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Just a twentysomething living my life and, as most my age, figuring it out as I go,

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Beautiful Things Don't Ask For Attention"

Quick review and recommendation for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: It's incredible, go see it now!

Okay, now that we've cleared that up, let's talk about this movie and what it teaches and why it captivated me from the first preview I saw 6 months ago. Walter works for Life magazine as a film developer. He lives a life of daydreams-constantly interrupting his current life as he "zones out" into a world of fantasy and adventure. I don't know if I've ever related to a character as much as Mr. Mitty. His interactions with people are awkward and conversations brief. But finally, he decides to stop daydreaming about adventure, throws fear to the wind and just GOES! Yup, runs out of work, jumps on a plane and ends up in a different country with just the clothes on his back. Oh how I dream of that! To just say "BRB!" Get in my car, on a bike, in a plane or on a train and go somewhere I've never been, with just the clothes on my back. To live a life of whimsy and free-spiritedness. My heart aches for that. 
Two quotes from this movie that have been swirling in my head since I walked out: "To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed. That is the purpose of life." That is the motto of Life Magazine in the movie. Don't tell me that's not a good quote! It captures the essence of what I wish for every day. I think some days it's to see things thousands of miles away but some days it's just to take a closer look at the things around you. It's to do something that scares you every day. To look around you in any circumstance and be amazed at its wonder. That is the purpose of life. 
The second is this: "Beautiful things don't ask for attention." I hesitate to give too much information, but at one point in the movie, the photographer Sean O'Connell is sitting on top of a mountain looking through his camera at a snow leopard, telling that snow leopards don't like to be seen and he utters these words. Isn't that the most wonderful sentiment. Things that are truly beautiful in life don't ask for attention. They reveal themselves just long enough for someone to notice them but are gone before they can be praised. The most beautiful part of a sunrise is only there for a second before the light boldly shines across the sky. And never once does it ask for us to look at it. It goes dutifully about its business every day, noticed or unnoticed. 
So maybe those thoughts will echo in your head as they have been in mine. But I love the fearlessness in this movie! It's a perfect tale of overcoming fear and challenging yourself to realize your true potential in life. 
So now, get off the couch, grab a loved one and jet it to the closest theatre to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Please and thank you!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Where time meets eternity

I have been reading "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis while on holiday from school. I don't know that I have ever been so enlightened by a fiction book. Each page just captures and convicts me down to the core. 
For those of you who don't know, the book is a series of letters written from Screwtape, a demon, to his nephew Wormwood, also a demon. Screwtape is advising Wormwood on how best to win his human patient over to Satan-known in the book as Our Father Below. It's incredible reading Lewis' words and hearing the echo of our Christian/religious language but in such a different light. 
Anyway, I am stuck on this chapter I just finished. I can't say that this will be one of those "10 Ways to Live In The Present" lists that's have recently scattered my Facebook newsfeed. But I just had to process through some things and hopefully challenge you to join me in changing our outlook.
The most recent chapter I read focused on turning the patients focus away from the Present and toward the Future. I have been keeping a note on my phone of quotes from the book and this one stuck with me for this chapter. 

"For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them."

I love it! The present is the only time we can actually connect to eternity. And not only that, but we are given a freedom in life when we turn our attention to the present instead of the future. I don't know about you, but I want that freedom. But I am also so convicted in these words. As I approach my last semester of college, I cannot even tell you how many times I have had the "future" talk. And I am just as guilty about initiating the "future" talk. It's so near to my thoughts as I wonder where I'm going to live after I graduate, what kind of job I will get, if my current plans will work out, and even if I am following God's will in making these plans. It's something that both horrifies me and completely excites me as I face this new horizon. But those thoughts are robbing me of the present. And there's a sobering thought in not knowing if I will even make it to tomorrow, much less graduation or moving somewhere new. I am not promised any of my future. But I do have today. 
So then I have to ask myself, what does it look like to live in the present? Here is where my mind goes somewhat silent. I kind of have been grasping around for those answers and so far here are a couple small ideas I have come up with. 

-Maybe living in the present manifests itself in being late to something because I saw an opportunity to invest in someone else. In other cultures, people show up late all the time because they do not see time as a commodity. So maybe sometimes it's okay to be late for good reason! 

-Also, maybe it means taking advantage of the few moments I have to talk to the cashier at the grocery store. It has to be strange being such a small blip in so many people's whirlwind life as they pass by with their milk and eggs. So maybe that means asking how their week is going or paying them a complement. Something more deserved than silence as you wait for a total.

-It most definitely means stepping away from social media. That's where I have been most convicted lately. I have admittedly wasted countless hours switching from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Pinterest the past few months. Anything for a distraction or way of feeling valued when you get a like or favorite. It's a weakness our generation faces daily. But no real good comes from any of those minutes ticked away looking at my phone screen. I need some face-to-face action!

-I don't know this for a fact, but I'm pretty sure a good place to start is changing how you think. I'm so guilty of living day to day, week to week, milestone to milestone with my goals. Of saying "oh next semester, I'm going to..." Or "When I graduate, I can finally..."
No! Why not now? Tomorrow's an okay place to start, but even more so right now! I may not be around long enough to say or do what I really want to accomplish. That's motivation enough. 
And along with changing your mindset, maybe that means rethinking how you dream. I am a major advocate for chasing your dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem but I think too often we-myself entirely, overwhelmingly included-get too caught up in "one day I want..." and don't focus on the time we have right now. Let's face it, there may be some dreams that you just don't have time in your life to achieve. Maybe I won't get to live in England like I've always wanted. Or maybe I won't ever get to meet One Direction. Or maybe I will never work in a different country with trafficking victims. But that doesn't mean that I can't have other wonderful, beautiful adventures right now while I am still alive.
So this is a wake up call to myself and others to simultaneously go after your dreams right now while you have the chance but to stop focusing solely on reaching your dream and realize you can't live in the future because you might be missing out on the freedom to live in the present. The future, as Lewis implied in the chapter, is a series of unrealities. They do not and will not exist. Ponder on that! The future is just one big ball of question marks that trap and tangle us up. We worry ourselves sick about what we will do in the future and in the meantime, we are missing our chance at experiencing eternity. So again, I'm sorry for the unanswered question, but maybe this will be a challenge to you to figure out what your Present is and how you can truly experience the freedom we are granted when we really exist in it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Transitions

This afternoon, I got to do something I love but typically don't have much time for-a long afternoon drive. As I set out on the highway, drawing closer to my destination, my eyes drank in the warm colors of fall trees, I started thinking about how much I love fall. And how I love spring as well, but for different reasons. 
These are the transition seasons. They're not as long as summer or winter; to me, lasting much less tome than I would hope. They aren't even as extreme as summer and winter. Fall and spring are the middle ground. They stand firmly in who they are, but they compromise between the piercing cold and strangling heat. 
Fall to me is beautiful. It's scarf, boot and "pumpkin flavor everything" weather. I approve. I love walking outside in a cardigan, tshirt, scarf and boots and being just warm enough. And the sun is a welcome warmth when it's just a bit more wintry than usual. There's something about the way the trees change, preparing to lose their leaves, that makes my heart leap inside its cage. And the child in me loves walking through the crisp leaves and hearing that satisfying crunch under foot. 
But then there is spring. And though the trees start off bare, there's something to be said of the restoration in the earth as the first signs of spring peek through the frigidity. I've always seen a lot of imagery in the newness of spring.
But as I drove today, thinking of these transition seasons, I couldn't help but think how much I love the transition stages in life. I may not realize it when I'm beginning them, or even until I've already left them, but I love changes in life! I enjoy growing and being able to look back at the path I've taken. Those transition times are so much more adventurous than the extreme hot and extreme cold. There's something about our lives moving toward or away from one extreme that makes my heart leap in its cage, just as it does when I take in the fall leaves. So enjoy the transition periods. Take in the beauty that comes with the middle ground of life. And on a more literal note, go enjoy fall while its still here! It's short and fleeting.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I am Mountain [Music with Meaning]

If you haven't had a chance to listen to Gungor's new album "I Am Mountain", which was release this pastTuesday,  I encourage you to check it out. Gungor amazes me with it true poetry in music. The "band" (consisting primarily of husband and wife team Michael and Lisa Gungor) has an amazing way of exploring new platforms in musical artistry. I warn you though, sit down and listen to the story told in "I Am Mountain" in sequential order. I made the terrible mistake of carelessly putting the album on shuffle the first night I got it. And I hated it. It just didn't seem like the Gungor I knew and loved. 
But then I remembered the story of "Ghosts Upon the Earth" and decided I needed to listen straight through. This group is the perfect example of true musicianship. I don't think I could put them in a specific genre, each song holds different elements and themes. From one song to the next, the only similar thread is Michael Gungor's gritty, rich voice. But each piece fits together in an abstract puzzle. They are a group that makes you think about their music. (Unlike my other musical obsession). It's not a just a light tune that you play on repeat and dance around the apartment to, but a soul-searching story that challenges how you see life. And to that I say, Well played Gungor! 

So check it out. Reflect on the story. And if you want to read a little more about the meaning of the album, check this article out: http://mikemchargue.com/blog/2013/9/21/review-of-gungors-i-am-mountain

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Never Too Old

As I make my way through my senior year of college, I can't help but feel incredibly old. Where did the past (nearly) 22 years of my life go? It doesn't seem like I should be standing on the threshold of adulthood, preparing to face this next step into the world. With that comes excitement about beginning a new chapter with God-whether that's grad school or another opportunity in or out of the US. I am facing crucial life decisions, reflecting on the changes I've experienced the past four years specifically, and all the time, listening to One Direction. There, I said it. 
Though I face adulthood, I am realizing I'm not to old to act silly. It's the best thing about being in my twenties-I'm not childish, but I don't have to be a stuffy adult! (Not that all adults are stuffy) This year, I've already been transformed into a Directioner and am planning my first ever trip to Disney World. I can still be a kid even at 21 (almost 22) years old. I still want to be a kid at 41 (almost 42) years old! Or even 81. I think that's what joy in life means. You realize you are never too old to do things that seem childish. I think one thing that annoys me most, even though I am guilty of having this attitude some times, is when people my age act like things are below them. For example, the pop band One Direction. I'm realizing that sometimes you just have to embrace what life throws your way, even if it is a cute boy band. So what if I crank "Up All Night" and dance around while making dinner? And so what if I am going to Disney World for the first time as an adult? I'm gonna transform into 10 year old me and enjoy the entire week. There are just some things in life that you have to look in the face and say "Come on, 10 year old self. Let's go have fun!" 
My biggest fear with stepping into adulthood is losing the joy that life holds. And today in chapel, as we were led in devotional by 6 adorable little 1st-3rd graders, I was reminded that being childlike is a choice. Granted, there are obviously some differences in being childish and being childlike. I love the independence that comes with being adult (most days) and being able to make important decisions and see the results of my actions. But I will never be too old to dance to boy bands and watch kids movies and have fun in life.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Burning Bushes

If you grew up in the church, you know what I mean when I say "What's your favorite Bible story?" We all have them. The stories you were told at VBS when you were younger-Joshua, Noah, Jonah...etc. Maybe it was all the colorful animals in Noah's Ark-that used to be my favorite! Or you love the idea of living inside of a big fish like Jonah did. Trust me, ask any 6 year old what their favorite Bible story is, and just enjoy the answers you get. 
We kind of grow out of those kind of Bible stories as we get older. Instead of the fun tales of childhood, our favorite Bible stories start to be ones where we sympathize with the character. They take on more meaning than the simple stories with the fun songs that captured our minds as children. I am realizing that as much as I loved the idea of a giant boat with hundreds of different animals on it, and a rainbow at the end as a kid, I would be a little afraid of the animals, hate the smell, and be tired of being cooped up inside a boat for 40 days. Very recently, I have had Moses on the brain. We have talked about him and his parents in church the past two Sundays, and even shared a quick bit about him and his brother Aaron on Wednesday in Bible class. And I am beginning to understand that God is using me like Moses. I never really had a Bible character that I really connected to before, it all seemed kind of like a stretch for me. But Moses, he makes sense to me. 
Maybe I wasn't ever raised in a palace persay, but I sure acted like I was in high school. God has used college to humble me, just like he used the desert to humble Moses and prepare him for his next stage of life. 
In Exodus 3, God appears to Moses in a burning bush and tells him that he has seen the way the Israelites suffer under their slave drivers and is concerned for them. He tells Moses that He is sending him to rescue the people of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. I think what I empathize most with the story of Moses is in verse 11 of chapter 3, when he says "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" Later, in chapter 6, God tells Moses to go back to Pharaoh and he again says "Since I speak with faltering lips, why should Pharaoh listen to me?" 
I am nothing. Moses went from the highest place to being absolutely nothing. Yet God goes to him, understanding his new position, and chooses to send him to the most powerful person in Egypt to rescue people from slavery. 
I know exactly what Moses is saying when he says he speaks with faltering lips. Sometimes when I'm talking to people, it feels like my brain freezes and I can't get the words out to say what I mean. And when I'm speaking publicly, I say "um" a lot-something I'm trying to improve on. My words seem so miniscule and meaningless. But somehow, God has seen fit to come to me and give me opportunities to do something great. He isn't sending me to speak to the President or anything (although, I may have just jinxed myself), but he has pushed me smack in the middle of the issue of human trafficking. He placed a fiery passion inside of me for these people who are forced into a wicked situation, given me just enough resources to tell others about it, and provided a way for me to present a seminar to my church family. And let me tell you, I am terrified of using my faltering lips to share the news this weekend. 
But God doesn't just say "too bad, suck it up and go do what I told you." He says "I will be with you." He reassures Moses that he is right there next to him, no doubt feeding him the lines as to what to say. There have been many times where I feel like I have no possible way to talk about something, but suddenly I give a good answer. I know that God has used these faltering lips to do some tiny bit of good. And I have no doubt that He will continue to do so-on Saturday, this next school year, and hopefully in a job one day. 
If God can appear to Moses in a burning bush out in the desert and use him to take down a power hungry slave-owner, he can use me to influence the work of many and work toward stopping the wickedness all over the world that we see in modern day slavery. I count my blessings that God has seen me fit to walk beside Moses in his search for justice and freedom. And on days when I'm at my lowest, I know that there is purpose because I have a fire for seeing the liberation of many, just like my Savior.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Crafting Days

Just a little decor I whipped up this afternoon. My favorite projects are the kind that take less work and still look good! So thankful for moments to sit and work on a new project. 
Pictures from my cabinet project to come soon! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

I'm a Temple

This past spring semester, I took an aerobics class. I had it every Monday and Wednesday, right after chapel and it was great! I truly enjoyed the class and it showed me ways to have fun working out. During the span of the class, we had to work out a certain number of times for a duration of 40 minutes each week outside of class. It was great, even if it was just popping in a yoga dvd and closing my bedroom door. I felt so much more energized and healthy. 

At the same time, I began to finally set out on my goal of starting my day off with scripture, spending each morning waking up at 7am, reading my Bible for 30 minutes to an hour and then getting ready for chapel. I felt completely energized each morning, so spiritually challenged each day and it felt great! I was getting healthy spiritually and physically, I could just feel it!

Unfortunately, as this year has gone on my resolve has faded. I've become more tired, so no more waking up early to read my Bible. Life has gotten "busy", so no more consistent working out-especially since I don't have that 2 times a week already scheduled in. And I can feel the difference. I am spiritually and physically sluggish. My energy doesn't seem the same as it did previously in the year. And recently, my dad found out he is diabetic-something that apparently runs in my family. So it is time for that resolve to pick back up. I am ready to embrace this journey of real change and getting back to being spiritually and physically healthy! It is crazy how much the two are linked. I've been thinking a lot about gluttony-the forgotten sin. And although, I'm not exactly sure what to say about it yet, I know that it's something I have got to change. No more Sonic shake runs or cookie logs-sad to say. God gave me a temple and I want to use it for His glory! 
So I am ready to embark on this new adventure, trying to whip into shape for the better!

Go in the Strength You Have ::[February 25th, 2013]::

I was scrolling back through my tumblr today, and ran across this post from February. I think it's a sentiment I can stand to hear again and again, so I hope that it blesses you in some way.


"Yesterday at church, we read in Judges the story of Gideon-smallest member of the weakest tribe of Israel. God asked him to do something big, to face the enemies, the Midians. But Gideon counters God’s request with an excuse of “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." And how often do I feel like that? The weakest, least qualified person. But God calls Gideon “mighty warrior", He sees something bigger inside of Gideon than he himself can see. 
My favorite part of that passage is when God asks Gideon to go our to face the Midians, he tells him “Go in the strength you have…" (v.14) He tells him to go in the state he is in, not go work out, bulk up, maybe grab some back up, but in whatever shape he is at when the Lord speaks. It is so easy to make excuses when God calls to say “well, let me just finish this thing up" or “I’m not qualified for this, let me train some". But God doesn’t wait on our timing. He uses us in whatever situation we are in, even if it is a crumpled mess on the ground. His strength compensates for “the strength you have" and He accomplishes immensely more than we can ever imagine. 
So today, even in the small things-go in the strength you have. Go let God do great things through you."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Let Summer Begin!

First stop: Vacation! Spent a week and a half in the Carolinas with my family. Here are some pictures to prove it. 

Stopped by the Duck Commander/Buck Commander Warehouse
in West Monroe, LA
Climbed Chimney Rock
Visited Amelie's French Bakery in Charlotte, NC
Day trip to Mayberry (Mt Airy, NC), home
of Andy Griffith
Spent a day at Myrtle Beach, went to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville
and walked around Broadway on the Beach

Took a carriage tour and walked down Rainbow Row in
Historic Charleston

Then I got back just in time to start my internship. I think I'm the first person in the history of ever to walk into one job and in a matter of hours, have a new job title. I am officially a youth intern again! Which meant leaving for Houston to do mission work that next weekend.
 [pictures to come]


To my fellow interns, share your best story of the summer so far. .....and GO!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Scars

Earlier this semester, I clumsily spilled scorching coffee down myself, wrecking my left forearm. For a couple of weeks after the incident, that part of my arm was coated in burn cream, gauzed out and wrapped-embarrassingly-in an ACE bandage. I felt ridiculous walking around campus and having repeatedly to answer what had happened, and I wasn't clever enough to come up with a crazy excuse for my misfortune. I laughed at my ridiculous situation, but hated it all the same. I missed class that afternoon because I had to wash my clothes and go to the nurse, and, let's just be honest, it ached and itched under that wrapping.

Now, 6 weeks later, I sport a sweet pinkish scar around the underside of my left arm. Although it is hardly distinguishable except in the right kind of light, I find myself looking at it a fair amount. 
Tonight as I sat glancing at the scar, wondering if it would eventually fade, I couldn't help but start to look at some of the other scars I have attained in my life. I have several small ones from when I had a dog and would, as a child, pester him and carry him around like a baby until he turned on me. Two matching ones on the front each lower-leg from a summer at Work Camp, when we were breaking up branches on a trailer and one sliced up both of my legs simultaneously. No cool surgery scars, unfortunately, but the list goes on. 
Some I am ashamed of, wishing they would disappear. Others are just a part of me, with a story, however insignificant.  And I couldn't help but think of how every person has their own scars, each one carrying a story of their own. I saw a movie the other day where these two people were on a date, and they started talking about how they got all their scars (weird, right?). And in a way, I loved that! It made me want to sit, swapping scar stories with someone. But it also made me both notice my scars more, and wonder about the scars of others. I don't just mean literal, physical scars either. 

We all start out as this "pristine" creature-no scratches, no bruises and definitely no scars. But as life happens, we begin to be cut, and hurt, and form these scars inside and out. Some scars fade away with time, while others remain visible for life. But the beautiful-and tragic-thing about those marks is that they each come with their own story. No two scars were acquired the exact same way and no two people have scars in the exact same place. 
And what is even more interesting is seeing how people handle having those scars. When I first got my burn, I had several people tell me to put Mederma-or some other kind of cream like that-on it so it wouldn't scar. Many people want to do whatever they can to make sure those marks are not seen by anyone else. They cover the markings with different lotions and creams to make it fade as quickly as it appeared, or just cover it with bandages. Others share the stories of their scars with anyone willing to listen. They sport it proudly, especially, I've noticed, if it comes with some kind of crazy story behind it.
Just like that, we each have our own scarred hearts. Ones that have been marked up with life's events. Scars from struggles and pain, even marks from love brushing past us. And one day, there will be someone who asks about those scars, and you can go about it one of two ways: try to cover them up the best you can, or sport it proudly and share the story of how you got them. There is part of me that loves the prospect sharing scar stories (physical and emotional). To know those seemingly insignificant events in someones life that affected them somehow physically, cutting deeply enough into the tissue to leave a mark. And the same for the marks on our heart. Hearing people's life stories is such a beautiful thing to me. I wish I sought out those opportunities more. 
So to all you scarred people out there, don't be ashamed of those marks. Learn to share the stories behind them, because no matter how embarrassing they may be, they are beautiful just the same.
My birthmark-looking coffee burn scar.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Relevant Mag ::[The Justice Side of Porn]::

I get emails from Relevant Magazine each week with some of the highlighted articles, and came across this one. I wanted to share it because, as I said a few weeks ago-fighting human trafficking is something I'm really passionate about. I know in my life, I have had friends addicted to porn that I wish so badly I could help. But this article shows that porn isn't only hurting you and those people around you, but people in other parts of the world are being victimized. I don't say that to guilt anyone who has an addiction, but just hoping to open everyone's eyes to think of human trafficking in different ways. It isn't just girls in brothels. It's people we walk past on the street, people we see in magazines, people who are millions of miles away or even right next door.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I Love Irony

Irony is probably my favorite form of rhetoric. And it has been very apparent in my life recently.
My latest show of this has been in what this summer holds. A few weeks before school ended, I wrote down a prayer for this summer-that I wouldn't be alone, that I would be given opportunities to serve, that He would use me in doing a Justice Seminar, and that I would find a job for the summer.
I had forgotten about that until Tuesday night. I flipped to the back of the notebook where I'd written it, and reread this plea.
I had no clue that before noon the next day, He would have answered every bit of that prayer. That, my friends, is irony!
Also, on a funnier note, the past two summers, the same day I am just steps away from turning my application in at Chickfila, God sets another job in front of me. I think maybe that's a sign that I shouldn't be working at Chickfila! (But I'll still,be eating there!)
Irony is the most intriguing thing to me, especially when you really give it the appreciation it deserves.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Passions

Sometimes I feel like God has these little jokes that he knows only I will really appreciate.
This one is no different.
For a year now, I have consciously been praying for God to open my eyes to that one thing I can be passionate about. I had felt out some things, thinking maybe that was it-my big one: child poverty. Surely that is as good a passion as any, right? 
It all started with seeing the people I studied abroad in Greece with. Never had I come to know a group of people as intimately as I knew them, and that definitely included knowing where their passions lie. Everything from animals, to worship leading, to children and youth, to history and archaeology, to photography. Where's mine? I could see it in how they acted, how they talked-that was their purpose. And it caused me to stumble. I had been sure that I was intended to be a psychology major, to go on and help people with all my psychology knowledge, and to fight child poverty in ways that I could on the side. So I started questioning what I was really intended to do with my life. Summer was too busy to think about it, but the fall semester really tripped me up. Toward November, I decided that I couldn't be a psych major in good conscious anymore and made an admittedly blind switch to General Studies-it was perfect! It allowed me to not waste all those psych credits, opened doors to take a wider variety of courses, and I could still graduate in 4 years! My parents worried some, but I was stoked. 
Over Christmas break, I was given the opportunity to attend the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia with some friends. It was incredible-the most overwhelming, humbling, exhausting, exciting experience and a great way to start off 2013. The past couple years, Passion has focused on the issue of human trafficking. They began the "End It Movement" that week, raising awareness of the cause, fundraising, and other initiatives that came to follow. That week, through hours of praise, sometimes dozing off during speakers, and 60,000 other people, God nestled the issue of trafficking right into my open, searching heart. With representatives from different organizations, stories of real victims, and resources to help laid out before me, I was stirred to righteous anger. It was sickening to hear the story of Rachel, a trafficking victim, and encouraging to see her sitting just a section away from me, smiling in restoration. 
When I got home from the Conference, I resolved to not let that passion fade away. I spent hours researching the issue, combing through organization websites, and seeing where I could be used. As I got deeper into my newly realized passion, I looked back at the series of seeds planted in that journey. It's one of my favorite things to look back at milestones in a journey once you get to the other side and see how things worked together to bring you to your current location. I realized that God stirred the thirst for passion in me in Greece. And then that summer, my home church's college group collected money to support women who were trafficked (unfortunately, I didn't understand what that meant at the time). Then on a mission trip during my internship, I encountered several children who were in poor family situations. I cannot say for sure, but I would guess that they would have been victims of trafficking or just sex slavery. Then in the fall, a friend from high school began a blog for class focusing on the issue of human trafficking. Each thing peaked more and more interest, until finally it culminated in Atlanta. 
I can only smile and laugh at God's sense of humor that I discovered my personal passion at Passion 2013. Now on days when I feel useless and no good, there's always something in the back of my mind recalling that I have a purpose. 
So take heart, you passion-seekers. If you haven't found yours yet, keep your eyes open and head up. It is coming! And if you have found yours, chase after it! Remember in your bad days that your purpose is always there, and seek opportunities to feed that fire. It's a precious, precious gift.
Picture from Passion 2013
End It Movement


Monday, May 13, 2013

Summer Adventures: Let it Begin!

A few weeks ago, I posted a Summer To Do list. Well we are here, on the brink of summer and I'm adding something to that lovely little list. First real day of summer break, and I've job hunted, run errands and stumbled on the jewel that is the public library!
If you don't have a library card-GET ONE. It is the doorway to changing your summer. The library doesn't only have books, it has movies, books on cd, and workout videos! My catches for today include a Pilates dvd, Richard Simmons Groovin in the House vhs, and the first Lord of the Rings book on cd. The possibilities are endless for your summer adventures. Good luck and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise

For me, 2013 started not only with a new year but a new fire. God answered a long time prayer for my eyes to be opened to an issue to be passionate over. Long story short, He very quickly opened my eyes to the issue of human trafficking, and more specifically sex trafficking. So a week before the semester started, I dropped a psychology class and added in International Social Work to my spring schedule. Amazingly enough, here we are at the end of the semester-5 months later-and for our final project in ISW we had to read 15 articles on social welfare issues and write a short synopsis of them.

As I read through several different issues, I got to a story about a 4 year old girl in India who was raped, and recently died in the hospital. It made me sick. It made me absolutely furious. I thought no one who would do such a thing to a child deserves to live. And then something stirred in me. I've said it multiple times, I'm so glad God is the judge and not me-I have no pity for those who do horrible acts to children. But the story of the thief on the cross in Luke 23 popped into my mind. This man was a sinner, but even in His worst moment, Jesus forgave him and welcomed him into paradise. I hope that in my quest for justice for those being trafficked that I can learn to love those who are seen as the bad guys too. Not that I can forgive their actions, but to see them as a person loved by Christ and welcomed, just like me, into paradise.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

[FBF]::Spring '13

My friends and I have a tradition called Fine Boy Finals week. Each finals week we take part in a semi-marathon of movies containing at least one person dubbed "fine boy". Its a little encouragement to get us through our finals. So in honor of FBF Spring '13, I give you this photo. Good luck on your finals this week (or next, or whenever)!

Life's An Adventure

"Life's an Adventure"
I have sort of adopted this as my montra since I got back from my semester abroad. Travel really opens your eyes to the little happinesses in life, so last summer I sought out seeing the mundane as an adventure. Overall, I'd say its going well-some days more than others. Somedays I get lost in the drone of routine, forgetting to look at the little gifts throughout my day and to smile. And recently I have had the thought cross my mind that I am not living an adventurous life! I am guilty of watching a few too many movies instead of hiking to a new nearby peak, or studying instead of going on a weekend trip someplace new. But I say "nay!" That's where the challenge is! Its easy to see adventure in spending time in a new country or in going on an outdoorsy challenge of caving or hiking. But the hidden adventure is seeing the joy in a low key night with friends. Or even more difficult, finding it amidst school work or jobs. That's part of growing up-which I don't plan to fully do any time soon, but its nice to see a glimmer of it every now and then.
Don't forget to be adventurous in big ways, but don't overlook it in the little ways either. It may just be hiding in the shadows! Each day is exciting and joy-filled, we just seem to overlook it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gone in a Blink

Today I have been very aware of what a wisp of smoke life is. Time is precious and is so easily wasted. So at the risk of sounding preachy, I just want to encourage and remind what a gift time is! Live life to the fullest and be aware of what a blessing it is each day! That's all. Just weighing on my heart today.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Little Ray of Sunshine

I read this article earlier called "22 Things Happy People Do Differently". As I was reading through I just pictured those people in my life who are always smiling, and who never fail to brighten your day. I fully believe these 22 things are true of them, and I hope that I can at least learn to put these into practice! One of my favorites from this list is "Don't make excuses", mainly because of the Ben Franklin quote in it: "People who are good at making excuses are seldom good at anything else." I can be pretty good at making excuses, so I just have to decide to stop. A few weeks ago, a friend shared the advice to be a "yes" person. Sort of like that movie, but more of deciding to stop making excuses and start taking advantages of opportunities. Go enjoy life, and choose to be happy! Hope y'all enjoy this article as much as I did.
 

Monday, April 22, 2013

How Much More

I ran across this article as I was skimming through Pinterest, like any other college girl during a lunch break. Its 5 stories of celebrities who have not so great reputations and the acts of kindness they take part in regularly. I especially love the Russell Brand story in this article. But just something to chew on for today!
http://www.cracked.com/article_20413_5-heartwarming-stories-to-restore-your-faith-in-celebrities_p2.html
It's pretty incredible to see good in people who, in our culture's eyes, have every right to put themselves above anyone else. And what a reminder that if these people, who have everything they could possibly want materially, can stop and do good for those who don't have it so well off, how much more should we take time each day to help. Especially to any Christians out there, this should be a conviction to step it up and be the Good Samaritan. We hear the story over and over, but never actually stop for the metaphorical traveler lying on the side of the road.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

To Do ::[Summer 2013]::

So this summer I am going home...again. Last summer, I was blessed to do a youth internship near home, so I was constantly going. This summer sounds a little more lame in comparison to my friends who will head out to all corners of the world this May, June and July. But I firmly believe there is a reason that all the other plans I tried for didn't work out. I don't really know what that reason is, but this summer I am making a to do list of things I will accomplish around home. It WILL be a summer adventure, even if I feel like I am going back to the place I've been my entire life. There is a whole lot that I have not explored in the area where I live. So, here goes! I hope to post pictures and snippits as I accomplish each new journey. In the words of my friend Kelc: VIVA!

  • Go to new coffee shops
     Like this one: The Pearl Cup http://pearlcupcoffee.com/
Branch out from the typical Starbucks-which don't get me wrong,
I love Starbucks-but support a smaller business and try
new coffee varieties at other places. Or if you're not a coffee 
drinker, try new restaurants, or shops. Find a small store that you
would typically just pass by, and give it a go. Maybe you'll find a brand
new favorite outfit to mix things up!


  • Justice Seminar
 This summer, I am working to host a seminar about human trafficking 
at my home congregation, to bring awareness of this issue to my 
brothers and sisters and to equip them with ways they can get involved 
in the fight right where we are now!
  • Volunteer
I am calling myself out on talking the talk, but not walking the walk.
I want to use this summer to explore the opportunities around my own 
community. I have been saying for a couple years now that I want to help
out at a place called Hearts and Hands, which is only 15 minutes from 
my house. But I constantly make excuses, namely that I don't
want to go by myself.
Which leads me to my next one.
  • Do things on my own more
I have been wasting time and opportunity because I am afraid to do 
something alone. And what a selfish approach to the world, because I am 
not alone! First of all, I can think of very few things where I truly would 
be doing something alone, even if I  just don't know people. Also, as 
cheesy and cliche as you may think this is, God is by my side. 
That's a lesson I need to learn! So why not start this summer-whether that's 
getting up and volunteering, jumping into a new job where I know 
no one, going to movies or coffee shops alone, or even just going on a 
walk or run by myself.
  • Find cool, free things to do nearby!
There are so many places that I know I would love, and should explore
and get to know my area better. I've lived there 21 years, but there
is so much I have yet to see. For example, over spring break, I learned
that my city has a farmers market in downtown on Saturday mornings.
You best believe, I'm going to be hitting that place up this summer!
  • Make new friends
I don't really have many people back home that I keep up with, and those
that I do typically spend their summers elsewhere. So for this summer, I am
to invest in the people around me. Assuming I can find a job, I want to
spend time with those people outside of work. Some of them may not
want to, but it's my choice to make an effort and step outside of
myself to create those new relationships. Who knows what greatness
could come of those strangers I will face in the coming months.
  •  Face the Texas heat
I am the biggest baby about being hot and sweaty. Mostly sweaty. I can
handle the dry heat, but when I am constantly glistening (because girls
don't sweat, we glisten....blah blah) while outside, I get ca-raaanky!
But this summer I will force my vampire-ishly pale self out of
the air conditioned house and into the melatonin filled outdoors.
Maybe sweat off some pounds, soak in some sunlight, go see new parks
and gardens around the metro or spend some time at the lake! 
  •  Read books
If you are like me, then you have a huge list of books that people
have recommended and mentioned to you, or you've heard about through
the years. There are books on my list that I didn't even know were on my list.
So this summer is the time to tackle that! Unfortunately I am
one of the slowest readers, so maybe it won't be a much smaller
list by the time I'm done, but it's a goal of mine to at least complete a book.
On top of being a slow reader, I also start books in the middle of
other books, and don't finish them. Maybe I'm afraid of commitment,
who knows. But us this summer to take down whatever you can of that 
enormous book list!      
  • Do new projects
(Or finish ones I've started). I have a picture curtain waiting at home
for me to finish hanging behind my bed, a halfway refurbished cabinet
sitting in our garage needing a second coat of paint and some cutesy
decor added! Even just cleaning out closest, organizing old pictures,
making a scrapbook. I also am hoping to spend some of my job money 
on taking a class at Hobby Lobby/JoAnn's to learn a new skill.
So to those of you who feel like you're "just going back home for summer", take heart-summer will be what you make it! Do something new and outside of your comfort zone (again, VIVA!!!). Make a list of crazy things to do in the 3-4 months you have. Take trips and enjoy life! You don't have to be on an adventure to live one. 
And to those of you going on a new adventure, enjoy! Learn from the people you are going to be around, especially if it is in a different country. I'm a firm believer that travel is the greatest blessing as far as being able to grow in yourself. Seeing another culture really challenges how we define ourselves. So be a tourist, but also be a citizen. Invest in the people you pass by daily. 
I'm still waiting for the chance to travel again and be with people who are culturally different from me!
So let's go Summer 2013!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Isaiah 1:17

"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

I have sort of taken this verse on as my mission statement. But as I spent half of the night last night, joined in with others fighting to raise our voices against trafficking, it echoed over and over in my head. And one of the most beautiful sounds is tired voices singing together at 1am, passionately. Not like a forced, robotic sound; but giving everything they have left in them as voices strain and eyes are heavy. I'm so thankful to see people at my school standing up for something that has been breaking God's heart for longer than we even can grasp. Maybe we just stood outside and signed a paper, but it's those steps that will lead to more action and more movement. And that's worth the sleep deprivation on this Friday morning.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

For Future Information

 
Fact: If a guy got me a penguin, I would marry him.

Here's a little video of a penguin being tickled just to make you smile today!

Tread on Trafficking ::[Love146]::

I am beginning a fundraising journey to raise $250 with Love146's annual Tread on Trafficking. My goal from now until June 30th is to intentionally walk for 30 minutes a day. It doesn't sound like much, but for busy college life, 30 minutes is difficult to find. I would really appreciate any donations or just support in sharing the message of those stuck in trafficking. 
Check out my page here:
Or you can join in on the fun here:


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

An Introvert Living in an Extrovert World

Until this year, I would have told you I was an extrovert (borderline introvert). But I am quickly learning that I was very wrong about myself. And I think maybe that's because I wanted to be perceived as an extrovert. Drawing energy from others, enjoying time with big groups of people is desirable in our culture. It has a more positive connotation for someone to be an extrovert. Introverts are cursed with being seen as rude or shy, when really we just like to take in our surroundings. I've seen more and more memes about introverts, and though they are funny, extremes, there is a lot of truth in them. 
Part of the acceptance I've come to is from understanding myself more and how I function. Before, I was so determined to be extroverted and someone who was the life of the party. However I've recently come to understand that I'm not ever going to be the life of the party, chatting with everyone and making jokes----and that's okay. While I used to love being in big groups of people, I'm way more into small groups or even one on one time. I like getting to know people and I'm not the kind of person to have serious conversations around a group of more than like 4 people--and even that's pushing it. 
Also, on one of the web images I've seen, it explained that introverts give energy and extroverts take energy. It's a system, and I really like that image. However, sometimes (like this weekend) I give more energy than I have and it drains me--and I've recently learned, can make me kind of cranky. Fortunately most of my close friends are introverted also, which works well for us because we can be low key, but still together. But there's some extroverts in there too, taking the energy we are giving off. Again, a system...kind of like photosynthesis.
I'm sure there's more to say about this, but I write this to say two things. 

First to the introverts out there:
It's okay not to be the life of the party. That doesn't mean your a grump, you just give energy and need to participate in different ways. Learn how you personally work, because I firmly believe there's a scale and levels of introversion.

To the extroverts:
Don't be taken aback if an introvert is quieter to you some days than others. We may have given more energy one day than another, it doesn't mean we are mad at you. And be kind to the introverts in your life, not sucking too much of their energy! It's all about balance and learning how to deal with someone different from you.
Instructions For Us Both!
Just some suggestions. I personally don't feel like I fit neatly into these things, but some people do more than others.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Larger Than Life ::[Spring Sing 2013]::

Well sorry its a week late, but here are some pics from Spring Sing! 
Braiding their hairs for performance

This is the make-up room. AKA-Crazy town

Two of my sweet co-mothers getting ready

Awwww, look at us being all mom like and stuff. Everything from mom jeans to fanny packs to fake boobs and lipstick

Two of my favorite swimmers

This is where shows come to wait before performance. We have everything from bikers to Olympians to cowgirls and toy soldiers.

Our little Olympians
These are my HUG friends. I kind of love them a lot.

The 5 amazing hosts/hostesses of Spring Sing 2013


Also, this is my hostess friend Tori. She's pretty much the coolest person I know, singing We Didn't Start the Fire

The intro to our club show

"Don't forget my la-la-la-la-la-laundry"

YAY "It's a Ring Thing" show

We didn't place, but we did get 3rd in the music category and the Spirit award for having the most Christ-like attitude! Hope you enjoyed the little clippit of my last few months.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Performance Week!!!!!!

The time has come for Spring Sing performance week at school-which is why I have been sparse in posts lately. Spring Sing is kind of a big deal here, leading up to Easter weekend. It is a show where 3-4 clubs group up and create a 7 minute show complete with music, lyrics, costumes and, most importantly, choreography. There are about 6 different clusters of clubs, along with an ensemble and 4-5 hosts/hostesses in between each club show. 
This year, our overall theme is Larger than Life. And our club show is **drumroll, please**..........
OLYMPICS!
It all begins tonight with our "Jersey Night", where each club wears their specific jersey to perform their 7 minute show. 
Tomorrow will be our dress rehearsal, then we get a break Wednesday night-for church and stuff. Thursday begins our true performances, with one during the day, one at night, a night performance Friday, matinee Saturday, and the big award performance Saturday night-where we find out the results of the show. 
The winning clubs get a certain amount of money to go toward a charity of their choice, depending on their place. My freshman year, we got 3rd, so we were given money for the Sunshine School, here in Searcy, which works with special needs people.
So stay tuned for pictures of all the madness of performance week! And wish us luck. For anyone coming to the show: VOTE FOR OLYMPICS!!! 
(even though it doesn't work that way)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sub-Spring Break Snow

 So the Southerner in me is coming out tonight as I, along with thousands of other Harding students, freak out about the mid-March snowfall. The rumor spread all day long, but it was too sunny and relatively warm to actually seem plausible. But tonight, as we headed to Spring Sing practice, we saw the first signs of the snow to come. Halfway through the practice, huge globs of snowflakes began to fall. By the time we got done, the cars and grass were covered in about half an inch of snow.
So naturally, I called my mom to tell her of the crazy phenomenon. After sharing that news, we got back to our dorm to make hot chocolate, and listen to the thumps of people throwing snowballs in the courtyard. Needless to say, I am praying for a snow day tomorrow-even though it's a long shot.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Perfect Gifts [Eternal Threads]

If you are looking for a gift or just a little something new for you, try out Eternal Threads. They are an organization working to support sustainable living for women in third world countries who are at risk for trafficking-especially sex trafficking-through fair trade, handmade gifts. The women make these items and are paid fairly for the labor they put in, so that they can support their families.
They have everything from headbands to home decor to bags and wallets. I know where I'm getting my Christmas gifts for this year from. Absolutely beautiful jewelry and purses along with some things for guys and ways to give gifts to families overseas to help them live. 
I've looked at a few fair trade organizations that sell similar products, and although beautiful and working for a great thing, they are pretty expensive! As a college student, I just can't pay those prices. Eternal Threads though is pretty reasonably priced. 

Wow. Sorry that sounds like an infomercial. But seriously, check out Eternal Threads website and see a little more of what they are about and the different items they have in their store.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013