15 Moments I Loved in Kenya

Truth be told, right now, the end of our trip to Kenya feels too raw to blog about the three weeks there. The smell of the body wash we used, the sight of foods I ate before I got sick and the clothes I wore en route to the hospital can turn my stomach. Not because the trip wasn't amazing before I got sick - it was. But the experience was so hard and scary; it has left us reeling a little bit. 

Years ago, I got the stomach flu on Christmas Eve after having had a sweet potato for dinner. I couldn't eat sweet potatoes for years. And now? I love them! I'm hoping that, as we get a little space from the trip, I'll feel more eager to reflect upon it and, eventually, will remember how joyful it was. Because the three weeks before I got sick were amazing - we learned SO much! Someday, I feel confident Kenya will be the sweet potato of trips :) 

However! While we were there, I recorded some of my favorite moments from the trip as they happened. I wanted to share a few of them with you!

15 Moments I Loved in Kenya

1. Brushing our teeth outside under the dark night sky. Looking for shooting stars and the dippers and shouting them out with foamy mouths. 

2. Sitting on the cool front porch each morning, eating mango and oats and PB and instant coffee. The breeze blowing across our faces as the hot sun rose. 

3. Eating mango on the big cement rock outside our office. We didn't have a  knife so we cut it with our teeth. We were both covered in sticky juice. When we finished, we fed the extra to a skinny horse and watched him go crazy.

4. Going for an evening run and discovering a new village. It was so lush and green with palms and gardens and tiny Kenyans yelling at us. Watching the sun set as we finished - it's pink glow descending behind the rolling green hills and blue mountains. The sky turning purple as it dipped into the horizon. It looked like a watercolor painting.

5. Rocking baby Paul to sleep in my arms. Feeling a chunky baby bounce and laugh and coo after seeing so many sick little ones was such a joy. Swaying in the shade of a big tree, as the breeze blew through on the sticky day. Feeling his sweat drip down my arm as he snored.

6. Riding on a piki (motorbike) between two Kenyan men. It was the first morning I'd spent apart from Chris. As the wind caught my hair I realized I could do this trip - I didn't feel nervous anymore. It was the first time I didn't worry about why we'd come.

7. Walking one of the little boys to school. He was so shy and wanted us to walk near him, but not with him. 

8. Filling up our water bucket each night to shower. Knowing we were only using what we needed. 

9. Teaching the girls at church about worth. Watching their eyes light up as they understood. Helping them see their strengths and why they were lovable. 

10. The amazing colors every day - the red dirt roads, deep brown dirt, lush green landscape and bright blue mountains fading into the sky. 

11. Cooking dinner with our door open while kids jumped rope and played soccer as the sun set. Hearing their laughter and happy cries of "Mzungu, Mzungu!"

12. Working out on our last night. The power was out but the moon and stars were so bright it didn't matter. Looking up at the stars and feeling so content. And sweaty!

13. Arriving at the lodge. Omg. The views! The animals! The mango juice. The coffee!!!! Everything was amazing and so perfect. Swimming in the pool and feeling clean for the first time. Everything smelled good there. Even the air! We were absolutely overflowing with joy. I didn't even want to listen to music because the birds and hippos sounded so amazing. 

14. Watching the sun rise and set over the Maasai Mara. 

15. Chris running back from the pool yelling for me to go see the stars with childlike excitement. He couldn't believe how bright they were at the lodge.

20 Something Entrepreneur: Isis Smalls

This post is part of a series: Slow Cooking, 20-something Entrepreneurs, which I created to shed light on what it's like to start your own business in your 20s. Meet the other beauties here

Happy Monday, friends!

It's an especially exciting day around here because our amazing 20-Something Entrepreneur, Isis Smalls, is launching her very first book. The e-book launches today, in fact! Ah! am so proud of her and honored to share it with you. Her book, Beauty in the Making: Learning to Radiate from the Inside Out, is targeted toward helping young women learn to experience the Lord, establish a walk with Him and lean on that relationship during hard challenging times. 

She resigned from her job as a sixth grade teacher last spring to pursue writing the book and public speaking. She's also an amazing singer, All-American volleyball player and was Miss Houston 2014. She rocks :) 


What is your morning routine? How do you get the day going?

My morning routine begins with a warm cup of coffee and my daily devotional time. The first thing I do before talking to anyone or turning on my phone is read the Bible. It puts me in a good mood and relieves any anxiety I have for what is ahead that day. I always say, “You don’t want to talk to me unless I’ve talked to Jesus first.”  

Mr. Snooze Button is my best friend and worst enemy. Unfortunately we’ve been dating too long, but in this new season where I am working for myself, we’ve had to take a break. I have to get up early if I want to have a fruitful day, so it’s my daily goal to be in the 5 a.m. Club. Early bird gets the worm they say, right?

You resigned from your job to pursue your dreams. It seems like you have it all together when it comes to knowing what you want to do with your life. Has it always been that way?

This question makes me laugh hysterically because on a yearly basis and sometimes even daily, I am always redefining myself and asking what in the world I want to do with my life. As I continue to grow, I am learning to release the need for official titles and traditional roles, and pursue the passion instead.

So, regardless of whether I am teaching, singing, or speaking, the mission is to inspire, encourage, and motivate people to become all God created them to be. What form that takes is something I am learning to be flexible with and leave it up to Him.

isis-smalls

Now that you're in the latter half of your 20s, if you could, what would you tell yourself at 22?

What do you wish you'd known? I would tell my 22-year old self to trust your instincts and know that God will never lead you astray. Since graduating from college I have had incredible opportunities, but I have not always enjoyed them to the fullest because I allowed worry, anxiety, or fear to steal my joy. I am learning to release the outcome to God and that I don’t have to hold my breath out of fear of making mistakes. I can trust that I will do my best and He is making my crooked places straight.

What was the most influential book you read in your 20s?

Lioness Arising: Wake Up and Change Your World by Lisa Bevere was by far the most influential book for me. It’s about the power found in a woman’s strength, passion, and beauty. This book gave me the courage to pursue the title of Miss Houston. It was my very first pageant ever and being completely introverted and shy, I lacked the confidence to believe I could actually win. By the time I got done with this book, I was sprinting towards the stage with a stronger sense of purpose, self-esteem, and direction.

What’s the biggest misconception people may have about you from watching you on social media?

Judging from social media, people might assume that I have always been a “glam girl” who competed in pageants. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Before I competed for Miss Houston, I was a proud jock. I was an All-American volleyball player who did not know how to do her hair, make-up, or walk in heels. The closest I ever got to caring about fashion was picking out the color of my headband for the next game. Needless to say, the transition to pageantry was rough, but because of it I have learned that presentation is important.

For so many of us, our 20s can be one big comparison trap. How do you keep yourself from constant comparison? The internet makes it so hard!

Oh my goodness, comparison is the slickest of evils! I have to constantly remind myself to run my race. Some days I am better at it than others. I am learning to trust that what God has for me is for me and that His stage is big enough for all of us to shine. If I am really struggling with jealousy or insecurity one day, I pray my way through it. I ask God for wisdom to help me see that person and myself through eyes of love instead of intimidation.

What do you consider play? And! What are your creative outlets?

When I speak to youth, that is play for me! Kids are so receptive and it’s an honor to pour wisdom into them. I enjoy that I can be extra fun and crazy while presenting to kids because they don’t judge you! They just love on you, smile, and laugh while they are taking in nuggets that could change the trajectory of their life. That makes my day!

Other than that, I really value quality time with friends and family. I am always on the go so any time we can steal to go to dinner, grab coffee, or just catch up over dessert refreshes me. In terms of creative outlets:  sweating keeps me sane! Few things are better than turning my music all the way up and getting a nice, hard workout in. This is where I get rejuvenated with clarity and fresh perspective to keep going. I absolutely love it!

Can't get enough of her? I get it.

You can check out her Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up with her.