Lately, alone at night, I lie awake thinking about how the lives of everyone around me will be different when I see them again — if I see them again. I have to admit, it’s nice having something to lose — something worth missing.
It seems harder the second time around. When I first moved away from home, it was easy because I was angry, bitter and resentful. In 2008, I had made it my mission to leave everything behind. But things are not as they were then, so I find myself pining for a new start, but also wanting to take everyone and everything with me.
I’ve lived a broken life. I’ve fought and fought through countless abuses, various neglects and abounding rejection. But I’ve come to understand that life is made up of good moments and bad moments; all are worth living.
South Dakota isn’t just a place to move to or just a place to start over, but a place to grow in – a place to develop into the person God’s always intended me to be.
Getting to this part of my journey has been the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but I know there will be many more things that will get in my way and that will try to stop me from achieving what God ultimately wants for my life.
It’s time for me to rediscover who I am while taking everyone else along with me in my heart. It’s time that I make things happen- it’s now or never.
. . .not once, not twice, but FOUR times within a span of 3 days!
You might be asking yourself — four flights in three days, why?
At the end of March, I decided to take an offer to travel to South Dakota for a potential job opportunity with a school who works closely with Native American students. They booked my roundtrip flights and I left on a Monday and returned the Wednesday of last week.
To say my Easter week was a whirlwind is an understatement. My head is still reeling from everything I experienced in such a small amount of time — I don’t know how business people that have to travel across the country for work do it so often! Bless you all!
Overall my flights were “okay” with mixed with moments of anxiety and nervousness. My anxiousness subsided after I got through security and the TSA frisking me. Not sure if I’ll ever get used to them doing that, but it’s a necessary evil.
On my flights to South Dakota, I approached each gate with uncertainty. Not sure where to turn, where to follow, and I was never sure if I’d make my flights on time. I had never attempted connecting flights, let alone one in Chicago. If you’ve never been to O’Hare, just know one thing — it’s massive.
I got on my first flight from Allentown to Chicago O’Hare and the plane was a puddle jumper. I could have stood in the middle of the plane with my arms stretched out and I would’ve been able to touch either side! In all fairness, it was an “express” plane, but it was so tiny it couldn’t even hold typical carry-on luggage — that was a first for me.
But I got on the plane, buckled my seatbelt and off I went into the great white sky. I had my own seat, didn’t have to share with a soul — although they were only INCHES away from me across the aisle, ha! Aside from the small, cramped plane and all the craziness associated with traveling, I want to thank the United crew for treating me and the other passengers with the utmost respect, even in the midst of the news breaking about what had happened to Dr. Dao getting on his flight in Chicago.
After almost an hour and a half in the sky, we landed in Chicago. Thankfully, I only had to travel from terminal 1 to terminal 2 for my first connecting flight. Would you believe that on my flight back to Pennsylvania that I had the same plane for each connecting flight? I didn’t have to move gates — if that’s not God’s favor I don’t know what is!
After my two hour layover in O’Hare, I strapped myself back into a seat and off I went to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was then that my emotions got the best of me. Part of my mind focused on seeing my old college friend L, her husband J and their little guy C, but the other half of my mind recognized that I was about to interview for a job opportunity that could change my life drastically.
I took the remaining time on the flight to gain my composure before landing. I walked off the plane and I remember that I felt this overwhelming sense of peace (and relief)! When I look back, I know it was God reassuring me that no matter what happened while I was in South Dakota that He is and will always be with me.
I found my way to the entrance of the airport and patiently waited for L & J. After twenty minutes or so, I felt this tap on my shoulder and it was L! We hadn’t seen each other in five years and it was so good to give her a hug. We left the airport and I got to eat with her, J and C until my ride from the school I was interviewing with came and got me.
We chatted about life and caught up on everything that we could in the small amount of time we had. My ride from the school came and we found ourselves saying goodbye again, but I would see them again the next day. I left them behind and jumped in the car with a complete stranger named M.
Who does that? Who travels hundreds of miles to a foreign state and jumps into a vehicle with a stranger?
Although M and I didn’t know each other, it didn’t take long for us to get to know one another. Before I knew it, I felt like I had known M for twenty years. We talked about our families, our pets, our friends, how she came to live in South Dakota and where we were originally from. She was a storyteller, and I am a storyteller, so our 2-hour long drive from Sioux Falls to Chamberlain felt more like a 30-minute drive.
M pointed out a few sites along the way and we stopped for a bite to eat at a place called Culvers. They have DELICIOUS cheese curds. If you ever find yourself in the mid-west you’ll have to try their food! Eventually, we found ourselves in Chamberlain where the streets look amazingly like my hometown. We traveled up toward the school and I was able to get a quick campus tour. It is right on the Missouri River and the rolling hills surrounding it are gorgeous.
I settled into my guest housing and it was lovely.
The next day I awoke for my interviews with the staff at the school. The interviews went well and my day wrapped up with dinner at L & J’s home that they work in at the school. L made everyone Indian Tacos, which were beyond delicious and had us all wanting second helpings! The girls in the home were delightful and enjoyed having me visit with them. Selfishly, I was so happy that God gave me a little more time with L & J while there at the school. I left their house, went back to my guest housing and called it a night.
In the morning, I packed my things up and got a quick cup of coffee’s at L’s before the 2-hour trek back to Sioux Falls. We promised to stay in touch and I told them I’d let them know the outcome either way about the job. I said my goodbyes, hoping to see them again soon.
I headed out with M back to Sioux Falls. M wouldn’t let me get on the flight without experiencing another great food spot, so we stopped off at a cafe. We ate delicious food and M saw some old friends she knew from the school. Just as we were about to get up to leave, I got a text from the HR department at the school asking me to call them.
I assumed they were trying to get a hold of M, since they told me they weren’t making a decision until the next week. M kindly told me that she hadn’t received any texts and that they must have just wanted to speak with me.
As M held her breath, I called the HR department back.
“Hello, this is Brittney.”
“Yes, hi Brittney. You were fantastic in your interviews and we would like to offer you a position for this upcoming school year.”
After carefully listening, I hung up the phone and looked at M. I bobbed my head “yes” and she shook my hand and said, “Yay, welcome to [the school]!”
I GOT THE JOB!
I GOT THE JOB!
I GOT THE JOB!
I can’t tell you all the thoughts that were running through my mind, but I just kept thanking God and I couldn’t wait to tell everyone back home. Needless to say, my remaining flights on United were the least of my worries!
I’ve been looking for a breakthrough like this and I now have to walk out in obedience for what God has in store for my life. I’m ready to go on a new adventure, meet new people and explore!
Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, stuck by me in the hard times and has sewn into my life.
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt settled. I feel comfortable, but not settled. I feel secure, but not settled. Where I live feels familiar, but I’m not settled.
Friends of mine, L & J, currently live in South Dakota and work as residential staff at an American Native school. They absolutely love working with students from native backgrounds and have encouraged me to look into applying for a job at their school. For more than a year I held onto the idea of possibly applying, but I never took the thought seriously — until last week.
My friends encouraged me to apply once again, but I was hesitant. I didn’t want to contemplate moving to a whole other state again. I didn’t want to think about the emotions associated with leaving family and friends behind. I didn’t want to think about starting over.
I had to stop and ask myself, what would God want me to do right now? What does HE want to do with my life? It was after hearing that message that I understood that my life is not my own and I need to gain a new perspective. I’ve been sitting too long in my comfort.
So, I can’t believe I did it, but I applied. I have the potential to be living in South Dakota less than a year from now working with awesome kids! I am terrified, but I am also excited at the prospect of CHANGE.
I write all of this to say, no matter the outcome of this adventure – whether it stops at the job application or if I end up moving to SoDak – if you dare to step out in obedience, you might just surprise yourself.
Something my mom once said to me was quite impactful, “If you have a gift, use it!” It’s true! If you know you are gifted to do something, if God has given you a propensity, an ability, and an innate desire to do something, whatever it may be, then do not hide it! Rather, use it!
When I was younger, in my teens and even as a child, whether or not people knew Jesus always concerned me. I always wanted to talk to people about Him. However, as I got older, I became cautious, not feeling equipped or able enough to explain why I believe what I believe. In short, I was afraid! But still, the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit consistently nudged at me to speak–He promised that when I opened my mouth, He would fill it. I had to be obedient! I wasn’t supposed to listen to the voice of the enemy, filling me with fear, because scripture says that “God has NOT given us a Spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind!” In my hesitation, I began to step out and be obedient to the voice of the Lord, talking to people–even strangers, about Him, and something wonderful began to happen! I noticed that when I stepped out in obedience to Gods voice, in that moment He WOULD fill my mouth! I would notice words tumbling out–edifying, powerful, God-words–pouring out of my mouth, all because I took a step of faith, a risk, and obeyed a nudge the Holy Spirit gave! And it was amazing! I could take no credit because I knew it was not me! Rather, it was the gift, the grace, God had put on my life!
“I had to be obedient!”
Really, walking in step with the Spirit is wonderful and fills me with joy, and truly, that is how EVERY believer can feel! The commands of God are not burdensome, rather, the joy of the Lord is our strength! Truly, he equips those He calls.
As a biracial person living in 2017, I understand the battles that we are still facing as a nation, but I also know that my quality of life was improved even before I was born because of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the entire Civil Rights Movement. Lest I forget what others strived to achieve with racial justice, History will remind me.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Full text of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech:
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Obviously, as a child, we’re all taught how to read and write. Well, I wasn’t so keen on learning to read, but I loved writing and drawing. I was always a strange, imaginative child with wild stories and fun tales. There was no stopping me once I learned to write all of those crazy stories down! I became a mini illustrator and author to my own ideas and I would adorn my bedroom with drawings of my latest work.
Like with all things, I grew up and lost my fervor for being wildly creative. Somewhere along the way, while growing up, someone told me to stop being the way I was and shamed me for who God intended me to be — this wild, charismatic, quick-witted, imaginative person. And I must have listened, because I stopped being all of those things and I stopped being me.
It’s only now, just one year shy of being 30, that I have begun to rediscover ME.
Part of this rediscovery portion of my life, is getting back into things I love — like handlettering. Using anything from a brush to a calligraphy pen, I appreciate the ease of each pen stroke coming together to form multiple letters to make one word.
Handlettering is a soothing hobby I’ve come to admire.
I began a journey about a year ago in handlettering. I started out with the #30daybiblelettering challenge on Instagram. In the beginning of the challenge, I was perplexed. I couldn’t get my projects to turn out clear and artistic. It ended up looking like a four year-old drew my work! Really, I was relearning an old hobby that I had put away many years ago — it was time to retrain myself and learn it all over again. So slowly, over time, I got better and better at the challenge. By the 20th day I was in love with handlettering. I found myself sharing my ideas, following other handlettering gurus on Instagram and finding myself. I found ultimate joy in what I was learning to do.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
and THIS is what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ. This article about the Cornerstone Community Church in Kensington, Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, hits too close to home, but it’s necessary to understand that the church is not only full of happy-go-lucky people. Desperate and hurting people are in the body of Christ and this church is doing their best to reach them. It has me asking, how far would I go to seek out the lost? Could I attempt to do what this church does every day?
I try in my personal life to be an encourager, but I could do more…I could do so much more…
There’s an old saying “always a bridesmaid, but never a bride”, well I have always felt the same way about being a writer — like I was writing, but never a writer.
Odd, I know.
I’ve been unsure for the past few years about my writing capabilities, but I stuck to it and God has blessed my ability to endure through this annealing process. I’ve been stretched beyond what I thought was possible for me as a writer and I can’t wait for the road ahead.
Tonight, I was published in the bilingual magazine El Palo.
For certain, I’ve learned that there is no certainty in writing. Meaning, that the path as a writer can be an ardent journey filled with turbulence mixed with a bit of extraordinary moments that lead to new and exciting opportunities.
For those that are writing and for those that may write in the future –don’t quit. Keep progressing in your discipline and learn as much as you can.