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.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Speak Life

I am such a words person. If you offer me words of affirmation, you are definitely speaking my love language. I'm an overuser of "I love you". I want people to overuse it with me. Plenty of times I've had a bad day and someone will speak words of encouragement to me and instantly I am lifted. In the same way that words can easily fracture our self esteem and hurt our hearts, they can also heal and uplift.

The first couple of times I heard the Speak Life song by Toby Mac, I thought it was a little cheesy. Catchy, but cheesy. But right now, the words seem appropriate. Not only because of Robin Williams. But he is a part of my thought process too. Depression is real. It's serious. I've talked before about my mama's own struggle with addiction after addiction and the pits filled with depression in between. My worst fear has been getting a call that she's committed suicide. I have an ex-boyfriend who did commit suicide. I have friends who have told me they wanted to commit suicide. A man from my church committed suicide just a few short weeks ago.
Everyday people feel worthless. They feel unloved and alone. They don't know how they can survive the darkness they feel.  They become consumed with negative thoughts. It becomes too hard/to scary/too overwhelming to ask for help. And honestly, some days we are too wrapped up in ourselves to put ourselves in everyone else's shoes. But speaking life is a powerful thing. I'm certainly not a counselor, and I've never personally struggled with  a lot of these feelings, but I feel like it has to be said. I need the reminder myself to stop thinking so inwardly.

I think about a time when I felt lifeless. The people who used their words to comfort me became the people who helped heal me. And I thank God so much for sending me those people. I will never forget their words, their effort and how much it meant to me. It might not be enough to snap someone out of their sadness, but it matters. Loving people like Jesus does is not an easy task. I constantly have to remind myself that it's not my place to judge people's struggles, behaviors or stories. It's just my job to love them and be kind to them - no matter what. My good words have the ability to influence someone's heart, and that matters in this world.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Steps of Faith - Guest Post

Howdy Lovers! I'm home safe and sound from the Dominican Republic! I don't even know where to begin with all my stories for you!! For starters, the lovely Ms. Erin over at This is my Life invited me to do a guest post as part of her Steps of Faith series. Of course, coming fresh off my mission trip from the DR gives me the perfect material for my post today. Go on over and check it out and get your first recap on my incredible experience!