August 4, 2011
I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while now, but I kept getting caught up in the every day, especially with returning to my graduate assistantship last week. My second (and final!) year of grad school has begun – I even signed up to begin receiving job posting emails today (eek!) However, we have four new FABULOUS graduate assistants in our office that I have loved getting to know over the past two weeks, and I can’t wait to spend the year with them! ACE is in great hands with these women!
Anyway, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve really had an opportunity to stop and see God’s work in the every day. I’ve mentioned that I finished One Thousand Gifts and what an incredible book it was. Among many other things it has taught me, I’ve really begun seeking God’s blessings in the mundane and even in the really frustrating, difficult times. I definitely had the chance to do that over the past two weeks.
A couple of Saturdays ago, I was super excited to go up to Charlotte and see Logan, one of my roommates from CBSP. I haven’t seen her since October, so I jumped at the chance to make the 1.5 hour drive up I-77 to see her, especially on the last official day of my summer vacation. Perfect way to end the summer, right? I thought so, too. It was a HOT day, and I made my way north, jamming to some Needtobreathe. As I exited the interstate to continue to Logan’s Nana’s house, good ol’ Doris (my car…yes, it’s named) started to sputter and struggle to shift. Immediately, I panicked, because I am the world’s worst when it comes to cars. I made it to the parking lot of a BiLo conveniently located off the exit. After some praying, a few laps around the parking lot, and some checking of engine fluids, I determined that my oil was low. I went in, purchased oil and a filter, added oil, said a prayer – still sputtering. I managed to get the car to a Goodyear about a mile down the road, walked in, and explained the situation. Poor guys…I think they could tell that I’d already been crying (yes, I was crying…when these things happen, I become an emotional wreck, haha.) One of the technicians determined it was my transmission and discovered my transmission fluid was four quarts low (ps…the tank holds nine quarts.) They refilled my fluid (for free!) and sent me on my way.
After getting home safely, I made my way to the mechanic Monday morning, who then determined I needed to visit a transmission shop and recommended one to visit. When I got there on Friday, they told me not to drive my car and get it back in as soon as possible to be fixed (not exactly the reaction one wants to hear…haha). After two days in the shop earlier this week, Doris is fixed and back on the road.
So, what does this have to do with seeing God’s blessings? Well, as I think over the past two weeks, and how absolutely frustrating they were (did I also mention I managed to lock myself out of my apartment the day after the car fiasco? Oh, yeah…I did), there are so. many. places where I can point and say God was there.
- Not breaking down on the side of the road
- A Goodyear close by with technicians that looked at and refilled my transmission fluid for free (okay, this may have been because they were afraid I was going to break down crying in their store at 5 pm on a Saturday…haha)
- Making it back to Columbia safely
- A sweet friend who understood that I wasn’t coming to see her
- Neighbors who let me borrow their cell phone, no questions asked, and then got me back into my apartment when maintenance told me there was nothing they could do
- Multiple friends who drove me around this week when I was without a car
- A mechanic who only charged me $35 to look at my car and determine that it needed to go to the transmission shop
- A transmission shop who figured out the problem and fixed it quickly without an appointment
- Parents and a grandmother who are willing to pay for such car problems AND lend me money for rent (oh yeah…did I also mention that our payroll got messed up so that none of us ACE grads got paid on Friday?)
- Supervisors who figure out how to get us at least 70% of that paycheck before the next scheduled paycheck on the 15th
- New friends/fellow graduate assistants who kept me laughing all week in the midst of all of this
- Encouraging words and prayers from sweet friends throughout the whole ordeal
I think, in all of this, it’s evident that God has His hand on every single thing, every pulse and heartbeat of our lives. Our God truly is bigger, greater, and stronger than anything that can be thrown our way.
July 19, 2011
As part of the University 101 class I am co-teaching in the fall, students will read the book This I Believe II and write their own This I Believe essays. The concept is simple. Short essays of 500ish words on a core value of a person’s life. The project held a place on NPR for years, and you can learn more about it here: This I Believe
As my co-instructor and I have worked on our syllabus, I’ve had many thoughts on what my essay would look like. I absolutely planned on writing one right along with the students and honestly figured I’d probably write several. But as I was lying in bed tonight, waiting for sleep to come, a single sentence came to me.
I believe in the power of a memory.
So, being too tired and lazy to grab my laptop, I typed it all into a note on my iPhone. My brain didn’t want it to sit until morning, so I spilled it all out. And because I’ve done a horrible job of blogging lately, I figured I would post it here as well. Here goes nothin’:
I believe in the power of a memory.
Five girls piled into one room. Mattresses, pillows, and blankets litter the floor. Token junk food containers dot the scene, the remnants of a freshman year.
Five girls spend that night together, in a room designed for two. Boxes packed, walls bare, but within those white cinderblock walls are the memories of the 12th floor. They hold endless nights of laughter, the tears of college relationships gone awry, and the many silly photographs taken together. They hold a year’s worth of growth, learning, and love.
Tomorrow, after one last shared meal, they will pile into separate cars and head separate ways. They promise to talk and text and Facebook often. They count down the days until they return as sophomores, no longer the new kids on the block.
Five years later, with the added clarity of hindsight, it’s obvious that night didn’t just mark the end of a year. It marked the end of a friendship as they knew it. Those girls grew up, grew into themselves. They changed their activities, their friendship circles, and even their beliefs. They moved away from the bubble of their college life and dispersed throughout the Southeast.
But in the power of that memory, I can take myself back to my place in that room, perched on that mattress on the floor, watching a movie and talking late into the night. I can lose myself in the love that surrounded that room, wrap myself in it when I need a reminder of a simpler time. We may not all be together now; we may not even all speak frequently or at all, but one thing remains the same. In my heart, as the lyrics go, it’s still the five of us.
July 4, 2011
Isn’t it funny how certain sights, smells, and days bring you back to a specific time in your life?
Of course, today is the 4th of July, Independence Day. Everyone probably has their own ideas and memories about what makes this day special. But I think the more intriguing thing, at least for me, is how my idea of what makes Independence Day special has changed as I’ve gotten older.
When I was just a kid, 4th of July weekend meant a celebration. It meant packing snacks, drinks, and a blanket and heading out to the lake to watch the fireworks show along with the majority of my <2,000 person hometown. It meant heading to my grandparents’ house for a cookout of barbecue chicken or hot dogs and hamburgers, depending on what we’d had for Memorial Day. It meant maybe having corn on the cob, depending on how the summer had gone so far for the farmers, and discussing how a farmer’s prime summer corn should be “knee high by the 4th of July.” It meant sitting at the table watching, and later helping, my grandpa to make his “famous fruit salad” (title coined by yours truly when I was just a lil tyke).
But I was driving today, I remembered another 4th of July memory that’s a little more recent. Six years ago, I was spending my first 4th away from the lake and my parents and grandparents, watching fireworks over a different body of water – San Diego Bay. I was there for the National Leadership Meeting (back when it was NLM, not NLC…gosh, I’m old!) of FCCLA, had just run for and subsequently not received a national office, and was marveling in the fact that I was wearing jeans and a hoodie on July 4th. I was also in the arms of a particular boy, and while that didn’t work out the way we once thought it would, I’m so glad that we’re still friends. Such good friends, in fact, that I texted him upon being reminded of this particular occasion and lamented the fact that we were old, haha.
But I really got to thinking about just how long ago that six years seems to be now. Six years ago I was still in high school. I hadn’t spent four years growing up in Kentucky, hadn’t met the girls who made my first year of college what is still one of my favorite memories to date, hadn’t taught and then figured out that teaching, at least in high school, was not what God had planned for me. I hadn’t driven 20 hours in one weekend to and from Missouri to meet my sister for the first time and say goodbye to my grandpa and wrestle with God for the rest of that summer. I hadn’t met the girls who opened their arms to me, the woman who lead me to ask Christ into my heart, or prayed about going away for eight weeks on a summer project with Campus Crusade.
I have to admit, I am not the best at reflecting and thinking about all these things, but when I’m lead to do that, it’s crazy all the things that come up. When was the last time you took yourself down memory lane?
In other news, I’m officially on vacation until July 22. I plan to spend a lot of time at the pool, reading, and relaxing. One of the books I’m devouring is Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, which is the book my summer small group is reading. Oh. My. Gosh. Y’all, this book is amazing. It was completely revolutionized my thinking about my quiet time with two chapters. Run to the nearest bookstore or click as fast as you can to Amazon and pick up a copy.
Hopefully this vacation will mean some more regular blogging as well!
Happy 4th, y’all. God Bless America ❤
June 7, 2011
Oh, hello blog…long time, no see.
I could write a crazy long update-esque post with all the crazy things that have been going on in my life. But let’s face it…if you are reading this blog, you are probably friends with me on Facebook or following me on Twitter, so you know as much as you need to (probably more than you’d ever want to, honestly) know.
I do really want to blog more, write more, and read more as this summer progresses. I took a step in that tonight, taking refuge in an extremely comfy chair in Starbucks at Sandhills with my Bible, my journal, and One Thousand Gifts. After a small blessing of not one, but two tiramisu cake pops, courtesy of the sweet, sweet barista who told me I needed another one because the first didn’t have its’ decoration, I settled in. For two hours, I soaked up the refreshing words of my Father, which was just what I needed.
I want to share the verse and quote that touched me the most in my time tonight before I try to get some sleep:
2 Corinthians 12:10 – “…for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“The next time you have a dream you think you can’t achieve or you’re tempted to paint a perfect picture of yourself on Facebook, remember it’s the weaknesses, the imperfections – the things you can’t accomplish on your own – that give God the opportunity to show off in your life.” – Shannon Primicerio, She Seeks.
Good words for a girl who is all about chasing some perfection.
April 4, 2011
I know my blog posting has been sporadic lately. I wish I was much more dedicated to this blog and keeping it updated on a regular basis, but I haven’t been able to make that happen yet. At any rate, at least not a whole lot has happened since my last post. I spent three absolutely wonderful days with some of my CBSP loves in Carolina Beach, NC. During this trip, I experienced Cookout for the first time (delightful), Bernie-d all over UNCW’s campus (as referenced in the previous YouTube video…which has an absurd number of views now, haha), was attacked by a mass mob of seagulls and crows wanting leftover pancakes, stayed up crazy late watching movies and talking about life with some of my favorite people ever...it was wonderful. We dubbed it CBSB (Carolina Beach Spring Break)…we just love our acronyms.
I love how our summer project is still in touch even after almost a year. I can count on a CBSP reference on Facebook at least once a week. Currently, there are at least two Facebook events with travel plans to reunite over the summer, as well as a support group for another summer project being attended by one of our girls. When we get together, it’s like we never left. I’m still in awe of how God brought 40 strangers together over a period of 10 weeks.
I’m also so inspired by some of my lovely friends and the things they are currently doing, especially my friend Ashley. I met Ashley my senior year of college. She was the roommate of my friend Becca, who was in my major and offered me a spot in their senior girls’ Bible study, which led (rather quickly, haha) to my acceptance of Christ for the first time. I could always count on Ashley (along with every other girl in that study) for a smile and a warm, welcome invitation into their lives. I love Ashley’s heart for the Lord and for others. She’s currently in the middle of a six month trip to Haiti to serve at a mission there, and every time she updates her blog, I’m basically moved to tears at her beautiful words. You can read for yourself here. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Two thoughts to wrap up this post (because, let’s face it…it’s 10:30, my alarm needs to be set for 5, and it’s going to be raining in the morning…I need to be as well rested as possible):
- I came across this quote in the Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today devotion this morning and then came back to it tonight.“But the only antidote to fear is faith. And courage is not something we find within ourselves. It is the result of faith, and even that is a gift from God.” – Ariel Allison Lawhon. So true. So many times I fear what’s ahead, what’s already past, what’s happening in the here and now instead of just putting my trust in the Lord to get me through it.
- I’m about to enter the She Speaks scholarship contest sponsored by She Seeks. Now listen, y’all…I have no dreams of winning this contest. There are clearly much, much more qualified writers who should be at the She Speaks conference. You know, those people who remember to blog more than once a month…haha. But I’ve always wanted this blog to be more of an encouragement to others, more in line with other blogs that I read and gain so much from, and I feel like this may be an opportunity to do just that.
Have a good night, y’all =)
March 10, 2011
So, as a result of the spontaneity of my last post, aka making the four hour trip up to Carolina Beach to spend some time with a few members of my wonderful project family, I have now learned a new dance. Not only have I learned said dance, but I have since been posted on YouTube performing said dance. So, I give to you, the CBSB (Carolina Beach Spring Break) CBSP version of Doin the Bernie…
March 8, 2011
So, I just spent a solid hour reading my Bible, listening to worship music, and writing in my journal. I needed that mental break, and I hadn’t taken the time for it like I should have long before now. It becomes evident when I’m filling page upon page with thoughts coming faster than I can write them down. As I sent in a text to a friend in the midst of it, “for a person who took a year and a half to fill up her last, much smaller journal…grad school has made me a lot more contemplative.” It’s true. I get a lot more out of writing down my thoughts, both to myself and to God, than just letting them marinate inside my mind.
I’m currently on spring break, a week that I’ve been desperately needing since, oh, getting sick back in the beginning of February. This semester has just been killer with school and work, though I’m excited about some things that are going on. I attended my first Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience with my office, had a great time with the six other lovely grads in our “Super GA office,” and took away some good information. Our new study groups initiative is moving at a snails’ pace, but we’re finally at the place of pitching it to students (whoops…note to self, MUST. DO. TOMORROW.) and meeting with them next week. I’m praying that we have students show up! Classes are classes, but I just ended an AMAZING practicum experience working with academic advising and was more assured than ever that that is where my heart lies in this crazy profession of higher education & student affairs.
I began this break with oh, so many intentions of being super productive and getting ahead in work and school so that the second half of the semester would be less stressful and hectic than the first. Well, at least I had good intentions, right? Instead, I’m spending a little time in the office tomorrow morning (sending those study group emails…) and then leaving early tomorrow afternoon for Carolina Beach to see some of my lovely summer project family. While the responsible part of me is FREAKING OUT and screaming, “absolutely not,” every other fiber of my being knows that I need some time with them for my own sanity’s sake. So…I’m going.
Plans are also starting to come together for the end of the semester/beginning of my summer. My last official day of my first year of grad school is May 6, part of which will be spent celebrating the hooding of some fabulous second-years that I will miss dearly. I’ll be driving back to Missouri the 7th, with an overnight stay in Kentucky that night. The 8th-12th I’ll be in Missouri getting my car inspected and licensed, spending time with family, hopefully catching up with friends. Then it’s back to Kentucky for the 13th and 14th to, again, hopefully catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in a year (entirely too long…do y’all hear me? MAKE. PLANS. NOW.) Afterward, it’s back to South Carolina to start my internship, do some more ACE coaching, and try to relax a tad bit. I would also like to sprinkle in some lying by the pool, reading books that are not for school (though apparently D.P. will give us a summer book list…haha), and making it to the beach. Oh, and blogging much more than I have so far this semester…haha.
I’ll close with two songs that have been either playing on repeat or speaking to me lately. The first we sang in church a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been stuck on repeat ever since. The second is one I found earlier this semester and came across again today and it’s just been ministering to me in my quiet time tonight. I hope y’all enjoy them.
January 30, 2011
It’s 11:30. I should most definitely be sleeping. Instead, I’ve got my worship Pandora station playing on my phone. I just reread and journaled over things from Amy’s lesson and Dr. Lincoln’s sermon this morning. I challenged myself to memorize two verses this week. I committed to praying for specific people this week. I smiled and praised God for the little things He’s blessed me with. Things like:
- 70 degree weather in January.
- A roommate who will spend 15-30 minutes every Sunday afternoon swapping Sunday School and church stories and messages.
- Opening my Bible to Philippians during Dr. Lincoln’s sermon this morning and seeing 1:3-11 underlined with “CBSP 2010” next to it.
- Being challenged to be more intentional in my relationship with the Lord.
- Answered prayers in being more confident of my future direction.
- Remembering that this is just a season, and that this world is not my home.
- My fabulous Pandora worship station.
- Knowing that God is more interested in my heart than my history.
What are the little things that you’ve been blessed with?
January 11, 2011
Well, here in South Carolina, Mother Nature decided we should have a blast of winter. The hype had been coming all weekend, with everything essentially shutting down Sunday night before the snow even started. However, I woke up Monday morning around 4:30 to legit “thundersnow” – yes, my friends, it was thundering and snowing all at once, haha. All in all, there were about four inches of snow with another quarter inch of ice on top.
Monday’s snow day found my roommate and I doing homework and reading for class. With another snow day today, I decided to tackle an organizational project that had been brewing since before the break – my desk in my bedroom.
I’m one of those people who cleans the entire apartment and moves stuff to my room, so by the time I get there, I’m more prone to just throw stuff down in the general area where it’s supposed to be, i.e., my desk. So, what better way to spend my snow day than making some sense of that mess, haha.
End result? Much more organized, calm desk…and a picture of the bubble screensaver I love so much, haha.
Back to work tomorrow, albeit on a 2.5 hour delay, haha. Stay warm, everyone!
January 5, 2011
It’s 7:04 am, and I’m blogging.
Yes, I have to go to work today. Yes, I did sleep (take that, insomnia!). Yes, I am already showered, dressed, and ready to go.
Yes, I already spent time in the Word this morning.
So…what gives? Haha.
Well, I’ve discovered the unintended consequence of waking up early and having my quiet time…at 5 am.
Let me just throw a few things out there:
1. I am by no means a morning person. Please ask the majority of my friends. I sincerely dislike waking up early. I enjoy my sleep. I am only at work early every morning because I also sincerely dislike being late AND I tend to overestimate how much time I need to battle Cola traffic, find a parking place, and take the shuttle to my office. Plus, if I leave early, I get a better parking spot. It’s a win-win.
2. I also hate having a time limit on my quiet time. Before the break, I tried waking up at 5:30, having my coffee, and then doing my quiet time. By the time I settled in, it was 5:40, and then I was constantly looking at the clock because I knew I had to be in the shower by 6. Because of this, I was more focused on the time limit of my time with God instead of my time with Him.
3. The morning is the only uninterrupted time I have to spend with the Lord. If I schedule it for later in the day, it never gets done. Trust me, I’ve tried (please refer back to #1…I like my sleep!)
So, this year, in the spirit of New Year’s, I decided that I would hop on the early morning bandwagon. By waking up at 5, I’m settled with my coffee (clearly a necessity at 5 am), my Bible, and my journal by 5:15 at the latest. That gives me a full 45 minutes with God.
I love it. Not only can I accomplish what I want to in my quiet time, but I can also read encouraging emails and devotions I receive each day instead of waiting until later. I can check on blogs that encourage me and inspire me while I’m already in the correct mindset. I can journal my prayers and put the time and thought into them that they deserve.
So, the unintended consequence of waking up at 5 am (since, you know, that’s where this post started…)
Well, I don’t hit snooze. So I’m actually out of bed at 5 am.
Which means I’m done with my quiet time by 6.
Which means that this morning, by the time I was showered and dressed and headed into the kitchen to fix lunch, etc…it was 6:35.
But you know what? I probably won’t wake up any later. Because having all that time is pretty nice.
Side note to this whole conversation about waking up early – I got to talk to several of my project loves last night on Skype. I went to bed with my heart so happy I could hardly stand it.