Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! :)

Just so you know, I'm actually writing this on Thursday...really bored at work because I'm one of three people still working. I just figured in my boredom I would schedule a post, on the off-chance that someone will be checking blogs this close to Christmas. Hey--what do I know? You may need a break from your nagging in-laws or obnoxious uncles...who's to say?

So, I thought I would share with you some Christmas traditions as well as CRAZY things I used to think when it comes to this holiday. Enjoy! :)

* For the longest time I thought the song went, "We three kings from Orientar..." I thought there was some country named Orientar. Sounds like a country of dragons!

* I always think that Christmas is on the 26th. I made Scott & his sister calendars last year for Christmas, and I realized this year that I definitely put Christmas as being on the 26th! ha! Maybe I'll confuse them and I won't be the only one who can't get it together!

* I believed in Santa until 5th grade. 5TH GRADE! My parents had done such a terrific job making him believable...taking bites out of the cookies, writing me letters, even calling me on the phone...I thought I had ironclad proof that he was real. I insisted to all my friends at school who laughed at me about it. I remember proudly showing my neighbor something Santa had brought me and she was like, "You're kidding, right?" Nope. I finally asked my mom about it, begging her not to lie to me, and she beat around the bush with some crap about Santa being the equivalent of Christmas spirit. I know it's all part of the fun, but I felt so deceived.

* Around 3rd or 4th grade I decided I wanted to buy everyone in my family gifts for Christmas (or rather, my mom would buy them for me). Since there are so many cousins, uncles, aunts, grandmas, etc...we had to do our shopping at the Dollar Tree. I remember some of those first gifts... coffee mugs, cigarette lighters, I even got my dad a pack of door stoppers (you know, the rubber wedges that hold doors open). He still laughs about how no gift has ever compared!

* Growing up I got 3 stockings. We always went to my aunt and uncle's for Christmas Eve dinner, and they always bought us lots of presents and a stocking, bursting with fun little toys and candies. I got a stocking Christmas morning from my mom and step-dad (aka Santa), and then Christmas night I got yet another stocking from my dad and step-mom. [Funny that I never questioned why everyone else had to shop but my mom could sit back and let Santa do all the work!] Now I get 2 stockings. One from my husband and one from the rest of his family. No one in my family does stockings anymore.

* Secular things that are Christmas to me: light shows, my step-mom's Christmas goodies (bon-bons, haystacks, chocolate covered pretzels, sausage cheese balls, and decorated cookies), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...and quoting as many lines as possible with my dad and step-mom, all those old classic specials: Rudolph, The Grinch, and Frosty, the smell of department stores, hot chocolate, driving all over creation to see as many people as possible, cramming about 50 people into my great-grandma's den while one or two people walk around trying to hand out presents while tripping over toddlers and discarded wrapping and boxes, and waking up way earlier than I would ever choose to on a day that I don't have to work...just to open up presents that will be there all day anyway. :)

* Jesus, Jesus, Jesus...he didn't mean that much to me growing up, but now Christmas is a time to praise God for the birth of His son who came to die and save the worst of us. :)

* I'm bummed that I won't be able to spend much time with my sister this Christmas. Last year I didn't see my brother at all for Christmas. It's hard not having things the way they always were growing up. But things change, and I'm learning to make the best of how they are now. I'm excited to see the ones who I will see and I just hope that next year brings more happiness and fun times with all of them.

Merry Christmas, everyone! If you have crazy Christmas stories or fun traditions, please share!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More randomness

*I feel like I'm the only person working today. Although I suppose I should count my blessings that I get all next week off.
*I hate Christmas cards with glitter on them. As much as I love the thought, they drive me crazy! On the other hand, I suppose it's the gift that keeps on giving. Scrub as you may, that glitter ain't coming off your hands, clothes, and face for a least a month!

* My Christmas plans consist of: driving to Atlanta tonight to stay with Scott's parents. Tomorrow--going w/ Scott's mom to get my hair cut and colored (an early Christmas present). Saturday--We're celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve with Scott's family. Waking up early to open presents, making monkey bread, drinking hot chocolate and maybe some Baileys, etc... Sunday--Going to my grandparents' for lunch, where we will also see my dad, then to my great-grandma's for dinner. Then I'm not entirely sure where we'll be staying that night. Probably back at Scott's parents' again. Monday--picking up my sister and driving down to Tampa to stay with my mom until the day before NYE. New Years Eve--partying it up in Orlando with Scott's sister and her husband, as well as her friend from out of town who we all love! Yes, we will be BUSY! But not as bad as previous years when we also drove down to South Florida to see 3 sets of grandparents.

*We were going to use Christmas money to buy a fancy camera like all you super bloggers use. Then I realized those suckers are like hundreds and HUNDREDS of dollars! You are out of your minds! (But if I had the money I would TOTALLY join you!) So, since we don't have enough for that, we'll hopefully have enough to buy a new TV. We figured it's time to join the rest of the world and get a flat screen, plasma type situation. And hopefully we can also plug our computer into it so our Hulu times can be seen in all the big screen glory. PS--without the fancy camera, I realize I'm still way out of touch with the rest of blog-land. I guess people will have to just read my blog for content alone. Boring, I know.

*A question for my Christian readers with children-- how do you handle the Santa situation? Do you let your kids believe in him? Do you take your kids to see him in the mall? I'm still really torn on the issue. I don't think Santa is "bad" or anything, and I have no problem with kids believing in him. But I want to make sure they know what Christmas is really about, and don't get caught up in all the Santa business. I don't know. What are your thoughts? What does Christmas look like for your family? How do you keep Christ in it for the children?

*I can't wait to share with you some of the homemade gifts I made this year. But I can't do it now. Some of the intended recipients read this blog. And you will just have to wait, intended recipients! And so will the rest of you. I realize it would be helpful to share ahead of time so you can do it too. But let's just say...Pinterest is my friend. :)

*My weight has been fluctuating like crazy lately. Probably because I keep eating junk. Nothing but junk. And I take stomach medicine almost daily b/c of it. Yesterday I gorged on chocolate covered pretzels and cookies until I felt ill. When I finally recovered that night, I had hot chocolate and monkey bread. And then I was ill again. Fool! But I've resolved that there is no sense in worrying about weight during Christmas. I will just drive myself crazy or feel guilty for enjoying the treats that are so much a part of the season. I have no intentions of passing up on desserts and homemade candies. That's part of the joy of Christmas. (Well, that and Jesus, of course!) So, I'll worry about it after New Years. You know, I'll make a resolution like the rest of the world. :)

*I may be MIA for the next week or so. But what else is new? I'm sure the rest of you will be too busy with your own Christmas plans to keep up with reading blogs anyway.

Love you all! And MERRY CHRISTMAS! :)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Just some notes...

1. Christmas is SO close! Christmas CDs--CHECK! Watch Rudolph, The Grinch, Frosty, Elf, and Christmas Vacation--CHECK! Decorate the house and burn seasonal candles--CHECK! Buy presents--CHECK! Wrap presents--CHECK! See Christmas lights--CHECK! Drink hot chocolate and make Christmas cookies--CHECK! Gingerbread houses--CHECK! I would say we're ready for the big day! :)
Our awesome, handcrafted Christmas cookies.
They were bland and not very tasty (I don't like sugar cookies).
But they were fun and look good on our Christmas dish in the kitchen! :)

2. Last night there were candlelight vigils in Statesboro and Atlanta, as well as people all over the world burning candles from home for this family. Scott & I couldn't make it, but we gathered all the candles in our house and burned them in the living room. We spent about 45 minutes in prayer and worship. It was such a powerful experience. I hope that the family could feel our love and support. 

3. I know I was feeling frustrated and confused with God about how things are turning out for this family. But God reminded me of something yesterday, as I was singing Christmas songs in my car. I've been asking for a Christmas miracle, but God already gave us the best and only Christmas miracle we'll ever need: Jesus Christ. Because of that one miracle, we don't need anymore miracles for our whole lives. Because of that miracle we can have peace and joy despite the circumstances of life. Because of that miracle, even in death we have eternal life. Even if Brian doesn't make it, he gets to be with Jesus in Heaven, and THAT is miracle enough. It was such a wonderful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, and gave me such peace. I admit, I still pray that Brian will recover, but I feel much more at peace with the reality that he probably won't. And that doesn't mean God has failed us. He is still worthy of our praise. We sang these songs last night during our prayer time and I meant every word.

4. I got my first Christmas present from Scott yesterday, and it was SUCH a good one! I've been wanting some artwork to go on the wall, over the bed, in our guestroom. I've had a really hard time picking something that I like that's also in our price range. Scott had an art student who works with him at The University Store paint me something! He sent her pictures of things he knew I liked, told her what colors we wanted, and she painted something original from that! It was so awesome! And it looks perfect in the room! I'll have to take a picture to post b/c I haven't done that yet (bad blogger!!).

5. This is my favorite Christmas song this year. It's so beautiful and such a moving portrayal of the Christmas story. Sometimes it's easy to take it for granted and not think about the wonderful fact that Mary was faithful in trusting God as she brought a baby into the world as a virgin, Joseph staying by her side despite how it looked to others, Jesus being born in a BARN next to animals, and men and kings coming to bow to him. Beautiful! It brings tears to my eyes when I really think about it and sing this song.

Merry Christmas, bloggers! Love you all! :)


Monday, December 19, 2011

Please keep Praying...

Updates on the family I shared about....

While doctors had said that Brian would make it, he kept having one problem after another. This weekend they have decided that he cannot overcome the injuries. They've said it is only a matter of time, and have switched their focus to keeping Brian out of pain until he passes. The family is now asking for prayers for peace for them and Brian. God is still providing for them. They were informed today that Brian is stable enough to be moved from the hospital in Savannah to a hospice center in Statesboro. They will all be more comfortable there, and they have more family, friends, and support in Statesboro. Honestly, I can't stop praying for God to turn this whole thing around. And I want to ask you all to pray for a miracle. A miracle in whatever shape that may be. I would love for it to be a full recovery for Brian, but it may be something a comfortable room and his favorite movie showing on TV, peace for his parents who are emotionally drained, or just that this family's story would inspire the world. They have people from every state and countries all over the world praying for them and following their story. I pray that their strength and reliance on the Lord would encourage and uplift many. Please keep praying.

Honestly, and I hope I can be honest without it being misconstrued, I'm a little frustrated. With so many people praying for a recovery, I can't understand why God wouldn't provide one. We had such glimpses of hope as to think there would be a recovery for this family, and then it was snatched away. Please don't misunderstand. I'm not doubting God. I believe (or at least want to with all my heart) that His plan is perfect and whatever happens will yield good results for someone, somewhere along the way. But my knowledge and understanding is so limited. I can only see what is right in front of me. And my logic is self-involved. I know I won't be able to ever understand why bad things have to happen, especially to followers of God like this family. And because of that, when things like this happens, there is a part of me--sometimes a large part, sometimes a smaller one--that feels confused, hurt, disappointed, and even angry with God. And it's easy for me to say that good things will come from everything when things are going well. Or when the terrible things are outside of my experience. This family is only an acquaintance of mine, and I have a hard time fully believing and living in my words. I can't even imagine how I would react if something happened directly to me or someone close to me. I hope that I would be strong like this family. I hope that I would lean on God more and more, rather than pulling away in hurt and anger. But I just don't know.

What I do know is that God is made perfect in our weakness. And I hope that God will provide strength and faith for me in this time, and any who may be struggling as a result of this tragedy. And I pray, with all my heart, for peace for this family. But, I can't help it, I'm not ready to limit my prayers to just peace (as if peace isn't enough!). I'm still praying for a miraculous recovery. I don't care if doctors say it isn't possible. And I don't even care if that's not what the family is asking for. I'll keep praying for this little boy until God takes him. And at least then, even if I'm disappointed, I can find peace in knowing that Brian is safe, happy, and pain-free in the presence of the Lord.

Sorry if this rambling makes no sense. I realize I'm all over the place. But that's how I am spiritually sometimes. And I think if we're honest, maybe we all are. (at least I hope it's not just me!)

Thank you for the prayers.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Recap in Pictures!

First of all, thank you SO much to those who have been praying for the family I shared about.  Brian is still recovering, but it's a slow process and they have set-backs nearly every day. Nothing is certain. They could still use all the prayers they can get. The prayer map literally has pins in every state of the US and every continent of the world! If you are praying outside of the US, or will be during the holidays, let me know from what country so I can share with the family. :)

Anyway, I have about 15 minutes before I need to head to my internship site to meet everyone. Next semester will be BUSY...what else is new? So I figured I would toss in a bunch of pictures from the past several weeks instead of talking about it all in depth. Sorry! Oh, and there is a severe lack of pictures of me. :( Oh well, here goes! :)

We made some "gingerbread" creations with friends.
Houses? No! International landmarks, please! :)
That's Big Ben, The Great Wall of China, and the Pyramids of Giza. 

Pyramid! :)

We had Scott's family at our house for Thanksgiving and we had lots of bonfires! :)

We celebrated my 26th birthday. That's my delicious Rainbow Chip cake he's making there. YUM!

We went to the beach for sunset. Too bad the sun set on the opposite side of the beach! haha! It was crazy windy!

Went to Fort Pulaski with some friends

Scott surprised me with this on my birthday, after already giving me two presents over the weekend. :)

We decorated for Christmas

Our friends and their amazing baby at the beach. :)

And we painted our sunroom...Gus helped... :)
WWell, I better run! I hope everyone is enjoying the season! I for one and so excited about Christmas and have been thoroughly enjoying having our house decorated, listening to Christmas music, and attending parties. :) Can't wait to see all my family in just a little over a week!

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Prayers, Please

I have so many wonderful things I would like to talk about since my last post. Thanksgiving, my birthday, visits from friends, wrapping up the semester... But unfortunately today I have a much heavier topic to discuss.

One of my old co-workers is suffering through a tragedy in his family. Last Friday night (Dec. 2) his dad was driving his 2 sons around looking at Christmas lights. So, in another words (to make this less confusing!), the grandpa was driving his 2 grandsons. The Grandpa accidentally ran a stop sign, running into another car, which threw his car into a spiral, causing him to hit yet another car. All three were airlifted to Memorial Hospital in Savannah, GA. The Grandpa was released the following day. The oldest boy (10 yrs old) had pelvic surgery and his spleen removed. The youngest boy (7 yrs old) is suffering from brain injury. His brain was swelling. They removed the top of his skull to allow more room, but at first it was not helping. The family's priest came in to do the last rites and discuss organ donations on Saturday night.

So many people have been praying for this family, including me and Scott. And I'm so happy to report that it's working! Ben, the 10 yr old, was released yesterday and is on a walker. He will have weeks of physical therapy to fully recover. And the best news is that doctors have determined that Brian, the 7 yr old, WILL LIVE! His most recent tests have shown brain activity and he is responding to everything. He is still unconscious, but he now kicks and resists when they mess with his breathing tube. They also pinch him to test his reaction, and he is progressively fighting it more and more. These are good signs! They expect 2-3 more weeks in ICU, and then recovering for several months at a rehap hospital in Atlanta.

I wanted to share this because I strongly believe that the prayers are working, and the more people praying...the better! Also, Ben has a map on his wall where he is putting a thumb tack in every location where he knows people are praying for his family. They have a FB page and people are writing in as they inform them of friends in different states and countries who have joined us in prayer. This is serving as a great distraction as well as encouragement to Ben and his family. They are overwhelmed by all the love and support of God's family.

If you plan to pray for Brian, Ben, and the rest of the family...please let me know via email or comment and let me know your location. I will inform the family so he can add another tack to his map. And here is a video of Santa visiting Ben before he was released from the hospital. He even put a tack in the North Pole on the map! :)

Santa Visits Ben from Joe Ruhland on Vimeo.

Thank you all so much! God bless! :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Battle of the Bugs!!!

This year we are doing Thanksgiving at our house. I'm loving the idea that I don't have to travel during the holiday and can stay in my own home and relax. Of course, I wanted the place to look as nice as possible for when my in-laws arrive. The past few days has been a marathon of detailed cleaning. We even painted the sunroom so that it has a clean, fresh coat. (that's something we've been meaning to do for months anyway, this was the perfect excuse to stop putting it off!) Today my task has been cleaning the outside of the house. Now, keep in mind that we live back in the woods. It gets dirty here, y'all. And there are bugs. And there's not exactly a home owner's association to make sure our house stays pressure-washed and sparkling. Also, we rent, so there isn't the same level of pride in caring for every minute detail of the home. Now, don't get me wrong. Our house is not disgusting or overrun or anything like that. But the outside just hasn't been scrubbed in...Idk...maybe ever. So, today I took to it with a bucket of soapy water, a scrub brush, and the hose. So far I've done most of one side of the house. It's the carport side and the side which we use the most often for entering, exiting, and hanging out. Aside from the manual labor, the dirt, and the fact that it's 80 DEGREES here, the worst part of this whole ordeal has been the BUGS! And you know how I feel about bugs. (If you don't know--I hate them!) It seems that between each piece of vinyl siding lives a spider. And that spider is not too happy about me spraying and tearing down his home. Really I only saw about 4 or 5, but I know there are others out there...too scared to show their evil little faces! I opened up a box of Frisbee horseshoes and found two massive cockroaches. I couldn't even bring myself to step on them because they were so big. If they were in the house I definitely would have done it, but since they were outside...I just shrunk away and watched them scurry off into the yard. Yeah, I know. They'll probably come back for me later. Great.
So, I'm scrubbing, spraying, sweating, on guard for a bug to appear at any moment, and there are gnats buzzing in my ears! GNATS! In NOVEMBER! What, do they hibernate under ground when it gets cold out? I was pretty sure they had all migrated or died or whatever they do when the weather dips below 50 degrees. But wherever they went, it obviously wasn't far, because now that it's 80 out here, they are back in action. Ridiculous.

Well, I guess I better get back to it! Still have the front porch to deal with. *sigh* And then it's time to shower and look presentable before the in-laws arrive this afternoon. All I can say is my husband better be impressed with how clean the house looks! (He had to work today...I guess I should give him SOME credit!)

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! :)


Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Love Story With Jesus: Part 4 (The Wonderful Part!)

{Part 1} {Part 2} {Part 3}

Scott & I got married in May of 2009. We definitely considered ourselves Christians. We were going to church, and—still slowly—learning more about God. Our friends Christine & Brice were huge sources of encouragement. To be honest, at first we were put-off by them. We got defensive when they witnessed to us. We felt like we were doing just fine, why should they tell us how to live? Of course, that’s not what they were doing, but that’s how it felt to our hardened hearts. But they were consistent. Always loving us and pouring into us with God’s love and truth. Christine invited me to join a Bible study with her. She was the only girl I knew in the whole group, but I went for a few weeks. We were reading a book called Becoming a Woman of Excellence. It was one of those study books where you had topics and verses and you had to answer questions and reflect on things. Therefore, I was spending more time in The Word. Reading the Bible had always been something I thought of as too boring or confusing to do much of. I didn’t think I would ever actual enjoy it or get anything out of it. The majority of my Bible reading happened in church. But because of this book I was led to scripture, and God spoke to me through that.

While this was going on, I was going through another life transition. I was in my second year of graduate school to become a teacher, a few months into student teaching, and I withdrew from the program. I decided not to teach. But I had no other plans. No job. No classes. So, I spent a lot of time at home alone for the next few months. In my free time, I decided to devote 30 minutes a day to God. I had always heard people talk about their “quiet time” or “time with God.” I figured I would give that a shot. I started out mostly reading and studying for my Bible study group. Then I decided to branch out from that a bit. But as I said, my knowledge of the Bible was sparse. I didn’t know where to begin! One day, during my quiet time, I picked up a book I had received from college graduation: The Purpose Driven Life for the Graduate. It’s basically just a book of verses, grouped together by different topics. I figured I would start there, find a verse or two that sounded interesting, and then go to The Bible for more depth and clarity.

The very first verse I stumbled across was Ephesians 1:4-5. “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.” The first thing that jumped out to me was “holy and blameless.” I had been trying to be holy and blameless for so long. I was so tired and frustrated at always failing, at never feeling fulfilled. Why does He call us to be perfect when it’s IMPOSSIBLE?? But then I studied the verse further. I read through it several times, read the surrounding verses, read the commentary in my study Bible, and prayed about it. I probably spent a whole 30 minutes thinking about that verse! And I can tell you with absolute certainty and joy that when I walked away from those 30 minutes, I was a different person. I was saved, and I believed it!

I’ll break the verse down for you a bit, so you can see how this really opened up Christianity to me in a way I had never understood before. First of all, God chose me. Before the world even started! He knew me and chose me as a child of God! I realized the importance of being holy and blameless “in His sight.” I will never be perfect on this side of eternity, but I can find peace in knowing that God sees me as perfect. He is amazingly forgiving and, not only that, he forgets my past! It’s erased, gone, as if it never happened! Of course, it still impacts me, though I try not to let it. But to God, I never committed those sins. All that stuff I was feeling guilty about—forgotten! I realized God adopted us as children through Jesus. Not through me being a good person. Not through me making all the right choices and putting forth just the right amount of effort. Not through me abstaining from sex or going to church. JESUS did it. NOT ME.

And let me tell you, when you understand that—and I mean really grasp what that means, and when you believe that, you can’t help but to look at the situation differently. I suddenly realized: this is not about me! It’s about Jesus! All that pressure of having to be perfect was lifted. Suddenly I was overcome with thankfulness, joy, and love for Jesus for making that sacrifice for me and bridging the gap between me and God. And when you really believe what Jesus did, you suddenly don’t feel like you’re fulfilling a mandatory do’s and don’ts list to get to Heaven. You don’t feel tired and frustrated and like giving up. You feel unbelievably thankful, and all you can do is worship God for that. I cried tears of joy and relief. I let go of all my self-righteousness and decided right then and there that I was relying on the righteousness of God to cleanse me, guide me, and eventually bring me to Heaven.

After that all I wanted to do was learn more about my God and Savior! I was fired up! I read through the New Testament like it was addictive Young Adult fiction! I spent at least 30 minutes a day singing worship music, journaling, writing poetry, and reading the Bible. I was constantly jotting down verses and leaving them around the house—on the fridge, bulletin boards, our dry erase board was filled with them! I wanted to share all that I was learning with Scott. He was excited for me, but was also a little overwhelmed. He tried to read the Bible every day, too, but I could tell he was doing it because he felt guilty otherwise. He wanted to share in my enthusiasm. But I could tell it was forced.

Praise God that within just a few short weeks, Scott was also saved! He came to the same realizations I did during a church service where the pastor talked about God’s grace in his life. Scott left that service in tears, admitting that this was the first time he understood and appreciated God’s grace. And then he joined me in my “crazy Christian” antics. We read the Bible together, prayed together, went to church and a college service during the week.

Eventually the church service we were attending closed down. You can imagine my sorrow and frustration that yet another church I had grown to love was ending. We started going to the regular church services at First United Methodist, but found they simply weren’t fulfilling (or interesting) enough. So, thus began our church-shopping ventures part 2! That was a whole new chapter of challenges. We would try a church, talk about our likes and dislikes, and pick a new one… And there were plenty of times that we did not agree on everything. I wanted to go to Christine & Brice’s church, but Scott wasn’t feeling called there. I decided to submit to his spiritual leadership and trust that God would guide Scott to the perfect church home for us. And God did just that. We ended up at Connection Church, where we still attend—a year and a half later. Connection is a plant-church, and it was only a little over a year old at the time. It was still pretty small. But it has since grown tremendously! We now meet in a high school auditorium and sometimes have up to 700+ attendants! Scott & I both serve as leaders in different entities of the church. I work with the babies in children’s church. Scott works as a team leader in the parking lot, and has recently started leading worship for the 1st thru 5th graders in children’s church.

On October 9, 2011 our church did spontaneous baptisms. We had gotten a baptismal pool from another church that was moving, and they set it up in the parking lot. They did not tell us ahead of time that we were doing this. The sermon was all about taking the next step in your walk and how for many of us, that was a public demonstration of our dedication to God and the washing of our sins—baptism. Well, you know I was already baptized when I was 17, but I could hardly compare that to who I am now. That baptism was important and special to me, but I don’t think it was a true “believer’s baptism” as I didn’t understand the truths of what I was doing and who God is. Scott was baptized as a baby in the Catholic Church, but obviously could not remember that, nor did he have a choice in that matter. We both decided to get baptized at Connection on this day! It was an amazing experience. 54 people in our church made the decision to get baptized that day! It was powerful and beautiful. Here is a video documenting the day. Please watch. It’s short, but powerful!

And now, I cannot say that my life is perfect. I’m not perfect. And I have seasons in my faith. Some days I don’t feel particularly excited about or connected to God. Some days I’m angry with Him. Sometimes I feel tired and frustrated like I used to. It really is a constant journey and a series of lessons—many of which I learn over and over again. But I have joy unlike any other time in my life, and that joy is unshaken by the world because it comes from God and my relationship with Him. And even if that’s not as smooth as I like, I know that God is good, faithful, and merciful…He is always there to guide me, provide for me, love me, forgive me, and accept me. And for that I am eternally grateful. And with that gratitude, comes all the worship and service I give to Him. And I am happy to do it.

My love story with Jesus is by no means over. It’s an eternal story that will continue to develop. But this is how it all started, and I can say with all certainty we will live joyfully ever after… 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Love Story With Jesus: Part 3

I realize this is taking me about 5 months to write! I apologize for my inconsistency. School has been crazy this semester, and this isn't exactly something you quickly write about before class. The good news is I've finished the story! This is the not the last part, but I've got the last one written and scheduled for tomorrow. So you'll have the rest of it, rapid fire! :)

You'll remember from the last part that I had just thrown myself into my new relationship with Scott. As Scott & I got more and more serious, I quickly realized that he could be the man I marry. And that forced me to think beyond the present. I had to think about what I wanted my life to look like years from now, with a husband and kids. I could not ignore the nagging concern that we would never be able to happily attend the same church. How would we raise our children? Would we be like my family and just not go? Would we adopt Scott’s Catholic upbringing and have them go through the traditions and customs of that denomination? Would I find a Protestant church and have them alternate weekends? None of those options brought peace. At this point I’m not sure I was motivated by a desire to know God, but rather a desire for the picture of a happy family, sharing beliefs and traditions.

I shared this with Scott. He wanted to make me happy, but he was very resistant to stepping out of his comfort zone of the traditions of the Catholic mass. To be fair, we decided we would alternate weekends. I would go to the Catholic Church twice a month, and on the other weekends, we would try out Protestant churches together. It was hard to stay motivated because of the inconsistency of services. Especially with me not having a church of my own, there were a lot of trial and error situations with “church-shopping.”

I remember one service at our friends Christine & Brice’s church (you may remember them as my old roommates from the previous parts of this story). During worship, people were raising their hands, shouting thanks to God, and one girl even cheered DURING a song. Scott fidgeted, looked uncomfortable, and whispered to me, “She would be excommunicated at my church!” We went to church every weekend, appeasing each other, but never truly feeling comfortable. I didn’t like the standing and kneeling, the formal atmosphere, and the restricted communion of the Catholic Church. Scott didn’t like the loud music, hand-raising and amen-ing, casual atmosphere of the more contemporary churches we tried.

Finally, and I honestly don’t remember exactly how it happened, we settled on a church! It was First United Methodist. We attended the college services, even though we both had graduated. It was still formal enough for Scott and contemporary enough for me. Eventually Scott came to enjoy and actually prefer the contemporary atmosphere. So, that’s how we found a church together.

In the midst of this, we were both slowly growing closer to God. We were also growing closer to each other. We got engaged in October of 2008, just a couple months after finding our church. Funnily enough, I have to say God used the show 7th Heaven to guide us to abstinence. Scott & I had been watching reruns (yes, we’re that cool) and Simon was deciding if he wanted to have premarital sex. Of course, being a pastor’s dad, this was something he was expected NOT to do. But…he ends up doing it. Scott & I talked about how disappointed we were in Simon (yes, a little post-show reflection…haha!). I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but we ended up both disclosing that we felt guilty about having sex. I was SO relieved to have a partner who shared that feeling! It was incredible, like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest. Our wedding was still about 8 months away. I said something like, “Well, I’m sure you don’t want to stop now. Our wedding is too far away.” And he surprised me by saying he thought it was a good idea. Granted, it was probably easier for us knowing that the end was in sight. I’m not sure how we would have done if we weren’t even engaged yet. But I think God would have given us the strength to make that decision either way.

Now we were really growing closer to God. But still, as you can tell by my preoccupation with sex and drinking and all the rules, our focus was still skewed. I was trying with all my might to be a good person, someone worthy of God’s love and grace. I wanted to be perfect. For the first time in my life, I thought I was getting there. I didn’t have that pesky sexual immorality slowing me down. But there was not much joy in it. I felt like I was running a race I was not equipped to run. I was getting tired, frustrated, and angry with myself for not being able to meet perfection. I always thought if I could stop having sex I would be in the clear. But something was still missing. I was so confused because I was doing all the stuff. You know…church, praying, occasional Bible study… I wasn’t committing those really bad sins anymore. Why didn’t I feel fulfilled? It was so hard.

**The remaining post is scheduled and ready to go! You won't have to wait long, I promise!**

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Decor and a little more

Sorry I've been MIA. What else is new, huh? But the good news is school is finally starting to slow down and I should have more time to blog. Hopefully!! 

Anyway, here are some pictures of what we've been up to lately. :)

George L. Smith State Park
Look at how low the water is! And aren't the trunks crazy?

We were hipsters for Halloween. Turns out it just looked like we were wearing normal clothes.
It was funnier in our heads! ha!

Nice faces. We were trying not to smile.

So serious. So hip.

Scott dressed as a vampire for work on Halloween. Creepy!

Cool running picture

Our fall decor :)

Fall decor. Framed leaves from our yard, mason jar of candy corn, and a leaf candle from TJ Maxx ($3.00)

More fall touches. Mason jar full of leaves. 

I added some fake berries for extra color. 
Anyway, that's basically it, folks. That and seeing the new Footloose on Saturday. A very fun movie. :) Hope all is well with you all. I hope to be blogging more frequently soon! :)



Monday, October 17, 2011

My First Corn Maze!

Oh, how I love the festivities of fall! :)
As you know from my previous post, we went to Warner Robbins this past weekend
to see my best friend, her husband, and their beautiful baby.
It was her husband's birthday.
His family came down, too.
We had a bonfire Friday night,
grilled out on Saturday,
and then hit up Lane Orchards for a Corn Maze and ice cream! :)
Too bad it was like 85 degrees...
I still wore boots.

 and here's a video for you, if you're interested. It's not very good. But yeah. Thought the "horror movie scene" might put you in the mood for Halloween. or something.

How was your weekend?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Weekend Fun Times

Weekend plans? Glad you asked! :)

I'm visiting this lovely couple

Better known as my best friend Hayley & her husband Julian.

It's his 26th birthday. Party time! :)

Oh, and they have a freakin' adorable baby. Just, ya know, in case you like babies or something.

What are YOUR weekend plans? I'd love to hear!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just so ya know...

Just so ya know, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. 
I realize I'm not a very committed blogger sometimes.
And I know that's annoying to a lot of people.
But here's the thing,
I'm BUSY. 
Like for realz. 
Improper grammar...that should show you how serious I am! 

Just what am I so busy doing that I can't
write a measly little blog post more than once every week or two?
I'm glad you asked.

* Working 20 hours a week
* Class from 5-7:75 on Tuesday & Wednesday
* Supervision from 8-9 on Wednesday
* Counseling 5 clients a week. That's 5 hours of sessions, reviewing tapes and making notes for each one, and making sure I schedule them in a way that works for everyone involved. And let me tell you, scheduling alone takes up a LOT of time. Everyone has reasons to change or cancel, and I only have so many hours to work with.
* Church small group from 7-9:30 on Monday
* Communicating with team members to fulfill my "team leader" role in children's church
* Reading textbooks, writing papers, giving presentations
* Searching & interviewing for an internship for the spring 
* Completing 5 1-hour interviews with members of various multicultural groups throughout the semester
* Church on Sunday (either attending or working children's church)
* Being married (i.e.: spending time with hubby, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, all that fun grown-up stuff)
* Visiting & hanging out with friends & family as often as I can
* Other random stuff that life throws at me. Like having a doctors appointment which I completely rearranged my schedule for, showing up (LITERALLY) 2 minutes late and being told they could not see me b/c I was late. Having to reschedule said appointment and alter my schedule for next week as well. Gotta love it. 

So, yeah. 
But I do love you guys! 
And I'm still keeping up with YOUR blogs as best I can! 
And I will try to post more stuff soon. 
Wish me luck!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wicked Pics! AKA Cheese-fest!

I don't have much to say today.
Which is good because I'm INSANELY busy.
But I do want to share the pictures from our night out to see Wicked
at the Fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta.
We couldn't take any pictures inside the theater.
And we were running too late 
(we were 20 minutes late! Good thing I had already seen it twice!!) 
to stop and take pictures outside the theater.
So they are all in the car...
They're cheesy. 
And not even like high quality Swiss or Red Leicester.
Like E-Z Cheese...from a can.
Enjoy! :)

The Mother-in-Law :)

The end.


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