A Word for 2018


I love the fresh start associated with a new year. I love lists and goals and plans, and I love the idea of choosing a word to choose as a theme of sorts for presiding over the coming months. 

Last year I chose the word lean. It was twofold: on the one hand, I wanted to lean into my work, into the redesign of my personal website, and into the ideas I had for some consulting projects, all of which ultimately took shape in 2017. On the other hand, I wanted the word to be a reminder of my goal to live in a way that felt a little leaner, with less stuff and less spending and less social media and the like. Of course there were days when I didn't lean into anything but my comfy bed, but on the whole, I'd like to think I achieved the objectives I set for myself. I finished the year feeling a peace descend over me, with a sense of accomplishment. My work, my goals, my closet, my refrigerator: they all reflected the idea of living leanly. 

And yet as I dove into 2018 there was still a bit of a stirring within me, a rumbling that reminded me that while I had achieved so much, there was still so much left to learn, especially when it comes to control. For someone who adores list-making and goal-setting, it should come as no surprise that I strive to constantly be in control of all areas of my life, including the aforementioned work, goals, closet, and refrigerator. And while this mentality can help me in a myriad of ways, it can also be a major detriment. I can so desperately want to control a situation that I lose sight of what's really important in life. When my goals and dreams don't come to pass, I get disappointed easily, especially in myself. I struggle to remain content when things don't go as planned, and I forget where my true help comes from (hint: it's not from myself.)

So this year my word is going to be trust. I am going to trust in God, first and foremost, and I am going to meditate heavily on my favorite verse of all time, which is by no coincidence related entirely to trust: 

"He had made everything beautiful in his time. " — Ecclesiastes 3:11 (boom.)

I am going to trust that when things don't go my way, there's a reason for that. Or, you know, maybe there's not, but things will work out how they're meant to regardless. I'm going to trust that I definitely don't know it all, that the plans that are laid out for me in the future are so much better than I could ever dare to dream them to be—but only if I'm willing to let go of control and trust the process. 

Image by David Shirley via nyctaeus

A New Year


Happy 2018, all! I can't believe another year is upon us already. I feel so thankful for the good things our family experienced in 2017—the adventures we had, the travels we took, the food we ate, the books we read, the challenges we overcame, and so much more. I'm especially grateful for our Ruby and for the ways we got to watch her grow and transform and change every single day. Just when I thought I wanted time to freeze, that I wanted her to stay the same age and size that she was in that very moment, she learned something new or tried something different or did something adorable and hilarious, and I realized, once again, that every day, every hour, every minute with this baby girl is a brand new gift, that every stage is one to be cherished anew.

I'm looking forward to writing more here on the blog, especially about the books I'm reading. I've always been an avid reader but in the last several months, I've rediscovered my passion for books. I've set a goal of reading 1,000 books in the coming years, and I can't wait to document that adventure in part here on the blog. There will be lots more to share here, too—family life, travel adventures, daily musings, puppy photos and baby photos galore. For now, happy 2018 to you and yours! 

Five Years of Home

Five Years of Home.jpg

September is a special month for us at Touch A Life: it's officially been five years since we opened our Care Center in Ghana, West Africa. The Touch A Life Care Center is a long-term rehabilitative facility for children rescued out of slavery, the only one of its kind in the region. This space was a dream of ours for years before it came to fruition, as we realized early on the need for a place where children who could not be reunited with their families could find a place to safely heal and grow. At the time only short-term care and housing options existed for trafficked children, and we knew that we needed to stand in the gap for this demographic of kids by creating a long-term facility so that we could provide them with the holistic care they so desperately needed and deserved. So to see how far we've come and to witness the center thriving five years after the children moved in is an absolute joy. 

We started small with four children's dormitories, a dining hall, and a director's house. We filled the space with children and house parents, and we raised the capital to complete more projects. Since the facility opened in 2012 we've added a fifth dorm, a social center, an art center, a multi-purpose room, and an on-site shop for goods created by our talented staff at the facility. We have a soccer field and a basketball court and a sand volleyball court; we have wells that pump fresh water and a gorgeous garden and a bakery. We have 10 acres in total, giving the children so much space to run and play. 

The Care Center is currently home to 80 amazing children, and I had the pleasure of spending a week with them in early August. It was my 14th trip to Ghana, which I cannot believe, and it was my sixth time to be at the Care Center. My mom traveled with me for the sixth time (!) and we were joined by a wonderful small group of volunteers. We hosted a yoga camp for the kids, worked on donor communication projects, and soaked up our days in Ghana. Like always, the trip impacted me in ways both big and small. Every time I'm in Ghana, and more specifically at the Care Center, I am grounded and humbled. I am reminded of who I am meant to be and how I am supposed to live my life. I feel centered and strong; I gain new perspective and focus.

Celebrating this special anniversary reminds me of a Ghanaian tradition that I love. When two people meet for the first time, they gather underneath a mango tree to discuss where they have been and where they are going. Looking back at the last five years at the Care Center reminds me where we've been as an organization: the ups and downs we've faced, the trials we've overcome, the heartbreak we've endured, the successes we've had. And looking ahead fills me with so much hope and inspiration. We've got teenagers to send to college and farm animals to raise and projects to pursue. We have neighbors to serve and volunteers to send and lives to change (ours included). There is so much to be thankful for, and there is so much good work still left to do.  

A Fresh Start

Hello, friends! I am so, so excited to be writing to you from my brand new space! While I absolutely loved every minute of writing at Coffee & Tacos, over time I felt the push to move my content to a place where I could not only continue writing personal posts but where I could also showcase the freelance work I've been doing for the past several years. My dear friend Mary Martin built this site and designed the beautiful logo for me, and I couldn't be happier with how it all turned out.

One thing I love is that we were able to transfer all of my original Coffee & Tacos posts over to this new space, so if you're interested in the archives, you can easily browse through all of them here. I've added a Work section, too, where you can check out all of the fun projects I've been doing over the past few years. I'm sure there will be some kinks to sort through over the coming weeks, but I'm excited to get things started on this brand new site. 

I'm still playing around with the content and posting frequency but I can assure you that after the hiatus I've taken over the last year, I will be writing more often in this fresh new beautiful space. I can't wait to keep connecting with you and sharing ideas. Thank you for joining me in this new phase of my journey!

Image via Paper & Stitch 

All in Moderation

Hello, my dear friends! I am so happy to be back in this space, reading and reflecting on old posts and getting inspired to write more in the coming months. Our beautiful Ruby is nine months old - where is the time going?! - and we are more in love with her than ever. Each day we feel increasingly grateful for the gift that she is to us, and we can't believe we were blessed with the sweetest, smiliest, most loving little girl. The months after Ruby was born were blissfully calm. Of course we had days when sleep evaded us and sicknesses reared their ugly heads, but mostly we were enveloped in an atmosphere of peace as we soaked up every minute with our baby girl.

My friend Gwendolyn gave me my favorite piece of advice about the postpartum season, telling me to ignore the feeling that, after we had settled into a routine, I had to be up and about all the time. She told me that she felt like she'd forced herself to get up and go too early on, that I'd likely prefer nothing more than snuggling up with my baby girl for hours on end. For an introvert, this advice was easy to take, but I'm so glad she shared it anyway. There were days when while I was on maternity leave when I wondered if I should be more productive or active. But I quickly recalled Gwendolyn's advice and hopped back into bed with Ruby in my arms, knowing that time was slipping through my fingers, understanding that there was nowhere better to be at that present moment. I loved every minute of that sweet, sweet season. I had nothing to do but be Ruby's mom and it was the most surprisingly beautiful period of time, one that I had anticipated anxiously; I hadn't known how I would feel, physically or emotionally, and I was so encouraged that I felt so calm and so at peace.

We did get out and about, of course. We met our dear friend Emily and her baby girl, Grace, for coffee once a week, exploring fun shops around town in an attempt to source the best brew (I think Weekend Coffee still remains my favorite). I started exercising just as soon as I got clearance from my doctor, and in addition to going for cleansing runs around the neighborhood in the morning, Ruby, Coach, James, and I went on a walk every evening. I met friends for wine and went to parties and scheduled lunch dates. We took Ruby on her very first trip: fittingly, to Malibu, one of my most favorite places in the world. But I tried to move carefully, as I had learned early on that life's pace with Ruby was much slower in the most refreshing way - but only if I allowed myself to resist the urge to rush and check items off my list and accomplish more, more, more. I intentionally left blank days on my calendar. I kept my over-achieving attitude at bay. I embraced the days when Ruby didn't feel up to going out, and I shifted my plans. Some days this was easy to do; some days it wasn't.

After I transitioned back to work part-time, after the holidays came and went, after the new year was upon us, I really started to feel like myself, like I was hitting my stride: as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as a friend, as an employee. I will always have moments when I'm not sure how I'm doing, when I don't know how I measure up, but I seemed to settle into a rhythm in the new year.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about moderation. In many senses, I have always wanted more, even in diametrically opposed ways. It's as if I'm attempting to balance desires on one end of the spectrum with desires on the other: more tacos + more kale. More wine + more water. More exercise + more rest. More weekend trips + more Saturday mornings at home. More coffee + more sleep. More books + more Netflix. More playtime + more naps. More baby cuddles + more me time. More plans + more spontaneity. More writing + more free time. More of this + more of that.

I struggled to reconcile this feeling of wanting more with my desire for wanting less. I loved the feeling that I had experienced right after the baby was born, and the way that it inspired me to pare back my life in so many ways - by saying no to invitations, by keeping my calendar more open, by decluttering closets, by maintaining a slower pace, by being present with Ruby. But I also wanted to show my daughter the world, to engage in activities that I love, and to fill life to the brim with experiences and meals and trips and sunsets and books. Lately, though, I've been thinking about moderation, that it's all about enjoying the things I want more of (the tacos and the wine and the exercise and the travel) while balancing them out with the things that help me say yes to less (the kale and the water and the rest and the Saturday mornings at home).  I've been thinking that moderation is the key to the joy our family has been experiencing in this season of life - and, maybe, it will be the key to experiencing joy in every season.

Anyway. That's plenty of pondering for now. I plan to be popping back in to this space with more frequency, all while keeping moderation in mind. More writing, more connecting on the wonderful world wide web - but also more face time with the people I love.

Photos via Hunter Folsom - check out the link to read Hunter's beautiful post about Ruby and our family. I am so honored to call her a friend! If you're in the Dallas area and you're looking for photos, Hunter is currently donating 100% of her proceeds to Preemptive Love Coalition. Amazing, right?