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Friday, September 19, 2014

Pearls of Wisdom - from a 30 year old

Yesterday was my birthday, in case you missed that memo. I'm officially the big 3-0 now, or as I like to say I'm 360 months old. I had to get a new driver's license picture and everything. My 29th year ultimately delivered me to a place of grace, peace and – dare I say, maturity. (everybody who knows me in real life has my permission to laugh at the thought of me being mature). I mean, if Prince Harry can rock 30 then shouldn't I try to do the same?
I said it last year on my birthday, and I'll probably forever say it, but getting older is scary for me! The thought of moving into the 30's age bracket literally makes me want to vomit. It feels very "quarter-life crisis-ish". And by that I mean I'm definitely getting a new tattoo soon.

But even so, your birthday is YOUR day to feel loved and I definitely felt the love. Thank you to everyone who called, sent me a text, an email or a card - and especially Erin who sent me flowers!!

I am reminded of the great Carrie Bradshaw's quote about age brackets:
 "Your 20's are to make mistakes, Your 30's are to learn your lessons, your 40's are to pay the drinks."

I most definitely made more than my fair share of mistakes in my 20's. But isn't that what it's all about? Learning who you are and growing into who you want to be. My hope is that my 30's will bring me invaluable life lessons. Lessons of love, faithfulness, family and hope. I solemnly swear to eagerly pass those lessons on to others, over drinks of course, once I reach my 40's.

My only goal for my 30th year is to be in love with my life. Crazy in love with every single minute of it. The good, the bad and even the ugly - just to love it and know that every twist and turn serves a purpose.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five on a Friday!

I'm pretty sure that the 5 on a Friday link-up isn't going on right now (hopefully just during the summer?), but I'm just going to pretend like it's still a thing. And since I'm clearly a part-time blogger now, Fridays are all I have to offer you. #sorrynotsorry Life, it has been a'happenin!
I have a boyfriend!!!!! A real, live, Facebook official and everything boyfriend. I know you're probably either experiencing a heart attack at this moment, or you have fallen out of your seat because I knocked your socks off. It's true. I'm not even sure I remember how to have a boyfriend, but here we are. It makes me want to pee my pants with excitement and terrifies me at the same time. He's a saint, y'all. And my absolute most favorite thing about him is his heart for Jesus. I had never looked for that in a boyfriend before, so I never realized how incredibly attractive it is.
"If you are a woman of God, don’t sell your spiritual birthright by marrying a guy who doesn’t deserve you. Your smartest decision in life is to wait for a man who is sold out to Jesus." - J. Lee Grady
Football is back. Praise the Lord! First home opener game was a big fat WIN, and just so happened to be sold out. There are few things in life that are sweeter than spending an evening with 102,000 of my closest friends and cheering on our boys. I had a blast!

Actual picture I took at the game - gorgeous skies that night!
If you can listen to this song, and not sing it all day then you're a better woman than I am. My co-workers are probably sick of hearing me sing "I'm bringing booty back" non stop.

I started an online bible study with Love God Greatly about the book of Esther. Can I just be 100% real with you right now and tell you that it's only the first week and I have been blown away by what God is revealing to me? In just a few short days, my heart is lighter than it's been in weeks.

I've been struggling with a lot of emotions recently, and being in a new-ish relationship (while exciting) has definitely caused me some internal conflict. It's so easy to become complacent and too focused on the world's distractions around us. I am incredibly guilty of this, especially since I got home from my mission trip. While God is always pursuing me, I can easily push my pursuit of him to the side. When stress starts to weigh me down, I can all too easily fall back into the ways of claiming control over things as a coping mechanism. I revert back to old ways of dealing with my emotions - which is basically not dealing with them. Old, ugly scars were definitely starting to rear their little heads with my relationship issues. None of that is from God. This Esther study started at just the right time. It is truly amazing the ways that God will reveal himself to us, if we just make the time to seek him. I am constantly in awe when this happens to me. Yet it happens time and time again. This verse just captivated me.
"Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory..." -Pslam 115:1

I forget sometimes that I'm a changed person. My natural instinct is extreme independence. I used to pride myself on the strength that came from that. But I am reminded that I do not have to face any of these feelings alone. That instead, if I pour my heart out to God, He will renew me. I am reminded that through my weaknesses, God shows his healing power.  And that is the best feeling. Glory to God!

All that being said, just wanted to share this little nugget from Wednesday's lesson with you.
If you read nothing else this week, read this. I love the idea of women holding each other accountable, advocating for each other, and just supporting each other - no matter what stages of life we are in. I would gladly do this with ANY of you over guac and margaritas - even if we have to do it virtually. It's important!
Happy Weekend, my loves! AND GO VOLS!

Friday, August 22, 2014

5 on a Friday!

Is 5 on a Friday still even a thing?? I'm just going to go for it and say yes because I like it and I haven't blogged all week. So booyah!
This post. (Beware, there's language and sex talk for those who are offended by such) I don't like body shaming I've been called fat before, and at one point in my life (definitely not now) I was told that I was working out too much and I was too skinny which made my neck look weird. I'm guilty of judging other people's bodies too. There's really no way to please everybody else. It's YOUR body, you have to live in it, take care of it and dress it. And it's YOUR job to feel comfortable with your body. I tend to rely on other people to make me feel good about myself and that's just crap. Praise from other people comes and goes. As someone who has struggled with body image, self love, gaining weight and uneven boobs - I loved the honesty of this post!

My jam. I'm so ready for The Voice and my weekly dates with Adam.

Fall = darker hair, right? I'm getting my hair done tomorrow and I am thinking about really changing it up. Like majorly getting rid of the blonde. I love the blonde, but it's been my look for several years now and it might be time to go back to the dark side.

I would really really like to try this...but it might be too much of a transition right now.
For the record, I still love ombre. I don't even know if it's something that the cool girls do anymore, but I might single handedly bring it back.
I need this for my birthday. Which is 27 days away, by the way. But honestly I'm not sure I'm excited this year. More like terrified.
Let's end on some positives to take us into the weekend -
9 Days until UT Football is back in my life!!
34 Days until a fabulous girl's weekend in Charleston with my girls!!
51 Days until The Walking Dead new season!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not Your Typical Mission Trip Recap

I've been back from my mission trip to the Dominican Republic for over a week now, and every day I've delayed writing this blog post. It's not because I don't want to tell you all the amazing experiences I had - because I do. I just don't know how to craft the right words to make you feel like you were right there with me. And honestly, I'm having lots of feelings about being back home. Sad feelings. Lost feelings. How can I make this trip matter feelings. To be fair, I was warned that this would happen. That people would ask about how the trip was, but in reality they don't want to hear the stories of life change. They want a simple answer - an awesome,  an incredible or just to see the pictures. And they want to pat me on the back for going. So that's what I've been spouting off for over a week now. Simple answers. I've told short stories about the heat, the lack of wifi, the food and the overall culture shock. The things I feel like people expect to hear.
But I have yet to sit down with someone and just pour my heart out. Tell someone how many countless times I cried because I saw God moving in this community. About how every single night I prayed to God that He would use me, and everyday He delivered. Tell someone how I so desperately want to live like these people - putting God before everything, no distractions in life and using every breathe to praise Him. That's not even an exaggeration, they use every ounce of energy God gives them to praise Him. I have never felt more loved on and accepted in my life.
Our first time seeing the Greenhouse Project area, where we would work together with the people in the community to complete the greenhouse. And hearing Pastor Daniel's vision that God was bringing to life.
Tell my stories about Anyi - a fierce, joyous woman who loves nothing more in this world than her Savior - a woman who hugged me for 20 minutes while we both cried as she continually said to me "I love you" & "God bless you" - a woman who I was forever changed by knowing for only a short week.
I changed my profile picture on Facebook to one of myself with one of my favorite little guys that I met, Wine (pronounced Win-nae). So people have seen his big gorgeous smile, but they don't know how much he touched my heart every time he hugged me and how we laughed together when I taught him how to wink. Or how we prayed together for both of our families.
I haven't told anyone how I was overwhelmed with emotion when I was speaking at their church, and telling a testimony of how God even brought me to their country in the first place. How blessed I felt in that very moment. Blessed to feel so connected with our God, blessed to have the chance to meet these people who wanted to pour out love all over me, pray for me and accept me as part of their family. Blessed to feel like I was making even the most tiny of differences for one moment in time. Not because of my work, but because I had been obedient when God called me and he was using me in ways I never imagined.
Pastor Daniel's Church in El Carrizal
The guy on the far left, Zacharias gave his life to God while we were there. It was incredible to see him surrender control and lead the way for his younger brothers.
This beautiful little girl, Angela, prayed for our team after we hosted VBS. She thanked God for bringing us, she prayed for our mission, for God to stir deep down in our hearts once we were back home, and she prayed that God would one day bring us all back together because we are forever family.
3 Community Pastors and our team leaders praying over them. The girls in yellow walked for 2.5 hours to come and sing at our community picnic. They wanted to see the people from America that God brought to serve the community of El Carrizal, and more importantly they wanted to pray over us and sing with us.
I've been internally battling with how to apply everything I felt while I was in the DR. I spent my time there thinking that I was missing the comforts of home, only to come home and find that life feels different. It feels cluttered and I'm finding myself distracted all over again. I've been playing catch up at work. I've spent a lot of time sleeping. This was all time that I could have spent praying for what's next, and telling stories that glorify God. Then yesterday, I read this post from my sweet friend Kenzie, about her similar struggle coming home from a trip to Africa. I'm borrowing her words right now, because I can't seem to find the right ones of my own.
"I wish someone would've told me that every time I now go to my closet, all I really want to do is throw everything out. That my style will never be the same again because the maxi skirts and t-shirts I lived in during my time there now hold a whole new meaning.

I wish someone would've told me that every time people ask how my trip was, I would daze off for a solid five minutes and still struggle to utter the words: "It...was...uh...perfect. It was perfect." Only to be disappointed with my response because HOW? How do I even begin to explain the way Jesus shattered my heart during my time there?

I wish someone would've told me I'd want to punch a wall when the response is, "Oh Kenzie, you are such a good person!" or "You have such a big heart!" or "You are a brave soul!" Because I'm not. I'm not any better than Abraham and Sarah's doubts or Rahab's lifestyle. My heart is the size of everyone else's and I am anything but brave. What I am is real. I'm afraid. Of being where God wants me to be. Of not being where He wants me to be."
All I can do is trust that I am right where God wants me to be. I don't want any recognition for doing what I feel like God called me to do. I want Him to glorified through this trip, through my stories and through the work we did in El Carrizal. If I learned anything at all while I was gone it was that I want to love bigger. Love like Jesus does. And loving can be hard for me. I'm sure certain situations will bring feelings of terror as I attempt to put these words into actions. But what an amazing feeling, when we just let go and let God do his thing through us. That's ALL I want my life to be about.

I know that as long as I am willing to let Him guide me, He will continue to amaze me.
Matthew 5:16 (NIV) 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.