Friday, December 28, 2007

Busy-bee me!

For "vacation," I sure seem to stay busy. It never ceases to amaze me!

This week at home has flown by, which is both good and bad. I wish I had a little more time here with my family, as the visit is going really well, but at the same time, I am kind of ready to be back in my apartment and move ahead with other things I am looking forward to.

At our annual Christmas Eve dinner with family friends, the Georges, my pal Rachel said something that has stuck with me. She just studied abroad in Costa Rica (that tiny little country that captured me years ago) for three months, and was making some observations to me , a week after she returned. Costa Rica, beautiful La Fortuna and Volcan Arenal.

Rachel said she appreciated the fact that life in Costa Rica is unhurried, which is an understatement, but that more than that, that they live moment to moment, not always thinking ahead to the next thing on their "to-do" list, but rather, enjoying each moment and activity to the fullest.

I thought that was a good rule to try and live by, and Biblical too. So, I have been trying to enjoy my time at home to the fullest, and I think I have appreciated what I have - both in Maryville and in Wake Forest - that much more because of it.

It has been wonderful to spend time with my parents and my brother, and see some of my best friends. I was able to spend the afternoon hiking with one yesterday (4.5 miles! Woo) and shopping for her wedding dress with the other today. Tomorrow the whole high school crew will show up here for a wedding shower I am throwing for another of my friends who is getting married in February. My, we do grow up so quickly. The picture was taken the night before senior year of high school started....The 8 out to dinner.

I have to say, were you to ask me right after high school graduation what my life would look like 5 years down the road, where I would be living, what I would be doing, and which of my friends would be getting married, I know my answers would have been radically different than the way things are shaping up now.

I saw an old crush the other day. It made me think of the Garth Brooks' song that goes, Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. As a friend pointed out, there are no unanswered prayers: God always answers them, sometimes he just answers them 'no.' After seeing this guy, all I can say is, 'Praise God for telling me no.'

There are so many things I have asked the Lord for over the years that his answer has been 'no', apparently, or at least a 'not now.' Job situations, friendships, relationships, Denver, attitude adjustments, etc. I am so thankful for the way the Lord works things out in my life, despite what I ask for, in "all my humanly wisdom." His wisdom is so much greater. Thank you, Lord, for working things out for the good, despite me and my planning.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Home for the holidays

There is something so special and sweet about being home with family at Christmastime. I don't think there will ever be any place so comforting and calming as being home, with my house decorated for Christmas, the fridge full of tasty food, the lights off except for those on the Christmas tree and on the mantle and my family and pets around.

Lucky and Rudy Poody (my parents' dog and cat) are fat and fluffy this time of the year. Neither one of them really welcomes Ben into the house...they're old and set in their ways I guess :) Last night, Lucky stole Ben's bone and started chomping on it. Ben tried to take it back and got growled at, so he stopped and looked at me, confused. Then, the cat started hissing at him and making this eerie high-pitched meow, which is basically his "Come and get it, dog. I'll take your eye out," sound. It's never good to hear that. So anyways, Lucky is growling at Ben, Rudy is hissing at him, and Ben is stuck in the middle, looking very shame-faced and scared about his situation. Ah, it made me laugh.

Church this morning was good too. It's interesting to come home to my church, and see how things have changed, and to compare it to what I have gotten used to now at Bayleaf. In a lot of ways, they're very similar, but there are some differences too. We now have a women pastor on staff; she doesn't preach, but she led the congregation in prayer. I haven't studied that topic enough, but I know it seems weird after getting used to being taught by men....Anyways, I ought to look into that so I can make intelligent comments on it, rather than just rambling!

Hope my faithful readers are having a wonderful Christmas Eve eve!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Within a Yard of Hell

"My message is: Anything that comes your way as a human being, your condition should not lead you to feel you are not important. As long as you are alive, God has a plan for you.

~John Sahr, attacked by rebels in the war-torn country of Sierra Leone in 1991. He was beaten and tortured by 6 teenage boys, who left him to die after plunging his head into boiling water.

Sahr's story was published by the St. Petersburg Times, along with the testimonies of other people who became victims of the civil wars of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Find more about it here. Photographer John Kaplan captured the brutality of the torture methods used, and captured the poignantly beautiful spirit of survival.

If John Sahr, whose head was put into boiling water, recognizes he still has a purpose on this earth, who am I, who has led an infinitely more cushy life than he, to not acknowledge that I have a purpose here, too?

What is God's plan for my life? Where am I being called to? I do not know exactly. I only know my command is to GO. Lord, give me focus and passion to take your Word into the far corners of the Earth, wherever that may be.

"Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell." ~ C.T. Studd

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bless back and pay it forward....

Bless back. Pay it forward. These two phrases are becoming increasingly common, it seems. Is the concept and the practice becoming more common as well?

A few years ago, Helen Hunt was in a movie called Pay it Forward. Though I didn't see all of it, it was about giving to other people in need, and continuing the tradition of passing on blessings, etc.

Recently I heard about a project a church in Charlotte, Elevation Church, did called the Bless Back Project. Everyone at Elevation Church on a certain Sunday was given some money, I think either $5, $10, $20, $100 or even $1000. They were instructed to use it to bless someone else. The stories were then told of how individuals and families used the money they were given, often combined with their own money, to bless someone else. Some of the stories were really cool, and you can read about them here.

This morning, I was reading AOL News (which, the people who comment on those stories are a riot, btw) and I was reading other stories of people who were given money or other necessities and how it impacted them. These aren't necessarily motivated by the same reasons, but some are interesting too, nonetheless.

Anyways, all this to say that I feel incredibly blessed especially this holiday season, and these stories have inspired me to think up some creative ways to share my blessings with others. It's a challenge for sure, because though I'm not broke, giving up money isn't an easy decision. It's just human nature I think to hoard that which we have, even though we are commanded to give. The Lord even says to "test him in this," allowing him to prove his goodness and blessings. This Christmas season, I am challenged to accept that challenge and to give, not so that I may receive more, but because Christ has already given me everything beyond what I deserve.

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." Malachi 3:10.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New look to my blog....

So, I decided to actually try and create a header for my blog today, rather than just use one of the generic ones in a template. I think it turned out well.

However, it was pointed out to me by my oh-so-loving coworkers, that as I created one using the phrase, "I am the vine, you are the koinonia," I was way off. I was sure I had seen that on a t-shirt at Union for women's small groups - Klemata....Nope. The phrase should read "I am the vine, you are the klemata," which actually makes a lot more sense when you realize the name of the group is klemata and not koinonia.

Klemata: Small off-shoots or branches.
Koinonia: Fellowship.

Maybe I shouldn't pretend to be smart by using Greek words unless I know what I am talking about. Seminary, here I come! :)

Christmas parties galore!

It's been a great weekend and last few days. Being that I am so blessed with friends, I have had lots of activities, aka Christmas parties!

Friday night kicked off party weekend with dessert with the girls at Mimi's Cafe for my birthday. It was a good time to sit and catch up and chill with everyone. I ate bread pudding...yummy. Saturday began the true Christmas celebrations, with Cookie Day and the Bayleaf Christmas party. Sunday was church, lunch at Chili's (some guy gave me my favorite dessert for free! Oh, it was the waiter :) then to the park with Ben and back to church for Yo! Christmas Tree and small group Christmas. We did a White Elephant exchange, and I ended up with the marvelous gift of a Ms. Pac Man game set...Thank you, Adam. I also received a new fondue set from Adam and Shonica to aid in my party-throwing!

We also did a Tacky Christmas Sweater party on Monday, which was a lot of fun. Bryan told me he spent about 3 hours making his sweater (for another party, not this one) and after seeing his sweater, it paid off! It was great, with lit-up snowflakes and a candy-cane filled stocking.

Finally, in the recitation of the parties, we had the office party last night. What a good time. Our "family portrait" gifts went over so well; everyone loved them! I did a puzzle, there was also a mug, a decorative plate and a mousepad, all of which were very popular.

All in all, a wonderful few days, despite feeling a little under the weather...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas cheer

I have less than 2 weeks until Christmas, and not the foggiest idea of what to buy for anyone....Ok, I do have some foggy ideas, but nothing killer. I need to hit the mall and find some presents!

Speaking of presents, my birthday is Sunday and it will be kind of weird I think. It's shaping up to just be a normal ho-hum day....La de da, another year is passing.

I bought Benny some antlers last night so we can do a Christmas photo shoot. He's so cute with them on! I got really tickled taking pictures of him last night, because it's so precious and he is so funny about it! He acts very uncertain about having anything on his head, which makes him stand still and hesitate to move at all!

Some things I am looking forward to:
Birthday dinner with my family when I get home.
A week of free (delicious!) eating and free laundry
Lindsay's wedding shower I am throwing (I need to do the invitations!)
My New Year's Eve "extravaganza" I'll be hosting
Going skiing with the college and singles from Bayleaf
Uuumm....spring/summer and fun outdoor activities

That's about it for now. Off to do some work!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Bleh...That's how I feel right now. All I want to do is go home and sleep. I don't want to walk Ben. I don't want to do my dishes. I don't want to clean. I just want to get in bed and sleep.

I wasn't feeling super earlier, but after Moe's, it's definitely not any better! Anyways.

It's been a while since I posted. Things are going pretty good, but I am feeling a little depressed about a certain situation, so that's no fun. I just don't understand why I can't seem to get over wanting something. I ask the Lord to take away the desires of my heart, and give me the desires of His heart, but I seem stuck. Maybe what I am feeling is His desire for my life, but if that's the case, where is the fulfillment? No where in sight, and when I do think I have found it, it always turns out not to be so...

In an attempt to get my mind onto other things, I turned in an adoption application for Grizzly, the dog I posted about a while back. I decided to keep Ben, as I recognize that I have a commitment to him, and I do love him. He shows signs of settling down, which is good. I am going to take him to obedience classes, for sure, so that will help too. However, I am excited to potentially get another dog. I would love to have a cuddly dog, and I know Ben would love a play-mate. I just hope it works out that I can get him and that he and Ben get along great!

In other news, Thanksgiving with the family went really well, and I am excited about Christmas!