restructured. It causes them to put up walls, build forts, and hide away in places. The only encouragement trauma offers the human body is the empty promise that all people are bad, every situation you’re in is evil, and you must always protect yourself.

I see the effects of trauma daily. This is why I work with the after-school program to teach our middle school refugees what is right and wrong, and that our team can be trusted. However, this week, I saw it in ways that startled me.

In our little circles, we call it shut-down. It’s when a student loses all self-regulation, and stops responding to reason, kind words, affirmation. It’s when they become seemingly empty. And at that point, teaching is impossible. The only thing you can do is help bring them back to their senses.

I’ve seen it in the Somali sisters I work with, even though I didn’t realize it until I went through training for my newest job at the start of the new year. For months, they have shown up late to class. They tell me they’re tired and busy. They tell me the work is hard, although according to the institution tests, their ability is far greater than they let on during class. They blatantly answer questions wrong and don’t listen. And they’ll wind up sitting in class, gazing off into space. Even as I say their name, there’s a blankness in their eyes. They don’t look up immediately.

And then there’s times when they come to class focus and full of energy. They’re on time, and far surpass my expectations with their reading and writing. They are engaged, and I believe them when they tell me they’re happy about English class.

I, like you’re probably thinking now, have wondered before if they are just lazy students and I’m a bad teacher. I’ve wondered if they just need more rest and easier work. But to be honest, I believe I’m dealing with deeply traumatized sisters who don’t always know how to process what they’ve been through or what they’re going through now. Call it a lie, but I truly believe they “shut-down” in class. I think the broken make-up of their brains makes them give up, stop, and completely stop responding to all reason or affirmation. I have no other reasonable explanation for the depths of sorrow and void I see on their faces in these moments.

I saw it in my middle schooler Maddie this week. When she put her head on the table, and when she lifted her head up long enough to let me talk to her, her expression was empty. Her eyes were blank. She didn’t want to hear or respond to a single thing I said.

When I asked her later if she wanted to choose her prize from the prize box for the week she shook her head no, and when I offered her prize tickets she had worked hard to earn, she turned away. Usually, no matter how upset a student is with me, there is no debate about whether or not they will choose their prize. They always, always do.

But Maddie didn’t.

Later, when I finally convinced her to stand up and walk over to the prize box, I wanted to celebrate. I felt like we were finally taking a successful step in the right direction. Literally and figuratively. And for a few seconds, she looked through the box. But almost suddenly, less than 30-seconds, the blank expression returned. I watched the transformation happen right before my eyes, and it shook me.

Here, on the cold tile of a brightly lit room in a church, sat Maddie. At some point in the past, she sat for days at a refugee camp in Tanzania, but today, she sat in a safe place with a box of candy, toys, makeup, and other gadgets in front of her. The only response she could do muster was to sit motionless and expressionless.

Friends, I don’t know how to explain it. My words fall short, but the image of her sitting there remains in my mind and it breaks my heart. Everything I’ll never understand as she does was there in her eyes. There was sorrow, isolation, painful memories, a confusing present. There was an emptiness that, for a second, made me feel hopeless.

The next day, Maddie told me at the end of class, “Miss, I didn’t get to pick my prize yet. Can I choose now?”

I was taken aback. It was like she had forgotten about the entire incident. It was like she didn’t even remember sitting in front of the box yesterday, after denying nearly a dozen offers of me encouraging her to choose her prize.

Honestly, it scared me. It scared me to see how a person—endowed with a soul and purpose made special in the hands of an Almighty God—could sit with so much void and darkness hiding within them. Not that she is evil, but the things that have been done to her are. I could call it nothing but the evil work of the enemy, and I hated him for that in that moment.


– – –


Sara and Milad

As usual, Sara greeted me early on Monday morning with a smile. Her nearly 2-year old, Helen, smiled bashfully before running to the other room. Helen has gotten used to me. In the past she would run in the other direction without even waving hi or bye. But now, she will stay. And if she doesn’t stay, she is quick to come back. She looks at me with an expression that I can only explain as a shy fascination. She doesn’t bolt away from me anymore than any other toddler I’ve ever met would. And sometimes, she even shakes my hand. Her eyes never leave me and neither does her smile.

Although building a relationship with my students is my first priority, it means so much if I can learn about their families too. Each and every person I interact with is uniquely different—different ethnicity, different story, different family– and it is a huge expression of trust that my students will let me greet their little ones and hold their babies.

The more I learn about the families of my students, the more that I realize: there are so many people to meet. There are friends to be made and strangers to greet—so many of which live in my neighborhood and community.

This week, during out short break during class, Sara served me chocolate cake, lemon cake, and a single strawberry paired with a cup of coffee. As Milad and I waited for Sara to return to the classroom we had spread across the coffee table, we began to talk. In nearly all of our conversations, there is something to be learned, even when it’s communicated in a somewhat broken, mispronounced, incorrect English. Honestly, this is usually the motivation I need to continue going because I’m so eager for the day when we can communicate in full, complete English sentences.

As Milad and I talked, we got on the subject of phones. I always love to hear my students reactions to American culture and lifestyle. Although they speak with the highest respect and kindness toward this new land they are in, I hear it in their voice: this place is different and unlike the home they once knew.

That’s not necessarily good or bad. But it is true.

This time, Milad described to me the people he sees always on their phone. He told me about the people he sees in public, and how their phones never leave their hands. They stare at it, and forget that there are real people standing around them. They choose the photos and typed words on a phone screen before they choose to look up and see the image before the photo is taken and the story in the flesh before its words are typed.

“Their phone is their friend. All the time on it. Too much no good, huh?” he said.

I simply nodded and, against all my training on speaking in complete sentences, agreed, “Too much no good.”


The stories of my friends, neighbors, and students.


I’ve introduced myself to a lot of new people lately– the hiring manager I never heard back from in December, the Senator I contacted this morning, the Asian doctor who prescribed me antibiotics last week.

Hi, my name is Brianna Persinger and I’m an ESL teacher in Nashville,” I tell them, give or a take a different word or two.

It’s a pretty simple greeting, but it usually sparks a further conversation. I’m finding that people usually have a lot of questions about my job. Especially when I tell them I teach English to adult refugees and immigrants from 9 different countries.

Here’s the rundown:

My students cannot afford English class because the vast majority of them came to the States as refugees. Some have been here for a few years, but many of them have been here around 12 months. I’m employed through the same institute I received my TESL certification from last summer, and my entire paycheck comes out of grant and donor support. The branch I teach in is the only entirely nonprofit branch of the institute.

I teach one large group class that usually sees 8-12, depending on the day, at a local apartment complex. However, most of my teaching is in small groups. I go to 4 different homes in Southeast Nashville, where I meet with couples, sisters, and cousins. They invite me to their living room, offer me coffee and water, and we practice English.

It’s hard work, honestly. I have to keep up with a timesheet in order to get paid, and I have to work untraditional hours. Sometimes I leave class smelling like food I can’t even pronounce, and I have to carry my entire classroom around in the same Patagonia backpack I carried to Hong Kong. Even beyond that, a lot of unpaid studying and planning goes into this field. Sometimes I have to brush up on my own grammar or study out the reasons why we Americans say some of the stuff we do. Other times I need to learn more about the countries my students are from and the difficulties they’ve faced.

And all of the time, it’s a process of learning how to be a more effective teacher for my students and a more compassionate friend. There’s no way a teacher ends up in the line of work without a deep passion for people and a willingness to die to self in order to serve others.

Last week, I started a new job with a local agency that helps refugees and immigrants become generationally self-sufficient. When it’s time for the resettlement agency to step away from a newly arrived refugee, this agency steps in to continue the work of building a life of sustainability. A lot of the work of this group centers on adults.

However, there is one program for middle schoolers. And for whatever reason of my Father’s leading, that is where I have landed. Now, I have a class of 12 6th-8th grade refugees. One of them is from Sudan, and the rest are from Tanzania or Democratic Republic of Congo. They have all been here for around a year. Although they’ve quickly picked up English in their schools, they still have a long way to go. On top of learning a new culture, country, and language, these students also are dealing with the effects of trauma. You know, because a child doesn’t spend their life living in “temporary” tents and camps, with no definite end in sight and true protection from war, without leaving unscarred.

And as if that wasn’t enough, they still have to endure the painful awkwardness of growing into an adult body.

And for whatever reason, I found myself meeting these students for the first time this week at an after-school program designed to help them with homework, literacy skills, and community building. Half of my job is to simply drive a mini bus to and from their school in order to get to our program, and to and from their home when it’s over every night. The other half of my job is to serve as a lead Youth Success Coach, our fancy word for teacher, and lead them in classroom activities. And every part of this job deals with classroom management and proving to the kids that I am on their side, eager to see them thrive in this city they had probably never heard of until they learned they were being given a chance to move to America.


– – –   


The idea:

I’m leading a life I never dreamt of leading.

I never thought I’d be bold enough to step into the home of a stranger—not just one time, but day after day.

I never thought I’d be thoughtful enough to take my shoes off at the door of my host, and I never thought I’d be humble enough to accept gifts and meals I didn’t ask for.

I never thought I could love a person I had never met or care about wars in places I’ve barely even seen picture of.

I never thought there was more to learning and teaching English than just a few words.

I never thought I could hear the word “refugee” and feel a deep need to stand up in defense.

But I do now. For the past year a half, my heart has been broken and restored. Every. Single. Day. The things my students do and the conversations we share leave me in awe. I get to witness details about humanity. And every day, I grow in love for the people I work with, the stories they bear, and the God who brought us together.

Let me be quick to say that I’m not bragging. I don’t believe I’m in some higher position than you. Honestly, my position is low. If we’re talking about the wealth, power, and prestige our culture craves, I’m very low. Refugee and immigrant advocates don’t get that kind of money. ESL teachers don’t get that kind of fame.

Even so, there’s a passion moving in my heart, and I’ve never felt compassion and unconditional love the way I am learning today. Most assuredly, these are the plans of a God who knows the name of every student and knows every step they’ve taken on this earth. Undoubtedly, if I care for them a lot, He cares for them infinitely more.

Although I’m speaking from a place that is aware of my lowly title, it is also unique. It is counter-cultural, working against much of what our nation desires and confusing many people who don’t understand.  And I have never felt more eager to tell you the stories of my students.

I want to start a conversation. Too much is at stake in millions of refugee and immigrant lives around the world—thousands of which live in my sweet city of Nashville—to remain silent. The problem is I haven’t found a good way to do it. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are tools, but they’re not enough. These stories deserve something bigger.

Here’s my promise: I’m going to turn my field notes into short stories to post on this blog. Every. Single. Week.

Some will be only a few sentences, other might be paragraphs. Whatever is in the store for the weeks ahead, I’m open to it. I’m eager to share it. I’m willing to put in the work to do it. And I’m hopeful that you’ll join the journey with us.

Even if you say, “No. I don’t care what you have to say about refugees.” That’s fine. It sucks, but I get it. This is a hard topic that has caused a lot of division.

However, I would implore you to step into the divide alone and seek out the truth of these people in other reliable places. Find the real stories. Listen to the truthful voices, not the loud ones. Find conversations that are uncomfortable. Let them stretch you. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Go into a new place with an open heart. Consider the way of Jesus. I dare you to try and make your life fit with the words He gave us.

Even if it’s not on my blog, I pray you would do something good and loving that matters in the world.

For me, I have found the most reliable and good work has been in my neighborhood of Southeast Nashville where I make a living and meet awesome people. I spend hours a day pouring into their lives, and leave fulfilled because they pour kindness and hope right back to me.

These are the stories of my friends, neighbors, and students. I believe in them, and I hope you will too.

Change: part 3


I stood in Dillard’s on November 8th, 2017. I perused through the sale jewelry, scanning for rose gold ear rings. The final days of wedding planning were coming to an end quickly, and I was in full-speed to keep up. As popular as the rose gold trend is, finding a pair I liked was surprisingly hard. And when I did find a pair, I’d pick them up, hold them to my ear, and stare at my reflection, pretending I was already standing in that lace, ivory dress.


None of them worked. They were too dangly, too casual, too fancy. None of them worked.


I was looking through a small, rotating rack when an older, shorter woman came beside me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint where she was from, but as we talked, I could tell English wasn’t her first language. She was looking for Kate Spade, and when she realized I had already found it, she told me to take my time.


“Oh, I’m looking for my wedding jewelry. You don’t want me to take my time,” I told her, grinning and stepping away.


Her face lit up. “When is your wedding?”


“It’s next week. Friday, actually,” I told her. She raised her eyebrows and I could only imagine what she must be thinking: “Who waits until the week before their wedding to find jewelry????”


I continued, “Honestly, I’m getting married with or without these ear rings. No matter what, there will be a wedding, and it will be awesome,” I told her.


She laughed, doubled over and told me I was the funniest person she had ever met.


“You’re like my daughter,” she said. “My daughter said the same thing. She told me, ‘Mom, the wedding is one day only. After the wedding is forever. That is what matters most. That is most important. Our love and promise are most important,’” the woman explained in her accented English.


We shopped beside each other for a few minutes. She’d offer a suggestion, and I’d get her opinion on another set- although, it didn’t take us long to realize we had exhausted the options. She wished me the best of luck and happiness, and then we turned our separate ways as I left the store, deciding I’d worry with it the next day.


:: :: ::


That was one month ago. I was in the final days of wedding planning, and could go from feeling like everything was finished to nothing at all within seconds. I was exhausted, I was excited, I was anxious, and I was ready. The waiting was nearly over as the celebration and tasting of the fruits of my labor neared.


Two months ago I was in the thick of a workload that was too heavy to carry. I’d spend an hour commuting into Nashville, lesson plan and teach all morning into the afternoon, and then go to work at Gap all afternoon into the night. I’d get in my car to make that 45 minute drive back home at 10 PM, knowing that my bedtime app was set to wake me up just after 5 AM. There was no time with friends, and barely time to sit and eat full meals. I snapped at coworkers, and yawned throughout my entire shift. I felt distant and tired at home. I missed reading and writing. And somehow, I still found the time to tie up the loose ends on the lessons and wedding I hadn’t quite finished.


Four months ago I helped Travis move to Nashville. I cried when we left his parents’ home in the Midwest, because I realized how much they must trust me to let him leave. Watching your son leave for a girl over 300 miles away has never been an easy task, and I felt selfish asking them to do that. But, we did it. We made the trek down I-65 on the day of the Eclipse and made it to the parking lot at our apartment one minute before totality. And then we talked about perfect timing every second after that.


Five months ago I picked up my first teaching job. I met a class of 3 students in a small, outdated classroom in the lower level of an apartment complex. This was my first class on the field. I was bright eyed and bushy-tailed. I felt dreams coming true, and if this was the only class I ever got to teach, I wanted to know I had given them my all.


That class and I met daily for a few weeks, with the hopes of continuing to meet a couple days a week after that. I knew the class would only get to continue on grant-support if students continued showing interest. I also knew that at the end of the initial 4 weeks—if the class did continue– my paid 18 hours of the class would drop drastically and be replaced with only 6 because of the change in the schedule. The amount of worry and uncertainty woven in that was difficult to accept, but I did it with as much grace as I could because I had been called.


And you can’t argue with a calling if you want to get somewhere.


:: :: ::


At some point in my Christian walk, I learned that faithfulness isn’t always a big, grand step leading to an earth-shaking decision. More often than not, it’s small. Quiet. And it leads to other small, quiet steps.


I’m a dreamer– an impatient, eager, anxious dreamer at that. Woven in my core are big hopes, and world-changing desires that I want today. Waiting until tomorrow or the next day isn’t an option. I’m the one who wants faithfulness to look like that big, grand, earth-shaking step. I want to see it right now.


But God is wiser than that. Faithfulness would be too easy if we only had to take one big step and finish. We would glory in the work of our hands, and create messes even bigger and grander than the ones we already do.


It’s the small, quiet steps that require us to continue coming back day after day. Those are the difficult ones, because they’re the ones that require us to move slower than we want. But, it’s in those little steps that we’re transformed. It’s here—as we put one foot in front of the other, day after day– that our strength learns to depend on Him and our desires rooted in faithfulness are conformed to His. And boy, does He move and work. His plans move thick, sweet, and slow like honey from the comb. I bet I could find a Bible verse about that too.


That’s what faithfulness actually looks like: a continuation of focused, intentional decisions followed through with action. This the transforming, difficult task of showing up day in and day out.


:: :: ::


God, in His kindness that transcends my understanding, has allowed me to live in a season of faithfulness even when I felt unfaithful and worn thin.


Six months ago, I published my last blog post. It was about change and not knowing what’s coming next. Since we’re being transparent here, I’ll admit to you that post will remain in every season for the rest of my life. Now that I realize faithfulness comes in small, quiet, and quite frankly, often unexciting steps, I can accept change in the same way.


The last season has been busy and stressful, but still woven with a confidence that the right, good things were happening. Day after day, I looked at what had been placed in my hands and decided to do something with it. And my God, did He do miraculous things with it.


Since then, that first class I took on has grown. What started as 3 now averages at 10-12 students every class, simply because they told their friends about English class. What’s more, I’ve been offered numerous opportunities to take on tutoring-like classes that meet with students in their home. Now, I meet with 4 different families to teach them English at their kitchen table. My students are from Myanmar, Sudan, Cuba, Iraq, Nepal, Somalia, and even on the most difficult days, they are worth it. We show each other grace and fight to learn an entirely new culture, language, and land.


And wouldn’t you know, I have more paid teaching hours now than what I began with 5 months ago. Teaching has never been about the money, but realistically speaking, paid work is necessary. And I’m grateful to have been provided for. What’s sweeter is the collection of conversations and memories I have with my students, when I learned about their life as refugees and about the homes they left behind. Worry number one. Gone.


Since then I’ve also moved my entire life to center on the most kind, loving guy I’ve ever met. Travis and I spent the fall scrambling to begin paying bills, while also working to pay for a wedding. The numbers were scary, but it happened. And on November 17th, in a pair of pearl earrings my mother had given me years ago, we promised to love each other first for the rest of our days on this earth. We watched as friends and family both near and far traveled to celebrate with us at a lodge in the woods. We drank coffee together, and we worshipped with the entire congregation, giving praise to God for all He had done.


We celebrated our first week of married life hiking mountains and following trails, and when we came back home to Nashville, we were thrilled to remember we have an entire life ahead of us to build. My commutes to work and classes are about 10 minutes now, and we have an adorable Christmas tree in our home. Although we’re now in the middle of learning our routine together, we’re grateful that we have a collection of memories of our perfect wedding day in place of the planning that once overtook us.


And just like that, all the other worries subsided too.


:: :: ::


That lady in Dillard’s was right. The wedding day was important, but the marriage after that continues far past one day.


Taking on that first class was important, but desiring to serve my students months later continues.


Moving to Nashville was important, but building a home and building a relationship with this community continues.


Making one decision to follow that sweet, heavenly Voice was important, but walking more of these quiet, baby steps continues. Faithfulness would be cheap if it were anything less than those quiet, baby steps.

A Lesson Learned: volume 2

Being at the heart of a Good and Perfect will doesn’t mean you won’t miss the things you know most.


Leaving home is always hard for me. Something about saying goodbye, and leaving my place of comfort and safety hits me in the feels. And when I left for Hong Kong back in June, I did so knowing I would miss out on weeks of life at home.

It’s not that Joelton, Tennessee is anything the significant, but the people there are the ones who have rooted me and helped me grow. And I left knowing that I wouldn’t be there to grow with them in those few weeks. I wouldn’t be able to laugh with them. Swap the stories over coffee. Wrap my arms around their necks when I missed them.

Leaving Joelton meant leaving all of that, and trading it for some 8,000 miles and limited phone service. This probably should have been hard lesson number one.

:: :: ::

On my second morning of teaching in Hong Kong, I woke up before my alarm rang and saw a text from Kay announcing the birth of Han’s baby.

With crusty eyes and a sleepy hand, I turned the screen away from me and said, “What?” before rolling over and falling back asleep. When I woke up again later, this time in tune with my alarm, my first thought ran through my head like a dream I had almost forgotten: Han had her baby. Han had her baby. Baby Rhonan is finally, finally here.

The thought repeated as I got dressed, washed my face, and brushed my teeth. And as I began my routine commute on the MTR toward Tai Wai, and then to Kowloon Tong and Choi Hung where we left to get on the mini bus, the thought ran relentlessly through my head.

While I had been sleeping in the night, my best friend had welcomed a new piece of life— created for wonderful and mighty purposes— into the world, knowing that he would impact every life around him and change the world in his own ways. Although I knew he would come while I was overseas and far from home, it hadn’t quite hit me that I would miss it.

But, they sent me pictures. Gave me a brief summary of the labor story. Told me how much he weighed. Assured me he was a cute baby. As I read and tried to piece it together as best I could, I came back to this thought: I wasn’t there. I missed it.

And when all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around my sweet Han and her baby boy, my heart hurt, knowing it would be another 4 weeks before our triumphal greeting.

:: :: ::

Just a couple days later, and it was our first Friday of teaching. This meant I had survived 5 full days in a foreign classroom, and my journal pages had lines of written memories and prayers to prove it.

After the first part of our lesson, during our brief mid-morning break, I reached for my phone hidden in my desk to check the time. Before my eyes even saw the clock, I saw the missed FaceTime calls from Kay. “Wow, she must really want to say hey,” I thought. I looked at the phone for a few seconds before I knew how, or if, I should respond during the class day.

I had a few more minutes of break, and although long phone calls from Kay are expected, several in a row are not. Hoping everything was okay, I told myself, “Just 5 minutes. Just a 5 minute call.” I stood by the window, listened for those high pitched FaceTime beeps, and waited for the call to connect. When it finally did, I saw my best friend’s smiling face for the first time in two weeks. We said hey and hi, and some of my students gathered around to wave hey and hi too.

As sweet as this moment was, it was short lived. We couldn’t see a thing past the “Low Connection” message and a black screen. I had forgotten to warn her that my service in Hong Kong was not what it is back home. Even if I couldn’t see her moving in perfect time, it was so good to hear her voice in a place so far from home and my familiar places.

In the midst of the chaos of pleading with the service to pick up our call, I turned around in time to see my team leader walking in the room. Just when I thought the timing for everything happening in those few moments couldn’t be worse, the girl who is responsible for my actions in the school and for my place on the team walked in to hear my students loudly enjoying their break time, their teacher trying to pick up a phone call, and absolutely no order or structure to hold it all together.

As Kay continued to get my attention and sync up our words, I quickly told her, “I can’t talk, gotta go, bye, love you!” and hung up. I can’t say that went in the journals as my most graceful moment.

As we left break time and moved into our second portion of teaching for the morning, I checked the time once more on my phone. And again, I didn’t see the clock. Instead, I saw the notifications from Kay and this time, she had sent me pictures.

I didn’t even open them. It dawned on me what the purpose of our call had been. Even though my heart stopped and every thought in my head froze, I knew I needed to keep going. There was a classroom of 23 students looking to me for the next hour and 40 minutes. I couldn’t think about or look at the photos that waited for me on the other side of that lock screen.

But as soon as class was over, I reached for my phone. And sure enough, my predictions proved correct.

Kay was engaged to marry the man of her dreams. With a ring on her finger and a smile on her face, this was my announcement to the moment that we had dreamt up for years now. My head raced around and around.


It finally happened!

How! Is this real life!


I’m so happy!

She has a ring!

We can wedding plan!

Oh, I know she’s so happy!

Jordan did real good!

How did I not guess this?!


Even though these thoughts, and so many more took over every thought I had, at the center was that raw feeling of knowing I missed it. I missed probably the sweetest day of my best friend’s life. And again: my heart hurt knowing that all I wanted was to squeal and hear the entire story, but it would be another 4 weeks until I could be there to rejoice with her.

:: :: ::

One day this all hit me. Somewhere under the sky of Hong Kong, it hit me. I don’t think it was that day, or even the next day. But at some point, I cried and confessed, “Yup, this is hard. This is the hardest thing that could be happening in my world right now, and I have no clue what to do with it.”

I wanted to believe I was rejoicing from the other side of the world — and some moments, I did believe that. But I remember much more vividly crying out and telling my Father about how unfair it felt to miss so many sweet moments from home. How crummy it felt to not sit beside Han and cradle her baby boy, or how weird it felt to not be there to high-five Jordan and gawk over Kay’s hand. Oh, how disappointed I was to not be there for the most life-transformational moments my friends had been hoping and waiting for.

But at some point during over the coming days, He reminded me: being in the heart of My good and perfect will doesn’t mean you won’t miss the things you know and love most.

It doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel like you let people down. It doesn’t mean you won’t attempt to carry that guilt. It doesn’t mean you won’t sacrifice some things. It doesn’t mean you won’t miss home. But My child, you have to make a choice: are you going to believe the enemy or Me?

I brought baby Rhonan into the world.

I allowed Kay and Jordan’s relationship to grow to this place.

I called you to be here in Hong Kong.

In My perfect and purposeful sovereignty, I crafted each of these moments for such a time as this. I’m writing every story here in Hong Kong, and every story in Tennessee too. Do you believe me when I promise to be in the middle of each and every one, even when you can’t be?

:: :: ::

I chose to believe Him. I chose to believe that He was at work in more ways that I could pen in my tattered journal, and that the moments He was asking me to give up were nothing compared to the chapters He had coming ahead of us.

Even though my homesickness was heavy those following days, His words resounded in my mind as I remembered how completely, wonderfully, unexplainably special it was that my best friends and I were all called to different places this summer. And in all of our uniqueness and different seasons, He had made these wonderful plans for us.

When I left for Hong Kong, Han was pregnant and raising a sweet girl with her husband. Kay was waiting for a ring, and preparing for her own trip to Jamaica. And I was asking for a life calling and for a greater love for the boy who holds my hand. By the time I hugged their necks in Tennessee again, 6 weeks later, Han was the mother to a sweet girl and and a sweet boy. Kay had a beautiful ring on her finger and had beautiful stories to share. And I had risen to a calling I never thought I would hear, and longed for that boy to be by my side during it all.

And when we sat in the Mexican restaurant for nearly 4 hours, catching up on everything we had experienced apart, I knew it was worth it. Every sacrifice, every tear, every time I had said, “I’m rejoicing from the other side of the world, but longing to be with you!” was worth it.

Choosing to believe it was my Heavenly Father had hand-written each story was worth it. 

Rest is spending an afternoon in a hammock. Grace is doing it on a day that looks like this.


Friday Night

We nestled at the corner bar, throwing off our heavy backpacks and setting the mugs of steaming black coffee on the wooden top. The window in front of us revealed a busy alley, and an even busier Nashville district. People walked the sidewalks in front of the restaurants, and headlights drove by us. My eyes followed a couple walking past the window, and the car bearing a small pink mustache on its dashboard waiting to pick them up. I watched them get in and drive away before I lowered my head toward the screen again. And for the next two hours, I typed hundreds of words and only looked up to sip more coffee.

The world outside laughed and wandered, completely oblivious that I sat just feet away feeling pitiful for doing homework on a Friday night.

I chuckled to him at one point, “So this is our night on the town, huh?”

:: :: ::

One Week Later

The wind blew through the blue, nylon hammock as we tied the rope around the branches and looped it through the carabiners. We fought against it, and we laughed as we wondered if it could be a parachute. Once we secured it, I wasted no time in throwing my comforter in and creating a fortress against the moving winds. I climbed inside, and finally, I felt the wind move and sway me in the hammock. It should have been chilly, but I felt safe and bundled with blankets pulled to my eyeballs.

After the initial moment of relief, it dawned on me: I had nothing to do. No agenda. No plan. No worry. No guilt. I came to this place with the sole desire to rest, and trusting I would know how to do that.

It looks like I’ll be in a hammock in a couple hours, so now what?

I pulled the Mac out of the backpack beside me, and began importing new CDs. While the disk was working, I’d read a chapter in my Bible. Then, I’d take the CD out. Put a new one in. Turn the page in my Bible. Repeat.

And for the next two hours, I rested in that.

Honestly, it took me the whole two hours to figure out that when I had come to this place, I was dry to my very bones. Having been so consumed with hustling to finish a semester of school and ministry, I had walked to a dry and weary land where there had not been much stillness and quiet.

But at some point, while I swayed in a hammock under a blue sky and read truths and promise of grace, my eyes grew heavy and my heart felt saturated, sopping, weighty. My eyes followed the clouds moving above the swaying leaves and branches, and as I tried to memorize the sounds of the busy West End behind me, and as I felt the wind brushing the hair on my face, I knew: Rest is spending this day in a hammock with nothing to do but to breathe, and grace is getting to do it on a day like this.

:: :: ::


I probably shouldn’t lie when you ask me how I’m doing. I probably shouldn’t leave the conversation open and closed at a simple “good.” I should probably tell you instead that I’m walking a fine line between being productive and being burnt out.

Don’t hear me wrong when I admit that to you: I love what I get to do. I get to wake up every day, and live in days packed full of practicing the Truth I claim so dear — meeting people, learning things, going to new places, all of it. I get to do all of it, and it covers me in a purpose that I never could have crafted out of my own hands.

But, do hear me when I say that when I don’t take care of myself in those things, I get tired. Worn out. Forgetful of the core motivation. At this point, I’ve stopped feeling overwhelmed at the coming days because regardless of how I feel, it needs to get done. I can either complain and get it done, or be joyful and get it done. Honestly, I’d rather the choose the former but Truth tells me to choose the latter.

However, beyond the days and plans and calendars, this is the truth that resonates within me: my Father cares for me better than I know how to myself.

That means that when I began telling others that I’m burnt out on the undergrad lifestyle, doors opened and I found out I was just hours away from finishing my degree.

This means that when I worried that I wouldn’t have the energy to fully plan and follow through with hosting a party for a middle school ministry, my teammates showed up and carried the load with me.

This means that when I was tempted to feel guilty for spending a Friday night in a coffee shop, I was reminded: this is the last one. One more.

And when I didn’t have a single thing to do on a sunny afternoon, I was given the time to rest in a hammock under a sky painted like acrylic on a stretched canvas.

These moments weren’t even a part of my plan, but they brought relief I didn’t even realize I needed. As each moment unfolded, my dry, tired bones emerged into a place of new hope and restored purpose again. And I didn’t know I needed to be brought to that place again, but I got there and I knew: I have wandered, and I don’t want to walk through that desert again.

There was a point in the hammock when I had to shove every physical distraction out of my way in order to clear my inner distractions. And that was the moment I watched the clouds roll by, heard the traffic on the street behind me, saw the growing leaves in the branches above me, and knew: rest is spending an afternoon in a hammock with nothing to do. Grace is doing it on a day that looks like this. 

It’s one thing to know that our bodies were designed to stop at certain points. It’s another thing to realize that we are given the freedom to know how to do that and when. It could mean doing things like looking up, noticing the small things, laughing a little louder, reading a little longer than you planned. I think it means living in a way that lets the bones of my body rejoice at the day behind and ahead. I think this idea of moving and resting in beautiful days is completely woven by Grace that cares for us infinitely more than we could ever alone —

oh, let me live moving and resting in days that look like that.

Do you believe me when I say I believe in you?



I tore him apart. As we drove on the dark asphalt winding through Nashville, I tore him apart at the name of my own insecurities — not only in and for my own life, but his as well. I had a list of things to say, and as I spoke each one and mentally checked it off, a lingering voice asked me if this is what grace and love look like.

I didn’t answer.

For miles, I voiced my own fears and pretended like they fit his convictions too— Do more. Don’t waste anything. Stop being still. Go somewhere. I told him how to live his life and be the person he’s been created to be. Do something. Do something.

The response was mostly silent, but he never let my hand go.

When we got to Richland Avenue, he walked me to the door and hugged me. He promised he loved me for at least the fifth time in our 25 mile trek, and my heart shattered. I thought back on the graceless words I said. I bit my lip and blinked away tears because he is so good even when I am not.

Sleep was easier to come by than I had anticipated, but when the sun finally arose the following morning, I didn’t know what to expect. I submitted to a cup of coffee and a brush of mascara as my mind ran wild with the possibilities the day would bring once I walked outside. I put on my floor length skirt, slid into my striped backpack, and I went.

:: :: ::

I didn’t say much to my roommate that afternoon. I came to my bed and put my nose in a book. Part of it was a reason to get my homework done. An even greater portion was an excuse to be in the quiet. Reading about Christian ethics that afternoon was a wall I built to keep from saying anything else that I’d regret later.

After she left, I set my alarm and stared at the green eyes on the taped picture beside my bed. I stayed there. Restless. Unsettled. Far from content. It was one of those moments where you just want to be with someone—to hear them and watch the way their eyes move when they’re searching for the thing to say.

I reached for my phone and typed. Let’s go on a coffee date. Like, a real one. Without textbook, a backpack, or a Mac. Just us.

I held my breath waiting for a response. How could he want to hang out with me after such a long drive the night before?

But he responded with 6 yeses, telling me he was ready right then to go.

I had to smile to myself as I turned off my alarm, tossed on my blue jeans, and reached for my car keys.

How could he want to hang out with me after such a long drive the night before?

:: :: ::

We stepped inside a simple, woodsy themed coffee shop— somewhere new we had never visited before. But, as usual, we went through our routine: he told me he’d buy my drink, I told him I could get it, he repeated himself, I asked if he was sure, and then he won. He’s the same, I thought. And soon enough, I followed him to a brown, leather couch tucked away in an alcove were he drank his coffee black, and I drank my salted caramel, feathered latte.

I don’t know how it happened. At some point— as our fingers traced maps and our eyes gazed at the art hanging on the walls— something came together in my heart. The words I have been mulling over all day made sense.

You are indispensable. You are valuable. You are exactly who God created you to be for a reason. Everything about you — from the color you want on the ties at your wedding, to the way you drink your coffee — has been given to specifically make you you. Your favorite song to play with guitar, your favorite person to talk to, your favorite thing to talk about. Every piece of you has been created in special, special places. 

You have been molded and crafted by this all-knowing Father, who knew that one day you would need to hear these words: you have a purpose.

I realized that the entire time I was telling him to use his gifts, he was. Even in the same moment those words ran through my mind, he already was. 

He loved me unconditionally. He thought intently before speaking. He didn’t raise his voice. His hand didn’t leave my side. He loved me in all my flaw and nastiness, void of judgement. He bought my coffee. He laughed at my stupid jokes. He guided me the parking lot we needed to be at. He looked around at this new coffee shop, and soaking it all in. He noticed the details.

“It looks like they burnt chains onto these tables. I thought that was just part of the wood, but it’s actually a burn mark. That’s pretty cool,” he said as we sipped from our mugs.

I didn’t even notice that, I admitted.

“Or those chairs— I bet I could make that. I would love to learn how to weld,” he said. He starting talking about welding and machines and I just watched him. Honestly, I can’t tell you anymore about welding now than I could then. But, I can tell you about how his face lit up. How I could see the thoughts of doing something new flash behind his eyes. I could hear in his voice the hope and curiosity. It was so good to hear.

But, he watched me too. He finished talking about welding chairs, and patted my knee. “It’s okay, I know that probably flew over you. It’s okay,” he smiled.

His eyes moved to the table outside our little alcove — the large one surrounded by 4 chairs. He stared at it for a moment before he said, “I want to make that table.”

I didn’t have to hesitate. “You could make that. I have complete, total confidence that you could make that table if you wanted to,” I promised him.

He looked at me, and I told him it would make a pretty sweet kitchen table and I’m sure we could find some wood at my parent’s house. I don’t think he expected me to say that. To my shame, I don’t know if he expected me to believe in him like that. That’s when it changed in my heart though. That’s when I realized I can’t tell him to be the person he isn’t designed to be. It’s also when I realized I can encourage him to completely, recklessly, relentlessly pursue the dreams the Father has placed on his heart, but I can’t decide what those dreams are. I can’t shape him like a plastic Ken doll. He was never mine in that way. And at some point — this day — I had to leave that idea, and I had to come face to face with the knowledge that he has so much more to offer than I can ever tell him. And even when it doesn’t make sense to me, he’s already living that out.

I forgot about the mug woven through my fingers as I glanced at the table, looked at the boy I shared this couch with, and repeated: seriously. You can do it.

And I believed it.

And you look back and think, “Man, so worth it.”

It was one of the first cold mornings of the year. I had coffee plans with a friend, but as I made my way across the campus (i.e. Richland Avenue), one look at my car made me realize there was no way I was going to make it on time—my car was an ice cube. Almost literally. Frost covered every window and it was obvious there was no way I could drive until I started the car and watched it melt off the ice itself.

Frustrated, “Rats rats rat rats,” was all I could repeat in my head as I sat watching my breath, burrowing my hands under my arms, and waiting for the car to warm up. (Note to self: purchase an ice scraper very soon.) Luckily, my friend had just texted me saying his car was an ice cube as well and that he was running behind too. (Note to self: purchase a second ice scraper.)

Once I finally got to the coffee shop, I stood for a minute wondering whether or not I should order for the friend I stood waiting for. Indecisively, I made my way to the cashier and mumbled the words, “I’ll take the Rainforest Mocha, please.” I furrowed my brow and fumbled with my card when she replied, “That’ll be $4.37.”

You’d think I’d never ordered coffee before. You know those days when you just feel plain embarrassing? That was today. Clearly, this morning was still just beginning and I was struggling to find my groove far away from the struggle bus. A string of words in my head asked for all kinds of goodness in the hour to follow.

But when I turned around, I noticed my friend standing at the door of the coffee shop. “Hey!” we said in unison, along with a hug and a brief string of “how are you”s and so on. He laughed, “I was going to yell, ‘Hey, hurry up!’ when I saw you ordering,” and I laughed, “I wouldn’t have known what to do.” Seriously, he had no clue how bad I was struggling this morning. But somehow, the fact that we were both late and he was still willing to laugh it off made it better.

And with that, we made our way to a sunlight table. With my notebook and pen on the table, and a whipped cream topped mocha in hand, I said, “I just really want to hear your story.”

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::


Meet my friend Kevin Smith. Over a year ago when I was wrapped in Christmas paper like a big ‘ole gift and presented to the leaders of Young Life Nashville, Kevin was there with the rest of the Franklin Road Academy Wyldlife team to welcome me to the group. During the past two semesters, this dude and I have done ministry together like crazy at FRA. Through meeting practically every other Wednesday at 6:30-7 am for club, dressing up like old people for skit, and laughing at cats on Instagram, I have had the chance to get to know him, and this story he is living in the middle of.

Kevin grew up in the Virginia Beach area with his Filipino mother and retired Navy-man dad, who have a story together that will absolutely melt your heart—but that’s a story for another day. Kevin grew up in a small Christian school and later went on to attend Christopher Newport University just outside of Virginia Beach. He reflected on that transition, “I knew about this Christian thing, but you know how it is, I didn’t have those solid relationships in my life yet.”

For Kevin, though, a lot of things were set into motion beginning in a typical night in a college library. Invited by a group of passing friends to this neat little outfit known as YoungLife, Kevin began attending leadership training and was placed as a Wyldlife leader just two months later.

Through this ministry—which again, is another incredible story for another day—Kevin began making friendships and building relationships. One friend invited him to a summer refresher ministry known as DFocus, where Kevin met with the Lord in ways that he still talks about (seriously, he will rave and go on, story after story, about the memories and friends he had from this summer—so cool.) And eventually, just over a year ago, his story brought him to sweet little Nashville. Although tough struggles defined the beginning of his time in Music City, it was through those moments and the people he had met earlier that led him to a unique opportunity to serve the Lord: an eleven month mission trip around the world known as the World Race.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::: ::

When I told Kevin just before meeting with him best way I could contribute to his journey was to write about it to share with my own friends and family, he seemed hesitant. Honestly, the best way I can remember it, he seemed taken aback. I told him, “I just want to hear your story, what God is working in your life, and I want to share that with others. I want to raise support for this work by sharing it with others—my own friends, family, and peers– on my messy blog.”

And okay, I get how totally weird that must sound. (But guys, it’s such a good story. Keep reading.)

He seemed to stammer a bit, and he said, “I mean, honestly, it’s not an entirely happy story. I actually applied to the Race when I was in the pits.” But with that, I was immediately reminded of why I want so badly to share these things with others—with you. There’s this aching desire to tell a pained, hurt world, “Hey, these are the best stories. These are the stories that are brim-full of hot tears and stammering questions, but still prove themselves in the end to be even fuller of big purpose. These are the refining moments that turn all the gold, and it is so cool to see you play a part in that, to see you make use of this purpose.”

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Let me back up a little. The World Race has adopted the hashtag “11n11.” This ministry sends people in squads and teams on over a dozen different routes every year in hopes of reaching a lost world. The things that strike me are:

  1. It’s such a long trip reaching so many places.
  2. The Racers live out of backpacks.
  3. The Racers are smack dab in the middle of raw community with the natives they meet.

As both the website presents and Kevin’s experience so far reflects, the Race challenges Christ followers to live radically by trading in first-world luxuries and possessions for miles of hope to others who ache to know truth. These Racers seek to change lives for the Lord by making a radical commitment to live solely for the expression of his love in different countries around the globe.

Okay, so what does that look like for Kevin? That means he will travel to places like Haiti, Guatemala, Botswana, South Africa, etc. This route is not set in stone. And his only possessions for the entire way will be contained in a backpack. So, there’s that. Now we ask, “How in the world did he get roped in to signing up for such a crazy commitment?” Here’s how:

In the pits. For Kevin, his World Race journey began as a get-away. Although he has grown to love Nashville, during the first of his short time in the city, he struggled to find a place of community.

His solution? Travel to 11 countries in 11 months, proclaiming the Gospel every step of the way.

As he began to get further into the process of applying, being accepted, and then transitioning to training with the World Race program, he began to come across a lot of familiar faces. People he had met years ago—in YoungLife, Virginia Beach, college—began to intersect his path. Get this: the friend who invited him to DFocus summers ago served as a traveler with the World Race, and up until leaving Nashville just a couple of weeks ago, Kevin worked with her husband.

He asked me, “How crazy is that?” and all I could say was, “That’s a God-thing.”

All throughout this past fall, Kevin has been preparing for the trip. Sometimes that looked like benefit shows held at local coffee houses or houses. Other times that meant selling t-shirts with the world and a cool string of words on it. Most often that looked like asking for prayer, leaning on grace, and trusting in God’s provision. 

The crazy thing is, throughout these experiences Kevin began to really find a home here in Nashville. Whether it was meeting up with even more connections and friends from years past, getting plugged in to a great church and small group (seriously, the guys bought him some materials for the trip—how awesome?!), or hanging out with his super great Wyldlife team, a lot of really cool things have been set up for my friend. “It sort of sucks that now that I’m loving Nashville, I have to leave again,” he continued, “But I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Another piece of preparation meant travelling to Georgia for a week-long training session with the rest of the Racers. He was given a lot of time outside, a little bit of a better idea of what to expect, and the honor of serving as team leader. Totally humbled, Kevin quickly realized that his role was unlike most other leadership positions. For his team, this will mean looking to Kevin throughout the 11 month journey in order to be pointed back to Jesus constantly. Not only will he have an incredible opportunity to serve the needs of the world, but he will also have the opportunity to serve his team.

As we talked more about what the race is like (which several friends who have done it previously have shared with him—again, another too-cool feat) he said, “I hear this is the hardest year of your life, but you don’t even realize it until you’re out there,” and continued, Just growing with Him means hard times. But it’s so crazy because you look back and think, ‘man, so worth it.”

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Afterwards, in a short little 2 a.m. written reflection, I journaled: “Was so thankful to hear his story over coffee. Left inspired to not only share his story, but to love the Lord more humbly. Such a cool morning.”

So, I’m sharing this dude’s story with you because I believe in him and I believe in the work the Lord is doing through him. When I hear his story, I am reminded of how precious the people around us are, and how greatly they can impact our own stories.

I’m reminded life is composed of pits and mountains, and somehow it all works together in the way we need most—even when it doesn’t make sense.

I’m reminded that life is not a cookie-cutter mold, but is instead an invitation for us to make weird decisions, bold moves, and cartwheel all over this box someone a long time ago claimed we need to live in.

My friend Kevin embodies this crazy-awesome form of humility and God-driven grace, and the fact that he is so willing to be molded to that image inspires me to be closer to God. And honestly, if that’s the not the point of our lives, then I have absolutely misunderstood this Gospel message I have chosen to believe in.

In this next journey of Kevin’s life, creature comforts will be thrown out, replacing happy boundaries with risks such as sickness, food poisoning, and not to mention, very few showers. Eleven months of the little things that tie us where we are—things like parties, and coffee outings, and shopping excursions—will be put on hold. The stability of having both a car and a job have been sold and given up.

But with the kind of bold grace that I long for every day, Kevin said, “It’s not about me. The world is broken, people are crying, and God sees that. And He looks at us, and He’s like, ‘you’re my children, you’ve tasted my love.’ He needs us to share that with others, with this hurting world. And that can be anywhere, for anyone. But for me, this is the path I’m on. And it’s different.”

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

We left the coffee shop the day before Thanksgiving. Now, as you and I shiver in January, Kevin’s journey is finally reaching full swing. He shipped off to Georgia yesterday, and will ship off overseas this weekend.

I’ve loved sharing Kevin’s story, but I know he can certainly tell you better than I can. Check out his blog powered by the World Race, and read about his story from the beginning. It’s so good, ya’ll. It’s the sort of thing you read when you need something to encourage and challenge you to keep walking this line of grace. And, support the dude. Write his name on a bookmark, on your mirror, on that lucky dollar bill in your wallet. Anything to remind you of the work his team will be doing these next several months, and lift them in prayer. Or, donate 5 bucks or so. While a lot of his money for the trip is already raised, he will be seeking the remainder of his support while on the trip.

Above all, praise the Lord for willing people and bold opportunities to give new meaning to living life to the fullest.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

“The road goes ever on and on, down the door where it began. Now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow if I can.”

Read (more) about him.
Give up a cheesy bean and rice burrito for him.
Or, just Insta follow him: @kevsmith05