Beyond My Walls, An Open Letter to My Readers

Buenos Días!

As you hopefully read in my blog post from Tuesday, I returned just 11 days ago from my first ever mission trip to San Salvador, El Salvador. To say that my life was forever changed is truly and understatement. I prayed for months about whether or not God wanted me there and once I realized He did, I was eager to discover His plan and purpose for my Central American adventure. It took a few days and even a few tears, but by Thursday of our weeklong trip, I knew why God wanted me there.

I was blessed to be able to visit a local private school in San Salvador, Colegio Ceren, to talk with a group of high schoolers (most of them were around the 15-18 age range). I figured that this wasn’t God’s purpose for me, since it’s what I do for a job and I was sure there was something bigger for me in San Salvador. Once again, I was wrong. I spent two and a half days at the school talking with the teenagers about my faith and theirs, comparing high school experiences and laughing. One of the boys I met, Josué, pulled at my heartstrings from Day 1. It was something beyond the fact that he was at least 5’10″ (unusually tall for a Latino!), had skin as pale as mine, bright blue eyes and naturally red hair. It took me a few days and numerous people to piece together his backstory, but in a nutshell, his dad left when he was little, his mom passed away from breast cancer, his brother is in jail, and Josué is living alone in a tiny apartment with just enough money from a family friend in the states to cover tuition and a little food.

Friday afternoon at Ceren with Josué!

Friday afternoon at Ceren with Josué!

After 3 days with Josué and his peers, I knew why God had sent me to San Salvador. After discussing the idea with Pastor Victor (the head pastor at the San Salvador church we partner with, Iglesia Gran Comision), we decided that I would become Josué’s sponsor. My financial support will go through the Great Commission Latin America (GCLA), the same organization Rock City Church uses to sponsor the little kids. From there, my money will be specifically designated for Josué and will go to Pastor Victor and he will use it as he best sees fit for Josué’s needs at that time. In 2 years, when he graduates from high school, I can continue donating money to go towards Josué’s college fund. Then, once he is stable and on his own, he will no longer need my financial support. Through all of this, Josué and I will be able to email one another and build a friendship that spans many years and thousands of miles. I have a dream of seeing Josué graduate high school 2 years from now!

Working with the high schoolers didn’t feel “special” at first, it just felt like another day at work (I’m an 11th & 12th grade English teacher in Columbus). But maybe that is how God shows us our spiritual gifts and purpose. The things that we love to do and can do without hesitation are the things He wants us to do for His glory. Yes, he will challenge us and push us to “flex, flex, flex” (this was our motto for the week to remind us to be flexible!) out of our comfort zone, but it’s only to make us stronger in His purpose for us. 

I have only been home a little while, and I already know that my time in San Salvador is far from over. It was definitely hard for me to leave. Part of my heart was ready to be home, share my experience with my friends and family, and cuddle with Dewey, but the other part ached for the new friends I had made.

This past Sunday, an opportunity to return to San Salvador presented itself. I was sitting next to Annie, a woman I became friends with on the trip, at church on Sunday, and in the middle of the service, she leaned over and whispered that she was joining up with the August mission trip. My heart immediately longed to return, so I spent some serious time in prayer begging God for a sign of whether I was to go back in August or not. I realized that really the only thing keeping me from going was raising the money. As a teacher, I’m on summer break, so the timing is perfect.

Yesterday in the mail, I got a check for $425 as an AEP Electric refund. “HEY ASHLEY!!! HERE’S YOUR SIGN!!!” -Love, God

I am hoping and seriously praying that God will come through, not just for me, but for the Salvadorians as well, and help me to raise the extra $1325.

Our trip is August 2-10 and our role will be to serve the community through working with the children, assisting in the health clinic and possibly some construction work. We will share the love and message of Jesus Christ and build relationships with people that are eager to share their life stories and hear why we have the hope we have. I realize that it might not fit into the schedule to visit Colegio Ceren, but I trusted God once to stretch me and grow me, and I know He will do it again. Obviously, I hope and pray that we do, but if not, I am eager to see what God has in store for me this time.

I am asking for your support in two ways. First and foremost, I need some diligent, persistent prayer partners! If you remember to do nothing else on our behalf, please remember to pray! This is so imperative as I begin making VERY QUICK preparations for my trip and then as I actually arrive on site to minister to the poor and hurting of San Salvador. 

Please add us to your daily prayer list!

Secondly, I am asking for support financially in this outreach endeavor. The total cost is $1750 per person for the 9 days we will be in San Salvador. I believe that God has put this trip on my heart (again!) for a reason and I am very confident that He will put this request on the hearts of the people he would have support this mission opportunity. All that I ask of you to do is to pray about it and then follow what God wants you to do for His Kingdom. If you decide to donate, directions are below.

I realize that you may have never met me, maybe this is your first time stopping by adorable lil blog ;), or maybe you’ve never donated to something like this before. Please understand that when you donate, your money IS NOT going into my pocket! First of all, when you donate, you go through Rock City Church. You simply designate your donation for Mission Trips, and then include my name so it goes towards my fundraising. This process will not only assure you that you are not sending money to some quirky girl with pink hair (oh yeah, I dyed my hair pink last week!) to do who knows what with, but it also makes your donation tax deductible! YAY!

I hope that you will also be assured that your hard earned money is going towards a cause bigger than me, bigger than you, greater than the sum of us combined. Your money will be used to show the poor and disadvantaged people of San Salvador God’s love. You will be helping me to connect with Josué, the 16 year old boy I am supporting financially, spiritually and emotionally. And a little bit selfishly on my end, you will be supporting me in finally feeling like I am fulfilling God’s purpose for me.

Your prayer and financial partnership will help our team to influence many for Christ as we serve them in different ways while we are in their country. For those of you that are serious planners like myself, this might be a bit last minute, but remember, “FLEX, FLEX, FLEX!” I must have ALL of this financial support by July 6th. I look forward to hearing from you! Together, we can make an impact on the lives of these precious Salvadorians!

With love, Ashley

If you feel led to donate to my Salvadorian Adventure or have ANY questions whatsoever about donating, please let me know by using this form to contact me!

To read more in depth about my first of many San Salvadorian adventures and see the beautiful faces of the people God has blessed, please check out my blog post:

EndingUpHere.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/san-sal  

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How to Give

Online Donations

  • Rock City Church can accept donations online through our website www.rockcitychurch.tv
  • In the upper right corner, click the little black box with 3 lines. Scroll to the bottom and click “Give Online.”
  • On the next page, click the large box that says “One-Time Gift.”
  • On the next page, in the first drop down menu, select “Mission Trips”

This next part is important!!

  • Currently the merchant services that Rock City Church uses does not offer an option to leave a memo with my name, designating your donation to me. Along with your online donation, please send an email to missions@rockcitychurch.tv with the subject being “Missions Donation For Ashley Arend.”

Turning support funds in to Rock City Church via an “actual” check:

  • Double check that all checks are made out to “Rock City Church.”
  • Double check that the memo section states “Rock City Missions: A. Arend”
  • Once you have verified that all the checks are completed correctly you may:
    • Drop them in the offering OR
    • Mail them to: Rock City Church / Attn: Mission Trips / PO Box 474 / Hilliard, Ohio / 43026

Example Check:

***IMPORTANT: DISCLAIMER!***

To insure the tax deductibility of your support gift, IRS regulations stipulate that support contributions may NOT specify that an individual be the beneficiary of or direct recipient of the contribution. However, you may indicate a preference below and the Church will endeavor to honor that preference. Make all checks payable to “Rock City Church.”

Thank you for considering giving to this cause. Any amount you would like to give will be greatly appreciated.

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Beyond My Walls, San Salvador Mission Trip: Love Is My Purpose

{please click HERE to see ALL my photos from San Salvador!} Well, I think it is quite obvious that I was unable to complete a daily blog while in San Salvador. I got to the point where I was so … Continue reading

Beyond My Walls, San Salvador Mission Trip: Day 3

{please follow my journey through photos here!}

Goooood morning! It is 5:30am Tuesday morning here in San Salvador! Yesterday was our first day of work at the Children’s Center (CDI)! My day started off with another cloudy morning sunrise (much like the one today!), but once again, it’s better than any sunrise I’ve seen in Columbus, Ohio. Before I got to work praying, I actually did a little rooftop yoga to help center my mind and wake up my brain and body! I then spent a good amount of time journaling, praying and reviewing God’s word so that I would be ready for our house visit later that morning. I prayed in Child’s Pose and asked God to use me for Him in whatever way was necessary. I asked Him to take away any barrier I might have from speaking and simply use my words and my body to His glory.

After breakfast and a devotional from Bob (he is on this trip with his 4 kids, one of which, Jenna, is my roommate!), we got on our way to Guayabo! Along the way, the “micro-bus” I was in stopped to pick up 5 of our translators for the day. Suddenly, our van, which should safely sit about 11 people, was stuffed with SEVENTEEN people! Our translators are kids in their early 20s and most of them are in college. They are all hilarious, infinitely helpful, beautiful people. Some of them have visited the United States before, giving us something in common to talk about. In fact, although we live thousands of miles apart, we have quite a few things in common! There are 3 big things that I clicked on with each of the translators immediately: Facebook, Instagram & Twitter! I have also learned that “Selfie” in Spanish, is “Selfie!”

When we arrived at the CDI, we got a quick tour, downed some coffee, and organized into our morning groups. John, Annie and I were introduced to the woman whose home we would be visiting. Unfortunately, none of us can remember her name! We were teamed up with Andrea (Andi) as our translator. I feel as though Andi and I would be great friends if she lived in the US! I am pretty sure she is the Salvadorian Patron Saint of Selfies! We walked with this woman to her home, probably 25-30 minutes away and uphill the whole way! Whenever we came to a fork in the road, we’d ask which way, and of course she would point the direction going UP! Thank God for all my workout classes! We got tothe woman’s home and her husband was there working inside the house. Their land was actually quite nice for Guayabo! They had 5 jugs filled with water, which is important when you don’t have running city water like we do, chickens (one was even a pet and lived inside the house!), and a dog! When you peeked in the house, it was just one room for everything. Their beds we against the walls on 2 sides, the kitchen was on another side and the front door was on the 4th side.

The woman introduced us to her husband and pulled out three stools for us to sit on her front porch. Their dog was wandering the home and immediately got shooed away to make room for the visitors. We graciously accepted the seats and proceeded to have small talk to try to get to know the family and where they were with their faith. Juan has a job where he picks vegetables and carries them in giant bags on his back. Some days, the woman, although she looks frail and weak, carries just as much weight as her male counterparts. They have 5 children, 3 of which are young enough to be enrolled at the Children’s Center. We discovered that the woman seems to understand Christianity fairly well and that God’s love is a gift that we can do nothing to earn. She belongs to the Catholic Church down the hill from their home and attends weekly. Juan, on the other hand, attends church about once a month. We asked them if they had a Bible, and they brought out this old, worn, falling apart Bible. I heard once that if a Bible is falling apart, it must be owned by someone who isn’t. That might explain why the woman was able to walk nimbly up and down the steep Guayabo hills in dress shoes without the slightest of stumbles. We proceeded to go through our pre-marked verses, stopping after each one to check for understanding. Both Juan and his wife understood what we were attempting to tell them until we got to the part about not being able to earn God’s unconditional love. This is common amongst many Catholics; they believe that we can only get to Heaven by doing good works. Salvation can be earned. After many verses and discussions, John asked Juan if he was ready to accept Jesus into his heart. Juan stood silent and gazed over the horizon. We gave him a moment to collect his thoughts before John asked him what was holding him back. It was revealed to us that he felt as if he wasn’t good enough God’s love; that he hadn’t yet earned it. No matter how many verses we showed Juan and explained to him that if we believe the Bible to be true, which we do, and something is in the Bible, it must be true, he still wasn’t ready to commit. At this point, had I been alone, I would’ve quit and said, “Well, thanks for your time! I’ll check back in later!” But Annie pushed through. She told a story about her struggles with being good enough and how she worked through it to finally realize that she can’t ever be worthy of God’s love. Something in her story struck a cord with Juan and he connected with what God was trying to tell him. John asked again if he was ready to give his life to Jesus and this time he said that he was!! His first question was, “Now what??” We explained that John would recite a prayer, Andi would translate it into Spanish and Juan would repeat it in Spanish. Hearing Juan tell God that he was ready to accept his undeserved, unconditional love was a blessing like I’d never experienced before. After the prayer, we celebrated with Juan and encouraged him to get connected to other believers. Fortunately his wife is a believer and can help him with this. I hope we are able to keep updated with Juan somehow and make sure that he is able to find other believers and strengthen his faith.

On the walk back to the center, I felt frustrated because during our house visit, I really didn’t say much. I pretty much sat with John, Annie and Andi and followed along. At one point, the family dog returned and I pet the dog for a long time. At one point, her even rested his head on my lap! But I didn’t really have much to say that I felt could have helped Juan or his wife’s understanding of God’s grace. I felt useless. Like here are John and Annie, two amazing people with so much to offer, and I just sat and smiled like an awkward bump on a log. I was disappointed in myself. I was just really hoping that God was going to use me during that house visit and I don’t feel like he needed me. I suppose it’s true that sometimes we have to get out of God’s way and let Him do His thing. Sometimes that involves us and sometimes it doesn’t. While walking, I prayed that god would have another way to use me that day.

As Melissa got ready to deliver her lesson, I wandered around the children taking photos. At one point, I found two of the daughters of the family we had just visited! As Melissa and her translator were talking, these kids were rowdy! It’s truly a good thing I can’t speak Spanish because my teacher mode would have come out in full force!!! After the lessons, there was a craft the kids got to make and take home. I had fun helping the kids. They didn’t care that we had a communication barrier, they just wanted someone to pay attention to them and help them.

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Once the kids’ lesson was completed, they were allowed free time to run around and play. I went to check out the construction area where we are building a playground and completing some other tasks. Still trying to be useful for God, I picked up a shovel and began helping where I could.

Our entire group got to go to the home of Victor and Sylvia Turcios for dinner. Victor is the pastor at Iglesia Gran Comision and works very closely with the CDI. Their home was very simple and not a mansion by any means, but they worked very hard to make it welcoming for us. Dinner wasn’t quite ready when we got there, so a group of us went to the playground next door to play soccer. I didn’t play, but took photos and held cell phones instead! When we returned to the house, we were treated to a delicious meal of homemade tortilla soup, homemade jalapeño pesto dip (I tried it even though I’m a weakling when it comes to spices! It was very good, but very spicy!!!), quesadillas, pound cake and coffee.

Sylvia serving us her delicious meal!

Sylvia serving us her delicious meal!

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It was then back “home” to the hotel for our debriefing meeting and bed! All in all, I had a wonderful day and got to experience some truly incredible things. I am still working through my frustrations of not feeling useful for God, but I know that He has a place where He will use me for his glory.

Beyond My Walls, San Salvador Mission Trip: Day 2

Our first full day here in San Salvador was of course, AMAZING. I am realizing though, that with the incredibly full and busy days ahead of us, I may not have time to provide detailed posts every night. I can survive on 5 hours of sleep, but the way I usually write and edit…I’d only get 3 hours of sleep! SO, I will provide as much detail as possible, but I just hope that between my handful of words and bevy of photos, your curiosity about my current adventure will be satiated!

  • I woke up at 5am this morning to experience my first Salvadorian sunset. Unfortunately, it was a little cloudy from last night’s  rainstorm, but the sunrise was still more beautiful than any I’d seen in Columbus for a while! I tried to have some quiet alone time of journaling, but as soon as I’d get to writing, the sun would rise a little higher, creating the “just right” Kodak moment.

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  • Breakfast was at 6:30am. During breakfast, we went over the plan for the day, fellowshipped together and had a short time of devotion to put our heads and hearts in order for the day.
Eggs, beans, ham & cheese roll, plantains, and OF COURSE...COFFEEEEEE!!!!

Eggs, beans, ham & cheese roll, plantains, and OF COURSE…COFFEEEEEE!!!!

  • After breakfast, we left for Iglesia Gran Comisión San Salvador and the first of 3 church services we would attend and serve at throughout the day. At each service, our pastor, John Ransom was preaching! The only thing that made this slightly challenging was the fact that John was speaking with a translator. John would say a sentence or phrase and then the translator would speak in Spanish. Everyone at the church was so kind and welcoming and eager to have us there. I met hermanos Gerson (pronounced hair-son with a rolled rrrr.) and Emilio and their father, Emilio Sr. Gerson and Emilio sang in the church worship band. We sang songs in Spanish, that I could pick out a few words from. We also sang an old familiar song, How Great is Our God, but in Spanish! It was a unique experience to be able to worship with our hosts in their language and know that God not only hears us, but understands our hearts and our words.
  • We stayed at Iglesia Gran Comisión for another service, but instead of sitting in for the service, a group of us sat outside the worship hall and fellowshipped a bit. I am really enjoying getting to know the people on our trip. We are all connected in some way!
Church Worship Band at

Church Worship Band at Iglesia Gran Comision

  • By the time the 2nd service ended, it was lunchtime! We traveled to the local mall to eat in the food court. We were each given $5 to spend on food. San Salvador uses dollars like in the United States, but it goes much further down here than it does up north. Another difference is the popularity of the Sunday lunch crowd at the mall! We walked in and it was PACKED! I can’t remember the last time I saw any mall in Columbus so filled with people! Wait….Yes I can. 1998, City Center Mall was filled with teenage girls hoping to catch a glance of the popular boy group Hanson. I was one of said girls. But I digress. Apparently the thing to do with your friends and family on Sunday is go to the mall and have lunch in the food court. We were given our money and a partner and sent on our way. I was partnered with Alyssa and we TOTALLY underestimated how difficult it would be to acquire food in a Salvadorian mall food court when neither of us speak Spanish. Thank God we serendipitously chose the same line as Sarah! She was able to help us figure out exactly what we wanted!
  • After lunch, we headed to Soyapongo for church service #3. In Soyapongo, I met Mario, a guy that works with the church to run sound and helps with the children’s ministry. Mario’s English was better than some of my friends back home! I asked how old he was and he told me to guess. I hate guessing ages, but I played along and guessed 18. WRONG! 25!!! Such a babyface! I noticed that Mario was wearing a pristine pair of Nike Jordan shoes. I commented that my students back home LOVE their Jordan’s too. He said that he has to have them and has worked very, very hard to pay for THREE pairs of them! Mario does something working with computers and networking (even in his near perfect English, I had a hard time understanding exactly what he does! Ha!) and is currently studying for an exam for either a promotion or job change (again, even English didn’t help my lack of technical knowledge.). He showed me on his phone the reading he’s doing. No wonder his English is so good! He was reading words that would take me a few tries to comprehend! It was nice to talk to someone from San Salvador without struggling with a language barrier. Plus, I was truly inspired by his perseverance and hard work not only to get something he wanted but also his dedication to the church, which he has grown up in since he was a little boy. Just something about his joyfulness was magnetizing! I could have talked with him for hours! We also had a few good laughs watching the little kids interact with each other. Turns out kids are the same no matter what country you’re in!

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  • Since the third church service was so late in the afternoon, by the time it was over, it was dinnertime! Dinner was at a local restaurant, Tipicos Margoth. I had my first pupusa! A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese cooked pork meat ground to a paste consistency refried beans, or queso con loroco. It was a simple, but delicious dish!
I was so hungry, I started eating before I remembered to take a picture!

I was so hungry, I started eating before I remembered to take a picture!

  • Post dinner, we had our debriefing meeting back at the hotel and figured out who would be doing what tomorrow at the children’s center. John asked if I would go with him and Annie on a house visit (i.e. evangelizing) in the morning. Of course I said I would go. Evangelizing has been my biggest anxiety in planning for this trip. I simply don’t think my story of coming to faith is all that exciting or meaningful. It’s not something that brings me to tears, and I think the ones that do are some of the most impressive stories. Heck, I can’t even identify the exact moment I was saved. I have just always known that Jesus is my Savior because I was raised in a strong Christian home. Sure, at some point I had to make the decision to follow Christ for myself, but I really can’t identify when that moment was. Yes, I have had times of trial where I have been angry with or confused by God, but I have never questioned his existence. Needless to say, I just don’t think my testimony is very strong or really even worth sharing. I am glad that I will be on my first visit with John, our pastor who obviously know what he’s doing and what to say. I will be able to learn a great deal from him and observe how he talks to people about his faith and what they believe.

Today was a long, exhausting day. I am eager and anxious to see what tomorrow brings!

Beyond My Walls, San Salvador Mission Trip: Day 1

PHEW! It’s 8:45pm here in San Salvador (10:45pm back home in Ohio) and for some odd reason, I am not tired yet! I should mention I have been up since 3am (thanks for the wake up call, Dad…ughhh), have been on 2 flights totaling 5 hours in the air and 1 45-minute van ride. I should be exhausted! But I’m glad I’m not so I can give everyone an update!

Our first flight left from Columbus, Ohio at 5:50 am this morning and landed us in Miami, Florida. From Miami, we flew to San Salvador, El Salvador.

In case you're as clueless as I was...

In case you’re as clueless as I was…

Right in the heart of it all!!

Right in the heart of it all!!

Both flights for me were pretty uneventful. I already knew that even with the best of intentions to be productive during either of the flights, I knew I’d fall asleep eventually. So I gave in and tried to catch some extra zzz’s before the long day ahead. Flying into San Salvador was simply breathtaking. Everything was so green! I could see homes and buildings from above, but the land far outweighed the buildings.

Once we landed, we went straight to Immigration. The woman checked my passport and documentation and ask how many days I’d be staying. My Spanish is beyond lacking, but I can at least count to 10, and we’ll only be here 9 days! WOO! I know the answer to this one! So I happily blurted, “NINE!” Well, there went my first opportunity for real Spanish. She looked at me confused, “What? Oh…ok.” She was very sweet and smiled at the silly blonde girl who couldn’t even figure out how to say “NUEVE!”

After Immigration came Customs. Once again, the friendly Salvadorian laughed at my lack of Spanish and asked me to push a button right below a giant red and green traffic light looking contraption. “OH! Ok! It’s green….what’s that mean??” I was hoping for some sort of exciting prize for following directions so well! WRONG! Apparently it’s a randomizer that randomly lights up red or green. Green – you pass through into San Salvador. Red – you have to put your bag through the x-ray machine.

Everyone made it through both Immigrations and Customs without a hitch. The only slight problem was that one of our bags got lost, and both fortunately and unfortunately, it wasn’t anyone’s personal items, “just” donations for the villagers.

My new best friend and San Salvador reference, Sarah, met us outside. Sarah works as the Missions Coordinator and her husband, Jorge, is the head of college ministry. She reminded us of a few important tips (DON’T drink the water and don’t flush toilet paper!) and gave us a rundown of the rest of the afternoon and evening before escorting us to our van drivers for the week. We all piled in and began the 45-minute trek to our hotel.

Looking out the window on the drive was incredible. We saw everything from horses just chillin on the side of the road, to dogs wandering around, to graffiti, to shirtless workers enjoying an afternoon siesta.

 

Okay…the tired is starting to hit me, so I’m going to wrap up the rest of the day kinda quickly:

  • We arrived at the hotel and received our room assignments. I am rooming with 2 lovely girls, Jenna and Becca. Small world! I graduate high school with Becca’s older sister! Our room is basically 2 queen sized beds and one twin. They are very quaint, but perfect. It feels kinda like a dorm room (but we have our own bathroom!).
  • We had orientation (schedule for the week, do’s and don’t’s, cultural traditions, etc.).
  • Our first outing was to the local grocery store! I stuck close to Sarah and she showed me some delicious treats you can only get in San Salvador. I will be returning home with plantain chips, white chocolate and peanut butter candies, cream soda and Oreo Wafers! YEAH! I’ve never seen Oreo WAFERS in the US!!! I also scored some delicious pastries from the bakery. Since I will not be able to bring them home, I documented the banana puff pastry that might have been one of the greatest things I’ve ever tasted.
I'M GOIN' IN!!!

I’M GOIN’ IN!!!

I couldn't even get a picture of the entire thing before my mouth took over and I started chomping!

I couldn’t even get a picture of the entire thing before my mouth took over and I started chomping!

  • After our grocery outing, we came home (the hotel) for dinner. PIZZA!!!! A little taste of home was fantastic!
  • Our last group activity for the night was getting to know each other a little better by sharing what we are most looking forward to this week. I shared that I am simply looking forward to everything!! I’m really not sure what to expect this week, so I am excited for it all! I will be paying attention to opportunities to be stretched beyond my comfort level and open to God’s changes in my heart.
  • It had started to rain during our meeting, so after we had concluded in prayer, a few of us when to the roof (yeah, you can just go chill on the roof!). It’s covered, so we weren’t being rained on. I tried to capture some photos of the storm, but I did not have any success. I will just have to remember it. That roof is going to be home to many of my quiet times this week. In fact, I’m just crazy enough to dare to get up for the sunrise tomorrow!

Speaking of which, I am now officially tired. Please follow me here on Ending Up Here, Instagram, and Flickr for as many updates as I can muster before passing out from exhaustion each night!! Thank you so much to each and every one of you for your support through kind words, encouraging texts, and just by keeping up with me here!! Noches! (I’ve picked up that the “Buenos” isn’t necessary. 😉 )

View from the airplane as we arrived in San Salvador. Created with the iPhone app Vrsly.

View from the airplane as we arrived in San Salvador. Created with the iPhone app Vrsly.

 

Life, According to my iPhone: 100 Happy Days :: Vol. 4 & 5

 

If you are not familiar with the 100 Happy Days challenge, read my post explaining it HERE!

Okay, okay, I know I’m late!!! JEEEZ! But it’s been SUUUUUPER busy up in hurr lately (more on that LATER!). BUT! I still haven’t missed a happy day!!  Yesterday was Day 52 and I’m still going strong! I will admit that there have been a few days that haven’t been anything special, so they have resulted in some sort of Dewey portrait. But I almost appreciate those days more because it forces me to really look at my day and appreciate the little things. In fact, I’m working through binge watching How I Met Your Mother (I just started season 8 of 9!!!). An episode I watched last night ficused on Barney trying to convince Ted that they should do something”LEGENDARY” every night. The first few nights are pretty awesome (they start a Mariachi band, eat everything on the menu of their favorite bar and bring a horse into the bar!), but by night 4, Ted is getting tired and  implores Barney to understand that,

“Every night can’t be legendary. If all nights are legendary, no nights are legendary.”

WOOOOAHHHHH!!!!!! Mind. Blown.

 

Okay, in the episode, that was NOT Barney’s reaction. He vehemently argued against Ted…but MY mind was blown! If something awesome happens everyday, it becomes normal and the awesome things just seem regular. Does that make sense?

So because everyday isn’t “legendary,”, I get to value the little, insignificant days more.

*****

Here are my photos from the past 20 days!

OH! And check it out! I’ve gone long enough that I’ve had ONE FULL MONTH of Happy Days!!

I'm using the Photo 365 app to organize all my Happy Days!

I’m using the Photo 365 app to organize all my Happy Days!

And here are Days 11-20!

And Days 21-30!

(click to enlarge!)

Days 31-40

 Days 41-50

Day 31: Brunch with these cats!! I LOVE Sundays with Shelly (& Vikki)!!!

Day 32: 6am workout followed by coffee, tea and breakfast with the amazing Christine! We got to share incredible stories, challenges and I even got a few writing tips! All before 9am on my first day of spring break!

Day 33: Project Barbie Dream House Facelift continues!!! Where do you suppose this “Fabulous Grape” is going???

Day 34: I had a blast today hanging out with my sister and my favorite nephew (don’t tell him he’s my only nephew!)! Rarely do I get such quality time with the bugger!

Day 35: I knocked an item off my Spring Break To-Do list by exploring downtown and taking a little photo adventure!

Day 36: Good Friday: “IT IS FINISHED!” “It wasn’t a cry of defeat. It was a shout of victory. The great work of rescuing us was finished! There is now nothing you can do to make God love you more — nothing you can do to make him love you less. It is finished!”

Day 37: Got to spend the day being a model with this gorgeous girl for Drauma!

Day 38: Hosana! Hosana! Hosana in the highest! “Many will be counted righteous for He will bear their sin!” Isaiah 53:11 This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.

Day 39: “HOW DID I GET UNDER THIS DRESS?!” “WHEN DID I HAVE A DRAG BABY?!” Monday’s a Drag kicked off our Alternative Fashion Week (AFW) 2014!

Day 40: I Screen, You Screen Screen Printing Workshop! Another successful screen printing night! Check out my Mobster Red tank I printed with Kelli! 

Day 41: Stew’s first ever yoga class! I may have left out that Alexander is evil…but he survived anyways!! {Don’t get excited…we dated for a smidgeon, but he’s no longer in the picture! Pun??}

Day 42: So I joined a girl band after our Reconstruction Night for AFW 2014.

Day 43: Secret’s out. It’s Wig Night!!! I love having a friend that I can be silly and awesome and beautiful with!

Day 44: Wow wow wow. What a night!!! Amazing! Nerve-racking! So many words. Must sleep to process. Thank you too all who came out. Your love and support truly means everything. {Post AFW Grand Finale Runway Show!!!}

Day 45: Somethings will never change! I got to round out my amazing weekend with Yenny, visiting home from the Left Coast! 

Day 46: I spent the day paying bills, cleaning and reorganizing the Barbie Dream House. I found this love note stashed away in a corner! It’s easy to be a good friend when you have wonderful, kind and loving people in your life. 

Day 47: My life may not always be glamorous, but at least I get to cuddle up with the Dewster every night.

Day 48: Ahhhh…I heart Wednesday nights! Yoga, hit shower, dinner and Law & Order: SVU. 

Day 49: Just a typical Thursday morning sweating my ass off before work! 

Day 50: Oh y’know, just spending the day flexing & drinking champagne with my best model and workout buddy! Amanda and I spent the day prepping for the Cap City Marathon! Unfortunately, I couldn’t run due to a strained IT band, but I’ll be back next year!!!

Life, According to my iPhone: 100 Happy Days :: Vol. 3

32 days in and still haven’t missed!! If you are not familiar with the 100 Happy Days challenge, read my post explaining it HERE!

I have to admit that it has been pretty easy to be happy these past 10 days. As crazy as my schedule is, I have lots of blessings in my life and I’ve actually remembered to document them! And a few friends have joined the challenge!!

Here are my photos from the past 10 days!

And here are Days 11-20!

(click to enlarge!)

Days-21-30

 

Day 21: Sweating before 7am?? NAILED IT!! I’ve started working out at Seven Studios at 6am on Mondays and Tuesdays since my evenings are so busy!! This is my awesome friend Justin and one of our trainers, Christine!

Day 22: Besties/Sisters/Mobsters Amee & I steppin’ out at Circa Fashion Show, supporting the AMAZING Ashley Wills! She is a blogger and occasionally blogs for the Alternative Fashion Mob!!

Day 23: Hittin’s the streets of the Short North in downtown Columbus to get the word out about Alternative Fashion Week! Believe me…I was hard to miss and even harder to avoid!

Day 24: Celebrating the 3rd birthday of my new church, Rock City Church! The music and sermon was SOOO good, I stayed for 2 services!

Day 25: Jeff & Kelli gave a behind the scenes look into planning Alternative Fashion Week at Motive Monday. Apparently it’s not as easy as it seems!

Day 26: After residing at Barbie Dream House for Wayward Girls for 7 years, it was time for an update. New (to me) couch!! Step 1 of a few little tweaks!!

Day 27: First nap on the new couch was a snoring success!!

Day 28: Paw my gosh! That happy face!! What you can’t see is that I’m making the same face behind the camera! The weather is finally perking up!

Day 29: My lovely friend Brenton just made a penny floor in his bathroom! It was begging for a selfie!! This was also his birthday dinner!

Day 30: This is our type of weather! 45 minutes soaking up the sun resulted in a little sunburn! I ain’t mad!! We are ALL smiles!

 

Life, According to my iPhone: 100 Happy Days :: Vol. 2

I can’t believe it! I’ve made it 21 DAYS into this challenge and I haven’t missed a day once! Knock on wood!! If you are not familiar with the 100 Happy Days challenge, read my post explaining it HERE!

I don’t know if this challenge has made me more happy, but it has helped me to take joy in the little moments in life. But honestly, the thing I have loved most is sharing in my friends’ (and even some strangers!) happy moments! It has been helpful to have my friends do this with me. If it gets late in the day and I haven’t posted yet, I’m likely to get a “Have you been happy today??” text! I have found it to be true with every challenge in my life that the most important thing you need to be successful is a dedicated support group of friends!

Just a couple of Joyments!

Just a couple of Joyments!

Here are my photos from the past 10 days!

(click to enlarge!)

Day 11: Ahhhh….nothing like a brand new (and stinky!) yoga mat! The good people at Natural Fitness have a Zero Impact Program, in which they plant a tree for every product they sell! I hope it’s a cool tree! Maybe I’ll go visit it someday!

Day 12: Gah. I finally gave in. After my 2 day cleanse, I was starving and had a bagel with cream cheese. I don’t even care.

Day 13: Don’t leave me alone in a room full of buttons & knobs! Happy to get a clean bill of health at the eye doc!

Day 14: Happy to be surrounded by other Rock City Church folks at our weekly Life Group! We’re trucking through “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson.

Day 15: My best friend. Forever. Sometimes it just works.

Day 16: Feeding my hangover! Turns out Bareburger’s burgers are neither made out of bears or served by big, burly gay men.

Day 17: I became a Seven Studios Warrior today! I got to be a part of Julie Wilkes’ 7 Life Miracles Workshop!

Day 18: My city is better than yours. After a 6am Bootcamp workout at Seven Studios with Christina, I made time to snap a few sunrise pics. Gosh, Columbus is beautiful. 

Day 19: Finally, a day nice enough to go on a run, sit outside with Dewey, and chew on sticks.

Day 20: Oooohhhh!!! Happy happy joy joy!!! Presents (that I bought for myself) from Shoedazzle & Roozt were delivered today!!! (and maybe I had a little fun with a new photo editing app, Picfx 🙂 )

 

Life, According to my iPhone: 100 Happy Days

I love challenges. There’s just something so fulfilling about completing a difficult task that I set my mind to complete.

I also love photos. If my house were to catch on fire, I’d grab Dewey and then all my photo albums, my phone and my laptop (I’m a Millennial – most of my photos are digital!).

So, it should be obvious that I love a photo challenge!! Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim has monthly photo challenges that encourage participants to take 1 photo-a-day that aligns with that day’s topic. You can see March’s challenge HERE (and then keep watch for April’s!). I have done these challenges quite a few times and even posted my results here on my blog! You can check ’em out HERE!

My current photo challenge comes from 100happydays.com.I found this posted on a friend’s Facebook and had to check it out. The premise is simple: Can you be happy for 100 days in a row??

“We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in. The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being.”

All you have to do is take a photo of ANYTHING that makes you happy each day. It can be anything from coffee with a friend to something that captures the feeling of relaxing at home after a long day to your pet’s nose snuggled into your side – whatever it is that makes you happy just for a moment.

I gathered my girlfriends and we all agreed to start on the same day. Doing this challenge with a friend (or 7!) is helpful because you can help keep one another accountable. “Hey girl…sooo…I was avoiding work and checking my happy hashtag and I didn’t see you on there yet today…GET HAPPY!!!” The directions are easy:

  • Share your picture via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with a public hashtag #100happydays!
  • Come up with your own hashtag to share your pictures with your people!

Wanna follow the gang and I on our happiness photo journey? Hop onto Instagram and check out our hashtag, #happyin614 (614 is the Columbus area code)! Don’t be shy! Follow my crazy, busy, awesome, badass, exciting life on Instagram!

Wanna start the challenge yourself?!? AWESOME!!! Please share your personal hashtag here so I can encourage you and share in your daily joyments (joyful moments)! I’m so excited to see what makes you smile!

So far, I am 11 days in and totally enjoying the challenge! Here are my first 10 shots. Be sure to check back here to see my Joyments!

(click to enlarge!)

Days 1-10

Day 1: The A-Squad reunited!! Some of my best girlfriends Allie, Amanda, & Amee

Day 2: Saturday was been a perfectly beautiful day to spend outside with my favorite four-legged friend!

Day 3: I always leave Rock City Church feeling joyful and motivated! Each Sunday, I am able to take the message and apply it to my life. This week, where can I turn “Not a chance!” into “Okay God…I’ll take a chance.” ?? I’ve got some ideas!!

Day 4: Happy to catch up with an old friend over a home cooked dinner!

Day 5: Amee is now SIX YEARS CANCER FREE!!! And obviously it makes me so superduper happy to have my bestie/big sis/lesbian lover around year after year.

Day 6: I love my CBus!

Day 7: We got to welcome in spring with 108 sun salutations!

Day 8: YAY!!! I bought the Divergent trilogy and they finally came in the mail Friday! Guess what I’ll be nerding out to this weekend!!! (I have this silly rule about having to read a book BEFORE I see its movie.)

Day 9: I probably shouldn’t tell what I had to play during Cards Against Humanity to make Joe laugh to the point of tears…point of the story, Saturday was a wonderful night full of laughs with great friends.

Day 10: Happy to be stronger than I’ve ever been – in every way possible.

 

Life, According to my iPhone: Photo-a-Day Edition, Vol. 7 – YAY! It’s MAY!

I am still making it a priority of find a few moments each day to document my life!

So here is the first batch of the month of May!

My Photo-a-Day Challenge goes on! Click here for a bit of an explanation of what this whole thing’s about. Some of these photo prompts could have been very straight forward, but I tried to think outside the box to be more abstract with my photos.

As a reminder, I also post my photos to flickr, tumblr, and Instagram. To follow me on Instagram, please leave a comment here with your username so that I can approve you. Being a teacher, I keep my personal life as locked away from my students as possible, so my Instagram account is private. Also because for some odd reason, I was acquiring an unusual amount of unsavory types following my photos. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Do you do the Photo Challenge? Share your photos!

Thanks for perusing! Enjoy!

{click collage to enlarge}

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Daily Prompts:

May 1: I Bought This! The final piece to my Half Marathon running outfit!

May 2: Morning Ritual. Push-ups and sit-ups! Everyday! Keepin’ it fierce! Madonna didn’t get her arms from sleepin’ in!

May 3: This is Really Good! My last meal before the half marathon the next morning! I meant to take a picture of it pre-devouring, but I was starving and forgot! So here’s my clean plate! Giant burger and sweet potato fries!

May 4: Something Starting with F. Dad met me at the finish line. I gave him a giant hug and immediately started crying. I know Mom was with us.

May 5: Paper. Bamboo paper plate! ChefDan is a genius! Since a portion of the proceeds from The Alternative Fashion Mob’s Couture Cuisine goes to CHA Animal Shelter, he created FAUX gras & FAKon for Kelli Martin’s course!

May 6: Broken. My heart is broken…Uncle Art passed this morning.

May 7: In My Cup. H2O!!! I’m taking on a Water Challenge! It’s to drink at least half my body weight in ounces of water per day!

May 8: Shape. Dewey’s Doggie nose!