The Interview

Kansas City was a season of God withholding what my heart desired and granting what my heart needed. It was a season of intense struggle for me but was a season of intense glory to Him when He led me out of the valley. This is the story of climbing up to the next rise to see a glimpse of His promised land.

My job had been deteriorating for a year, or maybe even two. I was traveling almost continuously to Baton Rouge Louisiana or Freeport/Houston Texas and the people I was working with and for were becoming less and less appropriate. The gore-y details don’t add enough to this story so I’m not going to share them here but by the time I left, 4 hours didn’t pass at work without someone cussing me out or telling me I wasn’t good enough (as a person, as a female, as someone who is under 30 years old, as an engineer) to be in the position I was in or getting blamed for something I didn’t do.

God provided me a new job. He orchestrated long ago, for my Dad to be in the same industry as me, and for him to have mentors and friends. Those mentors and friends caught wind of my situation and offered an interview.

The night before my interview, I was driving around Baton Rouge trying to figure out a part of town that I could see myself living in if I liked the job the next day. I was balling – tears streaming down my face – as I cried out to God that I didn’t have any friends in Baton Rouge and I have wonderful community (finally!) in Kansas City so why would I want to leave? And why don’t I quit construction all together because I didn’t believe that men in construction could be inclusive of a woman like me.

Fast forward to a breakfast meeting that lasted almost 6 hoursย where I struggled to comprehend that men in power in the construction industry were patiently listening to my opinion on the current state of affairs in our business. They wanted to know what I thought about how to run a project, how to leverage technology to produce faster results, how I could teach others my leadership skills, if I would be alright moving across the country for a job in a different culture, if they would be able to afford my salary to even hire me in the first place.

Lunchtime meant introducing me to another female engineer – the lead process engineer on the largest company project, also under 30 years old, and from Texas with a family full of Aggies (she’s a LSU grad but I won’t hold that against her). She and I were able to talk like we’d been friends for years. God was showing me to trust Him and He will provide me with new community.

I wanted to work for a company affiliated with CII (construction industry institute) because I hold a couple of leadership positions within this volunteer organization to help further the construction industry and didn’t want to walk away quite yet. I also felt obligated to finish the project I was currently working on at my old job regardless of how I was being treated, I was speaking at a national convention on behalf of my previous company, and one of my best friends was getting married in Jamaica in August so I needed a little time to finish everything up from Kansas City. In His generosity, God provided a slow down in the project at the new company so my timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was able to “finish” everything prior to turning in my two weeks notice.

Months later – I look back at my time in Kansas City and I still miss my community and church family. I wish it was colder here in Baton Rouge. but my job has already afforded me tremendous opportunity both for my career and for space in my personal life. I am still excited to see what God is doing with me here.

Trade Offs

I owe you some updates but I’m going to push those off for a few more days…right now I want to talk about trade offs.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what my life would be like if I had made one (or two) decisions differently in my past. About the time I start second guessing, God provides me a really clear understanding that my life is His plan and has His timing. Sometimes these trade offs are obvious and instant and sometimes they are not.

I don’t often get homesick – I don’t really have a home, per say – but sometimes I am pretty bummed about having to miss things going on wherever I’m living because of work.

This week God has blessed me to show me both with one simple meeting.

I’m leaving on Wednesday for San Diego to see my best friend (she’s from SD, came to KC for grad school, graduated in May, and moved back to start working). On Sunday I fly from San Diego to Indianapolis for a week long conference for work. Last Thursday, during my last minute trip to Houston for the day, we set up time to have another meeting in Houston on Tuesday. This means flying to Houston tomorrow morning, staying with another good friend of mine, and then flying directly to San Diego a few hours earlier on Wednesday. Not a bad plan. Lots of packing but lots of fun as well.

Came into work this morning and found that my meeting had been pushed to Thursday instead of Tuesday. This means another refund to my credit card and more canceled plans with friends in Houston.

In reflecting on this change of events, I started listed off reasons I’m thankful to be staying in KC:

  • 1 more nights rest in my own bed
  • 2 more crossfit workouts at my home box
  • not having to haul steel toed boots and hardhat for 2 weeks
  • 30 hours less clothing to pack
  • not having to file another expense report this month
  • picking up my own farmers market box
  • finishing my golf class I’m taking with a friend
  • listening to the presentation at lunch at work I’m interested in
  • enjoying 70 degree weather in KC in July
  • picking up all my home-finishing fedex packages
  • getting my eyebrows waxed before I leave
  • not having to cancel my massage appointment
  • not having to rush through neighborhood night tonight

I’m still bummed about not getting to go to dinner with a friend and stay with another (and I have to call into a meeting while on vacation in California) but I am happy to be hanging around KC for another day which is something I didn’t think my heart would ever want.

I guess this place is growing on me…

Back Home…

I went to Haiti last week. I got back Monday night – late. I haven’t made it physically into my office yet and it’s Thursday morning. It’s a problem. I want to be back in Haiti. So instead of embracing my life in Kansas City, I’m wallowing. I’m wallowing around a half packed house (I’m moving into a studio apartment July 1st) cleaning out my DVR and working remotely. I’m not sure what to do now. God is doing some pretty amazing changes in my heart with this trip and I’m having a hard time responding to them.

I miss salty kisses.

Stealing sunglasses.

Fried plantains.

Broken Creole.

Smiles as wide as an ocean.

Sticky hot air.

Colorful vehicles.

Cactus fences.

Concrete buildings.

Futbol.

Hair braiding.

Hand washing laundry.

Hugs that never let you go.

I miss the community I feel when I’m in Haiti. I have a life in KC and have some pretty incredible people that care immensely about me here but it’s not quite the same. It’s not the same as feeling people praying for me, supporting me, loving what God is doing in my life and the country of Haiti. Thank you for being part of that for me the past couple weeks. Please keep praying for Haiti, my team, and myself.

Lines.

Lines.

I grew up in Texas, mostly. My family is from Georgia and Alabama with a little Mississippi thrown in. I’ve lived in 9 states. I understand state lines. I understand borders. The Alabama part means I understand football rivalries. I went to Texas A&M. I get pride. I get yelling and thinking you’re better than someone else. I get it.

There is a cast system in the southeast part of the United States that is alive and well. Just ask the frat brothers at Ole Miss. Go to any of the small towns in Georgia and look at the neighborhoods on either side of the railroad tracks. There’s the wealthy, the social elite, the upper middle class, then the working class, and then the poor. Everyone beats on the poor. Racism is alive and well. Progress has be minimal since the 1960’s.

When I moved to Kansas City two and half years ago, I was initially impressed with the “forward progress” the city seemed to have in regards to treating people equally. The last 30 months have slowly whittled away this progress. Kansas City is great at the appearance of progress but it is divided at every turn. Kansas vs Missouri. Black vs White. Downtown vs Suburb. Rich vs Poor. Christian vs Non Christian. White Collar vs Blue Collar. The list goes on and on. The tricky part about dividing lines within Kansas City is they are passive aggressive. At least in Georgia, or Mississippi, they put in on their flag and not try to hide it.

I am not condoning treating any one differently based on appearance, skin color, gender, etc. I am condoning being honest and forward thinking.

Tuesday, Redeemer Fellowship, the church I am a member of in KC, hosted an event that promoted, and delivered, honest conversations and opinions about race issues in town. This (hopefully initial) meeting wasn’t about solving The problem. It wasn’t about simplifying issues. It was about being honest about the angst on both sides, where some of these issues come from, and what baby steps we can all take towards a unified Kansas City. It was about hope that God will continue to redeem His people, His people who call Kansas City and the surrounding areas home.

The biggest take away for me was about living in community with others, spending money in your own backyard, and voting for people who have unity as a core belief.

I live west of the plaza. Right now I can’t change that. But I can continue to be in community with people from other parts of Kansas City. Redeemer Fellowship makes that pretty easy. Different people come to services each week and I love playing boardgames on Monday nights with our neighbors living at 39ths and Baltimore. (Come out the 1st and 3rd Monday’s of the month to experience these amazing people and get beat at spades!). Being a minority in my high school in Austin Texas means I love different backgrounds and food. I aim to treat everyone compassionately regardless of background.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

So what can I change? I can buy gas at the QT gas station on Westport road close to my house even though it costs $0.15-0.35 more per gallon than the QT by my office so that the money and buying market stays in my neighborhood and not down in the suburbs. I can continue to buy food at the local farmer’s markets (already one of my personal soap boxes). I can continue to be active in service projects in my community. I can also take a look at who is running for public office and make sure I’m voting for people based on their committment to unifying Kansas City.

What can you do?

Pray. Pray for the people of Kansas City to love each other and to seek out relationships with each other. Buy local. Help your neighbor.

Running

My friend ordered a running/GPS watch a while back (and by while I mean several months ago) that finally showed up in the mail yesterday. This, of course, meant that we went running. It was 19 degrees outside in Kansas City at 5:30pm yesterday and we were running in the park. Yes, outside. No, we were not the only idiots doing it. ๐Ÿ™‚

3.82 miles in 44 minutes but I walked 3/4 of a mile or so while she ran it since I went to crossfit yesterday morning and it was freezing (both good excuses right?). I have a 5k on Saturday that I’m pretty stoked about running (I’ll do just about anything for the kids in Haiti). I guess this also means I need to start increasing my milage if I’m going to seriously run a half marathon this spring…but it’s snowing outside (again)…

Double Life

How do you live in two places at once?

Trick question for most but for me, I’ve been doing it (fairly) successfully for the last few weeks. My mailing address is in Kansas City (Missouri, not Kansas) but I’ve spent more nights in 2014 in Houston Texas. And by more, I mean I’ve spent double.

I manage subcontracts for a living and have a couple vendors in the Houston area. The products they are working on for my company will eventually end up installed on our project in Mont Belvieu Texas (east of Houston). One of these contracts needs my physical presence to help us be successful. I have friends in Houston so I don’t mind.

O I used to mind. If I had a penny for every time I’ve told someone in the last three years that I was never going back to Houston or that if my employer told me I was moving to Houston it was going to be my two-weeks notice, then I could afford to pay a mover to pack my boxes in KC and haul them back to Texas. So what’s been different in 2014? Why the sudden change of heart?

God.

Period.

That’s the only way I have this kind of change of heart. I said “never” and God smiled and said “we’ll see.” In my rebellion, He is true and soverign.

Now this is not a moving announcement (yet). But I’m open to those conversations. I do not yet know what God has in His plans for me. But I do know that I cannot put my foot down and say “no.” I love God and desire to follow His directions so that He can use me for His glory. One of the prayers in church on Sunday was asking God not to pass over us in choosing who to send. Lord, please send me. I won’t say “never” again.

I’ve re-connected with people God put in my life in college. People who are and have served a distinct and divine purpose in shaping my life today. I pray that they will continue to influence me. I am thankful to God for sending them and ask for His protection over them.

Several of them have told me in the last few weeks that this is the happiest they have ever known me. It’s such an odd statement. Initially, I shrugged it off but it’s hung with me. These people knew me when I was in the darkest part of my existence. When I completely ignored God. When I acted like He didn’t exist except for the part where His Son was going to save me from hell. These people have accepted me. Be-friended me. Want to spend time with me now. They wanted to back then too but I was too busy with all the wrong things to see what amazing community and friendship was open to me.

In the few days I’ve been in KC in 2014 I’ve had some incredible conversations with people, with friends. There has been lots of opinions about my possibilities in Houston. I am immensely grateful for the food for thought although some of it has sat with me better than others. I’ve never had community that told me they would miss me if I left. I’ve never been that vested in relationships before. It’s super uncomfortable. It’s super messy. It’s amazing.

There are lots of details to work out with my job over the next few months. It’s difficult to maintain relationships in two different states but it’s what my life is right now. I get to experience both cities, pros and cons, and figure out where God is leading my heart. Please pray for peace and direction for me. I would much rather life this double life than the one I was living a few years ago, but it can’t go on forever.

Review: Imperial Foot Care

I’ve never had a massage before and I’ve never written a review of a place or service on here before so let’s start both today.

Last night I went to Imperial Foot Care in Westport for a hour long massage. Several ladies in my crossfit class Friday morning had been discussing it and highly recommended this establishment. It’s a fantastic deal (at $30 for a hour) and is within 3 miles of my house which is a huge bonus so I figured it was worth the shot.

Now it may sound lame to go get a massage by yourself on a Friday night, but with my renewed focus on crossfit that resulted in 3 visits this week, my body was sore and in need of some TLC. I called and made an appointment (which is no necessary, drop-ins are welcome) for 6pm.

They have free valet service (just mention that you’re with imperial foot care when you drop your car off) which made me feel like royalty. I never pay for someone to park my car and work doesn’t reimburse that so my experiences with valet is limited. It’s one of those life perks that will always be a perk and it made me feel like I was really treating myself even though it was included in the experience.

When you walk in, the room is dark and quiet with soft music playing in the background. There are 12 or so massage chairs/lounges all facing away from the door with people being serviced. The nice lady at the front will lead you to a station and then a masseuse will start your massage.

I opted for the hour long treatment but they have several options. The hour long session includes a 15 minute foot soak while your head, neck, shoulders, arms, and hands are worked on followed by 30 minutes of foot and leg massage, and a final 15 minutes of massage while laying on your stomach. I have several really tight spots and several spots that I struggle with knots. He hit all of them! There were a couple of times I was surprised by something being sore.

I’ve consumed a large amount of water since last night and have stretched several times but I’m pretty sore. It’s the good kind of sore where you’re building muscles and healing places. I definitely had the soundest sleep I’ve had in quite awhile last night when I was done. They are open from 10am to midnight seven days a week which means this could be a great option for me to stop at on my way home from the airport during the week. I can see a new habit forming…

Overall, I give Imperial Foot Care two thumbs up and would recommend it to anyone in the Kansas City area looking for a relaxing massage experience.

Unreal.

My life is so unreal. It’s so hard for me to believe that “average” 26 year olds have life as good as I do. Yes, I’ve been through heartbreak. Yes, I’ve been through death and burial. Yes, I have medical problems. Yes, I work. And. Yes, I am single.

But.

I have so much. and I’m a brat. Let me give you a life lesson from my week this week.

I went to Haiti (again) to hug babies (please read my last blog post on hugging babies here). Our team got home at 1am Tuesday morning, I put in a 13 hour workday followed by dinner with my gospel community Tuesday night, 9 hours of working Wednesday, and 10 hours of sleep last night before flying to Houston for the day for a 1:30pm meeting with my vendor. (That makes me tired just typing it all out but it’s all the truth).

I’m currently at 40,000ft (actually the pilot said top cruising altitude will be 32,000 but I like the expression so we’re sticking with it). It’s 4:42pm and I’m supposed to still be in Houston Texas. I’m supposed to be in Houston Texas until 6:30pm but my life is unreal.

My meeting (singular, I don’t understand how I became important enough to have to fly somewhere for a single meeting but I’m here) was over at 3:15pm. I drove to the airport while checking to see if there was an earlier flight I could be on. There were three choices but only one would get me to KC earlier than my direct flight at 6:30.

Security line was 300+ people long but I have the fly-by lane with Southwest so that was a 7 minute process.

3:51pm. At the gate for the flight that leaves at 4:10pm, stops in Dallas, no plane change, land in KC at 7:05pm. Standby line is 30 people long according to the gate agent. I ask her to go ahead and put me on the line. She says she will but that she only have 6 opens seat, the odds are not good, but standby the desk to see.

About thirty five seconds later she calls my name, hands me a boarding pass, and tells me to have a nice flight. I thank her for making my day. She thanked me for flying Southwest over a 100 flight segments this year.

Now, I’m squished about five rows from the back of the plane, at a window seat (yay!!), on my way to Dallas with wifi. I’m happy. and then I start thanking God. It’s His world. Having crazy flight status with Southwest Airlines should not define me. It should not define my relationships. or my world view. (well maybe it does define my view of the world but not my world view (if that makes sense)).

I have an amazing life.

You have an amazing life.

I promise you that you do. But it’s not me that makes that promise. It’s God. He is in control.

I’m in a position that has (some) power and a lot of responsibility. I have flight status. I have freedom. This all comes from an education, a family, positive upbringing, and ultimately all of those things come from God. How crazy is it that He has chosen to bless me (and you!).

He does all things for His Glory and I pray that He would also bless me with the ability and perspective to see His Glory myself. I should not boast of my flight status. It shouldn’t matter. I should boast of The Lord God Almighty who has sent His Son to save me from my sins and sends The Holy Spirit to direct my life and fill it with blessings.

So thank you God. Thank you for being in the mundane moments of my life. Thank you for a good meeting. Thank you for patience. Thank you for my job. Thank you for the view out my window. and Thank you for this amazing, ridiculous, incredible life you give me everyday.

Adventures De Madre

My mom’s week trip to Kansas City was extremely busy which is no surprise. My mom doesn’t really know how to sit still. Let’s see if I can recap her trip:

Monday – I went to the office for work in the morning so she went and walked at Loose park, ate breakfast, cleaned out the tall closet to the left of my refrigerator that I’ve been ignoring since we moved in, showered, cleaned off my front door (it was very dusty), and swept my porch before I came back home at 1pm. Then we drove out and picked up my antelope which was finally done at the processor in Wellington, Missouri. On the way back to KC, we stopped in Lee’s Summit to look for a sewing machine and fabric. We found an awesome place to get some called Fabric Recycle which is right next door to El Maguey which is the best mexican food I’ve eaten in the Midwest. This meant we had nachos and margaritas for dinner.

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Tuesday – we walked in Loose Park and drank coffee in Starbucks in the Plaza before stepping in Barnes & Nobel and Pottery Barn on the way home. After showering, we went out shopping for a sewing machine and some household items. Tuesday night I have Gospel Community so I left Mom at home to play with the sewing machine we bought. By the time I came home, she was already frusterated with the one we purchased and wanted to take it back.

Wednesday – took the dreadful sewing machine back and went to the Bernina store. The owner showed us several models and Mom ended up buying a Bernina 135 that was used.

It makes 25 stitches and has a semi-automatic button hole maker. It is a very nice machine! I am truly blessed to have parents that want to invest in activities I’m interested in. (It also helps that my mom sews a tremendous amount). It had to be serviced so we didn’t pick it up until Friday morning.

Lunch was at BRGR which has a great gluten-free hamburger bun. Mom was in heaven, see picture below…

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My mom helped me hang pictures and art all around our house Wednesday afternoon. She has such a good eye for where and how to hang things (my parents have a tremendous amount of art in their house). She’s also really good at being helpful while hanging things. My Dad wants to make sure everything is exactly square and measured but my Mom wants it to look correct to the eye when the ceilings and walls aren’t straight. It feels amazing to have things hung on the walls again!

My friend Melanie stopped by the house for a couple glasses of wine. She and my mom were telling all kinds of crazy funny stories. It made my heart incredibly happy to have them both at my house.

Thursday – I went into the office for a half day and Mom worked on cleaning my house. She ended up finding the dryer line to the outside was full of lent (from previous renteres/owners) so she stood on her head to clean it out. (She’s also pretty ingenuitive since she duct-taped straws to the end of my vaccumn cleaner to suck it up instead of spending money to call an industrial cleaner). Apparently we were pretty close to having a house fire…

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Post dryer rescue was a tour of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Mom is an artist (photography and fiber/quilting/sewing) so she loved it! The sculpture garden is also a top-of-the-list KC attraction.

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Dinner was at Cooper’s Hawk Winery on the Plaza which has an amazing GF menu!! They have several locations across the country but it was absolutely, hands-down, the best GF menu I’ve ever ordered off of! Dessert was great, as was the Malbec…

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Friday – dinner was so good we went back for lunch after picking up my new sewing machine. Then we got down to business – Mom taught me how to make dresses for Haiti (blog post coming soon with instructions).

First Fridays is the first Friday of every month so Mom and I met up with several of my friends for drinks at Snow & Co before walking around looking at art. I really enjoyed her getting to know my friends. I’ve never listened to her opinion of my friends in the past (little bit rebellous) but I am listening this time around…she’s always been right in the past.

Saturday – we got up early, swung thru Starbucks for coffee and made a bee line for the River Market’s City Market Farmer’s Market (how many markets are really needed in a title? haha). We bought flowers, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, spices, garlic, kale, and green beans. I must have made a statement about wanting to learn to can green beans or how much I loved the canned green beans my grandmother used to make because we brought home enough green beans for 10 pint cans worth and 2 quarts for dinner!! It was awesome for Mom to teach me how to can (post coming later on that one too). See picture below of the start of the process.

IMG_2170[1]We shopped in West Bottoms antique dealers since Mom is such a fan of that too. It was a great time and I ended up with a great couple of buys. I can’t tell you what they are yet since I’m giving them as gifts ๐Ÿ™‚

Saturday afternoon my friend Lee came over to learn to sew (with a free lesson of how to can green beans) which was a lot of fun! Mom then made chili and cornbread for my roomate, my friend Brad, her and I to eat for dinner. By the time we had cleaned up the kitchen and finished sewing I was completely exhausted! I hope I have as much energy as my mom when I’m her age.

We did can the leftover chili as well (which I’m eating while writing this):

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Sunday – we ate breakfast at eggtc and then went to 9am service at Redeemer Fellowship. The preaching was good but the people sitting around us talked too much for my preference which was frusterating. Mom showed me her pictures from all her international travels this summer (Ireland, London, and Norway) before I took her to the airport to fly home.

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It was a crazy busy week but I loved it! We’ve already got a list going of what she wants to do the next time she comes ๐Ÿ™‚

Mom’s in KC

My Mom has finally made the treck to come visit me! She hasn’t been able to to shake her familial responsibilities to just have a good time with her oldest offspring due to my grandmother’s health, brother’s attitude, and father’s crazy schedule. Short point – she’s the one keeping this family going.

When my grandmother passed away in May, I gave my mom “I owe you” plane tickets to come to KC with the stipulation that I needed enough advanced warning to be able to not travel for work while she was here and that the first weekend of each month was the best weekend to spend in KC each month.

So…

She came yesterday and is here until next Sunday!

I picked her up from the airport around 12:30pm, gave her a tour of my house, went to get gluten-free pizza at Spin! Pizza, gelato at Glace, smelled the roses in loose park, and went to church at Redeemer at 7pm. Pretty busy first half day! Enjoy some pictures below ๐Ÿ™‚

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