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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tis the Season for Making Broken Things Beautiful

Where do I even begin with this post??? Well first of all, thank you all for your sweet comments on my last post before Thanksgiving. I have to admit that it ended up being a pretty good Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family. We were all a little worried about how it might be, but in the end, we were able to celebrate each other and our blessings. The only tears shed were during the prayer before we ate when we thanked God for sending us mom to have in the first place.

So now on to Christmas! I have realized something about myself this year... I am embarrassed to say it, but I am a Christmas pessimist. I complain about the season, complain about my family situation and find myself saying "I hate Christmas!" frequently. As much as I try to be a positive person in general, Christmas gets the best of me. BUT WHY? Christmas is NOT supposed to be about me. But I am quite ashamed to admit that I am constantly trying to make it center around me.

I don't have enough money for all the gifts I want to buy
I don't have normal family relationships
I don't have time for 12 Christmas stops
I don't get enough time off work around the holidays
Selfish. Selfish. Selfish.

Christmas tends to make me feel broken. Beat down. Financially broke. Kinda ungrateful. It's ugly. I have come to expect the worst, and that's not really who I want to be. But this year, just three days before Christmas I have  renewed sense of HOPE. Hope in the fact that God is still working all around me - even on the hard days when I feel very far from him. Hope that my family can be restored. Hope that Christmas can still stand for exactly what it should always stand for - even though I try to manipulate the meaning and make it about me. Hope in GRACE!

So this morning, as my attitude was slowing shifting from Scrooge to Buddy the Elf, I had an epiphany of sorts. This IS what the Advent season is about. It's what it's ALL about! Christmas is about celebrating the ultimate gift of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and recognizing that He came to rescue us from this broken world. I read something a couple weeks ago over at (in)courage and it's really stuck with me. I've gone back to re-read it several times, but it wasn't until today that it truly clicked.

Christmas is the ultimate story of hope, of grace, of restoration. Isn't that just the best reminder??

C


My life can feel messy. When the mess feels overwhelming and heavy (which can be more times than I'd care to admit), I tend to completely forget the redemption of restoration. I tend to focus only what is weighing me down, and then I'm unable to feel God around me. Things have changed drastically for me since last Christmas. I went back to reread my Christmas post from 2014 and I laughed a little at how much things have changed. Somehow I always forget how vastly things can change just within a year's time!!

I think slowly, but surely, I am learning these lessons. But I also know eventually that even if this time of year is always a little hard on the heart for me, God's hope of restoration is always always always here. And for that, I am thankful!

Oh yeah - and in case you missed it - this Christmas I am going to be showing off some new bling!!!!! I got engaged on 12/12!! Even though it's been 10 days already, I still can't shake the excitement. I cannot wait to marry this man. I hope he knows how much I love him. Talk about the ultimate feeling of coming full circle with my journey. I can't wait to see what God has planned for us (& hopefully our family) this coming year!!



Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!! I hope you can take a moment to breathe in your blessings and recognize that is always something to be thankful for! I know I will be forcing myself to do that over the next week. XOXO



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Monday, November 23, 2015

Let's Talk Life

Almost four long months have gone by without even so much of a hint of a blog post...
That might be a new record for radio silence around here.

Have no fear, friends, I'm still alive and well! I have missed my blog and my bloggy friends, but I haven't really felt inspired to write about much lately. A million things have happened in my world that have caused me to draft a post, but the words just never seemed to come out right to match how I felt. I hate that too because blogging has always been such a positive outlet for me. I thought I would just try again today. I need a release!

Life always hit me the hardest around the holidays. The past three holidays seasons have been especially hard for me. I've been in a place of trying to heal a broken heart for a while now. And while I do feel like I'm finally healed up from that breakup 3 Novembers ago, the holiday season just always triggers this major anxiety within my heart. I should be excited because it will be my first holiday season with my boyfriend. We have been dating for 7 months now (CRAZY, right??) and there's so much to celebrate there, but sadly I think we are not going to end up together for Thanksgiving and it's really bothering me. I'm feeling Debbie Downer-ish. There are so many reasons why. My family is messy - both sides of it. I don't really feel like I belong within my biological family, for the most part. That's really hard to say - even harder to feel, but it's true. I have always searched for a "family" to adopt me outside of the people who are blood related to me. I have always imagined marrying a guy whose family just takes me in and never makes me feel like an outsider. I desire that so much!

This will be my family's first holiday season without my mom. Some days that makes me feel sad, some days it makes me feel numb, but most days it just makes me feel anxious about how it will be. Last Thanksgiving, I struggled internally with whether or not to even participate in my family's Thanksgiving get together. I ended up going for maybe an hour and it was a complete disaster. My mom had just finished a round of chemo and she was so skinny and sickly. But she was also hurting and not dealing with everything well so she was drinking heavily to mask her pain. She was hammered drunk when I got there and things just went downhill from there. It was a painful time. The holidays are typically a time reserved for celebrating time spent with your family, and it's honestly just a harsh reminder for me that I don't have that. The negatives are weighing me down.

I looked back to my post last year for Thanksgiving, and now I'm sitting here crying as I read these words again this year:
(PS - this is a great one too, Giving Thanks In Sorrow). "When you think you’ll never again be able to sing a song of thanksgiving, try it anyway. Our hearts may not be comfortable praising tragedy, loss, or bad days, but our hearts were created to praise the Hope of Glory."

I am reminded that hope is never in vain. Even when it feels useless, it's not. Even if you have to tell yourself that every second of the day just to make it through. Hope in Jesus is always the only way to survive anything. I might be struggling with the heaviness in my heart right now, but hope is the only way to overcome. I truly believe that! When I focus on the family situation I currently have, the family I want, or the shortcomings with either - I am completely heartbroken. I become overwhelmed when I focus on the things that weigh me down, but I am lifted when I fix my eyes on Jesus and his promises. I cannot even tell you how reassuring of a thought that is to me today.

I went back to SheReadsTruth today for a little inspiration and wanted to share with you what I found. "His promises hold fast, even when your world is crumbling. In everything, He is good. In everything give thanks." Sweeter words have never been spoken. When I feel like I don't have anyone to count on, I have the Lord. When I feel let down by everyone's conditional love and empty promises, I have Jesus who will never leave me and never stop showing me how faithful He is.

Source

I stole this from SRT too because I thought it was a good exercise in thanksgiving. Maybe someone else needs this reminder today just as much as I did.

Let’s actively thank our good God today.
I will give thanks in…
  1. this joyful thing:
  2. this suffering:
  3. this certainty:
  4. this stress:
  5. this injustice:
  6. this sorrow:
  7. this plenty:
  8. this want:
  9. this wandering:
  10. this waiting:

Wishing you all a truly Happy Thanksgiving, filled with warm hearts and full bellies! XOXO


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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What Means The World To You

"Cause money mean the world to me, Imma shine for the world to see..."
I sincerely hope the title of this post has taken you back to your younger days and you are singing Cam'ron in your head as we speak. That was MY JAM when I first started driving! If you don't know who Cam'ron is then I don't even know what to tell you... Apparently my life revolves around song lyrics so I need all my friends to cooperate.

So I've been thinking a lot lately about funny life can be - about how quickly things can change, how ironically things can play out, about how worrying about the future does us absolutely zero good. (Even so, I'm pretty sure we are all guilty of worrying from time to time anyhow.) I'm at this place in my life right now where I feel like I'm teetering on the cusp on great change - and when these feelings hit me I'm always compelled to look back on how things have progressed.

I read this post today from my friend Annie Downs on turning 35 and what that means. I say she's my friend, but really we haven't met in real life. I just love her and I can relate to her story. This was my favorite part:
"It means all day today, I will celebrate the life I have. Not the one I’m missing out on or the one I’m waiting for, but the one I have. It means I wouldn’t trade what I do have for what I wished for. And I will celebrate how God made me. Not who I wish I was or the things I would change, but who I am. Today."


Perfectly said, RIGHT?!?!! My 31st birthday is quickly approaching in September. That statement is scary as crap to write and say out loud. 31????? When did I get old enough to be an almost 31 year old!!!! You know birthdays always make me feel some kinda way - 2013, 2014. Getting older tends to make me feel antsy. 


BUT My 30th year goal was to be in love with my life, every minute of it, and I think I'm finally starting to get a grip on that. I'm slowly learning at the ripe old age of 367 months old how to celebrate the life that I have TODAY and not worry about the one I thought I was missing out on.

I say that I feel like I'm on the edge of change for a lot of reasons. Talks of engagement, marriage, babies, traveling more for work, future life plans and lots of big girl things are happening these days. All of which are HUGE life changes, well worth celebrating. I'd be a lying dog if I told you I wasn't tickled pink with how things are going right now. I'm in such a strong place emotionally, for the first time probably since Skye and I broke up back in 2012. Being in a good place emotionally doesn't mean that I have it all together or that I don't cry when I have PMS. But it does mean I am better equipped for handling the challenges that inevitably come my way. The death of my mama back in April taught me so much about my emotional state and my ROCK that is my relationship with God. He has offered me a fresh start at everything. Not without struggle, and not with the promise of no future struggles, but with the faithful TRUTH that He will sustain all struggles. It's taken some time to cleanse my heart of hateful things and  to learn the glory of true grace. I hope I never stop learning this lesson and never stop extending it to others because it's been radically life changing for me. I'm not perfect at it, (not even close) but the Lord has brought my heart such a long way in these past three years. It just feels good to feel at peace with where I am. I'm thankful beyond words!
He is always beside me. I think this is a great verse (reminder) for the hurting people who are in extremely difficult times! If you know the Lord Jesus as your Savior, He is always there for you! Be encouraged! Especially for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines! HE knows your struggles, each and every one! He will be there through your dark and trying times! He WILL NOT FORSAKE YOU!!!

So what means the world to me? Loving my life fully. Being surrounded by people who love me and support me. Embracing changes when they come. Getting on my knees to thank God for His blessings - in good times and bad. Celebrating what I have and who I am. Grace, grace & more grace.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

These Are My Confessions...

"Just when I thought I said all I could say..."
(if you aren't singing that right now then clearly you are too young to be reading my blog. Gotta love some throwback Usher!)
 
I just feel the need to get some recent confessions off my chest. I miss the Confessions link ups (they are probably still around...I'm just out of the bloggy loop).
 
I confess...
 
It annoys me that there are always haters in life.
 
I haven't been drinking hardly any wine at all lately, who am I? Summer brings out my inner beer lover.
 
Humidity is the devil. You'd think living in the South my whole life I'd be used it to... but you never get used to frizzy hair and sticky sweat.

You know Lebron is my boo... but I really can't be mad about the Warriors winning it all last night. If you don't have love for Steph Curry then you ain't living right because that boy is incredible. This whole playoff series was so fun to watch them battle back and forth.
 
And now that basketball is over...
80 days until College Football is back! Can I get an AMEN??

This guy has truly stolen my heart, y'all. He's just everything that is precious and I pretty much spend all my time with him these days. I'm completely that annoying girl who is newly in love. I apologize for blowing up your Instagram, Twitter & Facebook feeds with my heart eyed emojis for him. #sorrynotsorry
PS - NO I'm not naked :)
I have an obsession with neon bathing suit pieces. (Just a quick poll - does anybody even wear matchy bikini sets anymore? I am all about that mix & match life.)

Speaking of obsessions... The Weeknd and Meek Mill are high on my list right now. And little miss Kelsea Ballerini and her "Love Me Like You Mean It" jam. FYI - she's from Knoxville!

Again with neons & obsessions, I got a new pair of running shoes. You know, because all that running I've been doing??? (jokes) I'm a slacker and I've only used them once, but I love them. this is the 2nd pair of neon yellow and pink Asics I've had so I guess you could say I'm a big fan.


I'm finally reading The Andy Cohen Diaries. I love that man and all his Bravo magic - especially those crazy housewives. Can he be my spirit animal? The book is really good, so far.
 
Y'all heard of Firmoo yet? If not then you need to hop on over there and check out their selection of glasses! This is the 2nd pair that I've gotten from them to review, and I doubt I'll ever get glasses anywhere else again. They are GREAT - easy to deal with, easy to order, great follow up to make sure you're happy with the glasses. Plus, they have a ton of new styles, frames and colors to choose from. A girl needs choices in her life! Plus - as a new customer you can get 15% off instantly just for trying them out.

 
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

This & That

Long time, no see guys! I have to admit that life has been pretty hectic lately. Between work, church things, the boyfriend and friends - I barely have time to get enough sleep these days. But don't let me fool you into thinking I'm not ridiculously happy right now! Life is pretty great.

Mother's Day has come and gone and honestly I'm glad it's over. It was difficult for me and I wrestled with the anxiety for about two weeks leading up to it. It's just a part of what comes after losing your mama - the holidays, birthdays, family occasions, etc. will be difficult, especially the first time around. Now that people have moved on with their own lives and aren't constantly checking on me, I'm left not really knowing how to feel sometimes or how to act with how I'm feeling about not having my mama around. My heart has been a little heavy throughout the process trying to cope, but yet still trying to look for the positive that can come from this situation. I am so thankful for bloggers (Katie, Jennifer) who, unfortunately, have gone through this loss before me and have helped me to know what to expect through their writing. The Lord has been SO GOOD to surround me with people who are nurturing and supportive of me, some of them in the smallest ways they probably don't even realize.

One thing that's been convicting me so much since Mother's Day is that I am my mother's legacy. I was her first born child, her only daughter and probably the child that was the least close to her ultimately, but I am still her legacy. I want to talk more about that soon, but not right now. (Heavy Topic Alert!)

Let's get caught up!

Two weeks ago I saw NEEDTOBREATHE, Drew Holcomb & Ben Rector in concert - so so good!

You like how I drop the BOYFRIEND bomb and then just peace out? A little suspense never killed nobody!! Announcing your relationship is official on the blog can feel like the kiss of death. But so far...boyfriend and I are good. So amazingly crazy good. (Pretty sure he doesn't read my blog, so I could literally gush about him for days, but I'll spare you.) You should just rest assured that I have not felt like this in a long, long time, years. Like since the Skye era. Knowing that it could all blow up in my face tomorrow is scary, but remembering what it feels like to be a smitten little kitten is worth it. Insert ALL of the heart eye emojis.


I apparently cannot get enough of TSwift and all the things she does. Anybody else completely in love with this song??

Finished Amy Poehler's Book Yes Please. I knew she wouldn't disappoint, but I was laughing out loud most of the time. My favorite part?

I've been partaking in quite a few happy hours lately. When spring rolls around and work days get long I really have to admit that I love to unwind on a patio with a cold adult beverage. Judge me, if you must.


Speaking of The Countess... I am so obsessed with the current RHONY season. I'm a little behind since life has kept me from DVR binging as much as I'd like to, but I just can't get enough of this cast. I think it's the best cast they've had in a long time! (Maybe minus Dorinda, not crazy about her.)

I can't promise that I will be posting very regularly throughout the summer, but you know I won't be able to keep my mouth shut for too long. In the mean time, I'm always available for stalking on Instagram & Twitter if you need more frequent life updates.

XOXO

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Look Before You Leap...Or Something Like That

Writing posts about dating has never been difficult for me. Sometimes it makes me cringe to look back at certain things I've said in posts, but I can say that my dating posts have been accurate descriptions of where I'm at in my life. It's kinda cool to be able to look back over the past two years of singleness  documented here on my corner of the internet and see how things have progressed. I do love an honest update. So now how to describe where my dating life is currently...


Earlier this week would have been my two year wedding anniversary if Skye and I would have gone through with getting married back in 2012. Honestly, I didn't even feel the date coming on this year. I was reminded by Timehop (dang you, Timehop!). I didn't even cry. It just felt very strange. Very much like remembering something from a movie I watched years ago, instead of feeling like an experience I actually lived through. I'm in a good place with that baggage right now. Parts of that story will always be hard for me, but that's okay because I truly wouldn't want to forget. The most recent ex-boyfriend baggage is in a decent place too. It felt like we were in a stage of limbo for the past couple of months - trying to be "friends" and remain on good terms since we go to church together, yet not really being sure how to make that happen. We got to a place last week where we decided we can't be friends, and honestly I'm okay with that. AND the best news...drumroll please...I actually have a new boyfriend!! Not just someone I have a crush on, but a full blown boyfriend. I am SMITTEN and things are really good right now. It makes me so excited to feel this way again, but I'm also trying to keep myself grounded. Which if I'm being honest, is really hard to do! Especially with a boyfriend as hot as mine! :)

Dating does funny things to a 30 year old woman. It can drive  you batty, make you feel empowered, drive you to drink, or (like in my current situation) act like you've never been hurt a day in your life and just LEAP. It's much easier to allow yourself to become scarred by the battles you've faced. Been there, done that. Represented loud and proud, all day, erryday with my former black heart. That's not a fun state to live in! And it's not sustainable for someone who genuinely wants to settle down. Letting people in and being vulnerable is hard, but truly necessary work. Being that I am the ripe old age of 30, I am well acquainted with my strengths and weaknesses. I know the reasons that I would consider myself to be a great catch. But that doesn't mean that I will be everyone's cup of tea. Taking a leap in dating means that you have heighten awareness of these truths, but do not allow them to hold you back. It's a fine line that can really trip most of us up. With all that being said, I've had to come to terms with the fact that it is possible to take a leap and end up falling flat on my face. I think that fear is what holds us back most. Nobody wants to get their feelings hurt.


The evolution of my dating life is an interesting thing to study. Looking back, I see times when I should have stood my ground more and trusted my instincts. I see times when I probably shouldn't have been so overly guarded. I see mistakes, let downs, learning experiences, I see awesome stories - there's a lot to see in the dating life of a 28-30 year old!! The thing that is different for me right now is that I'm ready to take a leap. So... I'm taking a leap! Are there uncertainties? Absolutely yes. Do I have insecurities? Duh, They can feel crippling at times. It's okay to feel those things - and even better to push through them. I don't know what will happen here, but I know that I am trying to pray my way through it. I mean it when I say I want to settle down. I mean it when I say I'm ready. But I know ultimately it's not up to my timing. God knows the desires of my heart (I'm pretty persistent in telling him often), and He's the only one who knows how my story will unfold.

Remember my 2015 word? BELIEVE. I am choosing right now to believe this season of my life will serve a purpose. And I know it will. I believe that what God has planned for me is unable to be thwarted (how you like that word!!) - even by my own selfish, sometimes stupid, decisions.

My best dating advice today is to take that leap, friend. Jump in head first into the deep end. Believe that it can end up being the best thing that ever happened to you - but also know that it might not amount to anything. As scary as trying anything new (doesn't have to be a relationship) can feel, you have to try to know how it plays out. It's like playing the lottery - you gotta play to win. If you would have asked me a year ago, my advice would have probably been polar opposite. If you ask me next week, everything could have changed and it could very well be different too. But for today, I am urging you to leap.

Once again, my life has come down to being summed in a Sex & The City quote...



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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Beautiful Things

I sure needed to hear this right now. Reminder from Lysa TerKeurst this week:
"If there’s something Jesus needs to address with you, so be it. But remember, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Jesus doesn’t use the statements, “You always do this..” and “You never do that..” Jesus doesn’t use our situations against us. He simply brings truth to life and asks us to align with it."
 
Words are my love language - good morning texts, apologies and random compliments change the world, friends.
 
People on my Instagram keep asking me what kind of mascara I use: 3-in-1 by elf. My eyelashes are naturally long anyhow, but who would have thought a $3 mascara could be so good!! I'm a big fan of all of their products that I have tried. Can't beat that price either.
 
Last night I had my first meeting about going back to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip again this year! Excited doesn't even begin to describe it. I could end up spending the week of my birthday serving the Lord and honestly, there's nothing more I would want for my 31st. Pray for me so that I don't just make this commitment because it's something I want to do selfishly, but because I feel called to do it. (If you're new around here, you can read all about my trip last summer here.)
 
I'm dating again. Sometimes I feel like it's hard and sometimes I'm light hearted about it. Nothing too serious to report back right now, but I'm sure you can expect a new dating post soon. These stories must be told. My friend Jen had a weird one recently too!
 
Do you Influenster? If you don't, then you are missing out! Influenster allows you to test products for FREE, based on information you fill out about yourself. All you have to do is show them some love on social media and offer reviews. The most recent product I tested for them was these Neutrogena Naturals MakeUp Remover Wipes. LOVE them! They smell fantastic and leave my face feeling clean and refreshed and not dry. Great for post workout. Plus, Neutrogena is launching a #wipeforwater campaign to promote efforts to save water. A lazy girl makeup remover is the perfect way to get started!
 

I haven't seen the 50 Shades of Grey movie... but I am all about the soundtrack! Especially these two jams.
 

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Beautiful Things

First off, thank you all from the bottom of my little heart for all your sweet comments on my last post about my mama. Yes, this time has been difficult but it's also been such a blessing to see the incredible community of people the Lord has placed in my path for this specific time and healing. Truly, I am in awe of the kindness that I have been offered. I'm telling you God is good ALL THE TIME!
 
I wore pants yesterday that I hadn't worn in almost 2 years. Talk about a non scale victory! I have been working my booty off and the progress is so encouraging!
 
Finally bought the Andy Cohen Diaries to read. I actually have a "to read" stack that's HUGE right now. I need to turn off the TV and get to page turning.
 
But Scandal though...  Also, I'm back watching Mad Men because I have to see what happens. And RHONY is back sooooo maybe eventually I'll get around to reading all my books.
 
Loved this read from Renee Fisher. This is a must read for anyone who missed the IF:Gathering this year and feels lost or stuck in the season of life you are in.

I'm going to make this pretty thing with my work girls next Friday night and I am stoked!

Happy Pre-Friday!
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

When Life Happens

I have been swirling words around in my brain for many days now, trying to figure out the right ones to say when I sat down to write this post. But I finally realized that the words don't have to be "right", they just have to be true. The truth is, life happens and sometimes it can really kick us in the pants.
 
My family is smack dab in the middle of a swift kick in the pants that we are still desperately trying to catch our breath from. One week ago today, my mama passed away. I've talked about her in varying degrees on the blog before - and probably said some pretty raw things about our relationship. Long story short, she was fighting an almost 3 year long battle with lung cancer and within the past year was diagnosed with leukemia also. Within a two week time frame, her health quickly declined and she found herself in the ICU facing double pneumonia. This is essentially a waiting game for stage 4 small cell lung cancer patients in her condition. So we waited. For a week and a half we watched her struggle and fight, and I do mean FIGHT, for every single breath that she was able to take. It's an excruciating  kind of pain to watch someone who gave you life literally fighting for their own. In the end, she lost her battle with cancer but she is finally at peace.
 
This has always been one of my favorite pictures of my mama.
This is from her baby shower, when she was a baby herself at 21 pregnant with me.
My mama was 51 years old. That doesn't seem near old enough for me to be 30 years old and only have one parent left. One of the worst parts for me has been watching my 3 younger brothers (25, 17 & 16 year olds) struggle with their emotions and for the younger ones to feel like it's just not fair. Really, it's not fair. I've felt the pain of life - a broken heart, the loss of a family member, the punch in the gut feeling when the rug is pulled out from under your feet. As someone who has overcome struggles before, I know that we are not promised a fair life. We are only promised that we do not have to face the struggles alone. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
 
God's peace has been nothing short of miraculous for me during this difficult time. It's difficult to understand how I could even begin to feel the tiniest glimmer of hope while I was watching my mother die. It's unexplainable really. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 I prayed day and night that God would give me peace and comfort my family. I asked others to pray for the same. And that's exactly what God did. He gave us the ability to comprehend the fact that she is no longer suffering. I like to think she is doing cartwheels in Heaven and enjoying every single breath!
 
That doesn't mean it doesn't feel sad or hard sometimes, but at the end of the day we have hope. Hope is EVERYTHING! As tumultuous of a relationship as my mom and I had at times, she was still the only mom I'll ever have. She was the one chosen to bring me into this world, and her impact on my life has a huge impact on my story. Tough days will come, when I am overcome with tears, emotions and grief. But hope will always linger. Hope is a gift and I am so thankful for it in these moments when it doesn't always come easy. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
 
People have remarked to me lately about "how strong I am". I appreciate a good compliment just as much as the next girl, but I've got to be honest and say I'm really not strong. Right after I went through my broken engagement a few years ago, I remember all I wanted was to be seen as strong. The past three years have taught me A LOT about what being strong actually means. Being strong for me these days means not taking pride in my own strength, but admitting where I am weak and letting God fill in His strong. I don't know how I ever navigated this crazy life without Him leading me! The days can still feel hard, but I find when I lean on Him it becomes easier. The light at the end of the tunnel becomes visible. I know it's all part of a greater plan. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
 
I have learned in a very real way through this experience that even when circumstances are bad, God is still SO good. I have been scared of what the future holds for me now, and how I will be able to cope. But I rest assured that God has prepared my faith for those days. He has placed an amazing network of people around me who care for me and who I can be real with it when I need to be. He has held true on His promise to be right in the thick of things with me. I am beyond grateful for the 30 years I had with my mama! She taught me some really hard knock life lessons. I know that she is with my brothers and I until we take our last breaths here on this Earth. I trust that God still has big things planned for me here. He can use this broken old heart in ways that I would never be able to imagine possible. And the best part is, one day I will be right there with her in Heaven doing cartwheels and singing the praises of our faithful God.
 
*For those of you who are friends with me in real life, or on social media, thank you for the kind words and prayers for my family! We read so many of them together out loud and they helped us power through some pretty tough moments. They were much needed and very appreciated!
 
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Thursday is the 2nd best day of the work week. The end is near. (That sounded very The Walking Dead-sih) I mean the end of the week is in sight, weekend is right around the corner, better days are a'comin'! No better time than a Thursday to link up with Meagan.
 
Beautiful Things

- speaking of The Walking Dead... I am reeeeeally digging this Alexandria story line. I can't believe only two more episodes until the finale already!
Also, any of my real housewives girls dying over the RHONY premier coming up with Bethenny being back?
never gets old!
- spring sunrises (pretend it's not blurry) God is THE best artist!

- I joined a new gym and have been steadily trying to get working out back into my regular schedule. so far so good. summer body here I come!

- baseball season is coming

- my love affair with avocados has officially gone to the next level

- my friend Amy's honest post about Love without Sex. If she didn't live all the way across the country I would be sitting on her couch tonight talking (probably crying) about this one face to face.

- cute dog accounts on instagram & twitter are my newest guilty pleasure

- made for more messages

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lent Update

Here we are, almost a month into the season of Lent - so about halfway through. I just wanted to share an update of what has transpired since I wrote my "Enter the Season of Lent" post on February 19th. I said in that post that Lent has taken on a new meaning for me this year. I'm learning more about what the history of what it means to me as a follower of Christ, and the miracle that we celebrate during this time. There is incredible power in this season!
 
These were my exact words about what I wanted to give up this Lent  (from the previous Lent post): "So this year for Lent, I want to give up serving myself and all the fears and doubts that go along with that. Lent is ALL ABOUT recognizing our sins and turning away from them, in order to kneel down at the cross. It's about intentional prayer, intentional steps to avoid distractions and just revel in the beauty that is our walk with God. That means diving into my "messy" and revealing the parts of me that cry out to be healed. It's much harder than giving up Diet Coke or social media, but I know it's something that I must do. I want to slow my pace, obey the Lord and I will wait expectantly for him to rekindle that fire in the my soul."
 
We can all agree that it's pretty awesome how God works, right? Literally leaves me in awe. Maybe you don't know God and so you cannot right now recognize all the ways that He is working around you, in you, through you, but friends TRUST me when I say that it's a mind blowing concept! I say that because I begged God to turn me inside out and reveal to me the areas where my sin was overwhelming my good intentions. And I have found that when I beg the Lord for things that He can use to draw my heart closer to His, He surely does it.
 
Being a Christian does not exclude you from sad times or bad days. When I wrote that first post a month ago, my heart felt heavy heavy heavy. Initially giving up serving myself sounded hard. The actual act of readjusting my thoughts and actions to try and do so has been even harder! It's embarrassing how easy and natural it is for me to act selfishly. But I have become much more aware of these actions and have definitely been wrestling the convictions that come along with that - which is progress. Turning away from serving yourself and into serving the Lord with all your heart is really a process. It doesn't happen over night and it requires massive amounts of patience. Remember, Lent is a messy season because we are messy people. It's about dealing with our messes.

Over the past month, none of my life circumstances have changed. I'm still single, my job still feels stressful, I'm still paying the same old bills with the same amount of paycheck, my family is still certifiably insane, same old things - but I am being shown that God will always be bigger than any of my life circumstances. Always.

The struggle with true repentance can be difficult. Truths revealed to you about yourself can be heartbreaking to accept. Shameful, even. But that feeling of shame is not what God wants for us. He offers us grace. A powerful, overwhelming, all encompassing, freedom from sin and shame. He knew all along that we would struggle - because we are human. Yet when we do he does not aim to condemn us, but picks us right back up and reassures us that nothing can separate us from his love.

My point here is not to lead you to She Reads Truth or to preach to you. My point is I literally cannot help but sing the Lord's praises after all that he has done for me and all the ways that he continues to change my heart. I read my old posts on here from a 3 years ago when my life was in a totally different place, my heart was far from God, and I can see the HUGE ways he has changed my life. I'm living proof of the redeeming power of the gospel. And if my life can be changed, then I promise yours can too. None of us are ever too far gone for grace. You don't have to clean yourself up for God. You don't have to do anything but have faith.

Here are some truths that I feel the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me this Lent season. We have been singing this song at church lately called "Unstoppable Love" by Jesus Culture and it is EVERYTHING. Listen to the words. Makes me tear up every time.


From Day 22 of the SRT Lent Study:
"The consequences of my sin are devastating, but more devastating still is my lack of repentance. Lack of repentance breeds shame, and shame whispers lies in my ear. Shame tells me I can’t be forgiven. Shame tells me I’m not worth forgiving. But the Cross tells a different story—the true story."

These verses have comforted me a lot in the past week, and they come from the She Reads Truth Lent Study (Day 23):
 
 Psalm 32:8-11 NLT
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
 
The more I begin to fully come to recognize God for who he truly is, and not just who I have thought him to be, the more I fall in love with him. The more I feel the depth of his love for me, the harder it becomes for me to keep my mouth shut about him.

Anybody else experiencing God's love this Lent season?? TELL ME ABOUT IT!!
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

I'm a sucker for a good link up. When I was first establishing my blog and getting into a flow, link ups helped me form structure and meet so many new bloggers. I can never resist them. Bloggy besties are made through linkys! I think Thursday Thoughts are supposed to be one liners so I'll have to work on that... y'all know I'm long winded...

Let's hang out with Meagan today for Thursday Thoughts.
Beautiful Things
 
 

I loved the Parks and Rec finale on Tuesday night! Pawnee forever!
 
I believe I'm turning soft in my old age. The Parks and Rec finale really brought this fact to my attention. I have never been a fan of overly happy endings in books or movies. It just never seemed like real life to me. I loved an open ended finale or even a plot twist that knocked my socks off (I'm looking at you, Gone Girl). But my sappy little self was just crying along with all the happy endings in Parks and Rec. It's official I'm losing my edge...

I struggle with body image. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that WE ALL do. I loved this read this week - My Boyfriend Loves Fat Women. 
 
Sunday I'm flying out to Florida for a work trip. Even though I see rain in the forecast, I'm confident the sun will show her pretty face. I need some Vitamin D in my life.
From my November 2014 work trip to Sandestin
I lost my one of my favorite Alex & Ani bracelets a couple weeks ago at Winter Jam. I keep hoping it will find it's way back to me. Sad face.
 
Wanna know what else I struggle with? Being judgey. Oh you mean it DOES count if I say "I'm not trying to be mean" before the nasty comment? Oops. I'm a recovering mean girl and I still find that my sharp tongue can rule the day if I'm not careful. This is an awesome read about perspective.

I got 5 inches of snow at my house after midnight last night. Woke up for the 4th time in two weeks to this beautiful sight. I really love the snow. (spoken like a true southerner, I know)

Happy Friday Eve!!
 
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