friends

Meet LaToya!

Hi-hi readers. Today I wanted to introduce you all to AnO's new contributor, LaToya Seawood. Having known her as a mentor and friend for many years I know that you guys will  enjoy reading her posts as much as I do.  She will be contributing to the blog on the last Friday of every month and write on a range different topics so stay tuned! latoyaseawood

LaToya Seawood is a daughter, sister, cousin, wife, mother and friend. She lives in the States working part time and caring for her family consisting of husband, Ron, and two boys. Career wise she is transitioning into her own HR consulting business after 7 years of corporate HR work. Ministry wise she enjoys coordinating events, working with children and encouraging others with the Love of God. She appreciates and is thankful for all the blessings and challenges that come with wearing many "hats".

Beyond My Borders: Joe George

My name is Joe Varghese George and I have been living in Sydney for close to 6 years now. I have to take a deep breath when people here ask me where I’m from as I prepare to elaborate. I know my skin colour gives away my Indian decent but I also know that  peoples lack of knowledge of the part of the world I’m from can throw them off with what I’m about to say next. So I don’t wait around to risk misjudgment and begin my longer-than-needed explanation that starts with the fact that I was born and raised in a place called Qatar. For the ones that have a confused look at this point or the Oh-yeah-I’ve-heard-Calcutta look, I have to clarify that it’s not Calcutta but rather a separate country, an Arab one, close to Dubai. And usually after the utterance of the name Dubai, everyone starts feeling at ease and that we’re making progress. From there I move on to clarify that I’m not Arab but I am originally from India. In fact, I come from a state called Kerala in the south of India. It is sooo beautiful that you have to look it up soon after reading this.

I chose to come study at the University of New South Wales after my high school. To me it was an exciting prospect. Living life on my own terms, growing into a real man, going to this fascinating new place and meeting new people, were all the fun things I was looking forward to as an 18 year old. The first year went by so quickly. I enjoyed the thrill of being challenged with many things that I never had to do before like finding my own place to live, managing my own expenses and COOKING! Not everything was rosy all the time. In fact, I got ganged up on and beat up by a bunch of teens one day while trying to mug me in my first visit to the city. It was all so new to me, you know this attacking-you-in-public thing. I came from Qatar, I’d believed the number of educated people in Australia was more than that in Qatar, yet I had never experienced such behaviour over there. I was left traumatized for a while after that incident.  But soon after I got a job in the city, a night shift at that. It helped me slowly overcome my fears and to be bolder and better prepared to act if it ever happened again. And I guess it brings me to the best part of living in a new country all by yourself….it is the realization that life moves on and you can chose to curl up in fear or overcome it and keep up and move on to better days. Since I knew I couldn’t afford to do the former, I had to start moving again. Yeah trust me that took many moments of being stuck, being scared and being alone, feeling far from home, to be this bold. I’m grateful for all of it.

Anyway, after my first year in Sydney I went back to visit my family and other important people and I must admit it was difficult to go back to living on my own, at least on the flight back it felt terrible. But I knew that I had things to get done so I kept at it. So, through many dangers, toils and snares, I finally got over with Uni… the reason I’d come to Sydney, and I had a choice to make of what was next for me. But I soon realized that I had found a home, away from home. In fact, I’m still confused of where “home” is. I realized that over these 6 years I’ve made some great friends that I can see myself doing life with. I’ve realized that when you let yourself to be vulnerable, you find friends. You find family. Over the course of events I had to really define my beliefs and something that was important to me…I had to ask myself who God was to me and how I really saw him. I had to taste God for myself and I can say honestly, how good he has been! I’ve become my own person in Sydney, albeit my foundations were shaken and re-cast. As cliché as it sounds, I found myself. I know more about me today, than I would have ever known in the comfort of my home.

Soooooooooooo…. The big finish! Get out there while you are still young! If anything, we grow! Why not grow with some great experiences, good and bad. Experiences that make you think about the way you see others; Experiences that make you think who about you want to be; Experiences that make you appreciate life and the people in it. So I say to anyone contemplating moving out beyond your borders, whatever that may be to you, be excited about new things, excited about discovering new places, discovering new people and more interestingly discovering yourself in the process. These experiences open up your mind to see things differently. So I say to you, in the words of princess Elsa, let it go….let it go…don’t hold back any more.

While we're at it...

This specific post is 3 months and one day late so please forgive me for my tardiness. For my 22nd birthday a group of friends and I decided to throw a low key celebration and have a picnic. It literally turned into a dog day afternoon. So, while I’m on a roll of posting photographs, I thought might as well post a wee bit more. Here are a portion of the pictures taken that day.

image

image

image

image

image

I think that this was sincerely one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. I got to share it with my friend, who I now call twin, it was extremely relaxing, and obviously, I was in the company of some amazing people. But beyond that, it was the first birthday where I woke up with nothing but thanks to God for getting me through another year. I mean, not only did He get me through it, He carried me through. I know I have the tendency to rant on about how good God is to me but I do it because it never ceases to leave me in awe. I honestly do not deserve even half as much as the next but every single day God shows up and puts His love on blast. And the best part is, He has that same level love for every single person. I think waking up with that in mind has got to be the best birthday gift ever.

image

[gallery]

On Thursday my friend Nate had his birthday so a bunch of other friends and I decided to throw him a surprise birthday dinner last night. Needless to say, it went really well. We ate at La Mesa, a Filipino restaurant. The food was good and the company was great.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATE! I know I speak for all of us when I say we are so blessed to have you as a friend. As God adds another year to your life we cannot wait to see what else He has in store for you and your incredibly inspiring journey.

[gallery]

On Thursday my friend Nate had his birthday so a bunch of other friends and I decided to throw him a surprise birthday dinner last night. Needless to say, it went really well. We ate at La Mesa, a Filipino restaurant. The food was good and the company was great.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATE! I know I speak for all of us when I say we are so blessed to have you as a friend. As God adds another year to your life we cannot wait to see what else He has in store for you and your incredibly inspiring journey.

[gallery]

On Thursday my friend Nate had his birthday so a bunch of other friends and I decided to throw him a surprise birthday dinner last night. Needless to say, it went really well. We ate at La Mesa, a Filipino restaurant. The food was good and the company was great.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATE! I know I speak for all of us when I say we are so blessed to have you as a friend. As God adds another year to your life we cannot wait to see what else He has in store for you and your incredibly inspiring journey.

[gallery]

On Thursday my friend Nate had his birthday so a bunch of other friends and I decided to throw him a surprise birthday dinner last night. Needless to say, it went really well. We ate at La Mesa, a Filipino restaurant. The food was good and the company was great.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATE! I know I speak for all of us when I say we are so blessed to have you as a friend. As God adds another year to your life we cannot wait to see what else He has in store for you and your incredibly inspiring journey.

blessed to be broken

magazines won’t do it. merits won’t connect you. even your friends and family won’t fulfill you. it’s that connection. in that grace it’s Him connecting with you! saying hey! i’m here no matter what you’ve done -no matter what you are doing. you push me away but I sent my Son to die on that cross that connects you to me. connect with me. identify with me. allow yourself to be with me. it’s the most natural thing to do.

so blessed to be broken and yet I still get to be a part of amazing things like this!!! Yes Lord.

[gallery]

Left to our own devices my cousin (Angelique - left),  our friend (Tani - middle), and I decided to make lunch for Easter Sunday! After a few minutes of foraging through the pantry we found some penne pasta, mince meat, and red sauce.

The outcome, needless to say, moto bene! A little butter, some sprinkled natural cheddar cheese and our tastebuds couldn’t be happier.

Photos by Teniola Komolafe

[gallery]

Left to our own devices my cousin (Angelique - left),  our friend (Tani - middle), and I decided to make lunch for Easter Sunday! After a few minutes of foraging through the pantry we found some penne pasta, mince meat, and red sauce.

The outcome, needless to say, moto bene! A little butter, some sprinkled natural cheddar cheese and our tastebuds couldn’t be happier.

Photos by Teniola Komolafe

[gallery]

Left to our own devices my cousin (Angelique - left),  our friend (Tani - middle), and I decided to make lunch for Easter Sunday! After a few minutes of foraging through the pantry we found some penne pasta, mince meat, and red sauce.

The outcome, needless to say, moto bene! A little butter, some sprinkled natural cheddar cheese and our tastebuds couldn’t be happier.

Photos by Teniola Komolafe

[gallery]

Left to our own devices my cousin (Angelique - left),  our friend (Tani - middle), and I decided to make lunch for Easter Sunday! After a few minutes of foraging through the pantry we found some penne pasta, mince meat, and red sauce.

The outcome, needless to say, moto bene! A little butter, some sprinkled natural cheddar cheese and our tastebuds couldn’t be happier.

Photos by Teniola Komolafe

I’ve been sitting in front this page for the last few days attempting to think of something cool and profound to say. I came up with a few good words but they didn’t feel authentic. Not that anyone would have noticed if I did not say this but I had to delete everything and start over.
You see, what I have been trying to do is come up with a way to thank God for a great life. I am truly grateful to Him for all that I have. I am well aware that there is no way I could possibly repay Him for all that He has given me but to just say “Thanks” would feel even below inadequate.

You cannot know how deeply indebted I feel unless you have lived in the blessing that is my life. Now I know latter half of that sentence probably came off as arrogant or boastful but it’s not my own that I take pride in. It is His actions, and His actions alone that I do so. I would have nothing without Him and that is a fact. However I must not stop the story there. Aside from the obvious money and health it’s amazing how much He has been a part of everything. It’s not like He plainly gave me all that I have and left me to my own but He put Himself in the details too so that I could make the most of it all!

Take my friends for example. He placed them in my life for something. Some friendships, I’m not gonna lie, I thought would not make it to the long-term. However, He knew I would need them and appreciate them more down the line. He somehow planned for them to stick around despite myself.

My four years at the University of Oregon, although extremely stressful and at times uncertain, they were some of the best years of my life. Filled with the cliches of love, laughter, and lasting memories.

My spiritual mentors, again, no one I would have picked but it was done that way for the better.  Man, I cannot say how much I love you guys. You were placed in at a time in my life when I didn’t know how much I actually needed you. You all stuck around even long after.

Every job I have ever had. Each one was able to fill more than my pockets but my mind with new values and lessons; my hands with new abilities; and my heart with a stronger passion for my calling in life.

Family, yes we have had our ups but the downs have made our bond stronger than fortified diamonds. I needn’t say anymore lest I desire to cry.

Self love. While it’s important to have love for others, I also got mad love for myself. I now know it is not who I am but whose I am.

All these words may come off as ramblings but I had trouble expressing such a raw form of appreciation. I could continue on forever, literally because God’s wonders never do cease, but even all the positive adjectives in the world could not measure up to one iota of how grateful I am.

I’ve been sitting in front this page for the last few days attempting to think of something cool and profound to say. I came up with a few good words but they didn’t feel authentic. Not that anyone would have noticed if I did not say this but I had to delete everything and start over.
You see, what I have been trying to do is come up with a way to thank God for a great life. I am truly grateful to Him for all that I have. I am well aware that there is no way I could possibly repay Him for all that He has given me but to just say “Thanks” would feel even below inadequate.

You cannot know how deeply indebted I feel unless you have lived in the blessing that is my life. Now I know latter half of that sentence probably came off as arrogant or boastful but it’s not my own that I take pride in. It is His actions, and His actions alone that I do so. I would have nothing without Him and that is a fact. However I must not stop the story there. Aside from the obvious money and health it’s amazing how much He has been a part of everything. It’s not like He plainly gave me all that I have and left me to my own but He put Himself in the details too so that I could make the most of it all!

Take my friends for example. He placed them in my life for something. Some friendships, I’m not gonna lie, I thought would not make it to the long-term. However, He knew I would need them and appreciate them more down the line. He somehow planned for them to stick around despite myself.

My four years at the University of Oregon, although extremely stressful and at times uncertain, they were some of the best years of my life. Filled with the cliches of love, laughter, and lasting memories.

My spiritual mentors, again, no one I would have picked but it was done that way for the better.  Man, I cannot say how much I love you guys. You were placed in at a time in my life when I didn’t know how much I actually needed you. You all stuck around even long after.

Every job I have ever had. Each one was able to fill more than my pockets but my mind with new values and lessons; my hands with new abilities; and my heart with a stronger passion for my calling in life.

Family, yes we have had our ups but the downs have made our bond stronger than fortified diamonds. I needn’t say anymore lest I desire to cry.

Self love. While it’s important to have love for others, I also got mad love for myself. I now know it is not who I am but whose I am.

All these words may come off as ramblings but I had trouble expressing such a raw form of appreciation. I could continue on forever, literally because God’s wonders never do cease, but even all the positive adjectives in the world could not measure up to one iota of how grateful I am.

I’ve been sitting in front this page for the last few days attempting to think of something cool and profound to say. I came up with a few good words but they didn’t feel authentic. Not that anyone would have noticed if I did not say this but I had to delete everything and start over.
You see, what I have been trying to do is come up with a way to thank God for a great life. I am truly grateful to Him for all that I have. I am well aware that there is no way I could possibly repay Him for all that He has given me but to just say “Thanks” would feel even below inadequate.

You cannot know how deeply indebted I feel unless you have lived in the blessing that is my life. Now I know latter half of that sentence probably came off as arrogant or boastful but it’s not my own that I take pride in. It is His actions, and His actions alone that I do so. I would have nothing without Him and that is a fact. However I must not stop the story there. Aside from the obvious money and health it’s amazing how much He has been a part of everything. It’s not like He plainly gave me all that I have and left me to my own but He put Himself in the details too so that I could make the most of it all!

Take my friends for example. He placed them in my life for something. Some friendships, I’m not gonna lie, I thought would not make it to the long-term. However, He knew I would need them and appreciate them more down the line. He somehow planned for them to stick around despite myself.

My four years at the University of Oregon, although extremely stressful and at times uncertain, they were some of the best years of my life. Filled with the cliches of love, laughter, and lasting memories.

My spiritual mentors, again, no one I would have picked but it was done that way for the better.  Man, I cannot say how much I love you guys. You were placed in at a time in my life when I didn’t know how much I actually needed you. You all stuck around even long after.

Every job I have ever had. Each one was able to fill more than my pockets but my mind with new values and lessons; my hands with new abilities; and my heart with a stronger passion for my calling in life.

Family, yes we have had our ups but the downs have made our bond stronger than fortified diamonds. I needn’t say anymore lest I desire to cry.

Self love. While it’s important to have love for others, I also got mad love for myself. I now know it is not who I am but whose I am.

All these words may come off as ramblings but I had trouble expressing such a raw form of appreciation. I could continue on forever, literally because God’s wonders never do cease, but even all the positive adjectives in the world could not measure up to one iota of how grateful I am.

I’ve been sitting in front this page for the last few days attempting to think of something cool and profound to say. I came up with a few good words but they didn’t feel authentic. Not that anyone would have noticed if I did not say this but I had to delete everything and start over.
You see, what I have been trying to do is come up with a way to thank God for a great life. I am truly grateful to Him for all that I have. I am well aware that there is no way I could possibly repay Him for all that He has given me but to just say “Thanks” would feel even below inadequate.

You cannot know how deeply indebted I feel unless you have lived in the blessing that is my life. Now I know latter half of that sentence probably came off as arrogant or boastful but it’s not my own that I take pride in. It is His actions, and His actions alone that I do so. I would have nothing without Him and that is a fact. However I must not stop the story there. Aside from the obvious money and health it’s amazing how much He has been a part of everything. It’s not like He plainly gave me all that I have and left me to my own but He put Himself in the details too so that I could make the most of it all!

Take my friends for example. He placed them in my life for something. Some friendships, I’m not gonna lie, I thought would not make it to the long-term. However, He knew I would need them and appreciate them more down the line. He somehow planned for them to stick around despite myself.

My four years at the University of Oregon, although extremely stressful and at times uncertain, they were some of the best years of my life. Filled with the cliches of love, laughter, and lasting memories.

My spiritual mentors, again, no one I would have picked but it was done that way for the better.  Man, I cannot say how much I love you guys. You were placed in at a time in my life when I didn’t know how much I actually needed you. You all stuck around even long after.

Every job I have ever had. Each one was able to fill more than my pockets but my mind with new values and lessons; my hands with new abilities; and my heart with a stronger passion for my calling in life.

Family, yes we have had our ups but the downs have made our bond stronger than fortified diamonds. I needn’t say anymore lest I desire to cry.

Self love. While it’s important to have love for others, I also got mad love for myself. I now know it is not who I am but whose I am.

All these words may come off as ramblings but I had trouble expressing such a raw form of appreciation. I could continue on forever, literally because God’s wonders never do cease, but even all the positive adjectives in the world could not measure up to one iota of how grateful I am.