bird poop

so i noticed this morning my car is victim to much a bird poop. gross i know.

but that means that spring is here, y’all.

yesterday was the first true warm day in a while and it felt amazing.

birds invaded the front yard. we leaf blowed the front yard on sunday, unveiling a yard full of untouched goodness. birds spent the day picking and flying; flying and picking — new life, new breath.

i’m doing better – i’m thankful for grief and sorrow. i’m thankful this is not our home. i’m thankful for community. for true community. not just holidays with presents and food, but community – where you have the same outlook on life, the same beliefs, you understand each other and you love each other through the mess.

and it is messy. life is one big pile of mess. sin. are we surprised? is this another flaw of us? that we truly believe life should be without mess? did we think we’d live this life unscathed? no. and i’m thankful i’m learning this at 28 years old. because i know some of you have felt unbearable pain before you were 16 years old, before you were 10 years old. some of you stay in a constant state of pain.

but there is hope. and you need only accept the hope. let it soak into your heart. believe in something bigger than you. it’s scary at first, but what do you have to lose? honestly? is life going your way with YOU in control? like, have you honestly figured it all out?

no. don’t kid yourself.

so why did i wake up this morning at start this blog post? because i like looking back at my honest thoughts. it’s humbling to be real with strangers on the internet, sure. but it’s more about the freedom i feel when i’m honest with myself.

the sunrise was a painting this morning. heaven and earth met with strokes of cloud beauty. this week i will focus on beyond this life. i will feel each and every moment with an eternal perspective. xo thanks for reading.

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three years.

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well happy work anniversary . . . to me!

yep, three solid years at this place.

it was march 1, 2010, when i made the leap into full-time ministry.

it’s a memory still fresh in my mind.

an eager, determined 22 year old. a sociology major who, when asked what she can actually do with her sociology degree, answered “anything with people – because it’s the study of people!”

i was am a sociology nerd, but it’s definitely my true passion. people – listening, watching, learning, talking, laughing, planning, celebrating.

so, spending the past three years with people – listening, watching, learning, talking, laughing, planning, celebrating – in ministry has grown me the most. ever. in my entire life. more than any other experience.

i was gonna be a teacher. i was gonna rock the teacher world. but god had his plan & he put it into action.

i’m baffled & blessed at how much has happened the past three years. like my boss/mentor/friend said today, “from an intern to an executive assistant.”

that’s quite a leap. a leap that i didn’t expect, i didn’t envision, i didn’t think i would ever want.

i’ve made ((future bridesmaids – for the rest of your life – sisters in christ – future kid play-date – future hubby’s will be best friends – scrapbooking club)) BEST FRIENDS during these years.

god has made me more mature; more sensitive to the needs of others. he has taught me the art of communicating – after 22 years of failing at it ūüôā . he has shown me grace & freedom from junk. it’s definitely been a life-changing three years.

& i get to edit – like everyday. have i ever expressed how much i love to edit? it’s like a breath of fresh air. i love it.

my coworker & friend puna blogged my first day on the job back in 2010. she makes me smile. you should go read her post – it’s full of silly pictures from that first day! read it HERE.

here’s to the next three years.

tonight my question is this: “am i following god? or am i asking god to follow me?”

a soccer player & a dancer: an unlikely friendship

it’s not everyday you get¬†to skip math class to write about the beach boys concert.

it was 2005. i¬†was an excited, vulnerable senior in high school, ready to graduate. my best friend rachael¬†and i¬†were editors of the school newspaper. this was big-deal stuff. i¬†got to skip other classes to meet deadlines. it was a pretty fantastic gig. i¬†was loving my editor position, but i really just couldn’t wait to graduate, have an amazing, unforgettable summer, and then move to florida to start my college career.

it was around march and rachael¬†couldn’t keep her mouth shut about the vacation bible school at this church up the road. she begged me the year before to be a counselor with her, and i¬†found some excuse to get out of doing it. but this year was different. it was my last high school summer. i¬†had to soak it up. i¬†loved jesus, i¬†liked kids and she promised we could go swimming in her pool afterwards. i was sold.

vacation bible school came and went and i was amazed. never had i seen a church really pour their heart and soul into making this the best week of kids summer. i met so many sweet people and i was so intrigued by this church.

fast forward to the next summer – i¬†was signing up to be a counselor¬†again. i¬†couldn’t wait to sing and dance and throw kids around. i continued to volunteer every summer¬†throughout my college years.

it was the summer of 2008 when i met tracy. she was wearing a visor and seemed pretty important.

me and thow june 2012

note* this is a reinactment of what she definitely looked like

acquaintances is how i would describe my relationship with tracy. my senior year of college was starting. i was going through a huge transition/heartbreak and knew i needed to get back on my feet and back with god. so i took a step & started attending the church that hosted the vacation bible school all those long summer days ago. Chesapeake Church.

i got connected with a small group right away Рwhich is where i met so many adorable couples Рother people who loved jesus and wanted to learn more about him.

tracy was in the small group too. my first semester of my senior year came and went. it was hard. i leaned heavily on Chesapeake, but especially that small group. i soaked up every single moment i could with those people. they inspired me. they taught me. they cared about me.

my last semester of college required that i¬†do an internship. my major was sociology – the study of people. tracy just happened to be¬†heading up a brand new after-school program, called matt’s place,¬†for middle and high school youth. it sounded perfect for my internship.

i asked that night if i could intern with her. she responded:

i¬†don’t even know what i’m¬†doing yet, but sure! i can find something for you to do.

& that’s when the friendship began. tracy – an avid athlete with a heart for soccer, me – a dancer who strays away from all things competitive. we were an unlikely match for sure.

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she was a cool wifey & i was the single gal just trying to find my way.

did i mention she was also pregnant?

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with twins!

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we worked hard on the after-school program. making plenty of mistakes, learning how boring homework-time really is & laughing extremely hard.

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we really tried to relate to the kids.

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soon i graduated college (whoo hoo) & tracy had a shower for her baby boys.

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so, in june 2009, kai michael & riley david made their world debut. life changed dramatically for everyone. in the most blessed way possible, really!

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matt’s place, the after-school program, blossomed & i¬†was offered a real big-girl job working there. beyond excited to be working with youth & at a church, we continued to pour into the program. tracy¬†was my mentor, my boss & my friend.

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meanwhile, being the rockstar athlete & mom tracy is, we trained together for our first half marathon! 13.1 miles of torture for me, but she finished in 2:12. #myhero

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let us alllll remember she had twins a year before!

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wednesday nights were dedicated to walks on the boardwalk, dinners fit for a king & curious george. tracy has taught me SO much about parenting. & i thought i knew a little something. nope. we just had plain fun. this was our weekly tradition for about three years.

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one night i¬†told tracy¬†about a dream i had the night before. she was pregnant & had a baby girl. while i was telling her about my dream, she got super red¬†& a little while later she¬†confessed that she was indeed PREGGERS! i’m¬†a fortune-teller¬†on the side. or a prophet, depending on who you ask.

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i lovingly called her baby Рvictor montgomery. it just really had a nice ring to it!

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she’ll absolutely kill me for this one. heels + tracy = one hot mama!

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life didn’t slow down, ever. tracy always welcomed me¬†into her little fam, letting me be a part of something so incredibly beautiful.

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no¬†matter what the season, we worked hard on our friendship. god at the center, always. she’s taught me patience, gentleness & how to make tzatziki.¬†#yum!

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celebrating birthdays & eagerly awaiting the arrival of victor montgomery!

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she thought this picture was so bizarre. i thought it was a cute pose . . . #whatever

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he’s here! no longer victor, but rather, jordan gabriel!! 2/21/12

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this kid.

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he’s crying, by the way.

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jordan¬†is a quiet, laidback¬†soul. soaks up everything his broksi’s¬†do. & he has curls for days.

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everything on the surface looks easy & cool & carefree. but no, it’s different. god was pulling on mark & tracy’s¬†heart. for months and months. calling them to honduras.

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i was in a selfish place. i¬†wanted nothing to do with all the “honduras” talk. no, no. i¬†need my best friend. i¬†need my mentor. i¬†need curious george on wednesday nights.

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things became official quickly and it was a¬†well-known fact that “the howards¬†are moving to honduras.” god smacked me in the face & i¬†snapped out of my slump & tried my best to appreciate every moment with tracy & her family.

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it’s a good place to be. appreciative. humble. vulnerable.

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the boys call me “bates.” it was easier to say¬†than ‘alicia’ when they first¬†learned to talk. it’s endearing & special & i love it.

it’s¬†been a¬†week since their move. tracy & her fam are¬†2,000 miles away, tucked away safely¬†in honduras. the reality is sinking in & of course i miss my bff. that’s obvious. but technology is superb for these long-distance shenanigans. plus, it makes us rely on god a ridiculous new amount.

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big move for a big-hearted family.

mark & tracy, y’all have sacrificed more than we all understand or will ever know. i¬†pray for just an ounce of your humbleness, your gratitude, your obedience & your dedication to the name of christ.

love you both & of course da boys Рkai-man, riley-boy & jordan,bordan,cordan,lordan.

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a little bit extra:

to read more about the howard’s¬†story & their family adventures, i encourage to check out their blog here.

to see all the big things god is doing through the mission in honduras, i encourage you to check out the el ayduante website here.

to get yourself a precious state or country canvas like the ones shown above, check out shedoesjustice here.

‘gram galore: christmas 2012

let the ‘grammin begin! this a series where¬†i share snip-its from my daily life as display on good ol’¬† instagram. the following are photos from my christmas break . . .

IMG_7152hallway photoshoot with carebear.

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{valentina, me, brookie & carebear}

christmas is a working holiday when you work at a church. luckily, i get to spend my days with these precious people.

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{sarah, me & ann}

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mom & pops made it to service. lovely. ‚̧IMG_7225

taking a break in the volunteer green room. it’s where da food’s at!

{hols & me}

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next stop: williamsburg, va to visit the bff’s fam. it’s funny, no one ever really wants to play the wii until christmas. played a few hours of bowling. #strikequeenIMG_7248

morning workout: just dance with two precious, adorable twin boys. #onesiesIMG_7289

spontaneous afternoon stroll through colonial williamsburg. IMG_7264 IMG_7266

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exhausted but extremely thankful for this friend.

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christmas morning my dad surprised me with horses! not really – they belong to the neighbors, but i pretended. fed them practically an entire box of cheerios. IMG_7321

richard is home!! big brother lives in missouri & i get to see him a couple times a year. #excited

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stuffed a secret note to myself in my stocking last christmas & i found it!IMG_7320

my family knows me so well. i want food for christmas. just food.IMG_7328

beautiful scarf from shedoesjustice. gift to myself. ūüôāIMG_7351

heading to grandma’s house as a hippie. #withastacheIMG_7398

discovered grandma not only went to high school with shirley maclaine (beaty), but she thought my grandma was a swell gal!IMG_7449

ran ten miles with the energizer bunny. #trainingIMG_7487

went to brunch with the fam at captain’s table. good ol’ home-cooked grub! #pancakefanaticIMG_7511

random is normal with my brother. who’s on first?IMG_7514

snuggles with my frankie-boy.IMG_7528

lunch with the fam at rod-n-reel. it was amazingggggg. sweet potato fries ūüôāIMG_7538

toured around the area. i love this boardwalk.IMG_7536

{dad, jess, richard & aileen}IMG_7559

i ran a ridiculous amount of miles in 2012! my goal for 2013: 450 miles.IMG_7609

ahna threw a marvelous nye’s party.IMG_7573

{ahna, jackie & me}IMG_7611

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yay for 2013!! #newyeargoodness