Thursday, May 15, 2014

Send Me to Rwanda!

If I said, "ya'll," here's what I would say to you: help send me to Rwanda, ya'll.

But I am not from the South. I am from the mighty, Earth-loving Pacific Northwest. So I'll just say it like this: hug a tree and vote for me.
Because I really, really want to go to Africa to not only change the world and broaden my horizons, but to meet and hang out with these ladies:
They're looking for one last woman to travel to Rwanda this summer. And I think it should be me.
I mean, c'mon -- social justice, fashion, photojournalism, human connections, travel, female empowerment? That's me in a protein-packed nutshell.
Here's my complete essay on why they should pick me:
He came in ratty shorts and a thin T-shirt stretched tightly over his swollen stomach. He was only two years old, short, scrawny and startled. We had nothing in common; Joshua, a foster boy from hell, while I, at the ripened, mature age of eight, confidently and constantly bossed my Leave-It-to-Beaver household.
No matter — I was in love. Watching him, something clicked. “I have everything,” I thought, “and Josh has nothing.”  
That was it. In my naïve, childish zeal, I decided to give him the world.
            Over the years, that spark Joshua unknowingly lit as a toddler grew into a permanent passion. If it involved social justice, I wanted in. So I volunteered. I wrote essays. I fundraised. I went on missions trips. I poured my zealous self into anything involving children, women and families.
            But as I grew up, married, started my career and had some seriously beautiful, chunky babies, I noticed that zeal and effort only went so far when it came to changing the world. Throwing money at a problem like poverty didn’t always solve it. Bestowing my middle-class, American wisdom at a young mother from a completely different background and culture often made things worse instead of better. There was a divide between helping and helping intelligently, and I determined to cross it.
            So I researched, read and asked questions, and here is what I found: the world’s women don’t need me as a pilot — they already have the drive, passion, talents and brains to fly. They just need a runway.
            Today, I blog about, volunteer for and donate to projects that empower women holistically, often through their own natural skills and abilities. I will soon start my M.A. in International Community Development in hopes that I can one day work for a project like International Justice Mission or Noonday Collection.
            I want to return to Africa to blend my loves of international community, social justice, and heck, even gorgeous accessories. But I also want to repay the favor Joshua gave me so many years ago when he opened my heart to both suffering and beauty.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Website

I've been a freelance writer since the end of 2006. And in all that time, I've never had a website.

No more, glory hallelujah.

Now, thanks to my friend Brad at 4tunate Design, I have a place where editors and readers can view my past articles, see the cool people I've interviewed and subscribe to future blog posts.

In fact, I've already been blogging from there for the past few posts. And I'm loving it (ba-da-ba-bap-ba.....).

I'll leave Crystal's Cliffnotes up for a little while longer, but please, if you want to keep reading about my crazy life, subscribe to my posts, like me on Facebook and let me know what you think of my new site. 

And if you're really feeling wild, share my articles and blogs with a buddy.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 14, 2014

High School Hearts

There was a long list of things we didn’t have: money, life experience with serious relationships, college degrees — heck, not even a high school diploma — and a place of our own. After all, we were just teenagers. AKA we had no clue, and the world let us know it.

The list of things Nick and I did have at age 17 was a lot shorter, but in the end, mattered more: love, commitment and the crazy, irrational belief that we could make it no matter what the naysayers told us.

Today, we have enough money to live a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. We have over 11 years of “us.” We have college degrees, a mortgage, a dog and three kids. We’ve lived in two states, two countries and two continents as man and wife. By all accounts, we now know what we’re doing.

And yet part of me still longs for the days when life boiled down a hand-written love poem on a first Valentine’s Day, grammar and punctuation mistakes and all.

That yearbook smile still drives me mad
With all that’s changed, I’m so glad

You’re still loving me
With that some old high school heart

~From “High School Heart” by John Michael Montgomery

The presents may have gotten more expensive, the clamor may have increased in the background and maybe we don’t have to drive 85 miles an hour down River Drive to make my curfew.

But that boy is the same. The girl is the same. The love is the same.

No, I take it back. That boy and girl have changed into a man and woman who have learned that true love isn’t entirely about the romance, the gifts and the holidays. That love has grown and matured into an all-encompassing river of everyday choices and actions, wild and calm by turns but always active and alive.

Happy Valentine’s Day to the one who, from nothing, has given me everything.