A Tainted View of Perfection

I've wanted to write this particular blog for about 4 months and have had a hard time coming up with the actual words to say. A while back I wrote about my current thoughts on chick flicks, this blog is in no way a follow-up to that one, but it does make me stop and think about how to go about writing this one.

For the majority of my first semester at SEBTS, I have heard a lot of talk about how men need to "Man-Up" and although I think that is a fair assessment, I do not think that our current problem in society is all about men. Yes, I do feel that there is a real problem today with men not knowing what it means to be men of God. However, I would add that there is a real problem today with women not being women of God.

In the last two years I would say I have been asked if I'm dating someone or if/when I plan to get married roughly 500 times. That is no exaggeration. I am being completely serious and although I know many people who ask me that question are just showing interest in my life. Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with either one of those questions, the problem arises when I or other friends of mine who are in the same position begin to let those questions dictate our minds.

As women, we are more often than not consumed with our image and how people see us. I know that this looks different for all women, but the fact of the matter is at some level this is true for all women. It may not be an issue of weight for all women, it may in fact be an issue of hair color, skin tone, height, personality, etc. The real problem with this comes in to play when these fears of self-image are lined up against men.

Enter the curse of the chick flick. I have been watching Chick Flicks for as long as I can remember and every time I finish one I am either doing one of two things. I am normally wiping off a few tears from my eyes and thinking I want a guy like that or I'm not crying but still thinking I want a guy like that. We all know these movies and we all know that we love them. The problem is that for most females in the US, this is a form of pornography for us. I probably just lost a few of you there because you are so freaked out by that statement. Let me explain, at its core pornography is making something into a particular idea of perfection. Yes, for men that is most often portrayed in images but as women our minds are more controlled by emotions and ideas of what could be instead of images. So, we watch a movie like You've Got Mail and pull out the characteristics of Joe Fox that we love and think that he is the perfect guy for us or we read Pride and Prejudice and imagine what it would be like if we were Elizabeth Bennett.

Some of you probably still think I'm crazy for saying this, but I believe that at some level you are agreeing with me. I'm not saying that it is wrong to enjoy those movies or even those classic novels, but what I am saying is that when we pretend that these things can really happen, we are setting ourselves up for a lot of disappointment and heartache. The reality of the situation is that Mr. Darcy is not real and as much as we wish for some guy to sweep us off our feat it isn't going to happen. Not because men are jerks and can't do things like that, but because we should not be placing all of our hope in them. We have already been saved and we have already been shown all of the affection in the world. When we settle for things of this world that do not matter or fix our eyes on things that are temporary, we are missing out on something that is much greater and that is that we are a part of a story that is much greater than anything that we or Hollywood could have ever imagined. I for one want to be a part of a story that matters and to know that my role in that story is going to be the biggest thrill of my life.

Team Cape Town

220 days or 7 months, 8 days.

I find myself sitting in my apartment and my mind is consumed by thoughts of South Africa! I am so excited about going to Cape Town next summer with some of the greatest people I know. Back in August, I was asked to pray about this opportunity and I can honestly say that I have never looked back. I have spent many hours researching South Africa, more specifically researching Cape Town. It is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. This past summer, South Africa was host to one of the most influential sporting events in the world, The Fifa World Cup. I love watching the World Cup, so I have no shame in admitting that I did spend many hours this past summer watching and was incredibly sad when the USA went home. I'm sorry Landon Donavan and Clint Dempsey. However, when I go to South Africa there will not be screaming fans everywhere and sadly I will not here vuvuzela's at all hours of the day.

This will be my second major trip outside of US borders and I will have to say that my mindset is completely different. Last time I was fearful of what it looked like to leave the country, sleep with the sound of monkey's in the background, having no idea what I was eating, and lots of fuzzy caterpillars and mice in my room. This time my fears are quite different. My fears are more consumed with the idea of going to Africa. We spend a lot of our time thinking about Africa thinking how sad their lives must be and yes much of Africa is in great despair. However, I do not believe for a minute that it is my job to go to Africa with a Western mentality of how great I am and poor Africa. I want to go to Africa and love people. Yes, Cape Town is one of the most Western cities in Africa and that their needs might be different. I still believe that the people there still want to experience love and they still need to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I ask you to pray for Team Cape Town! I ask you to pray for great things and that the Gospel would go forward.

Christmas Music and Baking...Two of My Favorite Things

Today is a great afternoon for baking. I've learned over the years that baking is one of the few things that helps me relax. I love it. During the Holiday season, baking is often mixed with hot chocolate or a pumpkin spice latte and Christmas music. Today is no exception, I'm just simply baking for small group tonight. I decided on Pumpkin Bars with a Cream Cheese glaze and Cranberry Bars. Since pumpkin is only around for a limited time each year, I like to thoroughly enjoy it! My sweet cousin Katie gave me this recipe for Cranberry Bars and I love them! The only problem is that fresh/frozen cranberries are often hard to find. Enjoy the recipes and let me know what you think!

Pumpkin Bars
Mix 2 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, 1 cup of vegetable oil, and one can of pumpkin (15 oz). Stir in 2 cups of self-rising flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. The pecans are optional.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with a cream cheese glaze. The glaze is simply 6 tablespoons of butter, 3 ounces of cream cheese, about 3 cups of powdered sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. You can adjust the powdered sugar measurement based on how you like the consistency. You can add a little milk to help with the consistency.

Cranberry Bars
Mix 1 1/2 sticks of softened butter, 1 1/2 cup of flour, 1 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, 2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries, and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.

Mix first four ingredients with a mixer at medium speed. Fold in cranberries and pecans. If you use the frozen cranberries, you will need to work fast because the stiffen up the mixture a little. (They really do taste the same). Spread in a greased 8x8 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Top with powdered sugar before serving!

Dinner Party!

Kayla and I are having a few friends over for dinner tomorrow and we have been trying to figure out what we want to have. I think we have decided on spaghetti. My favorite part of cooking has never been the main dish, but the things that go with it. I've attached some recipes for things to go with the spaghetti. Let me know what you think. Hope everyone is enjoying fall!

Oriental Slaw

Ingredients: Dressing- 1 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 ramen noodle seasoning packets. Slaw- 1 lb slaw mix or chopped cabbage (I like the red cabbage, it adds more color to the recipe), 2 bunches of chopped green onions, 2 packages of ramen noodles and 1 cup of toasted almonds.

Directions: Stir dressing before adding to slaw. You can toast ramen noodles beforehand as well. Toss slaw ingredients and mix with dressing right before serving.

Cheese Bread

Ingredients: ½ c. very soft butter, 1 c. grated mozzarella cheese, 1 c. grated cheddar cheese, 1 small can chopped olives, ¼ tsp. garlic powder, ½ c. mayonnaise, ½ c. green onions, 1 long loaf of French Bread, sliced horizontally

Directions: In a bowl, mix together the butter, cheeses, olives, garlic powder, mayonnaise, and green onions. Spread on both slices of bread. Toast in a 350-degree oven until cheese is melted.

Bits of Brittle Pie

Pie Filling: 9 oz. graham cracker crust, ½ gallon of vanilla ice cream, softened; ½ bag of toffee bits. Spoon half of ice cream in crust and top and sprinkle half of toffee bits on. Top with rest of ice cream and freeze.

Sauce: 1 ½ c. sugar, 1 c. evaporated milk, Rest of toffee bits, ¼ c. butter, ¼ c. corn syrup, Dash of salt. Combine sugar, milk, butter, syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, boil one minute. Remove from heat and cool slightly, add remaining toffee bits. Cool stirring occasionally then chill.

Two Months From Today!

Today is October 25th and that means that Christmas is only 2 months away! I'm so excited. I love Christmas. I'm seriously considering watching one of my Christmas movies. Hmmm...which one to choose. It's A Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street (in black and white), White Christmas, A Christmas Carol or one of the great Christmas cartoons like A Charlie Brown Christmas or The Grinch. I also like to watch the Christmas episodes of FRIENDS. Oh how Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross make me laugh on Christmas.

I will admit that I have already started listening to Christmas music. I like to start that a little early, like October 1st. Go ahead and judge me, I'm used to it. I will say this, as much as I love Christmas, I'm not a huge fan of shopping around Christmas. I love being able to get my friends and family gifts, but shopping around Christmas is a little scary. Wes and I took part in 5am Black Friday last year and I can say with about 99% certainty that we will not take part again this year!

My God Loves the Nations

Over the last two months my attitude has changed about missions on a weekly basis. I've always believed in missions and have seen it as a part of what the church should be doing. I went on mission trips in high school around the country and then went out of the country for the first time after my freshmen year at OBU. I remember getting ready for the Nicaragua trip and thinking how I was going to make a difference in the lives of the boys at the orphanage. It took me about 5 minutes after getting there to realize that this trip was not at all about me impacting the lives of these kids, but about the GOSPEL changing their life. That was 2007 and it has taken me almost three years to understand the true purpose of missions.

This past summer I began reading a book that has not only changed my mind and heart about missions but has changed the hearts and minds of many around the country. David Platt is the pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, and he is the author of the book Radical. I can honestly say that this is one of those books that I have to read a chapter at a time and then re-read it because it challenges the way you think about things. I did a similar thing with Crazy Love by Francis Chan and The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoffer. In this book, Platt talks about how we have allowed the American Dream to creep into our churches and thus kill the work of missions around the world. We have created lives that are comfortable and safe and in the meantime neglected what it means to live out the Gospel in the way that Christ demanded.

This semester at SEBTS, I'm taking a class on Christian Missions with Dr. Robinson and I am so thankful that for 3 hours every Tuesday afternoon I hear that there are people all over the world that have yet to hear the Gospel. I'm thankful that I'm reminded that there is no Plan B, we are Plan A and the work that Christ demanded is not done yet. We still have a long way to go. Platt says in his book that, "The price is certainly high for people who don't know Christ and who live in a world where Christians shrink back from self-denying faith and settle into self-indulging faith. While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the gospel remain in the dark."

I have been convicted a lot about what I'm doing for the furtherance of the kingdom. I know that at this point in my life I'm supposed to be at SEBTS studying, but I also know that I can still be living missionaly even in Wake Forest. So far, these are a few things I've thought of that can help me to think of the nations on a daily basis.

  • I hung up a world map on my wall in my bedroom to being praying for M's all over the world who are engaging lost people.
  • This month there is a new version of Operation World being released that gives statistics and current prayer request of many countries and people groups all over the world.
  • My current job is working with an Indian family who are not believers, I can use my time with them to show them the Gospel.
  • I can go to the nations on short term trips. I'm currently in the early stages of praying about going to South Africa next summer.
I am convinced that we as Christ followers in American churches have embraced values and ideas that are not only unbiblical but that actually contradict the gospel we claim to believe.
David Platt

I'm Not a Fan of Waiting

Waiting: being and remaining ready and available for use

I've never really enjoyed waiting. I don't like waiting in line for roller-coasters, I don't like waiting for a table at a restaurant, I don't like waiting on people who are late, and I don't like waiting for red lights to turn green. However, for the majority of our life
we are in a period of waiting.

During my senior year at OBU, my small group and I went through a study called In Transit: What to Do With Your Wait by Mike Harder. I remember thinking that there could not have been a more fitting study for a college senior who was wondering what was next. I was genuinely excited about the study because I remember thinking I know for the most part where I'm headed. Little did I know I was completely wrong. I knew that I had been called to full-time ministry and after just getting back from a great internship at Prestonwood that summer I felt that I might be doing something exactly like that after graduation. I loved working in Women's Ministry and my plan was to apply at churches and then move to either Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Atlanta, or somewhere after I graduated and fulfill my calling.

Planning for the most part has dictated much of my life. I can tell you things that I want to do in 5 years, 10 years, 25 years, etc. I love making lists and I even have lists to make lists. I've planned people's weddings, planned parties, and other events. I like to know what is next and I do not like waiting. The Lord took this study and in essence allowed me to have one big slap in the face. At the time I was a 21 year old single girl who thought I had my entire life figured out. I was going to graduate college, start a job at a church, meet Mr. Right, get married, have 3 kids and then make my family and my church my ministry.

It has been about a year since I began that study with those girls and for most of us our lives have drastically changed. One of them is married, one is getting married in a few weeks, one is doing a job she did not expect, one is currently looking for a new job, one is taking more classes to get a second degree, one is home and not on the other side of the world, one is working while preparing for grad school and one is now in her first semester at seminary. All of us have started different journeys that for the most part we could have never imagined.

I'm still in the middle of this wait and for once in my life, I actually like waiting. I love that in going through that study I learned about three people who spent a lot of their lives waiting. Joseph, David, and Jesus all spent time in their "waiting" period. The question is not whether we like to wait or not, the real question is what are we doing in the midst of our waiting period.

Some quotes from In Transit...

We wait for what's next. We wait for the right person. We wait for the perfect job. We wait for the right time to buy our first home. We wait as people come and go from our lives. We wait when we don't know what to do next. And most of the time, we don't like the wait.

Jesus chose not to let waiting consume Him even though His purpose impacted all of humanity. He was God's solution for sin. You might think that He would have been in an incredible hurry to fix that problem as soon as possible- yet He waited.

The purposes of God are often hard to understand, but He has created us for His good works. Great works, in fact. We are His masterpiece. He values us, and because of that He continually builds into us.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Chick Flicks

All week long I have been listening to my A Walk to Remember soundtrack. I have to admit it is one of my favorites, it has probably been the one CD that has stayed in both of my cars since I started driving over 6 years ago. I love it, the book, and the movie. Kayla and I decided to watch the movie tonight as an ending to our Fall Break. Prior to starting the movie, I warned her that when it comes to sappy chick flicks I tend to cry 110% of the time. It is a fact. I can have seen the same movie at least 100 times and I still cry. Just watch movies like You've Got Mail, Pride and Prejudice, The Notebook, or really most sappy chick flicks. The sad part is that I knew which part I would cry at and then warned her again.

The good thing is that for most of the movie I simply smile. This happens for many reasons. One being that sweet moments just make me smile or blush in the case of this movie. Two, the first date scene in this movie is beyond precious and three, I think Shane West is absolutely wonderful in this movie. There, I said it, I'm a hopeless romantic at times and I really hate to admit that. I sat there for nearly two hours thinking guys are not really like this and even if they are for one date that it could not possibly last beyond that. Guys like Joe Fox, Mr. Darcy, Landon Carter, and any other "knight in shining armor" have to simply be a fairytale.

In all honesty, my favorite part of the movie does not even involve Jamie Sullivan. My favorite part of this movie and the part that brings tears to my eyes faster then any other scene involves Landon and his Dad. Once Landon learns that his Dad has paid for Jamie to have home health care and then goes to his house to say thank you is by far the most moving scene in the movie. The embrace between a father and son and the way in which their relationship begins to be restored is more beautiful then any first date scene to me.

Quote from the movie by Landon: "Jamie saved my life. She taught me everything. About life, hope and the long journey ahead. I'll always miss her. But our love is like the wind. I can't see it, but I can feel it."

I by no means plan to quit watching chick flicks in the near future, but I do hope that I do not look to them as a way to think about my relationships in the future. I have no plan to follow the example set forth in them. I want to look at love through the lens of Scripture.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

Have I Mentioned That I Love Fall?

I am 110% sure that fall is by far my favorite season! I love watching the leaves change colors, I love that it stays about 60 degrees outside all of the time, I love wearing hoodies and scarves, and I love all of the pumpkins. I have a pumpkin scented plug-in in my room, pumpkin harvest febreeze, and of course I have had a few pumpkin spice latte's at Starbucks. Today, my sweet friend Crescen and I are going to attempt Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing, I even bought fall themed cupcake liners the other day. I love making cupcakes and sadly I've never tried pumpkin ones. Hopefully they will turn out great. We are going to test them on our small group tonight. Enjoy the fall everyone!

Here is the link to the recipe for the cupcakes if you want to try them.

Sometimes All That I Can Do Is Simply Cry

Who would have thought today would have turned out to be the emotional day that it has been. Today was the first week that I switched to just going to physical therapy just one time a week. In my mind that meant that I was nearing an end and that everything was looking good. I knew that I was going to have a new PT today because Karen was going back to another location and the end of last week. Up until today, I had worked with Karen from the very beginning. Jessica helped her and would do stuff with me sometimes, but for the most part I worked with Karen. Karen, Jessica, and I had all developed a really neat friendship. They both want to take me to Bojangles sometime soon, so I can be an official North Carolina resident.

In all honesty, I was not really nervous about working with my new therapist. I had met Chad last week while I was there and he was really nice and I was excited to work with him. However, today for the first time in a long time Satan took my thoughts captive throughout my hour at therapy. I started my day out on the treadmill and I was going to walk forwards and then turn around and walk against it. After a few minutes Chad asked me why I was apprehensive about walking and still having my knee somewhat bent. He was the first one to really call me out on this, because I've noticed it for a while. I know some of you are probably confused by what I mean, but when most people walk when they bring their leg back it straightens out. At this point, mine is still not doing that and I really should be by now. Chad noticed that I was doing this not fully because I can't straighten my knee out yet but because their is still some hesitation there.

From the very beginning of this injury I have heard over and over what an awful injury this is and that more than likely this is not a one time injury. I will probably do this again and thus will need more aggressive surgeries in the future. That is not news to me. I think there is a part of me that has that thought in my head and because of that I'm very nervous to "be normal" again.
This fear became even more clear to me today in therapy. Chad told me that in his experience in PT the hardest patient he has ever had was someone with my injury. He explained that the root of the problem is not my knee. In fact, it is my hip and core. At this point they can not hold a significant amount of strength on their own and as long as that is the case I will continue to have patella injuries. So, for the next 45 minutes we worked on just that. Chad basically told me that was the sole cause of my initial injury and that even if we fix the problem with the knee and neglect the hip and core then it will happen all over again. As discouraging as it all was to me, I do know that Karen, Jessica, and Chad are all trying to encourage me and to tell me that things are getting better.

My 20 minute drive home today was when my tears really began to start. I realized that what I had done was allow the enemy to get in my head and tell me that I'm going to continue to have a messed up knee and that I will never be completely normal. I really have not cried a lot about this entire situation, because I've purposefully tried my best to not allow myself to. I knew that today I had to because I had forgotten that I serve a God who has defeated my enemy and that He is my healer. He is Jehovah Rapha. I do not know if the Lord will choose to completely heal me or not, but I do know that He has the power to use this in whatever way He so chooses. The road ahead is not going to be easy, it probably will not always be fun, but for this moment in time this is where He has me. All I can do is simply say, "today I will follow you."

To My Wonderful Friend Kimberly

Dear Kim! I am so thankful for you and it broke my heart to tell you today that I won't be able to come to your wedding in less than a month.
I am so excited for you and I know that this is simply
the beginning of a beautiful journey for you and Dan.
I was thinking about the past four years and what a blessing you have been
to me and thought I would share some pretty great pictures of us!
Sadly, I couldn't find any from the road trip we made to my parents house in
Arkansas. I do however remember the epic road trip CD I made for you
when you drove to my house.

Roommate dinner and Target trips did not happen enough that year.

I loved living with you, Linsey and Michelle.

We had Dr. Pepper parties, 90's pop music dance parties, and a lot of last minute Civ cramming.

Look how pretty we are! I think it's funny that Dan is in the background here.

I think I cried about 8 different times that day, but I know that for each of us the Lord has opened doors and has continued to show how faithful He is.

20 Years Ago

Tomorrow is September 17, 2010! I really like that day because on that day 20 years ago, I met my best friend for the very first time. That's right, my little brother was born that day. To be completely honest, for most of our lives we were not very close. I'm so thankful that we have changed that now. I remember the day that I moved to Shawnee to start my time at OBU, Wes told me it was one of the greatest days of his life. I'm so glad to know now that he was only half-way joking. I have no doubt in my mind that me moving out of the house was the beginning of the shift in our relationship. Wesley over the last four years has probably been one of the most influential people on my life, if not the most influential person on my life. My brother challenges me to think differently and to act differently in a way that is not easy for me. Wesley can relate to a 3 year old or a 75 year old with the same ease in which he relates to someone his own age. He has a heart for people and for missions. He loves to worship the Lord through music and often will tell me about what he is learning in his quiet time. I'm thankful for the times he calls me or texts me just to tell me he loves me and is praying for me. To my little brother (maybe younger brother is a more appropriate saying) I love you and am so blessed to be able to call you my brother! I hope this weekend as you celebrate your birthday you know how special you are to everyone you come into contact with!

Walking is Weird

So, I'm now officially weight bearing on my right leg/knee. I am so happy, my roommate told me she knew I had a good doctor's appointment because I was smiling and my doctor even commented on how much I was smiling. Let me explain the excessive smiling for a quick second, I was terrified about this appointment yesterday. I went into it thinking I had at least 5 more weeks of crutches and that the doctor was going to tell me that I had to stay non-weight bearing for a little while longer. At best, I was hoping for a few weeks of partial weight bearing. Neither one of those scenarios came true. Hallelujah. The doctor told me that I could go to full weight bearing immediately, he did advise that I do some partial for a day or so just to ease into full weight bearing since I have not put weight on my right leg since July 19th! All of that to say is that I could be walking without crutches in as little as two weeks. I am so happy.

The funny thing now is watching me attempt to walk again. My Mom told me on the phone that she thinks I will look like a 1 year old who is trying to walk for the first time. It is definitely a process because for roughly 7 and 1/2 weeks I've been hopping, crutching, using just one leg to get everywhere. I just want to get up and walk, but I also have to remember that my knee is not completely healed so I do have to be careful. Aka, I won't be running a marathon anytime soon. I doubt I ever will, not because I can't but because I despise running. Thank you all so much for your prayers. I have felt them more than I can even begin to express!

I'm Not in Arkansas Anymore

Let me say from the beginning of this post that I love living in North Carolina!
I really do, but with College Football kicking off this weekend I realize how much I miss Northwest Arkansas. Growing up and even now when I can, I turn my TV on as soon as GameDay comes on and watch as Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler, and Desmond Howard talk about all of the games for that day. I love getting up and putting on as much red as I possibly can and then watching college football all Saturday!

While at OBU, I had to watch so many Big12 games and I loved the chances when I got to go home and watch my Razorbacks. I loved being in Fayetteville on Saturday's. NWA was covered in red. People would be dressed in red, put flags on their cars, paint their faces, etc. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood include going to Razorback games with my family. Yes, my brother is a Tennessee fan but I still managed to let him tag along sometimes.

I think my favorite game was actually my Sophomore year at OBU.
I was given four tickets for the last home game of the season. I brought three
friends with me from school all of whom are Razorback fans.
It was the last game with Frank Broyles as Athletic Director and we won!
We even made it on TV twice during the game and Darren McFadden
broke the record for single game rushing yards for the SEC.
Man, do I miss D-Mac and Felix.
It just so happened that we played South Carolina that game.
I probably just lost 5 new friends with this post.

Anyway, happy opening weekend of the 2010 College Football season to you! I think it's going to be a good one!

Two Posts in One Day

I've been so busy this last week and so much has happened that I want to share, so I thought I would post a list of my top 5 things from this past week! I hope you enjoy!

  1. I joined a church in Wake Forest! This was so exciting for me, because it was the first time I have joined a church without my parents. I was under "watchcare" while at OBU, but I have now requested to move my letter and all. I can't wait to be able to serve and continue to be a part of Richland Creek Community Church!
  2. I've made some pretty incredible friends if I do say so myself. I've found a small group that I love and am able to study Scripture and pray with these new friends. We even had a mini-birthday celebration for sweet Rachael. Ashleigh and I made
    her Red Velvet Cupcakes with homemade Vanilla Cream Cheese icing and they were so tasty!
  3. Kayla and I finally have living room furniture! We spent countless hours looking on Craigslist, going to furniture stores, and any other option we had. You would be amazed by how people throw around the word "beautiful." Honestly, people need to invest in a new dictionary because an ocean print couch does not equal beautiful in my book and is definitely not worth $400! We got a matching brown couch and love seat and they are so comfortable.
  4. This may not seem top 5 worthy because I have not found a job yet, but I have had two great leads and one would actually involve wedding and event coordinating! My heart skipped a beat when I learned about this job. I hope to be able to hear about something soon.
  5. Hooray, my knee is healing! I still have several weeks left of rehab, but things are going well. I'm doing about 7 different exercises each time with roughly three sets of 15 for each one. I go twice a week and my PT's name is Karen and she is absolutely precious. I have really enjoyed being able to get to know her. We laugh so much because I always lose count of where I am in my exercises because we are talking about all kinds of stuff!
I hope all of you are doing well and I would love to hear from you all! Miss you!

Life as a Student in Wake

I finally started classes! I told my Mom today how excited I was about this fact. I love being a student and would have no problem staying in school for many years to come. I am taking Church History with Dr. McKinion, Foundations of Student Ministry with Doc Reid, and Christian Missions with Dr. Robinson. I think my brother laughed at me when I called him the day I enrolled because I was so excited about my textbooks. I'm excited to get into the semester and to continue to learn about living in a way that constantly demonstrates the Gospel.

It has been a crazy few days, but they have been so good! I have tried so hard to enjoy each day and try to learn one new thing about life in Wake. Here are a few things about Wake for all of my friends in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
  • People in Wake and North Carolina love their personalized license plates. It seems so rare to find one with just random letters and numbers.
  • People are so friendly, this is such an understatement. It is so easy to get lost in conversation with the carhop at Sonic. However, people love to honk at people while they are driving. We all have our flaws.
  • The weather always has at least a 20% of rain everyday! I guess that comes with the territory of being 2 hours from the coast.
  • You can't buy Blue Bell Ice Cream in North Carolina. Adam, Kimber, Kayla, and I went on a wild goose chase to try and disprove this fact.
  • Red lights are extremely long, there is one light in particular that actually lasts for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. My physical therapist told me this!
I apologize for not posting in a while. I will try and post more regularly.

Who Knew Home Comes With Peach Cobbler

All joking aside, my realization that I'm quickly falling in love with my new home came after eating peach cobbler. In a few of my recent blog posts I've mentioned my new friends at The Creek. I can't even begin to express the love that I've come to have for this church. They are my family and they are my home here in North Carolina. I would not trade them for anything. They are precious, funny, hospitable, caring, and they LOVE Jesus.

Last night, I had the privilege of joining a few of them at the Tilley's house for Bible Study. Three hours later I left with the biggest smile on my face, because I had the blessing of worshiping, studying Scripture, eating cobbler, praying with, and just spending time with some wonderful people. In our time of studying Scripture together, we reviewed what we had discussed in class on Sunday. Yes, this is my shameless plug for the Young Pro's class at The Creek taught by Doc Reid. We've been going through the book of 2 Corinthians Sunday we talked about two passages. The first being chapter 3 verses 1-6 and then chapter 5 verses 1-9. The overarching question of the day was simply "what defines you?"

Chapter 3 talks about this idea of letters of recommendation and what that means. In our society today we deal with the same thing. Most of my friends are in their young 20's and are constantly working and tweaking their resume. In this passage we read about letters of recommendation and yes 9 times out of 10, a letter of recommendation is worth far more than our resume. Why? Because it is not always about your degree, your work experience, or what activities/awards you have to show, but it is about what someone is going to say about you. How important is that? In terms of our relationship with Jesus Christ, what would someone say about me or you? I pray that I live my life in such a way that those who around me think two things. I hope they see my love for Jesus and that I live according to the Gospel.

There were a few verses that we pointed out as encouragements for living a life that radiates Christ.

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
What a testimony to think that people can take one look at you and know that you have Jesus in you and that you have indeed been in His presence.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

I pray this week that you take a minute to think about what it means to walk with Christ and to live so that others see Him in you.

Finding New Purpose In The Call

Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought for countless hours about what it means for me to be here in Wake Forest. I have known for over six years that the Lord is leading me into full-time Women’s and Girl’s Ministry. I can say with absolute certainty that I have not at one time questioned that call, there have been plenty of times when I asked the Lord to show me what exactly He meant by full-time ministry. Of course, He chose not to reveal His entire plan for my life to me and that’s okay. These past six years I have had plenty of opportunities to attempt to define this call on my life. I think it is safe to say that my definition of ministry for me overall has not become clearer, what has become clearer over these last six years is how to practically live out that calling. The local church is where I believe the Lord is leading me. I love and believe in the power of the local church and I’m so excited to continue to pursue the calling Christ has on my life with and through the local church.

One of my friends, Amy Pierson, recently wrote a book called Table for Two: Doing Life and Savoring Scripture Together and it is so good! This book is meant to be a framework for discipleship and mentoring among women and girls, but I believe that those two things are essential to a healthy local church. Amy talks about how women have this sense for connection and a sense to actively and purposefully engage in a relationship with Christ. Women want to be able to dive into Scripture on their own and find truth in the Word. What a beautiful picture that is for everyone within the local church.

Today as I was being fitted for my new knee brace, I was able to talk to a lady about this very idea. She goes to a Presbyterian church in the Raleigh area and we were talking about community and what that looks like in her church. I think she worded it beautifully. Thank you Gracin! She talked about how most of us grow up with this idea that church is a chore, something that we have to go to on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and maybe Wednesday night. Instead, we should think of the church, our church, as our family. Church should be an expression of who you are with your family and actively engaging in the people around you and being a part of their life and doing life with them. I hope and pray that being a part of the local church will never become like a chore to me. I am so thankful that the Lord speaks of the church as His bride and that as believers we are a part of the family of Christ.

I love the idea that I don’t really know exactly where the Lord will lead me in the next 20 years, but I’m so thankful that He chose me and wants to use me. I look forward to these next few years in North Carolina as I learn, as I study, as I make friends, as I get involved in a local church, and as I continue to live a life worthy of the high calling of Christ.

A Different Kind of Normal

I've been in Wake Forest for exactly two weeks and I absolutely love it. There is not a single regret in my mind and although these last two weeks have been nothing like what I anticipated, I love the new normal that is becoming a part of my new life.

I love that my apartment is slowly becoming my home. I love that in just about two weeks, my roommate will be here for good and we can go buy furniture and other decorations for our apartment. I love that I have the ability to knock on the wall in my room and know that Adam and Kimber are right there. I think the thing that I love most is that I am fully confident that the Lord has me here for a very distinct purpose and I can't wait to find out what all that entails.
Over these past two weeks, my life has been different. I guess that is a good word choice. Day three was the one that shifted everything. I would say that it was really Day 11 that changed my thoughts about the entire situation. That was the day I was told surgery was going to happen on the knee. To be completely honest, as much as I didn't want surgery to happen, I knew that it was going to happen. Looking back now, I'm glad I decided to go forward with the surgery and here is why. The day of the actual injury when I saw the doctor in the ER and he said that I had broken my kneecap and that what had happened was a sliver of my kneecap had come off, he told me that ideally it would just attach back to something in my knee. I don't know about most people, but the thought of a part of my kneecap just attaching somewhere that it doesn't belong did not sound like the best option to me. However, I am not a doctor so what do I know. The meeting with the orthopedic doctor put the theory from the last doctor to rest. After he looked at the x-rays, he told me that in fact my kneecap was not actually broken. In reality, my kneecap was just dislocated, but when that happened there was a piece of bone that had come loose and was just floating around my knee. He gave me a few options, option one was to just leave the piece in the knee. It would probably all be okay, however, it could at any time get caught in something and cause my knee to lock up and do further damage. I'm thinking no on that option. Another one was to do an MRI and to see how big the piece was and where exactly it had come from. However, he said ultimately he wanted to get that piece out regardless of the size, so all the MRI would do is give us the information and cost me more money. Needless to say we did not do the MRI. The final and best option for me was to go ahead and just do surgery without the MRI and get the piece out. The only real problem was the fact that not knowing a lot about the piece of bone and where it came from left a little bit of ambiguity about the surgery, nothing to be worried about though.

So, the surgery was set for Thursday morning. It was anticipated to be about a 30 minute surgery, but it took about a little over an hour. The piece was a little larger than a quarter and thus had to be broken up bit before removing it through the knee scope and the knee was a little inflamed with some blood around the kneecap. Everything went well and I went home less than an hour after it was all over. I was told that I could remove the main bandage on Saturday and I will get my new knee brace on Monday!

I took off the bandage this morning and it was so nice to let my knee breathe for a change. I am still sitting and thinking about why I have to be a klutz and why the Lord chose this as one of the first things for me to deal with in my move to Wake, but I do know that He is sovereign and His plan is much greater than mine. His hand has been in this from the beginning and I've already seen ways in which this accident is already shaping my time here in Wake. I've been so blessed by my new friends at Richland Creek Community Church and I'm excited to get plugged in at that great church. So, thank you Lord for the new normal that is becoming my life here in Wake.

Not My Plan, But His

I've learned this past week that the plans that I have can so easily be changed. I have been in Wake Forest for just about six days and it took less than that to see my plans go out the window. My parents and I arrived in Wake Forest late Saturday afternoon and were very quickly introduced to my new roommate, Kayla, and her parents. I had been nervous all week about meeting her and those feelings were so quickly removed. I left that night with a new sense of excitement about my move to Wake.

Sunday came and I was able to go out and get furniture for my apartment and things began falling in place. That night we went out with Kayla and her family and once again I felt that the Lord had been in this from the very beginning. I told her bye as she was going back home for a few weeks before school started. Little did I know that the next day was about to change my entire plan and anyone that knows me well would know that I like my plan.

Once again Monday was spent looking for furniture, getting cleaning stuff, and everything else you do when you move. We had schedule my bed to be delivered that afternoon around 4:30, but little did I know that I would not be there to see my bed delivered. About 3:30 that afternoon as I was unpacking I somehow managed to get my foot caught under some of my bags and as I was trying to get it out I turned my knee without my foot turning. I heard a few pops and fell to the floor. My Mom stopped and asked what had happened and I honestly did not know. I just knew I couldn't move and my leg was throbbing. We ended up going to the ER in North Raleigh and after a few x-rays, one of the best hospital staff's I've ever met, and about two hours I left with a broken knee. The doctor told me that basically when my knee turned, the pressure and stress placed on the knee caused a sliver of the kneecap to break off.

I'm still amazed at the turn of events this week, but I can say with absolute certainty that my God is faithful. Yes, I moved out here about 4 weeks early to begin a job search in an awful economy but I know that the Lord has a plan and although I may not know what it is He does and that is all that matters. I've been so blessed by how helpful everyone has been. I especially want to say thank you to my sweet friend, Emily, who I knew while I was at Prestonwood and who now works at Southeastern. I also wanted to thank the Housing Office at Southeastern for answering questions and trying to make everything as easy as possible for me. I know that the Lord worked through them months ago to allow me to have a first floor apartment as well as be next door neighbors with my good friends Adam and Kimber.

I'm so excited to continue to watch the Lord do wonderful things through all of this and am anxious to learn more about the injury at the doctor on Tuesday. Please be in prayer on Tuesday as I find out what if anything needs to happen next. I have seen a difference in the level of swelling today. Hallelujah!

It's Not Goodbye, It's See You Later

I was so blessed last night to be able to spend time with so many wonderful friends. I was so thankful that my last night in the nursery was spent with some of my favorite little people. All of them were so fun and so excited to play. It was also VBS Pre-Registration night so we were able to go and pet lots of little animals (bunnies, goats, a horse, kittens, and a few others) and then we jumped in some inflatables! It was so fun to see them have such a fun time at church. I love when children get excited about going to church, because hopefully their love for the church will continue to grow!

After I finished in the nursery I went to Braums with some friends. I loved that my last night in Shawnee was spent with Heather, Kaitlyn, Linsey, Cari, Lindsey, Kirt, and Drew. I'm so thankful for friends who have all played huge roles in my time at OBU. I love all of you so much and am blessed to have you as friends. In the words of Heather, I won't say goodbye. I will say see you later though. Oh wait, maybe that is actually from The Holiday.

He's Our Defender, Our Deliverer

A few weeks ago I was at Prestonwood Baptist Church and I forgot just how much I missed that church. I had spent all of last summer there as an intern in the Women's Ministry. I was so blessed to be able to worship along with so many brothers and sisters in Christ. The whole morning was focused on God as our King and our Deliverer. What a powerful message and I'm so thankful to be reminded of that very message.

In the midst of a changing time in my life and in the lives of my friends, there really isn't a better message for each of us. We are all going separate ways and we are all experiencing various emotions of insecurity, doubt, and many other obstacles. I sat there that morning listening to the song during the offering and thinking about how my fears seem so trivial and yet the Lord, my Refuge is just waiting for me to call upon His name. I began to think of things that I know about the Lord. He is my Refuge, my Defender, my King, my Father, my Protector, my Shelter, my Friend, my Shepherd, my Deliverer, and my Savior! I know that the list goes on, but I hope that today you can sit down and think of what the Lord is in your life!

You can watch the choir at Prestonwood sing this beautiful song at this link. I believe the song is about the 23 minute mark. The words are below too.
Defender (Call Upon the Name)
Words and Music by: Travis Doucette

Verse 1:
He is near to the broken
Close to the weary of heart
In His name is a refuge
A safety for the weak and discarded

There is help for the hopeless
For the wounded in need
In the presence of Jesus
There is power unleashed

Call upon the name of the Lord
He's our defender, our deliverer
A shelter in the midst of the storm
Jesus, our Savior
He is King over all

Verse 2:
I will sing of my Redeemer
Testify to the touch of His hand
Lifted me from disaster
Set my feet on a solid rock to stand

God is our refuge, our strength and salvation
A mighty fortress is the Lord Almighty!
There is no equal, no power beside Him
Forever our champion is the Lord our God!

Copyright 2010 Music You Can't Turn Down (ASCAP)
All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

More Beautiful You

It was just about this time last summer when I came across the song "More Beautiful You" by Jonny Diaz. I had just happened to see what the free mp3 downloads on amazon were for the day and this song was it. I downloaded it and thought I will listen to this later. The next day I received an e-mail from Tangle about a new music video for Moms and Daughters so I watched it and to my amazement it was the music video for "More Beautiful You." I sat at my desk in tears thinking about the truth in this song and how this generation of girls and women are being told lies about their image and a lack in their value.

From the beginning this song has been a reminder for me. Nearly 7 years ago the Lord called me into full-time ministry and specifically in girl's and women's ministry. For me, this song only reinforces the idea that girls and women in our country today need encouragement and truth spoken to them on a daily basis.

A few weeks ago, Jonny tweeted about the upcoming release of the book More Beautiful You. To my knowledge it is something that his mother wrote. I encourage each of you to one check out his song (or his whole CD for that matter) and to look into getting this book when it comes out.

A New Kind of Beautiful

Yesterday should have just been like any other Tuesday, but for some reason it was not. I had lunch with one of my dear friends Lindsey around noon and before I knew it we were locked in a conversation about life. We kept asking the question, "what are we doing?" I found myself asking that question in terms of my own life, the church, and our country as a whole.

I had just told Lindsey about some of the sermons I had listened to the day before from the Pastor's Conference which was part of the SBC Annual Meeting. One of the messages that continued to catch my attention was the last one of the night. David Platt spoke with such conviction and passion. One of his statements was in regards to giving. Most SBC members give 2.5% of their income and then the church gives roughly the same amount to foreign missions. If you do the math, it's not good. Roughly 6 cents of every $100 is sent to foreign missions. We continue to say that we are all about sharing the Gospel and furthering the Kingdom, but are our actions really backing that up? I'm the first one to admit that I am pointing the finger at myself in this problem. Once again, Lindsey and I asked "what are we doing?"

The rest of the afternoon these questions kept creeping in my head and I began to think about what I've done to further the Gospel. I thought about our churches and what we do. I thought about all of the programs we do and all of money we spend on those things. I thought about women's ministry, student ministry, children's ministry, etc. I found myself being really confused. I know without a doubt that the Lord has called me to full-time ministry. I believe at this point that I love working with women and girls. However, I do not want to be someone who is so consumed with what we do in ministry that I fail to live out the Gospel. Jesus taught a radical message and I think at some level we've missed it.

Today, I woke up with these questions and thoughts still on my mind. However, this morning the images were a little different. A few years ago, I went to Nicaragua and was able to be around some of the most precious children I've ever met. They were so eager to get to know us and spend time with us. If we were building something, they would ask for a hammer so they could help. This morning, the beauty of their lives struck me in a way I had forgotten. I hope and pray that we would be changed by the Gospel of Christ and that His message would impact the way we think and the way in which we live.

Unexpected Blessing

It was a little over a week after I graduated from OBU and I check my email and to my horror I saw an email saying that I was two hours short on my degree. It was pushing 9pm that night and my little OCD self was literally at a loss for words. There was absolutely nothing I could do about the situation at that moment. I thought how did this happen, I did at least three degree checks and my crazy list making and obsession with detail had somehow failed me. Ironically, that night was the American Idol season 9 finale and as I'm reading all of this, Lee Dewyze had just been named the winner and thus began to sing Beautiful Day. It seemed fitting for him, not so much for me.

The next day I went and enrolled in 2 hours so that I could get this degree accomplished. Luckily I did about 5 various internships during my time at OBU and was able to count those as my remaining two hours. I was told that I would have to do part of the coursework for the internship class, so thus I began my two assignments for the class. Dr. Pace asked me to read "Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome" and I'm sure you are all surprised that I was not really all that excited to read it. I mean, I wasn't really big on taking this class in June after I graduated in May. This book has actually been just what I need.

As I get ready to leave for Southeastern and to begin this next step in preparing myself for full-time ministry, I'm reminded by what it means to be successful. Unlike most jobs, it is not about a fancy house, fancy car, or even about the dollar amount in my bank account and it most definitely is not about numbers. I was so encouraged to hear about this couple and their struggles in ministry and how the Lord drastically began to change their view of success.

Two of the questions Kent and Barbara raise are what does it mean to be successful and what does it mean to be a failure. They seem like simple questions, but at their heart they are vital to fully understanding what it is that we are ultimately called to do.

All of that to say, right now I'm learning that success is about being faithful. Faithful to Christ, faithful to His word, and faithful to His calling on my life.

Wake Forest

Yesterday marked the two month mark. That's right I move to Wake Forest in two months and start my Master's work at Southeastern. During my time at OBU, I never thought that I would continue on in the education world. I thought a Bachelor's degree was enough and now here I am thinking about ordering books, picking classes, and working on my Master's degree. Over the past few weeks I've continued to think about what seminary will be like. I find myself getting really nervous and having this strong desire to go out and buy several books so that I will be prepared come August. If you know of any good theological books that I should read please let me know. One of the goals for Southeastern students is for them to begin to build their theological library. It is going to take some time and no I will never get close to the size of Dr. Akin's library.

In the meantime, I've worked on a list of pros for living in Wake Forest...
  1. Kimber and Adam will be there! So excited to get to spend time with them.
  2. I will be approximately two hours from the beach. (pic below of Carolina Beach)
  3. Nicholas Sparks lives in North Carolina. I would love to meet him and hear about how he thinks of his story-lines.
  4. North Carolina is beautiful! If you've never been, you will just have to believe me or come visit.
  5. Dawson's Creek was filmed in Wilmington and parts of Durham. I always loved that show. Please don't hold that against me.
  6. Last but certainly not least...it is only a short distance to Durham to go watch Duke! (pic below)

We are Real Adults Now!

This realization came after Kim and I took a road trip to Tulsa yesterday to visit Rachael and to see her new apartment. That's right, a new apartment! We are real adults now. My precious friends and I are all starting new chapters in our lives. For some of us it may mean marriage, others will be teaching, some of my friends will be RN's, and some of us are continuing our education. It has been such a journey for each of us. Over these past four years we have all been slowly learning a little bit about it is that we want to do. Some of us knew exactly what we wanted to do when we first stepped foot on Bison Hill, some of us knew our end goal but were unsure as to how to get there, and some of us still have no clue what the Lord has in store for us. I will say this, I am so thankful that I have been able to witness my precious friends each walk through this journey and I am so excited to see where the Lord takes each one of us!

I Can Count the Days on One Hand

I realized today that I can now count the days til graduation on one hand. I've spent most of my weekend packing and looking back on these last four years. I took down notes that were on my wall that I've received in the last four years and read through almost all of my letters and cards through college. Needless to say by the end I was in tears. I was so blessed by the sweet words that filled each note. I am blessed to have made so many friends who have each played a role in the person that I have become in the last four years. I want each of you to know how thankful I am for each one of you. Below are a few thank you's. Obviously, I can't thank every single person individually, but please know that I love each and every one of you.

Melissa: You are probably the second person that I met at OBU and I can't begin to express to you what it means that my journey at OBU will end with you as well. I love you so much and am so honored to have you in my life.

Kim: You never cease to bring a smile to my face or make me laugh. I loved my time living with you and yes I even loved when you told me bedtime stories. I'm so excited to be your Wedding Coordinator on October 23rd!

Rachael: Some of my favorite memories are Friday Night Dinners with you. We created our very own "Gilmore" tradition. Dinner, Grey's, and The Office. Never once made for a bad combination.

Heather: I'm so glad that you were able to come with Melissa and I to North Carolina. That trip continued to show me what an incredible friend you are and how much I love to spend time with you.

Kaitlyn: You made my first year as an RA pretty spectacular. It makes me sad to think that I won't be able to have another Dr. Kelly class with you or see you in the GC. Love you sweet friend.

All of my friends are pretty incredible and each of them have taught me about who I am and continued to demonstrate the love of Christ in my life. Thank you all so very much!

Let the Tears Begin

So today was my last day of classes at OBU and I have to say I'm honestly not sure how I feel about that. I only had two classes today and my actual last class was one of my top two favorite classes from my entire time at OBU. During Hermeneutics, Dr. Kelly began to teach about Revelation and the way in which we should read apocalyptic literature. He closed class in praying a blessing over us and at that point the tears began coming. Thankfully, I did not lose it completely in class, but immediately after class Dani moved out and went home.

Today has been a day in which I honestly do not know what to think of. It seemed to be the first real time in which I've realized that my time at OBU is drawing to an end. To make life even more confusing, I received my acceptance letter to Southeastern today. As one chapter of my life continues to wind down another is just around the corner.

I hope and pray that the Lord continues to walk with me a little closer and hold my hand a little tighter as this next week approaches. I'm so thankful for His grace in everything so far.

25 Years Ago Today

On May 4, 1985, my parents said "I Do." No, I was not there that day, but I am so thankful for those who were. The friends and family of my parents who took the time to invest in them early on and to show their support for my parents still means so much to me.

Now, 25 years later, they have experienced a lot. I just want to thank both of them for what they mean to me and for the lessons that they continue to teach me. Wesley and I are incredibly blessed to have two parents who love each other and who value the commitment of marriage.

Happy Silver Anniversary Mom and Dad!

I'm New Here...Don't Judge

I've finally decided to get a blog. I was really unsure about getting one and the more I thought about the more appealing it sounded to me. All of that to say, please bear with me these first few posts as I get used to all of this.

I hope that as my life begins to drastically change in these next few weeks, that I can be able to share about how the Lord is teaching me and growing me.