Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dear Virginia

Dear Virginia,

When I first saw you, sitting on the steps watching everyone come in, I knew that you were different from the other kids. I don't know what the medical diagnosis would have been for you, but it really doesn't matter. You were labeled with "special needs" and that's all I really knew. 

When I first saw you, I knew you were different.

I need to make a confession, ok? I didn't really want to get to know you or spend any time with you. It was for really selfish reasons too, and I feel like a horrible person for ever thinking that about a beautiful little girl like you. But I have to be honest. I didn't want to be around you because by seeing you and your physical limitations, I'm forced to remember my own limitations. 

I have to be honest.

There was that one afternoon when the team members and I had run out of paint and were sitting around the room waiting for more, and you came over to play with us. You grabbed the stack of orange safety cones from the game shelf and put them on your head like a pointed hat. Then you gave each one of us a cone to put on our heads. When we were all wearing our "hats", you threw your head back and laughed.
That laugh was one of the sweetest sounds I've ever heard. 

You repeated that process several times — taking our cones back and then giving them to us to wear on our heads. Laughing each time. We were all laughing too. It was silly, to wear cones on our heads, but we all did because that was what made you laugh and we wanted to hear that. We wanted to see you having fun and I think I could speak for all of us when I say we were glad that you were having fun with us. 

We wanted to see you having fun.

Then you did something that I didn't expect. You put the cones down and walked over to our translator. You paused for a second and then you wrapped your arms around his neck and gave him a hug. Then you gave our team leader next to me a hug. Several hugs in a row, actually, as your tiny hands rubbed his head so tenderly and then you even kissed his forehead.

You gave him a hug.

I have another confession to make. I really wanted a hug from you and I prayed that I would get one. I thought that, maybe because of not wanting to spend any time with you earlier, you wouldn't want to hug me. That somehow you would know how uncomfortable I was around you because of my own demons that I needed to face. I asked God to forgive me for not wanting to be around you and I asked him to make me more like you, with your unashamed love for others.

I want to be like you, Virginia.

Right in the middle of my prayer, you came over, knelt in front of me and put your hands on my face. We just sat there like that, for a moment, before you pushed my bangs off my forehead and then hugged me tight. I remember thinking that you were a lot thinner than I first realized as I put my arms around your waist. I felt your fingers play with my ponytail before you pulled pack to look at me. You smiled, and then you grabbed the orange cones again to play with.
You put your hands on my face.

I don't know how to put into words the emotions that I'm trying to convey. There just… aren't any to describe that moment, those feelings. I was ashamed of myself, for not wanting to be around you, and I was humbled by your example. Virginia means "pure" and you live that out in your interactions with others. Your love was so pure, so genuine, so kind, and so true. You weren't hindered by society's expectations and people's own comfort zones. You weren't afraid to go touch someone you had never met before and give them a hug. 

You weren't afraid to love.

I've gotten so good at pretending that I'm "normal", that even I can sometimes forget that I'm not. I can't pretend when I'm with you, because I see so much of myself in you. I see a little girl who wants to be like everybody else but can't, I see your pain at having to miss out because you weren't able to keep up, I understand the hurt when you're made fun of or mocked for being different, and I know the tears you've cried because I've cried them too.

I can't pretend when I'm with you. 

There's no such thing as "normal", Virginia. You're perfect, just the way you are because you're made in the image of a perfect God. He doesn't make mistakes and you are NOT a mistake. I want to repeat that over and over again until I know that you believe it. God has a purpose for you, a plan for your life and it's a beautiful plan. You're going to bring God glory in a way that only you can do. No one else will be able to do what you can do.

You are not a mistake.

And I'm not either. 

Thank you for reminding me of that. Thank you for loving me when I wasn't willing to love you. Thank you for leaving a handprint on my heart. Thank you for being YOU.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My little Allison

I think of you often, Allison. I see your face in my dreams some nights and when I wake up I am sad that I can't see you. When I close my eyes, the memories come rushing at me like a flood. Your smile. Your sweet voice. Watching you play. Your hugs. The smoothness of your cheek when I brushed your hair back. Your tiny hand encased in mine. 

I loved you before I met you and I was praying for you before I even left the States. When I first saw you, I knew you were going to be something special. My heart connected with you in a way that I didn't know what possible. I was so glad when I found out you were in the age group that I was leading. You were still dressed in your dance costume and I was trying to tell you how pretty you looked. 

The kids performed a dance as a welcome to us for coming. Allison is in the red skirt next to the girl in front of the line. 

The next thing I know, you're holding my hand and you're wanting me to sit with you for snack time. You were the first kid to really open up to me. It made me so happy when you waved me over to sit with you. You tried to ask me a question and that was when the language barrier hit me hard because I wanted to talk to you too but I couldn't. I was discouraged that we couldn't communicate but it didn't seem to bother you at all. In fact, you thought it was pretty funny that this white girl couldn't talk to you and you were whispering something to your friend about me. 

I only had three days to spend with you. And before I knew it, the week was over and I had to say goodbye. It broke my heart to see the sadness in your eyes when you realized what I was saying. That I wasn't coming back the next day. That I wasn't going to see you again. I still remember how you wrapped your arms around my neck and buried your face in my shoulder. I couldn't hold back the tears as I hugged you back. I knew saying goodbye would be hard but I didn't expect it to hit me like it did in that moment. I didn't want to let you go. I didn't want to let any of you kids go. 

You have such a strong personality and at only five years old, I saw a great leader in you. The way you took charge of the games, even though you were a little bossy at times, showed me what a great influencer of people you are going to be someday. You were one of the best listeners in my group during story time and I hope that you took those stories to heart and learned about God. I wish I could be there to watch you grow up, because I know you're going to be an incredible woman someday. 

I pray for you when I think of you. I pray that you would be safe and that you would grow up with a better life than your parents had. I hope you remember me and all the fun we had together. I pray that you still listen to the stories about Jesus and that you would continue to learn and grow in your relationship with him. I pray that you are loved and cherished and never beaten or abused like most children in your country are. I pray that you grow up and become a light for Christ in your community, serving God with wherever he has you. 

You will probably never know the impact you had on me that week, Ally. I wish I had just one more moment with you so I could try and tell you how you left your handprint on my heart. 

Allison is in the purple Cali shirt and her favorite game was "El Rato El Gato" or Cat and Mouse even though it was really more like "Monkey in the Middle." 
That's what we're playing in this picture. I would give almost anything to be able to play with her again.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Memories of Mefiboset

A poem I wrote to try and capture some of the memories of my days in Mefiboset where we worked the majority of our time with the kids.

45 minute bus ride.
Crazy traffic.
I don't understand the roads.
Or the road signs.
I'm so glad I'm not driving.
The scenery changes.
Paved roads turn to dirt.
Lots of potholes.
I see a white building next to a plowed field.
Big, blue letters and the familiar Buckner logo.
Welcome to Mefiboset.
Smelly chicken coop.
Set up for VBS begins.
I don't know what to do, where to be.
I sit off to the side and watch.
The kids start showing up.
Beautiful girls and cute little boys.
The sun is shining.
It's hard to play futbol (soccer) on such uneven ground.
The kids start smiling.
They are so open to receiving the love we give them.
I want to be that open.
They listen during story time.
They have fun during crafts.
Allison holds my hand.
Monse wants me to play Candyland with her.
Fernandina calls me Gringa the whole day.
I'm trying to remember all their names.
I wish I could speak Spanish.
Mexicans eat chile powder on everything. Even apple slices.
I don't like chile powder.
They find out that I'm ticklish.
I get tickled by five little kids at once.
They teach me a patty-cake game.
We play it several times every day.
I wish I knew what the rhyme was.
I watch them play from the window upstairs.
I never want to forget the sound of their laughter.
The team paints the inside of the building.
Amazing how much better things look with a coat of paint.
White "freckles" on everyone.
I see the ladies making crafts.
They are so eager and willing to learn.
I want to be like that.
3 year old Lili follows me everywhere now.
She wouldn't talk to me at first. 
Her smile melts my heart.
I love holding her.
I could listen to her talk all day.
I'm glad her mom is able to work with Buckner.
I paint the children's faces in the afternoon. 
They want the designs they see pictured on the box.
One girl comes back to say "I love this" in English.
She points to her face that I just painted.
They all try to use English.
I am blown away by their sweet hearts.
They want to talk to me as much as I want to talk to them.
They are so kind.
I want to be that kind to others.
It's time to leave.
I hate saying goodbye.
The tears won't stop.
I don't want to leave.
We hug each other tightly.
My heart hurts to think I might never see them again.
I climb on the bus and sink into my seat.
My emotions are overwhelming.
I look out the window to see them one more time.
They wave at me.
I smile through the tears.
They chase the bus as we pull away.
I watch them until we are out of sight.
Love is such powerful force.
I hope they know how much I love them.

I still see their faces in my mind. Little kids make me think of them. Sometimes the desire to see them is so strong that I want to book a ticket back to Oaxaca and go find them. I'm so glad that there are people who are still there to help them. That they aren't forgotten. I pray for them often and I would give almost anything to spend one more minute in Mexico just to be able to hug them. I hope I am able go next year and see them again. I'm grateful that God loves them so much more than I ever could and that he used me to help provide for them. I'm very glad that he is taking care of them just like he takes care of me. They changed my life forever and I will always cherish the little handprints that each child left on my heart. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Sometimes there's just those kids that you have a strong connection to. I can't explain it, but Monse was one of those girls that I just connected with during my missions trip to Mexico. She's one of the kids that I miss the most. Here's a letter that I wrote to her. 

My sweet, little Monse. It's hard to hold back the tears when I think of you. I miss you so much and my heart breaks to think I may never see you again. When I first saw you, you reminded me so much of my sister-in-law, Mercedes and the pictures I saw of her when she was younger. I don't know why that fact drew me to you as much as it did, maybe because I've been really missing my family lately. You just made me think of my sister-in-law every time I looked at you.

Your shy, little smile caught my attention right away. I love the cute, little dimples on your cheeks that only show when you smile or laugh. It was such a beautiful smile and I did everything I could just to get you to smile again. You are really quiet so I always loved getting to hear the sound of your soft voice whenever you gained the courage to speak a few words to me. I know I must have sounded pretty pathetic by my attempts at speaking Spanish to you. But you seemed to understand me even though we didn't talk very much. You were good at communicating what you wanted by tugging on my arm and pointing at a game or a toy.

The last day we spent together you weren't feeling so well and you didn't want to play any of the games. I had been sick the day before so I wasn't able to play games either and I was glad for the chance to sit with you. You curled up next to me and leaned against my leg. You were so still that I kept looking down to see if you had fallen asleep, but you were just watching the kids play.

In the afternoon, I found you lying down on a mat in the room upstairs to take a nap. I put my jacket on top of you so you could use it as a blanket. You smiled in appreciation as I draped it over your tiny body. I remember pushing the hair off your forehead and staring at your dark brown eyes, completely in awe of the incredible depth in those four year old eyes that were staring back at me. That was a moment I never wanted to end.

I wanted to curl up next to you and just hold you in my arms and never let you go. I wanted to take you home with me and make sure you were taken care of, that you never went hungry, that you always had what you needed. And as I sat there next to you, I thought of how God loves you so much more than I ever could. I thought of how he brought me and the team all the way over from the States to help provide for you, even if it was in such small ways.

My posture is horrible, but I'm really glad there's a picture of this moment.

Your fingers are so tiny and you had them tightly wrapped around mine and you began to fall asleep. I started praying so hard for you, little Monse. I prayed that God would protect you, that he would give you a good life full of joy, that you would never be abused, that you would always have the things you needed, that you would know you were always loved, that you would grow up to know him and be a strong woman of faith. I thanked him over and over for giving me the opportunity to meet you, for all the fun we had together, for all the love he poured on you through me.

I never really got to say goodbye. I mean, I did, in a way. I was there when your mom came to get you and take you home. But I didn't really get to say goodbye. To tell you that I was leaving and wasn't going to see you the next day. I didn't get to hug you, or kiss your cheek, or tell you that I love you. I wish I could have told you that. Even though, I think you already knew, I still wanted to tell you anyway.

One of my favorite memories of the week was playing Candyland with you and the other girls. I would purposely stack the deck so you would get the cards you needed to get ahead and win because I loved the huge smile that you got when you made it to the castle first. I will never forget that smile of yours, darling Monse, and I treasure the tiny handprint you left on my heart. I really hope I can see you again, someday.

When we weren't playing candyland, Monse liked to do puzzles together. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The girl in the mountains.

A part of the reason for starting this blog was to be able to share the stories I was writing about my missions trip to Mexico. I wrote several of the stories like letters because it was an outlet for a lot of the emotions I was trying to process. I'll share a little more about the missions trip later but here's one of the letters I wrote to a little girl in the mountain village that we went to on our last day in Mexico. For those of you that already saw this on Facebook, there are more stories/letters coming and they will be posted here instead of FB. Thanks for reading!

To the girl in the mountains. I don't know your name but I promise you I won't ever forget your face. You have such beautiful brown eyes and you made me think of Pocahontas with your long, thick hair braided down your back. I met you on our last day in Mexico. We went to your village three hours away in the mountains to wash the people's feet and give everyone we could new socks and shoes. 

You and the children were very resistant to us being there and that was hard for me. I had just spent the last four days with children who were excited to see me and then to have your village scared of me and my team was difficult to deal with . I will admit that when I looked at all of you, and you looked away and didn't want to talk to me, I just wanted to climb back on the bus and hide until we could leave. I didn't want to stay where I wasn't wanted. But then I realized that y'all had probably never seen white people before, much less have a whole group of white people there taking off your socks and shoes and speaking a strange language that you couldn't understand. 

When you came and sat down in front of me, I smiled and said hello. You smiled back very shyly and looked away. I never wished I could speak Spanish more than I did in that moment because I wanted so badly to talk to you. I wanted to ask you questions about how you lived and find out more about you. I wanted to tell you how beautiful you were, to find out what you liked to do, ask how the shoes were fitting. The pink and white tennis shoes I put on you seemed to fit, but ten minutes later you came back and told me, through a translator, that they were too tight and hurt your feet when you walked. I tried so hard to find another pair of shoes for you, but everything we had left was too big.

I can't tell you how hard it was for me to have the translator tell you we had nothing left in your size. I watched your face fall and I was so disappointed that I couldn't find a pair of shoes for you. I wanted you to have new shoes so badly that I would have given you mine if I knew they had fit you. I prayed hard as you walked away that Buckner would have shoes for you next month when they brought the next shipment. I prayed that they would have a pair that would fit you perfectly and that they would be in your favorite color. 

I felt so helpless for the rest of the time we were in your village and I wish I could have done so much more for you. For all of you. My dad's shed would have been a better home for you than the shack you lived in. I wondered if you had enough food, if you had any other clothes than the ones you were wearing, if you had school, if you had any fun at all. I wanted to know how you lived up here in the mountains and what life was like for you but when I really think about it, I'm glad I don't know, because I would have probably felt even more useless trying to help.

When I came home, I looked in my closet at all my shoes piled up in the corner and it brought tears to my eyes. I was thinking of you and how you didn't even have one single pair of decent shoes, and I have several pairs that I never wear. I am humbled when I think of all that I have that I don't need and you're miles away in a village struggling to have your basic needs met. 

You taught me to be grateful for what I have, you showed me that there will be times when I can't help even if I really want to, you taught me the importance of James 2:14-16 and to have faith that God will provide when I can't do anything more.

I don't even know your name but I love you. I love you so much and I pray that you will get a pair of shoes that fit you the way they're supposed to. I pray that you will always have shoes that fit you. For the pretty, brown-eyed girl I met in the mountains, thank you for the handprint you left on my heart.

The missions team with the mountain village people. A lot of them traveled a long way to be able to see us.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Why do you mismatch your socks, earrings and even shoes on occasion?
Because life is too short to waste time matching socks. And mis-matching earrings are fun. The mis-matched shoes was an accident that I discovered as I was putting them on and decided to wear them anyway because, again, life is short and I'm making the most of it.

What is a therapeutic way for you to de-stress?

I de-stress by eating a pint (yes, the whole pint!) of my favorite Ciao Bella pistachio ice cream. I also  like puddle jumping in the rain and screaming at the top of my lungs. ;-)

What's your favorite color skittle and/or M&M?
I like ALL the colors/flavors of M&M's but I think my favorite color/flavor with skittles (the original package, since there's so many different kinds of skittles now) are the green and orange ones. I do NOT eat purple skittles. Ever. I hate grape-flavored stuff.

What are some things that make you incredibly happy every time you think about them?

What makes me happy changes depending on the moment because it doesn't really take a lot to get me excited but some things that make me happy right now are: memories and pictures from my recent trips, my butterfly necklace, ice cream, and the ways that God is using me in the lives of others makes me incredibly happy when I think about it

Why do you like butterflies so much?
Read this post here because that much sums it up. Other reasons are because they're colorful, they can fly, they don't bite or sting and they're so pretty and unique. 

Best birthday?

When I turned 22, my boss sent me on an errand to get me out of the office and then my co-workers decorated my door with balloons and purple stars to surprise me when I got back. After a scavenger hunt through the different departments, I was then blindfolded and kidnapped for lunch. I was given all my favorites: an open-faced roast beef sandwich smothered in mushrooms, the most amazing nutella fudge and a very large zebra striped cup! Then I was blindfolded and kidnapped again by my friends later that evening and given a surprise princess party with a big cake, ice cream and lots of gift-bearing friends. 

What's with the zebra stripes?
What do you mean, what's with the zebra stripes? It's the most awesome pattern ever! And that's why my sheets, my pillowcase, my hairdryer, my jewelry bag, my jacket, five of my shirts, one of my purses, three of my bandanna's, several pairs of my earrings, my luggage, my socks and my favorite roll of duct tape is patterned with zebra stripes. 

How old were you the first time you left the U.S.?
Nine or ten years old. My family moved to Italy and we were there for two years. I didn't go outside the U.S. again until this summer when I went to Mexico.

If you could only describe yourself with sounds, what would you use?
I would describe myself with this sound, this sound, and this soundAnd if for whatever reason, you can't hear the sounds I linked to, they are: a little kid laughing, a body falling down the stairs, and applause.

What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
Hmmm... I guess I would have to say getting a full-time waitressing job after being very sick and bed-ridden for almost a year and half.  The whole "getting back into life" thing was pretty scary for me.

If you were a super hero what powers would you have?

I think I would be a fairy of some sort... with big butterfly wings so I could fly. And whenever I flew into walls, which would happen often because I'm a bit klutzy, I would turn into a puff of powdered sugar and float away in the wind before coming back together again. 

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Israel. And more specifically, Jerusalem. Because I want to see the Holy Land and walk where Jesus walked. 

What's the farthest you've traveled (from where your family currently lives) North, South, East and West?

Farthest North and East is Alaska. Farthest South is Oaxaca, Mexico. Farthest West is Austria. 

Is there anything you wouldn't do for $1,000,000?
Given the situation, and if I was desperate enough, there's probably not a whole lot that I wouldn't do.

Can you tap dance? 

Unfortunately, no.

Do you ever get tired of all your shoes?

Never. I do, however, get tired of not finding a matching pair because I don't keep my shoes all together so they get all jumbled up and it gets annoying when I'm in a hurry and can't find my other shoe. That's when I just mis-match them. ;-)

What's something you never thought you'd do, but now you've actually done?
Going to STEP. Never thought I would do that, never wanted to do that, but I after attending last summer, I'm really glad I did. Not so much because of all the great things God did during the program but more because of what has happened after STEP and the opportunities I've been able to have because of that.

Biggest life-changing moment for you?

I can't really name the "biggest" life-changing because all of the moments that have changed my life have done so in different ways so I can't really compare and say which one was more life-changing then the other. The first one that comes to mind right now was choosing to volunteer for a year at a ministry center. God has used a lot of moments during this past year.

What's your favorite color? 
Purple, lime green, orange, yellow and bright blue. And glitter. :-D 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'll give y'all a heads-up before the next random post so you can be a part of the fun! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013


One of the questions I've been asked was what "Alis Volat Propriis" means and why I chose that for my blog title. I may have had the phrase doodled on my wrist today as well which prompted the question in the first place. ;-)


Alis Volat Propriis (click for the pronunciation) is Latin for "One flies with one's own wings". The official English definition is "She flies with her own wings" because it is the state motto for Oregon and they changed the meaning to go along with giving feminine pronouns to states and territories. 

This phrase has significance to me, not because I'm from Oregon (because I'm not from Oregon), but because of the inspiration I find in butterflies. 

Butterflies start their life out as a lowly, little caterpillar. Inching her (or his, but I'm referring to this one as a girl) way along the ground with a real lack of purpose. Then she curls up in cocoon and essentially dies to everything she knows and everything that's familiar to her. I sometimes wonder if the caterpillar knows what's coming and anticipates the change or if it just sort of comes as a surprise. I wonder if it's a shock to have to struggle so hard to get out of this shell with a body that has changed drastically from what she used to have. There are wings that weren't there before, and her thick, grubby body has significantly shrunk in size and she has to fight and squirm to get out of what was her comfortable home for so long.

Ok, so I know that this is just an insect, and I'm humanizing the metamorphosis process just a tad. But let me explain why this is important to me. I went through an illness several years ago that I will share more of later. It's why my last blog was started to share updates with those who wanted to stay informed on how I was doing. Anyway, that illness was one of the worst things I have ever had to go through in my life and recovering from that was a huge struggle for me. My body was changed, my life had changed, and it was hard. I retreated many times to my bed, my "cocoon" if you will, and hid under the covers because that was my safe zone. When you're bed-ridden for a year, real life is extremely scary to get back into again. 

But after the struggle, the butterfly emerges, with strong wings because of her struggle to live outside of her comfort zone, able to fly high above the ground she crawled on at the beginning of her life. And in the midst of the struggle to get out of her cocoon, she has to fly with her own wings, not another butterfly's wings. Just like I can't go through my life comparing it to anyone else's and wishing I had their life instead.  I have to fly with my own wings and live. 

This is a Tiger Swallowtail and it's the butterfly I see the most where I live in East Texas. It's so pretty!

So, there you have another piece of my story and I hope you enjoyed it. There will be plenty more so stay tuned. And coming up next is going to be a random post full of random questions that I'm going to answer. I love random questions. If you're on Facebook, you may have seen my status asking for questions to put on my blog, so feel free to add some more. I'm still figuring out the Google+ thing but you can add some questions on there as well. And there's always the comment section below that you can write anything you feel like. :-) So ask away!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Blog!

Hey everyone!

So... I started a new blog! :-) It's not all put together yet so please be patient with me as I work out the kinks but I'm happy with how it's coming along so far.

Now I know some of you are probably wondering why I started a brand new blog when I could have just started posting regularly at Life Happens again. Well, the answer to that question is because Life Happens was a blog started for a very specific time in my life and that time is now in my past. To try and continue that would be like trying to shove my foot into an old shoe that I've outgrown. I might still be able to pull it on but my toes would be crammed and it would just be strange.

So that's why there's a new blog. Because I'm in a brand new season of my life and I needed a brand new blog. There's a lot of reasons for starting this blog but the main one is simply this: I have stories to tell and I needed an outlet to share.

If you were a follower of my old blog then I hope you'll continue to follow me here. If this is your first time reading my ramblings, welcome and enjoy! If you have absolutely no idea who I am and you just stumbled across this blog, I hope you like what you see and you stick around. :-)

So here's a little bit of an introduction and a bit of a purpose for this blog. My name is Kristin Lanae and I'm on a mission to love and be loved. The stories you will read here will  all be about my journey to love everyone I meet and to receive the love I'm given. I want to share what God is doing in and through me. I pray that this blog will be a place of encouragement, of joy, of love, of peace, of laughter, of truth and of grace for you just as much as for me.

I adore comments so if you like what you read then let me know! Don't like what you see, let me know that too. I will respond to every comment I receive as much as I am able to.

Stay tuned for more!