Monday, December 27

claiming joy

the end of this december marks one year since i moved to new york, leaving my family, friends, and comfort behind. to title this year the year of the funk might almost be an understatement. i let adverse situations and trying circumstances dictate my emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. i struggled and allowed myself to be defeated because i let what was going on outside of me stifle me on the inside. i waited for and expected joy to find me as though it was something i deserved after the "sacrifices" i made to be there.

:: i keep my eyes always on the Lord with him at my right hand, i will not be shaken. therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (psalm 16:7-11) ::

joy is not something that will or will not find me because of what i've done. joy is not my circumstances working out the way i think that they should. joy is not an emotion, as I allowed myself to think it was this year. joy is a fruit of God's Spirit. joy is a result, a product, a reaping. joy comes when i keep my eyes always on Him. my hope is that this next year will be a year of joy, not because of what is going on around me, but because He is teaching me inside what joy really is.

and as I look back upon pictures from this year, it's humbling how much i am blessed.

:: i am with the love of my life, learning more about him every day and striving to learn how to love him more like Jesus does each day.

:: i have my own apartment, with my own kitchen and bathroom!

:: i have a family i love to be with, be it in new jersey or new york.

:: the skies i've seen in new york this last year are unlike any i've known before and continually fill me with wonder for their Creator.

:: country sweet chicken pizza. new york has wooed me with this stuff. sweet, dessert-like gooey wonder. a bite into a piece of this is bliss for me.

:: i am reading and writing and am relearning to do it with passion and for myself, enjoying it as much as i did when i was younger.
:: oh, and as i sit writing this post, my sisters, my best friends, sit on either side of me.

there is joy all around me.

 *******



read about more joys!

Saturday, December 25

a christmas short

john, as he's eating the 5 pound burrito wegmans made for us yesterday:

"for unto us a child is born."

a merry christmas to you from john,me, and our 5 pound burrito! 

:: may you be blessed today by the Child who was truly born for us ::

Thursday, December 23

december: one big update

happy december! i can't believe it's december 23 already! it's just one of those months that always seems to pass by way too quickly. or is that just time in general? (:

life the past 3 weeks has mostly consisted of work and baking and attending events that were the reasons i was doing all the baking. 


next week i hope to *cross my fingers* join sarah markley's journey of 100 joys here on the blog.

and beyond that i have some very good things to look forward to!
  • today was day 1 of 11 days of vacation provided by the school i work for
  • my stud and i leave tomorrow later this morning to head to jersey to spend christmas with my family
  • i come back to work for 2 days and then said stud and i leave for a week to go to florida! (my first real vacation in 3 years!)
  • the day after we get back i start a web design class

i. am. excited!!!

merry christmas! take time to be present with those you love this season.

Wednesday, December 8

that thing you do

what is that one thing that brings you joy while you do it?

you know what i mean...

that thing that makes you uncontrollably giddy...

that makes you want to get up and dance, dance, like it's the last, last night of your life, life...

(did i really just make an usher reference in my blog?! forgive me. and forgive me for this...
as this is probably going to be my best opportunity to tell you,  on my christmas list is the wish for pitbull to write me my own nonsensical rap with a sick beat. ok, now that that's out, back to the blog! serious, encouraging faces on...)

the thing that gives you an indescribable feeling that bubbles up and feels like it's going to explode in your chest when you do it...

you need to do that thing.

find a way.

even if you think you don't have the time.

whether you can make a living doing it or not.

even when no one else around you seems to "get" it.

be the person you were uniquely created to be.

just like every snowflake that falls from the sky, God has crafted you to be like no one else.

and He wants to enjoy you enjoying who you are.

because, really, He is enthralled by you (psalm 45:11).

worship Him by being you.

Wednesday, December 1

my thanksgiving turkey

a few weeks ago, i had a life-changing experience in the form of a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. it was so delicious, in fact, that i decided i needed to recreate the moment. a quick google search and i was armed with the southern belle of the comfort food ball, paula deen's recipe. one little shopping trip to pick up a few ingredients and a half day of work before thanksgiving and i was ready to go!


a little mixing...

::i loved the bright red color next to the bright blue mixing bowl!::

a little bake time and voila!


what was that? oh, you noticed the title of this post? well, let's talk about what i did while my little morsels of heaven were baking. i read reviews of ms. belle's recipe. it was then that i saw things like... way too much oil, not enough cocoa powder, nothing like red velvet, cornbread flavor...

excuse me, what?! surely, the recipe endorsed and, dare i hope, used by the. paula. deen. would not fail me! i followed it to a t and in that t i will put my trust! 

beeeeeeep goes the oven.

ok cupcakes, let's see what you're made of taste like...

cornbread.

cornbread?!

cornbread!

paula deen: 0, the reviewers: 1, me: a thanksgiving turkey.

Friday, November 26

the thanksgiving project :: the end

when i first set out to do this project, i wasn't sure how it would end. would i even follow through? would my lens be any different? will i learn anything? will i be a more thankful person?

well, here we are. (: and 26 days later, i can say that my days are filled with more things to be thankful for than i can write down or even recognize. signing on for this project forced me to open my eyes and to be more conscious of my life. each day i'd be taking mental note: is this what i'd like to write about today? 

bad days still happen. i still find myself disappointed. or frustrated. or sad

but i have a month's worth of gifts to look back on and be thankful for. 

being thankful is a character trait. that is what i am striving for. the more i open my eyes to the blessings around me, big and small, the easier it is to give thanks in the bad times and the more i realize i have infinite blessings in my life. for that, i am thankful.

Tuesday, November 23

tidbits and tangents

day twenty-three: i'm thankful for unseasonably warm weather. 


i'm thankful for people in new york who care about me and have made my transition in living here enjoyable. 


i'm thankful that i am 3.5 hours away from a 6-day vacation that includes spending the thanksgiving holiday with my man and his fam and then spending some much needed time with my own. 


i'm thankful to have an apartment to come home to every evening. 


i'm thankful for a job. 


i'm thankful that i am being challenged in so many ways right now and have hope that God is doing a great work in me and will not finish it until it is complete. 


i'm thankful for Love.

Monday, November 22

encouragement

day twenty-two: tonight i am thankful for encouragement. i received unexpected words of affirmation this evening, and i am especially thankful because it came at a time when i have been wrestling with whether i should keep pressing on in something or not. so often we admire things in others, but so rarely do we tell them. my encouragement to you is to encourage someone today. 

affirm the gift of hospitality in someone. 

let someone know how much you appreciate being able to have heart-to-hearts with her. 

tell a friend how much you love her recipe for spinach dip or chocolate chip cookies. 

encourage the friend who is striving to be a writer. 

if i'm honest, most of the time, i see gifts in others and i walk around feeling inadequate and forgotten. comparison and envy are crippling to the soul and draining to the body. they do no good, and they simply aren't true. God has gifted me and you. He has created us with unique passion and purpose in mind.

instead of looking around and getting hung up on what you are not, bless someone today by letting them know you notice them and their gifts. and trust that others are noticing yours. i promise that blessing someone else, you'll find yourself blessed too.

Saturday, November 20

seester

day nineteen: i am thankful for my sister, heather. 24 years ago she was born (boy, does that make ME feel old!), and from that time i've had a best friend. she's endured many trials, especially in this last year, but she keeps going with strength i'm not sure i even have. she is a fabulous mother, a faithful friend, and a complete goofball. i'm so thankful to have someone in my life who has been there for so much of it, who knows me, who gets me, who shares an interest in so many of the quirky things i do, and who i know i can go to any time of day or night. happy birthday heather. i love you!


Friday, November 19

a day off

day eighteen: i am thankful for a day off. my only commitment was a dinner with john for the YMCA he works for. it's such a blessing to have a day to myself, to do all sorts of things i want to do - watch movies, clean, nap, pay bills, set up christmas decorations, and schedule doctors' appointments. *sigh* i love being an adult. despite all of the grown up things i took care of, it was still a day of rest, a much needed one. and i'm glad to have a weekend right around the corner!

Wednesday, November 17

test results

day seventeen: i am oh-so-thankful for my dad. he deserves a post of his own, but today, in particular, i am thankful that he is cancer-free. i've been filled with a bit of anxiety the last few weeks, from the night he called me to tell me the doctors wanted him to have a biopsy because a test came back with not-so-hot results to the biopsy last week to the waiting, waiting, waiting for the results. i just heard from my mom that they found out the biopsy was clear, and i'm just overwhelmed with joy and relief. 


i've been challenged to surrender to whatever God's will is, in all circumstances and situations, to whatever will bring Him glory and to trust Him. this has been extremely hard, and God has once again overwhelmed me with His love and mercy.


i'm just so thankful that my dad is ok.

Monday, November 15

stretched

day fifteen: tonight i am thankful for being stretched. it's uncomfortable and it hurts. sometimes things snap and sting for some time. but i hope that through this current time of being stretched i am growing and being molded into better shape. i pray that i am pliable enough to not resist being stretched, but to embrace it and allow God to do what He wants in my life through this process. i'm thankful that He loves me enough to desire to make me look more like Him.

Sunday, November 14

sabbath

day fourteen: i am thankful for rest. after a very full week, today is my day of rest. a day full of paninis, naps, movies, and lots of couch time. (: i'm thankful that God created us to work hard and then to enjoy rest.

Saturday, November 13

teamwork

day twelve: i am thankful for teamwork. i try to do things on my own a lot of the time in pride. but this day i would have never gotten all that i had to do done at work without several helping hands. i'm thankful for people who are willing to come alongside me and show me that it really is better to not walk alone.

Friday, November 12

so much time, and so little to do

strike that, reverse it.


day eleven: i'm thankful for seasons. this last month or so has been stressful. i've had a lot to accomplish, especially at work, and i'm getting to the point of feeling like i'm running on fumes with little to give. and yesterday, i pretty much reached my breaking point. but, because of the awareness that this is only a season, things didn't get too messy. (: just a couple more days to give my best, and i'll be able to enjoy some time off and spend a season refreshing and rejuvenating. 


there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.
ecclesiastes  3:1

Wednesday, November 10

my patient Padre

day ten: tonight i am thankful that God is patient. i can look back each day and see all the things i should have said, all the things i should not have said, the help i should have offered, the way i should have spent my time... and right in the midst of it all, He is there, and He is patient with me. i mess up over and over again and as years go by, i am frustrated that in feeling like i really haven't made as much progress as i thought i should have with those same sins. weren't we working on this in me ten years ago God? why haven't i got it yet? but He never gives up on me. He reels me back in, gently, patiently, and teaches me again. His love for me never fails.

drive to dream to live

day nine: i am thankful for a vehicle. with a working car, i can get to work, i can go out on my lunch break, i can get home, i can go visit with friends in the evening. i can get out for a drive when i'm stressed or to go admire the beauty of God's creation. with a vehicle, i am able to visit my family and friends in new jersey and (hopefully sometime in the next 6 months!) visit friends in ohio! i'm thankful to have money to put gas in the tank too. cause, you know, a working vehicle with no gas is really not a working vehicle at all. (:

Monday, November 8

mistakes

day eight: today i am thankful for mistakes. a mistake at the cafe next to where i was working this morning meant a free chai latte for me! (whipped cream? you bet. cinnamon topping? oh. yes.)

i'm a person with a pretty strong fear of failure. i hate to mess up. i can literally make myself sick over stress. mistakes don't sit well with me.

so to benefit this morning from a mistake got me thinking. what if mistakes were opportunities i or someone around me would have otherwise missed? what if mistakes were moments for me to practice grace? what if mistakes were simply part of my human condition - therefore something to be expected - and also not something to put so much energy worrying about? what if, now that i expected them, i also pushed myself to learn from them?

i'm not condoning laziness or carelessness in responsibilities, but rather doing the best i can, striving to become better, and keeping my eyes open to how my mistakes might become opportunities.

mistakes don't have to act like a stopper. they can be chances to grow and flourish and learn something i wouldn't have if everything had gone according to plan. today i'm thankful for a simple mistake, for the warm beverage it gifted me, and the perspective it's helped me to see.

Saturday, November 6

honeycrisp apples

day six: honeycrisp apples. oh yes, i am thankful for honeycrisp apples. they couldn't be more appropriately named - they're as sweet as honey and snap when you bite into them. they really are the most delicious apple. add a little caramel, and my taste buds almost don't know what to do with themselves. thank you, God, for honeycrisp apples!

Friday, November 5

date night

day five: i'm thankful to be a few minutes from walking out the door to go to dinner with my stud and one of our favorite couples. longhorn steakhouse is the plan (also know as the restaurant john and i had our first date *swoon*). our friends have a sitter for their kids for the night, so for the first time in ever (for me!) we're hitting the town! i'm thankful for good friendships and the opportunity to treat ourselves a little bit.

time to go... i can almost smell the steak. yum!

Thursday, November 4

the daily grind

day four: tonight i'm thinking back on my day and am thankful to work with people with whom i can share the things that are going on in my heart and in my personal life and find compassion, understanding, and prayer. there are so many people who aren't in jobs where they have someone to relate with them on a faith level, so many who are the light day to day, so may who don't find encouragement from their coworkers. i'm blessed to be able to sow daily in a place whose very mission is to help prepare God's people to further His kingdom.

Wednesday, November 3

rise and shine

day three: i am thankful for sunny days. my soul breathes easy when there is sunshine to see and feel.

"Anyone's life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit."
Lillie Langtry

Tuesday, November 2

for passion and purpose

day two: today i am thankful for passion - for opportunity to figure out what i'm here to do and who i am to be. i'm thankful for how God interweaves my being and doing into purpose. i'm thankful that even though i don't have it all figured out and i sometimes question what the point of it all is, He promises me hope and a future. i'm thankful i am fearfully and wonderfully made. and because of that, there are things that make me feel alive and excite me and fill me with joy. it is the uniqueness of these things, things i see, hear, and do, these passions, that make me who i am.

Monday, November 1

the thanksgiving project

it seems as the days start to get shorter, my words are carried away on cold winds. i just don't feel i have much to say these days. as i do a little evaluating of myself, my direction, and in particular, this blog, instead of taking a hiatus, i am going to try something a facebook friend posted about today. it's the beginning of november and thanksgiving is a few short weeks away. with the tendency to jump right over turkey day to christmas, i don't want to miss out on all that this month of thanksgiving can hold. each day i am going to try to write down something i am thankful for. this thankfulness thing has come up in various places over the last few months, and even though i've had steady reminders, i'm just not there yet. i hope, if nothing else, that this month will be one in which i come to understand thankfulness more.

day one: tonight, i am thankful for a warm bed and a good book beside it to read as i drift off to sleep!

Wednesday, October 20

once upon a time, i began to think of situations where i have introduced friends who didn't know one another or brought friends home with me to stay with my family and other similar occasions.

some of those times i worried about the two parties meeting. would they get along? would someone offend someone else or would one party not be accepting of the other because they were so different. what if person a couldn't believe i'd be friends with person b?

and so at this particular time i began thinking about why it was i got so nervous and where these concerns came from and what was it in my heart that would cause me to think such things.

and it was then that i realized something convicting...

i was casting the first stone of judgment.

Monday, October 4

the rainy day blues

after a few cloudy, drizzly days, it's easy to feel inside as melancholy as the weather outside. the crisp air cuts through like a knife sharpened with despondency. the rain falls bringing my spirit down with each drop.


and it's easy to forget that the sun is still there.


behind the clouds, above the rain, from a view few people on the planet have had, the sun shines - brightly, furiously, awesomely. though i cannot see it from where i am, this does not mean it is not active.


life sometimes feels cold and colorless. hope is not always easily within reach in my mind. drops of disappointment, boredom, and pain fall in downpours and trickles.


it is easy to succumb to the thought that God has forgotten me. or that He just isn't that interested in me at the moment. i believe the lie that He's withholding His love and grace because i haven't met His performance expectations for the month. i carry a gloomy weight of one forgotten like a heavy raincoat.


i'm wrong, though.


in the same way, too, the Son is always there.


behind the dreary appearance of life, He is there. and He has not forgotten. He has not withheld. He is radiant, and He's promised that He is working things always for my good. (romans 8:28)


rain is a necessary part of growth on the earth and in my life.


God "care[s] for the land and water[s] it; [He]enrich[es] it abundantly" (psalm 65:9). and similarly, He waters my heart because He cares. He wants it to grow into something more fruitful, more healthy, more abundant.


it all comes back to not forgetting, being mindful of His presence even when it doesn't feel like He's there, and deciding to hold on to the hope that there will be sunny days ahead. the next time the sky darkens and the rain starts to fall, i'm going to remind myself that i'm in a time of growth. the Son is still there.

Friday, September 17

the exclusionist

i was in fifth grade. we were sitting around our table at lunch when i found out that the girls i ate with every day had been getting together on the weekends. without me.

it's a scene that has played out for me what feels like a bunch of times in my life in a variety of settings, places, ages, etc. exclusion.

being excluded hurts.

it can make you believe you're not worthy of friendship, that you don't fit in, that there's something wrong with you, that you don't belong, that you are not loved, and even that you are incapable of being loved.

it's made me a person who puts up walls, who is afraid to get to know others, who would rather sit alone in her apartment than call up a potential friend to go out for a cup of coffee, and who enters new friendships without hope and angry because she believes the lies above.

this mind battle has again reared its ugly head as i find myself (once again) in a new town. i hear the same thoughts in my head, the ones that stemmed from and grew out of that day in fifth grade.

no one really cares about you. she doesn't really want to hang out with you. she would only say ok because it's the nice thing to do. you're not a person people want to spend time with... be friends with... care about.

in a brief moment of being able to take a look at my life from the outside, i realized that the biggest problem in believing these things is really that being excluded has caused me to become an exclusionist. i exclude the people around me from my life. i don't let them get to know me, and i don't make very good attempts to get to know them.

all because of presumptions.

enough is enough.

my purpose in life is not to make friends. it's to share God's story.

it is scary to make those first steps, to open myself up, and to sometimes be let down. but my value doesn't lie with others. the love that i need is not going to come from people. being known by God and opening myself to be loved by God is the source of my value.

i hope that God blesses me with good, deep friendships along the way. but that can't become my idol. my fear of being excluded controls the way i live. it casts a shadow that isn't mine. it takes over my thoughts, actions, and identity. it puts a weight on me i was never meant to bear.

while He walked this earth, Jesus loved the ones that everyone loved. He loved the ones no one else did. He loved the ones that are hard to love. He was an inclusionist. and i've been called to be like Him. despite my past, my insecurities, and my fears. i can only do that by asking Him to carry my hurt and allow me to open myself up to loving others, without needing their love first or last. unconditional love.

Saturday, September 11

(in)courage one another

a week or so ago, i signed up at (in)courage to receive 10 free cards from DaySpring. in exchange for the cards, the recipients were asked to write a blog post today on the National Day of Encouragement. how could i say no to that? i mean, i'll do almost anything to experience the thrill of getting a package in the mail. done. deal.

the cards arrived just three days ago, and as i looked through each one, i found i had to talk myself out of just keeping them for myself. you know how some greeting cards are completely generic? cheesy? don't say things you would actually say or think or write? these cards were the exact opposite of all of that. each one is written with words of true thought, care, and encouragement. 

the first one i am sending is to jaime, a friend who recently moved from my hometown in new jersey to outside of cincinnati, ohio. she is a teacher and felt the Lord calling her out of the comfort zone of home. with a heart in love with God and bent on full obedience, she is beginning this academic year in the midwest. i do hope the card brings her encouragement in this time of transition; however, this particular card tells the story of so much more...

jaime and i became friends about two years ago, when we started attending the college/career group at our church. one day she asked me if i'd want to grab coffee with her sometime. i had recently moved back home and didn't have many close friends there. i got excited thinking about the potential of getting to know her, but was full of fears that she wouldn't see that same potential after she got to know me.

what followed that first cup coffee was two years of panera dates, sushi dates, volleyball playing, multicolored hair wearing, event planning, prank pulling and all-around shenanigans. little by little we opened up and found a safe place, a place of understanding, a friendship. she'd share something with me and it would be like she was speaking the words that were in my heart. we found laughter, silliness, and the freedom to just be ourselves, as goofy or nerdy or super organized as that may be. 

the depth of our friendship is not one that can be found in every season of life. 

even though we're now separated by many miles, in different seasons of our lives, i am so thankful for my season with jaime. her friendship taught me what a friend is, and why it is so worth the risk to open yourself up to another person. the love, understanding, and encouragement that you can find in and give to another person becomes a truly beautiful thing. it gives me hope for the season i'm in right now, where i'm finding again that i have to be open to really get to know the people around me. deep, meaningful friendships can be waiting for me here. 

it just might be my turn to ask someone out for coffee.

Monday, August 30

whenever you reach for me


my niece, kaylee, is 3 1/2 years old. she has a big imagination. any time of day we can find ourselves in the middle of a picnic, a nail salon, or a rock concert. it's amazing to see her develop her personality. and the best part right now? she's a big fan of telling jokes. (totally worth it tangent: her fav joke to tell? 'guess what?... chickenbutt!' and she erupts into laughter. every. single. time.)

my sister was getting her ready to go to bed one night and told her it was time to give john and i our good night hugs and kisses. kaylee looked at her mom, looked at us, then said, "no". no?! no, you don't want to hug the people who listened to your chickenbutt joke a gazillion times and laughed with you every time, sang along to all your silly songs, and showered love and attention and affection on you all. day. long?!? hrmmph! um, yes i know she's only 3. 

she is young, and i don't really think she understands the power of love yet. (*cue synthesizers... and celine*) she doesn't understand that withholding affection from others can make them feel unloved, that the simple act of a hug has the potential to bring joy to its recipient, that her expressions of love or lack thereof have an impact on others.

and even though i really wasn't bothered that she didn't immediately run into my arms after i'd been with her all day, it did get me thinking that at 26, i don't think i understand love yet either.


day in and day out, God pours His love all over me. He desires to laugh with me, weep with me, dream with me, aspire with me, to save me and to be with me. He wants to hold me in His arms when i need rest.

but more often than not, i look around and say "no".

and i wonder if that is because i just don't understand the power of love. or perhaps because, i don't understand the power of Love.

Thursday, August 19

all i want is my bed... and a little less me

phew. crazy last week, friends. i have been working like a dawg! we welcomed a new cohort to the seminary i work for, and new cohort = lots of work and responsibility for the admissions assistant. also known as yours truly. 

i got kind of uneasy as the week progressed. it was definitely a high pressure week with lots riding on me, and i know that when i become busy, i can easily start to believe that i'm more important than i really am. i wrestle with pride when i'm in a leading role. i guess maybe that's a fallen human condition...

i even need to be careful that i don't become prideful in that i've recognized this fact in myself. 

pride is a slippery slope.

my prayer for this week is that i'd be filled with grace and humility. that it wouldn't be about me. that stress wouldn't come because of an inflated sense of my important role in any of this. my prayer is that it is all about Him and for Him.

Thursday, August 5

soul percher

"hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul"
-emily dickinson

so it's only been a month and then some since i committed to a summer reading list. and i finally finished it! um, book number one that is. what? i do have other things going on ya know! ...sometimes. anyway, enough of this painfully un-comedic inner monologue. dialogue. um...

i just finished acedia and me by kathleen norris. while i won't write a lengthy book review, i do want to acknowledge that i learned a lot from this book. i identified a great deal with the concept of acedia and saw ways my life has been affected by it, but also found hope in methods and practices i can implore to overcome it. i'm finding myself drawn to books lately that help me to take a closer look at myself, the bad and the good, and i try to have faith that in reading them i will digest enough information to see change.

there is one passage near the end of the book that i found particular hope in:

when "one is completely listless, tepid, and unhappy, and feels separated from our Creator and Lord," he writes in his [Saint Ignatius Loyola] Spiritual Exercises,"one should never make a change." Ignatius recommends patience, and also urges the despondent person to a fresh perspective. "Desolation is meant to give us a true recognition and understanding," he states, "that we may perceive interiorly that we cannot by ourselves bring on . . . great devotion, intense love, tears, or any other spiritual consolation, but that all these are a gift and grace from God."
reading that along with this on the same day brought to my heart a sense of hope and encouragement i was lacking. i've been in my own sort of dark ages for quite some time now and have succumbed several times to resigning that things will never change. the one-two punch of this fresh perspective has helped me to understand specific ways in which my struggles might produce great character in me. whether or not these things are right will not matter in the end though, i imagine. after all, the wish isn't what sustains us; it's Hope that does.

Monday, August 2

sum-sum-summertime

last week was a fine summer week, friends.

i took my first vaca day of the summer to road trip to erie, pa with some of my favorite people. our main objective? (besides a whole lot of fun in the sun, of course)
oh, sweet success.

then, back to reality where i was blessed to find out that when the going gets tough, well, it's good to have a great friend around. like elaina, who surprised me with this awesome card and some good words.

and finally, the end of the week! because i am a woman and it's my prerogative or something like that, i redecorated! i decided to change the color scheme for my bedroom, which meant i got to repaint some art that i had made. my new color inspiration?

some bedroom before and after pics to follow soon (:

Friday, July 23

comfort on a rainy morning

my weary heart needs to marinate in these words this morning...


"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. in this world you will have trouble. but take heart! I have overcome the world." 
(john 16:33)

Tuesday, July 20

a little creative fun

i found out about this website a few weeks ago and finally had a chance to sit down and see what it was all about for myself! polyvore.com lets you create design boards of outfits, accessories, home goods, and other fancy things! though all of the options were quite overwhelming at first, this is a stellar creative outlet! here is my first attempt at a set:


if you like fashion, design, decorating, creating, and mixing and matching, i think you'll find polyvore one big playground!

Tuesday, July 13

forgetful

i was at a friend's over the weekend and noticed how a ceiling fan was creating a nice cool breeze in the living room, especially after the heat wave this past week. it was then that i remembered that i had a ceiling fan in my living room. i'd gone the entire hot week without turning it on, simply because i'd forgotten it was there.

now this can be blamed on the fact that i just celebrated another birthday. *ahem* i prefer to think it has more to do with the fact that i moved when the temperature outside barely hit 32 degrees and the least of my concerns at the time was ways my apartment was equipped to cool down!

in either case, i laughed at myself and my ignorance. the fan was literally the "white elephant" in my living room up until this point during this summer.

it's amazing how something can be right in front of our faces and we don't realize it. we don't consciously think about it. we don't remember. we aren't attentive to it. 

how much of each day do i walk through forgetful?

forgetful of the truths God has to say about me? (i am fearfully and wonderfully made...)

forgetful of the purpose He gives to my every day? (He will carry on to completion the work He has begun in me...)

forgetful of the blessings He promises to give me? (peace, rest, refuge, strength, renewal, hope, everlasting love...)

forgetful of how much He loves me? (He gave His one and only son...)

i must remember to be aware. i need to be attentive to Him. He's always there, right in front of me. He has beautiful things He wants to show me, caring words He wants to speak to me, love He wants to share with me.

i miss out on the relief from the heat of the day, on the cool, refreshing breezes, on the peace the repetitive rhythm of the whirring blades creates... simply because i'd forgotten it was there.

Thursday, July 8

why be thankful?


last night, in an expression of tough love, i was challenged with being a thankful person. there have been seasons in my life where i have been more thankful than others. however, when you get right down to it, thankfulness is not part of my nature.


thinking about this made it clear that i struggle with being thankful because i am constantly focusing on my circumstances. i am always looking around - to the left, to the right, to the past. there will always be something i'm not happy about, something i want to change or improve. there will always be trials and struggles. there will always be reason for despair. so how can i be thankful?

give thanks with a grateful heart
give thanks to the Holy One
give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son


i grew up going to church on sundays and sometimes even on wednesdays and fridays. the church my family attended was big on worship and i know at least a half a gajillion songs because of it. i sang this song countless times back then. sometimes when i sang, i was thankful. other times, it was just another song to get through on a sunday morning.

as i thought more about last night's conversation this morning, this song came back into my mind. it was in remembering the words that i found hope. my thankfulness won't and shouldn't stem from my circumstances; in fact it shouldn't stem from me and my life at all. i can give thanks in all circumstances because of God and what He did for me in His love for me, allowing His Son to pay a debt i never could and freely give me His salvation.

if i expect to be a thankful person because of what is going on around me, i have set myself up for failure. it's not in the temporary things. when my focus is the cross, i will never be without hope and a reason to give thanks.

Wednesday, June 30

summer reading

it can probably be traced back to early school days, but making a summer reading list seems to be a completely normal and perhaps expected part of jumping into summer! i shall play the game and share with all of you the books i'd like to ingest this summer.


now my goals would be much easier attained through the ownership or rentership of a porch, and even more so a porch swing. i find myself with neither. so if any of you happen to find yourself with either or both and also preferably find yourself in the western new york area, i'm more than available to help you occupy them. i'm even up for a road trip! 


now that that item of business is out of the way, without further ado, i bring to you... my summer reading list:

acedia and me, kathleen norris (i've been working through this one the last couple of weeks. some really good thoughts and perspectives on what is more commonly termed sloth, though that's not quite a comparable term for acedia.)


a million miles, don miller (i still have to purchase this one, but am anxious to as everything i've heard about it has been absolutely positive!)


reread: blue like jazz, don miller (it's a don miller summer... what can i say?)

forgotten god, francis chan (crazy love was by far challenging to the way i live my life. i'm hoping and, if i'm honest, not hoping the same for this one!)


now it's a well-known, totally proven fact that posting things on the internet increases your commitment 148.72%. so clearly there is no need for all of you to check in with me to make sure i'm making progress.


and, because i know you're curious, yes i read books simultaneously. i'm a woman dangit. i'm built to multitask! none of this one at a time nonsense.


ok that's enough about me. this all just begs the question... what's on your summer reading list?

Wednesday, June 23

a call to affirmative action

sometimes a little affirmation can go a long way.

don't hold back telling someone how great they are.

you might just make their day.

Tuesday, June 22

birthdays, bbq, and biscuits

last week was my bday! i celebrated by working a long day, eating some amazing bbq with my man, and going to bed early! if that was a taste of what 26 is going to be like, um... hurry up 27!!! actually, that pulled pork and corn bread can stay!
center street smokehouse, batavia, ny = the best cheesy biscuits i have ever had!

great birthday. great food. great company. i couldn't ask for much more!

Monday, June 21

blog neglect and banana bread

ahhh, finally... summer is here! the days leading up to this one have been absolutely amazing, which meant lots of being outside! western new york is known for its glorious summers ALMOST as much as its treacherous winters. so when the sun does come back out and the temps heat up, it's time to get out and about and play! i have a feeling this summer is going to be a lot of playing and not so much thinking! which means lots of picture posts! um, as long as i sit myself down long enough inside to upload them (:


for now, i'll just share my first attempt at making bread. ever. i had some extra bananas i knew i wasn't going to eat before they'd go bad so i grabbed a recipe for banana walnut and got to work! i was too busy measuring and mixing and mashing to take any before pictures, but i think i'm alright with leaving you with just the after!
my apartment smelled so yummy as the bread was baking!
and the final test? it tasted delish!
and it's made me look forward to breakfast for the last few days!

ok, go enjoy your summer and get outside!

Friday, June 11

fusion friday

reese's peanut butter cups.


scooby and shaggy.


salt and pepper.


salt-n-pepa.  


and now... the newsies and lady gaga.


two incredible things united for a few moments of bliss. i loved this movie when i was a kid. and, disagree with me if you want, but lady gaga puts out some catchy tunes and puts together some crazy outfits! enjoy your friday!

Thursday, June 10

an orderly observation

when i first moved into my apartment, i got yet another the opportunity to create a new home for myself. my things had a place. my things were clean. my things were organized. then i began living there and dishes pile up in the sink, clothes get strewn around the bedroom, and dust seems to grow everywhere.

as a self-declared neat freak, i get some kind of giddy high from straightening, cleaning, and bringing order to things. i desire to restore my home to its original condition.

then the other day i stopped to think about what i was doing and i began to feel a bit of remorse for how much of my life has been/will be spent cleaning.

but all the cleaning? that's obsessive compulsive me. i enjoy it and am aware of the opportunity i'm afforded at this stage of life to be able to keep my home in order almost all of the time. (read: i clearly have too much time on my hands. also read: i understand and fully support others who have spouses, little people, other family members and friends dwelling in their homes and requiring their attention and that they prioritize time with them over obsessing about cleaning and ordering.) 

as i thought about the things i do over and over, week after week, it reminded me of what God does to us. He created us and gave us a place in relationship to Him. we were clean. then sin entered the world (and us) and we became pretty messy beings. 

but He offers to restore us. He makes our heart His home. and He cleanses His home; He washes us and gives us order, over and over again, each time we ask. and, unlike us, He doesn't weary or tire in doing so. He desires so much for us to be in that original condition that He sacrificed His Son so we will one day be as He first created us.

God delights in making us like new. have you asked to be cleansed today?

Wednesday, June 2

why i love him [vol. 1]

me: 1... 2... 3! *jump into john's arms*

(side note: yes, i know i act like i'm still 5. now, back to the story...)

john: someday you're going to say that and we'll both sit down.



and, he mows the lawn for me so i can live in my sweet apartment.

and, he comes up with delicious dinner ideas, like bbq chicken pizza! 

he is just onederful! (:

Wednesday, May 26

if only (part 2)

i spend a lot of time in the "if only". thinking about what the future can hold, ways that i wish life was different, comparing myself and my life to what i perceive others around me to be and do.


this really robs me of the here and now. each moment presents an opportunity to mean something. no second has to be wasted. living life caught up in these thoughts also robs me of the things God has planned just for me. sometimes i wrestle with whether that is really true; that He really has plans for me, that He really wants to bless me, but His word says it is true so i must just drench myself in that truth. 

a lot of those thoughts up there? i have a lot. or they just seem obvious at this point. don't waste today. don't waste today. don't waste today. ::broken record:: 


the thing i'm really wrestling now with is that this mindset doesn't have to just take something away. these dreams and ideas... well, what if i were to actually chase after some of them? i don't want an ordinary or less than ordinary life. but i'm scared to try for something more. what if i fail? what if i can't pay my bills? what if people walk out of my life because of what i'm doing? what if i actually make a difference? what if life doesn't have to be the way it is now... seemingly purposeless?


i carry a void in me. i. want. more.


what if i let the "if only"'s make me do something? to become something? to change something? 

i can't be afraid to dream. God has created us to be dreamers. dream long enough and you'll inspire passion. be passionate enough and you'll find yourself driven. take that drive and turn it into action. as long as my heart is surrendered to Him and open to where He might want to take me, i think i need to dream. i pray God will delight in my dreams and even give them to me. the risk is so worth it to share in His story.

Wednesday, May 19

if only (part 1)

if only...


i made just a little more money so that i could afford a little bigger apartment and a little bigger couch and maybe a little newer car and feel a little more financially comfortable.


i spoke a little more like this person and could tell stories a little more like that other person and was a little more comfortable in my own skin like this person seems to be and a little less afraid to ask that person to hang out which might actually lead to, gulp, becoming friends.


i was in another stage of life than the one i'm in, i was married and didn't have to pay all the bills on my own, and i could maybe even be free to not have to work full-time and have more time to invest in other dreams and passions.


i knew exactly what those dreams and passions were and how i can explore and use all those things together for a purpose, and had a little more confidence in simply who i am.
i was not afraid to dream and be passionate, laughing in the face of fear.


...if only.

Thursday, May 13

re-post: to love and be loved



When we go to a wedding, maybe we’re so moved because we want this new couple to succeed. We intuitively know that their "success" is somehow tied to ours. Their making of love makes the world a better place to live, a place where there is more love for all of us. Maybe this is why we always notice great marriages. When their love is growing, it inspires us. Their life together gives us life.

When "two become one"… it’s a connection and it’s cause for celebration. Of "God. Life. Creativity. Potential. Shared partnership in caring for the world. Strength for weakness, weakness for strength. A new family. The ongoing creation of the world."

The passage ends with ‘the man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.’

No shame or embarrassment.

No apologizing for who they are.

No covering up or pretending.

No masks or secrets.

Total acceptance of each other.

That’s what we want, isn’t it?

We want someone to see us exactly as we are and still love us.

It’s terrifying to let people see who we really are. To see the darkness in our hearts, our bad habits, all of the things we’ve done in the past that we regret. Our biases, our shortcomings, the things we aren’t good at.

Being naked is terrifying.

What would it be like to be with someone who loves you exactly as you are?

If you see me for who I really am, the me that no one else has ever seen, the me that I wouldn’t dare to show anybody else on the planet, the parts of me I’m not sure I want anybody ever to see, if I give you that kind of glimpse into the seat of my being, into my soul, will you still love me like you do now?

It’s our question for each other, and it’s our question for God.

Unconditional, absolute acceptance.

From a lover, from God – it’s what we crave.

This is why a marriage is always about something bigger than itself. It’s two people, in their unconditionally loving embrace of each other, showing each other in flesh and blood what God is like. These two are naked, and they feel no shame.

(Rob Bell, Sex God)

This, to me, is truly beautiful. To give yourself fully to another, to reveal all of who you are, to show yourself completely to another, and to be met with love. Vulnerability requires unconditional love. And how beautiful are two people loving each other for who they are, through the good, the bad, the better, the worse, the beautiful, the ugly, the exciting, the mundane?

There is an empowerment that comes from knowing we are accepted. When we know we are loved for who we are, we feel free to be who we truly are. Think about how much potential that holds. When we know we are loved no matter what with another being, we have established a relationship where we can be us. And that's just the start. I think this awareness inspires us to be the "best" us; the new creation we are in God.
I’m finding it hard to put all of this into words because when I think about it, I have more of a feeling than words. I feel joy and excitement and anticipation and hope at what a life lived in and giving of unconditional love looks like. 

Unconditional love is infectious love. Being loved makes you want to love others. It's contagious. And the true beauty is that love is a reflection of God. It points directly to the One who is unconditional love. He is the source; the only way that we can live a life of love.

Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God [. . .] God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us. (1 John 4:7,16-17)
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