1. I'm a listmaker. 2. This is a list. 3. Can you tell I love lists?

Sep 29, 2010

There were a few things I planned on doing this week. This is how it's going.....

1. Send Stephanie her Fall Friendship Swap package!   Finally! I did this today! We were supposed to make something crafty....and well, I did make her a pair of earrings. But everything else was bought. Hope she enjoys it! 

2. Work out everyday.  So far this has gone well. I went to the gym yesterday and did 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weight lifting. Today, I went to the park nearby and briskly walked about two miles. It was chilly! 

3. Blog every week day.  I'm trying to get more followers and more interaction going in my own little blog world. I decided I needed to blog consistently and keep it interesting and include as many pictures and such as I can. The only down side? I don't, like many of you do, have cute little pictures of babies to get everyone's attention. Not fair! Also, I wish I had the wit of Pioneer Woman. But back to the point, I've blogged everyday so far!

4. Have daily consistency in my Bible study. EHHHHHHH...WHY is this one of the hardest things to do? Get thee away, Satan! I crave daily prayer time with my Lord, but for some reason I often find something that steals my attention. I'm still working on this one. 

5. Search and apply for jobs.  This morning I applied with a mental health services organization and got the application for a bank as well. Filling out applications is such tedious work, but I've done it so far. I'll continue looking for places tomorrow. 
I don't remember any of the other things I needed to do, but I'm proud that I've accomplished most of what I've set out to do. 

It's been a long day, my toes are cold, and I'm sleepy. 

I'm cooking M dinner tonight. :)Wish I knew how to make an almond sauce....

Then...I get to go with Fain to meet a seamstress to alter her wedding dress. 

Hope you all are having a wonderful evening!

A Beautiful Day for a Hike

Sep 28, 2010

Over the weekend, Michael and I took off for the mountains of West Virginia to do some hiking. To be honest, he's so much more in shape than I am. I love being outdoors, but when it comes to hiking, I have to take so many stops to rest that I feel like more of a pain than a companion. 

We weren't exactly sure where we were going as we got closer. We drove for a good ways on a windy road through the country - which was GORGEOUS! - and up a curvy mountain road after that. Picture this - being basically the only car, sun shining through the spaces in the tree tops, a cool breeze - it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves. After following two, slow logging trucks we finally saw a little parking lot at the top of the mountain. There weren't any clear signs marking this trail as the one we were planning on hiking, but we didn't care and began our hike.

After about 1/8 of a mile we saw this sign and figured out were where we were supposed to be. It was a beautiful hike. 

As you can see in the picture, the first part of the trail was a pretty steady incline (the picture doesn't do it justice) and I'll admit after only 3 or 4 minutes I was breathing so heavy you would have thought I had completed a marathon. I know, I know - PITIFUL! And of course Michael was barely breathing hard at all. Of course, he IS an experienced hiker, having hiked TONS of miles on the AT.

Once we got to the top of the ridge, the trail became pretty flat. We only had about 2/3 of the trail left.

Once we got to the actual observatory, we had to climb about 25 steep steps to the top of the little cabin. That was harder than any of the hike! Like I said - I'm pitiful. 

Then....we beheld THESE gorgeous views. 

360 View.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous view! The cabin was really cool. Michael and I both said it would be really neat to camp up there one night (Not sure if that's allowed or not). We had a really great time. The entire time we were there, we only saw three other hikers. It really did feel like we had the mountain and the lookout all to ourselves. 

Because of our lack of money and time, Michael and I haven't really been able to go out on any dates, recently. Instead, we pick cheap, simple ways to spend our time together. A hike is a great way to get outdoors, get some exercise, see God's creation, and spend some time with your significant other/spouse.
What are some ways, simple or extravagant, that you make time to spend with your significant other/spouse?

Miscellany Monday

Sep 27, 2010

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters
I've been looking for a second job to make up for not enough hours with my current job. I got called Friday for an interview with Home Instead - a company that provides caregivers for individuals that would rather live at home than move to an assisted living facility or a nursing home. I also might have an opportunity to interview for a teller position at a bank. I'll keep you updated! 

Michael and I had a great time on our hike. I plan on doing a separate post with tons of pictures. It was a beautiful day and an amazing view. Look for that post tomorrow or Wednesday! 

I, along with three of my friends, am planning on taking a month-long trip to Jamaica in January to work at a deaf school in Montego Bay. The catch? The trip will cost us quite a bit as we have to actually pay the school to come stay. That's how much they're struggling financially. We just got the approval for a Benefit Concert at our church in 3 weeks! I'm so excited. It'll give people an opportunity to pray for us but also give as they feel led. We're trusting God to provide and can't wait to see how He works. More information on the trip to come! 

I kind of failed on this diet thing over the weekend. I went to a get together with Michael and we both had pizza. Then we had a birthday party for our family friend, Rachel, as she turned 12. We gave in to pizza and cupcakes. After a couple weeks of eating well, we both agreed that we felt sick after eating all that grease and sugar. Whew! Back to the grind this week!

Michael and I are going to Charleston, SC for our fall break in two weeks. Any seasoned travelers have any suggestions on great places to eat, sightsee, etc?

After finding a few new blogs this week, I compared them to mine and feel like mine's too complicated and busy!! There are so many design options...geez! I think I'm just going to leave the design the way it is now for fall and winter, but come spring - expect a new design. Like I said here, I can't keep the same design for long. I get restless. 

I've been looking at engagement rings. 
'nuff said. 

Windy Poplars - Pick of the Patch

Sep 24, 2010

Windy Poplars
Not already a follower of Windy Poplars? Head to her blog and check it out! 

Today, she's doing her great "The Pick of the Patch" where she gives bloggers opportunity to post their favorite post of the week so other readers can check it out! Head there, become a follower, and let everyone get to know you a little better! 

P.S. M & I are going on a hike in WVA today! Can't wait to see all the fall colors, spend some time with him, and take some great pictures! Stay tuned for those! 

Weight loss

Sep 23, 2010

My attempt at true weight loss began at the end of August.

I've always had pretty low body image and it really affects my everyday life. There was a time during my freshman year in college that I experienced depression and as a result ate very little and lost about ten pounds. It was the thinnest I've ever been throughout my late teens up until now, but parts of it was also pretty miserable.

Since then, I've sort of "yo-yoed" in my diet and exercise. During my second year of college I worked out every single day for about 4 months and REALLY saw results. After Christmas break, however, I found the numbers on the scale raising and my clothes not really fitting right anymore. 

In the almost five years that Michael and I have been dating, he has really taught me what healthy and organic eating truly means. I now can't buy groceries until I have first checked the list of ingredients. One thing I have really valued recently in my relationship with Michael is that he has always encouraged me to be healthy, but has never once commented on my weight. He never once has made me feel bad about the way I look. Rather, he listens when I complain about it and encourages me to work out and do something about it...for ME. 

Recently, we've really taken a look at what processed food really looks like. And boy, is it everywhere! We've looked at Gerson's Therapy, (another post coming about this in the future!) and realized just how much what we put in our mouth and on our skin affects our health. It's tremendous the things that natural eating can do. There have been testimonies of patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes, began cutting out all processed foods and eating wholly and naturally, and they no longer had diabetes. I encourage you to research for yourself. I'll dive into what exactly processed foods are and what it means for us in a later post. 

Back to August....Michael and I both agreed that we needed to lose weight, get in shape, and start eating more organically.  And we meant it, too! 

1. We began by measuring ourselves. We wrote our measurements down on the same piece of paper and dated them - that way when we went back to measure ourselves in a few weeks we could compare the old and new measurements. I was shocked at how the numbers had increased for me. I remember what my old measurements were and seeing the new numbers motivated me even more to lose weight. 

2. We agreed that we would make time to go to the gym more during the week and cut out sugar, sodas, etc. We both put our BMI information into our accounts at SparkPeople and were able to put in our goal weights and find out around how many calories we were supposed to be eating compared to what he had been. It's amazing how many calories we consume daily without even knowing it. Counting calories has really helped us realize how much we're eating and not just calories, but other nutrition facts, too.

3. As we've been studying more about processed foods, we've also tried to eat less of those. Just last night, in fact, we cleaned out my pantry and got rid of everything that had been modified, contained MSG (a terrible flavor additive in food that actually blocks the sensors in your body that tell you when you're full), or anything else that was included in the modified group. I ended up taking out a few cans of Campbell's soups, Ritz crackers, a jar of jelly from the fridge, and a can of alfredo sauce. Everything else was just canned veggies or organic foods, so they could stay. 

Well, all those are definitely BIG adjustments that have been made. As far as the gym? I've only been once in the past three weeks. It really is hard to make it a habit, but I know from experience that once it IS a habit, your day feels incomplete without a trip to the gym. I'm working on it. Michael's done better than me...he's been a few more times. 

Because of my job, I do eat out quite a bit for lunch. I have made it a point to only eat at Subway or Panera (who now puts their nutrition info right next to the food on the menu...so great!) and try to eat wheat bread or soup and an apple.

Alright, enough details. 

Last night, Michael and I measured ourselves again and both saw some improvement. I lost anywhere from 1 inch to 1/4 inch in certain areas. Not the greatest improvement...but we're getting somewhere!

We both realized how much more improvement could happen if we had both actually committed to going to the gym daily. 

But we're working on it! It's great having someone to be accountable to...it really helps me stay on track. And the fact that it's with Michael makes it that much better!

Experiencing God

Sep 22, 2010

The past two weeks I have been trying to faithfully and daily do the Experiencing God bible study. Every Wednesday night at my church we go through the past week in the study with our pastor then break off into small groups and discuss more deeply and personally how God is using this study in our lives. 

I'd like to share with you some things from this study that have stood out to me. They are all things I needed to be reminded of and some things that have helped me view my walk with God and my life in general in a new, correct, refreshed way. 
1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks through the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
5. God's invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him, and He accomplishes His work through you. 

"As I follow Jesus one day at a time, He will keep me in the center of God's will."  - this has been huge for me. I'm a look-to-the-future kind of gal. I'm affected today by what I haven't done tomorrow if that makes any sense. I tend to feel feelings of worthlessness because of what I think tomorrow will look like rather than trust God and look for ways to serve Him TODAY.

"Don't ask, 'What does God want me to do'? Instead, ask 'What is God doing'?"
I realize that it is not God who just sends us somewhere and we handle it on our own. In order for us to truly be used by God, we need to ask Him to show us where it is that He is at work and then join Him there, not go somewhere and then ask Him to join us. 
"Don't just do something! Stand there!"
Wow. When I read this I was reminded of how many times I felt worthless because I wasn't doing something right then! As I look back I can see the many times I felt restless but my relationship with God wasn't where it needed to be in order for me to clearly hear His calling and know His heart. I wasn't prepared. In many ways, I feel ill-prepared now. That's why this next part is key...................

"Enter a love relationship with Me. Get to know Me. Adjust your life to Me. Let Me love you and reveal Myself through you to a watching world." 
God wants me to first get to know His heart and His purposes. Until then, I will not be able to recognize His voice when He speaks. Any work I do before I hear His voice will be done in my name instead of the Father's. My work would be pointless. 

"When I find out where the Master is working, then I know that is where I need to be.."
I'm reminded of the many times I've thought, "I wonder what God's doing in Haiti, Africa, England, etc" instead of "What is God doing where I am now at this point in my life?" Where is it that He is moving and desires for me to join Him so He can work through me? 

God is already showing me some great things through this study. I bog myself down with worry about tomorrow and worry about the future so much so that I let it distract me from TODAY. Could God call me to Africa one day? Could He call me to work with inner-city kids one day? Absolutely. But for now my responsibility is to remain moldable and faithful to Him and His word TODAY and daily. The only way that I can begin to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit is through constant, faithful, daily, honest fellowship with my Father. 

"As I follow Jesus one day at a time, He will keep me at the center of God's will"

A Marine

Sep 21, 2010

I've always said that I support our troops. 
I've always shed a tear after hearing stories of war. 
I've always loved songs about a soldier's heart.
I've always had chills when our national anthem was sung and hundreds, if not thousands, stood to honor that flag. 
I've stood with my hand over my heart and mindlessly quoted, "one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all". 

But until my sister married a United States Marine, and until I stood and watched as hundreds of Marines hugged the neck of their wife, children, mother, father, brother, sister, friend before loading single-file on a bus and eventually boarding a plane for Afghanistan, I didn't really know what patriotism was. 

I don't think I've been so overwhelmed by so many different emotions than the day we spent saying goodbye. My heart broke for what was breaking my sister's heart. She was watching her husband slowly prepare to leave for seven months. I felt anger that they had to leave. I felt proud that they have dedicated their life to our freedom.

Tears slid down my cheeks as I watched a young boy wrap his arms around the neck of his father and shed tears of fear and sadness. 
I watched husband and wife exchange a silent look that said what they could not find words to say.  I watched a pregnant young wife say goodbye to her husband who would miss the birth of his first child.

I watched mothers feel helpless as their sons, complete with gear, gun, and bullets, joined in line.
I saw the rows and rows of packs that would accompany these Marines for the next seven months. 
 I saw my sister cling to her husband, wishing she could somehow make him stay.
I watched a brother's goodbye. 
I watched, silently sobbing, as they boarded the buses. I watched as families comforted one another. 

Their battle started when they landed on foreign soil. The battle for the ones left behind started when those buses pulled out of sight.

Patriotism stirred me in a different way through this experience. Knowing personally someone who is overseas gives a person a completely different outlook on what it means to support the troops. 
I have realized that although I may have different opinions on the war, my heart has a new perspective that allows me to remain proud of the men and women who are willing to risk their lives for our freedom and honored that I am able to support and pray for them. 

Please remain vigilant in prayer for our troops and their families. 

P.S. All photos courtesy of Lisa Gunter Photography and are not to be copied or reproduced without proper authorization.

Miscellany Monday

Sep 20, 2010

{one} This has been the laziest Monday I may have had yet. 

{two} I'm procrastinating as I write...er...you read (yep, even then.)

{three} I had a great weekend. My Saturday morning started around 6:45am as my mom and I headed to Pulaski, Virginia for Camp Treehouse West, a camp put on by Carilion Clinic for kids ages 6-17 who have lost a loved one. My mom works as a hospice nurse and her office was the one who put on the event. I worked as a mentor and was assigned a little girl who lost her dad 9 months ago. It was a really special day for us as she opened up to me and I got to help her find some really great ways to remember her dad. The grieving process of a child is often overlooked and it was so very important that each child there was able to remember, cry, learn, share, and open up about their loved one.

{four} Sunday night was my first night as a helper in Awana at GSBC. My friend Grace and I were assigned the nursery (yes! Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE babies?) but unfortunately a few of them haven't been born yet. So...we got assigned to the Sparkies! These kids were so adorable. Most of our group was in kindergarten and as they tried to learn John 3:16, kept saying "and sent his only forgotten son". I just wanted to hug them!

{five} As I have (embarrassingly enough) had to repeat this Biology course, I really am trying to get back on track and complete my assignments well. Which the above-mentioned procrastinating has not helped. 
{six} This week I'll be getting ready for my friend Fain's bridal shower on Saturday. So excited! 

What fun things did you do over the weekend? 

Autumn Kickoff

Sep 16, 2010

Although it's not quite fall yet, there are already so many wonderful signs of it! The crisp mornings and nights, weather just chilly enough for a sweatshirt, days that allow for the windows open and the A/C off (which is also great for my electric bill!), football games, the beginning of beautiful colors on the trees - I could go on and on! 

Aside from those things, there has been one event in a nearby town that has been a tradition for my family and friends to attend every September. It's called Olde Salem Days and is usually a blast! Vendors from local shops and organizations come and line the mile-long Main Street in downtown Salem with their food, crafts, jewelry....you name it, someone has made it and is selling it!

This year I went with my Mom,my sister, and my sister's sister-in-law, Grace. We got there about 9:45 and started at the opposite end that you seen in the picture. We even had a strategy for how we would tackle the hundreds of vendor's booths...we started up the right side and went down every side street and then stopped at the car show (because really, who needs to see a bunch of old cars?) and came back down the left side. I didn't fool with bringing my camera, but my mom - the pathological picture taker - was snapping shots of everyone...including strangers (with their permission of course!). She got some great shots! 

The Farmer's Market had some great homegrown assortments!

Yes, someone could be THIS crazy about VT. No wonder they lost to JMU with this guy as their mascot! :)
My mom had a photography assignment with the subject of circles..this is a cute shot!
My sister, Megan, in line to get some amazing funnel cake!
 Some of the cool things we got there:

~AMAZING kettle corn. It's the best. Our bag had just come out of the kettle and was still warm! So good!

~ A rubber band gun for my little friend, Daniel. I mean, what boy doesn't want one of those?!

~An across-the-shoulder bag, bohemian style...I love it! 

~ Apples from one of the farmer's market vendors. Funny story. I wanted something healthy to snack on instead of all that fried food. There were two vendors right next to each other, both with apples. We got a few from the one vendor on the right after comparing the two. We paid for our apples and then I turned and looked at the older man who was manning the booth on the left that we hadn't chosen from...he looked so sad. This may be due to the fact that he just always looked sad....but I was convinced it was because no one was buying from his booth. I literally and honestly almost cried. I made my mom buy some of his tomatoes.

It's always a really great time. We always end up seeing tons of people we haven't seen in a long time..and some we wish would have stayed that way! When I was younger, I always knew fall was getting close when we went to Olde Salem Days. The only thing that has changed is that I'm buying purses instead of wanting to get my face painted! 

What kind of things do you initiate the fall season with? 

P.S. - All pictures courtesy of Lisa Gunter Photography (a.k.a. my mom!)

Fashion Distraction

Sep 9, 2010

I've got a pretty heavy heart this week.....can't seem to muster up the thoughts enough to post them in a clear and concise manner. I'm going to distract myself from this by posting some cool fashion wish lists! These are some looks I love!
This look is from Banana Republic. I love it. It's natural and comfortable. I can see myself wearing this outfit while sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book.

This look is also from Banana Republic. Again, a comfortable look that can be worn inside or pass for a cute, casual outfit.

This look is from Ann Taylor LOFT. I can just see myself out to a nice restaurant downtown somewhere sipping my favorite drink and trying to make a friend laugh. (They usually just end up laughing AT how corny I am but hey...I don't care as long as I could look cute doing it!)
This dress is from Anthropologie. It reminds me of Audrey Hepurn - one of my favorite actresses. This dress makes me want to have numerous dinner parties to attend. I LOVE mingling.
And last, but not least.....

a silly plug for my jewelry site. I mean, who doesn't love some great accessories! 

I love these looks.....especially when comfort can be mixed with class to make a really great outfit!