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Writing

Faith and Healing

Two years ago I was a student who had graduated after completing eight consecutive quarters-more or less- at a community college back on the westside of Washington. It was the most “normal” I had felt in my whole life. I didn’t have many friends, but school, what mattered to me the most, was going great. It had taken a lot of sweat and tears, but I didn’t care because I was on a plan that hurdling towards my bachelors degree at three years out of high school.

I was in Pullman, Washington. My first semester. I was taking eighteen credits, pretending that I wasn’t feeling spread thin, or wasn’t struggling with anxiety and sleep depravation. I certified for my major early. I played intramural soccer. I went to church and small group. ¬†However, November of that semester came and I could feel myself losing it. My roommate situation was awkward. So, just like that, I moved to a single dorm. No roommate, no problem. I convinced myself everything was still great. I didn’t tell anyone I was crippling under the wait of it all. I stopped succeeding in all areas of my life. My time was so divided I couldn’t do anything well. Self care was a foreign topic to me. ( In some ways it still is, seeing that I am writing this at nearly 1 a.m.

November 7, 2014, my life changed radically. The seizures that had stopped plaguing my life for nearly a year nearly took my life, or at least my ability to enjoy it. My friends and family stopped hearing from me. I respond quickly to texts and phone calls. I communicate with my parents daily for medication reminders and updates. When I stopped answering, it was evident to them something was wrong.

A friend, sent by my parents, knocked on my door. No answer. Police came. Shortly after, paramedics. I had been seizing for an estimated 24 hours. I had lost all function. I was taken to Pullman Regional Hospital. And then flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital. A place all too familiar to me. This time was different. My epilepsy had never threatened my life before. That day made the rest of my days different. It set me on a path I had never fathomed.

On November 11, 2014, my blog received 611 views. I tell you not to brag about my viewing statistics. I write to tell you-and myself- why.

On March 17, 2014, I published a post called Hope Is Hard .

I wrote those words not knowing the limits to which my life would be tested in the months and years to come.

Two weeks ago it had seemed appropriate that I post this blog post. But I couldn’t. That was one of the hardest weeks I’ve had since leaving the comfort and safety of the hospital two years ago. I had a seizure during the anniversary week of the scariest day, week, and month of my life. And once again, I had this pit in the bottom of my stomach because I could done more to prevent this from happening.

I asked myself the question that I’ve been wrestling with for most of my life: why do bad things happen to good people? Some people have this twisted view that Christians or morally good people have somehow earned the right to a better and easier life.¬†I can see how we’re their coming from, it seems logical. However, the blessing of suffering isn’t less suffering. It’s humility. A deep dependence on the One who carries me in the midst of my suffering.

I have known suffering and I have witnessed the suffering of others. And I will tell you this: none of it makes sense. I could spend a lifetime trying untangle this mystery. But that would be a waste of time. I’d rather spend it learning how to love people better. Bad things happen to the best of us. Suffering can be redeemed by using our experiences to empathize with each other. Suffering is the result of sin but that doesn’t mean we can’t live like we don’t have a healer.

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Writing

Life since Elevate: Reflection: Part 1

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Life since Elevate has gone by too fast. Summer is long over, but I am still mulling over everything I’ve learned.¬†For those of you who don’t know, Elevate is a 10 week-long discipleship program through Resonate, my collegiate church home in Pullman, Washington. I spent my entire summer in La Jolla, California working a retail job at Pottery Barn kids at University Towne Center, volunteering at the Sand Diego Food Bank, but most of all, growing in community and in Jesus.

Explaining how Elevate continues to have an impact on me months later is difficult. In fact, I think my lack of explanation has been keeping me from writing. My last post that I wrote, I wrote in La Jolla. Elevate challenged me to my core, and as I expected coming back to school, to the “daily grind” that Elevate pulled me away from has been far from easy. In California, I was blessed with having accountability and and Christian community on a 24/7 basis. Now that I’m back in Pullman, I’m struggling because experiences like the ones I had in California are rare and ideal.

I quickly placed a lot of weight and responsibility on the shoulders of my community to give me what they can’t: the relationship that I want with my Heavenly Father. Elevate raised my standards of what Christian living looks like. I find myself now in a place where I realized that Christianity isn’t about waiting for church on Sunday or Village on Wednesday, but having Jesus as a part my life even when my christian community isn’t surrounding me physically. Experiencing Jesus in the quiet moments, after the pastor stops talking, the music winds down and my friends go on their way is something I didn’t know would be so hard. I never thought solitude and silence would be a problem for a girl like me.

One of the¬†lessons I learned came after Elevate is that One summer isn’t enough time to grow. I wish it were because growing pains are hard.¬†This journey I’m on will last my entire lifetime. People constantly told me that Elevate was one of the best decisions they ever made. However, I always sensed that they wanted to add a “but..” to the end of their sentences. I understand why. For me, Elevate had a way of bringing to light everything I thought I had stowed away, hidden from the eyes of people that I know love me. Life before Elevate was easy because back then no one was holding me accountable to the skeletons in my closet. It changed everything for me. Everything was placed on the table, open for everyone to see. It was painful, how I imagine Eustace felt when Aslan graciously tore away his dragon scales until once again flesh was all that remained. There’s a reason why this example from C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader is used so often.¬†Baring ourselves to Christ and our community, any community really, is painful but His grace and mercy makes it so worth it.

He has told you, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Elevate was the start of a new journey for me, one that I didn’t expect to begin and one that will probably never end. In the midst of constant community and accountability that I’d never experienced before, I learned and am still learning that no one else but me can take responsibility for my relationship with God.

My friend and room leader for the summer Meredith Brown speaks so much truth. About seven weeks into the summer she spoke truth that I am finally beginning to understand this semester. She told me that this year I’m going to learn what it means to be selfless and the person in the background serving. I wasn’t sure in what are those sacrifices were going to be made but not long after I learned that I’d be on leadership in a freshman village (bible study) for the coming school year. I’m learning a lot. That these two years and counting of being involved with Resonate is not meant for me alone, but for all the people who still aren’t connected to a wonderful community

Additionally, I was “officially” placed on Gathering Team.Gathering Team is a vital group of people who help set up church in Todd Auditorium on Washington State University’s campus and Schweitzer Engineering Lab in Pullman every Sunday. Not a whole lot has changed since last year except the title has kept me a ¬†lot more accountable and consistent. Another lesson I’m learning is that serving is rarely convenient, or it’s not supposed to be. Service without sacrifice can be defined as good works or morals.¬†Serving in these ways has been so humbling. ¬†I mean so humbling. I’m excited and also hesitant for this continuation of growth that is ahead of me.

 

 

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These past 2 1/2 weeks have been the most challenging in all of my life. Naively, up to this point, I was convinced school and health related issues were the absolute hardest hurdles I could overcome. However, since being here in La Jolla, I’ve realized that God is constantly growing me. We’ve also been talking about how a relationship with Jesus is not founded on feelings, but on a constant trust that despite the hard days, I still need to lean into God because He is unchanging. Because of the people in my community I have constantly been reminded that ¬†it is also possible to be faced with challenges and not live miserably. I have grown more in my faith in my short time here than during any other time period in my life.

I wish I could go into deep detail about every single day, but I could probably write a book and I’m obviously having trouble keeping consistent with my weekly updates. I’ll try to keep this update brief and highlight some key milestones so far.

On the eleventh day of being here I finally found a job at Pottery Barn Kids. As many of you know, I was convinced that based on my experience last summer as a YMCA camp counselor, I thought I had that job in the bag. That being said, I came expecting to attend the group interview only as a formality- I had a Skype interview prior to arriving here and felt pretty confident about having a job there. So, I thought I’d have two weeks to chill until training and camps started. (Because I assumed I had the job). I was so wrong.

I reached a point where my village leader lovingly reminded me that I am not beneath any position. And so, I started applying anywhere and everywhere. I camped out in a mall for about nine days and applied to over forty establishments. Only three interviews resulted from over forty applications. The reason why I’m here is to carry the gospel. My job is just a means for me to do that. I didn’t come here to improve my resume.

Since job hunting has ended, but work hasn’t started, I’ve been filling my time at the San Diego Food Bank. I am meeting so many awesome people there and having very fruitful conversations. This specific food bank feeds over 400,000 people. That is about 1/5 of San Diego’s population that is unable to afford food.

Many people wonder, why do a mission trip/ discipleship program in La Jolla, California? The answer is this: on a list of 117 top churchless cities, San Diego is number thirty-six on that list. It’s easy to assume that because a place seems wealthy or not seemingly poor, that it doesn’t deserve to hear the good news. I forget that La Jolla, California needs the gospel as much as Tijuana and Haiti. Any person who has not heard the good news needs the gospel. That is why we place so much emphasis on serving at our different churches and throwing beach parties on Sunday nights.

One thing that has been revealed to me as I dive deeper into community and DTs (Devotional Times) is that many times I believe the lies of Satan more than I believe the truths that God gives us in His word. This has not been an easy thing to learn, but realizing the root of the problem has been so so good. Right now

Prayer requests:

-Rest

-Casual conversations lead to gospel conversations and more friends at beach parties

-Understanding that the truth that is in God’s word and from God Himself trumps Satan’s lies.

-Selflessness. That I would always come full circle back to the gospel.

-Intentionality with new friends that haven’t become family yet.

 

Thank-you so much for bringing me here. Words cannot even begin to describe everything I’ve been learning and I can’t wait to have more in-depth conversations with you when I get back to Seattle and Pullman in the fall.

 

Kayla (a.k.a. ¬†Ku’Wanga)

P.S. I apologize for any spelling mistakes. I’ve been awake since around 6am and have been gone for most of the day. This project is taking me all over the city!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible, Travel, Writing

Elevate Update #3

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Writing

Elevate Update #2

IMG_0927.JPGHello Friends! Wow, I am so stoked to finally be here in La Jolla. Thank-you so much for your prayers and financial support that brought me here in this with all of these amazing people.  Our team arrived hear on Friday, where we immediately dived into things. We kicked things off officially at 5:00pm.  I am so happy to be placed in my room, The Grove. Meredith (my friend and room leader!), Emmalee , Jillian, Molly, Amberlynne, Hannah, and my bed buddy Beth are quickly becoming fast friends. It is incredible living in community with so many people.  We are slowly but surely unpacking into our beautiful room at Residence Inn-La Jolla. I still cannot believe that I am going to be here for ten weeks.

I had my group interview with the La Jolla YMCA on Monday morning. Our whole project has been out and about from 9:00am-5:00pm every day this week job hunting. Next Tuesday I have an interview at Potter Barn Kids.We’ve been ¬†searching at University Town Center, Fashion Valley, Clairemont Town Center, Pacific Beach, and a variety of other places. Today we went to Prospect for the first time and scavenged along there as well. We’ll be doing this everyday for the next two weeks until we sign official papers and have a job confirmed. Three¬†out of seven people from The Grove¬†have been hired already. Praise Jesus for that. Please be praying for the rest of our room, and everyone else on the job to be hired ¬†and no one is sent home on June 3rd.

Our routine for each of the next ten weeks is as follows:

Monday: DT’s (Devotional Times),Work, Celebration Night, and Room Time. This summer we will be celebrating weekly through worship and giving thanks for God’s provision.

Tuesday: ¬†DT’s (Devotional Times),Work, Teaching Night. We will be hearing from different staff members and walking through DT’s

Wednesday: DT’s (Devotional Times), Work, Village with The Pit and Tenboom (two different rooms).

Thursday: DT’s (Devotional Times), Work, Free night.

Friday: DT’s (Devotional Times), Work, Free night.

Saturday: DT’s (Devotional Times), Work (?).

Sunday: Rest, Worship, Serve and Reflect.¬†New Song Church-Parkside every Sunday. We’ll be setting up and tearing down every week. They are a mobile church like Resonate and meet at an elementary school. (I also signed up to hold babies during one of their two services!) Evening beach parties!

More to come as I fall into the rhythm of things here in La Jolla!

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Travel, Writing

Elevate Update #1

IMG_2312Hey friends!

Since first posting my support letter on March 23rd, I’ve raised more donations and bought my plane ticket, making everything so much more real. Including my own investment into this project, I have now raised $627.64 out of $3,500 for my trip. Elevate still seems far away, but ALL funds are due April 21st. I still have $2,872.36 until I am fully funded.

I’m scared to death.

Without successful fundraising, I might find myself in the position where I will have to choose to pay out of my own pocket, or forfeit the trip. I’m begging Jesus that I will not have to make that decision.

When looking at the numbers and payment deadlines, it’s very easy for me to forget the power of prayer amidst all of this. I definitely underestimate it.

All of this is a faith journey. I’m leaning into God trusting that if this is his plan for my summer-and I strongly believe it is-then I can trust him to provide the means for me to get there. I strongly desire that anyone reading this, and has questions about Elevate and/or Resonate would not hesitate at all to ask questions, and most definitely ask God how they should support me in all of this.

This week these two life verses have become my lifeline:

“Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her” Luke 1:45

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail” Proverbs 19:21

 

Prayer Requests

-My interview on  Tuesday, April 5th with the YMCA would go smoothly

-My faith in God’s provision would be more overwhelming than my fear of not support raising all of my funds

This might be helpful:

More about Elevate http://resonate.net/elevate2016#give-1 (the link says give, but there is more information about the project if you scroll up and down!)

 

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Travel, Writing

Elevate 2016-Fundraising Letter

Hey Friends!

About two months ago, God placed it on my heart to spend my summer in California. While this may sound like a no-brainer, easy decision for some, those who know me well know that I have always felt most comfortable close to my home and family.

Back in January I was invited to a dinner for budding leaders. It was there that God placed a desire in my heart to attend Elevate this summer. Elevate is a 10 week-long summer project through my church Resonate here in Pullman.

During the first two weeks of our program, all of our energy will be poured into acquiring a job in La Jolla, California. Our work place will be our mission field and will give us a platform through which we can build relationships with our coworkers and share with them the beautiful story of how Christ can change their lives forever!

In addition to working, throughout the week members of our tema will learn how to live missionally, and in community. We will learn the tools we need to be fully equipped leaders in the church and host Village (small group/bible study). On the weekends, our main focuses are 1) church planting and 2)beach parties. The beach parties will be a safe and inclusive environment where we can invite our coworkers to have fun, and learn more about the gospel.

These are not just any ordinary beach parties. These parties are a way for us to continue fostering relationships with our coworkers.

The cost of living in San Diego California this summer is $3,500 + the cost of air fare. Securing my spot on the team alone requires a deposit of  $350. I was unable to support raise the cost of the deposit before the deadline, and so I paid this amount out of pocket. Thus far, I have only support raised $100.

This is an extraordinary opportunity to serve the community of La Jolla and grow in my faith. Please consider joining my financial team or my prayer team. Both are equally important. I strongly believe that God hears my prayers and yours, and will provide.

Would you consider donating $50, $75, $100, or some other amount to my trip? If you would like to join me in this, please make your check payable to “Resonate Church” and put “Elevate” in the memo line. You may return your check to me or send it directly to Resonate Church: P.O. Box 1605, Pullman, WA 99163. Please don’t put my name on the check, but rather include a slip of paper directing it be applied toward me and my trip.

There is also a way to give online http://resonate.net/elevategive. If you prefer to mail the check to me, instead of directly to the church, please personal message me for my address.

Prayer requests:

-My Skype interview with the La Jolla YMCA would be successful (once scheduled).

-I would catch up on fundraising. The deadline for all $3,500 is April 21st!

-The rest of the school year would go well

-Bonding between our team would go well.

P.S. Your donation is tax deductible, but non-refundable. 

Update 03/24/2015: $2,994.96

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charley

New Beginnings

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About, Writing

OK? OK

Yesterday, I finally told God everything that I felt weighing on my chest. The emotions I felt inside were nearly inflicting physical pain. I wrote it all down. While God knows all that is on my heart, I truly believe-yet sometimes forget- that He nonetheless desires us to come to him with whatever sh** we’re dealing with at the moment. To most people, being vulnerable is usually an admirable and brave action, but to humble myself to the God of my life is an incredible gift.

I’ve done a lot of reflecting on these past eight months. Reflecting, questioning, accusing, and comparing. After working hard in school for eight consecutive quarters before transferring to a state university, I was absolutely crushed. Devastated when my health spiraled sharply downwards in less than 48 hours.

I convinced myself-once I became cognizant enough to do so- that after all I had already been through, I wasn’t deserving of a strong shove off the beaten path. A shove that screwed up my four year plan, and in my mind, wasted two years at community college for only three months at university.

By now, even writing this, I can trace a pattern. I dug myself into a grave that I almost didn’t escape. Can’t get a driver’s license? Failing at relationships?¬†Relying on nonexistent relationships to move from Point A to Point B? Let’s direct all of that energy towards school. Now¬†that¬†I am able to control. I can either fail or flourish in this. All by myself. Shovel in hand I dug a grave eight feet down and climbed in.¬†image

I should’ve learned, especially during the aftermath of these events, how destructive pride is. However, even now I find myself reaching for that shovel. Or, conversely, spilling out all my guts and expecting too many people to understand too many feels. Desperate for any word of encouragement or empathy. Those conversations-usually short- end with whomever is at the other end saying “you’re such a fighter.” Instead of swelling with pride and taking advantage of such a dramatic story, I remain deflated.

I thought I wanted something to brag about. But what I’ve always truly wanted is to be understood. For someone to reach out to me. More sacrificial relationships and less of me explaining myself and experiencing the need to say “I promise I’ll pay for gas, I just want to talk to people again!”

After I was hospitalized and could not return to school immediately, I began to experience what I imagine many post-graduates go through. Community isn’t only right across the hallway or the parking lot or next to me in a lecture hall. I must actively seek it. The get well cards, flowers, balloons, and texts stopped coming. I realized how much I’d taken advantage of such a close knit groups of people that will always be different than those after college.

As I prepare to go back in less than a month, I’m afraid I’ll have to start over again with new people. That sounds easier anyways. It’d be a fresh start in many ways. But relationships-strong ones- aren’t easy. I’ll admit there are so so many times where I am sure that I’m the one being more slighted than others. I need thicker skin than that.¬†IMG_5577

Physical wounds are so much easier than emotional ones. Speaking of emotions, I received new pictures Charley girl¬†recently. School hasn’t started yet but I’m already counting down the days until I am able to meet her. ¬†I could so use her by my side right now.

I am astounded by the generosity of you all. My community Everyday, $34,000 becomes more and more easy to comprehend. More than the money donated, it’s the sentiments shared by you all that gets me the most. I love that it has become an opportunity for people to encourage, empathize, and share stories.

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Writing

4 Fabulous Books for Non-Fiction Readers and Writers

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Recently, I’ve been spreading myself pretty thin between various writing projects and extensive. Unfortunately, my blog has not received the attention it deserves. However, I wanted to share some great titles I’ve¬†finished while I’ve been away. I’m quickly learning that it’s no easy feat to write 1,500 words towards my memoir¬†in addition to my blog.

My nose has recently been in these memoirs listed below.

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro absolutely rocked my writing world. I’m absolutely devastated that I don’t own a copy yet, but when Tina Bustamante, my author and blogger friend¬† recommended it to me I immediately sought it out at the library.¬†Thus far, this book has undoubtedly been the most influential regarding the specific craft of writing.

Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness ¬†by Marlena Graves proved to be a wonderful memoir. As I begin my own journey learning memoir style, I’m exploring different memoir styles while I’m early on in my first draft. There isn’t a better way to learn than to read books published by authors who interest me.

On Words: Insight Into How Our Words Work-And Don’t by Paula LaRocque. Although not necessarily considered memoir, On Words is similar to¬†Still Writing. I am learning that I enjoy short blurbs of wisdom, with chapters or sections only being 2-4 pages in length. Although this may not match up to my actual style of writing, as far as reading goes, I appreciate brevity in non-fiction. It’s so easy in memoir to want to give away all of what you have to say all at once.

Help. Thanks. Wow. by Anne Lamott. This book has been on my To-Read shelf for far too long. I was delighted when I discovered a copy of the on my grandparents’ bookshelf. Her books need not be geared towards writing in specific to positively influence my writing voice.

Also waiting on my shelf:

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. I ordered this book nearly a year ago now. However, I have no recollection of reading it whatsoever. This makes absolutely no sense to me because everything I’ve read by Anne has made an impression on me. It’s likely that I ordered the book along with four others and couldn’t keep up with all the material I had started reading.

In Search of Light: The Broadcasts of Edward R. Murrow by Alfred A. Knopf. The Chinook Public Library might not have any works by literary genius Anne Lamott on their shelves, but I found a couple books about the life and career of Edward R. Murrow. Murrow is the namesake of the College of Communication at Washington State University. Go Cougs!

Follow me on good reads¬†or Instagram¬†to keep up with all that I’m reading!

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Writing

Status: Active

I’m baaaaaaackkk!

I would like to sincerely apologize for posting less frequently on the blog. I never intended to suddenly stop. I’ve been doing an insane amount of reading and writing. Ironically, I’ve even been working through a blogging course with Jeff Goins’ Art of Work Course and Intentional Blogging. Heck, I’ve even started listening to pod casts about writing. ¬†In the past month I’ve read about four different memoirs, as well as various entrepreneurial books that discuss the subject of ¬†writing throughout. I’m gleaning anything and everything about writing and doing my best to apply what I learn.

Thank-you for your lovely comments regarding my last blog post I published in April. I hope you’ll be able to use it as a resource Before Opening Your Mouth. It was a joy to write and as always a joy to see that others resonated with the words I had to say regarding the difficulties that come with having a chronic medical condition.

I’ve neglected the largest audience I have thus far obtained since starting this blog and that’s you! As much as I wish I were simply sitting around writing and reading all day, I finally gathered up the strength to join the working world and started working again a month or so ago as a substitute teacher here at the elementary and highschool. It has been an incredible experience working predominantly with special needs kids at both schools. Occasionally, on weeks I’m not caught up with the schools I’ve been picking up stories to write for the Blaine County Journal News Opinion here in Chinook.

I’m still uncertain about what the summer holds for me. Thankfully, this uncertainty is less frightening than it once was say six months ago when it seemed my entire life was in complete shambles. Montana has been so good to me, there is no doubt about that. Washington and Montana may have to battle for me this summer. I’m currently torn between both states, waiting to hear back from potential employers in Washington. For now though, I’m enjoying today, living in the present.

That dreaded sociology paper¬† you’ve likely heard me ranting about at one point or the other¬†is finally finished. Praise Jesus. Aside from four classes I need to attend this coming school year, fall semester is behind me, unless there are surprises lurking behind the corner waiting to jump out at me.

When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about how I should be writing. I know that sounds obsessive but any writer can attest to the love-hate relationship with the blank page. ¬†And my “to-read” list. I’ve not idea how I’ll ever finish the eighty books that I want to read eventually. Follow me on Instagram @kaylanbonar for a look at what I’ve been reading ¬†in the past few months. I’ve been more active on there than my blog.

I’m writing a memoir¬†and I couldn’t be happier than when I’m brainstorming how to use words to share this story that God has called me to live. I took a huge leap of faith and shyly asked an author I deeply admire to help guide me and check in with me weekly.She said yes! ¬†Writing is an isolating task at times and I finally gathered the courage to ask someone with more expertise than myself to shepherd me along as I navigate these new waters.

Washington D.C.¬†is officially in the books for this coming June. I’ve never been and am absolutely ecstatic about traveling someplace new.

Thank-you for following along my journey.

Much love,

Kayla

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