This used to be what you would find on my About Me page. I shortened things up, but wanted to keep this around.
I grew up in a suburb of Detroit called Westland. I grew up enjoying four seasons and trips “up north.” I grew up living between my grandparents and one of my best friends. I grew up going to a Baptist church. I grew up reading books. I grew up well cared for and well looked after. I grew up with a lot of friends and laughter. I grew up taking bike rides to the library with friends and walks to get ice cream with family.
When I was seven a Sunday School teacher said that if we didn’t have Jesus in our hearts we couldn’t go to heaven to be with God forever. I wanted in on that so when I was seven, in a Sunday School class, I asked Jesus to come into my heart. Then a few days later I asked Him again in my grandparents’ backyard – just to be sure. A couple weeks after that I got baptized. My dad came to church to see that.
When I was eleven I went on my first airplane ride, my first trip out of the country, my first mission trip. My mom and I, along with the Pastor of our church and a group of high schoolers, spent a week in Monterrey, Mexico. On the day we arrived I cried and cried. I was so hot and everything was so dirty and foreign. But God spoke to me there. He said, “This is what I have for you.”
On the day we left I cried and cried. I was so sad to leave behind all of my new friends.
When I was in high school I couldn’t get enough of Jesus. I attended three different youth groups and a weekly Bible Study. I went on every retreat, camp, and mission trip I could. I learned and laughed and read and wrote. I prayed and sang and played and painted. I mixed cement and rode tubes down a hill of snow. I made really, really good friends who are still shaping my faith today. There are pieces of my heart all over Southeastern Michigan and if I could choose a place to grow up all over again I’d choose there – where the summer nights mean bonfires and hoodies and the winters are filled with hot chocolate and sled rides.
When it was time to choose a college I only wanted to apply to one place – Cedarville University – and I knew exactly what I wanted to study – Education and Spanish. When people ask me why I choose Cedarville I don’t really have an answer. I just knew that’s where I wanted to go. When people ask my why I choose Education I have even less of an answer. It’s like when I was in Mexico on that very first mission trip God planted in my heart a seed – a seed that grew into a desire and a dream. And since that very first trip to Mexico I knew that God had created me to teach, and to teach Spanish speakers.
When I was younger I would say to my mom, “I want to love the kids that have nobody else to love them.” Now I say, “I just want to love.”
When I arrived at Cedarville I cried and cried. Because everyone was white and everyone had money and nobody knew anything about what it was like growing up in a neighborhood like mine (or so I thought). When I arrived at Cedarville I quickly got a job in Springfield, where I both found and left pieces of my heart.
During my first two college summers I worked at a church in Maryland. I led seventh and eighth grade girls in prayer and Bible study and awkward conversations with cute boys. I camped and planned and stacked and unstacked chairs. I sang and prayed and stayed up late and learned. I made really, really good friends.
During my third summer of college I stayed in Cedarville and worked at Inside Out Childcare in Springfield. God used that summer to teach me how to be by myself.
During my fourth summer I watched a lot of my friends graduate. And I cried and cried because I was so proud of them and so excited for what God was going to do to them, through them, and around them. Then I finally moved to Springfield to be with my heart. Then I took off for Paraguay, where I spent three months teaching eight sweet kindergartners and learning more about what it means to be a daughter of a King and a teacher. When it was time to leave I cried and cried because my time in Paraguay was so sweet, but also because I couldn’t wait to get back home.
During my last year at Cedarville I lived and worked and breathed and grew and discipled and was discipled in Springfield. I made friends and learned and stretched and grew in humility and grace in Cedarville. I continued to learn what it’s like to be by myself, what it means to be a grown up, and what it means to live in community. It was a great “season,” as we modern Christians say.
When I graduated from college it was in front of my family and friends and we spent the day celebrating in my favorite ways – playing games, eating good food, and taking pictures. Three weeks later I packed up everything I own into the world’s smallest car. I cried and cried as I drove away from what had become my home.
A few days after that I flew to Philadelphia, where I met my YouthWorks family. We drove to Brooklyn together and again, I was home. When I left Brooklyn I cried and cried because I didn’t know how to live without my friends. And because I was terrified of what was to come.
When I arrived in the Dominican Republic I cried and cried because I missed everything I knew and because I couldn’t believe that the God of the Universe saw fit to bless me in such huge ways. It took me a couple of months to get over the international move, and in some ways I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.
In June of 2013 I packed it all up again to spend six weeks in Indianapolis. There my YouthWorks family expanded and I lead and learned from a couple hundred really awesome teenagers and the adults who love them enough to sleep on the floor in the same room with them for a week. At the end of the six weeks I was so ready to be back home in San Pedro and so ready to go for six more weeks.
I’ve been living in the Dominican Republic since August 2012 and I’m not done going. My heart is still in Westland, Michigan in the house between my grandparents – the people who shaped me and grew me and loved me and knew me when they didn’t have to – and one of my best friends. My heart is still in Springfield and there are days when it aches to be home. My heart is with each of my precious friends all over the United States and the World. But most of all my heart is not here at all, but in heaven, with my Savior, where it is being stretched and grown and watered and known, hanging out until I am really made whole. What I mean to say is, wherever I find myself, my heart is already home.