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Lake Tahoe: Trusting God


We just got home from an amazing vacation in Lake Tahoe. We hiked by Emerald Bay, went kayaking on Donner’s Lake, visited Yosemite National Park, saw the giant Sequoia trees, and that was just the beginning! The weather was absolutely perfect. Sunshine and in the 70s every day. We were so grateful for my aunt and uncle’s generosity as they allowed us to join their family vacation.

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Yet this vacation never would happened if I hadn’t waited upon God’s timing. Why is it so hard to wait on God? Oh yes, because I like to know what is going to happen in the future. I often want to feel a sense of control. I have been realizing that waiting on God requires me to trust Him. And when I start to worry, I remember that He is the God of the Universe. He loves me and nothing is impossible for Him. Then I can take a sigh of relief and allow myself to wait and see what He has in store.

Last spring, I had several friends tell me about their summer vacation plans. I honestly hadn’t even thought about what we were going to do this summer. But as I listened to their vacation plans, I suddenly felt the need to have a plan. Now my husband assured me that we did have a vacation plan. We were going to fly out to Washington State to visit his family. In his mind we were all set. However, in my mind this was just an idea and not a plan.  We hadn’t purchased the plane tickets. What if we waited and the prices were too high and we couldn’t afford to go? We would be stuck home without a vacation plan.

I wanted to urge my husband to find plane tickets for us, yet I realized he was incredibly busy with working full time and finishing grad school. He did not have the time. I had a choice to make. I could nag my husband, I could worry, or I could simply trust God. After a little bit of worry, I realized the best choice was to trust God. He already knew what was in store for us this summer. He knew when we would visit Washington State. I could lay my worry down and rest in Him.

Months later we found out that my aunt and uncle were looking for two more people to join them in their vacation to Lake Tahoe.  Would we be interested?

My wonderful husband knew how much I wanted to go. He spent hours researching and found a great deal on plane tickets. A month before the trip, he surprised me with the plane tickets as an early birthday present. We flew out the day after my birthday. And from Lake Tahoe we were able to travel to Washington State.

I realized that if I hadn’t trusted God, if I had insisted that we book the plane tickets to Washington months ago, we would have missed out on this incredible opportunity. Our vacation to Lake Tahoe was full of fun family memories, stunning views, and lots of adventure.

Do you ever have a hard time trusting God? What helps you to wait on Him?

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Why do I love celebrating birthdays?


It is a well known fact that I love to celebrate my birthday. I mean how could you not want to celebrate your birthday when it falls on the first day of summer and the longest day of the year? My birthday also marks the glorious start of summer vacation.

My husband says that I become an extrovert on my birthday as I love attention from others. I love knowing that people love and care for me. Whether it’s a phone call, a birthday card, a Facebook post, or a “happy birthday” greeting I feel blessed by all the people God has put into my life.

Growing up, my mom made us simple birthday posters and hung them around the house. We were able to choose our birthday dinner and dessert. Strawberry shortcake was the natural choice as my birthday was during our town’s local Strawberry Festival.

I truly embraced celebrating my birthday in my twenties. I loved my twenty-fifth birthday celebration. One of my best friends knew my love of birthdays and gifts and she indulged me. A large bouquet of balloons, collection of small gifts, and a thoughtful birthday card greeted me a the start of our evening. Throughout the rest of the evening, additional birthday cards continued to appear. We went to a fancy Italian restaurant that was located in a beautiful, old Victorian house. Our leisurely dinner was full of friends, laughter, and stories. I had never felt so loved.

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Growing up, I did not have many friendships. I often felt lonely, awkward, and out of place in my school. While other girls had big birthday parties when they turned sixteen, I was acutely aware of my lack of friends and social status when I turned sixteen.

While I enjoy attention and gifts on my birthday, what I truly treasure is the fact that God has now given me with so many meaningful friendships. I am overwhelmed by the sense of community He has blessed me with and the people who have influenced my life.

During my twenties, I began to fully embrace and live in my identity as God’s beloved. Every year on my birthday, I enjoy going to a quiet park to spend time with my Abba Father. I reflect on the past year, soak in His love for me, and look forward to all that He has in store for me during the coming year. The God of the Universe is my Beloved King. He delights in me. Wow.

I believe each birthday is worth celebrating. God created each person “fearfully and wonderfully made”. He crafted you and declares that you are marvelous. While I enjoy celebrating birthdays, God actually celebrates us each and every day. It tells us in Zephaniah that God “rejoices over us with singing”.

As my thirty-second birthday approached, I realized this birthday would look a little different. It would be the first time I had to work on my birthday. I was thousands of miles away from most of my friends. This allowed me to step back and realize the most important thing I had not changed. Time with my Abba Father during a beautiful summer day.

God was in the details of my birthday. I got out of work early. I enjoyed lunch at the Public Gardens. Thanks to technology I felt loved by so many people. This year, God had given me one of His very best gifts. My wonderful husband. A man who I had dreamed about, prayed for, and desired. And like any good gift, God shows me just how well He knows me through the gift of my husband. How lavish His love is for me!

I hope you fully enjoy celebrating your next birthday. May you know how deeply God loves and delights in you!

How do you celebrate your birthday? Do you have any favorite birthday memories?

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spring cleaning!


I recently spring cleaned our home. I was pretty amazed at all that I found to clean considering that I clean our place each week. As I was cleaning the baseboards, vacuuming under the coach, and scrubbing the inside of our fridge I started to think about how these places aren’t cleaned every week. The little bit of dirt or dust slowly starts to accumulate until months later, some serious cleaning is needed.

As I was cleaning away, God spoke to me. In the same way, if we let little things accumulate over time in our heart some serious cleaning needs to be done in our life.

Little things. A poor attitude. Unforgiveness.  Doubt. The little lies that feel like truth. Distraction. It’s easy to rationalize the little things away.

The little things can build up in our hearts. Slowly our hearts can become harden. How God loves us.  He can examine our hearts and do a little “spring cleaning” in our lives.

I don’t want to miss His voice. I don’t want to miss all that He has in store for my life. I want my heart to be sensitive to His Spirit.

How God loves us! He is quick to forgive. Our sins are completely forgotten. He remembers them no more! God can cleanse our hearts and lives by His mighty power at work within us.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”



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Our First Christmas: Part 1

The best part of the entire season was the gift of my husband. A year ago we had just started dating. Now here we are enjoying the beauty of marriage. Life is better together. We are overwhelmed with God’s pure goodness and generosity in giving us each other. The gift of marriage.
Christmas is about God’s generosity. God sent His son Jesus to earth. So we may know Him, love Him, and worship Him. Thank you Abba Father for your many gifts of love to us. Thank you for Christ Jesus!
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One cold Saturday evening, my husband and I went running together near our home. We ended up at a Christmas Tree stand. I stood back as my husband bargained for the perfect tree. I loved every minute. We carried our Christmas tree home together. We decorated our first tree while drinking hot chocolate. Stephen hung the lights perfectly and I enjoyed hanging the ornaments. We love sitting on our couch, enjoying the warmth of the lights and the beauty of our tree.
We bundled up one cold winter evening and went Christmas caroling. We sang carols with my students while walking through the cobblestone streets in Boston. In my eyes, it was magical. The lampposts were decorated with red bows, Christmas wreaths hung on every door, and the children were full of Christmas joy. I appreciated my husband’s deep and beautiful singing voice as we sang Christmas carols.
Is there anything better than making Christmas cookies during the holiday season? We started our first annual Christmas cookie making tradition with some good friends. The six of us had fun in the kitchen baking, talking, and creating memories together. Drinking hot chocolate, the smells of freshly baked cookies, and the sounds of laughter carried us late into the evening hours.
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My wonderful husband took me to a cute Irish pub that was decorated for the holidays. Stephen was also my date to my staff Christmas party. I loved having my husband by my side as we attended our first party together.
We tried a new Italian restaurant with our friends Mikala and Tom. When we first moved in they brought us dinner, hung pictures, and spent hours helping us put our home together. True friendship in action.

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Ode to October

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I have officially decided that October is one of my favorite months of the year. (disclaimer: June will of course always be my favorite month of the year since it’s my birthday month and the start of summer vacation.)

I love October. Fall was one of my favorite seasons as I grew up in the countryside of New York state. This year, I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of a New England Fall. The trees were a spectacular display of brilliant orange, stunning yellow, and deep red leaves. I heard many people say that we enjoyed an amazing fall. I personally think this was God’s gift to me.  We had many days of warm, sunny weather. Even now, there are still some trees displaying the beauty of fall. On Sunday, my husband and I drive an hour to church. Our drive out of Boston to the countryside of Massachusetts was a stunning display of the beauty of Fall.

My favorite weekend of October was Columbus Day Weekend. It was the first time in my teaching career that I had Columbus Day off from school. The true highlight was my best friend Rebekah G. coming to visit us. Our second official house guest. We had the best weekend together.  We packed it full of our favorite fall activities.

On Saturday we drove to New Hampshire and hiked up Mt. Chocorua. The deep vibrant color of the leaves popped against the dampness of a wet day. Thankfully, the rain held off and we hiked to the summit. At the top of the mountain, we enjoyed stunning view of… FOG. Of course this only means we will have to hike this mountain again!

I loved ending our great day outdoors with our fall tradition of pumpkin pancakes. best fall tradition ever. After church on Sunday, we spent the afternoon apple picking at Shelburne Farm. More time outdoors on a perfect fall day. so very happy. We also had to fit in a quick trip to downtown Boston.

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Thank you God for a beautiful fall. Thank you for the month of October. Thank you for an amazing friend to share the joy of fall activities.

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What is one of your favorite Fall activities?

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Happy Wedding Anniversary, my dear friend!


Happy Second Wedding Anniversary!
It is hard to believe it has only been two short years since your wedding. May your and Anthony’s love for one another continue to grow deeper and fuller over every passing year.

In honor of your second wedding anniversary, I decided to share my maid of honor speech and one of my favorite pictures of us together on your special day. I love you!

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I am so grateful for Jamee’s friendship. We became friends over five years ago after we met at a tea party Jamee hosted. Since then we have shared many cups of tea as we have talked, cried and prayed together. We have been in bible studies together, traveled on missions trips together and been roommates. We have seen each other through some difficult seasons and most importantly seen God at work in each other’s lives.

So over three years ago, I remember Jamee planning a worship night for her bible study. Well, this guy Anthony shows up at Jamee’s house so we can all carpool together. I had just met Anthony, yet during the car ride Anthony was in the backseat with his guitar practically serenading us in his goofy sort of way. I remember thinking “who is this guy?”

Yet, it quickly became very apparent as the evening went on that Jamee and Anthony were interested in each other. I vividly remember getting emotional at the end of that evening because the romantic in me knew that Jamee and Anthony would be getting married one day. Little did I know it would take over three years for this day to happen… but I was right!

Now Anthony seemed like a great guy but how did I feel about him dating my best friend? I think the time I really started to like him was the day Jamee and Anthony showed up to help me move. Not only did Anthony help me move heavy boxes and furniture, he also showed up with bananas and a present. Two things I love. Smart man.

It has been wonderful to watch Jamee and Anthony together and how much they just enjoy each other’s company. I love how relaxed Jamee is when she is with Anthony.
I cannot think of two people who love excel spreadsheets more than them. Most importantly, I have loved watching all that God has done in their relationship from bringing them together as friends and now as a married couple.

Anthony, some advice for you…
1. When Jamee is sick, don’t offer her saltines. She would much rather have meat. You have married a special girl. I don’t know any other woman who loves meat as much as Jamee.
2. Make sure you give Jamee at least half of the closet space. This is very important as I hear you have a lot of clothes.
3. If Jamee is watching Pride and Prejudice with a cup of tea and cookies, know that it was probably a very rough day.
4. Every now and then, invite me over for dinner.

My most important advice is to simply pursue God first and foremost. I know that if you are pursuing God above work, above Jamee, above everything else, you will be an amazing husband. I trust that as God leads you; you will take care of my dear friend.

Jamee, my advice for you….

1. Listen and get excited about all the details that matter to Anthony.
2. If you ever need someone to watch Pride and Prejudice with you, I am five minutes away.

My most important advice is to continue what you have done so faithfully within this dating relationship. You waited on God. You continued to put Him first. You fully surrendered Anthony to Him. You prayed faithfully for Anthony. Continue in this, my dear friend.

I am overwhelmed with God’ abundant goodness in bringing you both together. May His hand of blessing be upon your marriage. I love you both. Congratulations!

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One Year Ago

One year ago today my life changed forever.

I was still single. I had not yet met my husband.

I had spent the day watching Downton Abbey with my best friend as I recovered from a sinus lift surgery. Before I went to bed that night, I noticed an email from e-harmony. I logged in, expecting it would take a brief minute to check out the guy’s profile and quickly dismissed him.

God surprised me. The first thing I thought was… “I have seen this picture before!” A couple weeks earlier, a random profile picture had caught my eye… the contrast of this guy’s bright blue shirt against his brown skin, his genuine white smile, and the confidence he portrayed made for a striking photo.

As I read through his profile, I was amazed by all that we had in common. We shared a passion for God, a love for people, and an enjoyment of being active. And then there were random details like a love of gospel music. I was touched with how his profile was infused with a love for God.

As I read, God stirred my heart and reminded me of desires He had placed there years earlier. While many girls may have been nervous seeing the job status of pastor, my heart responded with a desire to support and love a man in ministry. A man from Africa. My heart had been captured with a love of Africa when I traveled there years earlier on a missions trip.

Only God. Only God could have so designed my husband and I to be a perfect fit for one another. Only God could have brought us together through e-harmony. Only God could have spoken to my heart when I first read this guy’s profile. Only God could have given me insight that this may be the one He had for me.

One year ago, I was reading Stephen Nyakairu’s e-harmony profile. One year later, I am his wife. Happily married for over three months. Mrs. Nyakairu.

Only God in His perfect timing. Only God could have brought us together. A boy from Africa and a girl from New York. Only God could so dramatically change our lives in one short year. Only God.

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Identity: in the midst of changes

I had an interesting moment tonight. I was sitting at a table full of girls, chatting after a long week of work. When a simple observation was made. At one end of the table sat the married “older” women and the other end of the table sat the “younger” single ladies.

It took me a moment to realize that I was in the category of “older” married women. After 30 years of being single and only 3 months of being married, I have to remind myself that I am now in the married category. And after the past decade of being the younger 20-something girl, I am now the “older” 30-something girl.

While I may need a moment to realize this, I honestly don’t mind the categories I find myself in. I actually love it. I was excited to enter my thirties. I absolutely love being married. It’s simply a new identity for me. “Married and older”.

When I pause to think about it, a lot of my identity has changed recently. Single to married. 20s to 30s. Virginian to Bostonian. Public school teacher to Private school teacher. Church member to Pastor’s wife.

That is quite a list. A simple comment from tonight reminded me of all of these changes.

Yet, has my identity really changed that much? These are all outward changes of my identity. And yes, with each change comes adjustments. I would be the first to acknowledge that my life has been full of adjustments recently. However, I do not feel like my identity has changed that drastically. Not in the sense of what truly matters.

For God has given me an identity that will not change. The year before I met Stephen, God spoke a specific word into my life. Instead of New Year’s resolutions that I would soon quickly forget, God gave me one word to focus on for that year. Beloved.

What is my identity? God’s Beloved. What was my identity before I meet my husband? Beloved. What is my identity now that I am married and in the midst of all of these life changes? Beloved.

What does that mean to be the beloved of the God?
greatly loved; dear to the heart.
a person who is greatly loved.

1. cherished, precious; sweet, darling.

A person who is greatly loved. What does this simple definition mean in my life? I am greatly loved. I am precious to Him. I am cherished in God’s sight. I am completely accepted. He rejoices over me with singing. He takes great delight in me. His love for me is perfect.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12

I can rest in the Lord’s love. There is no need for striving, performing, or earning of love and approval. I can rest secure in Him for I am loved and accepted. My God will shield me.

“The one the Lord loves”. As I continue to adjust and navigate through all the changes in my life, my simple prayer is that I continue to rest securely in my identity as God’s beloved.

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Here is Love as Vast as the Ocean

The last nine months have been an adventure of faith. Nine months ago, God brought Stephen into my life and nothing has been the same.

I value order, beauty, and consistency. My orderly routine, any sense of control, the life I have known so well has been completely been turned upside down.

Long distance is just plain hard sometimes. While I am grateful that Stephen and I have been able to see each other every 2 to 3 weeks, it has not come without challenges. We have numerous stories of delayed and canceled flights, crazy bus stories, and long hours of driving.

For a girl who values routine, I have lived out of my suitcases and stayed at countless homes these last nine months. While I am very grateful that so many wonderful friends and family who have opened up their homes to us, it is not the same as being in your own home.

April was my month of moving. Hours upon hours spent packing up all of my earthly belonging to be moved to Boston. More hours were spent on our house yard sale. And even more hours were filled with moving from Herndon to Ashburn to Woodbridge. The result was more suitcase living.

This spring was incredibly busy and eventful. Long distance relationship and travel, teaching, moving, wedding planning, and job searching. Yet God continued to show Stephen and I His goodness and how He is in detail of our relationship. Most importantly, God continued to bring us closer together and prepare us for our upcoming marriage.

For months, everyone has been asking where I will be working in Boston and where we would be living. The  questions were well-meaning and asked out of love, yet it reminded again and again that I had no idea of what our future would look like in Boston. I barely had time to job search. We didn’t know where we wanted to live until we found out where I would be working. Did I mention that I barely had time to do any job searching?

Months and months of uncertainty and unknown. Yet at the same time, Stephen and I had months and months to pray, wait upon God, and trust Him fully. He had brought us together and He would provide for us. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I would look to God and be reminded of who He is. He is God Almighty who created this world, who parted the Red Sea, and who brought down the walls of Jericho. There is nothing impossible for God. He is also my Abba Father who cares deeply about every detail of my heart and life.

Today is exactly three weeks until our wedding. This week God has been displaying His provision and goodness in our lives.

Wednesday, I accepted the lead second grade position at Park Street School. I am still in awe of God’s goodness in providing an amazing job that I am excited and passionate about. This job was completely of Him.

Thursday, we stop by my school to drop off boxes and sign my contract. While we were there, someone literally dropped an apartment flyer into Stephen’s lap.

Friday, we checked out the apartment. WOW. Exactly what we were praying for… great christian landlords,  two bedrooms (a guest room for visitors!), reasonable rent, an easy commute into Boston for me, a study for Stephen, located in a quiet and safe town. And if that was not enough, the apartment is literally right across the street from the ocean. The OCEAN. We would have an amazing view of the ocean from our living room. After months of traveling expenses to see each other, we could have romantic evenings by the ocean for free.

The week before, my friend Rebekah had given a special birthday gift. It was a picture of me staying by the ocean with my arm’s outstretched. She had written on the picture frame “God’s love as vast as the ocean”. That picture and statement capture why I love the ocean. The beauty, the grandeur, the vastness, the fierce waves all remind me of God’s deep, powerful, and unending love for me.

As I stood by the ocean in front of the apartment, I began dreaming of living there. I felt God speak to my heart. That this picture was not simply a reminder of His love for me but a foreshadowing of His gift to me. A home by the ocean. Where I would be daily be reminded of His great love for me. Love as vast as the ocean.

Stephen and I contacted the landlords and were excited that this apartment could be our first home together. And then it came. The realization that we had wanted to wait until August 1st to move in. We didn’t need a place to live until August and we were not planning to pay for a place until then. The landlords had another couple who were interested in the place but they graciously sent us an application to fill out.

Later that night, Stephen and I were about to send them the completed application. I was so upset. I had gone from the emotional high of dreaming of living in this beautiful home by the ocean to the realization that humanly speaking it did not look like it was going to work out. Why would they be willing to work with us about the finances when they had another interested couple who could move in immediately? I so desperately wanted this place. I wanted to feel settled, to create a home together, to have a sense of order and beauty back in my life. I wanted to take control of the situation and pay the July rent to secure the place. Yet, I knew deep down in my heart that would not be wise financially. But even more importantly I knew that I would not be trusting God and walking by faith. In my heart, I knew God was asking me to SURRENDER what I so badly wanted and to trust Him. Through tears, I poured out my heart to God as I prayed with Stephen. Surrendering my dreams and desires, declaring by faith that God is able to give this place to us, and trusting in His goodness no matter the outcome. Afterwards, such peace flooded my heart.

Saturday morning. I went for a short run and I marveled at the work God had done in my heart. I felt full of faith and expectancy that this was the home God had for us. That the ocean picture was a glimpse of what He was going to give us. My heart was full of faith for there is nothing impossible with God. Yet at the same time I had complete peace. That no matter the outcome, God knew what was best for us. It was such an unique tension of great faith on one side and complete peace and surrender on the other side. A tension that is only possible by God.

Saturday afternoon, we received news that the landlords were willing to work with us. The place was ours and we could move in our boxes anytime we wanted. Stephen and I were completely overwhelmed by God’s goodness to us. How much does He love us? He has provided the perfect first home for us and He threw in the beautiful ocean just because HE can do that. He can lavish His love upon His children.

Later, I found out that landlord agonized over the decision and had a sleepless night. We had been praying together late the night before. The reason we received this place? How did God move her heart towards generosity? Because I was a teacher at Park Street School, a school dear to her heart. A school I have been a part of for exactly 3 days. wow. Only God. 

Here is love, vast as the ocean
Lovingkindness as the flood
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days

On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast a gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

No love is higher, no love is wider
No love is deeper, no love is truer
No love is higher, no love is wider
No love is like Your love, o Lord