Port Au Prince, Haiti

IMG_3387I had the opportunity to spend some time in Haiti in November and it was absolutely amazing. The amount of joy these people have with so little is inexplicable. They don’t compare their lives to their neighbors’, they don’t sit not their smartphones wishing they had someone else’s looks, house, possessions. They are constantly joyful. They have faith in the Lord and that He will provide for them. These people are grateful. They are resilient. They work all day. Their government is corrupt. Their homes are tiny. There is an orphan cycle that occurs because mothers of babies can’t afford to have children. A lot live in villages and the children may not see food for a week. Yet, when we visited one of those villages, the kids were so excited to see us. They just wanted to feel our love, our attention. They pulled us by the hand to join them in playing soccer, braiding hair, painting nails! I loved being able to SERVE these kids. We helped bathe the children, clean their wounds, and bandage up any cuts. A lot of the kids didn’t even have parents. It was A LOT to take in. And as difficult as this day in particular was (which is actually the photo at the top) I was surrounded with such JOY and LOVE and HAPPINESS. Joy is absolutely eternal.

IMG_3175Reflecting on that day though, I don’t think the take-away was suppose to be guilt. Guilt that we were born Americans and don’t live this life. I don’t think we were meant to feel like we are horrible human beings because of the shallowness of our minds sometimes. Of our worries, our comparisons, our conversations… when kids live so impoverished in another country such as this. I think God’s plan and objective is to use us as vessels of us HIS love wherever we may go. To tell the Haitians’ stories when we come back home. To help out how we can, and get others involved in the cause as well. But most of all, I think these type of “mission” trips is truly a change in “vision” trip. A change in our perspective is almost always a direct result of spending even a few days with these children. It’s so easy to lead us to A change of heart. A change in direction. A change in perspective.

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Meet Banner. He has CP. It was believed that he would never walk on his own. But after working with the organization located in Haiti made up of volunteers and PTs, Banner has been working on his walking and pushes a walker while playing with other children. Pure JOY is found with one glance at Banner’s smile.

Are we doing all that we can to the best of our potential? Are we truly LIVING our best life, as in taking every opportunity that we can to SERVE others, to INSPIRE, to LOVE, to LEAD, to ENCOURAGE, to REACH out to someone in need, someone struggling, someone feeling alone. We don’t need to travel to the other side of the world, or a third world country to make a difference in this world and someone else’s.

We never know someone’s story. We can’t judge, we don’t know what they’re going through. What if tomorrow we started treating others like we saw the face of Jesus in their face? What if we chose to go out of our way to help make someone’s day a little more special, a little more bright? What if we chose to get OUT of our OWN feelings, our own mind’s, our own issues, and just think of how much someone else could be needing us, our story, our lessons we’ve learned, in their life this very moment?

Sometimes we just need to remove ourselves from the current mindset and situation. Gain a new perspective of the bigger picture. We are surrounded by people who are lost, lonely, and unhappy. By a few kind words, a smile, a “Good Morning” might make all the difference in their day. You could be in a long line at Starbucks drive-thru and decide to take care of the car behind yours’s order. They may be caught so off guard and pleasantly surprised by this that they pay it forward and do the very same thing to the car behind them, and so forth. You could brighten someone’s day with such little effort, and they’ll be left smiling the rest of the afternoon, holding onto that small gesture, that small, random act of kindness that YOU displayed.

When you are being you, YOU look your best. Chose to be you regardless of what you dislike about yourself. Flaws make you unique and quirks make you shine ✨ you are great, so let your greatness be known 🖤 #beyou

I think we all can get out of our own head and try to serve someone today. Try a little random act of kindness. Be a vessel of His love. Choose joy. Choose to be happy, grateful, hopeful, and see how many people you can bring joy to. BE A LIGHT.

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We Were Stayin’ In Paris

Birthday Surprise


What a trip!!

So rewind to 2 weeks before my birthday. My boyf refused to drop ANY hints on where he was taking me to celebrate! He said pack a bag for a long weekend… the temperature between 65-70s.

If you’re a female, you know it’s hard enough to pack for a “long weekend” type of trip as it is, when you KNOW where you’re going, and what the weekend’s agenda will be! So imagine my thought process… so that year we had discussed potentially traveling together to New York, to Seattle & Vancouver, to Napa, Nashville… so I thought maybe one of those would be the destination. I’d pack for outdoor activity but also for urban vibes! To be comfortable but cool! Some athleisure + some neutral-colored streetwear! My mom encouraged me to find a leather jacket for fall and I agreed– that’d be a good piece to pack too!

SO. A week out and hurricane weather advisories were all over the forecast for Southern Florida. Just great. The plan was for me to fly down to Miami, and then together, we’d head to our destination from there the next morning! Which would’ve been totally fine, but I soon come to find out most of the state of Florida was being evacuated!!! You read correctly, evacuated.

After quite a few texts back and forth. Worried families. And me demanding to meet my bf at whichever city he chose to take me for my birthday, I was told to relax, and get on my Miami-bound flight.

Just to give you an idea of my airport experience heading down to Charlotte, the connecting city— many, many delays, kids from Florida were we’re flying north to get out of the storm, and passengers on my plane were only heading south to help board up their parents’ homes!! Yikes. This had “bad idea” written all over it.

BUT, eventually my flight boarded to Charlotte, and then to Miami- where I was pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to First Class. If I was flying into the eye of a hurricane, I suppose First Class and unlimited glasses of wine would be the way to endure that.

Fast forward to the next day.

So to my surprise, we make it to the airport quickly and like any other sunny, beautiful Miami morning. (Enter confusion) We grab a relaxed Cuban breakfast at the airport and head to our gate.

[Keep in mind- at this point I truly have no idea where we are heading- I’m just praying it’s away from this hurricane! The city is scheduled to evacuate before the storm hits 2 days from our departure…. talk about cutting it close. We are lucky the airport wasn’t closed down! I expected gridlock traffic. The works. But no- everyone was fine that day. ]

We head to the end gate #’s of D and down the escalators toward our group of gates.

So is this a joke? Truly- the listed gates where we were sitting went as the following : Freeport, Bahamas (please let us NOT be heading to the Bahamas, fairly certain at this point the Bahamas had been wrecked by Irma.) Listed Next: Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio. (Don’t get me wrong, the midwest is great but I wasn’t flying down to Miami just to fly right back up to the Midwest area!) The last listed: Pittsburgh, PA. (Similar to the Midwest, I could’ve driven to Pittsburgh and saved me an entire day of flight delays and worry if that’s where we were heading, seriously was this his plan? I mean to catch maybe a Pirates game and hang in the ‘Burgh?)

Well. We boarded the plane, and took off NOT before being delayed by none other than NASA space center, who was, at the time, launching some kind of rocket? How many times can you say you sat on the runway 30 minutes due to NASA launching space stuff? (Ha)

I was super confused why we were heading to Pittsburgh. Small plane, and my bf seemed nervous, like we needed to take off or we would be running behind for our connection- nervous. He stayed cool and collected but I just knew our final stop couldn’t be that! We finally took off and ran to our next gate, where before I looked, asked permission. New York City – JFK.

Awe. NYC it was! I always loved visiting my best friend in New York, and attending my favorite, ABC’s Live with Kelly and Ryan Morning Talk Show (Michael was co-host when I would go!) I instantly was thinking of all the possibilities the weekend had in store.

Maybe my bf’s brother and his wife would be joining us at a surprise, maybe we’d all see a show, perhaps my best friend was in on the surprise, I would definitely be seeing her.

We rode the terminal train out to where I thought we would be picking up an Uber. (It’s a huge airport, are you ever really aware of where you are inside ha?)

Finally we are walking so quickly through the main entrance of another section of the airport where several people are checking in, etc. My boyfriend is on the phone at this point – seemingly getting the status of someone. I figured it was one of the friends or family I assumed we were meeting there for our NYC weekend.

He hangs up his phone and tells me to open up a birthday card my mom had packed in my carry-on bag. I pull out the card…..and my passport!!!

What? He hands me a printed ticket as I look at him, laughing in confusion. (See photo above- a screen shot of the video he took ha) I read the destination: Paris, France. Holy sh*t! Wow. haha, never, not once, did I expect to be leaving the country (from what I knew, without my passport) let alone, Paris, what a dream. I’d be spending my birthday in Paris.

(Photo) PS could we please just take a moment to check the shirt I was wearing as all this was taking place?! St Germain?? Haha whaaaat are the odds??

I turn around, completely oblivious that we were right in front of the TSA check-in line for Delta. We had made our way from the American Airline terminal to Delta without me even realizing haha! I was so focused on what could be taking place in NYC that I didn’t even realize that wasn’t our actual final stop! And to my surprise again, we weren’t the only ones going to Paris— my bf’s best friend and his gf were joining us! I was so mind blown and excited, I just kept repeating myself, “I can’t believe you pulled this surprise off… we are going to Paris?! What in the world?”

I think we talked the entire flight haha. It was an unforgettable trip. Paris is such an elegantly beautiful and breathtaking city. I absolutely loved taking it all in. The wine was on another level. The architecture, the art, the gardens, the palaces, the food, the language, the cafes, the pastries, the views. It was magic Hands-down one of my favorite cities. Such magic fit into just a quick weekend. A very happy birthday, indeed. Xoxo