Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Last month, I was so excited to participate in my first Foodie Pen Pal swap. If you know me at all or have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love food. Absolutely love it. So imagine my delight when I learned about the monthly Foodie Pen Pal match-up! Each month, you can enter to be matched with another "foodie" who will then send you a box of fun treats in the mail. I entered my information and awaited my match. When I was contacted with her information, I was ready to buy some fun things to send along to her that represented our great state of Georgia. My anticipation for my box also built as I considered what I might receive.
I received my box a couple weeks ago, and the contents were all healthy, which made me quite grateful. The crackers were super yummy, and while they tasted "healthy" they were still enjoyable. I also at the bar in addition to breakfast one morning, and it was super satisfying. The weather has gotten cooler recently, so I am looking forward to being able to make the pumpkin muffins as well. With the Athens half marathon coming up, I know I'll need a shot of energy on my long runs, and the fuel bite will be perfect for a long run. Overall, I'm glad I participated in the swap, and I think it was a fun way to connect bloggers. :)
Monday, September 29, 2014
|Hundreds of Baptists doing what Baptists do best-picnickin'. :)|
Let me tell you something about my church- it's a place where you can find a home. When I was a little sophomore at the University of Georgia, I was very much in need of a home. I was very involved at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries, and had a church that I attended on Sunday mornings. However, my involvement at my local church did not extend past my attendance on Sunday mornings and brief period where I worked with kids every other week. I wanted a place where I could find genuine community. I needed a place where I could grow and be discipled by women older than me and also have the chance to pour into other little sisters. So on a whim, I decided to visit Watkinsville First Baptist with some friends one morning. I knew that it was
the place where all the cool Baptists went a popular choice among my other Baptist friends, but I had never gone to see for myself just what all the hype was about.
As soon as I walked through the doors, I felt like I had come home. There was this indescribable feeling of peace and belonging. I knew that this place was special. Now, as a woman in her mid-twenties, I've come to see just what that special something is that WFBC has. WFBC does not have the coolest technology or the most modern set design. It is not known for its hipster pastor or great breakfast on Sunday mornings. No, my church is so wonderful because of the palpable community and humble leadership. My pastor is one of the kindest men you'll ever meet. He is soft-spoken and kind when speaking with you one-on-one, yet passionate and zealous behind the pulpit. He brings the word every. single. Sunday.
Watkinsville has been such a gift to me. I have so many memories there- sitting at Ms. Carla's feet each Wednesday night for college girls' Bible study, road tripping with friends from my Sunday school class, holding sweet kiddos during VBS, and laughing till my sides hurt with my girls from youth group- to name a few. Thank you, Watkinsville, for being a church that ministers to and speaks into the life of so many people of our community-from generation to generation.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Yesterday was, in a word, magical. It was oh so special. Rachel and I had been anticipating this day for about a month, and we were so excited when the day finally arrived. This event was hosted by Emily P. Freeman and Christa Wells at Myquillin Smith's home. Myquillin and Emily are authors, but not only that, they're sisters! Christa is a singer-songwriter, and it was such a joy to be in their presence for a day. This year, the Lord has been reawakening in me a desire I've had since I was a child- to be a writer.
Now as an adult, it seems presumptuous to call myself a writer. I went to school to teach elementary students, and yet there is passion that I have to string words together and share them with others. And for some reason, people seem to actually want to read these words. To spend the day with forty other women who write and have the same passions was so refreshing. I felt understood and welcome as I listened to woman after woman put words to thoughts and feelings that I have held within and not know how to express.
The premise of this day was not to find out how to make it big in the blogging world or how to publish a book. It was not about how to gain more followers or how to host a link-up. This day was about rediscovering the why behind your writing. A couple weeks ago, I wrote here about why I blog. But blogging is just one aspect of my writing life. I journal just about every day. I write grocery lists and emails. I send text messages on my phone and thank you notes in the mail. As I sat and listened to Christa and Emily, I was reminded of the root of my writing. It lies in my need to communicate-not just to others, but with the Lord and to myself. I write to process and to help me realize dreams. I write because I want to understand myself and the world around me better. And when I share what I write, it is ultimately to point others to Christ.
"Comparison is the thief of joy" said our dear Teddy Roosevelt. The temptation in writing and posting it for the world to see is to compare and size up my writing against others'-to weigh their words against mine and to judge. But I want my writing to come from a simple and pure place-a place that acknowledges that I have room to grow and am able to listen to others. And so I left yesterday encouraged, knowing that my story, my voice, and my place matter. And God Himself is honored when I step out of the way and just let Him use them for His glory.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Blog-tember Day 26: What's on your fall wishlist?
|Clockwise: one/ two / three /four / five|
This season has me thinking about all things cozy and comfy. Fall is definitely my favorite season for clothing. There are a few things I've had my eye on and some that I've been looking at for a while. I have so many items in my closet; lately I've been trying to go shopping in my own closet by pairing items together that I haven't before to come up with "new" ensembles. There are still a few things I'd love to purchase before the season's gone, though! It's not all about clothes, though. There's a few items that just seem worth the buy for other aspects of life, too. What's on your wishlist, friends?
Friday, September 26, 2014
Blog-tember Day 26: How have you changed in the past year?
Fearless. It's my one word for 2014 and the way I've asked the Lord to help me live my life. Within this last year, there have been so many changes in my life. I have moved, gotten a new job, traveled to a new continent, and said some hard goodbyes. When I think of where I was last September as opposed to where I am now, I have so much to be grateful for. This year, as I was praying through what the Lord had to teach me and show me, the word fearless kept coming to mind. You see, I have had the privilege of doing some amazing things with and through only the Lord. And the longer I live and the more days I see on this earth, the more He shows me how crippling fear can be. I am fearful of the silliest things, but I also have very real fears that threaten me and grip me tight. The only freedom that I can find from these fears is through my Jesus. Through this last year, the Lord has shown me that my fears, no matter how big or small, or just nothing compared to His incomprehensible love and power. The same power that conquered the grave lives in me. And I hope and pray that as I continue to walk with Him that I'll live like I believe it.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
A gentle breeze blew through the open windows of my den while the scents of fall wafted through the air. Ten women gathered together on Tuesday evening, and we sought God. We asked Him to move in our hearts and to move in our city. We asked Him to show us how to love as He loved. And we thanked Him for all that He has done for us.
On Tuesday evening, in over 250 places around the world, women gathered together in the name of Jesus. We went through four calls to prayer:
a call to offer our gratitude
a call to pray for God's church and His people
a call to pray for the world
a call to pray for unity and love among for believers.
The goal in this evening was that it be kept simple and pure. It was not super emotional, nor drawn out and exhaustive. It was just what God wanted, and it could very well be the catalyst for a great many things. I'm so encouraged by how the Lord brings together in ways only He can. He's just good like that, you know?
Prayer does not always change things and make our situations just the way we want them to be. That's because the purpose of prayer is not about us. It's not about what we can get from God and how He can make our lives easier. Prayer is about us recognizing His sovereignty. It's a direct access to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And because we have that privilege, we ought to use it for His glory and ask expectantly, knowing that He's faithful and capable.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Blog-tember Day 24: Your fall bucket list. What do you want to do before winter rolls around?
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Blog-tember Day 23: A guide to your city! Share some of the hot-spots and hidden gems of where you live.
1. Go to a Georgia football game in Sanford Stadium. There's nothing like enjoying a football game between the hedges with 92,000 of your closest friends.
2. Eat well. Breakfast: Mama's Boy; lunch: Agua Linda, dinner: Last Resort Grill.
3. Take a walk on North Campus and ring the chapel bell.
4. Enjoy a run/walk/jog or a picnic at the State Botanical Gardens.
5. If you're there on Wednesday or Saturday, hit up the Athens Farmers Market.
7. Enjoy a concert at one of Athens' amazing venues: Georgia Theatre, 40 Watt Club, or the Melting Point.
8. Just take a walk downtown and enjoy perusing the many shops and boutiques.
9. Take on a challenge and go on an adventure to find all of the bulldog statues in the city. There are over 34!
10. Take a tour of one of Athens breweries: Creature Comforts or Terrapin Brewing Co. My favorite is Creature Comforts.
11. And just one more for good measure- discover the quaint neighborhoods in Athens like Five Points and Normaltown- then find a spot to call your own.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Blog-tember Day 22: Introduce us to 5 blogs you read on the regular, and tell us why!
It's no secret that I love to read, so it was hard for me to come up with only five blogs to share with y'all. I have so many favorites, and I am finding new ones all the time. I greatly admire Here are my five favorites that I anticipate each day.
-The two sisters who own this site are so wonderfully creative. They share recipes, beauty tips, photography tricks, and so much more. Their content is so fun and inspiring; I don't know how they come up with so many amazing ideas every. single. day.
-My sweet friend Gretchen is just amazing. I love how she so effortlessly weaves words together that not only encourage, but inspire.
-Oh, Kelle. I just love her. She write so beautifully about her everyday life, and she keeps it real. Oh, does she keep it real.
-Becca is a wonderfully gifted writer, and her words are always so encouraging to me on the deepest level. She tells the stories of her children and her family ministry with such grace and truth.
-By far my favorite author, one whose books I can read and reread easily. It's no wonder her blog hits me right where I need it to. Every. single. time.
Honorable Mentions (I told y'all I couldn't just pick five!)
Labels: favorite reads
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Blog-tember Day 21: Fall Favorites. What do you love most about this season?
|Jumping on a big trampoline mattress thingy at the pumpkin patch last year. :)|
This fall, I'm looking forward to | cooler temps | bonfires | flannel | candy corn | apple cider | pumpkins | mountain weekends | cozy blankets | running without sweating | concerts |.
Autumn is my most favorite season. Living in Georgia, there is so much appreciation for the days where humidity is finally a thing of the past. There are so many things that I enjoy and treasure about this season. Watching the Georgia Bulldogs play without dying of heatstroke while doing so is always nice. :) And because I love to run, it is so nice to run and not be completely exhausted by the time I finish due to the oppressive heat. There are so many things I'm looking forward to this fall. I want to enjoy this season and take advantage of the beauty it has to offer. I want to notice the leaves changing and have slow mornings in which I sip on my tea and read my Bible without hurrying on to the next thing. I have so much to look forward to within these next couple months: a day trip to North Carolina, a visit to Colorado, Georgia football, concerts...this fall is going to be one for the books!
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Blog-tember Day 20: Share a day in the life. Pictures, timelines, stats, however you like.
There's something about Saturdays. I love them so. My Saturdays never look the same; whether I'm at home in Athens or out of town. This weekend, I decided to come home to Marietta. It has been a while since I have been home just to visit and spend time with my family. Today has been so relaxing. It wasn't what I thought it would be, but nevertheless, it has been a good day.
Today began with a run in my new shoes, which felt great. After I got home, I spent a good chunk of time in our sunroom just reading and relaxing. Then, my sister and I watched the Dawgs tromp all over Troy in a complete shutout. After the game, I read for a little bit longer, and then we got ready to go out to Mexican with our favorite trio of sisters. And oh, was it good. We were too loud (as usual) and we ate too much (duh). Now, I write this post with The Proposal playing in the background. I'd say it was a good day.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Blog-tember Day 19: If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?
|My class from Colegio Binmea in Chihuahua; we spent two years together. :)|
There's no job quite like teaching. You are a counselor, nurse, caretaker, and educator. Simultaneously. It is demanding and exhausting to say the least. But it is oh so worth it. To see the light bulb go off and to watch them progress through the year, knowing that they are growing and changing so rapidly into the people they'll become for the rest of their lives...it's amazing.
If I could give one piece of advice to my teacher friends who are just starting out, I would say this: never stop being the student. It sounds cliche, but as soon as you think you know it all, you are sure to find out (the hard way) that you don't. There is always another way to do something. There is always someone who knows something you do not. One thing I've learned in my five years is that I am constantly learning-how to respond to my kids, how to plan effectively for them, how to assess, how to love. And when we have humble hearts that are willing to learn from them so that we can enable them to learn, we are in a good place, and they are set up to succeed.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Blog-tember Day 18: Tell a tale of traveling, a city or country you've been to or a favorite vacation.
Maybe it's because yesterday was Mexico's Independence Day. Maybe it's because I miss speaking Spanish. Lately I've been bit by the travel bug (again), and I have found myself thinking of Mexico so often. For those of you who are newer readers in this little space, it's important for you to know that I lived in Chihuahua, Mexico for two years. I was working as a missionary teacher with an organization called New Tribes Mission. To say I loved it would be an understatement. My roots were planted deep there, and some of the relationships I built up there continue to flourish despite time differences and many miles. I saw some gorgeous sights in my two years, but I also made some wonderful friends who I will carry with me for years to come. Today, I want to share some of my favorite Mexican adventures. Beware: photo dump ahead!
|Main cathedral in downtown Chihuahua|
|Cerro Grande, the tallest mountain in Chihuahua City.|
|Sweet babies from the brickyard.|
|Oh you know, just a Mexican rodeo.|
|Outskirts of the city on one of my very first adventures.|
|My very best friends in Chihuahua; we all still talk, and none of us live in Chihuahua anymore!|
|Tacos al pastor...come to me.|
|My sweet sister, Rocio. Love and miss her so much.|
|The desert just after rainy season is gorgeous.|
|Sunset on my street one evening. Taken from my front gate on Federico Magana Street.|
|One of the very first pictures I took in Chiwas, a shot from the upstairs window of the NTM dorm.|
|This picture cost us 10 pesos because these girls were earning money. :(|
|Guachochi, Chihuahua- visiting our friend Abraham.|
|100 year old home that was so simple and gorgeous. I can still picture the inside.|
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.- Martin Buber
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
There's something to be said about the way the Lord orchestrates things and brings the right people together at just the right time. I know without a doubt that He has done just that with my friend Rachel and I. When I moved back to Athens in the summer of 2012, I got involved with the University of Georgia Baptist Collegiate Ministries as a small group coach. Basically, I got to be a small group leader for small group leaders. Being with college girls was so much fun, and I loved hosting them at my home and hearing about their lives. A few of the girls and I really connected and have continued to get to know each other, and I love what God has done with our friendships.
Enter Rachel. In 2012, she was a junior and an Early Childhood Education major. We connected so easily because we both love kids and teaching. In the past few months, our friendship has grown so much. We are meeting together to read Let's All Be Brave and challenging each other to take chances that are worth taking. She's a blogger and the co-owner of East West Design Co., a lovely little Etsy shop. I just love her.
At our very first "book club" meeting, Rachel and I talked about our shared love of writing and how we wanted to one day attend the Influence Conference. Knowing that it was too expensive and inconvenient for the both of us, we put the dream on a shelf for later. A few days later, I was reading through the blogs I follow and read that Emily Freeman, a Christian author, would be hosting a day for women writers in North Carolina. Tickets were first come, first serve, and space was limited. As in less than 50 attendees. I immediately Googled the distance from Athens to NC, then texted Rachel. We both got super excited, knowing that the Lord could do something amazing if we said a very brave yes to this awesome opportunity. Within a couple hours, we bought our tickets. And within 48 hours, the event sold out!
I am so excited about this day. After buying our tickets, Rachel and I both started looking at pictures and blog posts from last year's event and were just blown away. It feels surreal and very big to know that in 10 days, we will be together with other women talking about writing and Jesus and it is just going to be oh so amazing. Rachel and I are so road-trip ready. This day is going to be big, and I am so full of anticipation, knowing that we will be challenged and encouraged in ways beyond our expectations.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Blog-tember Day 15: "Most people don't know this but..."
I can't believe that we are halfway through September. That means that the Blog-tember challenge is halfway over, too. This writing challenge has been so good for me, and I've loved meeting new people as I read through different blogs. Today's prompt lends itself so perfectly to my little Tuesday ten feature. Here you have it, friends!
1. I snort when I laugh. I'm pretty sure this began when I was in fifth grade. At first it was contrived, but now it is genuine. You are sure to hear it if you're around me.
2. When I run, I am very slow. People think that just because I have long legs, I run fast. Don't be mistaken, friends. I'm slooooowwww.
3. Every morning I eat a hard-boiled egg for breakfast. Every. single. morning. I eat between 5-7 times a day. Food is a really serious thing for me, people.
4. Coffee is not my jam. Tea is most definitely my jam.
5. I speak Spanish fluently. And oh, do I miss it!
6. When I was younger, I used to practice my handwriting. Now I kind of want to try lettering!
7. I don't eat a lot of red meat. One year for Lent, I gave up red meat, and since then I've been all about poultry and fish.
8. During childhood, I never played any sports. Ever. One year of ballet and that's it.
9. I've never been to a Braves game. I know. Baseball is just so boring to me. I make no apologies.
10. My perfect day consists of a whole lot of reading and a dinner with friends. I'm an introverted extrovert.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Blog-tember Day 15: Make a mood board. Are you brainstorming a room re-do, or are you dreaming of glamping with gal-pals? Share a collage of any kind!
“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
Right now I am just loving this little cold front that has come through our parts. It was so nice outside yesterday, and it felt so good to be able to wear jeans and not be sweating through them as I ran errands. We sat outside on the porch for small group last night, and it was just. so. lovely. My most favorite season is finally just around the corner. I mean, I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season on Friday, so it's pretty much autumn. Yay fall!
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Blog-tember Day 14: When did you start blogging and why?
I feel like I could answer this question in two ways. When I was in high school, I had a Livejournal account in which I wrote the most random things. This was my first entry into the blogging world. My friends were on Livejournal, too, so I read their entries and commented. It was like our first taste of social media. Now that I think about it, I cannot remember what I wrote about. Most likely it was about school and things I liked to do, my thoughts about things we talked about in youth group...who knows? Sadly, I can't find the page now, although I know it's just floating out there on the internet, getting absolutely zero page views per day/week/year.
Fast forward to May 2010- I knew that I would be moving to Mexico in the fall, and I wanted to establish a way of keeping in touch with my supporters, friends, and family back in the States. I knew I would send out regular updates, but wanted to have a place where I could write about my life in Mexico in more detail in order to paint a picture of my life there for all of my friends back home. My very first post contained the lyrics to a Brooke Fraser song, and from there I wrote about graduating from college and the things the Lord was teaching me as I made my way to Mexico.
When I moved back to the States, I was so overwhelmed with life and just didn't really think about writing. It just didn't come to mind. However, as I have adjusted back to life in the States over the past couple years and have come to find my niche here in Athens, I've felt a tugging in my heart, that urge to write. To express myself and let my heart bleed on the page as words for whoever will read. It's usually fun, but sometimes it is terrifying. As friends and family have encouraged me, I've just kept writing, and now I don't want to stop. My purpose in blogging is to encourage others and point people to Jesus by sharing about what He's done for me and is doing in and through me. Thank you for reading, friends. I love sharing this space with you.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Blog-tember Day 13: Your current relationship status. If dating/married, give us a glimpse of your story! If single, share about this special season.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about singleness. There were words within me that I felt had been bubbling up for quite some time, and it felt good to get them out in the open. I was so glad to know that these words encouraged others. Around the same time that I wrote that post, I was struggling hard with my current marital status. Or lack thereof. I texted a close friend one day and told her that if one more friend had a baby, got engaged, or got married, I would die. I would LITERALLY DIE. Just a tad melodramatic. I've since mellowed out. And I'm still here. Ha. Anyways, the enemy is tricky. He really sucks. But what I've found is that doing the hard work of renewing my mind with truth is so worth it. Here are some of the lies he attacks me with and the truth I recite to myself when they are super loud:
The Enemy Says
God’s Word Says
You are less than because you are single.
You are whole and made with purpose.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works; which God has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Marriage is a reward and something you can earn.
All gifts come from Him. A gift cannot be earned.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
He will not be faithful to His word.
He is always faithful. Always.
He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.
-1 Thessalonians 5:24
You’re the only one who knows how you feel.
He knows your every thought.
O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discrern my thoughts from afar. -Psalm 139:1
You are without hope.
Your hope is in Christ.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. -Hebrews 6:19
Your life will get better with marriage.
The heart is deceitful. There are trials in all seasons.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
Jesus is not enough.
Jesus more than enough.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -John 10:10
It’s ok to settle.
Never settle. God wants the best for you.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations.
Satisfy your desires with lust.
Value genuine love more than fleeting passions of lust.
Put to death, therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Feel sorry for yourself and jealous of your friends.
Be content and grateful for what you have been given.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Your life will really begin with marriage.
Your life has already begun. (!!!)
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
I'm not the best at remembering these truths, but I know that they are there, waiting to be taken and claimed as my own weapon against a formidable enemy. Good thing I know Who wins in the end. My God is good.
How do you remind yourself of truth when you're tempted to be ungrateful or compare?
Friday, September 12, 2014
I'm so excited to be linking up with She Reads Truth for a #SheSharesTruth wrap-up of the Hosea study today. Can I just say that I have loved rereading Hosea? Hosea is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It is one of those hidden treasures- a book you sometimes forget about and then are so grateful that it exists. I have studied/read through Hosea a few times before, but I was so excited when She Reads Truth announced that this would be their next plan after the Hebrews study. Hosea is a story that is filled with so much goodness, but also so much sadness. There's a lot of "depths of despair" moments as we watch Hosea struggle through trying to love someone who is very unlovable. It gives us the tiniest insight into what it must be like to be God watching us as we flail about and question Him.
If you need a little refresher, here's the gist of it: Hosea was a prophet, a man of God who spoke His words. God told Him to marry a prostitute named Gomer (not exactly the most romantic name) in order to paint a vivid picture of Israel's rebellion for them. While reading Hosea, there is a constant back and forth battle between the Lord and His people. Sound familiar?
As a book junkie, I was captivated the first time I read the book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is by far the best fictional narrative of the story of Hosea, with imagery and storytelling that bring you true understanding. While reading Redeeming Love, I am always torn between being so enraged with Angel's, (the prostitute) rebellion and enraptured by the love Michael Hosea has for his bride.
There are times when I've read Hosea and been enthralled by the Lord's great love for me. I am Israel. I am a prostitute, selling myself to those who'll give me the time of day and offer instant gratification. I am impatient and annoyed easily. I worry too much about things that just don't matter. And yet He loves me still. He gives more grace. And grace upon grace.
This time, as I read through Hosea, the Holy Spirit made me aware of just how much I need my Jesus. There is absolutely nothing good in me that is of any eternal worth without Him. I have mood swings and spend money on frivolous things and forget to call my mama. I lose it with my kids and yell at my sister. I shrink back in fear when I should plunge ahead in boldness. And yet He loves me still.
We all need a redeemer. Hosea was Gomer's redeemer. Jesus Christ is ours. He compensates for my unworthy faults. All of my good deeds are as filthy rags before Him. Yet He loves me still. The enemy possessed my mind, and the world had my affections. I forget that I was bought at a price and default to my old nature. And He loves me still. There's no one like Him. And I am eternally grateful for His redeeming love.
"Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is as sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." -Hosea 6:3