A Different World

One of our projects while in Malawi
One of our projects while in Malawi

I was looking for an adventure, something to get out of not only Washington, but of the U.S. My thinking was that the ministry happening in Kitsap Country was really good and I am excited for it but there is so much more outside of it to see. I needed to stretch my faith and get out of the comfort zone many of us tend to live in for the sake of Christ. This wanderlust and need to get out of my comfort zone had been in the back of my head for a year or so. It brought me to a friend I had known since high school named Kyle Donn who works with COTN (Children Of The Nations).

Kyle told me about a missions trip to Sierra Leone which is a country in a desperate time between the  AIDS epidemic and fall out from civil war. I thought to myself Theres no time like now Lord, let’s do it and so I told him I would love to go for a month. I told Kyle that if possible I would also love to use my welding job skills in the country to help out. He started to coordinate with other people and getting the group together. I sent out support letters and was slowly getting excited for this new adventure, like none I had ever been on. Then the Ebola Virus outbreak happened and put a stop to all teams going. I was disheartened but Kyle informed that a missions trip to Malawi was coming up in the summer (the one we are finishing). Again he would try his best to make it possible for a project which included welding. Little did I know that this trip would be so much more than just doing a few projects.

One of the two kids I chose to sponsor
One of the two kids I ended up chosing to sponsor

Once all the funds were in and everything was ready, it was time to undertake this great journey. My expectations before going was that our projects would take up almost all of our time. I was a little more focused on the projects though and realized this two weeks into our trip. God had big plans for my personal walk with him. I knew that I would grow but again had no idea how much. I fell in love with Malawi, the people, the food, and the relationships. During my time in Malawi I also talked to my fiance (now my wife, Mihaela Echols) about sponsoring a kid…and a university student.

Starting from day one in-country everything slowed down including our schedule. Yes, we had projects like I had mentioned and were busy during the day but just imagine not having your cell phone going off once during the day. In fact imagine not even thinking about checking your email or phone…etc. I was reminded just how important personal, real, and genuine relationships are in our lives.

When I got to spend every day with our translators and in the evening different people…oh man do you grow close. Our team would play games at night if not spending time in each of our own devotions or with the people around. God used Molly and Misha (two of our team members) with their years of camp experience and friendliness to do things like Spotlight which helped our team out a lot coming from a group of strangers to a close-knit team. In Spotlight one person was in the “Spotlight” and included three different parts to it. The first being questions to them, whether silly or serious. Then came encouragement to them in any way, wether it be what you have observed in their personality or maybe something you just thought was really cool they did during the day. Lastly praying over the person and if they had any specific prayer request we would pray for that too. This Spotlight and also sharing each of our testimonies throughout the trip really helped to pull the group together and I thank God for that.  

Slowing down helped me to grow more than I had been and strengthen my dependence on Christ with him as my identity, meaning, and satisfaction. I had my ups and downs but the Holy Spirit would remind me in verses and in thoughts that I am not alone. Here is part of a journal entry one day when I was struggling that Gods grace was not sufficient for me…

“You remind me during lunch of Psalms 119:9-16 Lord, thank you for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Guide me, help me keep your statues and treasure them. Your grace is sufficient for me, even when I think not.”

God supplied me all month-long with his strength, joy, peace, and contentment because I continually came back to him. I do not mean to say that bragging though because without God would not be the same man or have the contentment Christ provides me with. I don’t deserve anything God has blessed me with including life and the Cross. He knew that I would be going on this trip and everything that would accompany it.

Samiton and Cathreen

As I said, I was reminded just how important personal relationships are. In the picture above is two individuals I chose to sponsor, the little girl is Cathleen and the man to my left is Samiton. I had the honor of meeting Cathleen’s family and Samiton’s younger brother. Cathleen and her family live in a house a little smaller than mine which is 400 square ft. More than that no running power or electricity but the family was so happy. The mom was so thankful that I chose to sponsor her and it was humbling, heart-breaking, and life changing all at the same time. God was not done with me yet.

I again was humbled but this time at Samiton and his story of life which is very common in Malawi. His dad had three kids with his mom, a daughter and two sons which he is the oldest sibling of them all. Around nine his dad left home and has never come back or communicated back to them. He was left with having to step up and be the man of the house…at nine. He is now starting college and cooks for COTN to pay for housing at their campus. When he is not busy with school or cooking, he is at home helping his mom with gardening and farming. He has his dreams but never walked away from the most important thing to him.

This missions trip has had the most impact on me compared to any other one I have been on. I have a huge desire to go back but this time it will be with my wife. We are planning to go back in two years, possibly with the same team if everyone ends up being free that summer.

My wife’s story when I was gone “My Retreat

africa smiling
The roofing project once done with the owner in front

Our Dream Wedding

    Looking back at my wedding day I would only do a few things differently, but in the end it looked perfect. Who says you cant have your dream wedding? After hearing about how Peter and I saved and put things together, friends asked me to do a writing on it. Here is some advice for newly weds who can have their dream wedding and not go bank rupt.


    When you begin your planning start off with a budget and STICK WITH IT. I kept receipts and marked it in a book. It’s very easy to loose track when you see all the possiblities for your theme. This is where pinterest came in handy for us. I made a board, then we looked at what we could afford. Weddings bring people together we asked people for help. Most of our decorations were from friends who knew our taste. Having the pinterest board as their guide helped us save money and have it come to life. I learned I had to look online before going into stores if I really wanted to save. Everything online is cheaper.  Ask yourselves where you really want to put your money. We put ours into the photographers knowing the pictures are what make the day last.

    Many people forget that a wedding is just one day of their lives. After spending way more than they could afford they dont have enough for a honeymoon. Weddings are a big deal but I can tell you no one remembers our cute ribbon on our bubbles for send away, or the fact that we used lace table cloth instead of silk. They only remember us.


    We decided on an afternoon wedding so we could do wedding pictures in the morning and not have people wait for us. This also made food easy and cheap. We did fruit cobobs and chicken cobobs. Most weddings money goes toward food. We figured people would eat lunch then come and not be looking for a meal.

    Just remember it’s your day and you are not trying to please everyone. The people who are in the bridal party should be the people who are going to be with you every step of the way through the planning. I could not ask for better bridesmaids. They went with the flow even when it got chaotic and never complained. They were always checking in on me and making sure I was keeping my cool. I dont beleive brides get the option to be brideszilla. People are helping you and dont have to. Many brides forget that.

Processed with VSCOcam with e5 preset
My Girls

    Things did go wrong for our big day. In fact a lot of things went wrong. They will. It’s a wedding and things happen. That is why it is good to have a hundred dollars from your wedding budget set aside in case something happens. Just remember you will be married and thats what counts. Happy wedding planning!

Our wedding costed 3,138 inluding recption and pictures our budget was 4,000

Here’s a small chart of our planning.

Dress: 10$ (I was looking for any white lace dress) (stayed out of bridal stores)

Two wedding photographers: X amount

Cake free: (friend)

send off car free: (our car)

hair:free (family)

nails:free (friend)

make up:free (friend)

engagement photos: $250 (friends)

Food: $190 (costco)

Flowers: $105 (seattle farmers market)

Venue/reception: free (friends back yard)

DJ: free (friend)

Invites: $300 (pinterest)

Decorations: about $200 (this includesplates/cups/balloons/prorgams/ ect.)

Things we changed….

send off car-ours broke down the night before the wedding so we used mine.

venue/reception- was originally at a park.

gazebo- we had our friends make and Arch

Read On :




Make Up

Without make up
Without make up
With make up
With make up

    Make up is a megaphone. It’s voice speaks volumes of a woman.  Make up is a mask, a beauty, an art and a confidence. We love it. I love it. Shoot, I even sell it! Many who know me might ask “why don’t you wear it?” 

    I have a fear of letting it become my confidence. I want to leave my house feeling confident with out mascara. I love the expression make up can have and the voice it has, but I do not want to look in the mirror and frown like I used to with out it. (Mirror Mirror On The Wall Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?)  Make up used to say “You are hiding, and you don’t like what you see without me” when I wore it all the time. Wearing it in different stages helps me find my balance in having fun with expression and still feeling good without it.

    Ladies you already know where I am getting at. What does your eye shadow say? Or your lipstick? Or your favorite foundation? 

    Your make up has a voice and you know her best.

Do you like her? 


Dear Embarrasing Parents

Photo Cred: Unknown

Dear Embarrassing Parents,

I don’t think you understand the fellowship you are breaking with your child when you are posting negative things about them on the internet. Even if it’s a prayer request. Posting things like:

” Please pray….challenging child.”

“Look at what my child did when I said ‘no’.”

“Teens are soooo hard. “

“I need a night with the girls.”

“Pray for patience with kids today.”

You are only going to damage your relationship with your child. So…..

What are your motives with these posts? Maybe your intentions aren’t to hurt them and you actually want prayer. Call a friend, but don’t expose our child’s faults. They are still learning. How unfair to a three year old who is throwing tantrums-because that’s what some of them do–and their parents tell everyone. Three year olds do stuff like this. Manage it, dont expose it. Would you like it if your child posted stuff like

“Parents suck,”

“They never got me,”

“Need a sleepover with friends,”

on the internet for the whole world to see. Even if it’s set to private there should still be a privacy of the hard times kept between you and your child.

Do you think others don’t go through it? Everyone who is a parent will have at least one hard day with their child in a year. Posting these things makes me wonder if you are thinking you are alone in the parenting battle. You are not! Many of you have placed negative posts about your children don’t even have special needs. For the moms I know who have special needs children they don’t have time to complain. Why? Because they are counting their blessings when their child is speaking, sleeping through the night and simply playing. Parenting isn’t a cake walk.

Do I have children? No. But I know it would be hurtful to find out if my parents were posting those things while I was growing up. I would hide my personal life, resent them, and wonder why they adopted me in the first place if they were exposing my faults.

A childs Hero

The Little Girl Inside


    ” Mihaela, dad wants to talk to you” I begin to sweat.  It was Trevor’s fault. My twenty-four year old self kept repeating the same sentence in my head as I was approaching my dad. I was nervous. Even though it has been years since Trevor and I had been blaming each other for things the little girl inside me thinks, if it’s bad then it’s his fault.

    This Summer I am getting married. But I can still say the little girl inside me is not dead in fact she is just growing. Her last name, her lifestyle, her home,  and her family will change. But not her siblings, her desires, and her God. You see, she is still in me. The changes are not going to change her heart they will conform to her. 

    Peter will be my desire, my home, my family. He is an addition for my siblings and for my walk with Christ. The little girl who knows herself best Your Cup Of Tea listened to her heart and chose the change because she knew her God and her desires. 


Walking With A Purpose

Session #4


  “Walk with a purpose.” Is what my mom would tell my sister when she would go to LaLa land after my mom would have her do something. Walk with a purpose. That sentence alone screams the purpose of every session. The people above know exactly why they got out of bed that morning, why they are walking step by step, and where they are going.

    Take a walk around the block sometime then come back to your journal. Write down the things that came to mind. This is your purpose. “What is purpose? The God in your life.” (Session #1) If it consumes your mind it controls you. Is your purpose included in your every day life? (Chapter 11 Purpose Driven Life) After walking would you say you like your purpose?

    I know it’s a lot to swallow but that is why we are doing these sessions.  What honestly is the most important to you?  Is it your purpose?

 My purpose is to glorify God in all that I do. Parts of my web (session #3) have it more evident than the other parts but I still have, and want God included in my every day life.


Continue activities by:

  • Watching for posts on My Readers page
  • Doing the exercises on your own time
  • Journal it!

Session 1  What Drives You?

Session 2 Where Are You Going?

Session 3 What Are Your Strengths?



What Are Your Strengths?


Session #3

Could your strengths be used toward your purpose?

    Here in chapter 7 toward the end talks about how our strengths can be used for our purpose. This one really made me think. Here is where another list comes in. Grab your journal this will only take a few minutes and you will be amazed at how far your strengths could go. I’m tired of lists so I am going to make a web diagram, but a list works just as well. On the top of your list or the center of your diagram write your purpose. Then branch out or start listing your strengths. For some reason this part was hard for me. I had to ask people. Then from there branch out or write next to your strength how it can benefit your purpose.

My diagram looks like this:


Then my sloppy list:


I learned a lot from doing this activity and didn’t even realize that they all tie in with each other as well.

Continue by:

  • watching for more posts on My Readers page
  •  Responding if you’d like to my open questions
  • Doing the exercises on your own time
  • Journal it!

What Drives You? session 1

Where Are You Going? session 2



Where Are You Going?


Session #2

Readers, after  going over session one What Drives You? I have a few other  hard questions for you from Rick Warren in the Purpose Driven Life: When you die where will you go?

Chapters four, five and six talk about how our decisions today effect eternal life. Each thing we do serves a kingdom, heaven or hell. That’s it. Our bodies will die but our spirit lives on forever.

Society focuses so much on living with all the beauty and health tips on how to stay young, because they are fighting death. In fact some peoples purpose is to live. Death is often a gloomy topic because of the out look on it. Ponder my questions death is real and we will all eventually go through with it. 

Where are you going?

What kingdom will you serve?

Often this links with our purpose.

Continue the activities by:

  • Watching for posts on My Readers page
  • Responding if you’d like to my open questions
  • Doing the exercises on your own time
  • Journal it!
  • What Drives You?

Your Cup Of Tea

I want to be able to pull this cut off.

    I love tea and do not settle.

    Ladies get your cup of tea and reminisce with me.

    Remember being thirteen making that special list of characteristics you wanted from your future prince charming? Maybe you hid the list or only shared it with your best friends because it was TOP SECRET. This list was pieces of your heart that may still remain true to you today. Every girl has a list whether it be on paper or hidden in her heart.

    There is something sweet and real about a young girl making that special list, if the world hasn’t intoxicated her life yet. There is still an innocence to her and an honesty that most of us lose because we have let the world win with its lies.  Go back up to my question. Do you remember your list?  Sip your tea. Reminisce with me. Now here are the tough questions. Have you lived by that list where your heart may of been the most innocent, and real, or have you settled?

    Sip your tea.

    Is it your favorite kind? Would you wish for another flavor?

    Do you see where I’m am going with this?

    You know what you like. You know you wouldn’t ask for a different kind, you won’t settle.




    I am twenty-four years old now and search in my heart for my list. I will not settle. I once told my dad “I would rather die alone then settle.” Imagine with me a girl trying a new flavor of tea knowing she will not like it, but justifies her own choice. She tries it and makes the ick face, pulling it away fast she spills. Maybe the tea is too hot and burns her or it is in fact the flavor? She might try it again being in denial but then soon dumps it out.

Settling for the wrong man is like this cup of tea.

    You and I both know too many women who have tried different tea flavors because the other was “out of stock” or “not in season”. Next thing we know we are grabbing tissues for our friends or for ourselves because the tea has been spilled. What a mess! Settling for the wrong man is like this cup of tea.

     Look at your tea or empty cup. Did you settle? No.

   Look at your past relationships if any. Reminisce with me. The thirteen year old girl is still inside us yearning for that list.



What Drives You?

    What drives you?

    Why do you wake up every morning?


   Session #1

    Ok readers here we go! As I’m reading the book Purpose Driven Life by: Rick Warren I came across the questions: What drives you? Would your family or friends say drives you? What would you like their answers to be? (paraphrased at the end of chapter 3)

    I’ve decided to amplify this workshop and invite you to join me on this journey of digging in deeper. Some of you were txted and some messaged on facebook asking you what you would say drives me. I’d like to thank all who responded and for your participation, without it this exercise wouldn’t work. 

    As I already said, I txted about half of my contacts, some family members, some friends who see me through out the week, and friends who are still out of state, giving me a variety. 

    Is Christ evident in my life? The question and fear of different responses haunted me. If Christ isn’t evident in my life then I am not living out my purpose. What is purpose? The God in our life. The thing that we allow to drive, control, and live our lives for. As I was txting my first contact I wanted to hit “delete” but instead hit “sent”. 

Fear has the power to paralyze

-Rachel Lewis

I was terrified! 

Here were some of my responses: 


  This terrifying heart check became a huge encouragement to me. I am excited to press forward in my purpose, Christ, and making him more evident in my life. I am only on the third chapter of this book and would love for you to join me on this journey. 

How to join:

  • Watch for post on My Readers page
  • Respond if you’d like to my open questions
  • Do the exercises on your own time
  • Journal it!