Dec 31, 2012

Expecting 2013...

So, much like my Wrap-up of 2012, this is my annual post introduction into the next year.

For whatever reason I never do these posts the same.. or even similar. So, if you would like to check out previous year's looking forwards, here are the years:

For 2013, I have no real idea what to expect from this year, although I do know a few things I have planned...

I have my 10 year high school reunion. Whoa.

I graduate with a double masters degree in May! Two classes to go, and I simply could not be more excited!.. Then I have to decide if I want to pursue an M. Div... Oye!

I get to travel to East Asia in February, as well as India in the fall. I. Am. Stoked. -- Seriously I get paid to travel!?

My baby brother -- who is not so baby and huge is getting married to the most amazing and wonderful woman that is not only a perfect partner for him, but she fits into the family like the missing link we never knew we were in need of.

My older brother is going to have a 4th little one. I am SO excited about another niece or nephew!... Even if the child is due in June.

My bff and her husband are having their first baby! My little cousin and her husband are having their first baby!! A couple other friends are having babies as well!... I am so excited about all the babies!

My beautiful baby sister turns sweet 16. Seriously, when did that happen?!

Because of my job, which I love, even if it is stressful sometimes and is pushing me more than I expected will provide lots of first experiences. I am stoked about what God is doing in my church. I am praying and expecting God to not only provide, but to supply more than enough of Himself to make it through. I am confident that He will change the hearts of those that need changing, and I know without any doubts that He will blow us away when we look back next December at all the things He has done. I am humbled and amazed at how He is choosing to use me, and I have a laundry list of prayers that compliment those feelings.

My little baby puppy will become a full grown beast haha

I fully expect to add at least 4-5 more 3x5 cards to my bathroom mirror!.. Which means I expect God to also do amazing things and answer my crazy prayers.

My 2013 Goals:
(In no particular order)
  1. I want to continue to try and post 3-4 times a week. -- I also want to continue to use this platform to reach and encourage others.
  2. I want to put a substantial down payment on my 90k student loans in the fall when I have to start paying them back... My goal is 12k.
  3. I want to continue to live off of 74% of my income. -- (Tithing 10%, saving 9%, gifting 7%)
  4. I want to cross 5 things off of my Before I Die list, and add 5 new things to the list.
  5. I want to get back to a regular workout schedule... which means healing my hip completely.
  6. I want to read through the Bible.. I've gotten half way through one year, and while I've read the whole Bible in random chunks, I'd like to read through the whole thing!
  7. I want to experience God this year unlike I have in any other time in my life. -- I have every expectation that I will be shocked at all the things God has done and revealed to me a year from today.
  8. I want to read 40 books this year (not counting school books or the Bible).
  9. Like last year, I want to pray my way through this year.
  10. I want to learn and understand love, compassion, and grace this year unlike any year before.

Dec 29, 2012

I Don't Like Christians...

At one point or another as Christians (or non I suppose), we deal with the fact that often times we struggle more with Christians than we do with non-Christians... We all have our theories as to why that is, some more emotional than others and some entirely logical... But, I have been thinking... Who is supposed to reach the Christians?

I have been thinking about the various responses to what Christian's say, what they do, and how each of us tend to either respond or want to respond to those Christians.

Yet, no matter how we feel or don't feel, each of us have a role to play. -- Each of us are told to go and make disciples.

No matter your role in the body of Christ, you were told to make disciples. There is no excuse, no option, no wiggle room. It is simply: Go... In fact, there really is no room for "seasons" of ministry either. So, no matter what is going on in your life, we are told to make disciples.. Obviously this looks different every moment of your life, but we are never given the option of not making disciples.

Now, there is no doubt that this looks different for every person, but what the command also does is remove our ability to have an aversion to other Christians.


Because, you cannot make a disciple out of someone who does not believe or want to follow and learn about the same Truth you are teaching. 

So, no matter how much Christians frustrate us, and no matter how much they say or do things we dislike... or we want to slap their face off for something they have said or done, we are told by Jesus Christ to make disciples of them. It pretty much takes away our "I hate being around Christians" excuse because Jesus didn't care how we felt about other Christians, He told us to go and love them and make them a disciple anyway.

In light of this thought, I challenge you in 2013 to refuse to make excuses for why you do not want to get involved with or hang out with or be around other Christians. Instead decide that no matter what you are going to reach out and make disciples of anyone who will allow you to... Refuse to make it about you, your feelings, and your dislike...

In 2013 choose to refuse to leave the Christians who do not understand, are misinformed, or hurting to someone else to care for. Decide it is your job to help them, love them, and disciple them.

Dec 22, 2012

2012 Wrap-Up...

Virginia Beach at night
Every year I do a year end wrap up.. I tend to do each year differently for some reason... And, this year is no different... in that it will be different than the others haha :)

I have been blogging since I was 18... Basically since blogging began "back in the day" haha.. However, I switched from my Xanga (what?!) to this one in 2008 when I moved to Central VA. Here are the previous year's in review posts:

2008 - Who Were YOU a Year Ago?
2009 - The Year I Was 24
2010 - 2010... Never Again...
2011 - Hello, Good-Bye 2011...

(This gives a great view of how much my writing and views have changes and grown due to experiences, trials, friends, etc..) What a crazy thing to look back and read the year end reviews.

In the early part of 2013 I will post my goals for the year and some of my thoughts on where I feel like God is or is not leading me.

Power of Propaganda - Holocaust Museum
I love these two posts more than any other I do because it helps me wrap up and finish a year, and then look forward. I love that I can look back and remember what God is and has been doing in my life for so many years, and have a physical representation of the journey He is taking my life on... Plus, it is just sorta fun to see how accurate or totally off I was!

Favorite Memorial
I went into 2012 feeling like God was asking me to just take things as He brought them to me.
I had a few goals or "resolutions" going into 2012:
I wanted to exercise more compassion, grace, mercy, and love than I have in years past.
I wanted to diligently complete the next year of my double masters program.
I want to work better at controlling my mouth.
I wanted  to draw closer to my sweet Jesus Christ,  I want to learn more about who He is, and subsequently who I am supposed to be...
I wanted to learn how to love people on behalf of him better this year...

And then, I ended with saying "Now to pray them into existence" ... Boy did I have little idea at the time how much of this year would revolve around prayer...

New Years Eve
In January I started my own business.. which I dabble in still, but it is not my main focus.
A relationship I was "seeing where it goes" ended.. lamely, but it was definitely for the best, even if the reason given was over text message, and late came out to not actually be the real reason. I am thankful that even though it hurt, I learned so much about dating. -- This also was the start to just being satisfied with my single path that God has me on currently.
My bff came to visit, along with my best friend from Lynchburg, and then we toodled around DC with my best friend from DC and celebrated my 27th birthday.

My first "work" friend in DC
In February I felt like I was on the cusp of something.. Like I was running towards a cliff, getting ready to throw myself off of it, but I was unable to see what was over the edge.. Little did I know it was the start of changing things to bring me back to MI.
I wrote the single most visited blog post that I have ever written: Gay, Lesbian, Laws, and Christ... -- And, I am have gotten some really great feedback from people from all different backgrounds and viewpoints.. Including a dear friend who I have never seen face to face but is on my 3x5 cards ;)

Meg came!!
March really sunk home the year of prayer I felt like 2012 was turning into. I loved it, but it was definitely challenging, and at times almost physically painful.
March was a very humbling month...
I also was faced with some very difficult relationship situations...

Easter Weekend with best friends
In April it dawned on me how many prayers God is answering in my life!.. It also left me feeling mentally blank when I would try to blog... Which lead to a lot of randomness...
I realized how much I loved my church, how much I enjoyed being a part of it.. and even still how much I feel connected through it.
I was reminded that I will serve and praise the Lord during the good and the bad.
I realized I never meant to be a career woman, and my heart ached.. Ironically I vocalized my desire to be a catalyst...

Memorial Weekend on the Capital lawn..
Before we got stormed out
Unannounced to me May started months upon months of adjustments and pain that really is due to a chronic problem I have...
My mom and I talked multiple times a week on our drives home, and had lots of interesting conversations...
I updated my life goals...
I also decided to be bold over the summer.. Pretty funny considering all the changes summer brought me..
God and I continued our never ending learning curve about leadership and marriage.. One day maybe it'll be put to good use!

Small group friends
Meeting Vera!
June. Was. Crazy. Seriously, I have no idea how I fit so much into it.
I met a longtime friend FINALLY.

4th of July
DC Fireworks
Then there was July... Oh the infamous July... In the beginning of the month I prepared to start a fast that would kick off in the middle of the month.
I had my fill of "single" comments.. and my need to share my sentiments spilled out into a mostly sarcastic and humor infused post..
I struggled with relationships, and conflicts.. Which is good.... and usually feel terrible.
And then.. I naively posted about despising parts of change. God and I did battle as I kicked off the 40 day freedom fast.
"The Pencil" - Washington Monument
Prayer and Change, that is what this year felt consumed with.


Bachata Congress!
August was C.R.A.Z.Y. - I interviewed for a new job.. danced.. seriously injured myself.. accepted a new job.. and prepared to move.

Ice Cream eating competition - with our Ref.
September was a blur of packing and painting, saying good-bye, crying for all sorts of reasons, and a hard to explain mix of emotions. I am not even kidding when I say, no matter how shallow it may seem, choosing to leave DC and move back to MI was one of the hardest things I have done. Not because it was actually hard, and not because I struggled with whether God was leading me, but because I loved my friends and church there, and it felt safe, like home.

The murals I painted in my office
Then, what felt like the culmination of the first 9 months of 2012 finally exploded into crystal clear depiction of what it was pointing to... And, as always, God took care of me.
Oh man did I begin to get overwhelmed and totally humbled by the task before me... I set to the task of doing my job, and doing it well... and then I never slept. Literally.

Change.. oh October was about change.. in every sense of the word.. Life, Work, Puppy.. change change everywhere..

Three of my siblings - They make me laugh a lot
Oh sweet November... I don't really remember you because I was busy.
Busy raising a puppy and loving people for Jesus.. That is until I got sick, then I still had to raise a puppy and love people for Jesus, but felt like I was going to die.. or cough up a lung.. or never ever get enough sleep again. (dramatic much?)
After a much needed trip to DC to see people I love, I became consumed with work.. I loved every bit of it, despite the 80 hours a week I was putting in.
My great grandma passed away.

My first "for real I'm an adult" Christmas tree!
December brought with it crazy amount of hours of work, but I began seeing things happening and started seeing the work I was doing having an impact! But, in the midst of seeing the impact, I also began to see difficult things, and started realizing I have no "outlet" and will quickly burn out at the pace I was keeping.
Getting to be a fun aunt
I wrote my first guest post: Don't Be Afraid to Date...
And, my puppy is growing.. a lot.. and is sick..

Teaching munchkins how to make funny faces

What is crazy to me is that I tagged a LOT of the blog posts I wrote throughout this year.. but, I only chose a few from each month.. which means, this is merely a glossary overview of the year, the trials, the struggles, the joy, the friends, the trips, the meltdowns.. it amazes me at the sheer amount of things God has done and the prayers He has answered this year. Blows my mind. I am somewhere between totally overwhelmed and really stoked to see what He uses this building block of a year for in the future...

I have grown so much this year, and as difficult and at times painful as it was, I would never give it back nor change it. I am so beyond humbled at the task before me, but also at the friends and family that support me...

Who am I that God should use me?

2012 was a year unlike any other.
2012 was a year of prayer.
2012 was a year of change.

Dec 21, 2012

Adorably Sick Puppy Update...

Vormund and I went to the vet last night for  his 17 week check up, and last rounds of vaccinations.. along with a check up on a few slight issues he had a couple weeks ago.

Come to find out my cute adorable (big) puppy has been pretty sick for three weeks now! I will not go into detail cause it is gross, but he got another shot, and now has antibiotics, special food, and a pro biotic powder to put on his food.. I am completely amazed at how normal he's been acting with how sick he's been. I am a *little* worried that when he starts feeling better, and digestion isn't an issue he's going to start putting on more than 5lbs a week... and have a higher energy level. I may die. haha

Either way.. here's a progression of his growth so far!
5 wks
3 wks
7 wks

8 1/2 wks

9 1/2 wks

10 wks

11 wks

12 wks
13 wks

14 wks

15 wks
16 wks

17 wks
 On December 20th he was 17 weeks and 50.8 lbs. He will be 4 months old on the 23rd.. I was informed that he will be 3/4 of his full weight at 8 months... and at the current conservative weight gain rate, that would put him at roughly 135lbs at 8 months old! Oh man!

And, if you notice, a good portion of the pictures he's sitting or laying on my lap.. That is my life, but we have officially run out of space on my lap for him to fit, so he spills over onto the floor mostly now, which he's not a fan of.

He still throws fits when he doesn't get his way, and usually that's when he is not allowed to bite my hand when we play, not being able to climb onto the couch with me to cuddle, and having to "be gentle" and not paw at me.

We still have occasional bathroom mishaps.. but he knows every time he does it that he's in trouble cause he slinks around in circles as he pees.. then bolts for the door and rings the bell. lol 

Currently, he eats about 7 (measured) cups of food a day spread out between 2-3 feedings.

The commands he knows:
Good boy,
Bad dog,
Don't bite,
Crate Time,
Bring it here,
Give it to me,
Leave it,
Back inside,
Don't bark,
Stop it,
Get it,

The commands we're working on:
Don't pull,
By my side,
(Give me) Space,
Be Careful,
Drop it,
Lay down,
Man Down,
All the way to the Grass,

But of course, all of these commands he often will look at me, then decide not to listen... It's lovely.

He is a ton of work.. and pretty expensive.. but I love having him around :)

Dec 20, 2012

Will You Love Me When I'm Ugly?...

This is a thought I have been mulling over the last week or two.

Let me set the stage for why...

About two and a half months ago, I took the perfect job for me. Seriously, at this point in my life the job is totally perfect. The job allows me to live what I love, use my skills and personality and love people for Jesus.

The first month I was here I basically didn't sleep at all. Literally, even when I would lay down to sleep I would lay in bed awake for hours, finally doze off and never fully reaching REM sleep for the first month. -- Praise the Lord for coffee.. not. even. kidding.

The second month I became ill... As in I slept for days, coughed until my insides hurt with every movement, and finally went to the doctors two weeks later only to discover I had to get four different medications in order to get over whatever ridiculously-long-named illness I had. Once the medication was over, I was not completely better, but was around 95% of the way there... But, I had work to do, so I kept plowing through.

Since Thanksgiving, I have been working in the vicinity of 80 hours a week because things simply have to get done as soon as possible. During those three weeks, my great grandma passed away, and I took exactly one day (Saturday) off to do homework. I have gotten to roughly 40% of the things on my to-do list, and even still the things that I have gotten to are not the essential trainings that I need to pull together and create to begin implementing and training people for the changes in programming we are doing.. (GAH!) Did I mention I also had homework to fit in?

I have things to do.. Lots of things...

And, even in the midst of all of this, I have gotten negative feedback (and just to be clear, not all of my feedback has been negative). I knew taking this job would put me in front of a firing squad so to speak. I also knew, that I would have a lot of difficult times ahead as God moved and asked people to change, and as He used me in whatever way He decided to in order to do that. I also knew that it would be difficult to do all of these things without my close and best friends around to support me or to distract me.. or make me laugh.. or get me out of my own head.. or tell me that I am acting crazy... (seriously, my friends have no idea how much I truly rely on them).

So, back to my question, will you love me when I am ugly?

Will you love me when my patience wears thin and I snap?
Will you love me when I say something wrong?
Will you love me when I don't have the answers?
Will you love me when I make the wrong decision?
Will you love me when I fail?
Will you love me when I didn't plan something well?
Will you love me when I don't do what you wanted me to?

Will you still love me when my ugly is showing?

This picture is not to say or communicate that I am ugly.. but, this is me... before I am any sort of "put together."

This is what I look like, tired in the morning, before makeup, before I've washed my face or brushed my teeth, before my hair is done, before I have even had my coffee...

This was me watching my puppy play in my half asleep stupor... (How does he have so much energy in the morning?!)

Will you still love me before I am put together and presentable?

I am not necessarily looking for comforting words, I am not fishing for encouragement, nor am I interested in people feeling sorry or bad for me... Instead, I just wanted to push others to think. When I (or anyone around you) fail, will you still love them? Will you care for them and forgive them?.. Or will you choose to say things that are not helpful, give feedback that does not spur on to be better, especially before you know the full story or what is really going on. Will you come along side them and figure out what you can do to help?

Just a thought for Thursday.

Dec 18, 2012

First Guest Post!...

I wrote my first ever guest blog post! I am super excited about it, and love how God connects people through social media! This connection was made because I commented on a blog post written by Renee Johnson Fisher who operates Divotional Diva, she then contacted me and asked if I would be willing to write a blog post for her about dating... I was thrilled! So, today, I present you my first ever guest blog post:

Don't Be Afraid to Date

Hope you enjoy it!

Oh, and here's an updated picture of my 16 week old Great Dane Puppy (the one provided in the blog post he was 9 weeks old!)

Dec 17, 2012

Sacrificial Love...

It has been a very difficult few weeks. I finally had a normal two days off (woot!)... And then, I literally slept both days away. Friday I took a six hour nap, and then Friday night I went to bed at midnight, and woke up at noon on Saturday... with a 10 minutes break in the middle to take my puppy outside.. I felt SO much better, but was rather annoyed at how much time I had wasted.

However, if the sheer amount of time I spent sleeping is not a perfect indication of the level of exhaustion I was feeling, I am not sure what would be... Except for now, I have not been able to accomplish the things on my to-do list that I needed to. Dang it.

I came into this job knowing that it would be hard. I knew I was called to be here for such a time as this, and I was prepared; or so I thought. I realize that I often have the "I can handle it" type attitude towards most things, I also know that I am not often one to express the heartfelt emotions deep down. I mean, I will tell others how I feel, but I do not often actually allow the intimate close feelings to show... That is really vulnerable. So, for whatever reason I will talk about it without expressing it.

And then, I listened to my dad talking about a moment years ago when he was in the beginning stages of losing it as we learned that his mom (grandma) had died. He explained how he felt, and how things began to crumble... and he glanced sideways and saw 16 year old me as I lost it, and he instantly sealed his feelings and emotions away knowing I needed him. -- He said it took a couple months before the seal broke and he dealt with his own grief. But, I was amazed because I remember those few moments vividly; it has been almost 12 years since then.

Sometimes I think about that morning from time to time without much more than a faint recognition of the scar that once was; and yet somehow, when I was listening to my dad talk about how he felt, and how it impacted him so profoundly, but that I was more important, and that he saw my need of him... I cried. I did not cry due to my own pain from that morning, but because I realized how much, and how many times in my life that I have survived difficult situations because my mom and dad sealed away their feelings to support and love me through my difficult situations over their own.

In a way it makes so much sense how and why I am the way I am about pain and emotions. It helps me understand why in highly emotional situations I rarely fall apart, but it also shows why the pain and suffering of otheres impacts me so deeply... It was how I was raised. Loving others first and before my own pain and troubles is more important no matter what.

What an amazing expression of love that is neither deserved nor expected, and yet cherished more deeply than words can adequately express.
My parents are amazing people that I do not deserve, but am so thankful for.

What an intensely clear and perfect reminder as to why I am doing what I am doing, and why sleeping away two days in order to restore myself so that I can move forward to loves others for Christ is worth every minute.

Dec 15, 2012

CT Shooting...

There are so many things I could say about the awful shooting in CT... There are so many things I wish I could say... There are so many people I wish I could hug... But, really there is nothing I can say or do that would make it ok again, no words I can offer, no amount of hugs will take away the pain. I keep thinking about those parents, those children, all of the final moments, the thoughts and emotions that went through those small little bodies. The memories that will never go away.. My heart is totally broken for these families.

In the midst of all of it, I wish I had the chance to tell them about Jesus, about receiving comfort from the only one who can give true comfort. I wish I knew why bad things happen like this, I wish I could explain with elegance why this doesn't make sense, but that it will one day.. All I know is that Jesus is the only thing that will make this ok again.

This song is Flags by one of my favorite artists Brooke Fraser. This song is a beautiful description of how I feel about this tragedy, it speaks to the hurting and the mourning and the Truth of what is to come.

To all of the parents, brothers, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends of those that are affected by the CT shooting, I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I am praying for you all, and know that Jesus, the only one who can and will make this right one day loves you more than you understand and is beckoning you to come to Him, to share your grief, and to allow Him to heal your hearts.

Dec 12, 2012

So Over It...

I am so over school.

Seriously, I am having the worst time motivating myself to do my homework... as in currently I have a paper to write, and instead I am blogging. Awesome.

I recognize that a large part of my aversion to school is that I have 1 week left of this class and 2 classes left until I have completed my double masters! (woohoo!!) -- Which, I keep explaining to people sounds way more impressive than it actually is.

I also realize that part of my struggle with motivation is that I have been putting in a crazy number of hours at work the last few weeks, so homework just feels like added stress and like it is taking time that I would rather be putting into work... Which I guess is a good thing that despite the number of hours, I still would rather put my time into work.

On a slightly different note.. I when I took this job I was told that my work would cover me getting a Masters of Divinity.. I sorta freaked out when I was presented with this.. I mean SERIOUSLY... Who needs THREE masters degrees?!... No. One. I informed them I would not really think about it until I had completed these two degrees in May. However, I have been letting the idea ruminate in my head, and turning over all of the possible outcomes of getting an M. Div. or not.

I have narrowed it down to two basic ideas:
  • If I am going to pursue a life of ministry (which I obviously love) then an M. Div. makes complete and perfect sense.
  • However, if I am not planning on or even thinking I am going to pursue a career in ministry, it would make little to no sense to pursue another masters degree, let alone one in divinity.
These might seem like "duh" conclusions.. but, it gives me a pretty clear direction to pray... And, if I am being totally honest, I am not really sure I could pull off getting an M. Div... And, before anyone can scold me, I am being totally serious, and not selling myself short I promise. The reality is I have always had fairly easy classes to bs -- hence why it is 10:30 and I am blogging instead of writing my paper. I can write and do homework for most classes easily, especially if it is even remotely close to my field of interest or career... The few classes I have truly struggled with were math related..... or I did not care two licks about, which coincidentally were the only two religion classes I had in my undergrad. But, in all of my classes I have not once had to do serious research or write extensively about things I do not already know a decent amount about.. which, if I pursued an M. Div. I would have a lot of classes I am not sure I could handle or do well in... Not to mention the time involved would be much more intensive than the classes I have had to take to get my current double masters... And, seeing how much time a few of these classes have required I am not sure how I would swing it!

Basically, I have not come to any final conclusion. I have no doubt that God will make it pretty clear one way or another how it will all work out and what He wants me to do.. Thankfully I am not feeling stressed about it, just mulling the possibilities over in my head...

I have begun to plan out how my dad could get the same degree with me!.. I think that might be the only way I survive and make it through haha... But no, seriously.

Dec 10, 2012

The Baby Makes it Simple...

Last Friday night around 115 women ate a beautiful dinner together, we listened to an amazingly talented high school girl play the piano, and I spoke about Christmas.

To be honest it was a very unique experience because it was the first time I had spoken in this way.

I loved it.

I spent a lot of time beforehand praying that God would use my body, use my words, and that He would touch the hearts of the women sitting listening to me... It was interesting preparing for what I was going to talk about because the women ranged from 16-90, most attended our church, but not all of them, and I did not know the majority of them.. Although most of them know who I am.

When I was trying to come up with my topic I talked with my dad, -- My never ending supply of ideas and resources haha -- and we came up with a fantastic illustration using my brothers... another endless supply of funny stories.

My brothers have this pretty funny tradition for Christmas.. They make each others gift the most difficult thing to open ever, and they only using the tools included to open the gift. There are times that the gift takes almost an hour to open! One year (pictures included) there was this paper machete/plumbers glue thing that made the entire house smell disgusting.. Come to find out, once all was said and done and torn open, inside was gross dirty socks... All the while, there was a fake bottom with a beautifully wrapped nice gift. Had my little brother noticed the fake bottom he could have avoided opening the disgusting dirty socks...

When I talked to the ladies on Friday night, I explained this whole tradition, this particular experience, and the correlation it has to Christmas, Christ, and Christianity as a whole.

We take a beautiful gift, and tell others "this is Christ, this is Christmas.. open the gift".. and once they do, they find this gross, disgusting, smelly... 'gift' full of dirty socks.

Who would want that 'gift'?!

Truly, Christmas is about this beautiful baby that was sent to us as a gift.. and, it is as simple as that. This baby, that was small, cute, and smelled like a baby, was sent to us to die because God loves us. Yet, somehow, we turn this gift into dirty socks when presenting it to others. We make Christmas, Christ, and Christianity into this gross thing it was never meant to be.

This beautiful baby came to love us, to die for us, and right away this fact was made clear when Myrrh was given as one of the first gifts to this baby.. You see, Myrrh is used in burials. So, this beautiful baby, who we celebrate on Christmas was born to die from the beginning.

He did not come for who you SHOULD be, but because He loves who you are, and wants to meet you exactly where you are.

He wants to save you because He loves you right now.

It is literally that simple, and yet we make it all into this thing that it is not. We stress ourselves out during Christmas, get impatient standing in line for presents people do not actually need, we spend money we don't need to, and head to parties we feel obligated to go to because we make Christmas this thing it was never meant to be. It was meant to be a celebration of this beautiful baby who loves you...

He. Loves. You. -- As you are, right now; that is the beautiful gift.

This baby; Christ, He makes Christmas and Christianity simple. Let it stay that way.

Dec 8, 2012

Totally Different...

What a couple weeks it has been.

This post is sorta a random smattering of things, but it is exactly what is rattling around in my head... I finally had a full day off today, the first in a few weeks. And, I basically did nothing all day, I read, caught up on a few shows I had missed, painted my nails, went to the lighting of the Christmas tree here in Clarkston, got Chinese food, watched MIB3, and played with my puppy... Literally that was my day, and it was glorious.

A little over a week ago my great grandmother passed away. While sad, I knew it was coming and was more thankful that she had gone home. I also knew without any doubts that it was her time due to a few prayers and a dream I had. However, the visitations and funeral made for a ridiculously busy weekend full of LOTS of time spent driving. Not to mention it added a lot of stress merely due to the time I was not able to dedicate to my schoolwork or my laundry list of things I needed to get done for work.

I love my job, honestly, it has been a very long time since I have loved a job this much, and even then the last time the job was not my sweet spot, so it was not as fulfilling. However, I have never really thought before about the random challenges of working at a church. Some people surprise me with how supportive they are, how much they are intentional about investing in me... While others say ridiculous things that really are only said to me because I am paid. I have also discovered that while it is always somewhat difficult to figure out who you can and cannot trust at a new job, it is even more difficult when that job is working for a church. I have discovered that it is a delicate situation that requires a lot of wisdom in making friends, and it is very difficult to distinguish who is your friend because of who you are, and who is your friend because of the job you have. It also is interesting, (and I certainly have not done it flawlessly) to figure out who is trustworthy, who fakes a smile, who will be upfront and honest, and who will be the gossip... And yet, there are people who have totally surprised me by their support. Seriously their unending support and encouragement from some entirely unexpected corners is such an interesting situation to find yourself in.

This week has been crazy, and full of more frustration and tasks than anyone can possibly fit into a schedule and remain sane... I mean really, I accomplished maybe a third of the tasks on my to-do list... But, I did buy my ticket to East Asia, and will be spending two weeks in February there working with other people, seeing an old friend (hopefully), and getting to see the sights (woot woot!)!!

I also got to speak to about 115 ladies on Friday night. I feel as though it went well, and although there are definitely a few things I would do differently if I could, it was a fantastic learning experience for me. Especially since this was the first time I have ever done anything close to preaching (oh man...). I will post more about this later this week.

Tonight, I am so thankful for where I am. I love the things I see God doing, and even on frustrating and annoying days I know God is moving, and I am so thankful to be a part of it. I am exhausted, but I am excited about the things I am learning throughout every thought, emotion, situation, and relationship. Talk about a really weird experience and time in my life. Totally different than any other.

Dec 2, 2012

Power of Empowering...

I love my job.

Seriously. I mean, I have rough days, long days, hysterical days, unproductive days, stressful days, and everything else that can be associated with a job.. But, there is a purpose that I was made to fulfill at this point in my life, and I love it.

One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to empower people to find where Christ is leading them.

I love watching it dawn on people that they can do what God is laying on their heart...

I love walking people through the process of frustration or uncertainty and fear to confidence in their calling.. How cool is that?

There is a freedom experienced in being empowered to do what you were called to do. The amount of things that can happen, the people that can have their lives changed forever because others were empowered, it is truly amazing and inspiring.

When church does what church is supposed to do, nothing, absolutely nothing can get in our way because God is working and moving through dozens if not hundreds of people. The ripple affect of that is astronomical. The tidal wave is ridiculously large, and nothing can stop it. When the Holy Spirit moves, and hundreds of people follow, you cannot help but be swept up and moved too.

I am beginning to see the positive effects of empowering people. I can feel it in my own life, I now work at a place, and for a boss that tells me to "go and do" without partaking in the planning or details. I am experiencing what it means to be trusted and encouraged to stand up and follow where Christ is leading.. And because of it, I can feel the shift inside of me... And soon, others will begin to feel the shift inside of them... God is moving, and when we are empowered, we too will move mountains and bring glory to God.

It is awesome.

I love what cannot help but come by empowering others.

Nov 29, 2012

Gone Home...

A few weeks ago in the midst of lots of medication I was having lots of weird dreams. Many of the dreams involved zombies (thank you Walking Dead), friends, family, my puppy.. they all melded together in weird blends and often woke me up anxious.

One of these dreams, right smack in the middle of it was the only grandma I had. My Great Grandma Grace, in all of her worried spirit, and I was begging her to forgive.. Forgive sins of adultery that my Great Grandpa Shelby had committed while they were still married during the war, before he was saved so long ago. What is weird about the dream is she was crying and I was sobbing trying to explain to her the urgency in her needing to forgive, that God asked it of her...

I attributed this insurgence into my dreams to the fact that she had been in and out of the hospital lately... and I was doped up on medication.

Then, a couple days ago I was praying through a few things on my 3x5 cards, and randomly I thought about her, so I prayed,

"Lord, if she is right with you, and her work is done, please take her home..."

... and then, I moved on to other prayers..

Last night the Lord took her home.

This is a picture of my older brother and I with her a few years ago at one of my nephew's birthday parties. Oh the stories I have from childhood of this woman watching us.. haha never a dull moment.

There is no way to truly explain the peace I feel at knowing that she went home because she was right with the Lord, and her time here was finished.

Nov 28, 2012

I love Christmas...

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I know it sounds cliche, but seriously, I love Christmas... Although, I pretty much hate Christmas music. Weird, I know. Thankfully I have ONE song this year I love... Michael Buble's All I Want for Christmas is You, it is more soulful than the rest, so it sounds different, which I love.

Anyway, I love the thought, preparation, love, and care that goes into this holiday. I love that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Seriously, I spend hours wrapping my gifts, I send care packages, but mostly I enjoy doing what I can to make Christmas special.

This is a care package sent to a deployed friend and his platoon.. Everyone should get Christmas.

This is my first Christmas tree that I have gotten, put up, and decorated on my own... I feel like a for real adult now!
Vormund is learning to leave it... Although, he may have ingested sparkles this morning before I could fish out the plastic sparkle covered bulb from his mouth..
It will be interesting to see how Vormund does when the presents start getting placed under the tree... haha oh boy.
 Can you pick out the cheeser in this image? haha

Christmas with my family is wonderful.. it is this perfect day that pauses the world. We hang out, laugh, snuggle, watch movies, read books, play games, eat tons of food, and spend much needed time relaxing. Christmas is my favorite day of the year.

Nov 27, 2012

Listen to Me...

"People don't care how much you know until they know how mucH you care." - John C. Maxwell

This idea consumes my work life right now. Not in a bad way, it just is a reality of my life. Every single day I am confronted with options, blather on and on about what I know, my experience, my education, my passions.. compounded with the mounds upon mounds of tasks and work to do, and yet I find myself compelled to pause all of it, and just listen and express in any way I can how much I genuinely care about those around me.

I have had to readjust my priorities at work.
Sitting and listening is more important than the stacks of papers that are calling my name.
Hearing the faith stories of those around me has eternal value infinitely more important than the programs or design projects that require my attention.
So, I am teaching myself to be still, to listen, to laugh, to be fully present and divert all of my attention from the tasks sitting on my desk to the people sitting in front of it. Which, honestly is how my life operates naturally... outside of work.. Now I am learning to orient my work life in this manner as well.

Do you care enough to stop and actually listen to me?.. That is what I hear when I meet new people.

Nov 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012...

This year I chose to head to DC for Thanksgiving. I had lots of reasons, but a few big ones were knowing that I had several days off of work, I have friends I miss terribly, and I have no idea when the next time I will be able to make it out there will be.

I took the pups with me, and thankfully he is a fantastic traveler.

Overall it was a pretty low-key weekend, but it felt like home, and it felt normal which was nice. I got lots of hugs, laughed a lot, watched lots of football with one of my bests, hung out with a couple friends, and had another love of mine make the trek up to DC to see Twilight with us! (don't judge) Plus, she got to meet Vormund (Vor - rhymes with Thor, mund - as in mundane) and love on him!

On our trek home it snowed.. a lot.. I was more than a little tickled that Vormund was uninterested in the snow, and not happy about how cold it was!.. He was totally meant to be my dog haha

It is interesting to me how feelings such as the feeling of "home" are cultivated slowly... and also let go of slowly. In my head I know DC is no longer home, but it still feels like it. When I got there Wednesday night, it did not feel like it had been seven weeks since I had driven the roads or navigated through traffic, it felt natural and normal.

There is a part of me that feels like seven weeks here in MI mean that it should now feel like home... I mean after all, I like it here, but it does not feel like home. In my head I should be attached to here already, and while I certainly love aspects of here, it is not "home"... yet. I have full confidence that my heart will catch up to my head and it will not only feel like home, but I will create forever friendships, and I will never want to leave.. And, knowing how the last few moves have gone, right about the time I never want to leave will be exactly when the Lord moves me haha