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Thursday, October 29, 2009

So long....

Well, the time has come for me to say, "So long!"

I'm an old married woman now, so I can't be blogging like I'm a single gal anymore, because I'm not....

But, that just means I get to learn what it means to blog like a wedded woman now :)

I won't be posting on this blog anymore, since the name no longer applies. If you're so inclined though, please feel free to check out my new blog and see what it's like for me as I become "Vanderburg!"

Hopefully A's quest to make me into a better storyteller will show through in the new blog - better stories, less rambling :) Thanks for sticking with me thus far - I appreciate you, blog buddies!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breaking news....

Just in....I got married yesterday.

Yup, I am now a Mrs. (or a MSR, as the groomsmen wrote on the truck, but whatever). The wedding was beautiful, perfect (albeit cold) and such a joyous time.

I am incredibly blessed. I pray the ceremony and reception spoke the love of Christ to those gathered there, and that it shared the Gospel in a way that God will use to speak to people. It's been an incredible blessing to be able to speak about the Lord in our wedding.

Anyways, we're off to Mexico (Meh-hi-co) in the morning! I'll be switching to a new blog, since Lauren A. Crane doesn't fly so much anymore!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The happenings in NYC

Hey readers (all 2 of you, right?)! I've been a baddie and not been updating while in NYC, but just wanted to share a few tidbits with you of what's been going on. It's been a great trip so far - really busy - but I really like the city and the people I've met. Although not "outgoing," as in they don't approach you, they're open and willing to talk and very helpful.

You may be wondering what on earth I'm doing in NYC the week before the wedding, right? I'm here with Southeastern, helping a church plant called The Gallery Church as they transition into a new space in mid-town Manhattan. Specifically, I'm writing about the trip on a live blog feed we're running, and I'll be writing articles post-trip for Outlook, as I've done for other trips.

So, anyways, here are a few images our photographer took so you can see what I've been up to!

Busy writing - or Facebooking :)


Standing in front of the Times Square Police Dept.


Checking out a map to figure out where we're going.


Yummy caramel cupcake!


Eating chicken on a stick - smells better than it tasted. Weird texture.


Doesn't this remind you of Abbey Road? Crossing to hand out granola bars/church fliers.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's coming...

I just put on my wedding dress. And my veil. And both pairs of the shoes I ordered.

I danced around our (currently empty) master bedroom to the song I will walk down the aisle to in 2 1/2 weeks.

I think the excitement is kicking in.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What a month.

I just moved out of my apartment. My dear, sweet little place I have loved so dearly and have cherished as my home is now empty and not mine. I cried a lot last week, leaving behind 922-306, and I'm struggling to really feel at home in our new place (about 15 minutes down the road into Raleigh). It's crazy how a few rooms can mean so much, but they held more than just my things. They held my memories and some really hard times, and some really good times, too.

Looking forward though, means spending this week in our new apartment, which doesn't feel like our home without Adrian there. Next week = New York City for work. The following week = Maryville for a little event called my wedding. The following week = Mexico with my husband. Wow.

What a month.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I love to Swag

Swagging is great fun, and as far as cost analysis goes, it goes like this: I spend nothing, and I get stuff for free. Beautiful idea.

Are you familiar with Swagbucks? If not, you should be. It's a search engine that as you search, gives you Swagbucks (swag) that you can then redeem for various things. I signed up hoping to get a $5 Amazon card here or there, but to date, I have earned $50 worth of free food from Restaurants.com.

The last gift card we got was used at the Oak Steakhouse in downtown Charleston for our last date night in SC as a not-married couple. I THOROUGHLY enjoyed my tasty veal parmesan!! YUMMY.

Anyways, what you do is enable Swagbucks to be an option for how you search the internet (instead of using Google in the top right corner, use Swagbucks). The more you search, the more likely you are to win swagbucks. Also, right now you can download their toolbar, which will give you a swag code every day to be entered on the site for swagbucks.

It's a great deal, really. You sign up for free, you search the internet (which you probably do a lot of anyways), and you earn Swagbucks. Then, trade your swagbucks in for gift cards and voila! You're a winner and get a free dinner (or books, or CDs, or a PS3...I'm just sayin'.)

It's seriously worth a look-see, and it would help MY account out if you'd register with the link below! If you're a Swagbucks user already, let me know what you do to earn lots of Swag and how you've cashed yours in!

Search & Win

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Christ is our prize

Got news today that a guy I ministered alongside in Mexico, a fellow Latino-lover, was taken off of life support after trying to end his life.

His death hit me hard this morning, as he wasn't the type of person I would have "pegged" to try and die. He loved the Lord and he loved people. He cared for others and it showed. I'm thankful to him that on that trip, when I was harassed by an airline employee, he was the one to stand up to him and tell him to knock it off.Oh, so sad to see the life of one who loved Christ ended in such a way.

However, it's because Christ loved him and he loved Jesus too that I know I will see him again in heaven. What a sadness - this suffering on earth - and what rejoicing awaits us in heaven, when we come face-to-face with our Savior. How I long for heaven - but may my lifesong be, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Just like this song by David Crowder Band, we must remember that the Lord is our prize - a deep, intimate, loving relationship with the King of the universe is what we should strive for - not growing weary of this world he has placed us in, but always striving forward for the prize of knowing and loving God.

"He is jealous for me,
Love's like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves." - David Crowder Band

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blog silence

Sorry it has been so silent on here in the last few weeks (honestly, not sure how long it has been, I haven't checked but I don't remember what I last posted.Although, I noticed I am not the only one who seems to have been silent lately in the blog-o-sphere, so I guess I'm in good company.

Life has been crazy. School is back in session and I'm auditing a few classes for "personal enrichment." Work has been busier too, which is generally nice :)

Oh yeah - wedding planning. That's the other thing on my plate. How could I leave that off? It has been a trip, and all I can say is that I love Jesus and His grace and I love that He is a perfect example of love and forgiveness, because I suck at those things on my own strength.

I'm SO unbelievably excited to be married and to begin building a life with my best friend. Seriously, I am READY to be his wife...I guess we could elope and make the next six weeks a lot easier, huh? Tempting.

Anyways, things are clicking along and I know the next few weeks will fly by. Before I know it, I'll be in NYC - Maryville - Walking down the aisle - Flying away with my husband for our honeymoon. Bliss. Cannot wait.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What a man....

Two months from today, I'll be walking down an aisle, wearing white, giving thanks to God for His many blessings, and marrying my best friend.

Don't listen to me if I complain about wedding planning - I am blessed beyond belief and my complaints are nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt at saying I am discontent in what God has given me. Shame on me. "Godliness with contentment is great gain." I want to be content, and why shouldn't I be?

I have been blessed to be given a man who is strong, sensitive, loving, funny and above all, seeks and pursues Jesus, more than he pursues me. As long as he has his priorities in that order, we'll be just fine :) He is - aside from my salvation - the greatest blessing of my life.

So, while I have SO much to be thankful for today, I just wanted to take this opportunity to boast in what my God has done - he has given me life, and he is giving it to me abundantly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday with Fuzzy-Face

Ben loves sticks, much to Adrian's chagrin. Friday was a great example of both Ben's love of sticks and his stubborn determination, which we wish he would use for good and not evil :) Anyways, watch and see how his wood-loving tendencies met with his determination as Benny conquered the stick/rope swing at the river. Enjoy watching mi perro loco!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Attire

I sewed my veil this weekend. It still needs to be cut and shaped, and there's a chance I'll scrap it altogether and start over, but I was excited by how easy it was start looking bridal with my veil!

Also. My dress should be in this week. I. AM. SO EXCITED.

Once I get those things done, I can figure out jewelry, hair and shoes, and who doesn't love to accessorize? As a friend once told me - Accessories are best, because no matter how much weight you gain, they still fit....

Not that I really have to worry about gaining weight and not fitting into my dress - it's not like you'll be able to tell inside the big, poufy, multiple-layered concoction that is my dress ;)

Kidding. Maybe. Yay for looking bridal!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Spiritual warfare and battling

Last night at church, Chad finished up his series on the book of Daniel. We didn't get through the whole book - there's a TON in there - but he finished it by talking about spiritual warfare and the battles that take place in the heavenly realms which we know nothing of.

As I went to bed angry last night and woke up frustrated this morning, Chad's message has been playing back in bits and pieces to me and I have been challenged to think that my battles are not with people or myself, but against the forces of darkness. I am so quick to judge others and get angry with them - especially fellow believers - that I forget that our real battles are against Satan and his demons. Instead of fighting against one another, we need to pray and join in the battle that is raging far beyond this world.

Please help to remind me of this over the next several months: that I ought not be fighting against my brothers and sisters in Christ, but instead against the spiritual forces of darkness and the attacks of the devil. I feel like the attacks are coming so often lately. I guess that means he's feeling threatened? I hope that is it, and I hope I fight in a manner worthy of the Lord.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Getting Settled Back In

It's been a whirlwind this week. The motto for our return trip from Thailand? "Hurry up and wait." That basically sums up my entire week.

We got home much later than anticipated on Monday after lovely Delta canceled our final flight to RDU. So, we hurried up and waited for an extra 9 hours to get home. Tuesday I took a day to recuperate from 50+ hours of traveling and clean up my apartment and get re-settled into life in the Forest. After MONTHS of being here, there, and everywhere, there is a break in the clouds until the end of August or so! Praise God.

To celebrate the break and being back, and to celebrate our 1 year anniversary, my man is coming into town. I'm anxiously awaiting 5 o'clock and the beginning of a surprise date night! Tomorrow holds engagement photos, and Saturday is Registry Day and then I have a wedding to go to. It's going to be nuts.

I had a wonderful trip. God taught me a lot, and is continuing to challenge me and my thinking on things. I hope I can continue to live purposefully for the gospel - especially in the midst of the next 3 months of wedding planning. Praise the Lord for magnificent opportunities, and praise the Lord for bringing me home safely to those I love dearly.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Last blog from the Land of Smiles

Well, I'm sitting in the airport waiting on flight #2 of 4. We have a 6 hour layover or so here in Bangkok, so I have been taking this time to reflect a bit, upload some remaining photos and trying to tie up some loose ends on the blogs.

Becky and I went and met with Kavipiya from Burma/Myanmar, a monk Adrian met last year, to follow up with him and share the gospel message with him. He is at the point of knowing that it will change his life drastically if he accepts Christ, and he is counting the cost. Pray he turns to the Lord and that God grants him time to make that decision. We also went to dinner with two girls we met at the mall, Pom and Tue. They are both very sweet, and were very kind to take us out and introduce us to traditional Thai food that is (somewhat) tastier than what we had been eating the rest of the time! It was a good time, a different side of Chiang Mai, but they were fairly closed to the gospel message, it seemed. Tue is very into mysticism and Pom often seemed to not listen or be interested. Alisa (our sweet Thai friend) told us to keep sharing - sometimes people listen but do not want to seem like they are.

We also had more fun activities, in addition to getting to share the gospel several times. I went and played with tigers (I only played with the 4-5 month old ones!) yesterday. I also spent all my baht on some wonderful things at the market....and on massages. I got my last Thai massage yesterday (4 in all this trip!) and enjoyed the last bit of relaxation.

It's been a great trip, and I have been so thankful to have had this opportunity. The Lord has blessed me with a great job, and a wonderful support network of prayer and encouragement to enable me to get my job done. I've met some wonderful people with beautiful hearts - pray they come to know Jesus. I've seen a lot of darkness and lostness - pray the Lord continues to remind me of this and break my heart for His people.

Thanks for all your prayers thus far - keep them coming, please! We board a "short" flight in an hour - 7:15 am at home Sunday morning, and then board our long flight at noon (at home) on Sunday. It will be midnight my body's time as I board for 15 hours of flying. Please pray for continued safe travel and quick recuperation. Love you guys! See you soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How great is our God? AMAZING

Do you ever have days where you feel like you're kind of wandering aimlessly and not really sure what you're supposed to be doing? I don't mean what you're supposed to be doing with your time, though that plays a part in it. I mean days that feel like you're adrift and not sure where God is leading. Today started out as one of those days.

I was feeling kind of aimless and not sure what the Lord required of me or what I was supposed to be doing as part of this trip.

As I was sitting in my hotel room this afternoon, a series of events landed me at Monk Chat again this Wednesday, this time with a small packet of pictures I had brought with me to Thailand. The grabbing of the pictures, the invitation to Monk Chat and even the fact that Becky and I both went were such God-things. Even more so, as I was sitting there asking about a monk Adrian met last year, "my monk" tonight pointed to another one sitting there and said, "That's Kavi!" I had asked about him last week and was told he lived at another temple and wouldn't be at this temple, so I had given up hope of seeing him, although I really wanted to meet him, since Adrian had me praying for him during his trip last year and since, because they e-mailed for a while. So I showed Kavi pictures of Adrian and he remembered him and asked lots of questions about him and told me he was still reading the Bible Adrian gave him. He then invited me to come to his temple tomorrow so he could give me a present. He's then going to take us to the zoo (he lives there so he can be close to nature!) and show us around. Please be in prayer for that meeting tomorrow!

God also opened the door for Becky and I to share the Gospel with two monks in clear, uncertain terms NUMEROUS times tonight, and one of them is very open to hearing about Jesus. He told us originally he didn't like Buddhism (though he's a Buddhist monk) and he didn't like Christianity. At the end of our conversation, he asked us to come back so he could ask us more questions about Jesus Christ. It was such an emotionally draining and yet incredibly uplifting 2 hours! I was on such a high afterwards.

We then went to dinner and then to get massages at a new place I hadn't been to. As we were talking and trying to become friends with our masseuses, we found out that not one, not two, but three of them were believers! The one girl had a really neat story and it was so good see how God is moving in the Thai people's hearts - regardless of my efforts or non-efforts. However, it was SO NEAT to be involved in him moving in the hearts of the monks tonight!!

All in all, it was an incredible night. After a good day with the Lord and learning things from Scripture and other believers, it was an amazing way to end the day with such a great time of sharing with the monks and then finding believers and hearing their stories. God is SO good.

Please pray for:
1) Lunch at an Indian restaurant with the purpose of sharing the Good News with the Muslim owner.
2) The meeting with Kavipiya. He said he would be thinking of questions about Christianity to ask me, so pray for wisdom in my answers, that the Lord would be working on him tonight and open his heart, and that tomorrow's meeting would be another great time of seeing God move.
3) Dinner with one of the girls who works at our hotel. Her name is Bandita.
4) A sweet new friend named Alisa. She became a believer last year and will be staying with Becky and I tomorrow so we can study Scripture together and talk.
5) Our last time to talk with the monks on Friday. Pray we would be able to share with the same monks and that God would open their eyes and hearts to the truth of the claims of Christ.

Thank you, friends. Tomorrow will be a BUSY day for me, and spiritually draining to be sure. Since I'm 11 hours ahead, I'd appreciate your prayers in your today! Thank you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Weekend in Chiang Mai

It's been several busy days here in Chiang Mai, and so, although I have a lot to post about, I also desperately need rest!

Saturday, we went and rode elephants. The whole experience was great. It started with an elephant show, where we watched baby elephants and some older elephants do tricks, play soccer, dunk basketballs, paint pictures, etc. I even got picked up by an elephant by his trunk and climbed up one's legs and sat directly on it. So cool, although I felt pretty grody afterward!


We also rode in an oxcart, did an actual elephant ride, and rafted on a bamboo raft down the river. Afterward we went to the orchid farm and the silver factory. Enlightening, but we were whipped. Thus, when we got back to the hotel, we ordered pizza and crashed for a while. Then, while the student studied for their exam for Monday, I went and got a 1 hour Thai massage for about $12. I admit, not the most relaxing thing. She banged and hit and pushed and prodded in ways that were highly uncomfortable, but overall, it felt pretty good. I was definitely sore Sunday though!

Sunday we got up and went to The Gathering, a largely Western church in Chiang Mai, and then ate lunch at the Sizzler - It was a western Sunday. We then went to Doi Su Tep, a big, important temple at the top of a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai. The view was beautiful, the people were beautiful, the temple was sad. SO much idolatry and hope in man-mdae things.

We then went to the jade factory (where Americans idolized the jewelery) and then Becky and I tore it up at the Sunday night market. Seriously, I am spending way too much on stuff - some of it's for gifts, some for me. I just love markets - the culture and the bartering and getting good deals). So, all in all, a fun weekend.

Alright - nothing too deep in this one, and I'm burnt out. Here are the links to my pictures: Hopefully what they say is true and the pictures are worth 1,000 words because I can't give any more!

The original album, with pictures through Sunday.
The second album, with even more pictures.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Please pray for Thailand

Hey friends - Just wanted to ask you to pray for this country. There have been riots over the Prime Minister the last couple of days and the country has been in a bit of unrest, though I haven't seen any of it.

Also, as I'm sitting in the hotel lobby, I'm slapped in the face with the ease of prostitution and abuse of women in this country. It breaks my heart. As I'm sitting here, an old man is with a young Thai woman, explaining where his country is (Holland, nonetheless. He's used to the prostitution, I guess) and they're discussing pricing. I want to say something, but I have no spine. Instead I sit here and blog about it, and ask instead for prayer, that the people of this nation would be set free from their chains of darkness and see the light, found only in Christ.

I'll post later about my adventure with the elephants, et. al., but my heart is heavy with that and I wanted to share. Thanks for your prayers. Love you all.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Culture: Elephants and Buddhism

Hi friends and family who are reading my blog! Hope you're all doing well.

It's been a long day here for me, and more is yet to come. I woke up (un-planned) around 4:30 am after a restless night and was unable to go back to sleep. So, here it is 5:40 my time and I'm drooping. Please pray the Lord would refresh and restore me, as I haven't been feeling 100% the last couple of days.

In non-health news, the trip is going well. It's been busy working and spending time with the team. I haven't really interacted much with the Thais, something I'll be trying to correct tomorrow. I want to soak up this culture while I'm here.

Speaking of culture, tonight is the cultural dinner and show here in Chiang Mai, complete with sitting on the floor to eat and cultural dancing. You know I love these kinds of things ;) Saturday is more culture, albeit a bit "touristy." We're heading out for the bamboo raft ride, elephant ride, watching elephants play soccer and paint, the botanical gardens and the jade factory. Should be a long day, but full of fun.

In non-cultural news, I met with several monks yesterday and was able to talk about Buddhism and Christianity and the differences, etc. I can't say I felt like much headway was made with any of the Buddhists - they were so blinded they didn't even see the irony in much of what they said, nor did they care. Pray for them, and also for Eddie, a California boy who is on a "spiritual journey" here in Thailand and was there are Monk Chat last night. He asked some good questions and we were able to have some really good conversations with him.

The interesting thing is that though most of the monks aren't Thai, they are all from traditional Buddhist cultures. Their Buddhism elicits very little passion, considering that they are giving their lives for it. Buddhism and elephants just seem to be another part of the culture, without much of a second thought.

Sorry this is short and choppy, but I'm burnt out and needing to get ready for dinner. To keep up with me more in-depth, check out Southeastern's blog that Courtney and I are in charge of, and my photos in my Facebook album. Love to all!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wow. What a place.

Today was my first FULL day in-country and the first day in Chiang Mai. We flew into the city this morning and promptly began eating. These are my kind of trips - Food-focused :) It's glorious.

Anyways, we went to this place called The Imaginary Jungle tonight ("Welcome to the jungle!"). The three things I can say about this place:
1) They have incredibly tasty food.


2) They have incredible scenery.


3) They have incredible bathrooms. See below.

Who wouldn't want a waterfall in their bathroom to help encourage them to go? I'm sorry if that seems silly and if you'd rather be hearing about the rest of the day...I'm honestly too tired at the moment to think more deeply. All I can think about is how fun and unique that place is!

Tomorrow is a new day and I will hopefully be more rested and thorough thinking. Have I told you guys about the SEBTS blog? Check it out here. I'm writing and Courtney is doing the photos and it should be updated (albeit a bit more sedately) than here. Anyways. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We've Arrived!!

Hi friends - The team has landed safely in Thailand after approximately 33 hours since I last was in bed. Praise God I am about to head that direction now!

The last day/days have been brutal - not going to lie. I asked someone earlier what day it was - I'm so off. I'm currently 11 hours ahead of my east coast friends and family, so it's not only the opposite side of the world I'm on, it's also the opposite time of day for me.

I think my jet lag is doing OK - I'm about to hit the sack now, but I feel fairly on the right schedule. We'll see how tomorrow goes :)

We have another flight in the morning into Chiang Mai and then a scavenger hunt throughout the city to familiarize ourselves with it :) Can't decide if I'm going to be documenting or participating!!

One thing I have been participating in and I need to stop with right now is all the negativity. For those of you who know and love me, you know I get cranky when I'm tired and I'm feeding off everyone else's bad moods too, so I'm just makign snide remarks that are neither edifying nor Christ-like. Please pray for me.

I'll try and keep updating, later with some pictures! Love you all. Please be praying :)

P.S. - You can keep up with us, too, on the Southeastern blog: www.sebts.edu/thailand. I'm the voice of the trip :) Hopefully I'll be wittier and more interesting throughout the journey than I have been!

Friday, July 10, 2009

To-Do list

Within 12 hours, I will hopefully have finished my invitations, finished the invitation inserts, printed them all off, cut them to size, packaged them, mailed them home, mailed my car payment, paid two bills, filled the turtle tank, gotten money from the bank, gone to Wal-Mart and bought some things, packed my suitcase, packed my carry-on, called Adrian - his mom - my mom and dad, driven to Courtney and Laura's and gone to bed.

Please pray for diligence in finishing what I need to finish! My Thailand departure is imminent.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What is yet to come...

I was standing in line waiting to exchange a few things tonight at TJ Maxx when I saw a cookbook that said nothing on it except "Thai."

It was only $2.99, but I strictly didn't want to purchase anything - only exchange what I had. So, as I just flipped through it and decided not to buy it, but still, it gave me visions of the next two weeks.

As most of you probably know, (or maybe didn't know, depending on who you are) I'm heading to Thailand Saturday morning. It will be about 2 solid days of travel on either end of it, and 2 weeks spent in-country. If I wasn't excited before about the prospect of new cuisines to try, markets to shop at, massages for SUPER cheap, elephant rides, river rafting excursions (not whitewater...just a nice little float), new people to meet and an entirely new culture and continent to become acquainted with - that cookbook would have done it for me.

Although I didn't buy the book, it definitely "whet my appetite" for the taste of things to come. I'm growing increasingly excited about what the next couples of weeks will hold! God has blessed me graciously with this job of mine - which I often take for granted. I ought not do so for I realize when I stop to think about it how richly I have been blessed.

I ask for your prayers over the next few weeks. I may be posting again on more mundane "this is what I've been up to" kinds of things, or wedding-related things, but for tonight, this is what was on my heart. I want this hard heart of mine to be broken and humbled by my experiences. I want to see God's glory and hunger after it. I want to manifest it in my life.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I spy with my little eye...

5 flights, 5 cities and a week and a half later, and my head is full of new sights that are outside of the ordinary for me these days.

I saw.....
-A straight-looking guy wearing a skirt. It wasn't a kilt but a bonafide skirt made of khaki, with pleats and cargo pockets.
-A mail truck stopped for gas. I've never seen one pumping gas before. It was weird.

-Some dear old friends in Knoxville, Louisville, Birmingham and Pensacola. It was so good to catch up with them and hear how God is moving in their lives.

At my lingerie shower at home with the girls! My t-shirt said "Bride!"

Eating dinner and catching up with Alyssa from Union at Cheesecake Factory in Louisville.

With two of my old Union roomies - Katie and Merry - waiting to see Jenn get married!

-One of my dear friends (and bridesmaids!) get married. She looked gorgeous, the wedding was so sweet with tears galore, and it was lovely to spend time with her and see her make her marriage vows before God and friends.

Sweet Jenn - one of my bridesmaids and dear friends.

-My entire toiletries bag covered in baby powder. Darn unclosed lid.
-A big resolution for a Great Commission Task force get passed at the Southern Baptist Convention.

All in all, a good week, although one that has left me exhausted. I'm glad to be home for a few days before heading out again to SC to see my fiance, my family, and my furry friend - Ben! Looking forward to a few nights alone and a few days with loved ones.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ready or not....

We picked a date. We picked a place. We picked bridesmaids dresses. We discussed lots of other things. All in all? It was a great, productive weekend.

Now, my night entails taking out the trash, watering the plants, feeding the turtles, showering, and finishing packing so I can roll out bright and early in the morning for Louisville.

Crazy week, here I come!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Double time!

Did any of you ever do the Billy Blanks Tae Bo videos? I liked them until Billy boy said, "Double time!" and suddenly everyone on screen kicked it up a notch and the workout proceeded to kick my butt.

Billy Blank's "double time" Tae Bo = my life.

Starting tomorrow, I will begin the 6 week marathon known as "summer" for me. It looks like this:
-M'ville for wedding planning - including picking a site, date, bridesmaids' dresses, stationary style and a then having my lingerie shower!
-Home in Raleigh for a night before jet-setting to Louisville, Birmingham and Pensacola
-Back in my humble abode for 4 nights before going to Charleston for July 4th festivities with my fiance and family - a marathon weekend with people flying in to meet A (but mostly to see the city)
-Home for a week or so, with my best friend coming in for a final visit before she spends her fall volunteering in Latin America
-Two and a half weeks in Thailand.
-The end. I will crash be crashing at this point.

Is it worth mentioning my first weekend at home will hold engagement photos and a friend's wedding? Maybe I said "The end" prematurely.

Looking back at it - I think Tae Bo would be a breeze compared to my schedule.

Bring it on, Billy. Bring. it. on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"At least you have the dress"

Over the last week, I have become increasingly overwhelmed at the thought of the tasks that lie ahead of us. We need to book a venue, find a date, do engagement pictures, finalize our guest list, pick out bridesmaid dresses, decide on a caterer, design our stationary, send out invitations....etc., etc. And that's all in the next couple of weeks. It's all slightly stress-inducing.

A is being so sweet in urging me to not be stressed and to remember the important thing: Regardless of what the wedding looks like, at the end of the day, we'll be married. I can't wait for that moment.

In the meantime, as I am discussing these "to-dos" with bridesmaids, my mom and my photographer, the phrase "At least you have your dress" keeps coming out of their mouths.

I admit - it is surprising I found it so quickly and effortlessly. I was the girl who planned weekend getaways to Nashville and Atlanta to go shopping for my prom dresses so that I would have a Wa-BAM Dress that no on else had. (What's a Wa-BAM Dress, you ask? It's one that when you walk into a room, everyone stops and says "Wa-BAM, you look good." Irony of ironies, my Atlanta trip for senior year prom yielded me a beautiful dress....which happened to be the exact same one my best friend had bought at home. Oh well, I guess we both looked good!)

So, I do find it interesting that on the day that everyone says "is all about me" I was less than concerned with finding a dress that made everyone drool, as long as my love thinks I look beautiful. I take it as a sign of maturity - I no longer have that inner drive for attention that I once had. I think it's the knowledge that I don't want the attention at our wedding to be all about me - I want it to be on the Lord.

So as I remind myself that the day isn't about me, and it's not even all about us as a couple, I remember that it is about Christ Jesus and it is a celebration of His love for His bride - the church. When I focus on that, the concerns about guest list size, location, stationary color, bridesmaid dress cut...it all becomes infinitely less important. If people come and the food is cold and the music is lame and it rains on our beautiful outdoor ceremony, will God still be glorified? I hope so. That's our goal.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pain

I don't have any answers to the problem of pain. The only thing I know is that the world is a painful place and life is a painful thing to live through.

I have lately been overwhelmed with the realization of how many problems people are dealing with, how much pain is in their hearts. Broken relationships, broken dreams, broken bones, unmet expectations, hurtful words and actions...It all strikes at the core of our beings. I think the reason these things are so painful is because we were created for more. We were created to have full, perfect relationships with our loving Heavenly Father and with one another. We were created to be in perfect harmony with all that God had fashioned, but that is no longer the world we live in.

Instead, we struggle against the prince of darkness, who causes pain and heartache and no way to out. I praise God that he has fought and defeated the enemy, although we have yet to fully see the effects of it in this life. Even in the midst of deep heartache, God is worthy to be praised, for he has provided a way out from pain. He promises no more death, or crying, or hurting. He promises comfort and peace everlasting.

"In my darkest hour, that's where I found true love. Jesus lifted me from the dead of night, and he'll never give me up. I'm his beloved and he is mine. Nothing can separate us, no space, no time, no death, no life, no person, no power, so strong is the love of my heavenly Father."

Come quickly, Lord. Heal the broken hearts of your people.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Only in dreams.

You know TV is too much when you make plans to get off the phone with your fiance to watch Man vs. Wild. Or when you dream about Jon and Kate.

Seriously, tonight Adrian have planned to watch (separately, but together) the special of Man vs. Wild featuring Will Ferrell with Bear Grylls. That should be some good entertainment!

What is not such good entertainment is the spectacle Jon and Kate Gosselin have made of their marriage via public television. Although I am not a hard-core fan of their show, I am a fan of marriage and God's design for two people staying together through the rough spots and making one another their #1 priority, under God but above all else. This seems to no longer be the case with Jon and Kate, although, from having watched only like 5 episodes tops, I'm notsomuch sure if a Christ-honoring marriage ever was the case with the Gosselins. Either way, it saddens me to see their marriage detiorating in a very public way. Apparently, it saddened me enough that last night I dreamed about them.

I dreamed that Jon and Kate (and Mark Driscoll) and I had a barbeque dinner. We were sitting at a picnic table, enjoying dinner (sans 8 kids) when I apparently got a wee bit hostile. Jon, or maybe Mark, confronted me and told me to stop asking hard questions and being antagonistic. Ouch. That was harsh, Dream Man.

On second thought, I'm pretty sure that comment came from Mark Driscoll. I would think Jon has put up with enough of Kate's antagonism and hostility that even in my dream, there would be no point in him calling me out when he has enough of it to deal with from his wife.

That's good. My dream-advice is much better received, having come from Dream Driscoll.

On third thought - maybe Driscoll should give some marital advice to the Gosselins. Methinks that tough love, Driscoll style, would make for some reconciliation and some really good television.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mission: Accomplished

2 days and about 50+ dresses later and I bought my wedding gown!

I love it. I really do :) I'm quite excited to wear it for my love on our wedding day....Until then, all of you will have to be in suspense over what it looks like! Haha.

Let me just say this: if you're in the Raleigh area and looking for a place to go for a great selection and reasonably priced dresses, let me encourage you to check out Carolina Bridal World in Smithfield. The girl who assisted me was SOOO helpful - she made the process a breeze and really enjoyable. In fact, she was the one who picked out the dress I bought, which also happened to be the first one I tried on there. I walked in, showed her some pictures of dresses I liked, and she whipped around and grabbed about 15 for me, as my mom, my friend Stephanie and I grabbed more. Seriously, Kayla, thank you. I had such a good experience, thanks to you!

I can't say as much about the helpfulness of the other place I went to on Friday...In addition to no dressing rooms (only 6 inch partitions sticking out from the wall), the assistant was less than helpful. Throughout most of the experience, she actually seemed rather put out by me wanting to try on wedding dresses....Some nerve I have - asking to try on dresses at a bridal boutique.

So anyways, check out Carolina Bridal World! They had great prices, great service, great dressing rooms....All in, really....great :) The ease of finding a dress and the fantastic price were just another example of how God is richly blessing this wedding process for Adrian and I!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Let the games begin...

This weekend marks the first "real" step into the world of wedding planning: I'm going wedding dress shopping! My mom is coming over and we'll be making a weekend of it.

I am beyond excited. Seriously.

Here are a few of the dresses I like: I'm noticing a pattern of lace. Any thoughts or recommendations? I'll be going here and here that I know of.

Pray it is a fun and productive time!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering God's faithfulness

When I think about the Lord, one of His attributes that often stands out most clearly to me is His faithfulness.

The word "faithful" is used in looking at the example of God's unwavering commitment to His people (a commitment to be emulated in marriage) and incomprehensible ordination of our steps for His glory - a promise that he gave so long ago, and is still fulfilling today.

He is faithful to bring about good in our lives, and faithful to mold us more and more into men and women who resemble Christ. What beauty and hope there is in that.

Even in the little things - little to others, though big to me - God has been so faithful. He was faithful to bring me to a place where I would hear his calling(s) on my life, he was faithful to provide me with strong teachers and mentors over the course of my life, he was faithful to sustain me in the ridiculously hard time after Adrian and I broke up, and he was faithful to bring us back together in a way that is (I hope) more God-glorifying and Christ-focused than ever before.

So, as I sat in graduation this morning for work, I couldn't help but think back on God's faithfulness. The last graduation ceremony I sat through was December 12, and was a much different experience than today. That day, I was fraught with peace in what God would ordain, but also fraught with worry over the free will of sin-filled men and women. I was anxiously awaiting the reunion with the man I had prayed over and cried over for so long, and yet, I was resting in the arms of the God who knew my heart better than I knew my own.

God has been faithful to me. He cared for my heart and soul, he sustained me in rough times, he taught me to love Him more than anything or anyone else, and he remained steadfastly by my side through it all - teaching me and molding me and changing me. So today, as I sat through another graduation, I couldn't help but think about where we were last time I had that experience, and how God's faithfulness has radically changed the landscape of my heart and life, even since that day.

Today, as I prepare to visit Adrian - my fiance - for the weekend, I can't help but think about God's faithfulness in caring for His children, His faithfulness in giving me a calling to a specific man, and His faithfulness in bringing us back together, to someday become husband and wife.

God is so very good, so very faithful.

"Season by season, I watch Him amazed, in awe of the mystery of His perfect ways. All I have need of His hand will provide. He's always been faithful to me."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ah, the good old days.

I miss the days when being home sick meant laying on the couch reading and watching TV all day, having Mom rub your back and bring you your favorite foods. It was always a treat to miss school for that.

Being a big girl and getting sick now means I'm having to take care of my dog and myself - he still has to go out and go to the bathroom, I still have to find food for me to eat, and to top it off - I have finals this week and a paper to write...

Booooo sickness. Double boooo on responsibilities! ;)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hurrah for life!

There's lots to be thankful for and excited about in my life.

God is good and faithful, and pours out blessings beyond belief. I'm getting married to an amazing man of God who loves Jesus and me, in that order. I'm going to Red Robin Friday night for either a celebration "I'm done with my diet" meal, or just a break from it - either way it's going to be wonderfully tasty. The season finale of LOST is on tonight: Two hour of brain-numbing questions and thrills.

Oh boy. Life is grand.

Friday, May 8, 2009

For His sake, by His grace

"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God...through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations..." ~Romans 1:1,5

I'm working on this: Recognizing my role as a servant of Christ for the sake of the gospel by means of grace. My prayer is for an increase in obedience of faith for the sake of Christ Jesus, in every tongue, tribe and nation.

God, you have set me apart. I pray now, set me on fire for You.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tired of turkey

I can't remember, but I don't think I have elaborated on this eating regime I'm doing, per doctor's orders.

The week after Easter, the doctor put me on a new healthy eating scheme that eliminates my favorites: Moe's, bread, french fries, hamburger buns, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, Dr. Pepper, fried foods (including, but not limited to chicken nuggets and chicken tenders).

Oi vey.

This is my 3rd/4th week of trying to do this. I say trying, and 3rd/4th week, because the first week I didn't really follow it so well. I have been a lot better until last night, which was Cinco de Mayo, aka tortillas, chips and rice. YUMMY. The food was amazing, but today marks a race to get back on track.

Today, that race looks like this: Once again, eating (the bazillionth) turkey sandwich and caesar salad for lunch, and a refusal of free Bojangles chicken biscuit this morning for breakfast....It breaks my heart to turn down delicious fried chicken and biscuits, but I want to see if this whole diet thing has any legitimacy :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Time: The lack thereof.

So little to do in so much time!

Scratch that. Reverse it.

So MUCH to do, in so little time!

Who knew that by the beginning of May, every stinking weekend almost is booked until the beginning of August? This is ridiculous.

Weddings, wedding showers, dress shopping, weekends in South Carolina, work trips....too much going on.

Please ask the Lord to marvelously work things out for his glory, teaching me peace and patience and waiting in the midst of it all.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Springtime is slowing down

After a crazy busy couple of months of travel, schoolwork, work-work and the like, I am relishing the thought that I am settled for a few weeks.

Last week, upon arriving back in the office with a brand new diamond ring on my finger, I was thrown back into the work world with 4 straight days of articles to write about...Still finishing those up. I also had to study for a Theology exam and write a paper about my calling and fulfilling the Great Commission. Finishing those items, I had to unpack and re-pack for a weekend in Hilton Head for my friend Teran's bachelorette party and an afternoon in the 'Boro with my beloved.

Let's recap: Since this day in December, I have...
-Spent two weeks in Amsterdam
-Spent Adrian's birthday weekend with him in Georgia and South Carolina
-Gone to a wedding
-Gone to the 20/20 Conference for work
-Driven to Lumberton on Valentine's Day
-Ridden with my friend Erin to SC to see A
-Taken a long weekend to go to Tennessee and show my hometown to Adrian
-Ridden to South Carolina with Erin again to give Ben to Adrian
-Gone to Mexico for a week
-Visited SC/Adrian with my parents/Gotten engaged
-Driven to Hilton Head for a weekend with the girls

Whew. I am glad to be home for a while!! Praise God for vacations and sweet get-aways, and praise Him for a home to come back to and relax in. Although, I don't know how relaxing the next couple of weeks will be, with stuff going on around here most weekends, finals for school, and preparations for Teran's wedding, not to mention gearing up for summer, wedding planning of my own and waiting on the Lord for the next step of our lives.

He is faithful to sustain us, to give us perfect answers to our questions and to give us purpose and direction in serving Him. Looking back on where all I have been this spring, I can't wait to see what He does in my life this summer!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The story. April 18.

Ok, the blog has been blowing up with visitors, so I'll share the story!

Friday, I was in SC visiting Adrian and his mom, who was in town for the week. My parents drove down to Charleston and we were planning on having the whole crew meet up for lunch. First, though, Adrian took me ring shopping. The jeweler let it slip that Adrian already had the diamond, but he told me we were just looking, since I had told him I really wanted to go ring shopping with him. After we left, unbeknowst to me, he took the diamond in to the jeweler and had him set it in the setting I liked.

Saturday morning, we woke up and drove to Beaufort (just the two of us) for a quiet morning walk along the riverfront and some coffee and quiet time together. As we walked, we sat down in a swing along the river and began taking pictures. He had told me he had two presents for me, so he gave me them. The first was a beautiful leather-bound, ESV Journaling Bible. The second was a small notebook he had written letters to me in, since before we were even a couple. The last letter ended the notebook, and in that one, he said he knew he wanted to spend his life with me in service to the Lord. As I finished reading it, he said there was one more thing to go along with those presents and then he gave me the ring.

I just began saying, "Oh m gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!" He said, "So....will you?" to which I responded, "Will I what?" ;)

"Will you marry me?"

Of course, I said YES!

We haven't set a date yet, but we are so thrilled to embark on this next journey of life together, serving one another and serving the Lord with joy and gladness. God is so incredibly good to us - beyond all imagination. Adrian is the blessing of my life, aside from my salvation and faith in Christ. I cannot wait to be his wife!

Here are a few pictures, and here is a link to all of them on Facebook.

Right after getting engaged! I was so shocked and excited!

Yay!! So happy.

At lunch with our parents.

My gorgeous ring.

I love this man.

The beautiful sunset on the way home. God blessed us with so many good surprises that day.

Me with Adrian's Mom and my Mom.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

BIG NEWS

Hello blog readers: Just wanted to let you know, really quickly, what went on in my life this weekend:

I GOT ENGAGED!

We are thrilled. It was amazing. I'll post more on the topic later, but I just wanted to share :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Health and Happiness

This week has been full of fun little surprises...(That is halfway sarcastic, and halfway serious.)

Sunday afternoon, Adrian and his mom came to town and we went to Easter dinner at Cheesecake Factory (LOVE it!). I enjoyed Chicken Madeira and some Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake, and it's a good thing I did, because Monday, el doctor put me on a special new eating plan. I think I will affectionately call this plan Torture, because it prohibits me from indulging in two of my favorites: Dr. Pepper and carbohydrates. Oh lawzy... ;) So, since Monday I have had my personal nutritionists (Adrian and his mom) helping me eat healthy so I feel better and am healthier. Thus, far, I haven't felt remarkably different, perhaps because I need a good night's sleep to help it kick in.

It's been several late nights this week since Sunday, when they came into town. Monday, as they were leaving (as scheduled to go back), they made it about a block and his truck died. It was fixed today (Wednesday) so it was a pleasant (for me) surprise having him and his Mom there for a few days with me. Even though this new diet thingy is going to be tough, his support in helping me figure out tasty things to eat and buying good food for me has been wonderful.

The added bonus is this: Tomorrow, I'm heading down to see them and meet up with my parents for a "meeting of the parentals." That translates into getting to see Adrian every day for 7 days straight. That's the longest run of our relationship! Marvelous.

For those of you who haven't done the long-distance thing, count your blessings that 8 months into the relationship isn't the first time you've spent an entire week together. Although the Lord is using the distance to challenge and grow our relationship, I will be ready for that phase to be over so every week is a week spent with my love.

So, as I head down to Charleston tomorrow, here's a little snapshot of how we rung in this week together!Snuggling with our Benny boy

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oooohhhh, Mexico!

I'm back! Here's a quick recap (with photos!) of my trip(s) across the border.

Overall, I had a great time in Mexico. It was a wonderful week in which I was able to better focus on the Lord and his plan, not just for me, but for the nations. I am so excited to get to heaven and worship alongside my Mexican, Dutch, Guatemalan, etc. brothers and sisters in Christ. I was even given the opportunity to share the Gospel with one our plane's stewards on Good Friday. It was uncomfortable, but God is faithful to provide opportunities and words.

God is so good. What a blessing my job, this trip and my salvation are.

The week in Mexico was wonderful with time spent....

with great new girl-friends,

with great new guy-friends (added bonus, they love to quote the Office and laugh!),

eating tasty food (tamales!),

playing with ADORABLE little Latino kids,

and keeping an eye on mischievous ones...

It was a wonderful week of making new friends!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Settling In and Taking Off

So, just wanted to post an update before I head out for a while.

I'll be leaving for Mexico on Saturday morning to go with a team to host a kids' baseball camp. Personally, I'll be more on the documentation side of things, and not as much hands-on, because it's a work trip (like Amsterdam was). Before I go though, I wanted to just share a little bit about what God has been teaching me the last few days...

I honestly have really struggled this week with purposelessness, discontentment and frustration, even directed at some I dearly love. However, the Lord has been showing me a few things, for which I am so grateful.

1) God is in control. Even when I don't see how the plan will work out in the end, I can trust that God makes good on his promises, both the big picture ones (like redemption, conquering of sin, salvation, et. al. SO good) and the ones that affect me on a more micro level (He'll never leave me, and he alone gives rest if I have faith in him).

2) Calling. Although ministry doesn't look as I would have it look at the moment, I know that I am involved in ministries here. It may not be as front-line in the war as I desire, but my job and my ministry to Adrian both affect the Kingdom. Those are ministries God has given me, and he has put me in those places for a purpose in this season.

3) Desire to be involved in more overt ministries is (for me) very works-based and self-focused. I struggle to find a place to plug in and serve, not because my heart cares for those people, but because I think that somehow I am "being a better Christian" or that I am more holy when other people can see my deeds and say, "Wow. Look how much she is serving."

Works-based righteousness is no righteousness at all. All I can do is give my all to the ministries God has me in right now (namely, my job, Adrian and my classes) and trust him for fruit, rather than force my way into something that is not where God would specifically call me, just for the sake of doing. Faith without works is dead, yes, but works done - not in faith but in pride - are equally as futile. Romans teaches that whatever is not done in faith is sin. Thus, even if I am trying to do "a good thing," what is my motivation? If it is pride and my desire to do something for God, then it is sin, I think. I can offer nothing but myself. God wants me to serve Him wholeheartedly, yes, but I believe he wants me to serve him in the ways/ministries/areas he has called me to and not in areas I try to push myself into so that others think better of me. I serve an audience of one, and I trust that pouring myself into those God evidently places in my life is what he asks of me - not any prideful service. So....until God opens other doors and evidently calls me to "enter those rooms" in service with Him, I will pour myself into the ministries he has already made evident in my life.

That means that as part of my job (one of my ministries) I will be going to Mexico Resurrection week. Rather than lament this trip for any number of reasons, I am giving glory to God that he has shown me that in this week and in this place, he asks for me to give me all with a joyful heart, and he will take care of everything else. Praise Him for clarity.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wrestling

Calling...Purpose...Ministry...Jobs...Location...Heart for people...Specifics...

Those are some weighty concepts and ideas that I've been beginning to wrestle through. At this phase of my life, I recognize how discontent I am in what God has given me, and for that I am sorry. I want to be content in Christ alone, and then understand what my calling is as a believer and understand exactly what my purpose is at this exact moment in time. How can I be involved in ministry in the way the Lord would have me be? How do I reconcile my commitment to my job with my desire to actively be in ministry, two things which both require a large chunk of time? Do I just plug into every opportunity the Lord places in front of me? What role does passion for a specific group of people play? Should I wait for clear direction or purpose in how to minister? Why do I not seem to have the passion for a specific group of God's people, like I feel like I ought to?

God, I WANT to be on fire for you and I want to share you...I just don't know what that looks like. I want to be obedient to use the circumstances, gifts, and desires you have given me, but I also want to make sure I am doing it out of obedience to you and what you have for me, and not for any other reason. Lord, I seek you and your direction.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Umm....NO

I am notsomuch happy with the blog stats this morning.

It is not a good thing when people search for my name plus the word "lesbian." And then my blog pops up.

For the record, I have a MAN I love very much.

So searcher: If you come back and read through the blog again, please be aware that I am a strong supporter of God's design for a man and a woman to leave their parents and cleave to one another in a marriage that is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. That's how it should be, and that's what I am striving for.

K, thanks.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The trip to Maryville this weekend was wonderful.

Good food, good conversations, great weather, laughter and time spent with those I love. Who could ask for anything more? It was such a blessing to be able to spent time with Adrian AND my parents and friends.

Here are a few pictures to show you what we were up to!

At the Y with Adrian on a beautiful spring day!


Goofing around in Cades Cove - the area where the first settlers of East Tennessee lived.


Adrian got to meet my grandma for the first time. Cute group shot, no?


Me with two of my best friends from high school - Lauren and Nikki. Also, the two handsome fellas are Ben and Barkley :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm all over the place...

1) I praise God that I am a work in progress and who I am now is not who I used to be, and who I will be in 5 years is not who I am now. I just pray that it is the Lord refining me and making me into who he desires for me to be, and nothing else.

2) Zeta - Beta Omega - Past and Present (#1)
Bay Leaf College and Singles
The office
JABLADJ
Everything Media at Southeastern
Cause I Know You

What are those random words, you may be asking? Only the SIX pools I am in for March Madness! I figure if I play my cards right, I'll do really well in at least one of them, right? Here's to hoping! I tried to diversify my winners in the brackets, but seriously? There's only so much fantasy one can take. The buck stops at my final four picks - At that point, I think the bets are fairly safe as to who has a chance to win and who.....doesn't. At all.

I'll let you know how it turns out :)

3) Home is where your heart is, right? It definitely will be this weekend! I am so excited to combine going home with the one my heart loves! Adrian and I are going to Maryville this weekend (his first time to visit) and I am pretty stinking excited. Lots of down-time (watching the tournament action) planned, along with some time with dear friends and some time spent in the lovely Smoky Mountains. God is so good, and he has blessed me so much!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Full

It's been a long time since I posted, I feel like. My life is full, which makes it difficult to not only keep up with the blog, but to know what exactly to write when I do feel like getting on here.

In addition to my life being full, my head seems to always be full, thus why it is difficult to get my thought together enough to blog. My thoughts churn around and around and it usually is only a very small window of peace that I have...Perhaps it because I seek peace in my circumstances, instead of the One who is peace?

Jesus said he would give us his peace: "My peace I give to you. My peace I leave with you." As the Holy Spirit fills us, we are filled with peace. And yet, too often I think I look for peace in improper ways. I search for it in people, in relationships, in circumstances, in sleep, in laughter, in creature comforts....in temporal things. While those things are not inherently bad, they cannot provide lasting peace. They will NEVER be able to gift me with the peace that passes all understanding. God alone can do that, but it is a gift.

When I pursue God, peace will follow. When I abide in the Holy Spirit, His fruits (including peace) will abound in my life. When I emulate Jesus, life won't give me peace (for his life was not peaceable, either, in the way we understand peace), but he found peace in God the Father in the midst of trials.

God - I don't ask for peace. I know it is a gift. I only ask for You, more of you every moment. I desire the strength to pursue You with all I have, knowing that as a perfect and loving Father, You will give me the gifts I need.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I rejoice - but not enough

I feel like I ought to write, but in reality I am at a loss as to what exactly to put down on here. God has been teaching me a lot lately, but to even begin to try and articulate it on a blog would only serve to scratch the surface and not do justice to the lessons I seem to be learning.

All I know is that God is so good. He is good, and he is sovereign, and because of those, I rejoice. I rejoice because he is glorious, even when I can't even begin to comprehend the magnitude of it. He gives so many good gifts - In reality, all we deserve is punishment, so anything good or anything made good is a gift from our most merciful God.

So....yeah. Nothing funny today, just some introspection. Hope that's ok :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ikea. My obsession.

Does everyone know about IKEA? The great Swiss-based store that sells TONS of nifty things (furniture, home items, gadgets and gizmos a'plenty)?!? I sure hope you know what I am talking about, because if not, you are MISSING OUT. Believe you me.

IT'S FINALLY OPEN IN CHARLOTTE.

I found out that ikea, that mecca of shopping fun, is now open and selling their wares within a few hours of me. It's finally within my reach....

Anyone? Anyone? I know SOMEONE must want to go visit with me! Come on...I'll even treat you to some tasty Swedish meatballs at the food court.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Help Teran go to Australia!

Hey friends - My dear friend Teran has applied for a job that is right up her alley - doing a video tourism blog for an organization in Queensland, Australia. If you've ever checked out her blog here in NC, you know she has a great camera presence, a spunky personality, and the skills to make people want to go where she suggests!

So, now take MY suggestion and help her get the job by viewing her video and rating her high! You can watch it and rate her video entry here!

She is getting married in June (I'm in la boda) and her fiance' JJ is game to take his crime-fighting skills to Australia (he's a Raleigh police officer). Help this fantastic couple have the opportunity of a lifetime! Thanks!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tagged: Photo 4

This is a fun-ish tag!
1. Go to the 4th folder where you keep your pictures on your computer.
2. Post the 4th picture in the folder.
3. Explain the photo.
4. Tag 4 people.


This picture was taken inside a mosque in Amsterdam. While we were there for a work/study/mission trip, we were able to go inside and talk with someone about Islam and watch the call to prayer and prayers. If you think the building is beautiful inside, you're right. Ironically (sadly) enough, this is actually an old church that shut down and was later bought by a Turkish Islamic organization to be used as a mosque. The front door of the church faced Mecca, the direction Muslims have to pray to, so they now worship with their back to what used to be the altar and choir loft (the direction you see in the photo). So telling - they have turned their backs on the One True God to worship Allah. This should be such an impetus to us to get going to tell people about the God who saves and loves us...Anyways, I didn't actually take this photo, our photographer did.

I tag people who read the blog:
Kathy
Julie
Ginny
Shae

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Love, love, love, loooove

I hope as you were reading that, it was to the tune of Jason Mraz's new song, which I can hardly remember any words to, but which has such a catchy tune. That's what's in MY head currently.

Just wanted to share a few pictures from yesterday....Valentine's day. It was my first time to have a valentine, and I am SO thankful that I don't have any bad valentines in my past to mar it...He's great, and I am so blessed by him, VDay or not. Literally, after the gifts of the Lord and my salvation, Adrian is one of the biggest blessings of my life.

He and I drove halfway and met in Lumberton, which is a podunk little town with an Outback and a mall that is approximately 100 yards long. Seriously. We went to both places, then ventured over to UNC Pembroke, where we did a mini photo shoot and walked around campus, drank some coffee and enjoyed being with one another.


After several attempts at getting a good shot on campus, we finally got a decent one. The campus is really pretty, with an outdoor amphitheater, a pond with a fountain, lots of trees and benches and a clocktower that literally went off every 10 minutes.



I love cheesy photos. Never underestimate the power of cheese! Haha. What better place for a cheesy Valentine's Day photo than in a mall in front of an exceedingly cheesy Valentine's Day backdrop?! You can tell I am excited.....Adrian's not so big on the pictures :)



I know red roses are cliche on VDay, but for someone who has never been given a dozen red roses on Valentines Day by a man she loves...They were perfect.

Friday, February 13, 2009

To know Him and make Him known

This has been a crazy week, both for me and for the organization for which I work. On the heels of last weekend's excellent 20/20 Conference (with Danny Akin, Bill Brown, Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney) has come a lot of deep thinking for me and a lot of brouhaha for the SBC.

The speakers all personally challenged me in my walk with the Lord, causing me to examine my heart, see deep-rooted sin in it and ask forgiveness for my self-worship and idolatry. I have FAR too often acted out of a self-focused heart and mind, instead of being focused on the glory of God...It has been a good challenge, but a challenge nonetheless. Seeing my own wickedness is never easy, but it is so good because it causes me to reflect on the goodness and fullness of Christ. My desire is to continue to know him and to make him known to others.

With that said, I see a lot of those same desires (to more fully know God and make him known) reflected by the leadership of this great institution where I work. I am especially honored and thankful this week for Southeastern, as lines are drawn in the sand over the hateful treatment of Mark Driscoll, after having him speak at this conference. Never have I been more thankful for the leadership here than this week. Led by Dr. Akin and others, this school is falling firmly on the side of Christ-like love to those who may hold differing views on minor issues. Instead of joining the fray about all of this (there is enough going on in the blog world about it), I just want to express my thanks to the Lord for raising up sound leaders such as Dr. Akin for such a time as this. I also want to say that I am SO thankful for men who will take a stand for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, rather than attacking their character over "every jot and tittle."

I don't know where the chips will fall on all of this, or if it will just die out eventually, but I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to learn, grow and be stretched by these issues under the leadership of Godly men. May we ALL unite under the Godliest of men - Jesus, God in the flesh - and and look together at how to know Christ and make him known.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Creative Mood: Here and Gone

Occasionally I get in crafty moods and just feel like CREATING something. Last weekend was one of those times. After a delicious (NOT healthy) breakfast at Waffle House, Lindsay and I were off to A.C Moore and Michael's to buy paint and scrapbooking supplies. While my little foray into scrapbooking (continuing one A started for us) basically stunk, I am semi-pleased with my painting excursion.

I wanted something that would bring more colors than just red and black into my apartment, so I wanted to incorporate some oranges and golds into some wall art for my dining room. Behold: My 3-panel painting. It's not great, but my creative juices stopped flowing. I was ready to be done and have it hung!

Pretty paint colors :)


The tools of a true artist such as myself....Ha, yeah right.


A blank canvas....Such a fresh, hopeful feeling


I just like the way the paint blobs looked together before I mixed the colors...


The "finished product."
I say "finished" because it might not be...I could get to feeling creative again in a couple of weeks and continue working on it, but for now, I'm fed up with it and done!