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October is here!

october is here!

And I thought it was about time for another "Currently" post. (I reserve most of my creative energy for my job and Her Story Goes these days, so...these momentary "updates" are all I've got left in me. Sorry 'bout it.)

Currently, I am...

Drinking: nothing right now, but earlier I indulged in my first (and probably last) Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season! It was absolutely delicious, but I'd be surprised if it didn't give me diabetes. #worthit

Loving: that it's finally fall and the temps actually sort of reflect it. (Today's low was 62 degrees! Huzzah!)

Reading: my dad's copy of Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Why is it that I'm never reading anything good when I post these things? I grabbed the Christian apocalyptic novel from my parents house in Rayne a few weekends ago, minutes after I had (sadly) finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. It was such a delightful novel, one of those that inspires more reading. This one, I could take or leave.

Stressing over: what to do for a living, now that I'm at a crossroads.

Thankful for: friends who listen to my messy, irrational, and all-over-the-place thoughts and feelings -- without judgment or criticism -- and just get it. To have someone (or a few someones) you trust enough to confidently confide in at any given moment is truly having it all.

Listening to: music coming from the computer in the bedroom, where Scott is designing away.

Learning: to care a little less about what others think of me -- because honestly, ain't nobody got time for that.

And a little bonus fun fact: The girl in the photo above is my best friend, Marissa, and she is visiting from Dallas this weekend. She's probably the coolest person I know, and that smile of hers gets me every time.

One year married.

Scott and I have been married a whole year! That's four seasons, 12 months, and 365 days as husband and wife. #crazy

It's unbelievable to me that our wedding was that long ago, because it honestly feels like yesterday that we made the drive up to the hill country together to get hitched in front of our beloved friends and family. But on the other hand, it seems like forever has passed since I've used the term "fiancé" or "boyfriend." Time is a very, very strange thing.

In brief, our first year as a married couple has been full of traveling, soul-searching, family bonding, and learning to trust in God's plan for us. But most of all, we've been reveling in the little joys of married life, and in making a home for ourselves in Houston. This picture from Scott's Instagram pretty much sums up what we're all about these days:

Staying in, cuddling on the couch, and watching back-to-back Game of Thrones episodes. It may not look like much, but it's nights like these that I thank God I found someone who loves the simple things as much as I do.

Here's to many more years of love, adventure, laughter, simplicity, forgiveness, and nights spent cuddling. To making the most of each day, whatever our future may hold.//P.S. In case you missed it, you can view our wedding highlight video here.


Overcoming fears in Haiti.

What if I lose my passport? 

What if I wake up next to a tarantula one morning? 

What if I come home with Zika? 

What if the language barrier makes it impossible to communicate? 

Going on a mission trip to Haiti sounded like a great idea back in May, when my brother casually mentioned that his friend’s organization had an open spot.

“Um, count me in,” was my initial response, knowing full well I could never pass up any opportunity to travel. And, bonus, this one included playing with kids. “Where do I sign up?”

Fast forward three months. I’m over-packed (as usual) and ready to go, waiting at the airport for my brother and his best friend to arrive so we can hop on our first flight to Miami. The flight’s delayed a few hours, so I settle in with some snacks, thankful I remembered to bring an extra book. Once on the plane, an hour or so after takeoff, the friendly flight attendant brings us each two adult beverages -- free of charge -- to make up for the delay. We share a laugh, toast our drinks, and relax into our seats. So far, so good.

When we do finally land in Florida and meet up with the rest of the crew at the hotel, it’s 11:00 PM and I’m ready for bed. I meet my assigned roommates (two awesome ladies with whom I quickly hit it off), shower, and set my alarm for 5:00 AM the next morning. Once my head hits the pillow, I’m sound asleep, dreaming of the adventures to come.

When I told my friends and family where I’d be traveling this summer, my news was met with similar reactions.

Oh, wow… Be extra careful. Never go anywhere by yourself. Wear bug spray. Don’t drink the water. Hide your belongings. Are you taking malaria pills? 

All valid concerns and good advice, no doubt. Driving through Port-au-Prince, I clung to these words of wisdom like a timid child clings to its mother, hoping they’d keep me safe. But it wasn’t until later that I realized there weren’t enough wise words in the world to prepare me for the experiences ahead.

From a distance, putting on a brave face is remarkably easy. Oh, I’ll be fine! The trip will be a blast. It’s only when you’re confronted by your fears -- fears you didn’t even know you had -- that you find out what you’re truly made of.

On our second night in La Vallée, in a one-on-one conversation with the trip counselor (and lifelong family friend), I opened up about how overwhelmed I was suddenly feeling. How I was having trouble falling asleep at night. How all of these worst-case scenarios kept running through my brain. “The truth is, I’m scared of everything,” I joked half-heartedly. He sighed with relief, and the words that followed took me by complete surprise.

“I’m so glad I’m not alone.”

During my brief time in Haiti, I met the most incredible kids. A little boy named Bona stole my heart–and then my camera–with his cheesy smile and mischievous manner. Two sweet sisters, Asmede and Mika, became my closest companions on our walks through the town. Adson, quiet and kind, held my hand all the way down the slippery hill to Codeha so that I wouldn’t fall.

I’ve never seen people so happy, and with so little. From sunrise to sunset, a group of our Haitian buddies would play on the street outside of the hotel, waiting for us to join in the fun. They’d greet us with hugs, show us to our destination, teach us Creole phrases, and laugh at our American accents. They’d proudly lead us in prayer, kick our butts in soccer, run barefoot through the woods, ride on our backs and whisper “I love you” in our ears.

And somewhere along the line, amidst the carefree laughter and palpable joy that filled our endless days, their fearlessness became my own. Slowly, everything else -- all of my petty worries and self-perpetuating fears -- faded into the background and proved insignificant by comparison. The warning words circulating through my head began to loosen their grips on my psyche, one by one, until there was nothing left but love.

On the way home from the airport, after more than 12 exhausting hours of travel, I gave my parents the complete rundown of the week’s events. It was almost 11:00 PM in Houston, and yet I couldn’t stop talking. I wanted to tell the whole world about those kids, about how much they had touched me, and how much I already missed them. How I would go back in a heartbeat if it meant spending more time with each and every one of them.

When I signed up for the trip in May, I hoped that by the end, I could make some small difference. I wanted to bring happiness to at least one child’s week in any way that I could, to change one person’s life for the better. Little did I know that the kids would be the life-changers, and that the life altered forever would be mine.

Turns out, I didn’t lose my passport.

Or wake up face-to-face with a tarantula.

Or come home sick (with anything more than a cold).

But if I had, it would have been okay. Because at the end of the day, they understood me and I understood them. The connection was effortless, and the effects infinite.

|| originally published on Her Story Goes ||

10 thoughts for August.

10 thoughts for august
1. I just returned home from Haiti (blog post on my trip coming soon!) and all I can think about is how lucky I am to have what I have. A cozy bed, hot showers, three meals a day, a sturdy roof over my head, floors not made of dirt, air conditioning! The list goes on... I've never been so appreciative of the things we all take for granted.

2. On another serious note, my heart goes out to all those affected by the Louisiana floods. I have many relatives who were right in the middle of it (including my parents) and a few whose homes were damaged. Sending so many prayers and positive thoughts y'all's way! (To donate to those in need, click here.)

3. The arrival of August always makes me super antsy for fall. Bring on the spiced apple cider and knit sweaters, please. Scott and I are planning a trip up to North Carolina in November, and I can't wait to see what a real autumn looks (and feels) like.

4. I'm currently battling an ugly cough and a sore throat that cannot be beat. (I've tried everything.) So instead, I'm just waiting it out with Netflix and cinnamon tea. Shout out to Lauren Casanova (my Mission Renew roomie) for spreading the love. ;-)

5. This flick looks absolutely terrifying. And watching it may be on the agenda for tonight, depending on whether I feel like hauling my sick(ish) butt to the theatre or not.

6. Speaking of on-screen things, Scott and I are addicted to HBO's new murder mystery show, The Night Of. Anyone else on board that bandwagon?

7. I never thought I'd say this, but since Friday, I've been entertaining the idea of going back to school to study something pretty specific... Which I'mma keep to myself for right now, so as not to jinx it. But if I still don't think the whole idea's 100% insane after many more hours of prayer and consideration, I'll share my thoughts with you guys.

Right now, in case you're wondering, I'm doing some part-time work for a PR company here in Houston called Mad Meg Creative Services. Check out their too-cool-for-school website!

8. My buddy Elise introduced me to Glossier, a "skincare as makeup" line, and I'm curious to try it out. When it comes to makeup, I'm all about simple and affordable these days (mostly because I'm lazy). Have you heard of this cool new brand? The packaging/branding alone is enough to make me fall in love.

9. Sundays are the highlight of my week, because Netflix. It cures all.

10. The candid photo above was taken by my lovely and talented friend, Elizabeth, at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts last month. It begs the question: Am I admiring art or pondering life? I think, perhaps, a little bit of both.

Touring Europe: Pisa + Lucerne.

On our way from Florence to Lucerne, we stopped in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. Honestly, at the time, I couldn't care less. This is because, while walking through the little town, I spotted a sign for a 24-hour pharmacy, and got so excited. Sort of like an 8-year-old gets excited about a candy shop. (I was dying, remember?) It just so happened to be Sunday, and every other pharmacy I had stumbled upon in Italy was closed. Turns out, the Piazza dei Miracoli really is miraculous. 

Even though all I could think about at the time was getting my hands on some meds, I snapped a quick photo of the tower in all of its crooked glory. 

Once in Lucerne, we lugged our things from the main square to our hotel. Which, come to find out, was originally built in 1862 as a prison. (Notice the bars on the windows.) You should've seen the look on my face when we discovered we were going to be sleeping in an actual jail cell! What fun. (But actually, it was pretty fun.)

Our journey up Mount Pilatus the next day was so beautiful (and just a little scary), we didn't want to ever come down. As you can imagine, the cold air blowing through the peaks was a refreshing break from Italy's heat, and for once, I didn't mind the chill. We spent most of the morning up there, in awe of this magnificent country. 

Lucerne was definitely one of the loveliest places I've ever visited, and despite the brevity of our stay, I can honestly say I felt the most at home here. For several hours after our journey back down the mountain, Kristen and I sat in a Starbucks charging our phones (prison hotels don't have electrical outlets, apparently), and simply embraced the stillness. Even though we weren't out adventuring or exploring, I still felt on top of the world. There's something about just being in a brand new city that awakens your soul, you know? And having your best friend by your side -- well, that makes it all the more special.

Later that afternoon, on a paddleboat ride across Lake Lucerne, Kristen actually stripped down to her skivvies and jumped in the freezing Swiss water. It was an amazing moment -- one of my proudest as a best friend -- and I got the whole thing on camera. (I won't share it here out of respect for Kristen's privacy, because I promised I wouldn't.) Being the cold-blooded wuss that I am, I did not jump in after her. Somebody had to man the boat lest it float away, and I was happy to take one for the team.

That evening, while trying to find dinner, we got stuck in yet another torrential downpour (I'm noticing a pattern here...) and took cover in the cutest little wine bar and cafe. For the 100th time since the start of our trip, we discussed the mysteries of life and love over a bottle of wine and another three-hour meal, in pure European fashion. We really do make the perfect couple, her and I. ;-)

And then, before heading back to our cell for some shut-eye, we bought all the chocolate our little hearts -- and stomachs -- could handle. 


Making memories at Lake Tahoe.

In lieu of a honeymoon abroad, Scott and I thought it'd be much more fun to plan the perfect vacation for both of our families while we still can (ahem, before any little ones decide to grace us with their presence). Since December, we've been trying to pick the ideal locale, set a date that works for all, and make the trip of a lifetime happen. And with our parents' help, it all came together even better than we expected! Lake Tahoe won out as our first choice destination, and from the photos, it's pretty easy to see why.

The ten of us (parents, siblings, significant others and all) met up in Reno and then together made the hour and a half trek up the mountain to Kingsbury, where we stayed for seven nights in a large forest cabin with an incredible view. Mornings were spent hiking up rocky trails in the crisp, 50 degree weather -- not a cloud in the sky -- and afternoons saw some of us snorkeling in Nevada's breathtakingly cold waters. Evenings were for gambling at the nearby casinos, or grilling out on our back porch, roasting marshmallows for dessert, and playing card games around the dining room table. Late-night hot tub parties may also have ensued.

Some of Scott's extended family live near Tahoe, so we spent one of our first afternoons barbecuing at the house with the whole clan -- most of whom he hadn't seen in years. I'd heard a lot of great stories about his cousins, and finally getting to meet them was definitely a highlight of our stay. Others included picnicking in Sand Harbor, sunbathing on the beaches of Emerald Bay, feeding the ducks on the shores of Fallen Leaf, and diving one at a time into the icy Eagle Lake. 

I especially enjoyed the day we toured Virginia City, an old gold mining town dating back to the 1850s. In the midst of exploring, we snacked on saltwater taffy from its darling candy shoppes, drank Sarsaparilla at the bar of a haunted saloon, and ran into a herd of wild horses behind the community's oldest (and loveliest) church. With each step, the deep-rooted history of the place became more and more palpable. The people, as friendly as could be.

While I won't soon forget the beautiful views, glorious weather, and many adventures wound up in our summer travels, the one thing I'll remember most is how our whole families joined together so effortlessly for the fifth time in little over a year. There's something really special about that, I think, rare as it is. And in the future -- when our lives (inevitably) become busier, the distance between us grows wider, and our schedules align less frequently -- I'll look back on Lake Tahoe in remembrance of where it all began. The unbreakable bond of this wonderful family, our family.