Saturday, March 29, 2014

Because I’m happy

I've been reflecting on happiness a lot lately and what it truly means to my life. How does it make me feel? How does it affect my day, my personality, my other ambitions? These are just a few of the questions that keep going through my head.  I think about a moment I can clearly remember feeling true happiness that filled my whole body and soul. This memory is not one I have to ponder over for long because I'm quickly taken back to my trip to Zimbabwe/Zambia, which I briefly wrote about here. To truly put this experience into words is near impossible because the beauty of it can't actually be expressed; it can only be felt by the soul. I wish all of you could feel that, so that you could grasp why I never want to stop talking about my year away. Why I refuse to let it become something of my past. Why deleting saved photos of elephants, children, and the savannas off of my phone is a dreadful thought. 

Through my reflections, I started to decipher why this trip trumped so many other life events, and I have come to believe that these four days are the closest I have ever been to the person God designed me to be. Free. Complete. Gracious. Spontaneous. Loving. Just writing that my heart skips a beat, making me long for a walk to the market in Zim to speak with the locals about life and southern Africa. 

When I traveled to Zimbabwe with Emily and Mallory, I was given the opportunity to see life from another different perspective. I was able to be who I wanted to be without the world around me already determining that based on their assumptions. I was free to truly exude the real portrait of me. Quirky and a little awkward. I was complete through the love I felt by others and the love I willingly wanted to share.

I'm longing for that pure bliss that came with walking from one country to another. I'm dreaming of the next day I feel that alive.  I'm wondering how to make it a part of my everyday life.  But then I think that maybe it's not a part of every day life, but rather a glimpse of the majestic home that we truly belong to, and I think of that as what I'm working towards.  I'm constantly working towards feeling more free, complete, gracious, spontaneous, and loving, because it means I'm that much closer to my Father.  I'm that much more aware of the beauty of grace.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear High School Me

This weekend I had the opportunity to go through a bunch of boxes that were packed up during the move.  I guess I have always been a person who writes out my emotions, because what do you know, I discovered all kinds of writing samples of mine from middle school and high school.  Sadly, I’m embarrassed to say that 95% of them were regarding some boy who “broke my heart” or was “confusing me.”  If I dated you from the ages of 13 to 17, there’s probably some journal full of scribbles about you and our relationship.  If not that, there was probably a stack of letters from my girlfriends giving me suggestions on what to do.  They were humorous, but just a little bit sad and desperate, which got me thinking. 

What would I have told my high school self in these situations?

First, pull yourself together.  Yes, break-ups are painful and they always will be, but any boy who is going to hurt you that badly probably isn’t a boy you want to be with for a long time.  Any boy who is confusing you enough for you to fill pages and pages with your emotions probably does not care about you to the same extent, so you should reconsider why you are making such a big deal about him.

On top of that, the future you is going to realize that none of these boys were really quite what you were looking for.  They may have filled your high school days with laughter and fun, but the woman you will turn out to be is going to be looking for much bigger things in a relationship.  You will be seeking more unique qualities.  

A God-loving man. A man who will not run in trying times. An adventure junky. A man moved by missions. A man who has a heart for orphans. A man who enjoys snuggling up with a good book. A man who loves animals. A man who truly accepts your family and wants to be a part of it.

You will one day move beyond the cute athlete and the musician, although those things will still make you swoon from time to time.  

If high school Taylor was to come to me crying and asking for help today, I would stop her and ask her if she has taken it to the Lord.  Have you prayed about the situation?  And not to bring said boy back, but for clarity and acceptance?  Afterwards, I would suggest that she not only pray for this new ex-boyfriend's future relationships, but for her own.  I would tell her to fervently pray for her future husband and his walk with the Lord.  Pray for the man that has already been set aside for you, the man that God knows will be the one to complete you.  There's something beautiful about the thought of marrying a man you were praying for before even meeting him.

Lastly, I would tell high school Taylor that in the future she probably won't date for years because there are other things in life that are weighted more heavily at that stage in her life.  She will be distracted by ruins in exotic locations, languages, children in Africa, and airports.  Because of that, I'd probably tell her to grab a notebook and head to Barnes and Noble.  Go to the travel section and go crazy!  Choose a location, learn as much as possible about the culture: food, traditions, clothing, top sites.  Then, save up that money and go!  Grab your girlfriends, your sister, or your mom, and explore another culture.

Live.  Don't let some boy keep you from truly living.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Passion Vs. Money

I've been doing a lot of job searching in the past month, looking for a position that I am both qualified for and passionate about. A lot of thought has been put into what I essentially want to do, but said job isn't found easily because it's a small niche. 

I recently went to a job recruiter in order to get some guidance and a little extra help getting my name out there since I find it awkward to promote myself to others when I meet them. During our meet up, she asked me an important question...

What would be your ideal job?

I've put a lot of thought into this and I have discussed it with my parents and a few select, dear friends, so I had a fitting answer. As I drove home though, I realized that although my answer was true to me, it didn't really embody what I deeply want to do. I want to love those (that feel) less loved. Obviously I realize that this isn't a true career, but that is what I feel called to do in life. I feel called to be active in communities that others turn a blind eye to or have written off due to financial predicaments, addictions they face, the language they speak, etc. I feel most me when I am serving in such an arena. I feel most comfortable when I can put focus on others and their special traits. 

Knowing this about myself, I continuously keep finding myself asking the same few questions. How do I combine this knowledge in order to start my career? Does a career need to be something I'm passionate about or is that what hobbies are for? Why do companies that speak so deeply into my soul not financially have enough money to hire employees? Why can't I just start my own non-profit and travel the world while loving precious people?

All of those questions tend to come back unanswered, requiring me to put all of my faith into God's timing and God's planning. I thought after a year of being completely out of my element that would be easier, but it hasn't been. With everyone else talking about their current jobs and all of what that entails, I find myself sometimes, keyword sometimes, being not very relatable to others. Im currently unemployed and the job I had was so unique, that many people can't fully fathom what I was doing. That, or I've found some people just don't care to ask. 

So what's the key to getting a job? Many people keep saying to take what you're offered and pay your dues. In many ways I agree and have spoken similar words to friends, but what I'm finding is that it is easier said than done. What if I want to pay my dues while working towards something I'm incredibly passionate about? What if I don't allow myself to be dictated by money and go after what I truly love? Ah, but there's the problem, right? Money... I need to financially be able to support myself, a lifestyle I'm comfortable with, and any unforeseen dilemmas that could potentially arise. 

Wouldn't it be peaceful if we weren't ruled by such worldly factors?

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I'm twenty-four now. When and how did that happen? I swear that some mornings I wake up and still feel like that twelve-year-old girl with braces, breakouts, and awkwardness. Maybe it's because I still face two of the three from time to time. Do other people feel that way though? Do y'all wake up feeling your age and mature enough for all of the responsibilities that it entails? Or do you wake up some days and say how have I been on Earth for this many years already? 

Another question for all of you readers out there. Do you ever feel different on your birthday? People always ask that question I feel like. For me, it feels like every other day, but with more attention from people I don't hear from quite as often. I have friends that celebrate the whole month of their birthday, so I always wonder how it differs from person to person. I'm not a huge birthday person. We didn't grow up with big, elaborate parties, which for me is completely fine. I'm not really a big, elaborate person.  I like the thought of having a special day and of course the cake, but I'm much more passionate about others' special days. I enjoy buying gifts and doing creative, unique things to make others feel special. 

With that said, I spent my day doing everyday things. I had the opportunity to observe some English classes at my old high school, which was entertaining because American students are so different from Namibian ones. I sort of forgot that. I also spent time working on a speech because I was asked to speak to 300-400 high school students during their chapel service next week. I'm basically sharing my Namibian story with them and how God played such a big role in that. Here's to hoping I don't do something stupid on stage, but at least if I do, they will go home with an interesting tale to share. Lastly for my birthday, there were cupcakes. Gluten free, dairy free, grain free heaven. I even went crazy and broke my caffeine allergy so that they could be chocolate. Look out world, this girl is a wild one in her 24th year!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The dreaded search

Before I start this blog, let me first say that I would not take this past year away for anything. Being in Namibia for the year molded me, strengthened me, and taught me more about life. 

The job search however, is brutal. Talk about punch you in the stomach, take away your confidence brutal. Myself, and I know other volunteers, have spent countless hours looking through job openings, writing cover letters, and updating our resumes, but at the end of the day, according to the corporate world, I'm technically "under qualified" for anything. I don't have two to three years of experience and unless you count my internships, I honestly don't even have one year of experience (internships should always be counted...just saying). Instead of throwing myself into the 8-5 job atmosphere of gaining professional experience right after college, I chose to teach in southern Africa where I could gain life experience: working with people from different cultures, figuring out a system I knew nothing about, and managing 90 individuals who barely understood me when I first walked in their classroom door. Sadly, this exposure so far has not helped me to land a "gig." Although I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about my year and several "oh my goshes," there are things you cannot put on your résumé to persuade future employers that you learn quickly and have experienced and grown far more in that year abroad than you personally would have if you stayed stateside. Here's a list of some of those things:

1. I am a bucket bath pro. Cold water or hot water, I can show you the proper technique to feeling clean after just using a bucket of water.  Adaptable, or so I like to see it that way.

2. When needed, I can whip out Namlish, which is the changing of my voice, accent, and terminology, to make things clearer for non-English speaking students.  I have experience working with different cultures and different languages, that should seem marketable, especially in Houston.  Ability to work in a diverse team.

3. Spiders don't phase me. Big, small, if they're on the wall, they will most likely stay.  Fearless.  This could come in handy in an office space, right?

4. I'm a hitchhiking expert, which clearly makes me personable :) I spent most weekends catching rides with strangers who quickly became friends. 

5. I can make food, toiletries, and $400 USD last longer than the average American.  I'm talking a month plus.  Hello, resourceful.

I know the uniqueness and struggles of my past year are and can potentially be understood by the corporate world, but I do wish that it was easier to find an entry-level position at this age in time.  I'm not alone, I know.  Hundreds of thousands of people are searching for a job as I type up this blog.  It's just a little disheartening that I haven't had any bites yet.  I'm praying for guidance though and trusting that as right as my Namibian job felt, that my future career will feel the same.  I'm patiently, or trying to, waiting for someone to contact me and tell me they want to interview me, hire me, or guide me.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Being Single

Since returning home, I have found that marriage and dating are constant topics amongst me and my girlfriends, the cyber world, and even for outsiders enquiring about my life and the ever present "next step" question. While in Namibia, there really wasn't any pressure for me to date. Could I? Sure! People were always suggesting I find a Namibian man, but the pressure didn't even begin to compare to what American society is constantly throwing in the direction of the single lady. People in relationships are happier than those who are single, right? 

When I left Namibia, my principal wished me to go home, get married, and have lots of babies. I laughed. I've felt this for awhile, but as a Christian woman, it doesn't seem to be as easy as that these days. Although I do appreciate her sweet words and the African cheers that followed, I can't honestly say that many men of my generation are living up to the role that my friends and I are searching for. No offense men, this does not apply to all of you, and women are equally to be blamed.

In a world where social media ultimately seems to have the first and the last say, I think it should be clear that as women, we deserve to be pursued by a man who picks up a phone rather than using Facebook or a text message to contact us. Although both Facebook and texting can be acceptable sources of communication, they should not over power the relationship. Vocal communication will be one of the keys to starting a strong relationship and keeping a relationship alive. I can say that because I'm surrounded by beautiful relationships where vocal communication is so prominent. I understand that in today's society, we are so dependent on these gadgets, whether we are using them to keep in touch, network, or to "creep" (we all do it), but ultimately we are losing so much in our actual relationships from them. I believe in the long run, a relationship will be stronger if those things are cutdown on. So girls, wait for the boy who calls you. Or talks to you at the gym. Or walks up to you after church. Wait for the boy who doesn't hide behind the screen of a gadget. 

In addition, I think it's fair to say that every girl should feel like the number one woman when she is being pursued by a man, I don't care how much of a Momma's boy he is. I believe that truly being pursued by a godly man will reflect Christ's actions in the bible. There would be no doubts, no questions, and no hesitations about the relationship. I don't think this means that our men need to know from day one that they will marry us, but I think it means there is an openness in the relationship. An honesty that allows every topic to be on the table for discussion. Where do you see this going? Are we spiritually, mentally, physically correct for one another? No girl should have to sit around and question the  motives of a boy. There really should be no need for us to sit through and decipher your actions. With that said, my first point helps with my second. Learning to communicate correctly will eliminate so many of these problems. Girls, wait for the man who makes you feel like number one. Wait for the guy who figures out your love language and addresses it. Boys, doing this does not mean that boy time, hunting, and football are going to disappear. 

Lastly, relationships are work. However, in my opinion, if they get to the point that it feels like an 8-5 job, it probably isn't the right relationship. You shouldn't settle for that.  Whether you are in the getting to know you phase, the dating phase, or the in a relationship phase, I don't believe a relationship should ever be what I would describe as exhausting. (I don't include marriage here because if this is the case, I believe it is your duty to honor your commitment to one another). We've all heard about the relationships, maybe you're one of them, that string on for years. They break up, they get back together, repeat. I read once that breaking up repeatedly practices for divorce and I'm a strong believer that this is true. The break ups, the "breaks," the I need a little space moments, they teach us to run from the actual problem. Ladies, don't settle for a man that strings you on. Wait for the one that never let's you go. Men, be just that. Be men. Be good enough, strong enough, brave enough to cut the ties that we may ask for, especially if you don't have it figured out what you want just yet. 

I realize that these points are so obvious and scream duhhh, but in today's society where everyone is getting engaged, married, or in a serious relationship, I see and I hear girls seeking out relationships for the sake of being in a relationship. It is to the point that they almost forget that they deserve something bigger. Something deeper.  I myself am included in this. However, we deserve more, which has led me to shed these words onto paper. To serve as a reminder mainly to myself, but also to the sweet ladies in my life that they are fierce, strong, beautiful, and compassionate, and that they deserve men that see and appreciate those traits too. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The American Return

I've been wanting to sit down for awhile and put into words some of my return.  As of tomorrow, I will start my 10th day back in America.  In a lot of ways, it feels like I never left, but then when I look around me and witness all of the changes that have taken place, it is very apparent that I was gone for a LONG time.  Many of you may know this, but Texas is a booming state.  For the most part, the economy is still in decent/good shape.  With that said, Houston and Sugar Land are constantly continuing to develop.  I have returned home to new roads, new stores, new apartment complexes, etc.  It is such a drastic change that at one point I looked at my mom and asked, "where are we?!"  She was either entertained or a little concerned with my lack of directional skills.

Being back home has been great so far, but I won't sugarcoat this for y'all (why start now?), it is difficult.  When I'm at the house with my family I am at ease.  However, being with my blood family reminds me of the Namibian family (brothers/sister, learners, etc) that I left behind.  On most days I have this feeling that something is missing.  That I'm not totally complete at this moment.  I have the four most important people sitting next to me, but other important people are miles and miles away.  I can only attribute that feeling to my Namibian life that I left behind.

As for the difficulties that I have faced so far... HOLIDAY SEASON MADNESS!  The difficulties definitely started the minute I said goodbye to all of the other volunteers that I flew home with.  For starters, JFK is a madhouse during the Christmas season.  Coming from the village, heck even from Cape Town, I was NOT ready for that.  People were everywhere.  They were in a hurry.  They didn't want me to greet them and make small talk.  They were REALLY fancy.  I felt small, scared, and a little unsure about what was ahead.  Getting to Texas got some of that edge off, but there have been moments that I've questioned things happening around me.

During orientation, our Field Director shared a story about his first return back to the States.  He had visited the grocery store and was so overwhelmed with the orange juice selection that he walked right out.  I've definitely had similar moments, but for the most part I've just been following mom around like a lost, small child.  One day I ventured out with Amanda and Mark though, which is when I had my first overwhelming can't function moment.  We decided to go to Chick fil A.  Since leaving, Chick fil A has added the caloric information for all of their food.  When we entered the store, I was so taken back by this.  On top of that, I couldn't find what I needed.  As I approached the counter (Amanda and Mark had already ordered), I was baffled and spitting words randomly at everyone because I didn't know where my option was and on top of that, I had to order an extra drink for my mom.  To say I was a hot mess would be an understatement.  The boy behind the counter seemed concerned with my behavior.  Amanda had a "rub some dirt on it" kind of attitude happening.  Mom laughed her butt off when I told her the story later.

All in all, being home is going great!  I'm excited for all of the things ahead of me.  I'm thankful for such a rewarding year and for a family that allowed me to peace out for a year.

Many have asked about what is to come next... My response?  I wish I knew!  As of right now, I'm planning to take off at least a month to readjust, do some job searching, work on the resume, and acclimate back to American life.  If any of you blog readers out there know of any Communications positions that may be available, throw them my way.