Sharing a Snippet of South Dakota

Greetings from South Dakota!

It has been a whirlwind getting settled in and getting all the kinks of beginning to live in a new place worked out. My apartment is great, I’ve met some great new people and my job is going well! My latest undertaking is buying a new car and the process has been grueling, BUT I remind myself constantly that things come in time.

I’ve been doing a poor job of sharing photos of the area out here, so I’m finally getting around to putting some up. Enjoy!

Welcome to South Dakota
There's the Missouri River!
There’s the Missouri River!
We got cows!
We got cows!
Main Street in Chamberlain, SD
Al’s Oasis in Oacoma, SD
Beautiful Mural at Al’s Oasis
Quirky stools at the Upper Crust in Chamberlain, SD
New favorite local spot across the Missouri
Western Subway in Miller, SD
Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain, SD
Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain, SD
Jason A. – A descendant of Chief Crazy Horse speaking at River Hills Fellowship in Chamberlain, SD
A moment of forgiveness between the Lakota and non-indigenous peoples taking place during church at River Hills Fellowship in Chamberlain, SD
A beautiful South Dakota sunset

More photos to come – @brittwillwrite

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Make It Happen – It’s Now or Never

A Personal Post

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.

 

Contemplating South Dakota

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.

pow wow
Students in regalia at a pow wow.

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.

What helped subside those thoughts and emotions? A message about obedience.

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.

badlands-national-park-SD
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

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.

@brittwillwrite

If You Have a Gift, Use It!

Ontermaa

By Guest Writer – Marie Ontermaa

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.

Thank you for reading,

Marie Ontermaa

Visit Marie’s site to see more of her lovely writings!

Handlettering Hobby to Big Business Idea

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.

But…

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.

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A church friend holding a handlettering piece I did for her.

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.

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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.20161203_122554

I began getting feedback from my photos I shared on social media and started to wonder, “Could there be a business idea here?” I thought my dream of building a business based on handlettering was odd, but I don’t think that anymore. It is now my goal to do something with this talent I’m building, God willing.

Thanks for reading,

@brittwillwrite

The Lost Deserve Our Attention

I’m reminded that,

“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?

Kensington
Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek

I try in my personal life to be an encourager, but I could do more…I could do so much more…

@brittwillwrite

Writing to Be a Writer

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.

One day we may even get to read your words…

…how extraordinary that would be.

@brittwillwrite

The Eye of My Hurricane

There was a time in my past where I was constantly angry on a consistent basis. Anger helped me navigate through life and plow through people like they were nothing. Why? Well, in my case, I used it as a way to get even with the world. At that point in my life, I wanted others to experience outwardly what I was manifesting inwardly — my personal hurricane.

My hurricane didn’t have a name. It didn’t have a timeline. It didn’t come on slowly, then dissipate. There was no warning, or chance to flee – It was sudden and hovered over my life daily.

But in my hurricane, there was a choice.

At the age of 20, I had enough.  I was fed up with the anger, depression and bitterness that had engulfed my life. I was ready for a change and needed to uproot myself from the atrocious life I was beginning to lead.

But I had no idea how to do it. No plan. No direction. No faith.

A few months after my 20th birthday, in December of 2007, I had the pleasure of sitting with my cousin “M”. We hadn’t spoken in a sit-down conversation since we were kids. I knew within the first few moments of speaking with her that she had wisdom beyond her years. We caught up and talked about everything under the sun. It was late one night when she daringly decided to share her faith in Jesus Christ with me – an addict of anger and bitterness.

I must admit that my thoughts toward her weren’t all that favorable in that moment. (That’s a nice way of saying – What the heck was she thinking!?) But, she did it and I listened. I had often heard about God, but I didn’t know what it meant to believe in Jesus. The more she spoke, the angrier I became. I remember bits and pieces of our conversation, but ultimately I fell asleep that night knowing – according to her beliefs in Christ – that I would go to Hell.

Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

I won’t get into the details, but soon after our conversation about Christ I became extremely ill with walking pneumonia. Again, I only remember bits and pieces, but when I look back I can’t help but to think that God was silencing me for a reason. He wanted me to just sit, rest and think about Him. God knew in His infinite wisdom that I wouldn’t listen otherwise.

“There’s a lesson in every silence.”
Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel

I was sick for nearly 2 weeks. When I came out of it all, I felt peace. I wasn’t angry anymore. I was thankful. My heart felt joyful and I was thankful to just be alive. It shifted my perspective from hating the world to embracing it.

My cousin hugged me for the first time since our conversation and I told her I wanted to believe in Christ. We talked about it some more, but ultimately I knew that the responsibility fell on me to follow up my new decision to follow Christ with the next step – whatever that meant.

I struggled in the following months. I questioned my life from several different angles and wondered if I could handle being a follower of Christ. The biggest question on my mind at the time was would I be able to cope with working through my problems, rather than just use anger as a shield against the world? The only way I knew to combat all of the walls I had put up throughout my life was to take a leap of faith into a new adventure.

Little did I know my personal hurricane would follow me on my adventure.

At the end of January 2008, I made a major life-changing decision to move from Pennsylvania and attend a university located near my father in Florida. It was a change that I thought would help push me back onto a path of healing, forgiveness and renewal. Almost 8 months to the day I was saved, I landed on the CHRISTIAN college campus, which served as my short-term home for nearly 4 years.

My collegiate adventure was filled with amazing joy, sorrow, happiness, frustration, growth, love and faith. I met people, professors and peers from all walks of life. We all had one thing in common – Jesus Christ. It was at that college and with all of those amazing people that I came to heal from my personal hurricane.

It was the eye of my hurricane. My peace in the midst of my hurricane.

Sure, there were problems while I was in Florida and I ultimately returned back to Pennsylvania, but without that peace – even though it was only a few short years – it helped me get back on track to where I was meant to be the entire time.

So today, as I sit at my computer screen, and see images of Hurricane Matthew off of the coast of my place of peace I can’t help to think of all of those people that helped me during my personal hurricane.

God be with all of you and may He keep you safe.

@brittwillwrite

Be a Faucet, Not a Drain

Living day to day in a world that seems to be falling apart it is easy to get caught up in the negative thoughts surrounding each situation in one’s life. I know I tend to be a negative Nancy over the simplest of things, so I’ve decided to remind myself of the following:

Be a faucet, not a drain.

It’s that simple. I just have to make a conscious decision daily to chose to be positive. For me, that comes in the form of my trust in Christ. When I can take my cares and concerns to Him in the form of prayer, all of my worries don’t vanish, but I am better prepared to handle what the world will throw my way.

What can you do to share a more positive outlook with those around you?

And remember…
Don’t be a drain.