reflecting on a beautiful year

In one week it’ll be Christmas, and soon after that it’ll be New Years and then 2016 will come to a close. Every New Years I get super emotional, and end up crying about something (happy tears) on how amazing, fast, surprising and exciting life can be, and how I wish I could treasure and remember each moment or hold onto it before it becomes a distant memory. So on this post, I am sharing some lessons I learned in 2016.

Watching my four years at Carolina come to close. It’s true when they say college will fly by. That was hard to close a whole chapter, say goodbye to friends, not knowing when I’ll see them again. I learned that graduating from college is an emotional experience ( I cried a lot) and education is an amazing resource to better yourself and prepare you for your future. To my time at UNC I’ll never forget it, to those who were a part of it. Thank you. I miss seeing your faces everyday. Walking on the most beautiful campus in the country, and seeing the old well. Those were truly the best 4 years of my life. And I’ll never like Duke 😉

Almost tasting a NCAA National Championship. That loss was heartbreaking, but watching UNC students come together and share the loss together was a life changing experience in itself. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. Living with my best friends through it brought us closer together. Sports bond people together, they will forever.

Saying goodbye to life as a student. That was interesting, to finish what you have done your whole life. I wouldn’t be lying if I told you that I miss going to class and seeing my friends, and just “being a student.” 

Traveling with your best friends. 2016 was a year where I traveled so much with my friends. That was amazing, I am not sure when I’ll ever get that time again with my best friends to laugh, travel, experience new cities and just enjoy each other’s company before going separate ways and entering into a new phase of life called “adulthood.” To Tara, Marisa, Cate and Sarah, I miss you all and will never forget the places we went or experiences we shared. Thank you for being the best friends. My life wouldn’t be the same without you four.

Moving to Africa. That was a life changing experience (and still is) in itself. The exciting part quickly became reality and hardships will come and go but I am learning every. single. day.

Write. Write, journal, document, blog about your life and experiences. Nothing captures life better than writing. Write your story down, your life matters, and you’ll want to one day read it and be so present in that moment again.

Saying goodbye to friends and family. That was difficult, but I came to see Ghana and the people here as my family too. 

Family. I got to have all four of my family members to travel to Ghana and experience the Village of Hope. Having a supportive family is everything. Watching my passion become their own is so exciting! I wouldn’t make it very far without  their love and encouragement.  My kids see my family as their own. 

Friendships. The right friends aren’t only concerned about sharing laughs, they are there to hold your hand and hear you cry. TO build you up and encourage you. Distance won’t create a difference when you find true friendships. And when you do I am confident you’ll be friends till the end.

Watching my childhood dream come true. That was a moment that no words could describe. It was truly an out of body experience, a day that I will never forget. A day that will always be the best day of my life.

Dreaming. Dream, don’t stop dreaming. Have a dream, set a goal and work toward seeing your dream come to life. And when it does start all over again. Don’t stop dreaming. 

Leadership. Stepping into a different leadership role, making decisions is hard and emotional, especially working so close with people and kids. But God will ALWAYS equip you and give you wisdom and discernment, just ask, pray and seek His will.

Hope. There is always hope, on the other side, through any darkness or brokenness. There is hope in Christ. There is hope for all lives to have limitless potential. Unlock hope. 

Meeting the kids that I prayed for my entire life. That embodied every emotion that we experience, they are my kids, and always will be. 

Becoming a mother figure to 22 kids. That was incredible, hard, difficult and amazing. Still learning more about being seen as their mother, and how family is the most important thing. Family is for life.

Life in Africa. For once in my life I know that I am laying my head to sleep and waking up in the place I am supposed to be.

Spending my first holiday away from my family in a different country, on a different continent. I have a week left to experience that but I will let you know how it all goes.

Saying yes again and again and again. Say yes! To new experiences, say YES to life and all that it has to offer. Don’t let it slip through your hands! Your life matters, you were created for a purpose, don’t just be content being content! Live your life to the fullest the way GOD created you! 

Don’t give up, on anything, especially what your created to you. Hardships will come, storms will come, disaster will come, but don’t stop doing and fighting for what your created to do. No one said it’d be easy not even God. But He assures us, He promises us that HE WILL NOT LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU. Don’t be discouraged, going through the storm and coming out the other side will only teach you more, and build your faith and character.

When things get rough. It means God is working, He’s on your side, just hold onto His promises and see things come to pass, even when you don’t “feel it.”

Love. That is not a word, feeling or emotion, it is an action, an action of commitment. Loving something or someone is hard, but it is the most invaluable thing we as humans can do. Love is the strongest power there is in this world. Love breaks boundaries, love has no language, love has no limit. And love always wins.

God revealing the next step for PNN. That came much sooner than expected, but His ways are higher than ours. His thoughts are higher than ours. I can’t wait to watch this unfold much sooner than I could have ever imagined. Excited would be an understatement. 

These are just to share a few.

2016 was a year of change. It was a year for me to slowly say goodbye to my life as I knew it, and enter into a completely different life that many people don’t even understand. A life that 2016 was a year of watching God’s faithfulness unfold, in my life, the children’s life, family friends everything. Just as I talked about his faithfulness at the dedication ceremony back in July, this lesson triumphed all others. Here are the lessons I want to share from 2016 that I personally learned.

Life is hard. Life is amazing. Life is exciting. Life is made to be celebrated. Share your experience. Write it down. Your life has significance. You were created for a purpose. Don’t just be okay feeling content. Life is made to be lived. Give your time to people. People whose voices aren’t heard. Choose happiness. Seek the will of God. Everyday, even when it gets hard. Don’t give up. Ever. You have a destiny. Walk into it. Actually run into it. Don’t be afraid to let go, and let GOD. Family is a beautiful thing. Love will always win. Love restores. Love gives life. Love does. Love restores. Love heals. Love is an action. Don’t miss out on your calling. Whatever it is. Don’t look back and say “what if” Have a relationship with Jesus. Get to know him. Talk to him. Spend time in God’s word. The words will jump off the page into your heart. Being young is awesome. Being old is awesome too. Don’t let your age define you. You still have time. Find your passion. Dream. Never stop dreaming. And when your dreams happens, keep dreaming. Let it lead your life. Don’t chase the money, chase your heart. And watch where it’ll bring you.

2016 you’ve been so good soo good. 2017 I’m ready for ya, let’s see what you’ll throw my way.

Your life has significance, you are all loved,

Dev

 

 

22 names

(I wrote this two days ago…but just now posting it)

I don’t know about you but I love writing. I enjoy blogging and sharing my journey with you all(was tempted to say y’all) but it doesn’t stop me from journalling as often as I can. Something about physically writing out your thoughts and seeing your words hit paper is therapeutic. Ever since I was a young girl I would just fill journals up with my thoughts, hopes and dreams for the future. I think God was using this as a way to be writing to myself to prepare my heart, mind and soul for the work He has prepared for me in life. And I haven’t stopped writing, it is my most treasured thing I have. Why? Because it is a true and accurate picture of sharing hopes, dreams, aspirations, inspirations, passion, faith, brokenness, hopelessness and all of the emotions that we feel throughout the course of life.

Going to boarding school and then college journaling was something I slowly stopped doing. Then mid junior year I started again, even if I was wanting to write about UNC, my friends, life or classes I would always end up on the same subject. Ghana(shocker right?) and starting to just write out prayers for my move, preparation for my heart and the unexpected and most importantly for the children. Every night for as long as I can remember I prayed for these very children, without knowing their name, age, place of birth, story or testimony. I just prayed, through my journalling. I filled up an entire journal just of these prayers for these children. 22 was the number of kids that first moved in, and I was 22 when this all came about. 22 and 22, this is surely God’s way of speaking to us, telling us that this is His hand upon our lives. Then I had the chance to write all 22 names on the back of the notebook sitting outside with my kids.Watching them run freely, play in the rain, dance, sing, some sat next to me and wanted to make sure that I had included their name. One even wrote his name 3 more times on the front of the notebook. This was a funny moment that reminded me of all the different and amazing personalities that I find myself living with and loving.

Tonight in particular was that amazing night that made me to pull out this pink notebook that I started in 2015 full of everything that I feel I witnessed tonight. We had our prayer night and tonight one of our boys led it. I cannot tell you the strength and wisdom that God has given this young boy in particular. The way he prayed really left me to be speechless. God doesn’t care about your age, background, anything. He just looks at the heart. I prayed each night for them, and now I am hearing them pray these exact prayers of protection, guidance, unconditional love, and provision back for me. He even went on to pray for all the staff, foster moms and even the supporters in the US. He prayed for any supporter that he doesn’t know who is mindful enough to donate that God would richly bless their lives.

Tonight was one of those nights where you feel grateful to just be alive. Grateful to just serve a God who is so much bigger than we can understand. Grateful to be able to love, and be loved by a God, and by these children who show me how much the father’s love can grow. How deep and never ending love is, how powerful it is, and how perfect love casts out all fear.Grateful to serve a God who so carefully pieces together our lives, and unites us with the ones were supposed to be with from different sides of the world. In our prayer circle I look at the different faces of our children and remember their stories. Their stories are a real life examples of the father’s love and how the father has listened to our prayers. I see their faces and think about how crazy it is that he picked me up and placed me in this rural part of Ghana, and brought children from different parts of the country, and some other countries, and placed us all here. I feel humbled everyday to be a small part of God’s work and how he is moving so powerfully in 2016. At this very moment. I see how God is moving in their hearts, and minds, and I am in awe. 

You see when I wrote this journal

  • was a student at UNC
  • had no clue what life in Ghana would really look like
  • who, or how many children would be coming into our care
  • how truly amazing they each are
  • how difficult this work is
  • how much GOD would come through for me time and time and time again
  • how long I would even stay in Ghana

And then I…

packed up my bags

moved to a new country

across the ocean

on a different continent

far away from everything and anything I knew or was used to

not knowing that I’d stay more than a few months

not knowing that I’d start to see and call Ghana home

(cross, check and check)

You see there was SO many questions, and unanswered things, yet I just kept writing and writing and praying to prepare myself, I am not sure if anything could ever fully prepare myself for this, but just like my other post God is near, He is with us every step of the way.

I continue to fill  a new journal up, with hopes, dreams, aspirations, passions and stories of life in Ghana, so this moment will never escape me. Trying to capture the real moments that makes my time so unique here. The hardships, the frustrations, the difficulties, the amazing moments and all the in between moments.(Like watching the kids play a game on my phone, or watching them dance after school, writing down the funny things they say and do, and hearing their future dreams.) So that when I am older and have seen where God has taken my life and PNN I can just open my journal and find myself right back in Ghana. Where it all began.

With the first 22 names written on the back of my pink notebook. The 22 names who have become the greatset lawyers,doctors, engineers, presidents, pastors, nurses Ghana has yet to see. And in that moment I will smile, and just remember them as my first 22, and be able to treasure these amazing moments.

You are all loved,

Dev

Morning Devotion

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

Psalms 139:1-6 (NLT)

As I meditate on these words I do not know what today has in store for me, or what the next hour will bring, but I cling to these words knowing that the Father knows me, and is with me every step of the way.

I don’t know where you are reading this from in the world, but never loose hope in knowing that OUR God is near, He is close. Sometimes it is tempting to question where He is, or how near He is, but never loose sight of the one who has already gone before you, and is with you every step of the way.

Do not look to the world for validation or acceptance, in Him you are always enough, always beautiful, always special, valued, and loved. He was so mindful when he created you to be you in his image. No one knows us the way the father knows us, no one loves us the way the father loves us. For that I am grateful.

See ya on the other side 

It’s about that time I packed my bags, 10 minutes until my taxi came and headed out to good ole JFK. 

I still try to wrap my head around this crazy beautiful thing we call life. 

Crazy how I’m leaving NY to head back to my new home in Africa. This year has brought so many changes. Learning to accept change is a beautiful thing. Change is good& bad. Through any of it we can always find beauty and reasons to smile. I am still trying to grasp how amazing and unpredictable life can be. 

Life is worth celebrating. Every minute of it. I’m excited, hopeful and waiting to see what 2017 has in store! 

Life is a beautiful adventure, and the best is always yet to come! See you on the other side!! Can’t wait to see my kids!!!! From here on out I am Ghana Bound 

 ✌️️&❤️ love Dev 

decide to dream BIG

A Trip to Ghana in 2014, standing on the land that is now the entrance to our children’s home.

Can you believe that we are in our last month of 2016! Wow did this year go by so fast. I had a feeling going into 2016 that it was going to be my year! It is like everything that God had put on my heart was coming to life.

God brought HIS vision and purpose for my life to light! He brought this vision to pass! Not only did the Village open for these children but I graduated from UNC, got to travel Europe with my friends, move to Africa, have two of my best friends spend a month with me in Ghana, start working with the children I have prayed for my entire life and now see how God is expanding this vision even greater, even more than I thought possible so soon after we officially opened. I used to think  nothing could top all the amazing events of 2016, but I have a feeling God will continue to surprise me in 2017! The best is yet to come:) Feeling hopeful, excited, inspired and in awe of what is happening.

God is amazing! This is what I want to share with you it is okay to dream big, it is amazing to dream big! It is important to dream big, in fact it is completely necessary to dream big. God is honored and pleased by our willingness to dream the impossible, why?

Because it can only be done through and with Him.

People used to laugh at me when I spoke about my dream as a young child of wanting to build an orphanage, and now look what God has done! In fact look at what God is just beginning. This is His project, He will NEVER leave you, He will only equip you and surround you with a team to help build and sustain your vision. This is what He is doing in my life and in PNN!

To anyone who is reading this and doesn’t know what your future holds, or where you future is heading … please continue reading

you don’t need all the answers, you don’t need to know everything. Find out what breaks your heart, what moves your spirit, where does your compassion derive from? There you have found your passion, your purpose, your calling. I found what breaks my heart, and I pray that God would continue to break my heart for what breaks His. We have a short life and I refuse to live without a purpose, I refuse to live for myself and out of my own selfishness. So many people are afraid to surrender their lives into God’s hands because they are fearful of missing out on what the world has to offer. Try listening to this song it really is moving, powerful and describes asking for the father’s heart.

click here to listen

There is nothing this world could offer that could EVER compare to what God can offer, He WILL take you places that you couldn’t dream of going and he will expand your dream and vision so far beyond your comprehension. I find hope in my God purpose and a future. Because He first loved me so much that He sent His son to die for me, so that I could live according to His plan for this life of mine.

We have a BIG God who is worthy of asking for BIG DREAMS. I once heard that if your dreams aren’t scaring you then you aren’t dreaming big enough.

You see God doesn’t care about your transcript, your social media following, He doesn’t care about your ability, experience, education or resources. He cares about your willingness to say YES, your heart and its sincerity that what you do, is done for Him.

That is the beauty, that the things we ask God for are SO big that it could ONLY be accomplished by HIS hands, in HIS timing according to HIS will for our lives. TO him be the Glory. We are vessels that CAN transform this world if we allow ourselves to surrender and let Him use us. Don’t you want something to look forward to everyday, to live for? Don’t you to find something new to celebrate in each day, even if things are tough. I know I want to celebrate my life each and every day.

Because we only get one life.

I want to you to ask yourself what am I living for?

If you are wanting to seek more feel free to email me if you want to chat deeper about what all of this means. You are loved.

Dev