Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Beautiful Life

After school selfies with the kiddos!
As I sit here on this Sunday afternoon, I find myself scrolling through Facebook.   I've seen a pattern in my Facebook newsfeed lately.  It seems like I am flipping endlessly through countless photos of weddings, bachelorette parties, engagements, and babies.  It must be something in the water back in the States, because every day Ariel and I walk out of our rooms, meet each other, and murmur the words "Another one..."  We both know exactly what that means-another one of our friends or people we know from home got engaged, got married, or had a baby.  You see, that's the problem with the time difference.  We get all the good news (via social media) bright and early the next morning.  Ariel and I have had many, many conversations about this exciting time in our friends' lives.  They are young and in love and moving forward with their lives like they should.  And we are in South Sudan.  I don't remember the last time I wasn't pouring sweat from the hot African sun or the last time that I've actually had clean feet.  Our biggest worries are trying to remember if we took our malaria pills for the week or if we actually have to shower or if it can wait another day.  I've joked many times with my friends at home that they better save at least one good guy for me when I get home because everybody else is already taken (but really-save me a good one!) :) 
Supporting the US Soccer Team in our Red, White, and Blue!
Seeing these things on Facebook have become the new normal over the past year, but today, moving from one wedding photo to the next left me feeling a bit different.  Usually after seeing my gorgeous friends in their wedding dresses with bright, radiant smiles on their faces, I question my life.  Should I just move home and get started with that life I have always dreamed of?  What would my life be like if I stayed in the states for the past year instead of moving to Africa?  Would I have found my prince charming?  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would I be in the position I am right now.  I had a timeline for my life.  I always thought I would be married at 24 (haha what was I thinking!?), kids at 26, living in my cute little house with the perfect husband (preferably a handsome doctor).  And I was kindly reminded by my mother as we were laying and talking last month when she visited that "You know, by your age I was engaged and planning my wedding."  Thanks for that kind reminder, mom!  But instead of having a ring on my finger and looking at bridal magazines, I am just about to finish my first year working in South Sudan, and am working on confirming my plans for a second year in Africa.  And today, as I looked at wedding photos, I just smiled to myself.  I realized how different my life is, so much different than the life I imagined for myself at this time in my life.  But as different as it may be, I truly am happy with this current life.  That's the beauty of life--the beauty of God's timing, of His will.  You just never know where he will lead you next…maybe it will be to your perfect soul mate, or maybe it will be to the African bush.

These kids make life beautiful
Instead of asking myself those questions that usually pop into my head, I was overcome with such certainty that this life that I am living is exactly what I am supposed to be doing and where I am supposed to be living it.  I dreamed of that married at 24-kids-husband filled life in the past, but my current dream is the one I am living.  God has laid down this path for my life, and he truly has made it a beautiful journey.  He has allowed me to learn so many new things, grow in ways I don't fully understand, and meet the most incredible people along the way.  Sometimes it's hard to trust in God's timing, but I am a firm believer that if we put our trust in His plans, He will lead us on the most amazing journey and will sprinkle meaningful relationships, events, and cute African kiddies on our path along the way.  And it is these people, places, and adventures that ultimately show us His face and His will even more.  At least at the present moment that is what makes life beautiful for me.  Yeah, of course I still dream of my wedding dress, of the perfect father-daughter dance song, but that's not what God has planned for me right now.  He fills my days with big brown eyes, sweet hugs and cuddles, and so much love and wisdom from the smallest nuggets that I get to squeeze and love on all day every day!  

We all have different people and events that happen that make our lives truly beautiful.  And my current definition of a beautiful life most likely is completely different than another person's view of a beautiful life.  But ultimately, the same underlying truth is present- God gives us this life, these unique experiences each day, these moments of true happiness.  So now it's finally time to throw my own timeline out the window.  God is in control, and He has shown me true happiness (of course with the natural struggles that come along with everyday life) in following His plan and His time.  Our happiness lies in different experiences and people, and if we allow God, He does make it a beautiful life for each one of us.  And I am so grateful to have realized this more than ever in the past year.  

Side Note:  If you haven't seen it already, check out this video my previous site partners, Cait and Grace, put together of our kids in Maridi.  This video shows the true beauty of life! Enjoy! 


  1. Theresa,

    I can't put into words how much I enjoy reading your blog posts. Thank you for writing each and every one! May the Holy Spirit accompany you, Ariel, your community, and your kids in every moment.

    Grace and peace,
    Paula [former SLM in Ethiopia]

    1. Paula!
      Thank you so much for being such a faithful reader and always writing the sweetest notes. I'm sorry I am just now finally responding, but I really do appreciate hearing your feedback and words of encouragement. Peace and Prayers!

    2. Dear Theresa,

      Absolutely! I'm glad to read that a second year of mission is in the works because I hope that means more blog posts! But even if plans change, I do hope you'll continue to write: you have so much insight to offer and it has made a tangible (and beautiful) difference in my faith life.

      Keep on the Good Fight!

      p.s. No worries at all about replying -- I don't think I answered a single comment on my blog while on mission!

  2. Theresa, I'm so happy to read that you're going to do a 2nd year--not because of continued bloggery (that's a lagniappe, as they say in New Orleans) but because of the gift you are for Maridi, and the gift that Maridi is for you. I've no doubt that God will save you a really good guy for when you do come back here. God bless you!

  3. Hi Theresa, I enjoyed reading your post and the hopes and dreams of a beautiful young lady. I know that God has a Prince Charming waiting for you in His time. You will never regret this time you are spending sharing yourself, your gifts, and talents with the poor and vulnerable.

    I am looking forward to learning about your next Mission site. They will be so blessed to have you and you in turn will receive many blessings from them.

    The video you shared was just beautiful! I watched with joy as well as tears. I was disappointed when it ended. Through all of life's hardships, song, dance, and laughter, are God's free gifts to al of us. We are uplifted and gain a renewed sense of hope for all that is good.

    Take good care of yourself. Keep taking that Malaria medicine! God bless you always.
    Jean Fields