My Christmas Wish List

Oct 28, 2010

You may be thinking it's too early to start wishing for Christmas. And I do really want to focus the holiday on the real reason we celebrate it in the first place. Nevertheless, I always get asked what I'd like for Christmas. 

This year, aside from asking for money for my Jamaica trip...
I may just mention one of the following.....

 I grew up with KJV in a church that pressed the necessity of only having KJV. And you know what? I like NASB better. I'm not a legalistic version pusher. Anyway, I really like John MacArthur and think I could really gain a lot from his insights to the Scripture. 

I'd also like to start doing yoga. Last week, I followed a video I got at the library and after five minutes my muscles felt like jello. Whoever said yoga was easy was lying!

I LOVE bareminerals. I went for awhile without using it because it was so expensive but then I learned about parabens and all the other chemicals and carcinogens that the FDA allows in our makeup and other products. I looked up the ingredients of bareminerals and they're pure. Plus, it really does give amazing coverage. 

 I've wanted a massage the past few years. An hour with someone rubbing your back? HEAVEN! I can barely get anyone to do it for five minutes!

 I've got some pretty old or stupid music in my itunes. It's time for some change. I'm thinking...Chris Tomlin..The Avett Brothers..Old Crow Medicine Show..Hillsong..

What kind of things are on your wishlist?


Oct 27, 2010

This past weekend, M, my mom, my good friend Grace, and I headed to Low Moor (yes, there's a town actually called this) for my aunt's annual Pumpkin Carving Party. It was a blast. This is the first year we've actually been.

As I mentioned here my grandmother passed away this past July. My grandfather passed away last September. My uncle and aunt who hosted the party moved into their house after they both were gone. I love that they were able to move in and keep the house in the family. Any memories I have of my dad's side of the family always started at that house. It truly was a haven, a safehouse. Anyone was welcome and you could expect a number of family members to be there at any given time. I love that we are able to keep making memories there even after they've gone. 

Here's a few snapshots from the day. enjoy. 
M starting his masterpiece!
Isn't Grace just absolutely gorgeous?
(L) My cousin, Matt                                                         (R) My dad
Sassy girl.
Some of our creations
Grace's carving...she did this in honor of her brother(my brother-in-law) who is currently serving in Afghanistan. of sports doesn't run in our family. At all.
My favorite picture. M and me. Don't they look great together?
One of our favorite games... SPOONS! We had to get in a game before the party ended! 
 We had such a great time. We even collected some of the thousands of pumpkin seeds that were gutted from the pumpkins, cleaned them up, and roasted them in the oven with some salt. Yum! 

Did any of you carve pumpkins this year? 


A Pilgrim's Progress

Oct 26, 2010

Finally, after a long weekend, I'm back to write.

I'll be honest..The past couple days have been kind of an emotional mess for me. I'm only getting 10 hours a week with the company I've been working for which means I have TONS of free time during the day. You would think with all that free time, I'd be getting things done. Recently, that hasn't been the case. 

THIS has been what's weighing on my mind::

"I really need to catch up on those labs for Biology. I hate that I'm even having to take this again. Why couldn't I have just not been lazy LAST time I took it and passed. If I had passed, I'd have been able to accept that job offer and be rolling in the dough right now! Well, not really, but I'd at least be able to pay my rent!"

"Why can't I ever seem to be motivated to go run or hit the gym? I complain about my weight and how I look, let it affect my emotional well-being, yet haven't done anything about it! What if I grow up and am one of those women who lets herself go because she can't seem to motivate herself to do anything?!"

"Great. Another week I've slacked in my prayer time and bible study. There's just one more thing to add to the list that I've failed at doing faithfully. How do I even have the audacity to want M to want to grow if I can't even do it myself?" 

"What am I doing with my life? There are people I admire going out and serving others overseas or even right here in America and what have I done? Nothing. I want so badly to live a life that will make a difference and reach others for Christ. I want to be the hands and feet of Christ...will I ever get there? Will I find myself getting caught up in the American dream? If I marry M, will he want the same things I do? Will he obey God with passion? Will he listen to the call God places on our lives?" 

"Will we raise enough money for our Jamaica trip? I feel called to go. Do the others? What has this turned into? A vacation? My heart is so burdened for the children and people there. Will others hold me back? Will I EVER get there?" 

"I'm so tired of the political corruption of our country. I hate that everything is motivated by money. I wish I could get up on a platform and educate the whole world about the things that they're putting in our food and beauty products! name it. I'm sick of the money driven society I live in. How in the world could ONE person make a difference? Where do I begin? Is it worth it to even try?"

"Will I be a good mom? Will my tendency towards setting high expectations for myself end up with a meltdown after just one little mistake? Will I be too controlling like some moms I've seen? Will I remember everything I do and don't want to be when the time actually comes? Will my kids learn to love God? Will they turn out to be brats no matter how well I've done? Will my husband be a godly, involved, active Dad? Will he talk to them about the tough issues even when its hard?" 

"Will I be able to pay off my school loans once I officially have a career? What if I'm not meant to have a career at this point in my life? What if I'm meant to just sell everything and go serve somewhere? What if I get to 60 and look back and wish I had done so much more?" 

These thoughts I've been having recently have had one common theme: Failure. 
That's what I've felt recently. I've felt that everything I've tried, I've failed. What good am I? These thoughts have truly sent me into some moments of depression. 

I usually consider myself a positive person. When someone comes to me with a problem or just to talk, I encourage them with positivity, instead of negative, self-defeating thoughts. What a difference it has been recently when dealing with my own thoughts. I've fallen on the side of guilt, failure, blame, etc. 

In wanting to write about this, I knew it would require me not to just leave it at this. After all, who writes a plot without a proper ending? I examined the Words of Life. 

II Corinthians 12:9-10
9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

In my weakness, HE IS STRONG. His grace is enough for me. He sacrificed his life so that my guilt would be gone...that I could be freed from the burden of my sin...that I could overcome through the power of Christ. 
John 15:5
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. 

My need for dependence on Christ. No matter how defeated I feel, the only way I will actually bear fruit is to abide in the Savior.

Matthew 6:34
"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

How much of my worrisome thoughts have been about what will happen tomorrow? Almost all of them. When I worry, it says something about what I believe about God. When I worry, I'm essentially telling God that I don't trust Him or His promises.

Isaiah 41:10
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

 Psalm 16:8
I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 

The truth? That when Christ is the priority..when falling in love with Jesus is my priority again....I shall not be moved. 

John 16:33
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” 
Why should I worry? My God has defeated evil. He has defeated sin. The things I see in politics or society that make me sick? God has control. God has overcome. 

 With these truths in mind, my responsibility now is to apply them to my life. To take the thoughts that I wrote out above and let the Holy Spirit transform and renew my mind. To take those thoughts, surrender them daily at the foot of the Cross, and let my mind be changed and renewed. 

Why try to carry the load that Christ already paid to have taken off my back?  

One of those weeks...

Oct 20, 2010

 Ever have one of those weeks where you wish you could just rewind time? If I could, I'd go back to about Friday. From then on, I'd keep my big mouth shut. 

Lately, and I think it may come with PMS, I've been just saying things without thinking about the consequences. Worse than that, I haven't been understanding enough of how my words, no matter how well-meaning (or honestly, sometimes out of anger), would be taken by others in light of certain situations until after the fact. 

I struggle with my words. I'm pretty opinionated and quite outspoken. I consider those qualities to be both downfalls and strengths for me. 

I consider them strengths because I like that I know what I believe or think about most subjects and am not afraid to speak up for myself or someone else. In a conversation, I don't mind speaking up on a topic I disagree with if I know my facts and can support my belief. 

At the same time, I consider them weaknesses when I allow them to overpower my judgement and empathy. Most of the time, if I strongly think it - I'm going to eventually say it. 

Sometimes, that's okay. There are times to speak up. There are times to not back down and say what you think or feel. These past few days have NOT been some of those times...

Without divulging much detail, I'll tell you that most of the struggle in the past couple days has really been because I haven't used wisdom or discernment in choosing not only the words to say, but if I should say them at all. About 90% of the time this past week, I should have kept my thoughts to myself. 

Instead, I just spewed out mostly harsh words and expected them to be taken well. My heart hurts thinking about the hurt I've caused in those close to me. I also feel pretty foolish after the fact when I realize just how out of place my words were at the time.  

It's in those times that I'm reminded just how much spiritual maturity I'm lacking and my need for daily focus in the Word. 

Christ calls me to more than that. 

Proverbs 12:18
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. 

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 10:19
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 15:4
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

In my journey to surrender to and emulate Christ, my words should be the key indicator of what is in my heart. If hostility, anger, and pride is what is coming out of my mouth in those tough situations- I have some deep soul-searching and prayer to do this week. 

Fall Friendship Swap

Oct 19, 2010

As I talked about last week, I got my Fall Friendship Swap package from Stephanie at How Sweet it is!  It felt like Christmas! I got it a few days after she sent it all the way from California! 

Here's what was inside! 

1. Handmade thank-you cards. Aren't they great! 
2. This candle is burning as we speak! I LOVE candles that smell like the cookies I'm trying to avoid! :)
3. A lovely "fallish" dish towel and a holiday cooking magazine with tons of recipes I'm dying to try! 
4. A lovely pie dish with the recipe for Apple pie printed right there on the bottom! 
5. Fall shape cookie cutters. Aren't they the cutest? 

I LOVE everything that was in the package. Somehow, it added a little joy and color to my fall. I was having a hard time accepting that summer was gone and have honestly been really bummed about lack of money/job hours. Stephanie's package came at the perfect time, helped lift my spirits, and put me in the mood for all things autumn! So for that, I'm extremely grateful. :)

What are some things you're enjoying this fall?

Miscellany Monday

Oct 18, 2010

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters
My wonderful best friend Fain got married this weekend! Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Atkins! I'm so happy for them. The wedding turned out beautifully! 
The Huskers lost to Texas. M says they basically lost to themselves with 4 dropped passes in the end zone! Crazy! Hopefully they can pull it together for the Oklahoma game! (I really don't know that much about football, but I'm trying to become a better fan for M's sake :)

I got to see Kristin from Windy Poplars at the wedding this weekend! It turns out she and her husband go to church with the groom! It was only the second time we've met, but she already feels like a friend :) Guess that's what the blogging world can do for you! 
When I was working full-time, I LOVED having days off and wished for them frequently. Now that I'm barely working and desperately looking for work, I realize how thankful I should be when I DO have work! I'm hoping and praying to hear back on some jobs this week!  
I LOVE Parenthood on NBC. Surprisingly, I haven't missed an episode yet this season. It's such a good show! Anyone else like that show? 
Last week was a crazy week! Hopefully this week I'll be able to write more faithfully! 

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are having a great Monday!

I'm it!

Oct 15, 2010

I was recently tagged in a game of "blog tag" by Mariel @ More than.........I just felt tickled that someone would be interested in my answers to these questions. I mean, wow, what a way to make a gal's day.

Here you go! Hope you find them not so boring!

1. If your life was a movie or TV show, who would you cast as yourself?
This one is a fun one! I consider myself extremely goofy and quirky. It's one of the things I've come to like about myself over the years...that I can laugh at myself, say silly things, have silly facial expressions, etc and be comfortable in that skin. Because of this, I would pick the infamous Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy. Although, I have to say - she'd have to dye her hair and up her IQ by a few points! 
 2. What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I play my piano. It relaxes me. I truly love just sitting down in an empty house and playing my heart out. I was a music major for two years before switching to psychology. I'm really not that talented because over the years I didn't have enough determination to work hard at it like some others. Even still, when my fingers touch those keys I can enter into any kind of emotion I want: worship, anger, sadness, joy....... relaxation. 
3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? (money is not a factor)
Boy...this is a hard one. I want to go to so many places! I think I am going to narrow down this topic to vacation. I think if I had to pick right now it would be Greece. I've always wanted to go there and immerse myself in the culture. I think it would be amazing to make friends there and just enjoy an entire summer carousing around town, soaking in the sun, sailing around, going out. 
4. What is one characteristic of yourself that you hope your children will 
Gee, this is a hard one, too, since SO many of my qualities are just amazing. I'm kidding. Well, I'm going to pick two instead of one. First, I would want my children to, like I have, realize who they are compared to a holy God and commit their lives to Him. Secondly, I would like my children to gain my characteristic of empathy. I feel that I have the ability to feel with someone. When others hurt, I hurt along with them. When others many not understand or pay attention, I notice their need. I want my children to realize that life is not about US, but serving God and others. 
5. What is your favorite item of clothing?
My favorite item of clothing would have to be a floral dress I got at Target last year. It totally looks vintage and is the most comfortable thing to wear. I love wearing dresses and this one fits me to a T. I don't have any pictures of this dress, but believe's cute! 
6. What crayon color best describes you?
Any color with two words in it's name. I consider my thoughts complex, thus any color that has two words was clearly just too intriguing to have only one word. And I'm being serious. ha.

7. What is the best gift you've ever received?
The grace of Christ. 
8. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
This may sound just completely selfish and self-absorbed, but I LOVE getting comments from other readers. Even if it's just one line, I love getting notifications in my Inbox that people are actually reading and liking what I say enough to say something back! 
Well, that's that! I won't be continuing the that awful? I've just had THAT kind of week. It's been hectic and I haven't even really done anything. I'm relying on the other 7 girls that were tagged to keep it going. I have faith in them. Unless they're like me. 


Alright, now that I've got my Internet working again (for now) I can finally write about our trip! 

I'll start with Friday...

Our plan was to leave around 6am Friday morning and check into our hotel around noon. I wanted to have a good part of the day to just relax and explore. Well remember M's hard week I was talking about? Well, an over 40 page report he submitted finally just put him through the ringer come Thursday night. He was completely worn out...especially when I tried to wake him at 6am. I graciously let him (and me) get another hour and a half of sleep before we got up and got in our already packed car and headed for South Carolina! 

Can I just say I love when M drives? Also, I love taking long car rides with him. It's so much fun to just listen to music or laugh about something or even just hold his hand in moments of silence. After about 6 and a half hours in the car, we finally arrived to our hotel and checked in.

Not even an hour later we were headed for Folly Beach!  I put on my bikini (after throwing up in my mouth a few times!) and M put on his swim trunks. The beach was so nice. The sun felt so warm on our skin and the breeze coming from the ocean felt great. I laid on a towel and soaked up some rays as M got in the ocean and then laid beside me for awhile. 

After about an hour of laying on the beach, we decided we were done. We found a place to change and headed to Taco Boy , an amazing Mexican restaurant about a block from the beach. This was suggested by Olivia at everyday musings (taco boy review post). It was delicious! And the setting was great! See for yourself....
Isn't this the coolest entrance?

 The food was amazing! It wasn't like most Mexican places that soak their food in grease and make you feel 500 pounds heavier when you leave. It was healthy, whole, and wonderful. We sat outside on the deck and just enjoyed a great time together. Simply wonderful. 

After dinner we went back to our hotel, changed, and headed to a nearby outlet mall. Neither of us had money, but it was too early to settle in for the night. They had some really cool factory outlet shops including Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, and Coach.  There were some AMAZING deals, but we were really trying to spend as little money as we could.

That night we got some much needed rest and agreed not to set our alarms for the next morning since we were so close to downtown and didn't need to be in any rush. 

Once we both woke up and got ready, we ate lunch at our hotel with some things we had packed (to save money) before we left. We arrived downtown around noon, found a parking garage right near the visitor's center, and started our walk. 

Before I go into a picture frenzy, can I just talk about my outfit for the day? I chose black cotton leggings and a silk, v-neck tunic-like shirt that came down to the top of my thighs. I also wore my favorite pair of silver shoes with a little wedge heel. HOLY GEEZ, ladies. That was a huge mistake! It was a hot day, so the leggings just trapped the heat! Once I started sweating the silk shirt stuck to me and made me even hotter! On top of that, the "cute" shoes that looked great with the outfit began hurting my feet literally only twenty minutes after we began our 16 block trek.  About an hour into our walk, both Michael and I took our shoes off and walked around the city barefoot. My feet were already suffering so much that no matter what I wore on them, they were in pain! So...a word from the "been there done that" IS pain....and totally not worth it! 

We first arrived at the Farmer's Market.

 I wish I had been able to get pictures of all the really neat vendors at the Market. It was so packed there and I had to choose between being able to walk or get run over while trying to take pictures. I chose to walk. If I could have taken all the pictures I wanted, you would have seen some really cool organic vendors - organic meat, veggies, soaps - all kinds of things! 

The courtyard beside the farmer's market. There were people doing morning yoga there and families with little kids just playing and relaxing on blankets. You could tell it was a great local hangout for Saturdays! 

After we walked through the farmer's market, we just began walking down Meeting Street. It felt like a long walk because my feet were hurting so badly, but it truly wasn't that long of a walk. Here are a few of the neat things I snapped on the way to the end of downtown Charleston. Again, my feet were killing me and the streets were pretty busy so I decided many times to just leave my camera in my bag.

I love jazz. Didn't get a chance to stop by here but thought it was a really neat place!
This was just one of the many cool houses we saw on our walk to Waterfront Park. 
This was just one of about 12 tables of basket vendors we saw at the City Market. M and I really were trying to be money conscious and the City Market wasn't actually as impressive as we were  expecting. We skipped out halfway through and started walking to the park. 
Waterfront park fountain...tons of little kids began playing in this right after I snapped this shot. I'll admit...I halfway got in, too!

I want to go on one of these! Isn't it HUGE?

The house that we're going to show M's parents and try to talk them into buying so we can come visit Charleston and have a place to stay anytime we want! And of course to spend time with them, too! ;)

How cool would it be to live in this house? I would love to be able to walk right out my front door and onto the streets of the city!

This long strip of road was called the Battery and contained some of the biggest, oldest, and most expensive houses in Charleston. They were beautiful.

I LOVED all the cute little shops and places to eat. As you can see the street was beautiful. I would have close to a hundred pictures to show you if I had taken one every time we turned the corner onto a beautiful street.

 At the point that I took that picture it was only about two in the afternoon! It felt like we had scaled the entire city in only a few hours. We were so exhausted and both of us had aching feet. We decided to walk all the way back to the car and take a trip to the hotel to get cleaned up for dinner. We took our time getting ready because I wanted a late dinner...I hate eating dinner early plus I wanted to sit outside at the restaurant and it's more fun when it's dark and there are pretty lights around. Wayyyyy more romantic. 

We headed to the Coast, a restaurant that M's parents had suggested from their last visit to Charleston. It was a great place with a great atmosphere. We waited for about an hour and then were seated in an alley right outside the restaurant. It was so nice because there were only a few more tables out there and it was for the most part quiet and secluded. We didn't have to speak over the tv screen and the tipsy, loud people inside. 

Isn't this the cutest little alley leading to the restaurant?
The food was great!
The atmosphere was so was great!
Overall, we had a wonderful time. We went back to the hotel that night and just relaxed and went to bed early. We got up Sunday morning at 5am so we could leave in time for my dad's family reunion. It was a long drive and and early morning, but it was worth it- we had a great time. 

I can't wait for the future when M and I get to travel more together. It's so much fun. He's the best travel partner. :)