July 23, 2021

Flashback Friday: Post From Christmas 2017

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GOOD MORNING, FAM!  Muuuuuuuuuah! ??

I hope and pray that you all have been enjoying this time of rest, relaxation, gift-giving and and receiving over the past few days.  In this post, I’m going to do a recap of my Christmas in China and finish up with a review of last year (2017).

Last month, I was very sad about not spending the holidays with my loved ones in the States.  I almost allowed this to ruin my absolute favorite holiday (outside of my birthday, of course).  Since my phone’s memory has been overloaded with footage that I’ve been capturing and putting off to edit and upload, I decided to go through it all and delete any unnecessary B-roll clips so I could free up some space.  As I sifted through the footage, the thumbnails alone caused my entire mood to improve within seconds.

FAM. I had experienced “Christmas” all year-long!  In some weird ungrateful manner, I forgot about the beautiful gifts of travel that were given to me since August 2016 when I was blessed to go to Hawaii. ? After I graduated with my doctorate in global leadership, something shifted.  It changed.  changed.  Doors of international travel that I hadn’t even considered or thought about were opened for me.  Only God could do this kind of powerful turnaround in such a brief time period.  I mean, seriously…2017 was one of the greatest blessings!  Even with all of the ups and downs, positives and negatives, and challenges and victories.  That’s when I remembered that this holiday season is about a blessing; not just gifts.  It originated as a result of the ultimate Blessing any of us could ask for – the birth of a Savior.

*NOTE: Many theologians dispute the actual date of birth of Jesus Christ, however for the sake of our Christmas traditions,  let’s refer to it in the manner it has been taught to us since childhood, i.e., CHRISTMAS.

The true meaning of Christmas always causes me to reflect on the story of the nativity.  It’s a wonderful tale about the birth of Jesus.  Undoubtedly, his parents endured some obstacles prior to his birth; I mean…really.  His mother was a virgin who got pregnant through God’s placement of His son within her womb.  Now you know good and well that if this kind of thing happened in today’s time, we would be calling it a scandal and it would most definitely be a hot topic.

Every talk show host would contribute their unsolicited $0.02 while social media would be LIT in a frenzy about the scenario.  Mary’s fiancée, Joseph, would’ve been called so many uncomfortable names and given, yet again, unsolicited counsel from others as to what they’d think he should do.  They would definitely tell him to not get married.  Someone would tell him to go on The Maury Show so he could hear those ever-fateful words, “Joseph…you are not the father!”

And with all that Joseph and Mary conquered, they still gave birth to their precious baby in a barn around smelly animals.  They managed to deliver the greatest Christmas Gift the world would ever receive, Jesus Christ, under difficult conditions.

After reflecting on this story and the past 32 years of my life, ESPECIALLY the last year, I couldn’t help but worship and thank God for experiencing the best Christmas season for all of 2017.

2017 has been a year for the books! ? For the past few years, every year was a struggle beyond recognition.  No…seriously.  I would be so happy at the thought of the next year coming because I would always feel like THAT year would be THE year, you know?  Well guess what? I finally had the year to jump-start a series of FORTUNATE seasons again! ???? 2017 was an answered prayer on so many levels for me.??

I was challenged and struggled for some time, however, I realized that geographical locations dictated the season(s) I experienced.  It took God opening doors for international travel ? and pushing me out into the unknown to see that He needed me to move to a different landscape so He could stretch me in every area possible.

Y’all….I’m so stretched that my stretch marks have stretch marks! ??

I can gratefully say that last year took my faith and relationship with God to another dimension – one that caused me to face many fears and lose control.  At first, it was frightening and painful, but after I stopped being resistant to the change that I so fervently prayed for, I was introduced to a new genre of peace that I never knew existed.   Again, I want to reiterate the fact that this peace did not come easily. ? It took my willingness to be obedient and physically leave my box ? – my comfort zone – and venture to a place in life that demanded me to relinquish control and get out of my own way.

This mural on a building at Trinity College in Dublin is so DOPE!
At the top of the Eiffel Tower in Pahrree (Paris).

As a result, 2017 took me to places like the top of the Eiffel Tower ? in Paris, France and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and many more!

Here’s a little recap of my 2017:

  • Started teaching at a university as a communications professor in Social Media;
  • Had an emotional “farewell party” hosted by the best ESL students any teacher could ever ask for;
  • Went to Miami Beach with my brother from another motherland;
  • Did a 12 state solo road trip from Florida to Vermont to present at an academic conference;
  • Went backpacking through Europe, traveling through 12 countries;
  • Launched and released my first non-academic book, “Letting Adam Sleep” in London, England;
  • Met up with an old friend who just-so-happened to be in London on tour with Eric Gales;
    • I got to attend the concert for free and meet the whole band afterwards;
  • Met countless new #FAM from all over the world;
  • Spent a week in Belmonte, Spain helping business professionals with their English;
  • Did my first international ESL academic presentation in Spain;
  • Visited the newly opened Hillsong Church in Oslo, Norway (total coincidence!);
  • Took my first ferry-boat ride from Denmark to Germany;
  • Took countless photos in Vienna, Prague, Bratislava;
  • Tried to sit on top of the bridge that lies in between Buda & Pest like the locals in Hungary but couldn’t climb up so I just leaned against it…all while streaming live on Facebook ???;
  • Explored the glorious ruins of Rome’s historical coliseum;
  • Getting my phone stolen in Madrid;
  • Had my first-ever book signing in Greensboro, NC, USA;
  • Had my first-ever TV interview about my book on TCT;
  • Preached for the last time in a long time at my favorite church in the whole globe: The Potter’s House Ministries of North Carolina, Inc.
  • Moved to Hangzhou, China a few weeks later for my new job;
  • Visited the Hangzhou International Christian Fellowship church that I found on the internet-webs a few months prior to arriving;
  • Did a visa-run to Taipei, Taiwan and visited the infamous Shilin Night Market;
  • Came back and went on a date (I didn’t know it was a date though!) with an American who told me that I was going to be his;
    • I said he was crazy, not my type (he’s American ?), and that I wasn’t interested (I lied);
      • We’re still dating and are in a committed relationship with God and each other;
  • Traveled to Hong Kong to finally finalize work visa process;
    • Met up with an old colleague from UNC-Greensboro there: TOTALLY UNPLANNED!
  • Got eyebrows for Christmas!;
  • Spent my last night of the year in church as I always have for the past 32 years but this time with my Omega Man (a separate post will be done about this…or maybe a video);

…and the list goes on and on!  Here are some photos of some of my favorite events from 2017.

*Photos are not in any particular order.*

Dude, I got to meet the great Cody Wright in London!!! #BassBeast
Last night in Miami with my brother from another motherland, Getao.
My amazing GTCC students gave me this photo and frame #ChaoticFamily
I stayed up for HOURS working on this graphic while in Paris.
Chilling with the lovely Ladonna Gales and talented Eric Gales in London after the concert!
Look who I found all the way from Greensboro, NC, USA touring in London?! It’s NICK!
Getting parking lessons in Oslo, Norway. I think I will park like this from now on. So convenient!
These are some of the most beautiful students in the entire world! Hearts of pure gold & I miss them so much!
My GTCC ESL students that I miss so much…
I was blessed to daily teach students from over 15 countries all in one setting!
More of my GTCC students. Every day in class was a powerful day to learn!
The beautiful view from my new job in my new district – Xiaoshan! Hangzhou, China is just too beautiful!
Some of my new ESL student in China. They are really sweet!
Selfie time while giving an ESL presentation in Belmonte, Spain while they work on their group assignment…?
Secret: I absolutely ? graffiti! This beautiful work of art can be found in Vienna, Austria!
My parents came to China to visit me! My dad said that he didn’t have any jet lag… #KnockedOut
My dear Irish friend, Ciaran and I on my last day in Dublin before leaving the hostel!
I’ve always had really thin eyebrows; well buddy, guess what? A CHANGE IS A-COMING!
Getting these babies microbladed and boy did it hurt! They had to numb my whole forehead! LOL!
Day 2 of my new brow life…they’re bold now but they’ll go to normal in about a week or so.
Date night with Omega Man in celebration of my new brows! (Not really…LOL)
Waiting at the airport to pick up the parentals for the Thanksgiving holiday!!!
Po’ lil Tink-Tink in the blazing Prague sun fully dressed as a Geisha to attract people to his employer’s restaurant.
The bridge between Buda and Pest! Locals climb and sit for hours eating, talking, drinking, watching traffic, etc. 
Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower before I go purchase a ticket to climb to the top! Woohoo! I can’t believe I’m here!
After hours of crying and roaming through the streets of Madrid, trying to find my stolen phone, this dear heart helped me regroup.
This is the front of the church that I attend in Hangzhou, China. #HICF
These metro workers were too hilarious and I had to snap a photo with them as they gave me a free pass on the metro.
All thick and curvy in Pah-ree [Paris]! I had to stop and pose under the “new look” sign because that’s that I felt coming in my life.
O.M. and I spent our final hours of 2017 in the house of the Lord! It was such a beautiful moment for the both of us.  
We brought in the new year with God at the center of our lives & relationship. 
Terrified that I’ll fall 8 stories to the ground on the way to my hostel in Buda-Pest, Hungary. So narrow and creaky!
I didn’t get a chance to make it to the Berlin Wall but I did make it to a piece of the wall!
Maaaannnn…the story of how I ended up at HillSong Church – Norway is just out of this world! 
Some of “los anglos” after a week in Belmonte. Rick & I were the only two Americans.
Roaming the historic streets of Prague, Czech Republic before getting to the primary tourism areas.  
The waters from the Ferry ride from Copenhagen, Denmark to Berlin, Germany. The sky and the sea fit perfectly together. How beautiful this view is! 
Oh…Hi, Vienna, Austria!!! SN: I have no idea who this lady is photobombing my shot but ain’t she posted up?!?!? LOL! #GetItBoo
These two beautiful ladies took Helene and I around Paris Sunday after church at The Bridge! I don’t meet strangers. I meet #FAM
In Miami Beach, Fl with my brother from another motherland. We stopped at every place we deemed photo-worthy.
In Miami Beach waters, splashing and making waves because life was about to get wild! S/o to my Kenyan Kaka for the action shot.
I really can’t help but take photos of dope graffiti. It’s even better when I get to be in the photo, too! LOL!  Did you know I can hoop? Me neither! #iCant
Got my card to travel by bus from Paris to London. And, yes…I did have on a “Take me to London” shirt that I bought in 2016 at Rainbow in Greensboro, NC, USA.
The first time Omega Man and I went out on a date in Hangzhou, China. It was a little less than a month of us meeting each other in the subway.
You have no idea how happy I was to find the Wal-Mart in Hangzhou! It’s not like the ones in America but it is definitely a one-stop-shop!
My last night in Hong Kong! We ended up finding this pier by accident and boy oh boy was it a sight to see!
It was so great to meet up with another UNC-G Alum/Charlottain while in Hong Kong. She and her long-time friend both teach in Dubai now and were traveling for a break. #Coincidence

As I bid 2017 farewell, I can’t help but be grateful and get a little emotional because finally my dreams have become my reality.  I can only imagine, hope, and pray about what this new year, 2018, has to offer.

How was your 2017?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

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